On March 26th the Green Party of Canada released its position that Canadian “military presence must be balanced by diplomatic efforts” with regards to the crisis in Libya. The Green Party of Canada supports the UN enforcement of the No-Fly Zone over Libya.
On April 2nd, 2011 in Sechelt I met with members of the Sunshine Coast Peace Group who were opposed to this position.
In response I promised that I would declare my own position on Canadian Military involvement in a UN resolution to enforce a No-Fly Zone over Libya. My own opinion is that Canadian military hardware and personnel should not be participating in the No Fly Zone over Libya. This is a break from the current Party position for the moment because of time demands and the fact that discussions on policy issues have been placed on hold until after the upcoming election. Under the conditions of debate, the policy of the Green Party of Canada may well change and shift; but for now, there are pragmatic confines to this issue that can’t easily be addressed at this time.
There are a number of reasons and qualifying points that inform my position. The first is that I do not have access to privileged information about what is actually taking place in Libya. Even relative to the non-privileged information available from many main stream and alternative sources, it is difficult to construct the facts. What concerns me, without being enabled to study this issue more because of a pressing election, is that the crisis in Libya and world response resembles a pattern of a world inhibited by the military industrial complex. The certainty of our involvement to deescalate the violence is not assured.
I also take this position relative to ideology: non-violence is the ultimate principle of human interaction. In light of the coming permanent decline of energy available to humanity, the need to use current energy resources to prepare for a low-energy future, and the urgent need to curb our use of energy relative to environmental destruction, expending Canadian resources in other parts of the world for anything less than sustainable development is not in the best interest of Canadians.
The world is dealing with an unfortunate situation in Libya that has placed many people at risk. The crisis could have been predicted knowing that large quantities of arms have been sold into Libya, a country with significant concentrations of oil and gas. Petroleum energy is the most significant and influential resource on the planet today making the stakes in Libya high.
My wish to influence allocation of resources is focused on developing strong, flexible, and prepared communities in Canada; communities that are food secure, active stewards of the both local and global environment, and connecting people to resources that are used in scalable economic activities. Supporting military incursions as a result of our responsibility to protect (as defined by the Liberals) is well intentioned, but vague and dependent upon our own military dominance. Without the military dominance and access to petroleum energy that feeds the military and the military coalitions Canada is a part of we would not be in any position to enforce the responsibility to protect. The military industrial complex, inherited by our current political system, is not something that we can easily step-out of. Adding to the need for this system further deepens the quagmire that building and supporting the idea of paternalistic “global” protection implies: expenditures on current military technology, investments in military R+D, pulling resources away from education, health care, job creation, domestic infrastructure, etc.
It is for many of these related issues that I do not support Canadian military involvement in a UN resolution to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. It is far too easy to allow good intentions to slip into further tragedy, particularly when events are unfolding with such speed. It is yet to be confirmed that the bombing has included Depleted Uranium in Libya the use of which in other parts of the world such as Iraq can , in my mind, be labelled Crimes Against Humanity.
I have been asked similar questions recently and I want to reiterate one of my answers: Canada should supply domestic military with up-to-date equipment, particularly to do search and rescue and enforcing Canada’s arctic sovereignty. Ideally, military structure and efficacy should be applied to such projects as re-forestation and building intensive urban agriculture systems for food security. These suggestions will no doubt surprise the Canadian public because acknowledging a low-energy future requires a significantly different set of expectations for the future. Military structure and organization is essential when its efforts are directed into positive change rather than playing trade-offs for control, influence, status and power. While that initial picture of what was happening in Libya warranted intervention of some kind, the nature of that intervention has been questionable and now leaves a potentially much larger commitments, distracting us away from our domestic needs. The road to Peace requires courage and long term planning.
4 March 2011