Archive for the ‘War’ Category

On Friday, August 6th, Winnipeggers joined in a Lanterns for Peace Ceremony to mark the 76th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These ceremonies are held each year to help keep alive the memory of these attacks so that current generations understand we must never allow nuclear weapons to be used again.

This year, the focus was on the role of youth in the global campaign for nuclear weapons abolition, with speeches from the young activists responsible for convincing Winnipeg City Council to support the United Nations nuclear weapons ban.

Speakers included Avinashpall Singh and Rooj Ali who, in June, succeeded in persuading the City of Winnipeg to support the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as part of the youth-led International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Cities Appeal.

Winnipeg is now one of 15 Canadian cities to support the ban. Thus far, 86 countries have signed the treaty; Canada’s federal government refuses to support it.

Winnipeg Lanterns For Peace was sponsored by

  • Peace Alliance Winnipeg
  • Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba
  • Council of Canadians-Winnipeg Chapter
  • Winnipeg Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Speakers at Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace 2021 (l-r): Yuhito Adachi, Yūko Nozoe, Junko Bailey, Terra Rybuck, Rooj Ali, Avinashpall Singh, Shiven Srivastava, (missing: Denanie Ashley Persaud) Photo: Paul S. Graham

Ban Killer Drones

Posted: May 2, 2021 in Peace, War
Tags: ,

Peace Activists in the United States have launched a campaign they hope will result in an international ban on weaponized drones. Their new website will tell you more than you want to know about the deployment and lethal effects of these airborne killing machines. It also has suggestions for action and a petition you can sign that calls on the US government, the United Nations, and all the countries of the world to act on this issue.

There is a tendency among Canadian peace activists to see this as primarily a US problem, given that country’s well publicized drone assassination campaign that has resulted in at least 16,901 people killed and 3,922 wounded in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen in recent years.

However, according to Project Ploughshares, as many as 102 countries use drones for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and 35 have weaponized drones. Drones are not only deployed to spy on or kill “enemies” but are also often used against dissidents within their respective countries.

Canada has two models of drone aircraft that it uses for surveillance and is planning to acquire weaponized drones in the next couple of years.

Having observed Canada’s sorry record as Washington’s poodle and willing participant in US and NATO military campaigns in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, I have no doubt that these new weapons will not be used to defend Canada. Arguably, Canada’s armed forces were last used in the defence of the country in 1945 and barring a couple of peacekeeping missions, our wars since then have been aggressive ones fought to extend the reach of western capital.

So, please join the international campaign in whatever way makes sense to you, but as well, cast a critical gaze on your own country’s military programs and speak out however you can.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has embarked on a dangerous plan to expand its reach and military strength by the year 2030. Not only does this increase the risk of world war, it promises to rob even more of the precious resources that member states would have available for social programs (or mitigating climate change, or heavens, tax cuts for working people!)

Speaking at a recent webinar organized by Peace Alliance Winnipeg, Tamara Lorincz detailed the magnitude of NATO’s plans and explained what this means for Canada. She also described some of the ways Canada’s peace movement is resisting increased military spending and other toxic aspects of Canada’s foreign policy.

Tamara is a PhD candidate in Global Governance at the Balsillie School for International Affairs (Wilfrid Laurier University). She is on the board of directors of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and on the international advisory committee of the No to NATO Network. She is a member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

On Feb. 27. 2021, Peace Alliance Winnipeg hosted a webinar entitled “The New Cold War, Canadian Foreign Policy and Canada’s Peace Movement.”

It featured presentations by:

Radhika Desai, a Professor at the Department of Political Studies, and Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. She is the author of Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire and numerous other books and articles on political and geopolitical economy and world affairs.

Yves Engler, a Montréal-based activist and author who has published 11 books on various aspects of Canadian foreign policy. His latest book is titled House of Mirrors — Justin Trudeau’s Foreign Policy.

Tamara Lorincz, a PhD candidate in Global Governance at the Balsillie School for International Affairs (Wilfrid Laurier University). She is on the board of directors of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and on the international advisory committee of the No to NATO Network. She is a member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

The webinar was moderated by Glenn Michalchuk, chair of Peace Alliance Winnipeg.

While the quality of the presentations was first rate, the audio quality of Radhika Desai’s presentation was less than optimal. Don’t let that dissuade you from listening. What she has to say makes it well worth the effort.

GET INVOLVED

If you feel inspired to get involved in changing Canada’s foreign policy for the better, here are some organizations that could use your energy.

Peace Alliance Winnipeg

Geopolitical Economy Research Group

New Cold War

World Beyond War

Aug. 6, 2019: Winnipeggers gather in the shadow of the Manitoba Legislative Building to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945. Lanterns for Peace is a ceremony that is held annually in Winnipeg and hundreds of cities worldwide. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Picking fights with Russia and China, backing fascists in Ukraine, arming murderers in Saudi Arabia, undermining democracy in Latin America — the Trudeau junta has a lot to answer for in the foreign policy realm. Trudeau the younger is not any worse than his predecessors (Liberal and Conservative) in this regard, but he appears to have given up trying to conform to that image of Canada the peacemaker and honest broker on the world stage. (It is a reputation Canada does not deserve, as my friend Yves Engler has demonstrated in many books and articles on the topic. I highly recommend a visit to his website.)

While I fully support the Green Party of Canada in its campaign to make climate change the defining issue of this election, there is another existential threat to human existence that deserves equal attention and that is the threat of nuclear war. Yes, global warming has the capacity to bring our civilization to an end, but so does the nuclear winter that would devastate world food production in the aftermath of a nuclear war.

Most of the world’s nations recognize this and two years ago approved the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the July 7, 2017 meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Canada’s position is shameful. According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), “Canada did not participate in the negotiation of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It voted against the UN General Assembly resolution in 2016 that established the mandate for nations to negotiate the treaty. It claims that US nuclear weapons are essential for its security.”

While 122 nations voted for the treaty, countries with nuclear weapons either abstained, voted against or declined to participate in the negotiation of the treaty, as did Canada’s fellow members of NATO.

So, if you share this concern, perhaps you can ask the candidates who want your vote if they would join with the saner members of the human race in adopting this treaty and work for world peace.

All of this is a longish introduction to a video I recorded this August 6th of the Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace Ceremony. We do this every year — gather somewhere close to water, construct floating lanterns that we launch as the sun goes down, and commemorate the first victims of the nuclear age — the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — who were either incinerated or permanently scarred by the atomic bombings of their cities on August 6 and 9, 1945. This commemoration never fails to move me.

Slim Pickens on the set of Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

Last year, the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to abolish nuclear weapons. On July 7, 2017, 122 member countries voted to approve the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Opponents of the treaty declined to participate in the vote. These included the nine countries that are known to possess nuclear arms and some of their allies. Sadly, Canada was one of the countries that refused to support the treaty.

Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove from Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove.

What gives? Have Canadians lost their minds. Have we become a nation of Dr. Strangeloves and “learned how to stop worrying and love The Bomb.”

No. Not in the least. The truth is, our government has let us down on this issue (and many others, but let’s not digress). Polling conducted by Environics in 2008 indicated that almost 90 percent of Canadians support the abolition of nuclear weapons. Research reported by Environics in 2018 shows that Canadian opposition to nuclear weapons remains high.

Not surprisingly, there is an international campaign to promote the treaty. You can track the progress and access many educational resources at the website of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

ICAN has drafted a Parliamentary Pledge, and encourages citizens of countries that have not yet approved and ratified the treaty to get their Members of Parliament to sign on. To date, only 13 Canadian MPs have signed: Daniel Blaikie, Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, François Choquette, Don Davies, Linda Duncan, Cheryl Hardcastle, Carol Hughes, Gord Johns, Hélène Laverdière, Sheila Malcolmson, Irene Mathyssen, Elizabeth May and Thomas Mulcair. Clearly we have a lot of work to do.

As always, for every cause you can find an online petition. Clicktivism has become an automatic response. Here’s one on the Parliamentary petition web site that gleaned 1451 signatures. By itself,  this will have little impact. I think we need to have a concerted lobbying campaign that makes it clear to each MP that nuclear disarmament is an election issue.

We can’t afford to delay. There are too many “trouble spots” where a miscalculation by one or another of the major powers could lead to world war and a nuclear holocaust.

If not now, then when. If not you, then who?

If you are unsure of how to contact your MP, start here.

Winnipeg, Jan. 23, 2018: The local Kurdish community rallied at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in solidarity with Kurds under Turkish attack in Afrin, Syria. Photo: Paul S. Graham

According to a January 23, 2018 story from Reuters, Turkey has killed at least 260 Syrian Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants in its four-day-old offensive into the Kurdish-dominated Afrin region of northwest Syria.

The target of Turkey’s attack is the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, also known as the YPG, who are based in Afrin, though the offensive is expected to widen in the days ahead.

Because the YPG has been armed by the United States to repel attacks by ISIS, one might wonder why Turkey, also an ally of the United States, would attack them. To make a long story short, and possibly to over-simplify it, the Turkish government views the Kurds as enemies because of an almost century long bid by Kurds in the region for a national homeland.

In Winnipeg, the local Kurdish community rallied today at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Many are recent immigrants and they fear for the lives of family and friends in the path of the Turkish offensive.

Seventy-two years ago this Sunday, a United States Air Force bomber dropped an atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” on Hiroshima; an estimated 130,000 people perished. Three days later, on August 9, 1945, 70,000 citizens of Nagasaki were vaporized when the atomic bomb code-named “Fat Man” was unleashed. Over the years that followed, many thousands more were disabled or killed by a bewildering array of radiation burns, cancers and birth defects. The psychological impact on the survivors, their families and their communities was profound.

The dying days of World War Two seem impossibly far off. For those born after the postwar baby boom, we might as well be recalling the Peloponnesian War. However, for Boomers whose mental faculties are more or less intact, “The Bomb” is not ancient history. Those of us who grew up in the fifties and sixties have vivid memories of the Cold War and the arms race: the duck and cover drills at school, the Cuban Missile Crisis, strontium 90 raining down and contaminating our food, and so on. We had a healthy, rational fear of nuclear weapons and the actual experience of nuclear weapons being tested and used within living memory propelled a large and lively anti-nuke movement.

Today’s anti-nuclear movement is a shadow of its former self and that is perhaps one of the reasons why members of NATO (excluding Holland) felt they could refuse to participate in the development of the nuclear weapons ban treaty that was passed by the United Nations General Assembly on July 7, 2017. Perhaps that is why the United States feels confident that it can threaten to strike North Korea, even though this would likely precipitate a nuclear conflict.

We cannot afford to be complacent. Nine countries that we know of (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel) have nuclear arsenals and the slightest miscalculation by any of them could plunge the world into the darkness of a nuclear winter. 

What to do? We need to rebuild the movement. We need to start by talking to our families and our neighbours. We must educate, inform and remind. This will not be easy, but we need to cut through the clutter of contemporary life. We need to sweep away an array of political distractions and help focus attention on a truly existential threat. (It’s not that many or these issues aren’t important, it’s just that they will be totally irrelevant to the millions of dead that will result from a nuclear war.)

As I have done for many years, I will be participating in the Winnipeg’s Lanterns for Peace Ceremony. I hope you will join me.

 

 

 

March 14, 2015: About a thousand people rallied at Winnipeg City Hall and marched through Winnipeg to share their opposition to Bill C-51, a federal Conservative omnibus bill that will, in the guise of fighting terrorism, undermine constitutionally protected civil liberties in Canada. Similar events took place in more than 40 communities across Canada.


Introduced into Parliament on Jan. 30, 2015, Bill C-51 is an omnibus bill that will undermine constitutionally protected rights and freedoms of Canadians in the guise of combating terrorism. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s bombastic, saber-rattling YouTube video, published 2 days before the bill was tabled, set the tone. Essentially, Canada is under attack and the government will do whatever it takes to protect Canadians.

stephen-harperCritics of C-51 argue that it will criminalize speech, make it easier to arrest people who police think might commit an offence, share citizen’s private information between government departments without oversight, and allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to have police-like powers and disrupt the organizations they are spying on, all under a veil of secrecy.

Consequently, this bill has attracted a broad and growing opposition, including the federal Green and New Democratic Parties, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien, editorialists at several major daily newspapers, and four former prime ministers. Regrettably, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has said that Liberal MPs will support the bill.

Environmentalists, such as Greenpeace Canada’s Keith Stewart, have written that C-51 may be used against climate activists. A recently leaked RCMP document entitled “Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment – Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry” lends credence to this line of analysis.

The Anti-Terrorism Act has come under expert legal scrutiny. Craig Forcese is a law professor teaching national security law at the University of Ottawa and a participant in the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society. Kent Roach teaches at the University of Toronto law faculty and worked with both the Arar and Air India commissions. They have set up a website to present their analysis. This is well worth reading.

Bill C-51 passed second reading in the House of Commons on Monday evening, with 176 Liberals, Bloc Quebecois, and Conservative members voting in favour. Only the the NDP, Greens, and an independent conservative, Brent Rathgeber, opposed the legislation.

Does this mean the jig is up? Not by a long shot. There is still time to let your MP know there will be a political price to pay for supporting this police state bill. Contact your Member of Parliament and tell him/her to vote against Bill C-51. If you don’t know how to make contact, follow this link.


Private Sidney HallidaySixteen million people died as a result of World War One. Of these, as many as 64,990 were Canadian. One of them, a Manitoban named Sidney Halliday, was recently identified as being among the remains of five dead Canadians located in Hallu, France in 2006-07.

One suspects the efforts of our Department of National Defence (sic) to notify family members is motivated more by the Harper government’s campaign to glorify war and militarism than it is to offer condolences or compassion to Mr. Halliday’s surviving descendants.

This November 11th, let us remember Mr. Halliday and the millions who perished in that awful war. But let us also remember that this war had nothing to do do with freedom, or democracy, or defending our nation. It was a clash of empires, led by elitist sociopaths for the benefit of bankers and weapons manufacturers, not unlike the murderfest Prime Minister Stephen Harper has insisted we join in the skies over Iraq.