will canada become a country continually at war? or, stephen harper gets his wish in iraq

I had been living in Canada but a few short months when Stephen Harper, as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, formed his first minority government. At the time, this blog hosted an active and lively ongoing discussion about Canadian culture and politics, and my personal acculturation. I did not like Harper or his Conservatives, but I balked at what I saw as hyperbole from certain progressive people: Harper will turn Canada into the United States. I felt the two countries were different enough to make that particular magic trick impossible.

Now, almost ten years later, at least a portion of my friends' dire prophesy seems at the verge of coming true: Canada is becoming a country continually at war.

It's safe to say that during my lifetime, the United States has been continually at war.* North of the border, the view is different in scale, but is it different in kind?

As Prime Minister Harper prepares to send Canadian Forces into Iraq, we should look at Canada's recent history. Canada's "mission" in Afghanistan - never a war, merely a mission, implying a distinct purpose and goal, and a clear end-date - was slated to end in 2007. Harper extended Canada's military presence in Afghanistan three times, for a total of seven years, each time after claiming there would be no extension.

Now Harper claims that Canadian troops will be in Iraq only 30 days, and that the "mission" won’t expand. We have no reason to trust him, and so many reasons to not.

The Liberal Party of Canada, under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, has tossed aside the legacy of Jean Chrétien, who listened to the mass protests across Canada and around the world, and said no to Canada's military involvement in Iraq. Now, the former prime minister warns:
"The other side knows we are part of it. Of course if they refuse to act, the partners will say you are not keeping your word," Chrétien said. "You cannot be a little bit in it. You're in it or out."

Chrétien, while saying he didn't want to comment on the prime minister's decision, drew a comparison to the American war in Vietnam, which also started by sending in military advisers.

"You have only to [look at] the way the Americans got involved in Vietnam. They started with a few advisers," he said.
It seems that the Liberals, while styling themselves as progressive on reproductive rights and marijuana, doesn't have the courage to take a stand against military action and risk the inevitable taunts. (Remember "Taliban Jack"? People caught on... too late.)

The NDP is the only party of the major three who opposes Canada's military involvement in the latest US war. It's a wise, shrewd move for them, and a relief to progressive people, like myself, who have been having a difficult time supporting the party under Mulcair.

Canada is on the brink of a long, costly, deadly foreign war, and neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals feel the matter is even worth debating. As Mulcair said, referring to Harper, “This is the same person who, in 2003, wanted Canada to be involved in Iraq. He is finally getting his wish.”

Canadians, don't be fooled by rhetoric about protecting people from ISIS. Canada is marching in lockstep with the US military. And they're not bringing humanitarian aid.

Tell Stephen Harper you don't want Canada's military in Iraq: sign this petition and contact your MP.

* The US has been at war, continuously, for my entire life. Whether the military involvements were officially declared wars by Congress makes little difference: the Korean War and the Vietnam War were not official wars. In 1961, the year I was born, the US was already at war in Vietnam, though few Americans knew it. Since then, the US has had major military actions in: Laos, Cambodia, Congo, Panama, Grenada, El Salvador, Libya, Lebanon, Honduras, Chad, Bolivia, Colombia, Iran, Kuwait, Zaire, Sierra Leone, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Haiti, Yemen, Afghanistan, Philippines, Pakistan, Jordan, Turkey, Mali, Uganda, Syria, and Iraq. This is a partial list, and many of these countries can be counted multiple times.

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