Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Reject All Attempts to Memorialize Canada's Criminal Role in Afghanistan

Harper Dictatorship Pays Tribute to Destruction of Afghanistan

May 13, 2014

On May 9, the Harper dictatorship said it is "commemorating the end of our country's military mission in Afghanistan and paying tribute to the fallen, to the sacrifices of the wounded and to military families." According to a government press release, "Canada's mission in Afghanistan is the most significant military engagement with respect to the number of Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed since the Korean War." It goes on to enumerate the number it says were killed in the mission, including civilians. Pointedly, this figure does not include those who have committed suicide since returning from their deployment. It certainly does not mention the thousands of Afghan civilians killed by Canadian or other NATO forces in the 13 years of illegal war and occupation.

Windsor action against closing of Veterans Affairs offices Jan 31, 2014 

The government also announced it "will construct a national memorial to Canada's mission in Afghanistan and add the dates of the Afghanistan mission on the National War Memorial." The monument, which will "reflect values Canadians hold dear and echo the nation's pride in our country's efforts and accomplishments in Afghanistan," will be unveiled in 2017.

This is shameless self-serving PR activity by the Harper government. It is desperate to resurrect its tattered reputation of being “pro-soldier” and “pro-veteran” while the very soldiers and veterans it professes to support do not perceive it as such. Minister of Veterans Affairs, Julian Fantino, who is seen by veterans as an arrogant bully, was featured prominently on the day flanking Harper, wearing medals.

Harper is straightforwardly accused by soldiers and veterans as being pro-war and aggression. The Harper government uses occasions such as the so-called Afghanistan Memorial Day to glorify war. By parading tanks and helicopters, it also promotes the militarization of civilian public institutions such as Parliament. Meanwhile, it treats the human beings lost to war, whether Canadians or those from other countries, as mere statistics. 

These activities by the Harper dictatorship are anathema to the anti-war spirit of the majority of Canadians who oppose the war in Afghanistan and Canada's role in it. They are an insidious attempt to disinform Canadians about the sheer illegality of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in the name of the highest ideals.

Windsor action, one of many across Canada which opposed participation in the war in Afghanistan

Afghanistan was a NATO mission, neither authorized by Parliament nor endorsed by the Canadian people. Canada’s military was at most times under U.S. command and integrated within the U.S. military. Paying tribute to this on the National War Memorial, or by building a new monument to this NATO mission, is to try to assert that being part of the U.S. military apparatus will be the norm for the future. It is no coincidence that this rushed ceremony takes place right as Canada sends F-18s as part of NATO sabre-rattling against Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine.

The values espoused by the Harper government, which it claims represent some unassailable ideals that "Canadians hold dear" could not be further from what Canadians fight for everyday -- peace, justice, the rights of all and the power to exercise control over their affairs. The Harper government's values are neo-liberal in both content and presentation, whereby anti-human, anti-social and pro-war imperialist aims are couched in terms of their opposite -- high ideals of humanitarianism, responsibility to protect, etc.

Furthermore, the memorial activities over which the Harper government presided on May 9 are a snivelling message to the U.S. imperialists that this is a government that does not serve the public interest or uphold international law and is offering up its youth as cannon-fodder for the commission of future war crimes. It must not pass!

These memorial activities, which co-opt the memory of those killed and wounded in Afghanistan to sanitize the commission of war crimes, are meant to destroy Canadians' prevailing anti-war sentiment so that they do not take up the pressing need to empower themselves and establish an anti-war government which would remove itself from the clutches of NATO so as to affirm Canadians' right to decide their domestic and foreign relations. Such a government would ensure that Canada is a force for peace in the world by upholding the principles of sovereignty of all countries, and the resolution of conflicts through peaceful, diplomatic means.