December 15, 2011

The drumbeats of preparations for military intervention and war against Syria and Iran are becoming louder. StopWar, Vancouver’s broad-based anti-war coalition, which was founded in the movement to prevent the disastrous war against Iraq in 2003, appeals to all Canadians to help reverse this dangerous process. We call for the internal disputes in Syria and Iran to be left for their own populations to settle, without recourse to foreign military intervention.

The consequences of a new war in this region would be far reaching for the entire world. A NATO-led military aggression against Syria or Iran would result in massive human casualties, and enormous economic damage on a local and global scale. The impact would not be confined to the immediate military targets of the NATO powers and their allies; such a war could spread across borders, inflicting new suffering and chaos throughout the region.

There is no justification for such a reckless and potentially catastrophic course of action. In our view, military intervention by NATO in the Middle East and Central Asia is being driven by the interests of transnational energy and resource corporations. NATO is acting to defend and advance these interests, not to “protect human rights”.

To those who argue that the so-called “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine obliges Canada to intervene in the name of human rights and wage yet another war, we point out that many of the leaders who are escalating tensions against Syria and Iran are themselves accused of widespread violations of human rights, or even of committing serious breaches of international law.

The United States, for example, stands accused by world public opinion and many legal experts and scholars of practicing systematic torture. In 2003, it committed the supreme war crime of unprovoked military aggression against Iraq – a crime which has resulted in millions of deaths and displacements, and enormous damage to economic and social infrastructures. Israel, one of the most vocal critics of Syria and Iran, has for decades illegally occupied Palestinian territories, imposing a deadly apartheid-style oppression against the Palestinian people.

The NATO countries killed thousands of people recently in Libya in an attack that was a blatantly aggressive intervention aimed at ‘regime change’, despite the fact that it was initially presented as a limited mission to provide a ‘No Fly Zone’. Libya risks becoming a precedent that NATO countries cite in order to justify new aggressive wars and interventions.

Far from advancing the cause of human rights, imperialist military threats and interventions often simply give excuses to authoritarian rulers to suppress struggles for freedom. We stand in solidarity with Iranians and Syrians, while we oppose any kind of sanctions and military interventions.

What right do the United States and Israel – or their faithful ally the Harper government of Canada – have to intervene in the internal problems of Syria and Iran? Why should Canada and the United States, which have led the destructive military occupation of Afghanistan for over a decade, have any right to choose where their military forces will intervene next to topple local governments and impose western-friendly regimes?

Genuine social justice and peace are not created by crippling economic sanctions or endless wars and militarism. Instead, military spending and the arms trade must be dramatically reduced, and all weapons of mass destruction must be eliminated, including the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

The peoples of the world must mobilize to change our planet’s priorities and tackle the urgent needs of those who are today the most oppressed and poverty-stricken.

This is the view of StopWar. We urge all our supporters and friends to join with us in demanding that the Harper government end its vocal support for the war drive against Syria and Iran. Canada must instead begin to support steps which will de-escalate tensions in the region, including the immediate removal of all Canadian military forces from Afghanistan, and a complete end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.