FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Canada in Afghanistan

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:

January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail