These days, the rumor in Ottawa is growing that the government has consciously lied about the costs of the war in Afghanistan. All together it would be much higher than the official $15 billion dollars, almost triple. This number takes into consideration the long term costs of having so many soldiers deployed in the field, and the incredible surge in defense expenditures that would not have been in the picture without the Afghan situation. What it really means is that Harper is heavily committed to the same kind of long-term militarization that has been developed South of our border. It is very serious.

Many other writers have written about the objectives of this move. The "endless" war as Bush termed it, is on the go. For the declining empire of the U.S., it is strategically important to corner that region as the buffer zone between oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia and oil-starved Western Europe and Eastern and Southern Asia. The Afghanistan issue per se is secondary to these huge geopolitical and geoeconomic issues.

Harper, and also the Liberals, and others have tried to deflect the issue declaring that we are there to bring democracy and liberate women. Well I don’t think any rabble reader would fall for that. By the way, it is a well-known "secret" in Ottawa and particularly in CIDA that the aid program is in deep, deep trouble. A very small proportion is actually spent to help the Afghans. Canadian government personnel are locked in with short term military objectives and also cost a very high price (over $300 000 per head per year). NGOs have come with thousands of alternative proposals to really focus on people’s needs, but no one is listening. CIDA itself is not heard as a small clique of people around Harper makes all decisions.

Indeed, Afghanistan is a sort of laboratory for the neocons in Ottawa. The idea is to control, push, repress, wall people inside visible or virtual barriers along ethnic or religions lines, preventing any sensible nation-building and state-building and therefore contradicting all the rhetoric produced by international agencies on "aid effectiveness." In occupied Palestine for example, CIDA has been ordered to shut down its social programs in order to invest in "governance" which in plain language means supporting the failed regime of Abu Mazen to hire more policemen in order to repress his own people. And in the meantime, Gaza has been completely abandoned by the Canadian government except for a trickle of humanitarian aid, transforming Gazeans into beggars.

It’s pretty awful, so anyone who thinks the issues of the election are about a shift more or less to the right is actually underestimating the challenge. A Harper victory will not be ONLY a shift to the right but a major and long-term realignment of our foreign policy. Everyone can say that Chrétien and Martin opened the door for that, nonetheless, a Harper-led majority government would bring this to a completely different level.

Can we stop this nonsense?


Pierre Beaudet

Pierre was active in international solidarity and social movements in Quebec, and was the founder of Quebec NGO Alternatives, and Editor of the Nouveaux cahiers du socialisme. He blogged on in...