The Halifax International Security Forum met in Halifax, Nova Scotia from November 17 to 19. The annual conference brought together over 300 participants from more than 80 countries to discuss the theme: Peace? Prosperity? Principle? Securing What Purpose?
The theme reflects the crisis facing the imperialist system as the much longed-for peace, prosperity and lack of any principles haunts them. The peace promised by the imperialist powers following the fall of the Soviet Union has not emerged. The global economy is facing more serious and regular crises. The failure of the imperialist ruling elites to live up to their promises that a free market economy, multi-party elections and “human rights” would bring freedom, peace and prosperity chips away at the fraud that this period represents the end of history and the only option is liberal democracy. This causes nightmares for the imperialists as do the heroic advances made by the peoples’ forces in showing that history has indeed not come to an end.
Most notable was the opening speech delivered by the Forum’s President Peter Van Praagh. He began by revealing the imperialists’ guilty conscience when he placed the forum in the context of the centenary of the Halifax explosion which took place on December 6, 1917. On that date, the SS Mont Blanc, a French ship loaded with ammunitions and explosives on its way to France from New York via Halifax, collided with the SS Imo, a Norwegian vessel in the Narrows, the strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin. This explosion killed 2,000 people, injuring another 9,000. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons. A tsunami created by the blast wiped out the community of Mi’kmaq Indigenous people who had lived in the Tufts Cove area for generations.
According to Van Praagh it “was the Halifax Explosion that in many ways brought home to North America the reality of the War in Europe.” What Van Praagh did not say is that it brought home the reality that the imperialist system which gives rise to war between rivals causes grave suffering to the peoples of the world. Then turning truth on its head he stated that “1917 was also the year that brought the United States into the war, ensuring its outcome.”
The refusal to deal with the Great October Revolution which took place on November 7, 1917 and established soviet power, shows the inability of the imperialists and their spokespeople to come to terms with the role that the people, in this case the Russian people, played in ending that imperialist slaughter by overthrowing their rulers and taking Russia out of the war. Instead of even recognizing this fact, Van Praagh sought to bury it and said the Russian revolution was the first “great rival system” to “liberal democratic capitalism” in the 20th century. This clearly shows that for the imperialists and their henchmen they only see potential rivals and not human beings aspiring for a new and modern society. They cannot see the future because they think everyone is like them.
For good measure, to make sure Canadians do not identify with the Great October Socialist Revolution but instead with war criminals and genocide, he added that 1917 was
“the same year that a young David Ben Gurion arrived in Nova Scotia to train with a British battalion that would eventually make its way to the Holy Land, the Balfour Declaration that would set in motion seismic changes in The Middle East was issued 100 years ago this month.”
The Forum and its agenda represent the imperialist world which is in utter crisis. It cannot justify its existence and has set for itself the impossible task of securing its rule amidst all the contradictions inherent within it. The Forum’s agenda reflects the morbid preoccupation with defeat of one section of the ruling class internationally amidst perceived threats to its existence. Within this the role of the people, their fight for peace, democracy and their rights also become threats to their existence.
Van Praagh closed his opening remarks stating:
“As China challenges, as Russia interferes, as North Korea threatens, and as international terrorism continues all at a time that the world adapts to a new style of American leadership, the conversations held this weekend will, indeed, have some bearing on how future generations 100 years from now judge how we identified and secured our common purpose.”
Common purpose is precisely what the ruling class cannot attain, yet it holds forums such as these to try and try again to unite its own warring factions for fear of losing everything.
Haligonians, as they have since its inception, rallied outside the Forum holding high the banner of peace, for an anti-war government and for Canada to get out of the warmongering NATO alliance. Their refusal to permit the warmongers to plot and scheme under cover of the Trudeau government’s warm embrace and security apparatus shows that indeed, one hundred years later, the people of Halifax affirm No Harbour for War!
- HALIFAX INTERNATIONAL SECURITY FORUM 2017 DRAFT TOPICAL AGENDA
Plenary Sessions (On-the-Record)
Peace? Prosperity? Principle? Securing What Purpose?
Nukes: The Fire and the Fury Weaponizing Capital: One Belt, One Road, One Way
Making Peace with Women
Rapprochement with Russia: Post-Putin Prep
Satellite Armies: The Race in Space
Rebuilding the Middle East: From Civil War to Civil Society
Climate Change: Houston, We Have a Solution
Large Group Sessions (Off-the-Record)
Real Conflict Solutions: The World After Vancouver
North Korea: Jaw Jaw or War War?
The Uninvited Voter: Rigged by Cyber
ISIS: Did We Win?
India – China Relations
Living and Dying in Russia’s Neighborhood
Small Group Sessions (Off-the-Record)
AI: Awesome Initiative or Apocalypse Impending?
Arab Spring, Hope Eternal
Cyber Rules Tomorrow
Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Floods: Who You Gonna Call?
Four Famines: Food For Thought is Not Enough
From Belfast to Baghdad: The Evolution of Terrorism
GCC: Gulf of Cooperation?
The Geopolitics of Energy: What’s New Under the Sun?
Immigration: The Canadian Fix
Including Africa: Lessons to Learn
Intelligence: From Spying to Lying
Israel: A Century After Balfour
Japan’s Strategic Options
Make Latin America Great Again
Merkel and Macron: The Axis of Europe
The Press: Responsibility to Inform (honestly, completely)
Securing the Seas: Asia’s Troubled Waters
Soft, Smart, and Hard: Balancing Power
Southeast Europe Today
(UN)civil Wars: Bringing Peace Home
Where is My Home? The Refugee Question
Who the People? The Future of Democracy
Who’s Afraid of Global Trade?