by Walter Trkla
(Swans - April 21, 2014) Alexander the Great, four British invasions, and the Soviets in 1979, Canada has limped out of Afghanistan while our prime minister, Stephen Harper, is telling his constituents that democracy has won the day as Potemkin elections are held to replace the puppet regime of Hamid Karzai.
In reality, a reality known to all except those who need to create a political "win" for self interest, Canada has left Afghanistan no better than the way it found it. The drug dealers, the Tajik and Uzbek in the north, will remain in power because our American allies will manipulate the vote since they have chosen them to succeed Karzai.
Democracy-building in Afghanistan has cost the Canadian taxpayer over $22 billion, not counting future medical and psychiatric care for our veterans and the families of many who have committed suicide on their return home. In essence, the Afghanistan venture has been another NATO failed regime-change exercise that has cost Canadians a huge amount in terms of lives, welfare of combatants, and taxpayer dollars.
Terrorism in Afghanistan will continue against the Americans, delivered by our enemies the Taliban, and supported by the majority Pashtun tribes in the South who have been banned from voting in this election.
In hopes of winning the 2015 election, PM Harper has now moved Canadian tax dollars north to Ukraine, where we are "nation-building" through another regime change, but this time with Fascist allies. Our allies in current world meddling are Svoboda and the Right Sector, a solidly neo-Nazi fascist group based in western Ukraine that the West recently condemned but now embraces because they want the country to join the EU rather than be economically attached to Russia.
This new adventure in Ukraine is more hypocrisy by Prime Minister Harper. He talks about democracy but he often does not follow its principles nationally or in our international relations, conveniently ignoring treaties and accords to which the Canadian government has agreed. Harper's remarks against Russia and support of neo-Nazis and skinheads in Kiev is a biased election message to 1.2 million Ukrainian Canadian constituents. His comments during his recent trip to Ukraine are a continuation of countless falsehoods by this man in the service of his attempt to rewrite events and redefine democracy, a "Tea Party" exercise full of conservative malfeasance.
Harper's malfeasance is hypocritical. He makes the comment that Russia is "violating bilateral and international commitments," when we have violated international agreements constantly, often under his leadership. We have violated WWII treaties, the UN Charter, and we have bombed countries without UN agreement. We have violated UN Human Rights by mistreating prisoners of war, violated the Helsinki agreement on borders, and we signed article 1244 on Kosovo and violated it before the ink was dry. Our current government's domestic track record on democracy and support for international law is abysmal.
Canadian conservative leaders and their voters, like their American Republican counterparts, have accepted the concept of "exceptionalism." Based on birth and country, conservatives believe they have a right to play a dominant role throughout the world, but particularly in countries deemed "less worthy." This concept is deeply rooted in Anglo Saxon history of imperialism, particularly the "white man's burden" of the late 18th century. Using propaganda and control of mainstream media, conservative political leadership has gained support of a large sector of the public for their interventions in world events, which tend to be one-sided.
For example, Herman and Peterson have written in Politics of Genocide that Western governments and their media treated the Ukrainian famine as genocide but not the Irish famine. The media and Western governments labeled Saddam's killing of Kurds a genocide but not the Turkish killing of Kurds. They also labeled Serbian shelling of Sarajevo a war crime but not the US shelling of Fallujah, and they wrote and broadcast that the Hutu killing of the Tutsi was a genocide but not the reverse -- the Tutsi killing of the Hutu.
Our media and many politicians see some international crimes committed by our government and our allies as worthy and acceptable, while crimes committed by states or tribes who are deemed different, or not aligned with us, as unworthy. When states we support commit specifically-aimed violence in a foreign country, Herman and Peterson write that the word genocide is rarely (if ever) used by our government and the media. Coverage of the story is diminished, and if the word genocide is used, it's primarily relegated to a "back page" exposure. When states deemed unfriendly to our political and economic interests commit a violent act, the media takes its lead from the government and uses euphemisms to discredit the "other side" in the dispute.
Just the other day, the Canadian TV outlet CTV interviewed Mr. Shwec, the Ukrainian ambassador to Canada. There was not a single question to Mr. Shwec about the Nazi affiliation of the rioters, or the intercepted telephone conversations about the shooters of police and civilians in Kiev and their association with the protestors. It was very clear for anyone watching reports from Kiev that the petrol bombs and other weapons were used by the rioters and this was ignored in the interview.
Jacqueline Milczarek, the anchor on the CTV News Channel, ignored this action knowing full-well that such violence would have been met by force if it had taken place in Canada. In fact, in Canada, just wearing a balaclava during a riot is punishable with up to ten years in jail. Rather than ask probing questions, Milczarek gave Mr. Shwec a forum to simply bash Putin, knowing full-well that was the expectation from her media bosses.
She went on to insinuate that what was going on in Ukraine is somehow a threat to the Baltic States and Poland. She continued with fear mongering with simplistic drivel designed to further promote the conservative and corporate agenda. She did not mention the fact that the USA spent $5 billion to destabilize Ukraine, but she did mention that Russia had an army on their side of the border. She opted to ignore the fact that NATO has armies and bases in 50 or so countries surrounding Russia.
Should balanced reporting include the fact that NATO and US forces are on Russia's borders, and the fact that EU and American governments instigated this revolution? Should pointed questions be asked about the history of Shwec and his supporters so that the public (the viewers) can really understand who's involved and why it's occurring?
Russia is not Serbia, or Libya, or Iraq. Russia has an arsenal of nukes, and the more we attempt to partition it into small units ripe for takeover or to isolate it to gain access to its resources, the more the world is in danger of a nuclear war. That said, Russia has never attacked others, but it has been attacked: from the East (Mongols); South (Turks); and particularly, the West (Teutonic Knights, Poles, Swedes, Napoleon with a European Army, as well as British, French, and Germans in WWI, and Canadians, Americans, British, and French after WWI, plus Germans with a European Army under Hitler). So, they have a multitude of significant lessons from history to distrust some foreign countries.
Harper does not tell Canadians that the government of democratically-elected Viktor Yanukovych wanted closer ties with Russia rather than with the EU. Svoboda, UDAR, and the Right Sector (with support from the West) were instrumental in deposing Yanukovych. And, with this action, the move away from the EU was quashed, benefitting the west economically. UDAR and Svoboda were on the EU and NATO side rather than Russia's, thus they had to be seen as attractive partners, thus disregarding their Fascist history.
To Harper, these Fascist became our allies, so he portrays them as "worthy," regardless of their past history even though that history included murdering their own people like UDAR and Svoboda rioters did in Maidan.
We (the West) call ourselves "reformers" when we engineer a regime change for our own benefit, while the regime that wants to remain as they are is labeled by our press and government as a "hardliner," despot, or some similar easy-to-understand label like Axis of Evil to create the necessary impression. When we (our side) kills in war and innocents die, it's called collateral damage, while when nations that simply don't agree with us or follow our leadership engage in warfare, it's called violence, murder, oppression, or genocide. Those words create an image, which has led people in Ukraine (eastern and southern) regions to vote with their feet as they are now demanding to join Russia.
All three political parties in Canada condemned Russia over Crimea in order to appease the Ukrainian voters in Canada, even though a democratic vote was taken in Crimea to join Russia. However, this action shows our petty selfish prejudices, since these same parties supported Kosovo independence after they supported 78 days bombing of Serbia to detach Kosovo, which was part of Serbia for 2000 years. Once again our politicians find it easier to support who we think are our friends, rather than the rule of international law. America and NATO have a policy paper in their front pocket for separatism that they support and another policy in their back pocket for a similar situation that they oppose.
Our government, the G7, and the EU recognized the democratic elections and the elected government of Viktor Yanukovych. Yet, they supported his ouster and the violence used against his country. People died because of that support. That interference would not have been tolerated by any of the G7, and particularly the USA, if that had happened in their countries.
After opposing the Crimean referendum, where does Harper (or Mulcair, or Trudeau) stand on the Quebec Referendum? Are they willing to oppose Quebec like Spain opposes Catalonia or will they side with the new Quebec premier that wants to have a 10 year moratorium on the sovereignty vote?
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About the Author
Walter Trkla is a retired high school teacher of world history, law, and economics. He holds a master's degree in teaching. He also taught geography at Thompson Rivers University, and supervised student teachers for the University of British Columbia. Mr. Trkla was adopted by his uncle after his father was killed in WWII. He lives in Kamloops, BC, Canada, with his wife Judy. They have two daughters. (back)