Peace & Security conference Feb. 17/07 Part 2

Stephen LaFrenie

My observations of the other speakers at the conference.

Taylor Owen, Trudeau Scholar, University of Oxford, Genocide Studies Program, Yale University, posed some intriguing questions. He posed three questions for Canadians and the Green Party to consider.
1) What do we want the military to be?
2) Are we wasting development dollars?
3) Is our diplomatic voice being lost?

These questions are framed around the European Union pursuit of defining what their strategy should be. He observed that it is very close to what Canadian foreign policy was, or at least, was going. The concept of human/personal security and what constitutes a threat to that security. There is the wide application of this policy which includes all possible threats such as, lack of food/water, environmental threats, health/disease, and violence through war and/or oppression. The narrow focus would center on violent threats from exterior or interior and remaining within the military sphere, civil war, hostile invasion, genocide, etc. He further brought up a point that I liked very much which is the concept of democracy itself in relation to security. Democracy is not necessary for security. In other words we do not have to pursue the imposition of democracy in order to achieve security in a ‘failed state’ or state in the turmoil of military conflict. It is in fact the institutions that create the infrastructure and not elections that provide for security as we see evidenced in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has been largely the indiscriminate destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure and institutions that have created the worsening conditions in Iraq. The elections have largely brought no real security or improvement to Iraq.

Christine Jones was a good addition to the panel as she brought the point of view of an activist to the discussion. Her presentation involved a long series of facts surrounding the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq that point to economic rather than human rights aspects of the war. It is clear to anyone who looks seriously into both invasions that they have almost nothing to do with 9/11 and human rights (except perhaps that 9/11 acted as a catalyst to bringing about plans already drawn up and/or in motion.) The war in Afghanistan is largely over oil and natural gas line issues between the Taliban and American administrations. It needs to be realized that if the Taliban had not backtracked on a promise to go ahead with the pipeline, that the U.S. would not have invaded Afghanistan but pursued further ‘diplomatic’ means and/or covert operations with special forces. One of the first acts of the Karzai led government was to sign the pipeline deal. The Afghan government has further signed deals with U.S. corporations at higher costs than those available through other countries. It further has to be realized by Canadians that the Afghan government consists of many warlords guilty of oppression and attitudes held by the former Taliban regime. Things are not better for women in Afghanistan since the invasion. In point of fact the government has proposed granting immunity and/or amnesty to warlords and persons within the present government who are guilty of war crimes and human rights abuses. Does Canada have the courage to stand against its allies and for the truth? The liberal and conservative parties clearly do not. Canada was clearly lied to by its closest allies, Britain and the U.S. as to the reasons behind both wars. Canada has so far refused to acknowledge the illegality of both invasions by NATO led by the Americans. Our obligations under NATO do not oblige us to participate in deception and acts of war contrary to international law. There was no Security Council support for the war in Iraq.

Landon Pearson, Senator. Ms. Pearson dealt directly with the concerns of international children’s rights. 193 countries ratified the convention on child rights with the U.S. and Somalia refusing to sign. It is imperative that we include children’s rights within our foreign policy. The majority of the population in the developing world is under the age of eighteen. We must ask ourselves, ‘who are the workers in the global economy?’ and ‘who are the consumers of those produced goods?’ We need to further the movement on child soldiers and raising the age of recruitment. She points out that CIDA has contributed greatly to the education of young girls in developing countries. Studies have shown that with this rise in education, exploitation drops, fertility rates drop, and wages increase by a margin equally of 10% in each category. In short it is vital to address the education and opportunities of young girls in developing countries in order to help stem the flood of abuse and exploitation.

Here is a link to both the UN and UNICEF studies on violence against children.