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Sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, Afghanistan is Not Canada’s War


Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has trouble understanding Canadians who feel ardently that their country’s soldiers should not be involved in Afghanistan.

Toronto Globe and Mail

Afghanistan is not our war, Mr. Prime Minister.

We are not threatened by voices in the Middle East opposing American policy, unless you believe one reference in a recording of bin Laden mentioning Canada along with other countries. That recording, along with other post-invasion recordings, was almost certainly a CIA fraud, for Osama bin Laden had to be killed in the heavy bombing of his mountain redoubt.

Even if you do not believe that bin Laden is dead, what is beyond question is that American activities in Afghanistan and Iraq are building a vast reservoir of resentments and a training school for future terrorists. Tens of thousands of disaffected young Muslim men not only now have something to deeply resent but they have the operational conditions to perfect their arts of covert war. According to countless witnesses from Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s brutal, thoughtless tactics have only inflamed tempers. Canada’s good name should not be associated with this.

The previous government’s making an under-the-table deal with Bush to place Canadian troops in Afghanistan surely does not make it our war. Your continuing, rather shrill, insistence still does not make it so. The deal was, of course, an effort to placate Bush for our not supporting his illegal invasion of Iraq. America is Canada’s neighbor, but it is a fatuous and immoral argument that you help your neighbor in criminal activities just because he is your neighbor.

You and other voices from Western Canada have made much of reforming Canada’s democratic institutions, and I agree that a number of them do need reforming. Yet no greater vice to democracy can exist than a government’s committing the lives of young people and the whole nation’s reputation to war without any consultation or debate. If you believe in democratic values, as you claim, you cannot support such behavior.

The argument is all the more powerful when war is the behavior of a minority government. Your government represents the will of less than forty percent of Canadians. How can you believe then that your views on the war should be the views of most Canadians? Through polls and every other indication of public opinion, the majority of the Canadian people have made it clear they do not support America’s wars in the Middle East.

The Canadian general in charge of operations in Afghanistan has made public statements that are shameful to Canada’s reputation in the world. Stuff about going over to do some killing. He sounds like an American wannabe raised on Rambo movies.

Canada did have a terrorist incident every bit as dreadful as 9/11. I refer to the bombing of the Air India flight years ago. Taking account of Canada’s size, this event killed proportionately more Canadians than 9/11’s American victims. While the outcome of that investigation has been disappointing, Canada never contemplated bombing Sikh communities because of it. America’s logic in the war on terror is simply that ridiculous.



John Chuckman lives in Canada.

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