Three more Canadian soldiers died in Afghanistan yesterday, bringing the Canadian death toll to 103 soldiers, two aid workers and one diplomat. A week before in Helmand Province, ten civilians including women and children were killed in an ISAF air strike in the Nad-e-Ali district.
The only bright note was today’s shoe-ing of outgoing War Criminal in Chief George W. Bush by Muntadhar al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist with Egypt-based al-Baghdadia television network — who could be heard yelling in Arabic: “This is a farewell … you dog!” Reportedly, throwing shoes at someone is considered an insult among Muslims. I gather that being called a dog isn’t exactly a term of endearment, either. But I digress . . .
Like most Canadians, I am more than tired of this endless violence (except for the shoe part). For that reason, I suppose, I (and we) would not have been welcomed at a gathering, in Ottawa last week, of dozens of senior bureaucrats, diplomats and analysts from Canada and the U.S. who met to discuss a “blueprint” for convincing Obama to pay attention to the Canadian government.
Among their conclusions, according to the Financial Post,
. . . if Ottawa has any hope of getting the ear of the world’s most popular politician, it will have to think big and act even bigger. And that means dumping plans for the large-scale withdrawal of Canadian Forces from Afghanistan in 2011.
These deep thinkers need a reality check: Obama will only remain the world’s most popular politician if he breaks his election promise and withdraws from Afghanistan.
Regrettably, I doubt that will happen. Obama strikes me as a forthright man; if he says he is going to escalate the war in Afghanistan, I believe him. Furthermore, there is no doubt in my mind that our mandarin class will line up to do the Empire’s bidding. Whether we have Stephen Harper to kick us around in 2012, or whether the boots are applied by “Torture if Necessary, but Not Necessarily Torture” Michael Ignatieff, the outcome is not likely to be much different. We will be in Afghanistan, and other unquestionably sordid military misadventures, because that is the nature of the beasts who run things in Ottawa and Washington.
While I have never believed that Canada played the Pearsonian boy scout that we have been raised to believe was our progressive, middle power personna, there is no question that we are becoming increasingly militarized. In 2004, Canada was tied with Germany for 5th place among the world’s largerst arms exporters.
USA – $18.555 billion
Russia – 4.6 billion
France – 4.4 billion
UK – 1.9
Germany – 0.9 billion
Canada – 0.9 billion
China – 0.7 billion
Israel – 0.5 billion
According to Conscience Canada,
Canada’s involvement in militarism is significant: 8.4% of Canada’s budget was spent on the military in 2006-2007 (up from 7.9% in 2005-06). Canada is now the sixth highest military spender within NATO.
|Department of National Defence||$15,691,320 (thousands)|
|Total Federal Government Expenditures||$185,916,879 (thousands)|
Table, Canada’s Military Budget 2006-07: Conscience Canada
With the costs of Canada’s war in Afghanistan expected to be between $14 to $18 billion by 2001, expect that figure to increase.
While a majority of Canadians opposes this war, most opposition has been expressed politely in public opinion polls. While the peace movement can take much of the credit for informing and helping to shape public opinion, the government has found it relatively easy to ignore the peaceful wishes of Canadians.
Anti-war opposition might be louder and sharper if young Canadians were being conscripted to fight in this unpopular war. But they are not, and Canadians remain relatively quiescent as a result.
What most Canadians don’t seem to get is that Ottawa’s eager warriors don’t need to draft our kids as long as they can draft our dollars. As Justice Thomas Berger has observed,
In Canada the conscription of ordinary citizens has become irrelevant to the maintenance of the armies of modern technological societies. It is the citizen’s resources that the government now conscripts.
What do you suppose the government would do if the 56 per cent of Canadians who disapprove of their war refused to pay for it? Never mind 56 percent — what if only five per cent of us redirected that portion of our income taxes that funds the Department of National Defence to peaceful means?
Watch this video, and then check out the Conscience Canada web site. And think it over.
I can hear it now: HELL NO! OUR BUCKS WON’T GO! Hmmmm.