Tag Archives: Imeprialism

Canadian prime minister backs right-wing regime in Ukraine

By Roger Jordan
June 8, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, Saturday to reaffirm Ottawa’s support for Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist, pro-western regime and the US-led drive against Russia.

From Kiev, Harper flew to Germany for the G-7 summit, at which he promised to advocate for the Ukrainian regime—i.e. to join Washington in pressing for no let-up in the economic sanctions, aggressive NATO military deployments, and war threats against Russia.

At a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Harper declared: “While Ukraine may not have a seat at the (G-7) table, I can assure you, Mr. President, the situation will be very high on Canada’s agenda.”

Earlier in a written statement, Harper again sought to paint Russia as the “aggressor.” Amid renewed fighting in east Ukraine, where much of the population has rebelled against Kiev with Russia’s support, Harper declared: “Canada strongly condemns Russia’s aggressive actions in Eastern Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea, and will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine in the face of the ongoing violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

This turns reality on its head. It is the western powers, led by the US and Germany, that have been pushing to detach Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence and transform it into a source of cheap labour and natural resources for western imperialism and a staging area for provocations against Russia. In response to the Russian ruling elite’s predictable attempts to counter this existential threat, it is the western powers that have deployed troops on Russia’s borders and battleships in the Black Sea, violating NATO’s earlier pledge that it would not permanently station forces in Eastern Europe.

Canada has long been playing a critical role in the drive to harness Ukraine to the West and to strategically isolate Russia and topple Putin—a campaign that threatens to provoke all-out war between nuclear-armed states.

Harper’s visit to Kiev was the third he has made since the US-orchestrated, fascist-led coup of February 2014 that overthrew Ukraine’s elected president, Victor Yanukovych.

Canada has joined in the NATO deployments on Russia’s borders, sending troops and war planes to the Baltic states and Eastern Europe and warships to the Black Sea. In August, 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel will deploy to the western Ukraine to provide training, alongside US and British forces, to Ukrainian army and National Guard units.

Canada has repeatedly seconded US calls for their European allies to take a more belligerent stance against Russia. At last November’s G-20 meeting, Harper provocatively snubbed Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, telling him “to get out of Ukraine” to accolades from Canadian media.

In Kiev this Saturday, Harper announced plans to provide funding and equipment for a new civil police force. Ottawa will also send a contingent of police officers to Ukraine to train the force and to advise what the media called “other security institutions.” This likely refers to the Kiev regime’s National Guard, which comprises many fighters from ultra-nationalist and outright fascist volunteer militia.

Harper was accompanied on his trip by representatives of the right-wing Ukrainian Canadian Congress and its affiliates, including the Canadian representatives of Army SOS, which is supplying military equipment and weaponry to the Ukrainian army and aligned militias.

While the Harper government claims that it is not providing lethal military equipment to the Kiev regime—in line with current US, EU and NATO policy—Army SOS is doing so, with Ottawa’s encouragement. Through its networks of Canadian volunteers, Army SOS has supplied the Ukrainian Army and its militia allies with uniforms, medical equipment, surveillance technology including drones, and lethal weapons such as parts for sniper rifles.

The participation of Army SOS representatives in the delegation Harper led to Kiev this past weekend underscores the support it enjoys at the highest levels of the state. Earlier this year, an Army SOS event in Toronto, which raised over C$50,000, was addressed by two Conservative MPs.

On the eve of the Harper’s departure for Kiev, Ukraine’s chargé d’affaires in Canada, Marko Shevchenko, hailed Canada’s role, claiming that Ukraine’s “relations … with Canada are deeper and much more significant than with any other country in the world.”

This comment underscores the close ties between Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist government, Harper’s Conservatives, and the Canadian ruling class more generally.

Shevchenko hailed the military aid being provided by Ottawa. “The Canadian government, led by Stephen Harper, is,” he said, “the world leader in providing such non-lethal assistance to Ukraine.”

In comments which say a great deal about Canada’s constant involvement in imperialist wars in recent years, Sevchenko said Ukraine stood to benefit greatly from Canadian military assistance. “The Canadian Armed Forces has big experience in contemporary war,” he said. “Ukrainian forces didn’t have such experience until last year.”

The wars Shevchenko referred to include: Canada’s leading role in NATO’s bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999; its 10-year deployment of troops in the Afghan war; its prominent role in NATO’s 2011 “regime change” war in Libya; and its on-going deployment of aircraft and special forces personnel to Iraq and Syria, in a war aimed ostensibly at combating ISIS, but which aims to shore up US hegemony over the world’s most important oil-exporting region.

As during these previous interventions, the Harper government’s embrace of the far-right Kiev regime and aggressive stance against Russia enjoy overwhelming support within Canada’s political and corporate elite.

Jack Harris, the defence spokesman for the official opposition, the trade union-supported New Democratic Party (NDP), made clear his party’s support for Harper’s actions to support the Kiev regime and NATO’s provocative deployments on Russia’s borders, declaring, “we do not have a problem with that at all.”

Paul Dewar, the NDP’s foreign affairs spokesman, weighed in with a call for additional sanctions on Russia over the case of imprisoned Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko. He added, “I want to reassure, from our side of the House, the people of Ukraine that we are there to help the people of Ukraine.”

James Bezan, the parliamentary secretary to national defence minister Jason Kenney, made a telling reference to the integration of the activities of SOS Ukraine with those of the Canadian state. Bezan said,“We also have people over there who have done great work, such as Lenna Koszarny, who is a Canadian living in Ukraine. …. She is working with our ambassador, Roman Waschuk … to make sure … that our great military equipment is getting into the right hands and is being well-used.” Koszarny is a coordinator of Army SOS as well as a leading member of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

The House of Commons debate also shed light on Ottawa’s direct involvement in imposing brutal austerity measures on Ukrainian workers. After praising Porroshenko’s commitment to “significant,” “market-based,” “structural and economic reforms” to tie Ukraine’s economy to the West, International Trade Minster Ed Fast boasted that Canada is “playing a role in those reforms.”

The economic advisory council that President Poroshenko has established, continued Fast, “is actually headed by a Canadian, Mr. Basil Kalymon of the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University.”

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AIPAC Busting up Peace Efforts May Bust its Own Bubble

By Medea Benjamin
March 12, 2015
Dissident Voice

 

Early in the morning of March 3, on AIPAC’s national lobby day and just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was set to address the joint session of Congress, AIPAC President Robert Cohen, along with the group’s Policy Director and two associates, briskly approached the Congressional office of Speaker of the House John Boehner. To their horror, they found the office locked and surrounded by crowd of CODEPINK activists staging a sit-in to protest the Netanyahu speech. After trying unsuccessfully to get in a side door, the AIPAC officials scurried away. But a CODEPINK swarm followed through the maze of Congressional halls, thrilled at the unique opportunity to confront the powerful AIPAC officials about their efforts to quash a nuclear deal with Iran.

When finally cornered after seeking refuge in the office of Congressman Stivers, the policy director agreed to talk to the CODEPINK group. But he kept repeating the mantra that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and as such, cannot be trusted in a nuclear deal.

This is the AIPAC line, and its strategy is to sabotage the negotiations. It pushes for greater sanctions on Iran through the Kirk-Menendez bill knowing that—as Secretary of State John Kerry has said—additional sanctions would likely drive Iran from the table. It is also promoting the Corker bill, which would give Congress a chance to veto any deal the administration makes with Iran. And there is speculation that AIPAC was behind the letter by 47 Republican senators to the Iran government insisting that any deal signed with President Obama could be overturned by the next president.

AIPAC’s underhanded efforts to scuttle talks with Iran threaten to move us down a dangerous path towards war. But it’s not just AIPAC’s position on Iran that poses a threat to peace. AIPAC tries to undermine any attempts by the Palestinians to take their grievances to the international community. AIPAC describes the United Nations as a body hostile to the State of Israel and has pressured the US government to oppose any resolution holding Israel accountable or granting Palestine statehood at the UN. Incensed by Palestine’s request for membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC), AIPAC pushed the Obama administration to pull funding from the Palestinian Authority.

AIPAC consistently supports Israel’s military incursions in Gaza, claiming Israel is simply defending itself against Hamas. AIPAC supported the Israeli offensive during the summer of 2014 that resulted in thousands of Palestinian deaths (including over 500 children), six UN schools and hospitals flattened, 18,000 housing units destroyed and 108,000 people displaced from their homes. While the bombs were raining down mercilessly on civilians in Gaza, AIPAC President Robert Cohen told Congress that Hamas was responsible for the death of its own citizens. AIPAC also supported the prior two invasions of Gaza and the siege that has so devastated the lives of the strip’s 1.8 million residents.

As part of its efforts to influence Congress, AIPAC takes US representatives on free, sugar-coated junkets to Israel, trips considered almost obligatory for every new member of Congress. The congresspeople see precisely what the Israeli government wants them to see. It is illegal for lobby groups to take elected officials on trips, but AIPAC skirts the law by creating a bogus educational group, AIEF (American Israel Education Foundation), to “organize” the trips for them. AIEF has the same office address as AIPAC and the same staff. These trips help cement the ties between AIPAC and Congress, furthering their undue influence.

To judge AIPAC’s grip on Congress, look no further than how it boasts about its policy conference; i.e., that it is “attended by more members of Congress than almost any other event, except for a joint session of Congress or a State of the Union address.”

AIPAC keeps a careful record of how members of Congress vote and this record is used by donors to make contributions to the politicians who score well. Congresspeople who fail to support AIPAC legislation have been targeted for defeat, including Senators Adlai Stevenson III and Charles H. Percy, and Representatives Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney, and Earl F. Hilliard.

More recently, AIPAC supporters vowed to use their wealth and extensive resources to punish Democrats who skipped Prime Minister Netanyahu’s March 3 speech before Congress. A representative of billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson said that “if these Democrats would rather put partisan politics ahead of principle and walk out on the prime minister of Israel, then we have an obligation to make that known.”

The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has influence on US policy out of all proportion to the number of Americans it represents. When a small group like this has disproportionate power, it hurts everyone—from Palestinians and Iranians to Israelis and American Jews.

If we are to stop a catastrophic war with Iran or finally solve the Israel/Palestine conflict, an essential element is breaking AIPAC’s grip on U.S. policy. That may well be happening right now. In the past, AIPAC fiercely guarded its bipartisan reputation. But its ultra-hardline stance on Iran puts it squarely on the side of Obama’s most ferocious Republican detractors.  This is making many liberal Jewish AIPAC supporters jittery and diminishing AIPAC’s power among Democrats in Congress and the White House.

AIPAC, in its strong-arm attempts to blow up the talks with Iran, may well be losing its grip and careening towards its own demise. And that’s one implosion worth rooting for.