BY CHARLES BOYLAN
In the August 6 four-party Maclean’s “debate” Stephen Harper stated, “I don’t think this government has gotten itself involved in many military actions.”
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the bi-polar division of the world, Canada’s armed forces have participated in every NATO military adventure in addition to supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The first “military action” in this period saw 18 CF-18 Canadian bombers play a disproportionately large role in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. The damage to buildings and infrastructure was estimated at $40 billion by NATO, and $100 billion by Yugoslavia. NATO used depleted uranium munitions causing long-term cancer and child-birth deformities in Serbia. The Chretien Liberal government’s military involvement, including the occupation of Kosovo, cost $700 million while social programs under Finance Minister Paul Martin were being shredded in the name of austerity. All parties in Parliament, including the NDP, Conservatives and Bloc, supported this military action. NATO’s war on Yugoslavia forcibly changed its boundaries and imposed regime change.
The Canadian state’s next military action was the invasion of Afghanistan. Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) troops were infiltrated into Afghanistan secretly in October 2001, giving rise to the scandal of turning JTF2 prisoners over to Afghanistan and U.S. authorities for torture in violation of international law. NATO’s illegal invasion of Afghanistan – under the pretext that the Taliban government was harbouring Osama Bin Laden, who was blamed for 9/11 – was formally endorsed by Canada and the imperialist system of states at the December 2001 International Conference on Afghanistan in Germany. They imposed Hamid Karzai as “interim leader.” This was the second NATO regime change in two years. Karzai represented the occupying forces until September 2014. Civil war continues to grip this war-torn country utterly wrecked by NATO’s invading forces.
When Harper became Prime Minister in February 2006 he radically increased the size of the Canadian military contingent in Afghanistan to 2,300 soldiers based in the south at Kandahar. Despite promises by Harper to withdraw troops, the deployment was extended first by two years, and then to the end of 2011. The damage these occupying troops caused the Afghanistan population is not recorded; the damage to Canadian soldiers is well-known. So is Harper’s reduction of veteran pensions and closure of veterans’ offices to those damaged by his government’s “military action.”
In the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, despite then-Liberal Prime Minister Chretien’s assertion that Canada did not support Bush’s “coalition of the willing,” dozens of Canadian troops were integrated with U.S. forces invading Iraq. Canadian warships engaged in interdiction off the coast of Iraq; U.S. warplanes refueled in Gander, Newfoundland; Canadian pilots “trained” in Iraq; three Canadian generals commanded thousands of U.S. and “coalition” troops; military materiel flowed to the USA making Canada the fifth or sixth largest supporter of Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. The effect of this war was to wreck the country, kill and torture countless Iraqis, physically divide the country, and violently impose the third U.S.-led regime change in four years.
Canada played an active role, along with the U.S. and France, in planning and executing the February 29, 2004 coup against Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Canadian soldiers, particularly JTF2 forces, participated in carrying out the coup. The present government continues the disinformation campaign to cover up Canada’s ongoing role in Haiti, assisting the quisling government there to re-establish impunity and violence. This was done through so-called humanitarian aid, deployment of “peacekeepers” and training the revived and reviled Haitian National Police as a means to disempower the people and defend monopoly right.
On March 19, 2011, Harper ordered the Canadian air force to join NATO countries in bombing Libya, carrying out over 26,000 bombing sorties before ending this “military exercise” on October 31. On September 1, while visiting troops in Trapani, Italy, Harper boasted about the leading role Canada’s air force played in this “military action” which utterly destroyed the infrastructure of Libya, including its economic, education and health care assets. There Harper declared his support for the “National Transitional Council, “which is obviously the legitimate government of Libya.” He bragged, “History will record this: That it was the good work of Canada’s armed services – your work – working with our allies, that enabled the Libyan people to remove Gaddafi from power.” On October 20, 2011 with support from Canadian war planes, forces financed and armed by NATO, assassinated Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Today Libya, like Iraq, has been utterly wrecked and plunged into never-ending civil strife and violence. Libya became the fifth violently-imposed regime change since 1999 in which the Canadian state played a significant, even leading role.
During the August 6 “debate” Harper described ISIS as the “nerve centre” of Jihadist terrorism which threatens the “entire region,” “the world” and directly “threatens Canada and Canadians.” This, according to Harper, justifies Canadian warplanes bombing Iraq and Syria. What Harper and the other political leaders are covering up is the utter destruction of the Middle East by U.S. imperialism and its allies, scattering thousands from these ancient peoples around the world as hapless refugees. Harper has sold $14 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, which is waging a savage bombing war against the civilians and government of Yemen. In addition Harper has sent hundreds of soldiers to Ukraine to support the fascist coup of February 2014, which is instigating a war with Russia.
Can Canadians really accept Harper’s version of “security?” Far from it, this is an agenda for endless wars. Only the Canadian working class and people can stop this brutal violence and secure peace by blocking Harper’s imperialist war agenda and electing an anti-war government.
Source: Renewal Update, September 28, 2015 • No. 175 Previous Issues