By Pierre Jasmin*, translation by Michel Duguay**
Oil colonialism is dragging Russia and NATO member countries into Syrian and other wars. The military-industrial-media-academic-humanitarian complex imposes its (outlaw) iron law, to which the majority of Western countries comply by their submission to its budgetary excesses and to a nuclear terror blackmail. Enlightened by rigorous ecological principles and the democratic rules of the UN Charter, an opposition is at last surging.
1- A long term program
Starting from a fabricated caricature of the enemy, militarism instills fear that increases the turnover of arms sellers and the power of complicit politicians. Obscured by the mainstream media , this scourge has worsened since its famous definition, 58 years ago, by American General Eisenhower , who had declared:
”In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.…. Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. ”
Since 1961, military-industrial conglomerates have swallowed the so-called influential media, justifying the concept Military-Industrial-Media-Academic-Complex, used in Sweden since 1986 . By exposing increases in the military budgets, American (more than $ 716 billion) and Chinese ($ 218 billion, up 423% since 2000), while the Russian budget has been reduced to around sixty billion, statistics from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) undermine the credibility of NATO’s propaganda, picked up ad nauseam by Western press and filmography, about an extreme Russian threat.
2- Nuclear weapons
This does not make Russia a reassuring and peaceful country, since with the United States, it shares in equal parts approximately 14,000 nuclear weapons or 90% of the world arsenal with countless potential risks (electronic malfunction, anti-missile interceptors in a state of maximum alert, suicidal or terrorist missions) or real (false alarms, bombs dropped in flight, uranium theft and pollution by toxic nuclear waste). The rules of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (UN, 1970) are flouted, both by member states with nuclear weapons , and by a few countries outside the Treaty (North Korea, India, Israel and Pakistan). President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and the Intermediate Nuclear Weapons Limitation Agreement with Russia bodes well for a revival of the arms race.
On the bright side, on July 7, 2017, 122 countries supported the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty (NWPT) presented by Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez (see photo) of Costa Rica, a rare country without an army. The media commented as little on the NWPT as on the November 2017 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN ) received by Canadian Hiroshima born Setsuko Thurlow. Although encouraged by the UN Secretary General, the dalai lama and the pope, the Treaty encountered a systematic blockage on the part of the five permanent member countries (see note 8) of the ill-named Security Council, while NATO forced its twenty-eight member countries, including Canada, in refusing to join the NWTP.
3- NATO and SCO
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), whose mandate was rendered null and void by the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, has since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 swallowed up thirteen countries that previously belonged to Soviet or Yugoslavian spheres of influence: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. NATO has campaigned with President Trump for member countries to spend up to 3% of their GDP on the military.
The only country (with the USA) having obeyed the 3% requirement in the past, Greece, was bankrupted by the same German and French banks which had financed its military acquisitions. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau complied by announcing, without immediately implementing it, a $ 70 billion increase in the defense budget in June 2017. Project Ploughshares (Ernie Regehr and Cesar Jaramillo), Pugwash Canada (Paul Meyer), International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Canada (IPPNWC – Jonathan Down, Michael Dworkind, Richard Denton and Eric Notebaert), World Federalists (Fergus Watt and Walter Dorn), the Rideau Institute (Peggy Mason), the Group of 78 (Roy Culpeper), Ceasefire.ca (Stephen Staples) and the APLP denounced this militarism, while Canada spends less than a third of the 0.7% of GDP in international aid recommended by the UN and applied by Scandinavian countries.
China and Russia have forged the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose Vostok maneuvers in September 2018 could have marked a militarist turning point. The SCO represents 50% of the world’s population, since in addition to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and its two founding powers, it includes after June 2017 India and Pakistan. Iran, the Philippines and Turkey are even considering joining.
4- The struggle for resources
Militarism seeks first a stranglehold on oil: NATO bombs Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya; the Russians are defending a pipeline with Iran that would end in a Syrian port; China is active in Africa; the TransMountain pipeline between Alberta and British Columbia, bought by Trudeau’s Liberal government for $ 4.5 billion from the Texan company Kinder Morgan (+ another $ 7 billion to be allocated to its extension) carries highly polluting oil from tar sands to the Pacific Ocean , despite opposition from First Nations. The Wet’suwet’en have also led actions of resistance against the invasion of a gas pipeline on their territory, while in Quebec the natives and environmentalists are allied against the LNG project which would exterminate the few remaining belugas.
The countries over-equipped with weapons by militarist capitalism lack the means to meet their commitments at COP21 (UN-2015), to fight against the melting of the polar ice caps causing the rising waters of the globe and against global warming (and its consequences in multiplied hurricanes, droughts and forest fires, floods, heavy snowfalls or freezing rain) aggravated by the excessive consumption of oil by the world’s armies.
The ecological devastation of Kazakhstan by the USSR nuclear factories is documented, as well as the American crimes against Vietnam, where chemical warfare spilled, from 1964 to 1973, 80 million liters of defoliant containing Agent Orange produced by the multinational Monsanto. In Greenland, melting permafrost discovered in 2018 one of the 800 American military bases in the world, abandoned with its hundreds of corroded barrels containing chemical and radioactive materials. PCBs from old military radars and dioxin, ingested by newborn Inuits, exceed by up to 2,000 times the doses deemed safe by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
5- Militarist demonization, companion of the far right
The Nuremberg trials established “wars of aggression as the genitors of all crimes”: Islamist terrorism and US / NATO imperialism have together devastated the Middle East. Historically, religions’ instrumentalization to demonize the enemy has had cannons blessed by priests, imams, rabbis or wizards. But the Islamic army is the first example of religious terrorism to receive massive militarist “aid”, starting with the CIA arming the Taliban against the post-Soviet regime in Afghanistan. The tens of billions of dollars in military equipment sold by NATO member states to Emirates and Saudi Arabia fuel their hatred against Iran and the Shiite populations of Yemen and Bahrain.
The NATO airborne attack on Libya in 2011 was commanded by Canadian General Charles Bouchard; now retired, he held a lucrative Lockheed Martin Canada post, promoting its F-35 stealth fighter-bombers (possible outrageous expenditure of a hundred billion dollars). The Libyan example tells a lot, since a Security Council’s resolution was initially intended to provide air cover for Benghazi, recently accused, instead of NATO, of having overthrown Gaddafi’s government (!) through propaganda from the right (BHL,…) and now from other medias (Nouvel Observateur in July, Le Devoir, CBC interviews of well-respected journalists Gruda and Ouimet,…). Noam Chomsky has often and rightly denounced the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) dogma, whose humanist pretext justifies neo-colonialist wars.
Militarist attacks swell the 80 million refugees listed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); millions of desperate people are knocking on the doors of Europe and North America, fueling a populist backlash and even a form of National Socialism, in the German opposition and in the governments of Poland and Hungary. The extreme right, sometimes paramilitary, brandishes in the streets of the world its racist placards (and even automatic weapons, sources of mass killings in the United States) against immigrants and people of color.
Trump’s overt complicity with far-right groups did not prevent him from receiving the support of 58% of the white votes (the most ignorant?), while the Democrats were supported by US votes 87% Black, 66% Latinos and 63% Asians . Even in Canada, several worrisome charges target police officers (RCMP) guilty of sexual assault on Aboriginal women . The great movements #Me too, Black lives matter and Idle no more are opposing.
The hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by the far-right military regimes installed in the 70s by the CIA in Argentina, Bolivia and in Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru are still deplored today also in Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, whose union leaders and left activists owe their survival only to exile.
These illegal refugees were “welcomed” into the United States by former National Rifle Association president, Colonel Oliver North, who was involved under Nixon in smuggling weapons between Iran and the Nicaraguan Contras. Brazil now has a far-right regime, influenced by faked news from Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and evangelical anti-communism. Omnipresent in South and Central America, as well as in Africa, the evangelical churches, with their self-promoted proselytism, withdraw budgets from UNICEF helping children victims of poverty and hunger; note in particular those born because of bans on voluntary termination of pregnancy and lack of information or education on sexuality and procreation, due to religious censorship. Governor-General Michaëlle Jean who had the rare courage to publicly denounce genital mutilation in front of several African governments, showed us the way of a feminist revolution.
The 1992 report of 600 submissions by the Canadian People’s Inquiry has not lost its relevance: “Canada does not need a defense policy, but a real security policy”. The report, despite its commissioners attached to the three main parties, has remained a dead letter. The UN therefore remains the most important anti-militarist defense, through its intrinsic desire to favor diplomacy and protection of indigenous lives, through its Blue Helmets and through UNESCO, UNICEF, UNHCR and UNIDIR .
Fortunately, altruism and solidarity for the well-being of populations still motivate UNESCO, the World Health Organization and the independent Doctors Without Borders: its ex-president, Quebecer Joanne Liu did not hesitate to denounce NATO, which had bombed two of its hospitals in Afghanistan and Syria. The COVID-19 pandemic has been exacerbated by Western media censorship of well-founded alerts from the WHO Director General, African Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus demonized by Trump . Censorship also hits his present efforts for a free vaccine, without patents and with free access to impoverished countries, as demanded by the Agora of the Inhabitants of the Earth founded by Riccardo Petrella .
The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, UNIDIR, leads a very unequal struggle against cluster munitions, armed drones, autonomous robots, cyberwar and the militarization of space, while its funding was shockingly interrupted by Canada. Yet it was our country which, through the Ottawa Treaty against anti-personnel mines (1997) for which Jody Williams had obtained the Nobel Peace Prize, saved tens of thousands of lives, thanks to demining operations by the NGOs Mines Action Canada and Humanity and Inclusion in infested countries such as Colombia, Afghanistan, Angola and Cambodia. The UN Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, with 192 member countries, received the Nobel Peace Prize 2013, for having dismantled the Syrian arsenal at the suggestion of Russia, defusing the warlike wills by the heads of American, French and British governments .
We must be careful not to equate all military forces with militarism. It is a brief armed intervention which, at the instigation of Gérard Pelletier, member of the APLP and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, freed Sarajevo from the Serbian-Bosnian artillery in 1995, avoiding a repeat of the mass killings in Srebrenica that had occurred two months earlier. The APLP, however, denounced the subsequent NATO bombing of Serbia wrongly accused of genocide in Kosovo.
Criticized during the Rwandan genocide , General Roméo Dallaire should be praised for denouncing the child soldiers’ instrumentalization with the help of an NGO he created to help those victims. He also deplored post-traumatic stress that he had himself suffered, thus enabling veterans’ associations, formerly busy in perpetuating the myths of posthumous military glory or others, to now know how to verbalize their traumatic experiences of violence (and rape) suffered or inflicted during their army missions.
The International Criminal Court, created in 2002 in The Hague by the efforts of Canadian diplomat Philippe Kirsch, has led to the accusation of certain militarist leaders responsible for atrocities in the Yugoslav and African wars. But verbal attacks by various US administrations will delay the Court’s effectiveness for years from carrying out its activities worldwide.
The accelerated global eruption of right-wing populist leaders weakens UN multilateralism, raising fears of a future poisoned by warlike conflicts. Social movements resist all over the world, but the World Social Forum and the relevant feminist, LGBTQ and ecological struggles must unite in an alter-globalization movement of solidarity. In response to Eisenhower’s front-page admonition, our academic network has a responsibility to react against militarism that uses sidetracked but well-funded tactics to impose its violent ideology. We welcome the birth of the Regroupement des Universitaires from Université Laval, which publishes relevant research every week, in particular on climate change.
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