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    Canada's War Drive Uncovered

    By Nita Palmer
    On July 9, 2006, headlines in Canada were once again set ablaze by the death of Cpl. Anthony Boneca, the 17th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan. Boneca died during combat in Operation Mountain Thrust, the biggest offensive against Afghan people since the 2001 invasion. Boneca’s death was another mark in the Canadian war drive, as the deaths of thousands of Afghans have each marked a step in the brutal Canadian war drive. However, Boneca’s death also began to peel away at the reality of the Canadian occupation of Afghanistan. According to Boneca’s uncle, Boneca didn’t “[believe] totally in what he was doing because… he saw things he didn't expect to see and didn't want to see and probably did things he didn't want to do." More than ever, the opposition to the Canadian War Drive is growing, both in Canada and in Afghanistan.

    Intensified Canadian War Drive: One Year Later

    During the October 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, the government of Canada sent troops to Afghanistan under the name of Operation Apollo. They claimed that these troops were there for purposes of “peacekeeping”, and “reconstruction”. However, during this time, the life expectancy dropped by four years, maternal mortality rates skyrocketed, and the number of people living below the poverty line expanded to 80%.

    On July 14, 2005, another leap in the Canadian war drive occurred. Chief of Defense Staff General Rick Hillier announced that 2,000 more troops would be sent to Southern Afghanistan, to take command of the NATO occupation in the Kandahar area. As he announced this, he also shattered the mask of so-called “peacekeeping” that the Canadian occupation had been wearing for years, saying that Afghans were “detestable murderers and scumbags”, and that the job of the Canadian Forces was “to be able to kill people”.

    And so the boots of 2,000 more troops began marching off to war. In the last year, people in Canada have seen 17 soldiers and one diplomat come home in body bags. But more horrifying is the killings we do not hear about – such as the deaths of over 700 Afghan civilians between May 2006-July 2006 alone. Amidst this death and destruction, the Canadian government has made repeated statements to bolster support for the occupation of Afghanistan. According to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, "What we are doing there is not just protecting our national interests, but [we are] providing international leadership and providing real advancement to the standard of living and human rights of the Afghan people." (May 16, 2006).

    Life in Afghanistan: Daily Crisis, Daily Resistance

    On the first anniversary of the intensified Canadian War Drive in Afghanistan, Harper’s comments about bringing “human rights” to Afghan people ring more false than ever. Today, the civilian death toll as a result of the occupation is higher than any time since the 2001 invasion. Poverty is rampant in the country, and basic services such as water, health care, and sanitation effectively do not exist.

    The crisis of everyday life under occupation for Afghan people has created a growing resistance to the occupation in Afghanistan. According to the Washington Post, July 2006 has seen the “worst surge in Taliban violence since 2001”. In reality, this “surge in Taliban violence” means a growing resistance from everyday civilians. While the occupying forces claim that they are trying to create stability and security in Afghanistan, the truth is just the opposite, as more and more people are forced to fight for their lives every day.

    For the imperialist occupiers, bringing “stability” to Afghanistan means crushing the resistance as effectively as possible. It means preventing people from defending their land, their rights, and their right to self-determination. It means securing the area politically, as it is an area strategically situated between Asia, Europe, and the Middle East that is “set to become a regional business hub over the next 10 to 15 years”, according to the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency. For Afghan people, stability and security means an end to the criminal occupation of their country. It means control over their land, and the ability to establish a country in their interests, rather than for the interests of the occupiers.

    Towards an effective antiwar movement

    This brutal, criminal occupation has clearly failed to win the hearts and minds of people in Afghanistan. As well, it has failed to win hearts and minds here in Canada. The last year of the intensified Canadian War Drive in Afghanistan has awoken people in Canada to a new reality: Canada is at war. Opposition to this war drive is increasing every day. In the Lower Mainland alone, over 10,000 people have signed Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO)’s petition demanding Canada Out of Afghanistan Now! This opposition must – and will – continue to grow. But in order to build a broad opposition to this war drive, people in Canada must demand an Independent Public Inquiry into the Canadian war drive in Afghanistan, to ask: Why were 2,000 more troops deployed to Afghanistan without public consultation or debate? Why do education and health care go under funded, while more and more money is put into the military budget? Demanding an Independent Public Inquiry is important to building a broad movement to demand Canada Out of Afghanistan.

    As opposition to the Canadian War Drive grows, and as the brutal reality of Canadian imperialism exposes itself more than ever before, it is time for all poor, working, and oppressed people in Canada to unite against this criminal occupation. It is time for all peace-loving, all humanity-loving people to unite against this criminal occupation. And it is the responsibility of all antiwar, peace, and social justice activists and organizations to unite against this criminal occupation. It is the responsibility of these organizations to unite in defense of the Afghan people, and against the Canadian war drive.

    Canada Out of Afghanistan Now! End the Criminal Occupation of Afghanistan! Stop the Canadian War Drive!

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