Sunday, September 28, 2008

Split Indecision: Canada Surges In Multiple Directions Simultaneously

There's a federal election coming in Canada, and the anti-war "third parties" (New Democrats [NDP] and Greens) are gaining ground fast on the pro-war "major parties" (Liberals and Conservatives), according to a recent survey quoted in the Toronto Star's "NDP surge in cities as Liberals languish: Poll".

The Star spins it in a different way, of course, never mentioning that the Conservatives are languishing too, remaining silent on the obvious point that the war in Afghanistan is the major difference between the parties that are surging and the others, and casting the surge of support for the anti-war parties as a threat to the Liberals and a boon to the Conservatives.

To read it in the Star, it's as if too much support for the Greens and the NDP would necessarily lead to a Conservative victory, rather than a Conservative defeat (or, what's more likely, a heavily fragmented minority government).

That's almost the same way they spin it in the US, although in this case it comes with a northern accent.

But the anti-war surge, led by outspoken NDP leader Jack Layton [photo], comes against the backdrop of a long-term American-inflected surge in government militarization, somewhat similar to the English version which was recently described by John Pilger and highlighted by Chris Floyd.

The transformation of Canada has been almost American in style, complete with transparent propaganda from a minority government openly in contempt of the press, the other parties, and the rule of law, presenting a huge increase in military spending as urgently needed for national defense -- against the will and contrary to the needs of the people, who must be propagandized as thoroughly as possible, of course -- and in true American military style, the whole thing is done with the backroom collaboration of the "opposition".

Most recently, the Canadian government announced plans to rent and purchase attack helicopters and drones -- weapons which the government says are necessary for the defense of the country. The drones will defend Canada by flying around Afghanistan. The helicopters will defend Canada by moving Canadian troops around inside Afghanistan.

Never mind that Afghanistan poses no threat to Canada. Never mind that Canada requires no defense against Afghanistan.

And never mind, especially, that the war in Afghanistan would be entirely unjustified, even if the official story of 9/11 were true, which it obviously isn't.

Forget all that. This is the post-9/11 world, which means when our governments say "defense", they really mean "attack". Telling the truth, calling a spade a spade: that's September 10th thinking. We're past that now.

The purchase and rental agreements are part of a massive new spending package sneakily announced in June. Details of the package were made public by virtue of being posted on the government's website late one Thursday night.

The spending package budgets $490 billion to be spent over the next 20 years -- and it was put together by a government that wasn't destined to last three more months in power.

In February, it was announced that the helicopters and drones were essential to the continuation of the Canadian "mission" in Afghanistan.

In true American style, this imperial mission had been criticized "from the left" as being done "on the cheap", so the inevitable commission was set up and it reached the most predictable conclusion: Canada must either spend a lot more money to do it "right" or else abandon the war crime they call a "mission" altogether.

So the Canadian Prime Minister, neocon Bushist Stephen Harper, announced that he would no longer approve an Afghan mission being run "on the cheap", and the "opposition" forced a "compromise" by which the war crime would be continued, but at a much greater burden to the taxpayers.

This was reminiscent of the means by which the most recent bill funding the war crime in Iraq was passed by a supposedly opposition US congress. Bush threatened to veto an increase in funding for medical care for veterans, but the Democrats insisted, and eventually the "two sides" reached a "compromise" under which the war crime would be continued indefinitely with no restrictions on the president but at a greater cost to the taxpayers than previously.

Just as in the USA, there's a level beyond which Canadian national politics is (worse than) a farce, made especially tragic when it's left to "the two party system". So, in many ways, the Canadian election is not about the Conservatives against the Liberals with the third parties in the background. It's about the Conservatives and the Liberals against the third parties.

But the major media are all Conservative with Faux Liberals in pocket, so they will never present an analysis of national politics that runs this way, even though the fault lines are clearly visible. So the voters have to figure it out for themselves.

And therefore, from a foreign policy point of view (and in many other ways) this election will boil down to whether the Canadian people are smart enough to reject the Bush-Harper, Conservative-Liberal, Star-Globe-National Post propaganda surge with sufficient force.

Which surge will win? The stakes are huge and I'm not optimistic.

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