Citizen Action Monitor

Obama’s “NATO needs more Canada” plays to our vanity, risks military escalation with Russia

Parliament, and 200 attending members of Canada’s ruling class, fell for the president’s false narrative about Russian aggression.

No 1717 Posted by fw, July 3, 2016

Obama Wows Parliament

Obama Wows Parliament

Watching a video of the euphoria that swept over Canada’s ruling class, gathered at a special session of parliament, when Obama sang out — “…the Canadian armed forces are really good — (applause) — and if I can borrow a phrase, the world needs more Canada. NATO needs more Canada. (Applause.) We need you. We need you.” — I half expected the dignitaries to rise en masse and break into song and dance to the music hall song Oh! What a Lovely War, one of the major numbers from the satirical film on events of the Great War.


No doubt, in their coverage of the event, Canada’s neoliberal media applauded Obama’s packed-House performance on Parliament Hill. (Watch or read Obama’s speech on the CBC website: Obama defends progressive values in speech to Parliament. By the way, if these are “progressive” values, then we really are in big trouble).

At the risk of being booed off the cyber stage by Canada’s ruling class, this post will sample some of the voices opposing Obama’s false narrative about Russian aggression.

Countering Obama’s False Narrative About Russian Aggression

First – Selected passages from Roger Jordan’s July 2 article, Canada to jointly lead NATO’s new “advanced force” against Russia, in response to Obama’s speech to Parliament.

Ahead of next week’s NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, where the US-led alliance will further ratchet up pressure on Russia, Canada’s Liberal government has unveiled plans to deploy up to a thousand troops to the Baltic…. “As part of NATO we were giving assurance to member states there, but now this has evolved to deterrence,” said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in announcing the deployment Thursday. He also added that the 220 Canadian troops already in Poland would change their posture so as to be ready for potential attacks. Previously they had been engaged only in training exercises. The new Canadian deployment is open ended, i.e., effectively permanent. This is a clear violation of the pledge NATO made in order to secure Moscow’s acquiescence to its incorporation of the Baltic States and former Warsaw Pact members that NATO would not permanently deploy forces on Russia’s borders. Ottawa and NATO are claiming that the “advanced force” will not violate that pledge, because every six months or so the forces comprising it will be rotated out and replaced with others.

Canada has played a prominent and inflammatory role in the anti-Russian coalition in Eastern Europe from the outset of the build-up of military forces following the US- and German-sponsored, fascist-led coup in Kiev in February 2014…. This hardline stance has persisted unabated since the coming to power of Justin Trudeau last October…. Earlier this year, after withdrawing CF-18 fighter jets from the air war in Syria and Iraq, the Trudeau government ordered four of them to Romania, which borders Ukraine to the south, to conduct exercises with the NATO member’s air force.

Last week, Trudeau gave his full support to Washington’s false narrative about Russian “aggression,” claiming Moscow is fomenting conflict in Ukraine and describing its actions as “illegitimate and irresponsible.” “We have real concerns,” he told a press conference, “about Russia and about its actions and we will be thoughtful and firm, as I have always been, on how we engage with Russia.”

Trudeau also made an appearance before the right-wing, ultra-nationalist Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), which collaborated closely with the Canadian state during the Cold War and has worked hand-in-glove with Liberal and Conservative governments over the past 20 years to harness independent Ukraine to western imperialism. To a standing ovation of UCC members and visiting Ukrainian politicians, Trudeau declared, “Canada will continue to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea as well as its support to insurgents in Eastern Ukraine” …. UCC members have been heavily involved in directly supplying military equipment, including arms, to volunteer battalions in the Ukrainian civil war, many of which are dominated by extreme right-wing, and openly fascist, forces.

Over the past 25 years, Canada has strengthened its longstanding military-security alliance with Washington and done so as US imperialism has increasingly resorted toward aggression and war to prop up its global hegemony.

The Trudeau government’s decision to deploy troops to the Baltic States enjoys overwhelming support within the political and media establishment, which see it as a means of further strengthening the Canada-US alliance and more aggressively asserting the interests of Canadian imperialism on the world stage.

The Liberals are currently conducting a defence policy review with the aim of corralling public opinion behind plans to make Canada’s military a “global policeman” and vastly increase its weaponry and resources.


Second — selected passages from Do We Really Want a War With Russia? by Murray Dobbin , counterpunch, June 24, 2016

“Russia mobilizing for war”…. A more absurd declaration is hard to imagine but there it was – coming out of the offices of CSIS, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. It was just the latest alarmist rhetoric in a steady stream of anti-Russian propaganda that coincided with the largest military build-up (a recent NATO military exercise called Anaconda) on Russia’s borders since the German invasion of WW 2.

NATO has steadily expanded…absorbing many former Soviet republics  – including Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Romania.  It is scarcely surprising that Russia would perceive this expansion as a gross violation of trust in the West and a potential military threat given that the only reason for NATO’s existence was as a bulwark against Soviet communism. By that mandate, NATO should have been disbanded in 1990.

The one important country remaining on NATO’s wish list is the Ukraine which shares a 1400-mile border with Russia. It is here that Russia drew the line. When the US-sponsored coup (aided by explicitly neo-Nazi collaborators) deposed the pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich in 2014, the NATO writing was on the wall for Vladimir Putin. The illegal seizure of the Crimea and the militarization of eastern Ukraine followed. Given events since then it is likely that this was exactly what the US wanted: it needs a Russian “threat” to justify the continued existence of NATO. The US, which totally dominates NATO, has used the annexation of Crimea to promote the notion of Russian “aggression” towards its former Warsaw pact allies. Yet despite the rhetoric there is no evidence to suggest that Russia is suddenly going to invade Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia or Poland and then bear the huge burden of occupying them.

Eastern European NATO members have dutifully jumped on the Russian “aggression” bandwagon. Poland is key in this dangerous charade, with its president Andrzej Duda recently visiting Ottawa and asking Prime Minister Trudeau for military support. According to the CBC,  Duda said “…it is ‘beyond any doubt’ that Russia has an ‘expansionist, imperial policy,’ and he would like to see Canada increase its military personnel and equipment in Poland.”

A quick reality check on which country – the US   or Russia – is expansionist and imperialist seems appropriate. It is the US that has [800 military bases around the world]… The US accounts for 95 percent of all foreign bases in the world and has a quarter of a million troops stationed outside the US. Russia has eight foreign bases, all in former soviet republics with which it shares borders. And it is the US which is establishing an anti-ballistic missile system in Romania, severely destabilizing the nuclear strategic balance that has prevented a nuclear holocaust for over sixty years. The US is also modernizing is nuclear weapons to make their use more likely.

That’s the context for recent developments. Earlier this month in Poland NATO launched its largest “exercise” since the end of the cold war. Dubbed “Operation Anaconda” it lasted 10 days and involved over 30,000 troops (including 200 Canadians), 3,000 vehicles, 105 aircraft and 12 ships. There was nothing ambiguous about the purpose of this massive military demonstration. The President of Poland declared : “The goal of the exercise is clear. We are preparing for an attack.”  NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said nothing to contradict him.

Prime Minister Trudeau faces an exceptionally difficult choice between now and the NATO summit on July 8-9. But if he makes the courageous one, and sides with those calling for more dialogue and diplomacy (which is, after all, Trudeau’s stated objective with Russia) he will in the long run be on the side of the angels. Stoking Russian nationalism at a time when many Western and Eastern European countries are witnessing the rise of right-wing nationalist sentiment themselves, is a recipe for disaster.


Third — Four excerpts from a piece by Robert Jordan, reporting for the World Social Web Site, a piece which I reposted on this blog on June 25, under the title: Self-aggrandizing, fear-mongering ex-PM Mulroney delivers bellicose speech to NATO Assn of Canada.

“Mulroney opened his speech with a broadside against Russia, accusing it of being the aggressor in Europe and portraying NATO as ‘scrambling’ to respond…. This narrative turns reality on its head. Russia’s annexation of Crimea followed the US and German-sponsored, fascist-led coup in Ukraine, which aimed at delivering a geo-political body blow to Moscow by harnessing the country to western imperialism. More fundamentally, ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the western powers have been the aggressors, pursuing a policy—via NATO expansion—of encircling and isolating Russia.”

Canadian Armed Forces’ personnel are already deeply implicated in a whole series of US-led military-strategic offensives around the world.

The cultivation of such a militarist and bellicose nationalism, which began under the Harper Conservatives, is being embraced at the highest levels of the Canadian ruling elite. In this regard, it is noteworthy that during his visit to the White House in March, Trudeau embraced the same narrative of the joint Canadian-US fight in World War II to justify future wars of aggression.

Behind the backs of the population and under cover of a media campaign about “progressive change” with the election of the Trudeau Liberals, the Canadian ruling elite is readying itself to participate fully in the increasingly explosive geopolitical conflicts around the world. Only the creation of an anti-war movement based in the working class that is committed to the struggle for socialism and the abolition of the capitalist order can fight the imperialist war drive.


FourthWhy the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin by John J. Mearsheimer, Foreign Affairs, September/October, 2014

In a short video clip, Noam Chomsky discusses Ukraine and Russia, Chomsky referred to the 12-page Mearsheimer essay, and when Chomsky speaks, I listen. Here are Mearsheimer’s opening and closing paragraphs.


According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.

But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine—beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004—were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president—which he rightly labeled a “coup”—was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.

Putin’s pushback should have come as no surprise. After all, the West had been moving into Russia’s backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly. Elites in the United States and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a 0awed view o! international politics. They tend to believe that the logic o! realism holds little relevance in the twenty-first century and that Europe can be kept whole and free on the basis o! such liberal principles as the rule o1 law, economic interdependence, and democracy.


The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process—a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win.

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