Soldiers, Stay at Valcartier!

Eric Smith, Thursday, May 17, 2007 - 19:45


(Translated from Le Drapeau Rouge, No. 64, May 2007.)

Next summer, a Canadian Forces contingent from Valcartier (outside of Québec City) numbering some 2,000 soldiers will depart for Afghanistan. These soldiers will replace the current Canadian forces based in and around the Kandahar region. With this contingent, Canada will be the most important component within the NATO imperialist occupation force in Afghanistan.

After more than five years of military occupation, the Afghani people are subjected to the daily horrors of the deteriorating situation in their country: in the North, warlords enjoy passive compliance with the occupation forces, enforcing their own brutal authority on the population; in the South, where the resistance is concentrated, and where NATO forces arbitrarily detain men and women and accuse the population of passive compliance with the Taliban, and use this accusation as an excuse for increasing military control.

And there are more recent cases, such as the Afghani prisoners (mainly innocent civilians arbitrarily detained for little or no reason) who were knowingly given to the local Karzai authorities where they were beaten and tortured; the proven cases of corruption and war crimes committed by members of the Karzai government and his warlord partners; the support of the Canadian and US governments to this overtly corrupt system, and their support for the violent warlords; all of this shows that the continued occupation of Afghanistan by Canada and NATO brings only increased suffering to the Afghani people. It brings imperialist military domination, not liberation. This fact is irrefutable: the Afghani people did not ask the Canadian army to come and occupy their country!

And today, this Canadian occupation force upholds Karzai's national security forces who routinely use torture against civilians, in complete contempt of the most basic international laws. On April 23rd of this year, the Globe and Mail reported that detainees arrested by Canadian troops and given to Afghan authorities were subjected to torture. These detainees had been stopped by Canadian forces, suspected of being Taliban members or supporters. In the vast majority of these cases, the prisoners were eventually released because of lack of evidence of their involvement with the Taliban, but not before undergoing extremely violent treatment at the hands of the authorities, which involved electrocution, bludgeoning, and other physical cruelty.

These incidents are a clear indication of the lies of the Tory government and its Liberal predecessor: despite the contradic-tory claims given in the weeks that followed the reports, the facts have shown that the understanding reached between the Canadian government and Afghani security forces did not guarantee any humanitarian treatment for the transferred prisoners. These lies are a case of history repeating itself, as the Canadian state attempts to justify its inhuman actions during "war time." There is no difference between Harper's response of "when you question the Canadian government, you are defending the Taliban" and George Bush's mountain of lies and excuses that have served to justify the war in Iraq again and again. These are not the first or the last lies that we will hear. But we're sick of them!

No country has the right to impose itself or its political system on the people of another nation. No country has the legitimate right to force war on a population, and expose it to misery and destruction. Not by armed force, or by politics, or by economics. And yet these crimes occur on a daily basis, committed by imperialists in the past in Vietnam, Africa, Latin America; and committed by imperialists today in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. The vivid links between the economic interests of the United States and Canada, which was the true force behind the invasion of Afghanistan, are becoming increasingly clear.

In January 2003, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) launched its North American Security and Prosperity Initiative, in the form of an increasingly acute military and economic partnership with the United States. In April 2004, the CCCE continued it's crusade, announcing: "The way that we and other countries respond to the relentless threat of terrorism and rogue states has vital implications for global economic growth just as it does for Canada's future both as a trade-dependent economy and an immigrant-based society. In short, for Canada and for the world as a whole, economic security and physical security have become inseparable." (Building a 21st Century Canada-United States Partnership in North America, April 2004) Today, the "terrorists," such as Canada's armed forces, and "rogue states," such as the USA, destroy physical and economic security throughout the world, and their primary target is now Iraq and Afghanistan.

Enough of this occupation! Our support mustn't go to the Canadian government, or to its parliament, or to the armed forces! They have all collaborated to forcefully occupy one of the poorest countries in the world, for no other reason than to protect its economic and political interests in partnership with its American big brother. Our support, our solidarity, must go to the Afghani people, and to those that resist the occupation! No country can be liberated under foreign occupation. On the contrary! The presence of NATO forces has only increased the popularity of the Taliban, making them heroes in the eyes of part of the population. Only the Afghani people can liberate their country from oppression, be it from external or internal sources.

For us here in Canada, we have the duty to stand up and oppose this occupational war undertaken by our government and by the entire Canadian bourgeoisie whose interests the government defends. We have a duty to demand the immediate extraction of Canadian troops on Afghani soil. And this summer, we will have to say loud and clear that the soldiers of Valcartier, who are preparing to leave for this dirty war next Summer, must remain here!

Canada, out of Afghanistan!
Canadian soldiers, stay in your barracks!


First published in Arsenal-Express, No. 6, May 18, 2007.
Arsenal-Express is an electronic newsletter that presents the viewpoints from the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) of Canada.
For a free subscription, look at

[ EDIT (by Mic for the Indymedia-Quebec)
* added the themes: Imperialism | Repression | Rights & Freedoms
* I also placed this open letter on the front page (criteria: Quebec-based activism).]

Revolutionary Communist Party website
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Propaganda at it's best
Mon, 2007-06-11 11:33

Right here. Wow. Ignorance abounds. Who will account for the blood that will be spilt should we leave now? What is your action plan for leaving? All I here from you reactionaries is "Out now!" with no accounting for the consequences, nor even taking into account that positive change is now happening in Afghanistan.

The infant mortality rate is decreasing dramatically. More and more schools are being built and maintained. Hydro is more regular (though still with outages). Hospitals are getting better equipment (though a lot of work is yet to be done there).

Finally, for all the ones who believe that the Taliban's teachings are native to Afghanistan, I suggest you go run a google on Whabbism, and understand where it comes from (big hint, not from Afghanistan).

The propaganda from both sides is nauseating, however from the left, it is steeping in misinformation, lies, and utter ignorance.

[ ]

First of all, greetings
Michael Lessard...
Mon, 2007-06-11 19:45

First of all, greetings,
I salute your open mind to debate.

I share your disgust at propaganda, be it from the right or the left. But I have a few questions and comments that help explain why I sway on the "No to this war" side.

How much money to we (Canada) spend on military expenditure in comparison to what is spent on reconstruction and humanitarian work?

When Harper cuts 1 billion in Canada to minority/human rights, women rights offices, basic adult education and so on, it's hard to believe he is spending billions in Afghanistan out of care for the young girls.

Currently, US Congress added an extra 120 US billion dollars for the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. To you agree that this money, based on estimations by more neutral UN agencies, could rebuild both Iraq and Afghanistan? Actually, I am understating UN estimations: with that kind of money we could feed the hungry and give basic care to pregnant mothers... across the entire world, for all Humanity, for one year.

How do you feel about the notion, hinted by human history, that war tends to spin out of control, to spiral down in mayhem? Doesn't war —that is to say the current effort to exterminate or kill the Taliban (that name given to anyone fighting foreign troops in Afghanistan)— lead to more war, less justice, less rule of law?

During my studies for the MA in International relations, one of the first thing a teacher taught us is that war is, by definition, the absence of political negociations and the absence of justice. When you choose war, you choose to fuck lawful and just processes. How can you help build peace without justice and processes of law accepted by the people?

Are we really upholding basic human rights? You certainly understand that we (progressives of all woks) find it extremely hard to trust the Harper government's objectives and strategies in Afghanistan. Do I trust the Conservative government to have the wisdom necessary to create peace and justice in Afghanistan?

"On the day Stephen Harper was congratulating Afghanistan for it's beautiful programme, Human Rights Watch was asking the government in Kaboul to allow Malalai Joya back to her office as Member of parliament [she was ousted, officially, for being too insulting towards the parliament]. The day after, a few 200 Afghans, mostly women in full burgas, held a protest on the streets of Jalalabad against Malalai Joya's suspension."
(freely translated from La Presse, June 26, 2007)

From the info gathered from credible sources, Canadian troops work closely with US troops, and so have to adapt to the US war doctrine, strategy and rules of engagement. That sucks bad! It is horribly bad news.

So the general question remains: how can be claim to be upholding human rights, or even less peace, if we follow the US approach, which includes the insane and unwise "strategy" of trying to kill the "Taliban"?

We certainly need to debate this across Quebec and Canada. Where I work, some people are so fanatically For or Against, that it is tearing us apart. Some people are even afraid to say they are against this war. Others flatly deny it is a war under the pretense that it is based on Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Michaël Lessard [me laisser un message]
Militant pour les droits humains.
Siriel-Média: média libre sur les 'politiques de destruction massive'

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Having dealt with
Tue, 2007-06-12 16:21

Having dealt with "progressives" in the past, this statement:

"First of all, greetings,
I salute your open mind to debate."

Is dubious at best. I do not have high hopes, but let's try anyways.

How much money to we (Canada) spend on military expenditure in comparison to what is spent on reconstruction and humanitarian work?

To answer the question fully, you have to understand the motivation for the insurgents to stop reconstruction. I do not fully understand this one myself... If the shooting were to stop today, the focus would shift to reconstruction completely, and in short order, things would get much better (still talking in terms of years though).

So I ask myself, knowing that we value "democracy" (read voting) why would the Taliban not just sit back, watch the reconstruction, and then come back after we have left to a much stronger Afghanistan? It would be a very simple thing to field a couple of strong people in elections, and grab the government without blood.

I know, the argument is, but the Taliban are Afghans... Well, to that I suggest a little historic readings, on Afghanistan prior to 1970's (ie before the Soviets messed the country up with their experiments in Socialism)... Also, check into the history and origins of Whabbism (the for of Islam which the Taliban practices). Short summery of the above, just prior to Soviet muddlings, Afghanistan was an Islamic secular society that was growing. Whabbism has it's roots in Saudi Arabia, and was brought to Afghanistan by a Saud who is actually very famous... Maybe you heard of him.

The Taliban is IMO, dead-set against reconstruction, especially educational systems, as this empowers the people. The Taliban depends on fear and brute force to remain in power in the areas they hold (note the use of beheadings against Afghans accused of being spies, accusations usually no more sound then accusations of witchcraft were).

In point of fact, the Taliban and other insurgent groups are specifically targeting NGOs and other aide agencies in Afghanistan. Agencies which even the most basic of Afghans know what they are their for, so the claim that the Taliban can believe something else is foolish (Afghans have been dealing with aid agencies for the past 30 years, they know who is who).

So, when one faces a fanatical enemy, which is bent on keeping the nation of Afghanistan off balance, and unable to function, how is one supposed to deal with them?

To get a better feeling for this situation, please feel free to invite a Jehovah's Witness into your house, and try to negotiate with them SSM, or the right for others to enjoy music of their taste, or the right for someone to receive a life saving blood transfusion. You will not have much success, and the difference between the JWs and the Taliban, is the degree of violence (JW's are peaceful, and will not attempt violence to further their ends).

The Taliban hardcore believe in a convert or die type deal (note, there is a HUGE difference between the Taliban, and the teachings on Islam which I have gotten to know... Islam is not a hateful religion as portrayed by some... I have found practitioners to be very friendly and hospitable to the extreme). How does one negotiate with someone who believes with every ounce of their soul and body that you MUST convert or you MUST die (this is contrary to the Koran's teachings with regards to the "true beleivers" Jews and Christians).

The Taliban's teachings are NOT native to Afghanistan. They are an import from Saudi Arabia, brought to Afghanistan by the marrige of Osama bin Laden to one of Mullah Omar's daughters. Mullah Omar and bin Laden are close friends, with bin Laden being the former's "spritual advisor".

What is native to Afghanistan, especially in the Pashtun tribal regions is the code of conduct known as Pashtunwali. The Taliban is trying to subvert Pashtunwali, in favour of Whabbism. They were almost successful.

This does not directly answer your question posed above, I know. We have 100's of millions of dollars we are trying to spend on reconstruction (, however this is difficult given that when our CIMIC and CIDA reps go out to try and find out what to do where in a Shura, they usually get shoot at or worse . The world is poised to spend billions in reconstruction. We just need the shooting to stop.

More later.

[ ]

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