Things are sickeningly familiar these days – as though we’re experiencing collective déjà vu or being transported back in time to 2002, before Iraq was invaded. It’s 2012, but in the current narrative fed to us by the ruling class, Stephen Harper has replaced George Bush on the world stage: whipping up Islamophobia, escalating tension, and threatening attack – on Iran instead of Iraq. Ahmadinejad and nuclear programs replace Hussein and WMD’s. Harper on Iran: a regime “where evil dominates”. Bush on Iraq: “now is the time to root out evil”.
In March, the National Post reported: “The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead. Those conclusions (were) drawn from extensive interviews with current and former U.S. and European officials with access to intelligence on Iran…”
Yet Netanyahu, at the UN on September 28, whipped up hysteria with visual aids – an outline of a bomb – and drew a red line at the base of the fuse. He desperately wants us to believe that if we don’t attack Iran, they will attack Israel first. This an oft-repeated refrain from him and we’ve seen this tactic before – from Colin Powell in the whip up of hatred towards Iraq, with his blurry pictures of sand and warehouse buildings supposedly full of WMD’s. In September 2004, the UN declared the Iraq war illegal and a breach of UN Charter. WMD’s were never found. But thousands upon thousands of people are dead.
Yet Harper aggressively rattles sabres. He and his drones have an objective – war is a lucrative business and a good generator of jobs. They also have a plan and a strategy – The “Canada First Defence Strategy” (Canadian government’s italics) – and we’re watching it unfold.
Under the Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS) we will spend $490 billion on the military over the next 15 years. Much is being poured into military hardware, training and glorifying past wars, such as the war of 1812. Criminally little is dedicated to assist Vets returning home from Afghanistan with debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and physical injuries.
On August 31, Jason Kenney – Harper’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration – delivered a deportation order for September 20 to Iraq War Resister and Conscientious Objector Kimberly Rivera. Despite an outpouring of public support calling for Kim to stay, 20,000 petition signatures, appeals from major Unions, national NGO’s and even Desmond Tutu, the government would not reverse the order. On Sept. 20, Kim presented herself voluntarily at the U.S. border and was immediately arrested; when announced in Parliament the Conservative caucus erupted in applause. More deportation orders to War Resisters seeking refuge in Canada are expected.
On September 7, John Baird – Harper’s Minister of Foreign Affairs – announced the end of Canada’s diplomatic ties with Iran, closed the Canadian embassy in Tehran and gave Iranian diplomats in Ottawa five days to leave the country.
The front page of the CFDS website states: “this strengthened military will translate into enhanced security for Canadians at home as well as a stronger voice for Canada on the world stage”. We will never have security as long as our government feeds us hatred and drives us to war. A stronger military doesn’t translate into a stronger voice on the world stage – just stronger muscle to bully chosen enemies or give back-up to despots. And our voice is extremely hard to hear if we’re ending diplomatic relations and avoiding UN meetings with the very people we need to be talking with.
The day after shutting the Cdn. Embassy in Tehran, Baird and Harper were called “geniuses” as the media made hay with news that – a tiny fraction of ultra-conservative – Muslims attacked the U.S. embassy in Libya, denunciating a U.S. film – made by a Coptic Christian – which they felt insulted the prophet Muhammad. The attack on the embassy resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. More attacks on more embassies ensued, along with another round of whipped-up Islamophobic racism.
On September 27 – instead of attending the UN meetings, Harper collected a “World Statesman of the Year” award from the Jewish American “Appeal of Conscience Foundation”, which has previously awarded the same to Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev and others not widely considered conscientious or statesman-like. John Baird and Jason Kenney are reported to be receiving similar awards from similar organizations.
True Statesmen would not cut diplomatic ties, escalate tensions in the middle-east, consistently and solely take one side over another, deport people of conscience, whip up Islamophobia, fear-monger or put our young men and women – and those in the middle-east – at far heightened risk of experiencing war, and death, first hand.
With the U.S. trillions in debt; Millions of people out of work and home; no hint of a job in sight, and foreclosed houses being razed to the ground (it’s easier for the banks to sell an empty lot than a dilapidated house), Stephen Harper chooses take Canada down Bush’s destructive path. This is a lesson in masked depravity, barbarism, the glorification of war and moral and economic bankruptcy.
True Statesmen would work to disarm, end subsidies to the nuclear and fossil-fuel industries, create good green jobs, broker diplomacy, peace, and work to find common ground rather than encouraging brinksmanship and creating despair.
War ships carrying hundreds of air-craft are amassed in the Strait of Hormuz. War games – ‘training exercises’ – have been taking place for months, and there is reasonable and high concern an attack could occur as early as November – after the U.S. election on November 6. We need to organize tirelessly now – as we did in 2002 and 2003 – to galvanize public opinion against another war based on misinformation and grounded in racism.