In just a few short weeks, it's already become obvious that the actions of the new Harper majority government will require a strong response from Canada's anti-war movement.
The aggressive militarism of this government is central to its long-term political project for transforming this country -- that’s why it's imperative that all those fighting against Harper's domestic agenda also oppose his government’s foreign policy.
Any day now, the Conservatives will put an extension of the war in Libya through the new Parliament. There was scarcely any debate or discussion of Canada's role in NATO's intervention in Libya during the recent election campaign, despite the fact that Libya is the biggest air operation by Canadian Forces since the Kosovo War over a decade ago.
Canadian fighter jets have flown more than 400 sorties over Libya thus far, and NATO's air campaign is intensifying. The Canadian planes have been operating from a NATO base in Italy. To fight wars from the air, you need to have the use of foreign bases.
Last week, Le Devoir broke the news that the Canadian government had completed agreements for new foreign bases in Jamaica and Germany, with talks ongoing to establish bases in Kuwait, Tanzania and several other countries.
Late last week, Minister MacKay denied that Canada had any plans for "large military bases" abroad. This is an attempt to divert opposition to foreign Canadian bases through semantics: whether large or small, expanding the number of bases abroad will expand the ability of Canada under the Harper government to take part in more wars and military interventions.
In response to this news, the Canadian Peace Alliance has released the following statement.
Expanding foreign military bases serves Harper's war agenda
The Canadian Peace Alliance condemns the plans of the Harper government to establish new foreign military bases for Canada. This is a policy that has been in the works for some time but, like so much else about Canada's foreign policy, it was completely excluded from the discussion during the recent federal election.
The idea of expanding foreign military bases for Canada goes against the wishes of the vast majority of Canadians. With the Harper government set to make a series of cuts to public services and spending generally, one of the few areas where they seem intent on spending even more is on war and militarism.
Last week, Peter MacKay admitted that Canada had already made agreements for bases in Germany and Jamaica, and were in talks with Kuwait and a number of other countries. MacKay stated that the focus was on increasing the Canadian military's "capability for expeditionary participation in international missions." MacKay noted that Canada has already "become a go-to nation in response to situations" like Libya and Haiti.
The new overseas bases are designed to increase Canada's ability to play leading roles in future military interventions. Taken together with the Harper government's policy of acquiring costly new F-35 fighter jets, and an ongoing policy of expanding Canadian Special Forces, this policy of expanding overseas operation bases is lock-step with its exporting of militarism rather than human rights and aid.
It was Canadian Special Forces, the secretive Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2), who participated in the 2004 coup against the elected government of Haiti, securing the airport in Port-au-Prince from which President Aristide was taken out of the country by U.S. Forces. The war in Afghanistan is also increasingly being fought with Special Forces.
The announcement about new foreign bases came at the same time as a request to keep Canadian Forces on the ground in Richelieu, Quebec to help with flood relief was being ignored. The Harper government continues to encourage costly and unnecessary deployments of the Forces abroad, while showing little interest in using its resources at home for disaster relief.
Foreign bases have nothing to do with Canadian security, and everything to do with the Harper government's desire to be able to participate in future military aggressions like the ones ongoing in Afghanistan and Libya.