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Bring The Troops Home From Afghanistan…..and much More!

11th November 2006

Saturday, October 28th. 2006, was the day of protest by the Peace Alliance in 35 Canadian communities. Much of the debate regarding Afghanistan has centered around Canada’s changed traditional role of peacekeepers to active combatants, begun by the former Liberal government and continued and expanded by the current Conservative one, again demonstrating the lack of any difference between the major capitalist parties. The protesters aim was to return the Canadian troops back to Canadian soil and end this country’s commitment to a war began five years ago by the USA, ostensibly to end a terrorist threat. In that five years, according to Dr.Mark Herold, University of New Hampshire (The Afghan Victim Memorial Project, http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold), 3,600 civilians have died, not to mention the wounded, the destruction of infrastructure, the disruption and dislocation of millions, and we are now counting our dead soldiers in numbers we haven’t seen since the Korean war. So far, the Canadian government has spent $4 billion on the war with no end in sight. So far, only a tiny fraction of the spending has been allocated to re-building. So far, few or no carpenters, electricians, bricklayers and the like have been seen over there. So far, little progress has been made in eliminating the Taliban threat. On the contrary, recent reports suggest the Taliban is stronger and bolder than ever and the poppy crop, a vast source of wealth to those who control it, is improving annually. Socialists can support the Peace Alliance and any move to end the slaughter of the working class, but, unless we are prepared to keep on protesting ad infinitum, and those of us of a certain age have been doing this for 40 years and more, and spend our Saturday afternoons on the streets, we have to look at why our troops are there at all. The ordinary working people of Afghanistan, or any other country, pose no threat to the Canadian people. We cannot establish a democracy with the barrel of a gun or while we are blowing up their country whatever the cause may be. So why are we there at all?

The Socialist Party of Canada holds that war is a natural consequence of our current mode of production, capitalism. It is a highly competitive system where the spoils go to the winners in the form of vast wealth and profits to be shared by that tiny minority of humanity that owns the factories, land, resources etc. Losing means going out of business or being taken over. Companies compete for cheap labour, markets, more favourable trade treaties, resources, strategic territory, trade routes - anything that will give them an edge over their rivals. Afghanistan happens to be one of those strategic areas. Along the shores of the Caspian Sea, in the former Soviet republics of Turkmanestan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, as well as Iran, lie huge hydro-carbon deposits of oil and natural gas. Pipelines to get these commodities out would have to pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan or through Iran. At this time, barring a war there, Iran is closed to the West, giving the other route more importance. The West, mainly the USA, must retain a presence in Afghanistan or establish a puppet government in order to ensure their resource supplies. Although disputes are often resolved with agreements and treaties, occasionally, but with some regularity, disputes are so intense, and involve so much wealth or valuable resource, that war is declared to settle things. This occurs often enough to give us perpetual war somewhere on the planet. All of this is too big for even the large corporations to take on so they look to their country’s government to act on their behalf. Standing armies are kept by every state government for this purpose. They may be called “Defence Departments” but they exist to ensure favourable trading conditions for their capitalist class. In no war, have the ordinary people of one country threatened the lives of the ordinary people of another. Yet it is these very people who are called on to sacrifice their lives. As always, when war threatens, the servants of the owning class, the government, beat the drums of patriotism, democracy, and national security in order to con the working people into thinking that it is in their interests to do the fighting. Socialists believe that it is mankind’s nature to be peaceful, cooperative, and compassionate as demonstrated for eons until the advent of private property from the agrarian revolution to the present day. These qualities are even evident today in the way human beings treat each other most of the time in many situations. The concentration and control of the means of production into the hands of the small group of owners who run the system in their interests at the expense of the vast majority mitigates against human nature and strives to teach us that it is good and natural to go to war, to allow the deaths of tens of thousands of fellow humans every day for the lack of a few pennies worth of medicine, or easily-provided clean water or food. This leads the Socialist Party to conclude that the incredible waste demonstrated by the military-industrial Complex, for example, (20% of the world’s scientists plus huge amounts of labour and materials, are used to make killing more efficient) is not for defence and security, but for the simple reason of maintaining the present inequitable system and that is the root cause of conflicts and wars. The Peace Alliance and other such organizations should be congratulated for their humanitarian outlook and attempts to stop the war in Afghanistan, or in Iraq, but they must also be reminded to work to end the cause of all conflicts - capitalism - and work for a socialist society of common ownership if they don’t want to spend every Saturday for the next several decades protesting one war after another.

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