And how the "peace lobby" responds

In the last post I told you about Jack Granatstein’s defence lobby think tank sending around a poison-pen article about a report written by Bill Robinson and me for the CCPA on Canada’s military spending. Granatstin’s article elicited a flood of letters in response after it was published in the Edmonton Journal. The paper devoted space to five letters it received. Here they are for you. – Steve

Canada isn’t TurkeyThe Edmonton Journal

Sun 04 Nov 2007

Page: A19

Section: Letters

Byline: Peter Coombes

Source: The Edmonton Journal

The problem with Jack *Granatstein*’s analysis is that it is more appropriate for the 19th century than for today.

Building massive armies with big, expensive toys that can kill tens of thousands of people is not what we need, nor want, if we are to build a more secure world for Canadians.

*Granatstein* claims that Turkey’s interests are bettered secured because it has a massive and expensive army. How long has Turkey been fighting wars with its neighbours? Do Canadians aspire to be armed and ready to fight continuous wars like Turkey, or like our neighbours to the south? Well yes, if you still believe in the 19th century glory of war; but a definite no, if you believe in the dignity and security of all people.

Blowing up tens of thousands of Kurdish Iraqis (who are Turkish terrorists as *Granatstein* points out but forgets to remind us are American allies) is not what I want Canada to aspire to. Destroying villages in Afghanistan is not in our interests.

Our interests, security and human dignity rest on building global diplomacy and a working global governance.

We can aspire to go backwards or we can aspire to make the world a better place.

Peter Coombes, Vancouver

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Warmongering

The Edmonton Journal

Sun 04 Nov 2007

Page: A19

Section: Letters

Byline: Patricia Hartnagel

Source: The Edmonton Journal

It is incredible that Jack *Granatstein*, a retired academic with his depth and breadth of experience, has levelled such a venomous attack on a short, 10-page report (More than the Cold War:

Canada’s Military Spending 2007-2008) issued by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The centre’s name says it all — its mandate is to look at policy areas from different perspectives than those presented by the “mainstream” think-tanks. Is that a problem?

The name of *Granatstein*’s organization — The Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century — is not quite as transparent; however a quick look at its advisory council members and membership list, clearly indicates their vested interests.

What is particularly disappointing about *Granatstein*’s screed is his need to undermine the study as being produced by “new Democratic Party-front organizations.” Could we not, in turn, suggest that the Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century is in fact a front for the defence industry?

If we hold that thought as we read *Granatstein*’s article, it becomes obvious why the defence lobbyists insist that the percentage of GDP is the only valid way to evaluate Canadian defence spending.

It is because this measurement always shows Canada in a poor light.

We’ve heard it over and over again — in terms of our levels of defence spending, we’re in a race for last place with Luxembourg!

How much easier it then becomes to whip up patriotic fervour and, in the process, increased defence procurements.

To suggest that “studies such as More than the Cold War … do nothing to advance the necessary debate on defence, nothing at all”

is outrageous. Why do they not contribute? Because they don’t agree with the military and defence industries’ spin? Shame on *Granatstein* for stooping to this level of discourse.

Canada has drifted, with no comprehensive foreign policy or defence review or consultation Canadians, from a middle power with an interest and commitment to the United Nations and a human security agenda, to an overemphasis on military “solutions” and defence policies made on the fly.

This is a disservice to all Canadians, and the attempt by

*Granatstein* to further squelch any discussion of this critical policy area is insulting.

Patricia Hartnagel, Edmonton

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Better use for money

The Edmonton Journal

Sun 04 Nov 2007

Page: A19

Section: Letters

Byline: Edwin Daniel

Source: The Edmonton Journal

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives notes that the Harper government is spending more on the military than during the Cold War. Jack *Granatstein*’s argument is entirely based on how to evaluate the numbers. He argues they should be put in the context of GDP or per capita. In these measures, according to *Granatstein*, Canada does not spend too much, or even enough.

*Granatstein* is a military historian and writes for the right-wing Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century. He supports Canadian intervention in Afghanistan.

What he fails to address is whether Canada needs to spend these large sums on the military and whether there are better ways to spend our money.

There is no valid basis for these large military expenditures. No country is threatening us and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are wars of aggression and imperialism instigated by the Bush administration. They are occupations in support of the puppet governments set up by the U.S.

These interventions have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees.

They are fought under the propaganda slogan that they are wars against terrorism, but there is no such enemy. Terrorists are criminals and should be dealt with as such.

Not only is there no valid need for Canadian expenditures of the current scale, the money wasted on occupying Afghanistan has contributed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s failures to provide things Canadians really need.

For example, Harper has done nothing to provide the 250,000 child-care spaces he promised. He cut funding to nearly all non-governmental groups (NGOs) that supported such initiatives as improving the status of women or providing legal help to those in need.

Harper also failed to provide the previously promised funds to improve living conditions for First Nations people. He has not even provided them with safe drinking water.

He has done nothing effective to reduce waiting times for health care and has allowed the creeping privatization of our universal health-care system. He would rather spend our money on the military adventures that *Granatstein* loves and cut taxes than provide for what Canadians need.

It’s time Canadians had their say about Harper’s military adventures. We do not need advice from *Granatstein* that we should be spending ever more on military supplies while other needs languish.

Edwin Daniel, Edmonton

Illustration: Photo: Jim Farrell, the Journal, File / Two Canadian

soldiers stand in front of a Nyala mine-resistant vehicle in

Afghanistan. Seventy-five of the vehicles were purchased for the

mission, but much of the Armed Forces’ equipment needs replacement.

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Are we peacekeepers or fighters?

The Edmonton Journal

Sun 04 Nov 2007

Page: A19

Section: Letters

Byline: Mary Elizabeth Pinkoski

Source: The Edmonton Journal

Re: “Does Canada overspend on its military?” by J.L.

*Granatstein*, Opinion, Oct. 29.

I find it discouraging that J.L. *Granatstein*’s article contributes to new rhetoric taking place in Canada, which has shifted away from a language of peacekeeping when discussing Canada’s military.

There seems to be a trend in Canada to focus on a much more defence-based military, as opposed to a peacekeeping military, despite Canada’s long history as peacekeepers.

*Granatstein*’s work as senior scholar for the Council of Canadian Security in the 21st Century heightens this alarmist attitude by arguing that Canadians must continue to increase military funding.

This contributes to the notion of Canada becoming increasingly militaristic. I find it puzzling that *Granatstein*, who also wrote the now infamous book Who Killed Canadian History?, can so blatantly promote this militaristic attitude without questioning what is happening to Canada’s strong history as peacekeepers.

While *Granatstein* has used this opportunity to critique a report produced by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, he fails to recognize that we must move beyond a funding debate into a debate about the ultimate goal and involvement of the Canadian military.

Only after this debate has occurred, can funding be examined.

Mary Elizabeth Pinkoski, Edmonton

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No real threat

The Edmonton Journal

Sun 04 Nov 2007

Page: A19

Section: Letters

Byline: M. Shannon

Source: The Edmonton Journal

When Jack *Granatstein* calls for massive increases in defence spending and compares our current budget as a percentage of GNP to the height of the Cold War he overlooks one small item — the Soviet Union is gone.

The military exists to defend against likely threats and not simply to to keep up with the Joneses. The truth is Canadian taxpayers provide the Department of National Defence with much more than it can efficiently spend and more than it needs for the current very minor military threats to Canada.

M. Shannon, Edmonton

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