First in a series by TONY SEED*
HALIFAX, the principal NATO port on the North Atlantic and the headquarters of Maritime Command, is hosting yet another “Halifax International Security Forum” (HISF) on November 18-20. For the third year in a row, three hundred hand-picked militarists will be occupying the luxurious Halifax Westin Hotel at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer.
The Harper government has advanced $7.5 million of public funds to a private Washington-based organization comprised of five individuals — four of them American citizens — in an unsourced contract to organize the “Halifax” conference over the next three years. Participation in the HISF is by invitation only; the Canadian people are excluded. Many of the sessions are classified as “off-the-record.”
For the third successive year Haligonians are vigorously organizing to condemn this war conference with a rally on Saturday, November 19th, 1:00 p.m., at the Cornwallis Park across from the hotel. It is called by the Ad Hoc Committee to Oppose the Halifax War Conference and the Halifax Peace Coalition, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and Occupy Nova Scotia, among others, have endorsed the rally.
In 2009 as part of their stand, anti-war groups and individuals took the initiative to publicly rename this park Halifax Peace and Freedom Park in honour of the Mi’kmaq and fraternal First Nations who resisted with great honour colonial war and conquest and more recently the NATO base in Labrador. In 2010 they made this an annual event.
In November 2009 we wrote the following about the aims of this event:
“Conferences aimed at working out the justification for the global expansion of NATO, which has been and will continue to be a U.S. project, can only be condemned as preparations for invasion, occupation, subversion and destabilization of governments and other crimes against the peace and sovereignty throughout the world. The public security agenda has nothing to do with security if the word security is to have any meaning, premised on recognizing all nations big or small as equal and the right of all peoples to self-determination and to live in peace.”
The war criminals
The HISF features a roster of open war criminals such as Ehud Barak and Amos Gilead of Israel and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is to be given the podium to deliver the keynote speech and inaugurate the conference.
Panetta is a protagonist of “pre-emptive warfare”, the conduct of outright wars of aggression using self-defence and the “responsibility to protect” as a humanitarian pretext and a justification, in open violation of Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations.
As CIA Director until July 1st, Panetta was the invisible architect for the fourfold expansion of the unmanned “drone” attacks controlled remotely, which have caused huge numbers of civilian casualties in both Afghanistan and over the border in Pakistan as well as in Yemen and Somalia. He has also increased the role of private companies and militias under the pretext of the war on “Islamic terrorists.”
In order to deal with the deepening crisis within NATO, Panetta is demanding the Anglo-U.S. “allies” absorb US military and Pentagon spending and foreign troop deployment. This is being done in the name of spending cuts demanded by the U.S. Congress and against the so-called “two-tiered NATO”, whereby the U.S. alleges it produces “security” while Europe “consumes” it. This demand has been embraced by the Harper dictatorship, with its so-called “transformation” of the Canadian Forces. “Transformation” features boosting the number of combat-ready troops by 3,200, the warship shipbuilding program and stealth jet fighters, and the establishment of Canadian military bases around the world.
CIA director Panetta continued Guantanamo, which was not shut down. In little-noticed testimony at his nomination hearing, Panetta said that if the approved techniques of torture were “not sufficient” to get a detainee to divulge details he was suspected of knowing about an imminent attack, he would ask for “additional authority.” In an internal memo issued April 9 2009 Panetta announced a blanket amnesty for all Bush officials, torturers and war criminals.
Panetta is committed to America’s “long war” including global warfare under the pretext of the “war on terrorism.”
Panetta is accompanied by Senator John McCain, the leading advocate in the U.S. Senate for aggressive foreign policies including the assassination of political leaders that Washington finds inimical to its interests. As Obama himself put it in 2008, “[T]his is the guy who sang, ‘Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,’ who called for the annihilation of North Korea.” This is McCain’s third HISF. At the 2010 HISF, fellow U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham openly called for the “neutering” of Iran.
Other speakers involved in war crimes include members of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a short-lived but influential, neoconservative-led letterhead group that emerged after the 9/11 attacks to promote the war against Iraq, such as Bruce P. Jackson, founder of the Atlantic Council for the expansion of NATO. He held a high office as vice president for strategy and planning in Lockheed Martin, one of the largest arms multinationals in the world, and set to reap the big score from Harper contracts for jet fighters and warships.
War criminal Gen Ehud Barak, Israeli Defence Minister, on December 27, 2008 ordered the aerial bombardment of Gazan population centres. The attacks involved hundreds of fighter jet sorties, dropping hundreds of tons of bombs on Gazan neighbourhoods. At least 1,300 Palestinians – innocent men, women and children – were killed in “Operation Cast Lead” and 5,300 were injured. Barak also commanded the murderous assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010 where commandos killed nine people, many of them shot in the back.
Major General (Ret.) Amos Gilad is head of Israel’s defence ministry’s diplomatic-security bureau and an invited speaker for the third successive year. Gilad is a Zionist war criminal and senior state terrorist who commanded the killing of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from 1974 to 1979 as a Chief of the Department of Military Intelligence. In December 2008, Gilad personally negotiated with Mubarak to ensure Egypt’s support for the murderous invasion of Gaza. The ongoing military siege of Gaza is a crime against humanity and in violation of the Rome Statue and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The Harper government is sending Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard to the HISF as its star representative and saviour of the Libyan people. Bouchard should also be put on trial for war crimes; he was commander of the U.S.-NATO air war on Libya including the killing of civilians, the violent overthrow of the country’s government and the extrajudicial killing of Gadhafi and others. Throughout Bouchard made it clear he held final authority for approving all targets. On November 6, CBC Newsworld interviewed Bouchard about the need for “action” against Syria with the Libyan war as “a template.”
Who is next?
The crimes against peace being carried out by the U.S. government and its allies to be discussed at the HISF and hatched in its backrooms relate in particular to their plans for military intervention.
Enroute to Halifax, Barak huddled in Ottawa on Wednesday with Defence Minister Peter MacKay. They negotiated details (which have been kept secret) of “deepening” military cooperation in anticipation of – in the words of MacKay – “much more volatility… throughout the Arab Spring and Summer and now Arab Fall and the cascading effects” of uprisings throughout the Middle East. MacKay fails to mention that a large part of the oil that sustains the economy of the NATO developed and rich countries comes from the Arab world.
According to a Pentagon news release on November 16, Panetta has scheduled meetings in Halifax with Barak, MacKay and French Gen. Stephane Abrial, the NATO allied commander for transformation.
Who is next?
From Panetta on down, the participants (300 in all) have been summoned from a select handful of countries; the US, Canada, Germany, and those who wish to subordinate national sovereignty to the strategic interests of the imperialists and NATO.
The speaker’s roster is packed with hand-picked NATO, NORAD, Pentagon, State Department and CIA veterans; elected and appointed government officials (Democrat and Republican) – those who prepared and planned the war against Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya; war industries; and associated “non-partisan” think-tanks from most (but not all) 28 NATO member-states, plus the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Less than ten per cent of the participants announced so far are from Canada. They include two current Conservative cabinet ministers, Vic Toews, Public Security, and Peter MacKay, Defence; the Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, and assorted stenographers from the national media.
However, military intervention is by no means the only crime against the peace and humanity in preparation at the Halifax conference.
Shift in emphasis
The first and second HISFs in 2009 and 2010 concentrated on elaborating the new “strategic doctrine” that was to be adopted by NATO at its Brussels Summit, with generals, admirals and strategists predominant and U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates inaugurating the 2009 event.
However, comparing the first and third forums – its organization, roster of speakers, and content – one notices a clear shift in emphasis and tactics.
The HISF organization, whose murky origin has never been explained, itself is now intermeshed with the powerful U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, the imperial brain trust, and the driving force behind the “Security and Prosperity Partnership” (SPP) for North America in the service of the biggest North American monopolies, North American Security Perimeter agreement and the annexation of Canada. It aims to put the territory, natural resources and working class of Canada, Mexico and the United States at the disposal of U.S. imperialism in its quest to dominate the peoples of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Third Halifax International Security Forum is highlighted by the participation of leading liberal imperialist representatives of such agencies of the U.S. state as the National Endowment for Democracy and two of its core agencies, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and theInternational Republican Institute, together with Freedom House and Human Rights Watch.
Its agenda is synchronized with the program of subversion of these agencies known to specialize in the “soft power” techniques of intervention, political destabilization and regime change under the pretext of “people power,” “democracy,” “open society,” “non-violence” and “human rights.”
At the same time, a much broader focus is being given by the HISF to the Middle East and Africa. Of particular significance is the fact that American specialists in manipulation and subversion of the “Arab Spring” have been recruited from the NDI and Freedom House to the board of directors of the Halifax International Security Forum.
In short, the U.S. and Canadian governments remain committed to varying forms of interference and intervention throughout the world in order to safeguard the interests of the big monopolies and financial institutions in the same measure that foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Canada – as exemplified by the HISF – is escalating. It is in these circumstances that all democratic people must take a stand not only against military intervention, but also and all forms of interference in the affairs of the peoples of Africa, the Middle East, South America and Asia as well as Canada itself.
Further, the involvement of the Dexter government of Nova Scotia and leading “civilian” officials from the Halifax Port Authority, which delivered the welcoming address in 2010, and other regional transportation centres, is noteworthy. It indicates how the port of Halifax and Nova Scotia is being integrated into the military, logistic and strategic plans of the Pentagon as a harbour for war and global transportation route, which helps explain the recent voyage of Dexter to the Zionist state of Israel and his negotiations with Zim Shipping. All democratic people must remain vigilant regarding the Atlantic Gateway project, which is geared towards facilitating the robbery of oil and the other rich resources of the sovereign peoples of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Despite the fact that Halifax is the most militarized city in Canada, Haligonians do not welcome war criminals, as shown by the demonstration of 7,000 people against George W. Bush on December 1, 2004, against Condoleeza Rice and against two previous war conferences. In the work of the anti-war movement over the past ten years, this sentiment of the people against war and intervention has shone through. Even amongst those who have relatives who have been forced to fight in Afghanistan or amongst veterans, the ability to see through the Harper pretexts of humanitarianism has been evident. In fact, it is the hidden strength of this resistance and the desire for truth that has forced these governments and their agencies into such disinformation and their flood of cynical lies and chaos. In this context, the Halifax International Security Forum reflects the concern Ottawa and Washington have over the potential of this movement in such a strategic port. The HISF has been organized as a deliverate provocation against the conscience of Haligonians and the Canadian people and to subvert and overwhelm the anti-war movement with disinformation.
The Halifax International Security Forum organised by the United States and the Harper government and their warmongers must be vigorously condemned, as must the expansion of all preparations for intervention and war. American Imperialism represents the greatest threat to the security and stability of the world’s people.
No Harbour for War!
* This article is written on behalf of the Ad Hoc Committee to oppose the Halifax War Conference and was originally published on Halifax Media Co-op. Watch the website of the Halifax Media Co-op, TML Daily, or https://tonyseed.wordpress.com for additional informative articles and news reports.