According to Rideau Institute president Steven Staples “I have heard that there are memos being produced inside the Canadian government today that are saying that the [Afghan] war has already been lost.”
In his 45 minute address, Staples compared the programs of Barack Obama and John McCain and speculated on the implications of their platforms for Canada in terms of trade and the environment, climate change strategies, energy security, border issues and national security and foreign policy, especially as it pertains to Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan.
Commenting on Bush’s tragic legacy, Staples said:
In Canada, the Liberal Government of Jean Chrétien after 911 quickly implemented far reaching national security measures to harmonize our policies with US priorities with terrible results – as Canadians saw what happened when Maher Arar was trapped and tortured by the post 911 secret security apparatus that had been thrown up in the weeks that followed those attacks. While Chrétien famously refused to join the invasion of Iraq after tremendous protests, he sent us deeper into Afghanistan. One hardly notices the difference now, with so many soldiers killed and billions of dollars spent on that failing Afghan war, that we didn’t go into Iraq; the results are pretty much substantially the same.
Staples noted strong similarities between the spending policies of Bush, the two presidential candidates and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
As many commentators, such as the Globe and Mail’s Jeffrey Simpson have pointed out, neither candidate has a plan to deal with the massive US budget deficit which has been driven by Bush’s policies of big military spending and tax cuts. This may sound familiar because its these same policies that the Globe and Mail has said under Steven Harper has cost us our budget surplus. Harper’s big tax cuts and his big military spending increases now risk driving Canada into a budget deficit and an economic downturn.
Staples said it was time for Canada to develop a national energy policy that addressed Canadian needs and made it clear that Canadian oil belongs, in the first instance, to Canadians. He said this approach is not one recognized by U.S. leaders.
US leaders look at Canadian oil as part of US domestic sources; they don’t really think of Canada and all the oil we’re pumping down there as being a foreign source. They just assume it’s kinda theirs’. In fact Canada is now the number one source of oil imports to the United States and there is already a tacit agreement that tar sands production will increase five-fold by 2020 to increase the supply to the United States.
Staples expressed grave fears regarding Obama’s plans for Afghanistan and the implications for Canada.
This Obama policy of shifting thousands of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan is probably the most worrisome for us in the short term. For all of the positive changes that an Obama presidency could bring, this would be a huge mistake. By simply pumping in thousands of US troops to contribute to the same counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan that they have been following all this time, Obama will only make matters worse. And that’s not all; he will try to pull other countries down with him in Afghanistan. The US will seek greater allied contributions to the war. Already – I don’t know if you saw it on CBC the other night: a senior adviser to the Obama campaign told the interviewer that he will be looking for more support from Canada. And remember, we’ve committed to another three years of fighting, to December 2011.
Wrapping up his speech, Staples outlined what he saw as Canada’s priorities following the election of a new US president. These would include renegotiating NAFTA to incorporate environmental and labour protections, developing a made-for-Canada energy policy, support for Canada’s devastated manufacturing sector, and pushing for peace in Afghanistan.
Listen to Steven Staples here
To hear Steven Staples entire address, click on Canada After Bush. (Hint: For streaming audio, click on the little red arrow.)
The Rideau Institute on International Affairs is an independent research, advocacy and consulting group based in Ottawa. It provides research, analysis and commentary on public policy issues to decision makers, opinion leaders and the public. It is a federally registered non-profit organization, established in January 2007.
Steven Staples is the president of the Rideau Institute. In the past 15 years, Steven Staples has acted as the Director of Security Programs for the Polaris Institute, the Issue Campaigns Coordinator for the Council of Canadians and the Coordinator for End the Arms Race. He is well known for his work on international defence, disarmament and trade issues.