Indeed, to listen to the media or even the talking points which the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats spout on any range of issues from Afghanistan to Haiti, one would think that somehow, somewhere between 9/11 and today, we in the West have grown a conscience and are intervening abroad militarily out of sheer human compassion.
There are any number of ways of testing the veracity of these talking points which, if we were honest with ourselves, would have been thoroughly discredited in both the press and in so-called web 2.0 sources such as blogs.
First, in terms of our putative altruistic intentions in Afghanistan, one can disprove this relatively easily by looking at the amount of money Canada is spending on Afghanistan and then analyse the breakdown of said funds between offensive military spending and reconstruction aid.
CTV News reported that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is spending roughly $100 million per year over the course of 10 years and fawned over the total $1 billion price tag (greater than any other country) which Canada is footing for rebuilding Afghanistan. Moreover, when Stephen Harper increased this paltry sum to $200 million for 2007 only, the CBC and other news outlets uncritically reported that Canada was being extremely generous with this move and reported that it demonstrated a commitment to Afghanistan reconstruction.
While it is difficult to quantify how much exactly Canada is giving towards Afghan reconstruction (and the CTV piece does draw attention to this fact) the paltry sum of our reconstruction efforts is put into light when placed next to the rest of our Afghan expenditure.
Since 2001, Canada has spent just shy of $4.5 billion on offensive military assault practices in Afghanistan. Compare that to to the roughly $550 million we’ve spent in reconstruction and we see that by a margin of 10 to 1, we spend our energies and capital destroying the country rather than rebuilding it.
Second, one can take a look at our complicity in Haiti after the U.S. helped insure the overthrow of the democratically elected President Aristide.
Who were the candidates in this election which the Canadian press deemed free and open and which the Canadian government has bent over backwards to legitimize?
René Préval (winner)
Préval ran on a platform of continuing the exile of the democratically-elected Aristide in addition to supporting the occupation of Haiti by US, French, Canadian and UN forces and believes they should stay in place as long as necessary. He is heavily in the pocket of big business and supports heavy privatization of government assets and lower taxes for a population already under the boot of capitalists. His connections with the IMF are extensive and were known to be as such long before his victory in the sham election.
Charles Henri Baker
Baker was an industrialist, a factory owner and a permanent U.S. resident. He had (and to my knowledge continues to have) strong connections to Groupe 184 (which is a group of influential business leaders, church groups and other U.S. groups associated with opposition to Aristide)
Leslie François Manigat
Manigat was a democratically-elected president of Haiti for three months in 1988. He won power with the backing of the military and then once in office, worked to solidify his control over the military. He says those moves were to insure the military was ‘free from corruption’, but many observers agree that it was a power grab.
Philippe was an ex-military/police officer who, along with the very well-known and notorious war criminal Louis-Jodel Chamblain, masterminded the coup-d’etat which ousted Aristide in the first place (he’s also been alleged to have been a part of previous unsuccessful coups in the past as well).
Bazin was the Minister of Finance and Economy under the dictatorship of the infamous “Baby Doc” Duvallier. He has served as an official to the world bank (which has worked to keep Haiti from increasing taxes on the rich, on foreign-owned corporations and preventing the Haitian government from redistributing land to landless peasants). Bazin was possibly the most bitter enemy of the former socialist leader Aristide and as such was originally selected by the leaders of the military coup as (temporary) Prime Minister once Aristide was ousted.
So the only candidates who were permitted to run were candidates who were either enemies or, in the case of Préval, at least unsympathetic to the popular, democratically elected Aristide.
In fact, the one candidate who would have ran on a similar platform as Aristide in the Haitian election, the Roman Catholic priest Gérard Jean-Juste, was banned from running despite his being granted the same status by Amnesty International as Nelson Mandela.
What is our roll in this? Well, contrary to the CBC’s uncritical reporting that Haiti is better off because of Canada and the U.S. involvement in Haiti, it is undeniable that we’re the ones training the police and the military, which Aristide had disbanded due to widespread corruption and due to the fact that they have a strong tradition of overthrowing democratically-elected Presidents and backing brutal dictators.
We’re the ones enabling this undemocratic process and we’re the ones who are training what have been called “death squads” to violently put down peaceful attempts to re-install leaders friendly to the socialist cause (sources: here, here, here).
And before you Liberals get all excited by blaming this on the Conservatives, it was Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew who first initiated this policy and defended the training of Haitian ‘death squads’/police forces. The policy was merely carried on by the Conservatives.
And before you New Democrats get all excited by claiming that your party is so much better than the Liberals and the Conservatives, the NDP’s position, as articulated by Jack Layton, on this whole matter is that our funding of the aftermath of this U.S.-inspired, anti-democratic coup d’etat, merely requires further analysis and review.
Lastly, and most critically, we can take a look at what more or less proves that we are dishonest at best in claiming that we Canadians are a force for peace in the world.
If one holds that the Afghanistan and Haiti examples are isolated incidents of Canadian malevolence while overall we still generally intervene based on humanitarian concerns, there is one simple case which utterly disproves even this contention.
The U.N. has reported (here) that in the past three months, Somalia’s humanitarian crisis has become a bigger catastrophe than even the Iraq War. The U.N. notes that for some time now there have been more refugees, more displaced people, and arguably more violence in Somalia than in Iraq.
Moreover, the U.N.’s Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes has pleaded for greater attention from first world countries such as Canada.
If we intervened in Afghanistan and Haiti due to humanitarian concerns, then using that logic, one would expect — if the contention that Canada is a force for peace were true — extensive stories in the news about Somalia and the Government of Canada should have intervened in Somalia to stop the (U.S.-backed) Ethiopian slaughter of the Somali populace.
“Democracy Now!” analysed the major news broadcasts in the West over the past 3 months and could find only a three sentence news story on CBS about the war (source).
So, what of the media’s claims — parroted by the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats — that Canada is a force for peace in the world? If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that our actions do not coincide with humanitarian concern. We do not intervene around to world to protect citizens of embattled countries, for, if we really cared about people, we wouldn’t be in Haiti, we would be in Somalia and Darfur, and our actions in Afghanistan would be drastically different.
But the media goes on reporting this as a fact and the political parties, even the so-called ‘progressive parties’, the Liberals and the New Democrats, go on reiterating this falsehood.