The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on August 8, 2000 · 13
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 13

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Issue Date:
Tuesday, August 8, 2000
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Argument & Observation THE OTTAWA CITIZEN TUESDAY, AUGUST 8, 2000 A13 by Richard Sanders The belief that Canada is a major force for global peace forms the basis of a powerful myth integral to our culture. This myth shapes the image that we have constructed of ourselves and moulds the way others see us. Like all myths, it has very little basis in reality. The symbolic gestures and diplomatic postures that our government parades in public compose a carefully calculated mask to hide their behind-the-scenes actions. Our government makes proud statements about its restrictive arms-trade guidelines while encouraging and assisting military producers to make deals that undermine international peace and security. During this, me United Nations Year for a Culture of Peace, Canadian peace activists will continue to challenge our national peace-maker myth by helping people face the truth about this country's real role as a war-maker. To do this, it is important to expose Canada's active participation in: The international arms trade; Undeclared wars against Iraq, Somalia and Yugoslavia, in the 1990s; The provision of weapons-testing ranges (air, land and sea) for use by foreign militaries; A military alliance that threatens to use nuclear weapons, Le., NATO; The proliferation of uranium and nuclear power plants. The International Arms Trade Canada was the world's ninth largest arms exporter in 1997. We ranked even higher, however, in terms of our military exports to the "Third World." In that category, we ranked seventh. Data on Canada's military exports are contained in annual reports published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Interna- Being Blue: A not-so-solemn look at jean culture By David Sullivan The world is populated by blue jeans. Sometimes black jeans, it is true. Sometimes green jeans. But mostly jeans are blue. That is why we have a rock group called Bluejeans. We did once have a children's personality called Mr. Green Jeans, but this was a phenomenon not taken seriously by grown-ups. Blue jeans, however, are profoundly serious. They are a part of our culture. They symbolize a hippie generation. They have come to be identified with drugs, freedom and human rights. Since then, they have gone out to convert the world. Granddad wears them. The Chinese wear them. They have come to symbolize not just youth, but democracy itself. i m t m V V I i T nwn-Min II ,i.H iii.iii,iuj nimilln.. m nww .11 ii I iiii.-li u. j mm 1 j ... K 1 , j L-. . . . AJg: 1 j XLiL ?SKw&&ASa s - v- - . iS OTTAWACITIZEN PHOTOGRAPH Canadian soldiers have been deployed as peacekeepers in many of the world's trouble spots, including Bosnia, but are we really a culture of peace? Canada's peacekeeping myth In many places around the world, our government and companies profit from war tional Trade (DFAIT), called Export of Military Goods from Canada. These reports are significantly flawed. They omit all data on military exports to the U.S., which is by far, our largest buyer. The magnitude of this flaw is evidenced by DFAIT's estimate that 80 per cent of Canadian military exports in 1997 went totheUS. Toothless Guidelines As anyone who has written to protest Canada's military exports will know, DFAIT is proud of its "guidelines" governing military exports. These guidelines state, in part, that: "Canada closely controls the export of military goods and technology to countries that are involved in or under imminent threat of hostilities ... and whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens, unless it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population." These guidelines are worse than toothless, they are essentially meaningless. They do not state that Canadian companies cannot sell military equipment to governments en-. gaged in war, or where it might be used against civilians. They merely state that such sales will be "closely controlled." In the through-the-looking-glass world of government bureaucracies, "closely controlled" can actually refer to concerted efforts to assist corporations in their relentless drive to increase military exports (as long as that increase is "closely controlled"). DFAIT's most recently published policy document on aerospace and defence sector exports states that: "China, Why is blue so tenaciously identified with denim? You might expect jeans would be not-so-conservatively locked in one mode of expression. After all, the generation that made them so popular was truly experimental. True, jeans in the '60s and '70s underwent far-out variations. The bottoms grew and shrank, all sorts of insignia were inscribed thereon, and colors briefly varied a great deal. Maybe because jeans started out blue, and remain associated with a certain segment of America's past, those former hippies who now wear business suits and control the textile and fashion industries have decided that first was best Like a Golden Oldies radio station, they keep churning out blue jeans in testimony to their glorious youth. Today's young Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines offer potential for Canadian defence products ... Australia offers important opportunities for defence ... in addition to good prospects for the development of strategic alliances aimed at penetrating markets in Southeast Asia ... Countries such as Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Peru represent emerging markets that require strategic positioning by Canada and Canadian A&D; that is, "aerospace and defence" firms, especially in terms of follow-up to the success of Canadian participation at FI-DAE '96 Latin America's largest arms bazaar. The Middle East remains an important market, particularly for defence-security firms ... The region accounts for more than 40 per cent of all defence-product transfers and is expected to absorb over $150 billion by the year 2000. Saudi Arabia is expected to purchase $32 billion worth of military equipment and other targets include the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait." Aiding and Abetting Wars During the 1990s, Canada exported military equipment to several governments engaged in war. Chief among these was, of course, the United States. It has always been Canada's largest purchaser of military equipment. Even during the worst excesses of the 1960s during the Vietnam War, when three million people were killed in Southeast Asia Canadian industries were assisted by our government in ensuring a steady supply of military hardware to fuel the U.S. war machine. The fact that the U.S. has engaged in more interventions and invasions than any other have little choice but to buy, there being so little else available, or else they have been brainwashed into believing that only blue will do. Or maybe there is something deeper at work. Levi Strauss began making its riveted work clothes out of brown duck and blue denim in 1873. By 1911, the duck had flown the coop, and ever since then blue has ruled the roost Why? Blue is omnipresent in our culture. In fashion, blue will get you through. It is a colour that is neither strident nor conservative. And yet blue does not leave gazers indifferent, and carries a certain dignity and pleasant coolness. Perhaps that is why denim was traditionally blue. If you simply want a garment to get you through the day, every day, you go with the country this century has never stopped the Canadian government from actively promoting military exports to our friendly neighbour to the south. Neither have Canada's military exports been stopped because the U.S. has armed, financed, trained and equipped dozens of covert wars, organized death squads, backed military coups against elected governments, undermined and rigged elections, assassinated foreign leaders and propped up ruthless dictators who offer bargain basement, union-free factories and all-around cheap access to natural resources. In 1991, the U.S. led the devastating war against Iraq, and with the support of Canada and the UN, has led the economic blockade that has killed almost two million people. Canada also supplied military hardware to many of the other "coalition forces" that participated in that war. In 1998, the U.S. bombed Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan. ' One might reasonably expect that the U.S. government's standing as the world's rogue superpower, and its unbridled thirst for starting wars and backing military dictatorships, should mean that it would be subject to more arms export restrictions than other, less violent governments. Unfortunately, as usual, the opposite is true. Our government has never placed any restrictions on military exports to the U.S. In fact, there is only one country for which Canadian companies have never been required to obtain military export permits from our government: the United States. In the 1990s, DFATT permitted military exports to at least 17 governments that engaged in wars during the late 1990s. most versatile fabric and colour. Just why blue is such an all-purpose colour for homo sapiens is speculated upon poetically by William Gass in his essay On Being Blue: "Of the colours, blue and green have the greatest emotional range. Sad reds and melancholy yellows are difficult to rum up ... Blue is therefore most suitable as the color of interior life. Whether slick light sharp high bright thin quick sour new and cool or low deep sweet thick dark soft slow smooth heavy old and warm: blue moves easily among them all, and all profoundly qualify our states of feeling." And this is great as far as it goes, but I still wonder why jeans are by and large stuck in blue. Maybe something is owed to the combination of blue and These mostly internal wars, , which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the Center for Defense Information called "major armed conflicts," were in Algeria, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Yugoslavia and Zaire. Canada's declared military exports to these warring nations, during the 1990s, totalled just over $300 million. Supporting repression One need only examine the evidence amassed here to see that Canadian corporations and the government are still very much complicit in crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Some of the governments purchasing Canadian military hardware are notorious for violating human rights. Many so-called "security" forces armed by Canada are well-known to routinely engage in torture and extrajudicial executions. In 1998, the following countries purchased Canadian military hardware, even though torture by their military andor police was reported that year by Amnesty International to be "widespread," "endemic," "systematic," "officially sanctioned," "frequent" or "commonplace": Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, Israel, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Turkey and Venezuela. Between 1990 and 1998, the Canadian government permitted military exports to numerous undemocratic and repres"-sive regimes. For instance, Canada has sold arms to: Brunei, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman: Countries that have never had any elections; Bahrain: Its only legisla denim. They age gracefully. With time, jeans not only soften, but acquire interesting lights of white and light blue in those places where ordinary use puts greatest emphasis. Where in jeans of other colours such light would merely indicate wear and age, with blue they seem rather to show evidence of a developing personality. The more beat up they get, the more personality they acquire, discarding the callow cardboard indigo of youth and maturing softly into that state of wear that with its varied textures and tones of blue may fittingly represent the interior life of humankind itself. So now do you understand why blue jeans are blue? Me neither. David Sullivan runs an inn in Saint Andrews, N. ture has been dissolved by decree since 1975; Kuwait: Women still do not have the right to vote or stand for election; Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Lebanon, Pakistan, Singapore, St. Vincent, Togo and Turkey: Women held less than five per cent of the seats in parliament in 1999. Canada is selling military hardware to foreign police and military institutions well-known to be systematically abusing human rights. The regimes our government continues to prop up are guilty of the most extreme forms of civil rights violations: secret arrests, unfair trials, cruel treatment of prisoners, torture, disappearances and extrajudicial executions. Economic and social rights to education, health, housing and employment are ignored or undermined by many recipients of Canadian military exports. Canada is selling tools of war and repression to many regimes spending vast amounts on security structures to quell demonstrations and strikes by those striving for better lives. For several years, the UN has declared Canada to be the best place in the world to live. Does this privileged rank depend upon exploiting our position in an unjust global economic order? When purchasing inexpensive products from farms,' mines and factories around the world, we might ask ourselves: Why are these products so cheap? Do the workers receive fair wages? Are their living and working conditions safe and healthy? Dismantling the myth of "Canada the Peacemaker" is a step in building a culture of peace in which citizens refuse to support corporations and governments that are profiting from war and repression. Richard Sanders is co-ordinator of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade. Submissions We welcome opinion articles. Those whose work is accepted for publication will receive a prompt reply. While we are unable to respond personally to every writer, we do review all articles and appreciate the interest shown by those who submit their work. All articles must include the author's name, address and daytime telephone numbers. Articles may be edited for length, clarity and style. Please send your articles to: Peter Simpson, Argument and Observation editor, The Ottawa Citizen, 1101 Baxter Rd, Ottawa, K2C 3M4 Fax: 596-8458 Phone: 596-3687 E-mail: psimpson thecitizen.southam ra .

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