Once again, there is a major development in world affairs. In this specific case, the question we ask ourselves is: How does this week’s nuclear agreement affect us, given that it has been negotiated between Iran and a group of six world powers – not including Canada – seriously concerned about the danger of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons?
Let us look at some of the consequences of that agreement.
For a start there will be less aggressiveness and tension in the Middle East and in the wider world because Iran’s adherence to the terms will be regularly monitored and evaluated through a process of international verification and access to that country’s facilities. This in turn will contribute to greater stability in the world economy, as oil and other products and services move more freely in, out and through the Middle East.
As those consequences reach Canadian shores, the Harper government will have, at least theoretically, less viable arguments to justify its belligerent foreign policy and high expenditure on military activities abroad. Again, at least theoretically, their political opponents will have more forceful arguments to press for most of that expenditure to be redirected to satisfy the needs of the most vulnerable segments of our own population.
We should never accept the simplistic argument that military solutions are unavoidable and that the development and use of military might are the only sure ways to protect ourselves from our enemies. Both within Canada’s borders and in the wider world, blind acceptance of this thinking simply does not make sense.
We have already seen the poisonous aspects of our federal government’s obsession with security and the threat of terrorism. Most shameful is the use of fear-mongering to encourage Canadians to feel so insecure that more of us will vote for the security-obsessed Conservatives in this year’s federal elections.
Furthermore, when looked at from the practical perspective of bread-and-butter issues facing Canadians, the more money and other resources expended on that Harper government obsession, the less money and other resources is available to deliver on our society’s basic needs in terms of food, shelter, health, and education.
But there are also other aspects of that obsession that give the government more and more control over our lives through such “anti-terrorism” legislation as the now-infamous Bill C-51: increased powers and funding for security and intelligence operations; greater surveillance of our daily activities and social and other relationships with people and organizations; extensive encroachment on our right to privacy, freedom of movement and opinion; and especially erosion of our right to peaceful dissent and our right to access the official information that enables us to hold our government accountable for their decisions, policies and actions.
In that context, it is in our interest as Canadians to impress on our federal leaders of all political stripes the importance of moving away from a mindset of internal control and international military intervention. Rather what is required is a strong emphasis on the socio-economic needs of those struggling to make ends meet.
That includes the rights and needs of our aboriginal peoples and our underprivileged citizens and residents on the one hand, and, on the other, the critical needs of the populations world-wide which are most vulnerable to poverty, armed conflict and climate change.
As was the case in the decades before the Harper Conservatives came to power, our international role should be to work for peaceful settlement of international disputes. We do not aspire to join the ranks of the warmongers such as U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton.
We do not believe that the most effective way to make peace is by killing the enemy once and for all.