The Canadian chapter of the International Students for Social Equality is holding meetings to elaborate a socialist response to the US occupation of Iraq, the NATO war in Afghanistan, the growing dangers of a US-led war against Iran, and the heightening of inter-imperialist antagonisms. (Please scroll to the bottom for meeting details.)
The US invasion and occupation of Iraq had produced a human tragedy of gargantuan proportions. More than 1 million Iraqis have been killed, millions more turned into refugees, and 4,000 US and other coalition soldiers have died—all because the US ruling elite is determined to control the resource-rich and geo-strategically critical Middle East.
The war in Afghanistan, unleashed by the United States and now being prosecuted by a NATO coalition in which the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is playing a prominent role, is a theatre of similar atrocities.
Meanwhile, new military interventions are being planned. The same cynical pattern of lies and provocations the Bush administration used in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq is now being repeated in relation to Iran. US military action against Iran could easily spark a conflict between the US and Russia, China or the European powers—a global conflagration with unimaginable consequences
The United States is not alone in its imperial ambitions. Similar colonial projects are being planned and carried out by the major powers of Europe and Asia. Canada’s Conservative government, with the enthusiastic support of the corporate media, has aligned itself completely with the cabal in the White House, by taking a leading role in the NATO occupation of Afghanistan. Its aim is to make Canada “a player” in the re-division of world and to win Washington’s backing for Canadian big business’s own imperialist ambitions, including securing Canada’s claim to the untapped energy reserves of the Arctic Ocean.
The predatory geo-political goals of the Canadian bourgeoisie require a profound militarisation of Canadian society. This process began under the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin and has accelerated under the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. The Canadian ruling elite, shedding the role of “peacekeeper” that cloaked their imperialist interests during the Cold War, has injected billions of dollars into the CAF.
A clear and growing majority of the Canadian population is opposed to the CAF’s role in a colonialist, counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan, but this opposition finds no genuine expression in the realm of official politics. Just as the Democratic Party in the United States criticises the Bush administration for its conduct of the war in Iraq while fully supporting it financially, the opposition parties in Canada cynically exploit the genuine anti-war sentiment of the population while demonstrating to the ruling elite that they defend the very same big business interests.
For five years, the social-democratic NDP supported the CAF mission in Afghanistan. Only in August 2006, in response to the massive anti-war sentiment in the population, did it call for the withdrawal of Canadian troops from southern Afghanistan. But only so they can be deployed elsewhere—Haiti and Darfur have been mentioned by party leader Jack Layton—so as to better serve the interests of Canadian imperialism.
In Quebec, the nominally “left” Quebec Solidaire coalition plays a similar role. It recommends a continuation of the Canadian intervention in Afghanistan under the auspices of the United Nations, as well as promoting the reactionary project of an independent capitalist Quebec, aligned with NATO and NAFTA, advocated by the big business Parti Quebecois.
The resurgence of militarism and imperialist war is rooted in the ferocious struggle of nationally based capitalist cliques for markets, natural resources, geo-political position, and pools of labour to exploit. This same phenomenon lies behind the ever-widening assault big business has mounted, over the past quarter century, on the social position of the working class. The welfare state has been gutted and wage and jobs slashed, leading to increasing economic insecurity and growing levels of social inequality.
The ISSE calls on students in Canada and around the world to take up the fight against war and inequality and to join the fight to build an independent socialist movement of the working class. Join the ISSE and help build a club at your high school, college or university.
International Students for Socialist Equality meeting details:
University of New Brunswick—Fredericton
Thursday, November 1, at 7 p.m.
Political Science Lounge
Tilley Hall, Room 222
Friday, November 2, at 7 p.m.
Room 10, Dunning Hall
94 University Avenue
Université du Québec à Montréal
Tuesday, November 13, at 7 p.m.
Pavillon A, Hubert-Aquin
400 Sainte-Catherine Est, Montréal