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    Afghanistan: "Canada's First" Defence Strategy:
    Government of Canada Accelerates Drive for War & Occupation

    By Nita Palmer
    On May 12, 2008, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled the new strategy to further the government of Canada’s drive for war: the so-called ‘Canada First’ Defence Strategy. This new strategy will give at least $30 Billion in additional funding to Canada’s military over the next 20 years in order to buy new equipment and increase the size of the Canadian Forces. Explaining the reason the new defence strategy was released, Stephen Harper said: “If you want to be taken seriously in the world, you need the capacity to act - it’s that simple. The Canada First Defence Strategy will strengthen our sovereignty and security at home and bolster our ability to defend our values and interests abroad.”

    Whose “values and interests” is Stephen Harper referring to? Surely not the values and interests of poor and working people in Canada. We have already seen $7 Billion in taxpayer dollars go to funding a brutal, unjust, illegal and criminal war and occupation in Afghanistan. This latest move by the government of Canada to pour $30 Billion or more into the military will only take more of our money away from jobs, health care and social programs and funnel it into an increased ruling class war drive in Afghanistan and beyond,namely by having just extended Canada’s participation in the NATO mission in Afghanistan by three more years, to December 2011.

    However, this increased drive for war and occupation is really noth-ing new. It is a war drive which began after September 11, 2001, when Canada fully supported the US invasion of Afghanistan, sending 2000 Canadian Forces troopsto Afghanistan in early 2002. The invasion of Afghanistan marked the beginning of a new era of war and occupation being waged by imperialist countries like Canada, the US, and the UK against Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, and other oppressed nations. From the beginning, Canada has been fully part of this new drive for war and occupation. The Government of Canada confirmed their commitment to carrying out this war drive in 2005, when they released a new defence policy statement: “A Role of Pride and Influence in the World”. This defence strategy outlined the government of Canada’s strategy to become a major economic and military power through war and occupation. It came along with the announcement that Canada would be sending more troops to Afghanistan and doubling the military budget to $25 Billion.

    Canada in Afghanistan: A Balance Sheet of Seven Years of Occupation

    When the invasion of Afghanistan was launched in 2001, the Government of Canada claimed that troops were being sent there to “liberate” the Afghan people, and bring them freedom, democracy, and women’s rights. But the last seven years of the Canada/ NATO-led occupation of Afghanistan have brought anything but freedom, democracy, and women’s rights to Afghans. Instead, the occupation has brought a lower life expectancy and a rate of violence against women which has increased by 40% in the last year alone (United Nations). Afghanistan today produces 93% of the world’s opium, in comparison to less than 10% before war and occupation in Afghanistan began seven years ago (UN Office on Drugs and Crime). The United Nations also estimates that 30% of children aged 5-14 must work just so that their families can survive. On top of this, the human toll by daily shootings and bombings is huge and so drastic that the occupation forces have kept it secret from the world news media. Increasing the size and funding of the Canadian military will only bring more of this chaos to the people of Afghanistan. The occupation of Afghanistan has also taken its toll on the soldiers sent to Afghanistan to carry out the government of Canada’s war drive. 85 Canadian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan so far, and the suicide rate among soldiers has doubled between 2006 and 2007, now sitting at a rate three times higher than the general Canadian population, according to a report by CBC News. To date, Canada has achieved none of their supposed objectives of bringing “freedom”, “democracy”, and “women’s rights” to Afghanistan. In fact, they have brought only death and destruction to people there. Today, they are facing a growing popular resistance movement of people in Afghanistan who have come together to fight against the chief enemy and block to liberation that the people of Afghanistan face: the occupation forces. The government of Canada attempts to blame the worsening situation and increased violence in Afghanistan on this resistance, labeling resistance fighters as terrorists and “Taliban extremists”. In fact, the blame for the destruction of Afghanistan lies squarely on the shoulders of the occupation forces, not on the people who are simply fighting to defend their basic human rights and right of their country to self-determination and sovereignty.

    The War Drive Doesn’t End in Afghanistan

    So, if the government of Canada wants to play a “role of pride and influence in the world”, why are they destroying the lives of people in Afghanistan? Surely this is not a role to be proud of. But the questions of human lives and human dignity were not factored into the equation when the government of Canada decided to go to war in Afghanistan, nor was it when they decided to further their drive for war with the new “Canada First” Defence Strategy. In fact, the new defence strategy is a bid to become a major economic and military power by plundering the resources and trade markets of third world countries. Canada’s bid is to become a major imperialist player in the world market through war and occupation.

    The 20-year-long perspective and funding for the ‘Canada First’ defence strategy means that the government of Canada has no intention of ending their war drive in Afghanistan at its current end date of December 2011. According to the Canadian Forces website, “The Canada First Defence Strategy represents an unprecedented long-term commitment to the Canadian Forces (CF) and the Department of National Defence (DND). This strategy sets longterm objectives, provides a vision for future operations as well as consistent, committed long-term funding.” The 20-year-long commitment means the government of Canada has a long-term perspective for war and occupation, including unspecified “future operations” – in other words, an expansion of war, occupation and destruction to countries beyond Afghanistan.

    Unite Against the ‘Canada First’ Defence Strategy!

    The new ‘Canada First’ Defence Strategy will not bring any benefit to ordinary poor and working people in Canada or anywhere else in the world, least of all in Afghanistan. Increased funding for war and occupation only means decreased funding for essential social programs here. Furthermore, it means the murder of our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and in other countries which Canada may occupy in the unspecified “future operations”. All peace-loving people and all peace and antiwar organizations must unite against the ‘Canada First’ Defence Strategy and Canada’s war drive in Afghanistan and beyond. We must also call for an independent public inquiry into why the government of Canada has participated in the war and occupation in Afghanistan.

    No to War & Occupation!

    Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!

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