By Margaret Villamizar
Whatever spin Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may try to put on it, the defeat of the U.S./NATO aggressors in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban is very much a defeat for the Trudeau government and the policy of successive governments to appease the U.S. warmongers by joining or supporting their dirty wars against nations and peoples that have done Canada and Canadians no harm. These illegal wars of aggression have always been based on lies, as are other acts of war such as economic “sanctions” against countries that do not submit to U.S./NATO dictate. The war in Afghanistan was no exception.
Canada like other NATO members was dragged into the U.S. “war on terror” in Afghanistan based on the lie that the U.S. was acting in self-defence. NATO’s Atlantic Council asserted, without evidence, one day after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon that the Taliban-led government of Afghanistan was responsible and had to be taken out by force. NATO’s Article 5, which states that an attack on any of its members is an attack on all of them that requires collective defence, was quickly invoked to get other members of the alliance to join the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. The same false claim of self-defence was used to get the UN Security Council to go along with NATO’s violation of the Charter of the United Nations, which the Security Council is duty-bound to uphold, regarding what does and does not constitute self-defence.
This is the “rules-based international order” in action that the U.S. and Canada are pushing in opposition to the rule of law and the UN Charter. The U.S. makes the rules, decides who is breaking them, and how they should be punished.
The war’s toll in terms of lives lost and ruined and the destruction wrought by years of merciless and indiscriminate bombing by the U.S./NATO coalition gives the lie to everything Canadians were told the war was about: bringing freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law, security and development to Afghanistan, and upholding the rights of women and girls.
Brown University’s Cost of War project estimates that up to April 2021 over 71,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians had died as a direct result of the war. This is in addition to the official count which includes 125,000 combatants on all sides, aid workers and journalists. It does not include all those wounded and left with permanent injuries, the millions displaced from their homes and turned into refugees, those tortured and detained for years without trial in hell-holes like the U.S. prison in Guantánamo, and others condemned to civil death using draconian “anti-terrorism” laws and, in Canada, security certificates. There were 165 Canadians, including seven civilians, who died in the war. Many more of the 40,000 Canadian troops who were deployed to Afghanistan were wounded, both physically and psychologically, leading to many veterans taking their own lives.
Let the experience of Afghanistan serve as a lesson about the folly of magical thinking that Canada “benefits” from being an integrated part of the U.S. war machine. How are Canadians served by having their governments interfere in the affairs of sovereign peoples around the world, as it engages in coercive measures of all types aimed at forcing regime change in those countries? How do Canadians benefit from military interventions against those targeted at any given time as enemies of the U.S. and the “free world” it claims to lead?
The people of the U.S., Canada and other countries are never consulted and have no say when governments claiming to represent them decide to embroil their countries in war as part of NATO or some other U.S.-assembled coalition. How have the people of Venezuela or Haiti or Nicaragua been helped by Canada’s operating as a gendarme or a good cop to the U.S. bad cop, in an effort to prevent them from exercising their democratic will by electing governments of their own choosing? Canada is failing to get the results it seeks in those places as the people act to defend their independence and their own nation-building projects. If Canada remains on this road of appeasing the U.S. and its illegitimate wars it will continue to fail, just as it has in Afghanistan, whether Trudeau or any of those seeking to replace him as prime minister want to admit it or not.
Canada’s Foreign Policy Is an Election Issue
The time is now to step up the work to demand Canada get out of NATO and the U.S. war machine so that instead of interfering in the affairs of sovereign countries and peoples it can become a genuine factor for peace. What better time than during a federal election, and in view of the events in Afghanistan, for Canadians to discuss the need for a new direction for Canada’s foreign policy and for a government that renounces war and aggression as tools of its foreign policy, and how such a government can be brought into being.
Let’s put on our agenda finding ways to turn into reality Canadians’ aspirations for peace and relations among the world’s peoples based on equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit!
(With files from CBC, AP, Al Jazeera, The Wire, Politico)
TML Monthly, September 5, 2021, Volume 5, Number 8