WHY ARE CANADIAN SOLDIERS IN AFGHANISTAN ?

A bomb dropped from a US F-16 fighter jet in Afghanistan killed four Canadian soldiers and seriously wounded eight others last week, bringing home to Canadians the real costs of the "war on terrorism".  These horrible and tragic deaths must be added to the thousands of Afghan civilians killed by American bombs in this illegal and useless war, and the thousands more killed through starvation, exposure and disease.1  From the moment it was launched, this war was decried by the leading Afghan Women's Association RAWA as "a vast aggression against our country [that] will shed the blood of numerous women, men, children, young and old of our country".2

The people of the world called for peaceful and lawful solutions to the crisis provoked by the tragedy of September 113 -- peaceful and lawful solutions that were readily available but were shunned by the American government.4 Yet the government of Canada put our soldiers at the service of a terrorist war machine, without UN sanction and operating under a pseudo-justification of self-defence, far from the temporary, proportionate measure known to international law, one that has been taken by the Americans as a licence to make war indefinitely.

The "war on terrorism," from Afghanistan to the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel, now appears little more than an excuse for America and its allies to carry out a merciless crackdown on legitimate opposition to their unlawful and oppressive policies. As terrorist in its means as any used by its enemies, the "war on terrorism" is inherently indiscriminate, unable to distinguish combatant from civilian or, as we Canadians have just witnessed, friend from foe.

The responsibility for the deaths and injury of these Canadian soldiers lies with the Americans, of course, but it also falls squarely on the shoulders of our own Canadian political leaders. Instead of involving Canada in the worthwhile cause of trying, through lawful and appropriate institutions such as the UN, to redress the injustices of the world, Canadian Parliamentarians send our young men and women to die in the service and at the hands of those who perpetrate them.

LAW calls on Canadians to oppose this war, which has already brought such sadness to thousands of families and will continue to do so unless it is stopped.

Michael Mandel and Gail Davidson, Lawyers Against the War

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1Marc W. Herold, A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States' Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A comprehensive Accounting: Database at http://www.cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm.

2http://www.rawa.org

3IPSOS-REID, "G-7 Countries Find Their Public Supportive of U.S. Military Action in Afghanistan But Serious Opposition Appears in Other Countries, New Global Poll Finds" <http://www.ipsos-reid.com/media/dsp_displaypr_cdn.cfm.id_to_view=1385.

4Operation Enduring Freedom: Why a Higher Rate of Civilian Bombing Casualities Project on Defense Alternatives, Briefing Report #11 Carl Conetta 18 January 2002. http://www.comw.org/pda/0201oef.html