Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Canada in Afghanistan

by DAVID ORCHARD

The Harper government is seeking to prolong Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan. So far, Canada has spent six years, billions of dollars, 78 young lives (many more wounded) and inflicted unknown casualties on that country.

The terms used to describe our occupation and ongoing war are remarkably similar to those used over a century ago by colonial powers to justify their ruthless wars of colonization. Then, it was the white man’s burden to “civilize” the non-whites of the Americas, Africa and Asia. As cub scouts we were taught Kipling’s unforgettable prose about the “lesser breeds,” but nothing about the real people who paid horrendous costs in death, suffering, destruction and theft of their land and resources.

Today, we are involved in a “mission” in Afghanistan to “improve” the lives of women and children, to install “democracy,” to root out corruption and the drug trade.

Waging war with bombs and guns is not helping women or installing democracy. It is, however, strengthening the Afghan resistance – hence our increasingly shrill cries for more help from NATO.

The U.S. is involved in a similar “mission” in Iraq. So far, over a million Iraqis – many of them children – have died, some two million have fled the country, another two million are “internally displaced,” untold hundreds of thousands wounded in an endless war waged by the world’s most advanced military almost entirely against civilians.

The toll of dead, wounded and displaced for Afghanistan is not being published.

The deadly effects of radioactive, depleted uranium (DU) ammunition being inflicted on both countries (some originally from Saskatchewan) haven’t begun to be tabulated or understood, let alone reported back to us. The idea that bombing the population will improve the lives of women and children could only come from those who have never experienced war.

As for narcotics, in 2001, when the West’s attack on Afghanistan began, its opium trade was approaching eradication. Today, Afghanistan produces over 90% of the world’s heroin and the U.S. is proposing mass aerial spraying of pesticides.

Those of the writer’s generation and older will remember the U.S. onslaught against little Vietnam – the long unspeakable war – which left six million Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians dead, wounded or deformed.

In that extraordinary country one sees miles upon miles of neat graves in the cemeteries, thousands of acres – aerial sprayed with horrific chemicals – still lying waste, craters left from ten million tons of bombs dropped, hand excavated underground tunnels in which the people were forced to live for years on end. An ancient African saying goes, “the axe forgets, but not the tree.” Today, over four million Vietnamese still suffer, many indescribably so, the effects of Agent Orange and other chemicals, and genetic damage is continuing from generation to generation.

In the case of Vietnam, Canada kept its troops out. Over the past decade, however, Canada has bombed Yugoslavia, helped overthrow Jean Bertrand Aristide’s democratically elected government in Haiti, is occupying Afghanistan and now, we learn, is getting involved more deeply in the U.S. devastation of Iraq. (Something Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day openly advocated from the beginning of the U.S. “Shock and Awe” assault on that defenceless nation.)

What gives the rich, powerful, white West the right to wage unending, merciless wars against small, largely non-white, Third World countries? (Yugoslavia, where the west invented “humanitarian” bombing was not a Third World country, but according to President Bill Clinton, it needed to accept the benefits of “globalism.”) The torment of civilians being subjected to the impact of modern weaponry is rarely reported in the West. Canadians, as a matter of policy, are not informed of the number or types of casualties we have inflicted.

The modern concepts of “humanitarian intervention” and the “duty to protect” which seek to override international law and national sovereignty are, in this writer’s view, simply 21st century terminology for colonization.

Military assaults against the poverty stricken farmers of Afghanistan and Haiti, and an Iraqi population struggling for its very survival, are part of a long, barbarous tradition going back to slave ships and colonial resource wars and will some day, I believe, be seen in that context. In the meantime, the agony of millions does not reach our ears or eyes, and Prime Minister Harper is busy working the phones to shore up the U.S.-led war, seeking more troops and helicopters to “finish the job.”

When Canada assisted the British Empire in the Boer War over a century ago, it was Québec that led the opposition. It was again Québec’s vocal resistance – and former Prime Minister Chrétien’s attention to it – that helped keep Canada’s troops out of Iraq. Today, it is up to Canadians who can feel the anguish of the Third World to speak for the voiceless against Canada’s new government of would be conquistadores.

DAVID ORCHARD is the author of The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. He farms at Borden and Choiceland, Saskatchewan.

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail