NATO forces in Afghanistan are in a “strategic stalemate,” as Taliban insurgents expand their control of sparsely populated areas and as the central government fails to carry out vital reforms and reconstruction, according to an independent assessment released yesterday by NATO’s former commander.
Despite the government’s official position abstaining from combat in Iraq, Canada has dispatched yet another top general to the command group overseeing day-to-day operations for the U.S.-led occupation and counterinsurgency war.
Meanwhile, 42 Canadian tanks and armoured personnel carriers left Edmonton last week destined for Fort Bliss, Texas to participate in pre-deployment training exercises with the U.S. Army before a summer rotation in Afghanistan. A Department of National Defence press release characterised the training as “massive”, with more than 3,000 Canadian soldiers taking part in Exercise Southern Bear.
There are also economic interests in Iraq itself. The April 2007 Iraq Reconstruction Report lists Canada as the fourth largest importer of Iraqi oil. Industry Canada records that total Canadian imports from Iraq have risen from 1.06 billion dollars in 2002 to 1.61 billion dollars in 2006, making Iraq second only to Saudi Arabia as a Middle Eastern source for Canadian imports.
Bellow is an open letter delivered to Dr. John McLaughlin, President of the University of New Brunswick on April 6, 2007. Dr. McLaughlin has failed to respond to this letter despite it being published in the Daily Gleaner.
Our concerns about UNB/Military collaboration have not waned. Since the Advanced Learning Technologies Symposium in March 2007 UNB has continued to collaborate with the Canadian Military, most notably through the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society. It is difficult to determine in what other ways UNB is working with the military given its silence on this issue.
Open Letter to Dr. John McLaughlin, President of the University of New Brunswick
April 6, 2007
Dear Dr. McLaughlin
On March 28, 2007, UNB faculty and staff were invited to the Advanced Learning Technologies Symposium to hear about “potential areas for UNB/Military collaboration” with a special emphasis on encouraging closer ties between CFB Gagetown and university
departments and faculties. Notably, students were not invited to this briefing and local citizens who tried to register were informed they were not eligible to attend. What happened during the briefing and why were doors closed to all but faculty and staff? Are students and the wider community not affected by the nature of academic work undertaken at UNB?
Department of National Defense (DND) funding, like all funding, comes with strings attached. The majority of academics who receive DND funding are supportive of the Canadian military’s current operations while several Peace Studies programs suffer
under funding. Peter Langille, a professor at the University of Western Ontario, in a briefing to the federal government Standing Committee on National Defense and Veterans Affairs, described those who receive DND funding as “embedded academics.” UNB already receives DND funding for the Gregg Centre. With greater prospect of “UNB/Military collaboration”, can we honestly expect to have objective academic work concerning military issues conducted at UNB? Given the closed nature of the briefing on March
28th, the student population and general public are being left in the dark as to what this collaboration may look like and are not being given an opportunity to voice their views on such a controversial collaboration.
It is perfectly appropriate for military issues to be the subject of academic enquiry. However, when the major partner in this research is the subject, in this case the military, there is little room for objectivity. Robert Baldwin, one of the founders of
the Canadian democratic ideal, envisioned universities as institutions where academics could freely explore truth without interference from various special interest groups. He saw this freedom as the cornerstone of our democracy. Collaborating with the
military removes this freedom.
Furthermore, given the current nature of the Canadian military, we denounce any ties between the Canadian military and the university. Canada’s military is no longer a peacekeeping force. Missions in Haiti and Afghanistan, where evidence exists of the
Canadian military bringing hardship to local populations show clearly the new face of Canada’s Armed Forces. The Counter-Insurgency Manual, currently in development by DND, shows clearly that DND is seeking new tactics such as deception and fear mongering in protecting its image as well as combating its enemies. By working with the military, UNB would be supporting an institution, which endeavors to cover up the truth to achieve its ends. UNB must continue in the academic tradition of Robert Baldwin by ensuring that academic work not be tainted, and rendered unsound, by “collaboration” with the military-industrial complex.
We, students, faculty and members of the wider community, request that UNB take several measures to ensure the academic integrity of the university. Firstly, any discussions regarding collaboration with the military must be open to the wider UNB community as this collaboration has profound implications for the university. Secondly, the university, as a public institution, must take a more active role in demanding more government spending for education.
Dr. McLaughlin, we look forward to your prompt attention to these issues of serious concern.
Matthew Abbott (UNB Student), Tracy Glynn, Gloria Paul, Jordan House (UNB student), members of the Fredericton Peace Coalition
Speech by Robert Fisk, with introduction by Noam Chomsky. Some snippets of Robert Fisk’s over 1000 page long “The Great War For Civilization: Conquest of the Middle East”. Good clips, watch them!
The Fredericton Chapter of the Breaking the Silence (BTS) Maritime-Guatemala Solidarity Network will host Noche Latina, an annual fundraiser, on Friday, February 1 st. This lively annual event will be in support of a scholarship fund for indigenous students in Rabinal, Guatemala. Recipients are all students of New Hope Institute, a bilingual (Spanish and Achi) and bicultural school, operated by the New Hope Foundation, for children of families affected by the genocide during the early 1980s.
Each year Breaking the Silence commits to raising $10 000 – a five year commitment of $50 000 — to fund the tuition for 40 students. The Fredericton chapter has been a key participant in this campaign and Noche Latina is an integral fundraising event. It is expected that this year will be as successful as ever and we hope that Frederictonians will get to share in this wonderful effort.
Come join BTS and friends in a celebration of Central American culture and food. Admission includes the chance to sample typical Guatemalan cuisine, along with an evening of Latin dance performance and the music of Cesar Morales. All proceeds from admissions and a silent auction will go towards the scholarship fund.
Noche Latina will take place at Wilmot United Church (corner of King St. and Carleton St.) on Friday, February 1st. Doors will open at 5:30 pm and food service will begin at 6:00. Tickets are available for sale at Doodles Café (inside the Charlotte St. Arts Centre), Multicultural Association of Fredericton (123 York St.), True Foods Organics (207 Charlotte St.), and at the door. Ticket prices are as follows: Adults – $10, Students – $8, Children – $5 (ages 5- 12), Family – $20.
For more information about the New Hope Foundation and the scholarship fund please email Valerie Kilfoil at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Noche Latina, please email Judy Loo at email@example.com
For more information about the Breaking the Silence Maritime-Guatemala Solidarity Network please visit: www.tatacentre.ca
Malalai Joya: After six years in control, this government has proved itself to be as bad as the Taliban – in fact, it is little more than a photocopy of the Taliban. The situation in Afghanistan is getting progressively worse – and not just for women, but for all Afghans.
For several months there has been a new twist in the history for the poor in Haiti, but the story has been enveloped in silence. The standard of living has been declining, with rising costs of basic goods and a continued lack of social programs. People cannot afford to eat.
Poverty, cold weather, and hunger forced a woman to sell her four month baby in Kunduz….About 600 children under five die every day in Afghanistan due to pneumonia, poor nutrition, diarrhoea and other preventable diseases… The country is ranked second in the world in terms of its maternal mortality rate with about 1,600 deaths per every 100,000 live births.