Tag Archives: Halifax International Security Forum

NDP in bed with neocons over China

 

Canadians truly committed to a rules-based, peaceful international order need voices in Parliament to speak up against militarism and the US empire. Instead we get a supposed ‘left’ party indistinguishable from the right.

The recent flap over an award given out by the Halifax International Security Forum highlights how the NDP is jumping into bed with neocon militarists over China.

Recently Washington-based Politico reported that the Trudeau government pressured the HSF not to give its John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. The government denied the charge but initially refused to recommit the $3 million in Department of National Defence (DND) funding for HSF.

NDP foreign affairs critic Jack Harris labeled any interference in the HSF award choice as “shameful and plays into the hands of the Communist leadership of China.” Harris also told Globe and Mail reporter Steven Chase that the award to Tsai would be “an indicator of how the free world is united against China’s bullying tactics.”

If Harris had stopped at “the free world is united against China’s bullying” it would have simply represented an example of his increasingly common China bashing. But Harris also lauded the HSF as “among the free world’s most significant defence meetings.” On Wednesday NDP MPs backed a Conservative motion in the House of Commons, which passed unanimously, supporting giving an award to Tsai and maintaining HSF’s funding.

Sponsored by NATO, DND and military companies, the HSF is based in Washington. It was set up by a neocon who advised the Harper government and was strongly promoted by arch militarist John McCain.

Since its founding a decade ago activists have rallied in front of the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel during the conference. I spoke at the 2018 protest.

The award Harris and Canadian MPs want HSF to give to Tsai is named after an individual who heavily promoted the lies that led to the 2003 Iraq war. John McCain also championed the NATO bombing of Libya and backed Saudi Arabia’s genocide in Yemen. McCain rose to public attention in the late 1960s by dropping bombs on civilian targets (a war crime) in North Vietnam. During his presidential bid in 2000 McCain told reporters “I hate the gooks” and “I will hate them as long as I live.” McCain refused to apologize for using a racial slur to condemn the North Vietnamese who held him captive and tortured him.

Giving an award to Taiwan’s president is a provocative moved designed to increase tension with China. (While apparently Sinophobic reporter Steven Chase implies Beijing is the only force that has pushed the idea Taiwan and mainland China are one country, Ottawa recognized the government in Taiwan as the official representative of all of China for 21 years after the Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan with some two million Chinese supporters after they were defeated by Mao’s forces in 1949. Until 13 years ago the governing party in Taiwan openly claimed to represent all of China.) The award is part of HSF’s growing anti-China posture. In November they released a handbook titled “China vs. Democracy: The Greatest Game” that painted Beijing as a threatening force bent on global domination.

For HSF conflict with China feeds the military/intelligence apparatus they represent. It legitimates Canada spending hundreds of billions of dollars on new naval vessels and fighter jets as well as justifying the racist Five Eyes intelligence arrangement.

Voices citing the China ‘threat’ to justify military spending are growing. In “This is no time for the Liberals to think of slashing defence spending” National Post columnist John Ivison wrote that the government “should increase” military spending in next week’s budget “to counter China’s growing threat”. A recent CTV story said Ottawa should pony up $6 billion to modernize NORAD to deal with the “Threats from Russia, China” while an earlier Global News story said “Canada should follow Australia’s example in defence, foreign policy” by massively increasing military spending to deal with China.

By promoting China hysteria, the NDP is empowering militarists. When the NDP foreign affairs critic labels the Halifax International Security Forum “among the free world’s most significant defence meetings” it really is the No Difference Party.

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Filed under Asia, China, NATO, NDP

NATO propaganda promotes war, military spending

Third in a four-part series on the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The first two installments of the series showed how NATO was set up to blunt the European left and to justify European/North American dominance across the globe. Recently, the alliance has intensified pressure on Canada to increase spending on the military and participate in more wars.

As its Cold War pretext fades further from view, NATO has become more belligerent. In 1999 Canadian fighter jets dropped 530 bombs in NATO’s illegal 78-day bombing of Serbia. During the 2000s tens of thousands of Canadian troops fought in a NATO war in Afghanistan. In 2011 a Canadian general led NATO’s attack on Libya in which seven CF-18 fighter jets and two Canadian naval vessels participated.

In a dangerous game of brinksmanship, NATO has massed troops and fighter jets on Russia’s border. Five hundred Canadian troops lead an alliance mission in Latvia while the US, Britain and Germany head missions in Poland, Lithuania and Estonia. Over the past decade Canadian naval vessels have almost constantly engaged in NATO patrols in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.

In addition to spurring deployments and war, militarists use the alliance to boost socially and ecologically damaging military spending. “Canada’s defence spending questioned at NATO parliamentary meeting”, noted a November CBC headline while a National Post editorial bemoaned “Canada’s continuing failure to honour our pledge to NATO allies to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence.” In 2006 NATO countries adopted a pledge to put 2% of economic output into their military.

NATO has also been used to push weapons procurement. Calling for expanding the jet fleet, senior military officials told the Globe and Mail in 2017 that “Canada’s fighter fleet is not big enough to meet its NORAD and NATO obligations at the same time.” In a history of the first century of the navy Marc Milner describes a series of reports in the mid-1960s concluding that the Royal Canadian Navy was “too small to meet Canada’s NATO obligations” and should be expanded “to meet NATO and North American commitments.”

NATO has also been invoked to justify arming the US war machine. In 1967 the Prime Minister responded to calls by opponents of the war in Vietnam to end the Defence Production Sharing Agreement, the arrangement under which Canada sold the US weapons, with the claim that to do so would imperil NATO. Lester Pearson claimed this “would be  interpreted as a notice of withdrawal on our part from continental defense and even from the collective defence arrangements of the Atlantic alliance.”

In 2017 the Justin Trudeau government “hid behind Canada’s NATO membership”, according to NDP foreign critic Hélène Laverdière, when it opposed international efforts to ban nuclear weapons. At a time when he made a big display about “suffocating” the (nuclear) arms race Pierre Trudeau justified nuclear tipped cruise missiles testing in Canada. In 1983 the Prime Minister said, “having declared our support for the two track strategy, Canada should bear its fair share of the burden which that policy imposes on the NATO alliance.”

NATO is a nuclear weapons club. These monstrous bombs have been “a fundamental component” of the alliance’s military planning. Through NATO Canada has effectively committed to fighting a nuclear war if any country breached its boundaries. Additionally, the alliance does not restrict  its members from using nuclear weapons first.

NATO supports various militarist organizations in this country and operates a public diplomacy division. Founded in 1966 the NATO Association of Canada, formerly Atlantic Council of Canada, promotes the alliance. With an office in Toronto its staff and interns organize public events and publish different materials. A decade older than the NATO Association of Canada, the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association seeks “to increase knowledge of the concerns of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly among parliamentarians.”

A number of Canadian organizations receive NATO’s largess. Conference of Defense Associations conferences in Ottawa have received support from NATO while the Canadian Global Affairs Institute has held numerous joint symposiums with NATO. The annual Halifax International Security Forum, which brings together hundreds of academics and policymakers, is sponsored by NATO. In the late 1980s the Canadian Institute for Strategic Studies had “agreements with NATO’s Information Service to conduct a national/regional speakers tour.”

In other words NATO spends money (which ultimately come from our taxes) to convince Canadians that wars and military spending are good for us.

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Filed under Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, NATO