It's true. Believe it-Canada is an imperialist country and with the U.S is responsible for the killing of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan
By Nita Palmer
On September 6, hundreds gathered at Canadian Forces Base Trenton to witness the return of the bodies of three more Canadian soldiers killed in Canada’s war drive in Afghanistan. Just days before the end of their tour of duty, Corporal Mike Seggie, Corporal Andrew Grenon, and Private Chad Horn became the 95th, 96th, and 97th Canadian soldiers to be killed in Afghanistan when their convoy was attacked in the Zhari district of southern Afghanistan. Their deaths were followed four days later by the death of Sergeant Prescott Shipway, bringing the total Canadian Forces fatalities in Afghanistan to 98. The deaths of these four men followed the deaths of five others in August – the deadliest month of 2008 for Canadian Forces.
South of the border in Williamsburg, Tennessee, friends and family were holding a funeral for 25-year-old Sergeant David Keith Cooper – just one of growing thousands of funerals held across the US for the 4,168 US soldiers killed so far in the US-led war in Iraq.
But the tragedy of war does not end at 98 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, or at the nearly 4,200 US soldiers killed in Iraq. While families and friends of Canadian soldiers watched their loved ones come home in body bags, the community of Azizabad in Herat, Afghanistan was mourning the deaths of 90 people, 60 of them children, who were killed in a US-led air strike on August 22nd. The terror of air strikes like this one has become a sick fact of daily life in Afghanistan. According to Human Rights Watch, civilian deaths from US and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan have nearly tripled over the past year.
Meanwhile in Iraq, over 1.2 Million civilians have been killed in five years of war. Despite claims by US President George W. Bush and others that the recent “troop surge” in Iraq has brought more stability and security to Iraqi people, death and destruction remain the order of the day. For example, many Iraqi parents have pulled their children out of school because it is simply too dangerous to attend. Quoted in a September 15 report by UNICEF, Zuhal Sultan, a music student in Baghdad said, “We were 35 students and now we are seven – two girls and five boys, and we don’t have enough teachers to cover every subject”. In the same article, journalist and author George Packer explains, “Daily life is so difficult, so constrained by fear of assassination, kidnapping, bombing, that to continue to do something as simple as go to school and study music is heroic.” Such is life in occupied Iraq.
War and Cruelty at Home
While the governments of Canada and the US are feeding their ever-hungry military machines never-ending dollars for war, the populations of their own countries are increasingly starved of funding for health care, education, and other vital services. The US has spent over three trillion dollars on the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, 46.6 Million people in their own country are without health insurance (US Census Bureau). A report by the Institute of Medicine estimated that 18,000 people in the US die unnecessarily each year simply because they lack health insurance, and therefore access to health care. To add insult to injury, US soldiers returning from Iraq, often with severe physical injuries or psychological disorders, are finding that veteran’s hospitals are closed, under-staffed, and unable to meet their needs.
In Canada, the official count of the costs of the war in Afghanistan are $8.1 Billion – that’s $8.1 Billion taxpayer dollars that have been poured into a brutal war instead of into the much-needed funds of health care and education here in Canada. Grossly under-funded public health care is failing to meet the basic needs of the population, with crowded, under-funded and under-staffed hospitals often having fewer beds than patients. In terms of education, in BC alone $50 million in funding was cut to post-secondary education in 2008. Rural communities across Canada are also seeing their elementary and high schools closed one by one.
The attacks on working people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Canada and the US come amid the beginnings of a major economic crisis. With the recent bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the 4th-largest investment bank in the US, and the US Federal Reserve spending billions of dollars to stave off the collapse of major firms like AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the US can no longer hide the crisis of her rapid declining economy – a crisis which has had reverberations across the entire world. This economic crisis has hit working people in the US through, most notably, a five-year high in unemployment rates, which now sit at 6.1% officially, up from 5.7% last year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Canada has not escaped this crisis either. In the last year alone, tens of thousands of jobs have been cut across the country. 2000 Air Canada workers lost their jobs. At the GM plant in Oshawa, Ontario, 2600 jobs were cut. Across BC, too, thousands of forestry workers have been laid off indefinitely, to give just a few examples.
At previous points in history when imperialist countries like Canada, the US, the UK, France, and Japan have faced major internal and world-wide economic crisis, they have responded by going to war with each other directly in an attempt to increase their access to markets and resources. But today’s wars are even more cruel and criminal than WWI (1914-1918) and WWII (1939-1945). Today, rather than attacking each other directly, rivaling imperialist countries bring their war and occupation to third world countries, in an attempt to grab more land, more resources, and more new trade markets than their imperialist rivals. The victims in these wars are always the same: working people in imperialist countries as well as oppressed countries under attack.
Iraq: Without a Hopeful Future
Since the 2003 invasion, the US has been destroying Iraq’s past – demolishing without a second thought some of humanity’s first libraries and museums, art and architecture which were the history of a people. They destroyed Iraq’s education system – one of the best in the Middle East before 2003. They destroyed hospitals and schools, parks and roadways. They tried to destroy a people.
Now, the US is destroying Iraq’s future. How can any country advance when a foreign occupation is destroying all the civilization you had built up previously? How can any country advance when its young people are unable to go to school? How can any country have a future when its population is constantly exposed to the radioactive remnants of depleted uranium bombs, which will render much of the population unable to have children?
In occupied Iraq today, just 32% of Iraqis have access to clean drinking water, and only 19% have access to a good sewage system, according to Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources. 15% of children in Iraq suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder induced by the war – a disorder which Iraq’s fractured health care system has been unable to cope with.
The future that the US envisions for Iraq is not one of a “liberated” Iraqi people. It is one of an Iraq with a puppet government that will do the US’ bidding. It is one of an Iraq that will be a permanent base for US presence in the Middle East. This is why the largest US embassy in the world is being constructed in Iraq, and why, whatever the cost, the US continues its occupation.
But the US has been unable to consolidate its occupation there, because Iraqis won’t let them. Whatever the US government may say about the “success” of last year’s troop surge and about beginning to pull troops out, Iraqis will keep fighting until their one, clear, simple demand is met: OUT NOW! “Great peril still remains… fighting still lays ahead” were US Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ words of caution to General Raymond Odierno, the incoming commander of US troops in Iraq. But the US is waist-deep in mud in Iraq: blocked by the Iraqi people, they cannot move forward, and blocked behind by an economic crisis that they are desperately trying to solve through this war drive, they do not want to pull out.
Afghanistan: The Situation is Worsening
Afghanistan today is a country in crisis for Afghans as well as for the occupation forces. All the grand promises of “human rights”, “women’s rights” and “democracy” have proven themselves to be nothing but lies. Human rights in Afghanistan? The fundamental human right is the right to be alive – a right that the Canada/NATO occupation forces violate every day with their air strikes and civilian shootings. Women’s rights in Afghanistan? Since March 2008 alone, 100 women have committed suicide by lighting themselves on fire in southwestern Afghanistan alone (The Guardian). Democracy in Afghanistan? The so-called ‘democratically elected’ government of Hamid Karzai is nothing but a servant of the occupation forces. His government authority cannot go further than the suburbs of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. In Afghanistan people joke that he is the mayor of Kabul. Despite his occasional condemnation of the occupation forces for civilian killings, he does not represent the vast majority in Afghanistan who are demanding an immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from their country. "Daily we have headaches from the troops. We are fed up. Our government is weak and corrupt and the American soldiers have learned nothing,” Malik Mohammad, a citizen of Ghani Khiel, said in an interview with the Associated Press.
The occupation forces are also facing a crisis in Afghanistan. More foreign troops died in Afghanistan last month than any other month since the 2001 invasion, and attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan are up 40% from last year, according to Major General Jeffery Schloesser, an American commander in Afghanistan.
After seven years of occupation, Afghans are sick of seeing their houses bulldozed and their crops ruined to make way for a new military highway. They are sick of living in constant fear of house raids and bombings. And so, with each bomb dropped by the occupiers, the Afghan resistance to the occupation increases. Today, it has reached such a point that, like the foreign forces in Iraq, Afghanistan’s occupying forces are in a quagmire. They are unable to move forward against the resistance – and yet they are unwilling to pull out as they compete for control of the important trade markets of which Afghanistan sits in the middle.
The response of the imperialist countries to the increased resistance to the occupation has been to send more troops. Canada has sent recently in June 2008 an additional 200 troops, bringing the total Canadian forces operating in Afghanistan to 2,700, and the US has announced that they will be adding 4,500 troops to their force in Afghanistan. But increasing the troops will not solve the problem any more than it has solved the problem of occupation in Iraq. The instability, violence, and human suffering in Afghanistan are created by the Canada/NATO occupation forces and cannot be solved by them militarily. This is against human intelligence to say to Afghans that they are killed by occupation forces every day for the future of Afghanistan, that their mothers, children, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends are being shot and brutalized for the sake of establishing democracy. Democracy in a simple definition is a huge institution, legitimized by the participation of masses of people. If a democracy is run by the generals and the army, if it is guarded by a higher and hierarchal military command, then we know for sure that Afghanistan has been turned into a proxy democracy, or better to say into a military base. However, to the bitterness of imperialists there is a single, simple solution to the occupation of Afghanistan which is on the tips of the tongues of millions of Afghans: Foreign Troops Out Now!
Next Target: Iran
Sadly, the saga of destruction and misery opened by the new era of war and occupation, which has seen not only the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, but also the invasions of Haiti, Somalia and threats toward many other countries, does not end here. The ultimate target in the eyes of the imperialists is Iran. In fact, Afghanistan and Iraq, both sharing borders with Iran, are launching pads for an imperialist invasion of the country. Iran has been in the crosshairs of the US in particular since the Iranian revolution in 1979, when the Iranian people overthrew the US-backed Shah of Iran. Since then, Iran has stood up as a force of independent, anti-imperialist resistance in the Middle East. The US cannot establish their complete control and hegemony of the Middle East and further their strategic expansion into Central Asia without eliminating Iran as an independent country in the region which does not obey US dictates.
The imperialist campaign against Iran, led by the US and Israel, is stronger and harsher than ever now. There are currently three sets of UN sanctions as well as US and European Union sanctions aimed at strangling the people of Iran and weakening them for attack. This is in addition to a massive military build-up in the Persian Gulf, and a huge media and propaganda campaign against Iran. As well, the US government announced that they were giving Israel the “amber light” to prepare for a potential invasion of Iran.
To be sure, any attack on Iran would have deadly and devastating consequences for that country of 70 million people, far greater than even the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. We must mobilize now, today, to protest threats of war and sanctions against Iran before an attack happens.
No to War and Occupation! Yes to Self-Determination!
As ordinary peace-loving people in Canada, we have an important responsibility to our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan and around the world: to unite against war and occupation. The same Canadian ruling class which has so savagely attacked people in Afghanistan, is also eating away at our rights here at home. We must join together with Iraqi and Afghan people and with Iranian people to demand:
Canada/NATO Out of Afghanistan!
US/UK Out of Iraq!
Hands Off Iran!
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