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Resisting the politics of domination. (Editorial).

While admiring aspects of its popular culture, many Canadians have an instinctive distrust of the U.S's political culture and its accompanying ethos -- the constant American resort to the use of violence, the hyper-greed of its corporate commercialism, the national narcissism and the desire to dominate. Granted, the politics and culture of domination are not uniquely American. But in light of the human destruction of the second Gulf War, the voices from the State Department and the White House proclaming the U.S.'s right to global dominance now strike on the ear in a peculiarly offensive way. Perhaps this is because we have just been reminded of how much these voices of irrationality are hacked up by the force of technological arms, unrestrained by popular opinion, democratic consensus, or international law.

The occupation of Iraq is the latest episode in the 24-hour-a-day CNN newscast of the American politics of domination. And we can rest assured that, no matter which puppet government the U.S. installs in Baghdad, the U.S. superpower will never voluntarily leave. In this respect, the occupation of Iraq is merely the latest addition to a long US. list of strategic and financial outposts now encircling the globe: Guam, Hawaii, the Philippines, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan.

Just as Noam Chomsky and others warned, Iraq has become the trial run of the Bush Doctrine of preventative war -- what the U.S. calls a "new norm" in international relations. According to this doctrine, the United States alone has the right to attack any country it claims to be a threat. The Bush Doctrine announced last September declared that the U.S. will rule the world by force and that it will do so for the indefinite future. If any potential challenge arises to U.S. domination, the U.S. will destroy it.

A fierce campaign, led by Stephen Harper and his "American" Alliance - together with the monolithically pro-war media led by the "American" Post, the gushing Friends of America and their full-page ads and rallies, Imperial America's other chums Don Cherry, Allan Gotlieb and Tom Aquino, and all the other suspects -- tried desperately to win over Canadians to this grand design. But few in Canada have been fooled into believing that the overthrow of the Saddam regime was about terrorism, tyranny, or even weapons of mass destruction.

Enlightened opinion here is clear that the occupation of Iraq is part of the U.S's geo-strategic plan to dominate the world, with the seizure of Iraqi oil fields as the immediate payback for costs incurred. It is almost child's play to see that U.S. control of oil reserves in the Middle East, South America and the Caspian Sea renders dependent all potential challengers for world or regional supremacy -- whether that challenge emanates from Japan, Europe, or China. The dependency is reflected in the statistics: Japan imports 98 per cent of its oil; Germany, 96 per cent; France, 95 per cent; with China similarly vulnerable, given its rapid but fossil-fuel-reliant economic expansion.

Since Prime Minister Jean Chretien has a fair reading of the enlightened Canadian mind, he knew he was safe in his decision not to back down from his refusal to have Canada formally join the U.S.-led coalition or to end his opposition to pre-emptive strikes and regime change. And the furious response generated by U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci's attempt to appeal to the Canadian people against their government merely confirmed Chretien in the rightness of his judgement. No leader likes to be told how they should run their own country's foreign policy.

But Chretien also knows on which side Canada's bread is buttered. That's why, contrary to his self-advertized "principled stand," he sent a few thousand troops to Afghanistan to free up U.5 assets for redeployment in Iraq. It's also why he sent Canadian military planners to help the U.S. Central Command in Qatar -- and why he never seriously considered recalling the infamous 31 "exchange troops," or the Canadian ships that were a strategic part of the U.S.-led multinational fleet protecting U.S. aircraft carriers in the war.

It's these Canadian political and commercial interests that also explain why Chretien never for a moment contemplated halting the hundreds of millions of dollars of military exports to the U.S. -- and why he is so eager to volunteer Canada for a role in the rebuilding of Iraq.

The lesson of the second Gulf War for key multinational Canadian firms is clear: Where profits are at stake, loyalties will always trump principles.

This sorry episode re-opens the question of Canada's relationship to the U.S. Even before the attack was launched, the C.D. Howe Institute and other "in-bedded" agents of Canadian capital were urging Canada to go the full Monty: common currency (i.e. the U.S. dollar), common immigration policy and common border security. These pressures will now be escalated.

Sad to say, there are grounds for the politics of the radical right in Canada. After all, there is perhaps no other national economy so integrated with another as Canada's is with that of the U.S. Deeply entrenched in the years following WWII, accelerated by the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA, the U.S.-Canada political and trade link is a reality that the majority of governing and editorial opinion accept, Chretien included.

That is why it is so significant that a majority of ordinary Canadians continue to voice their suspicion and skepticism.

This popular mood of anti-U.S. sentiment offers an alternative social base for those concerned about the power and shape of the New Imperialism, providing the grounds for re-engaging CD's own campaign for a renewed sovereignty. Clearly there is much potential support for this in the peace movement, the cultural communities, the trade unions, the First Nations and on the campuses and streets, right across the Canadian state.

What would a popular democratic and multinational sovereigntist state look like? How do we build an economy that is less dependent on the U.S.? What would an independent foreign policy entail? What would we have to do to get there?

Canadian Dimension opened up these questions a year ago. In the light of the occupation of Iraq, the discussion has become more urgent than ever.
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Title Annotation:Canadian-United States relations regarding the Iraq War
Publication:Canadian Dimension
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:1051
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