The War in Afghanistan is the Ce

The War in Afghanistan is the Central Issue of Canadian Pre-Election Politics

Statement: Canadians for Peace & Socialism

January 24, 2007

The Fix Is In

The Harper Government’s election advisers have sidelined the public debate on the war in Afghanistan for a sham debate on the environment. There is fear among the military brass and the arms lobby that a pre-election public debate on the Afghan war will expose and interfere with massive profiteering now underway from a rapidly inflating war budget.  Jack Layton of the NDP, Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc and Stephane Dion of the Liberals are going along with this charade.

Trivializing the Reasons for War

The Harper Government is trivializing the real reasons for the war. Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor said on January 22, 2007 that; “the previous government and this government will not allow Canadians to be killed without retribution”. O’Connor was referring to the 24 Canadians who died in the 9/11 Twin Tower terrorist attack. O’Connor went on; “I don’t believe the (former) Liberal Government would have committed us to Afghanistan had there not been Canadians killed”.  Prime Minister Harper contends that Canadian forces are in Afghanistan to bring democracy and development aid to Afghans. At other times the Harper Government justifies the participation of Canadian forces in Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from coming to Canada to commit terrorist acts. To date 47 Canadians have died wreaking vengeance on the Taliban and hundreds of Afghans, called collateral damage, have died in US-NATO attacks. Such bizarre justifications for Canadian forces participation in Afghanistan play well among the politically naive but for aware Canadians it all has a hollow ring.

One Imperialist War on Two Fronts - The Nuclear Threat

The US-NATO war has nothing to do with any of the above. The Iraq Afghanistan conflicts are in fact one US-NATO imperialist war on two fronts. The Bush Administration has plans to extend the war to Iran, on its own, or through its surrogate Israel, with the use of tactical nuclear weapons. See The attack has been planned and rehearsed. If the unthinkable happens, the consequences for world peace will be grave. The danger of wider war is real and imminent. A U.S. nuclear attack on Iran will take place in a region where China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Israel and the USA all have nuclear weapons.

Economic Consequences for Canadian Workers and Farmers of a Prolonged War

The Harper Government has committed Canadian troops to Afghanistan to 2009. A Department of Defence document just released reveals plans for Canadian participation beyond 2009, in fact indefinitely. A prolonged war means death and misery for many more Canadians and Afghans.  The cost of the war if continued for many more years will absorb all federal government budget surpluses and drive the state into the same deficit crisis that is afflicting the U.S. government. Canada as a fully militarized society will be unrecognizable as we know it.  Escalating war budgets will become the justification to divert funds from healthcare, education, pensions, universal day care, affordable housing and public transportation.  The rapid militarization of the economy will reduce federal funds available to “fix” the so-called fiscal imbalance and compete with non-military sectors of the economy such as auto and agriculture and small manufacturing and service industries for state subsidies.

The War in Afghanistan and Canadian Unity

Because of its huge cost to the federal government treasury, the war has already become the main source of disunity and political instability in Canada as it has become in the U.S.A. The capitalist parties are not united around one policy regarding the war. The friction between the Conservatives and the opposition parties is because not all sections of the capitalist class are benefiting from the war. Some benefit directly, some indirectly and others not at all.

Among Canadian working people, there is little mass enthusiasm and only minority support for the US-NATO war. By and large the public correctly perceives the war to be unjust, not winnable and a gross overreaction to terrorism that actually increases the likelihood of terrorist acts and brings down death and misery on the civilian masses of Iraq and Afghanistan, the very people the war is supposed to help.

Canadians are sceptical about a war in Afghanistan that is enthusiastically promoted by the same capitalist interests that exploit Canadian working people at home. Aid supplied by Canadian taxpayers for Afghan civilians winds up in the pockets of contractors, Afghan warlords and drug dealers. A war that is promoted as necessary to free Afghan women from oppression is carried out by a Government that is cutting funding to Canadian women suffering from similar abuse and oppression.

A war, promoted as necessary to bring democracy and freedom to Afghanistan is accompanied by a loss of individual freedoms and civil rights in Canada as U.S. dictated security laws and regulations are enacted by the Canadian government that infringe the civil and human rights of Canadians.  For the first time in our long mutual history of living in peace and traversing our undefended border, the ruling classes of Canada and the U.S.A. are planning to erect a fence between our two peoples.

Contracting-Out Canada’s Foreign Policy to NATO

The decision to escalate Canada’s role in Afghanistan from a policing mission in Kabul to a full scale combat role in Kandahar was taken at NATO Headquarters in Brussels last February by Chief of Staff James Hillier and Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor and then rammed through Parliament in a six hour take note debate.  Why has Conservative Prime Minister Harper contracted out Canada’s foreign and military policy to NATO?  Why has Prime Minister Harper by-passed Parliament and led the country into a full scale war in defiance of a clear majority of Canadians who are opposed to this kind of combat mission for Canadian forces?  Why is the Harper Government spending lavishly on a war in Afghanistan but doesn’t properly fund a Canadian coast guard for search and rescue, to defend our off shore fisheries and arctic sovereignty?

State Monopoly Capitalism Promotes War

The answer lies in the character of the Canadian economy and state.  Canadian capitalism is state monopoly capitalism and state monopoly capitalism is imperialism.  Imperialism is the global system of capitalism in the era of the domination of the economy by trans-national corporations.  Imperialism is the era of imperialist wars for resources, the division and re-division of markets and to gain strategic military superiority over adversaries.  It is the era of anti-imperialist struggles and socialist revolutions.

The foreign policy of the Canadian Government cannot be separated from its domestic policy.  Economic policies at home are determined outside of Parliament by non-elected corporate interests.  The most influential of these are the military-industrial complex and the energy sector that supplies the U.S.A. and its military with a growing proportion of its need for oil and gas.

The energy sector is the most centralized, integrated and well financed of all corporate interests in Canada and maintains the closest ties with U.S. militarism.  The Canadian energy sector has global reach and is integrating and coordinating its extraction, production, processing and transportation of oil and gas, and now Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), to supply the U.S. market and participate in global energy plays.  All of this is done without regard for Canada’s long term energy needs or protection for the Canadian consumers.

The military elite is intimately connected to the high-tech communications, electronics, aerospace and advanced scientific and technological sectors of the economy.  The military reach includes research and development projects contracted to state subsidized universities. This cabal might now be more correctly described as the industrial-military-university complex.  The military maintains a well financed lobby at Ottawa which maintains close connections with NATO, NORAD and the U.S. military. It is these interests that lobby and campaign for higher defence budgets.

Fight for Peace as We Fight for Life

The political conspiracy now underway to marginalize and mute the pre-election debate on the war on Afghanistan must be fully exposed by the left and peace forces to prevent the Liberal, NDP and Bloc from retreating from their commitment to end the war and bring the troops home.  If they retreat from the issue of Afghanistan the Harper Conservatives will win the next election.  It is up to the Communists to ensure that does not happen.