Aug. 28, 2010: Glenn Michalchuk, chair person of Peace Alliance Winnipeg, speaks about the growing danger that the United States will attack Iran. The event was a rally organized by Crazy for Peace 2010 at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg, Canada. The text of Glenn’s speech follows.
My name is Glenn Michalchuk and I am chair of the Peace Alliance Winnipeg. I want to thank the organizers of today’s action for giving the Peace Alliance an opportunity to speak and give our views on this most serious question.
The initiative taken by Crazy for Peace is important because of the need to make people aware that the danger of war against Iran is real and that we must do everything possible to prevent it from occurring.
If we are to learn anything from the disasters of Afghanistan and Iraq it is that we are not isolated from these events. Canada played a major combat role in the 1991 invasion of Iraq, a support role in the 2003 war in Iraq and became directly involved in the occupation of Afghanistan through its current combat role. Given this history one would expect that Canada would be a participant or certainly support any action taken against Iran.
What danger does this represent? The entire Middle East and Central Asia have become a major zone of conflict between the major powers and the emerging powers of that region such as Iran. The U.S. – far from re-shaping the politics of Iraq to suit its political control of the region – is faced with a deteriorating situation that threatens its interests. The main ally of the United States – Israel – is facing increasing political isolation in the world over its continued denial of the rights of the Palestinian people and its brutal siege of Gaza.
As Iraq and Afghanistan have shown plans for régime change are not easily achieved even with massive military intervention at the cost of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. The lies and deceit behind the invasion and occupation of Iraq are well known and Afghanistan is now becoming the same even though some still try to justify NATO’s support for the corrupt Kharzai régime as bringing “democracy” to that country.
There is a sense of déjà-vu with what is happening with Iran. With Iraq it was the fictitious Weapons of Mass Destruction and 9/11. With Afghanistan it was the “War on Terror” and Al-Qaida. Now, with Iran it is nuclear weapons and Iran’s so-called threat to world security.
There is a very real danger that the United States, acting alone or with allies, will take military action against Iran. As with Iraq and Afghanistan its aim would be to effect régime change to ensure its political and military domination of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. There is a very real danger that such a war could lead to a larger conflict.
In the current situation with Iran who is rattling the sabers and threatening war? It is the same countries and alliances that brought war to Yugoslavia in the 1990’s, Iraq on two occasions and Afghanistan. Can we believe these countries now when they make Iran the villain?
Given the current government it is very likely Canada would be part of such a conflict in some way.
The point of today’s action and other actions is to change this course. Canada does not yet have a foreign policy that is independent of the United States or its interests. Canada does not yet have a foreign policy based on the settlement of differences by peaceful and diplomatic means or to show leadership internationally on this.
The most recent history of Iraq and Afghanistan shows that these wars are carefully prepared and managed. Before that, in the 1950’s, the democratic government of Iran was overthrown by the British and the United States and a brutal dictatorship installed to protect access to Iranian oil and control of the Persian Gulf. Not that long ago the countries of South America were under military dictatorships loyal to Washington. The US openly bragged of its overthrow of Allende and the installation of Pinochet who was shielded from international justice even after his regime ended. Cuba has faced decades of economic sanctions and attempts to overthrow its government.
So people need to be aware that the big powers are attempting to drive events to protect their interests not the interests of any people or nation state. When there is talk of wars to protect human rights or to protect democracy we need to know that this is not the real history of intervention and conflict.
The majority of countries in the world have urged a peaceful resolution to the issues of nuclear development as it pertains to Iran. Only a minority – Canada being one – are raising the stakes and demanding ever new concessions and terms from Iran. If that sounds familiar it should — it is exactly what happened with UN inspections of Iraq in the months before the 2003 war. And if that is not sufficient there is always the hysteria of terrorism to convince the people that “something needs to be done”.
A few weeks ago at the ceremony to commemorate the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Member of Parliament Bill Siksay spoke of the need to develop a new attitude in Canadian foreign policy as part of the initiative to form a Department of Peace dedicated to a new role for Canada in international relations.
Certainly Canada has never played such a role internationally on a consistent basis. Its “peacekeeping” efforts have often been tagged with other considerations. Certainly its role in the last two decades has shifted to more aggressive military capabilities as part of its commitment to the NATO alliance which is strengthening its reach and ability to act independently of any considerations of the United Nations, international opinion or international law.
There is already a suggestion that Canada will continue to remain in Afghanistan to support the Kharzhai regime.
It is a big challenge to change the direction of Canadian policy. Nonetheless that is the challenge before us. Another challenge before is to ensure that another war does not erupt over the issue of Iran.
Thank you for coming today.
Thank you for being part of this effort to stop the growing danger that the U.S and others will begin a war with Iran. The cause of peace and justice in the Middle East – and elsewhere – can only be served if interference by the world’s powers stops and people are allowed to solve their problems with their own initiatives.