The Communist Party of Canada condemns Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement at the NATO summit this past week that Canada will lead a new NATO mission in Iraq and expand its military role in Latvia. Canada must immediately withdraw from NATO, cut military spending and bring Canadian troops home.
While the US government continued to push for more war and military expenditures from NATO member states, the Trudeau government was pleased to demonstrate that Canada was up to the task by taking the lead of a new NATO mission in Iraq and providing a senior general to oversee the mission. Trudeau also promised to extend Canada’s involvement in the NATO mission in Latvia until 2023 and increase the number of Canadian troops in that mission’s provocation on the border with Russia.
For the last seventeen years the US has been engaged in a permanent “war on terror” that has led to the deaths of millions of people in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Initially Canada’s role in the illegal invasion in Iraq in 2003 was very small due to the organized opposition of millions of people in Canada. However, Canadian involvement has been increasing since the Kandahar mission in 2005, and the Canadian military has had a presence in Iraq since 2014.
The Trudeau government’s support for this new NATO mission means that Canada will expand its complicity in the imperialist crimes being committed against the people of the region. Over one million people have already died as a direct result of the wars in Iraq and Syria alone, wars that were deliberately perpetrated and provoked by imperialist forces.
In the war in Afghanistan, where Canada was involved for more than a decade, over one hundred thousand people died and 160 Canadian soldiers were killed. The country remains deeply divided between competing groups of warlords and fundamentalist militias. In Libya, where the Harper government led some of the bombing and helped institute a “regime change” operation based on “humanitarian intervention” pretexts, the result has been the destruction of that country, a massive decrease in living standards for Libyans and a return to slave markets where Black Africans are sold. The only winners in this never-ending war on terror are the big western energy monopolies, the military industrial complex, neo-Nazi Islamophobes and reactionary Islamist groups, both of which thrive because of these wars.
The expansion of Canadian military involvement in NATO is taking place as Trump is ramping up pressure on NATO members to drastically increase militarization to keep pace with the US. Canada spends $20 billion annually on the military. This means that Canada already ranks 14th in the world in military spending, while it ranks 38th in the world for its population size. Despite this already astronomical military spending, the Liberal government announced last year that the military budget would jump up by 73% to 32.7 billion in less than ten years. This is in part due to Canada’s shared commitment to the insatiable NATO alliance that all states would raise their military budgets to 2% of GDP.
Any increase in military funding does not mean Canada will be any “safer”. On the contrary, it means that the government is committing to increase its already significant role in military interventions and full-scale wars around the world, further escalating imperialism’s drive towards world war. It makes Canada a bigger partner in the US-led war machine.
Canada’s ballooning militarism means that working people here will pay more for destroying the lives of other working people around the world. Corporations and the wealthy are guaranteed not to pay, as this government has promised that corporate taxes will not be increased. This can only mean that the military budget will be expanded through increased taxes on working people, even deeper cuts to social programs and services, further cuts to healthcare and education funding to the provinces, and massive privatization of public services and assets. The Trudeau government has shown that it has billions for wars and bailing out climate destroying pipelines, meanwhile there are still over 70 long-term boil water advisories in Indigenous communities, wages are stagnant, precarious work is expanding, and the housing crisis rages while no serious efforts to build social housing are taking place.
Canada’s close imperialist partnership with the United States led to Canada joining NATO almost seventy years ago when it was formed in hostile reaction to the emerging socialist system of states. From the outset it was illegal under international law. Article 52 of the UN charter permits regional military organizations, but only if their activities are “consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the UN”. The most important principle of the UN is the prohibition of the use of force, and since NATO’s membership has always been beyond any commonly identifiable region, its very foundation contravenes international law.
NATO countries also become de facto nuclear weapons states. Through NATO, officially nuclear-free countries such as Canada become components in imperialism’s multilateral nuclear strike force, usually without the consent or knowledge of their people. NATO has consistently reiterated that its nuclear arsenal is not only for defensive purposes, and it maintains a “nuclear first-strike” policy. In many ways NATO acts as a cover for US and EU imperialism as they pose as the “international community”.
Contrary to President Trump’s statements about pulling out of NATO, it is the US that needs NATO, which allows the US to bypass the UN Security Council and engage in military adventures abroad. The statements coming out of Washington that are critical of NATO are designed to hasten militarization and are part of the dangerous drive towards expanding regional wars, with the real danger of world war. Due to the ongoing capitalist economic crisis, imperialism globally has become increasingly aggressive, using demonization campaigns and disingenuous pleas for “humanitarian intervention” to justify intimidation, provocation, aggression and war.
The task of labour and peoples’ movements in Canada remains rebuilding the anti-war movement across Canada with the immediate task of stopping militarization and Canada’s involvement in a growing number of wars. A broad and massive anti-war movement must drown out the drums of war before it is too late. As we saw in the build up to the initial illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, it is possible to mobilize and organize hundreds of thousands for an anti-war agenda and it must be done again.
The Communist Party of Canada demands:
● An immediate and complete end to participation in all military interventions and wars in Iraq, Latvia, Ukraine, and Mali;
● that Canada withdraw from NATO and push for the dissolution of that criminal military alliance;
● that the military budget be cut by 75% and these billions of dollars be used to create good jobs across Canada;
● that Canada takes a radical shift towards a foreign policy based on peace, disarmament and national sovereignty.
Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada