Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

SYRIA: BOMBS ARE NOT THE ANSWER!

Posted by strattof on September 6, 2013

Canada should pursue diplomacy and peace, not missile strikes.

BACKGROUND FACTS

Since March of 2011, Syria has been at civil war. Over 100,000 people have died in the conflict, including many civilians.  According to the UN, nearly two million people have fled as refugees to neighbouring Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.

On August 21, 2013 an alleged chemical weapons attack killed many civilians in suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital.  A UN team is investigating the attack, and may take several weeks to report.  Currently, we do not know for certain what has happened or who is responsible.

The United States, possibly backed by France (Syria’s former colonial master) and other countries, now threatens military strikes against Syria to “punish” the Syrian government for chemical weapons use, moving five destroyers armed with cruise missiles into the region.

The Canadian government has expressed support for this plan.

ILLEGAL ATTACKS ARE NOT THE ANSWER

Under international law, states can use military force only in self-defence or when authorized by the UN Security Council.

A military strike against Syria, without UN approval, would be as illegal as the US invasion of Iraq.

When it launched “Operation Iraqi Freedom” in 2003, the US claimed to have evidence of Weapons of Mass destruction, claims later found to be false.

CHEMICAL WEAPONS USE & DOUBLE-STANDARDS

A 1925 Geneva protocol prohibits the use of chemical weapons, though they have been used since then. For example:

  • In Vietnam, the United States used napalm and Agent Orange.
  • In Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, and Kosovo, the United States used depleted uranium weaponry. Depleted Uranium weapons are classified as weapons of mass destruction under international law. They have long-term horrendous effects on the civilian population, including cancer, immune system failings, kidney damage, and birth defects.
  • During the 1980s, Iraq – then an ally of the United States and other western governments – used chemical weapons against its own population and its enemy, Iran. According to recently declassified CIA documents, “The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war.”—Foreign Policy Magazine, August 26, 2013.
  • The government of Syria does not respect human rights, but the same country now leading the charge to war – the United States – sent Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Syria to face interrogation and torture because it wrongly suspected him of involvement with Al-Qaeda.

WILL A MILITARY STRIKE HELP THE PEOPLE OF SYRIA?

According to the CIA, in addition to the major actors in the civil war, “there are also hundreds of local groups that organize protests and stage armed attacks.”  The US, Israel, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others all have their favoured factions in the conflict, assisting them for their own purposes.

Past conflicts teach important lessons: According to a Human Rights Watch report, 72 civilians were killed by US/NATO airstrikes during the recent war in Libya, in which Canada participated.  Even if US/NATO forces take precautions in Syria, innocent civilians will be killed by missile or bomb attacks.

Speaking of Afghanistan, Steve Staples of the Rideau Institute says the war cost Canada “billions of dollars, the lives of more than 150 soldiers and many times more Afghans, leaving that country no better off today than it was a decade ago.”

Who will be helped by a bombing campaign?  Who will be hurt?

WHAT CAN CANADA DO?

  • Demand that all countries, including NATO allies, respect international law and act only with UN approval.
  • Push for a diplomatic solution. Call on both the United States and Russia to come together and pressure the Syrian government and the rebels for a ceasefire, with the goal of a transition to a more democratic, representative government in Syria.
  •  Accept more refugees, reuniting some of the millions of displaced Syrians with their families here in Canada.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Attend the NO WAR WITH SYRIA rally: Saturday, September 7, 2 pm. Meet in front of City Hall. March to Victoria Park.
  • Email Prime Minister Harper and your MP and say you want Canada to push for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria.  Bombs are not the answer!

Stephen Harper: pm@pm.gc.ca

Ray Boughen: ray.boughen@parl.gc.ca

Ralph Goodale: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca

Tom Lukiwski: tom.lukiwski@parl.gc.ca

Andrew Scheer: andrew.sheer@parl.gc.ca

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