In the anti-national tradition of previous governments, the first year of the Trudeau government confirms that it is openly embracing the warmongering, militarism and reaction of U.S. imperialism. To cover this up, it promotes the image of Canada as a force for peace, saying that peacemaking is Canada’s main pursuit internationally today. Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion cites the role played by Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in creating the UN peacekeeping force, known as the Blue Helmets or Blue Berets, at the time of the Suez Canal crisis in 1956 to say that today, under different circumstances, what Canada is doing internationally also serves the cause of peace. Speaking at a meeting of the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations on October 17, Dion said, “Sixty years, ago, the UN agreed to deploy the first peacekeeping force in history along the Suez Canal. The Blue Helmets were born and, the following year, Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize. This innovation had extraordinary consequences for the world. Peacekeeping forces have become a vital tool and a part of Canada’s identity on the international stage.” Canada is “a determined peacebuilder,” Dion said.
To perpetuate the myth of Canada as a great “peacekeeper” and reclaim this image for the Liberal Party today, Dion hides that Pearson’s actions to establish the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), which was deployed to the Suez Canal in November 1956, were carried out on behalf of U.S. imperialism and that the “internationalism” of the Liberal Party has always been to defend the international politics of imperialism. Justin Trudeau’s “internationalism” is of the same character. The bourgeoisie in Canada identifies the pursuit of its own interests with the interests of U.S. imperialism and the Justin Trudeau Liberal “refresh” of Canada’s foreign policy is a clear indication of this.
In the 19th century and into the 20th, Canada’s foreign policy was conducted by the Imperial British Parliament. On behalf of the British Empire, Canadians joined in its adventure in Crimea and then participated in the Second Boer War as well as World War I and the subsequent 14-country invasion of Soviet Russia to overthrow the proletarian state power. But ever since the end of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles when it became responsible for its own foreign relations, no Canadian government has taken any measures internationally whatsoever, whether in the Security Council or through other bodies, which would defend democracy or establish an international order favourable to the interests of the people. In fact, following World War II, when Canada took on the role of peacekeeper, it became an advocate of Cold War anti-communism and counter-revolution against the former Soviet Union and people’s democracies as well as the national liberation movements in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Despite this, Stéphane Dion’s recent speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations presents a fairy tale image of Canada’s foreign policy. Referring to the Harper government’s reluctant participation in various international bodies and initiatives, Dion said that now with the Liberals in power Canada is “back on the world stage.” It was “Not that Canada had left the world, but it was no longer playing the role expected of it,” Dion said. He then listed all the things which in his mind show that Canada is “back” in its rightful place.
“We are defending human rights everywhere, and have created an office for this purpose,” Dion said. Canada is “especially helping countries that are choosing a democratic path,” he said, adding that Canada is “attending and playing a constructive and active role in all the forums where peace is negotiated, from the Middle East to Colombia.” According to Dion, “Instead of acting alone, we are following the same policy as NATO and our allies…” and “We have strengthened sanctions against countries that disturb world order, but we have done so in cooperation with our allies.”
Dion said there is a “common thread” linking these policies and the “overarching goal is to make Canada a determined peacebuilder – peace being defined as more than just the absence of armed conflict.” To explain what this means, Dion elaborated the differences between the world of today and the world of Lester Pearson and his “peacekeeping.” Canada “plans to return to this great tradition, but it will do so taking into account new global realities. We can no longer keep the peace as we did half a century ago,” he said.
His explanation included a self-serving account of the fight against terrorism, which hides the state terrorism of the big powers and their intervention in various countries such as Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to secure their own hegemony and carry out regime change. “[States] are no longer engaged in conventional and direct warfare with one another,” he said, adding that we owe this “absence of direct war between states” to “military and diplomatic efforts toward peace.”
While wars between states have disappeared, “the conflicts that persist in the world are asymmetrical,” he said, which means “a state opposing groups of insurgents or rebels, or sometimes terrorist or criminal networks.” Using this self-serving imperialist definition, which recognizes the forces created by the U.S. imperialists and under their command as legitimate “rebels,” and others as “terrorist or criminal networks,” Dion concluded that peacekeepers are “no longer asked to serve as buffers between states that welcome them.”
Instead, “Conflicts today are complex and require a modern, multi-faceted and comprehensive approach, where military, diplomatic and humanitarian responses, together with security and development initiatives, are brought together under a broader umbrella of ‘peace operations,’” Dion said. Peacekeeping now means “military intervention undertaken in close cooperation with local authorities and, often, with a range of international and regional partners such as NATO, the European Union, the African Union and others.” Dion adds that peacekeeping is also now about the “protection of civilians.” This is the same phrase used to launch imperialist aggression time and time again.
While Pearson’s peacekeeping was to undermine the sovereignty of Egypt and all the fighting peoples of the Middle East and change the balance of power in the region in favour of U.S. imperialism, Dion’s is to engage in direct military intervention in defence of the U.S. imperialist world order.
For a country to play its role as a peacekeeper, it must have a foreign policy of positive neutrality, condemning all acts of aggression and intervention and unjust wars and supporting all movements which open the path for social progress and lasting peace in the world. Dion makes no reference whatsoever to such a need in his speech on Liberal foreign policy, except that the policy of “peacekeeping” is applauded as if it is a recognized truth. Far from calling for Canada to get out of NATO and NORAD and for these aggressive military blocs to be dismantled as is required to secure peace, the Trudeau government calls for strengthening the warmongering presence of these military blocs all over the world, especially to isolate Russia.
A peacekeeper can only have one standard, that of creating the conditions for peace without, at the same time, being an interventionist and aggressor or defender of militarism and fascism. Positive neutrality under all circumstances must be the watchword if the role of peacekeeping is to be given substance and be suitable for the creation of a new world equilibrium. TML Weekly calls on Canadians to oppose service to imperialism in the name of peace and to redouble their efforts to make Canada a zone for peace.
1.The UNEF was not the first UN “peacekeeping” force. The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) was established in 1948 to monitor a ceasefire in Palestine, while a United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan the same year was to monitor a ceasefire between the two countries. After the Armistice Agreement in the Korean War in 1953 UN forces remained as “peacekeepers” on the south side of the Demilitarized Zone until 1967 when U.S. and south Korean troops took over.
Source: TML Weekly, October 22, 2016, No. 41