Peace or Walking with Warriors

Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.

— Albert Einstein

The Canadian state-run media CBC is portraying an aggressive image of Canadians. Canada has pretty much abandoned its vaunted image as a nation of peace. This is far removed from the day when former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau embarked on a peace initiative to end the Cold War, drawing the ire of Washington.1

But Canadian troops shed any pretense to peacekeeping, in 1993, when members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment tortured Somali children and killed 16-year-old Shidane Arone.2

Since the Afghanistan “mission” began in 2002, 81 Canadian soldiers and one Canadian diplomat have been killed. The latest fatality has been described as “a committed warrior” by lt.-col. Dave Corbould. Corbould opined, “He was someone we can all emulate. He represented the warrior spirit 100 per cent.”3

Is the warrior what Canadians should emulate? One definition of a warrior is “a person habitually engaged in warfare.”4. Is Rambo to be emulated over persons committed to peace, such as a Mohandas Gandhi or an Albert Einstein?

Canadian chief of defense [sic] staff, General Rick Hillier weighed in: “I’m a little uncomfortable with the term warrior. I’m even more uncomfortable with the term peacekeeper. I’m neither of those; I’m simply a soldier.”5

Hillier is unequivocal about the role of a soldier: “We are the Canadian Forces, and our job is to be able to kill people.”6 [italics added] The job is not to protect people, it is to kill people — not defense.

Of the slain Canadian warrior, regimental sgt.-maj. Brian Semenko said, “He was really dedicated to the idea of serving overseas. He felt the best way to serve was to do it overseas. His idea was not to give candy to children, but to kill insurgents.”

A human who prefers to kill other humans to the non-violent joy of bringing smiles to the faces of children. Is that how Canadians are to serve? By killing?

Brig.-gen. Guy Laroche said, “We have lost a brother and a fine soldier who answered a call of duty one last time.”

Why not hail those people who struggle for peace. Is not the struggle for peace — an end to war and killing — the greater “call of duty”?

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper lauded the fallen Canadian as “an exceptionally brave soldier who deserves the support and gratitude of all Canadians.”

No mention of Afghan gratitude is made.

Canadians were at one time smug that they could not be saddled with a George W. Bush-type “war president” like their neighbors across the border. However, Harper pursues a neoconservative agenda like Bush. Canadians have no reason to gloat.

Propagandizing Canadians

Hillier spoke of the public speaking training the military gets. “When I was in Afghanistan, we had people from the BBC come in to help us create the right perceptions, because perception is reality.”7 The CBC reporting plays into the perceptual reality spun by the Department of National Defense [sic].

Hillier sees it as a duty. He declared, “When a soldier steps on foreign soil in a high-risk environment, every single Canadian should be walking with him or her.”8

As for walking with soldiers, the pacifist Einstein was quoted:

He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.

Canadians and people everywhere need to decide: are they for war or for peace? If people are for peace, then how can they walk with killers?

  1. Trudeau’s Peace Initiative,” 1968 – 1984: The Trudeau Years, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. []
  2. Maya Rolbin-Ghanie, “Whose Trauma?: The ‘Somalia Affair’ and Canadian mythology,” The Dominion, 31 October 2006. []
  3. Latest slain Canadian soldier had ‘warrior spirit 100 per cent,’” CBC News, 17 March 2008. []
  4. Warrior,” Wikipedia. []
  5. Don Geddes, “Q&A with chief of defence staff Lt.-Gen. Rick Hillier,” Macleans.ca, 11 April 2005. []
  6. News Staff, “Canada’s JTF-2 to hunt al Qaeda in Afghanistan,” CTV.ca, 16 July 2005. []
  7. Kara Kuryllowicz, “Top of my game,” Profit, October 2006, p 34. Cited in Steven Staples, “Marching Orders: How Canada abandoned peacekeeping – and why the UN needs us now more than ever,” The Council of Canadians. []
  8. Rick Hillier Biography,” Canada Kicks Ass. []
Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: kimohp@gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. sk said on March 20th, 2008 at 10:56am #

    This audio interview might be of help in lifting the scales from eyes of those who bought into the hoary ‘peacekeeper’ mythology.

  2. John Wilkinson said on March 20th, 2008 at 12:42pm #

    Just goes to prove there’s no black and white. Yes, I too got tired of being told how Canada is all good and US all bad. Any nation is capable of goodness and badness, there is no inherent national genetic predisposition and bad things can happen anywhere, as long as the people stand aside and do nothing and let their “leaders” do the thinking. Thank you for the Einstein quote.

  3. Arch Stanton said on March 20th, 2008 at 1:16pm #

    “Canadians and people everywhere need to decide: are they for war or for peace? If people are for peace, then how can they walk with killers?”

    That’s right, they do need to decide, and quickly. But as to how they can walk with killers the answer is simple: They’re cynical, nihilistic hedonists who don’t give a flying fuck about the misery and injustice of the world as long as their own asses are covered. Given that, even the concept of peace becomes a sick joke–forget about actually organizing to achieve it.

  4. hp said on March 20th, 2008 at 2:16pm #

    Does this apply to innocent animals as well?

  5. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 23rd, 2008 at 9:01am #

    Regrettable but characteristically, the big media in America including the big science media presently treat Albert Einstein’s political views as those of a naive and otherwordly genius. Go figure, Kim.

  6. Angie Tibbs said on March 23rd, 2008 at 2:47pm #

    A very timely and important article by Kim Petersen. Just a few weeks ago, the Canadian minority government, aided by the Liberal opposition, agreed on Canadian “troops” remaining in Afghanistan until 2011. It is important that Canadians and the rest of the world are aware that Canada’s forces are out and about in Afghanistan killing people. The friendly Canadian peacekeeper is no more, gone the way of the Great Auk you might say.

    I remember well those comments by the pugnacious Hillier in 2005, and while the then government hailed his statements as “blunt” and “refreshing”, I was livid. I’m still livid. Sounding like a cross between GWBush and a mess hall goon attempting to impress the new recruits, Hillier left little doubt in anyone’s mind that Canada’s role in Afghanistan would be one of murder and occupation.

    Never mind that Afghanistan’s people has never attacked Canada. Never mind that this war torn country has every right to defend, in whatever manner possible, against the invader, Canada included.

    Nor did Hillier tell Canadians that this deadly foray into the towns and villages of Afghanistan was to assist the US in its imperialist ambitions, and while emphasizing that Canada’s killing mode in Afghanistan was under the auspices of NATO, he declined to mention how NATO no longer remotely resembles its original purpose but is now simply a global army for the United States.

    Today there are 2000 plus Canadian men and women occupying Afghanistan. They are there much like the US in Iraq, the Israelis in Israeli occupied Palestine. Canada is an occupying force!

    And while much is made of the Canadian soldiers that have been killed “in combat”, little media attention is given to Afghan deaths. As if they didn’t matter. As if the innocent men, women, and children who have been killed at the hands of Canadian forces can be simply explained away as a simply a part of the tragedy of war. No, it cannot.

    On Sunday, 23 March 2008, the CBC, “the state run media”, as Mr. Petersen called it, will be presenting a two-hour documentary about Afghanistan entitled “Between Hope and Fear”.

    The ads are designed to fool the population — “Canadians are helping, but is it enough” goes the monster lie. Because, of course, Canadians are helping, all right, helping to kill and occupy.

    Will this fact be presented to the Canadian people? Probably not. Hence, those watching, who, without independent thought, will feel compelled to support the current minority government in its “efforts” to “help” these “poor people”.

    Will any mention be made that Canada is now an occupation force? Will mention be made that Canada’s occupation force is killing Afghanistan people in their own homeland? Will mention be made of the new role of NATO, being its readiness and willingness to carry out deadly wars because the United States wants access to the Caspian Sea Basin and its huge gas and oil resources? Will mention be made that there was no Afghanistan attack on Canada? Will, in the process of showing another Canadian soldier’s casket being returned to Canada, the CBC show the body of an Afghan fighter who has an inherent right to defend his homeland against invaders — and that includes Canada?

    And what about Canadians? How do they feel about their military being an adjunct to the United States forces? Canadians never had a chance to be heard on the matter. The government is way too busy listening to the likes of Hillier et al to pay any attention to its citizens and what they feel.

    But, of course, Canadians must “support” the troops who are “fighting for our freedom” — gasp! Otherwise, you are deemed to be unpatriotic! Well, take me out and shoot me at dawn because supporting troops who are ocucpying someone else’s homeland and killing its people is not anything I would ever do.

    Killing is killing is killing. In fact, it’s murder. The Afghan people have as much right to live without foreign countries bombing them into the hereafter, and Canada and its people should be demanding an end to this US led invasion not out supporting it.

    O Canada, what have you become?

  7. hp said on March 23rd, 2008 at 3:53pm #

    In the immortal words of Homer Simpson; “America Junior.”

  8. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 23rd, 2008 at 7:32pm #

    thanks, angie-and-hp. A perfect one-two KO.

    Canada oh Canada, land of Joni mitchell and Neil young. To translataphrase,
    so close to the United States,
    so far from God…