Canada Should Steer Clear of US Agenda

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The Toronto Star

Canada Should Steer Clear of US Agenda

by
Haroon Siddiqui

The United States is spending $80 million to train and equip Mahmoud Abbas' Presidential Guard.

In Kabul, Hamid Karzai dare not move out of the cocoon of his elaborate American security. In Baghdad, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki must stay mostly in the American Green Zone.

That's not the only common thread in West Bank/Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The occupying powers are presiding over civil wars among terrorized peoples in collapsing societies run by militias, some funded directly or indirectly by the occupiers.

In Iraq and West Bank/Gaza, the people who could leave have. Those left behind survive on handouts of two kinds: banned but smuggled foreign funds subject to confiscation, or official aid subject to cancellation should the subjects misbehave, such as voting for Hamas.

In Afghanistan, people stave off hunger by cultivating opium crops, which are subject to erratic policies of eradication and tolerance.

Add to this the broader picture of American-Israeli alliances with such oligarchs as Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan and the sheikhs of oil kingdoms.

These "moderates" want peace with Israel (good) but they cannot deliver it (bad). So they must strike poses: holding summits, such as the one tomorrow by Mubarak, Abdullah and Abbas in Sharam el-Sheikh, and issuing rote proclamations about peace, which their media, and ours, record dutifully.

But the game has run its course.

In the Middle East and beyond, American embassies and consulates, with their bulletproof walls and barriers and bunkers and tanks, are today's Crusader forts.

In the zones of conflict, including Lebanon, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban and Iraqi Shiite and Sunni militias are empowered — as are their paymasters, Iran, Syria and official and private circles in Pakistan and the sheikhdoms.

People everywhere are radicalized. Terrorism is on the rise.

The most obvious way out of this crisis is to end the occupations, forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and ditch the dictators and monarchs for democracy.

Israel and the United States are ostensibly committed to these goals. But they have a million excuses that they are being thwarted by indigenous forces of evil.

It is in this context that one must view the prospect of Tony Blair becoming the special envoy for the Quartet — the U.S., the UN, the E.U. and Russia — which was to bring about a two-state solution by 2005. The last envoy, James Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank, quit in frustration last year, blocked at every turn from easing the political, social and economic strangulation of Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip.

And the UN's envoy, Alvaro de Soto, has just been quoted as saying that his mission was "pummelled into submission" by the Americans. He has also accused the U.S. of actively pushing for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas.

There are other reports as well of how the U.S.-funded Fatah security forces, led by Mohammed Dahlan, known as the Pinochet of Palestine, systematically sabotaged Hamas, especially the unity government forged in March, through murder and mayhem.

Rather than resisting this disastrous agenda, Canada is an active participant in it, thanks to Paul Martin and Stephen Harper. Had either been in power in 2003, we would have been plunged into Iraq as well.

Canadian public opinion has forced Harper to commit himself to ending our Afghan mission in February 2009, which NATO was hoping to extend.

Canadians, always eager to help rebuild, have been balking for good reason: They do not want our troops to be the cannon fodder for America's endless warfare.

Haroon Siddiqui is the Star's editorial page editor emeritus. His column appears Thursday and Sunday. He can be reached at hsiddiq@thestar.ca

© 2007 The Toronto Star

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