Council of Canadians: to the left of Barack Obama

July 5th, 2008
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I’ve found that ignoring groups like the Council of Canadians makes for a better state of mental health. Its brew of presumption – the name itself suggesting that anyone who disagrees is not quite a legitimate citizen of this country – exaggeration, falsehood and reflexive positioning on the wrong side of virtually every aspect of the great struggle between freedom and statism just makes me angry.

The council’s shilling for a handful of U.S. military deserters (whom it terms “resisters” although they do precious little resisting by merely scuttling off to safety in Canada) is nothing new. I merely yawned and prepared to hit Delete when a press release about these sad men came into my Inbox the other day. But I couldn’t let the background falsehoods about Iraq pass.
Mainly this: “Over one million civilians have perished in the illegal war in Iraq…”
One can argue over the legality of the U.S.-led invasion – liberation – of Iraq. But it’s incontrovertible that the current U.S. presence is sanctioned by UN resolutions. It is actively supported by Iraq’s democratically elected government which functions under a written constitution approved by Iraq’s people in a democratic referendum. (On that level, Iraq is more democratic than Canada, which technically remains a constitutional monarchy.) Iraq and the U.S. are currently negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement for the longer term. If Iraq wants the U.S. out, it will leave, a strange move for an international lawbreaker.
The “one million civilians” claims is also incorrect, apparently drawn from an absurd and widely debunked study by the British Lancet magazine.
Here are the views of Omar Fadhil, an Iraq native and resident of Baghdad who blogs with his brother at Iraq the Model as well as the Long War Journal. Omar – who has lived through the worst chaos of the post-liberation period and whose on-the-scene dispatches brought life in Baghdad to light for readers around the world – kindly supplied this note to Dr. J. and Mr. K.:
I don’t claim to have exact figures, but my estimation is as follows:
The highest death figures were recorded between the summer of 2006 and the summer of 2007, with an average of 3,000 per month. The months in the remaining four-and-a-half years averaged at one-third to one-half of that at the worst estimates. If we add the estimated 10,000 deaths during the beginning of the war in spring of 2003, this puts us at the range between 85,000 and 105,000.
The 1 million figure is completely wrong, because it would mean that 4% of the entire population was killed. Given that the population growth rate of Iraq is ~1.5% according to World Bank figures in 2000, at a rate of attrition of 4 percent Iraq’s population would’ve been lower today than it was in 2003, but all figures including voter records and the food coupons databases show a steady increase in population.
Iraq may be a less developed country with a damaged infrastructure, but it isn’t the remote corners of the Congo. It has hospitals, morgues, government records-keepers, police and an army. The casualty reports of all of these agencies add up to a fraction of the claimed higher figure.
The use of “civilians” is also slippery. How are terrorist fighters operating out-of-uniform and dragged to hospital covered in blood to be classified? The council’s implication that the U.S. has been responsible for the sea of innocent humanity snuffed out of life is simply outrageous. The vast majority of civilian deaths have been caused through terrorism by Al Qaeda and the previously allied insurgent groups (some of which are now among its fiercest enemies), and by the death squads under or affiliated with Moqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army and the Iranian-run “Special Groups.”
With even U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama beginning to revise his position on Iraq, one has to ask: what does the council actually want? Bringing back Saddam from the dead? (Who, incidentally, actually was responsible for 1 million or more deaths through his invasions of neighbours and internal campaigns to annihilate his opponents.) Having Iraq’s democratic government fall to Al Qaeda or the Mahdi army? Making Iraq a protectorate of Iran’s millenarian/apocalyptic tyranny?
The press release was useful in one sense, at least: suggesting the council is fixated in its anti-Americanism.
Thankfully, the Council of (self-proclaimed) Canadians has lost many of the key battles with which it has been identified, crucially over the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Needing to “win” some, it has simply concocted disputes and crises – such as over the non-plan to export Canada’s precious (and allegedly scarce) fresh water to the U.S. The never-planned water exports don’t materialize and – presto – victory! Of course, the fantasy threat persists, so the fight must go on.
A long post – and I haven’t even gotten to the issue of the U.S. army deserters.
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By George Koch