Creative, courageous diplomacy needed to curb rising global threats

Back in November 2017, in her testimony to the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence for their study on Canada and NATO, former Canadian Disarmament Ambassador Peggy Mason stated:

One of the central lessons of the Cold War is that a nuclear war can never been won and so must never be fought. The sole utility of nuclear weapons is to deter their use by others, until such time as they are entirely eliminated.

Compare those words with the following statement contained in a Pentagon document entitled Nuclear Operations, posted on the Pentagon website on 11 June:

Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability.

Arms control experts say it marks a shift in U.S. military thinking towards the idea of fighting and winning a nuclear war, which they — and we — believe is a highly dangerous mindset. It is also more evidence of the alarming new trends elaborated in the Trump administration’s nuclear strategy announced back in February 2018:

Instead of deemphasizing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy as previous NPRs [Nuclear Posture Reviews] have done, the Trump NPR envisions a greater role for the weapons against a wider range of threats.

Whither Canada?

These extraordinarily misguided views on the alleged utility of nuclear weapons in war fighting conditions only serve to underscore the importance of a recent call by the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) for Canada to finally start to exercise some real leadership on this issue:

The world desperately needs a nuclear disarmament ‘champion’ — a national leader who is well placed and prepared to work closely with the UN Secretary General — to forcefully press nuclear armed states: to reverse the nuclear arms race, to renew and broaden membership to the INF and New START Treaties, and to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons or to negotiate a new, complementary Nuclear Weapons Convention that will achieve the ultimate goal — global denuclearization.

Click here for the full letter and list of signatories, including the Rideau Institute.

Media coverage exacerbates U.S.–Iran tensions

As tensions continue to escalate between the U.S. and Iran, the situation is made even more dangerous by the lack of objective reporting.

In a commentary for The Nation, Eric Alterman describes the continuing failure of journalists to properly contexualize the ongoing confrontation, from the alarming character flaws of President Trump, to the decades long determination by National Security Advisor John Bolton  to bomb Iran and foment regime change, to the pervasive pattern of mendacity exhibited throughout the Trump administration. This last characteristic was on full display in the lead up to the disastrous, illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Yet journalists seem to have learned little from that experience.

The result is a media focus on the minutia, while seemingly oblivious to the real cause and effect of events they purport to describe. Alterman concludes:

“The word “threat” is used over and over, but the only threat Iran poses to the United States is its possible retaliation for all of the attacks, including recent cyberattacks, that the Trump administration is conducting.”

Whither Canada?

While the Europeans make last ditch efforts to save the nuclear deal which Iran continues to honour in spite of everything, we call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to join these efforts, in the context of the G20 Summit meeting in Japan.

Jared Kushner’s fantasy Middle East development plan

U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner opened a two-day international meeting in Bahrain to rally support for his $50-billion economic blueprint for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Neither of those two sides were represented at the conference.  Martin Chulov writes in the Guardian:

Economic incentives to integrate Palestinian communities around the region and revitalise the West Bank and Gaza economy were widely viewed as redundant in the glaring absence of a political dimension that could turn such pledges into realities.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said of Kushner’s plan:

It is totally divorced from reality. The elephant in the room is the occupation itself.

See also the New York Times editorial Jared Kushner’s Middle East Development Project (28 June 2019) with the byline: “His conference in Bahrain hears of big dream plans divorced from reality.”

Whither Canada?

It is worth recalling that the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights is a Canadian law professor, Michael Lynk. In his second report he wrote:

Israel’s policy of usurping Palestinian natural resources and disregarding the environment has robbed the Palestinians of vital assets, and means they simply cannot enjoy their right to development.

We call on Canada to condemn these and many other serious and ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights by Israel.

Canadian Labour Congress urged to join call to end Canadian arms exports to Saudi Arabia

On 26 July an Open Letter addressed to Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff was released to the public. It was signed by several organizations, including the Rideau Institute, and 150 plus individuals, many with human rights and/or labour links.

It begins:

We, the undersigned, are calling on the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), in the most urgent terms possible, to express public opposition to the Government of Canada’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The letter’s release coincides with the tabling in Parliament on 8 June 2019 of Canada’s 2018 Report on the Export of Military Goods. Shockingly, it reveals that, despite the growing number of countries suspending weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, Canada has actually more than doubled its military exports to that country from the level of 2017.

The letter outlines the special role that Canadian labour unions can and must play to hold our government to account as has been successfully done in Denmark, Finland, Germany and Norway. (And since the writing of the letter, most recently Belgium).

Labour can and must be a voice for peace.

The open letter is now a petition on entitled Open Letter to CLC President Hassan Yussuff on Labour Opposition to Canada’s Saudi arms deal

Please take a moment to sign your name!



Tags: 2018 Report on the Export of Military Goods, Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW), Deal of the Century, Eric Alterman, Iran - USA confrontation, Jared Kushner, Michael Lynk, Nuclear operations, Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), nuclear war-fighting, PLO, right to development, UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Human Rights