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Clements: Why closing the Canadian Embassy in Iran is betraying our nations’ core belief in peace keeping.

Canadians often joke with each other that the only thing that really makes us Canadian is our love for hockey. At one time, we also valued our role as international peace keepers. Since Stephen Harper has been in office, Canada has taken a noticeable turn towards American style, unilateral decision making. This threatens not only our national security, but also our reputation as humanitarians and peacekeepers. Under closer examination, asserting that Canada has a ‘values’ based Foreign Policy seems at best, a bold faced lie.

Let us examine the facts, with evidence and without fear-mongering. At the heart of this issue is the new found fear of a global nuclear holocaust. There used to be this thing we called Mutually Assured Destruction which ensured that all nuclear powers understood that a nuclear war must be avoided at any costs. So why would Iran all of a sudden start a nuclear war?

The crux of our current predicament is the paranoid propaganda currently being spread primarily by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and equally so by his neo-con American allies. This is despite the fact that many within his own government have decried his war-mongering. They assert that Iran is building nuclear weapons with the specific intent of obliterating Israel, while Iran asserts that it is simply abiding by international law and developing a source of domestic power.

Along with this problem is the myriad of misinformation that dominates North American media. Bibi asserts that President Mahmoud Admadinejad gave a speech outlining his intention of destroying Israel, echoing the comments of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini. Due to a poor translation and a lack of any credible Iranians being asked to participate in interviews, that lie has persisted. The truth is, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has spoken many times about his opposition to nuclear weapons, both from a practical and religious standpoint. Whether you choose to believe him or not, this is probably the first you have ever heard of that.

What he actually said, was that the “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”. Ahmadinejad, it is critical to note, is referring specifically to the regime, not the country or its’ people. A much better explanation can be found here, but what counts is that this has been fundamentally perverted into an all-encompassing justification for a pre-emptive strike on Iran.

This distinction cannot be understated. Those who recall the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that Saddam Hussein apparently had will recall that the U.S entered a war that is now remembered as a tremendous mistake. What is going on right now is the exact same processes which lead the U.S to invade Iraq. The difference this time is that Canada has taken a first step towards conflict.

The truth is that since 9/11, U.S foreign policy has been taken over by what General Wesley Clark explains as a ‘foreign policy coup’. General Clark was accidentally leaked a classified memo shortly after the attacks which outlined the countries the U.S were planning to invade. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran. By withdrawing our diplomats from Iran, Canada is taking a frightening step to make General Clark’s prediction a reality.

The Harper government cites that Iran is the “greatest threat to world peace” at this moment, but let us examine this statement. What kind of actions do you think a government would take to warrant that kind of declaration?

Those opposed to world peace generally do not like to negotiate, but throughout the IAEA investigations Iran has been more than willing to participate in inspections and talks.

So what has been the biggest impediment to constructive peace talks? Firstly, one of Canada’s strongest allies, Israel, has been funding dissident Iranian terror groups to assassinate Iranian scientists. That type of report is hard to find however and not widely reported by Canadian media.

Similarly, war-hawks in the U.S are trying to convince the government to delist groups previously listed as ‘terrorist’ groups, in order to fund their operations to overthrow the Iranian government. Canada is complicit to the actions of its’ allies and expressed its’ allegiance by abandoning its embassy.

How can Iran, or even the international community take our peace efforts seriously if we are so blatantly subverting the peace process?

Canada has strayed so far from its’ historic peace keeping roots that even former Canadian ambassador to Iran, James George, has called it ‘stupid’.

Canada faces a crisis of conscience. Either we blindly support our allies in their bid to push for pre-emptive war, or we stand up, as Canadians and refuse to participate in aggressive international sanctions that have almost always historically led to war.

Some of you reading this may have read “The Perils of Indifference” by Elie Wiesel in high school about the dangers of not caring about international issues. This is a case where we are in peril because of our indifference to sustaining honest and constructive international talks to bring about peace. The greatest threat to world peace is not an unconfirmed nuclear program, but an unwillingness to behave like adults when settling an issue that can lead to the death of innocent citizens.

 

Brendan Clements is an MA student at the University of Western Ontario studying Canadian-American Relations. He specializes in the War on Drugs, War on Terror and American Foreign Policy.

To become more exposed to non corporate news agencies, try visiting antiwar.com, asiatimes.com, tomdispatch.com or email me at bclemen2@uwo.ca for more resources.

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