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War criminals : Canadian politicians?
18 May 1999, Vancouver
Are Chretien, Axworthy & Eggleton War Criminals?
by David Morgan
It is hard for Canadian peace activists to get used to the idea that Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Defense Minister Art Eggleton are war criminals.
Our leading statesmen have achieved this shameful status, not by one rash and ill-advised action but by these open and deliberate steps over a nine-month period.
First, on 23 August 1998, President Clinton launched cruise missile attacks against a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum and against a suspected base of Bin Laden in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Chretien immediately gave his support to these lawless violations of the U.N. Charter. So too did Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and the remainder of the cabinet. No cabinet minister resigned to protest Canada's eager complicity in these lawless attacks.
Second, on 16 December 1998 the United States and Britain launched heavy bombing attacks against Iraq in open defiance of the U.N. Security Council which was actually in session at the time that news of these attacks reached New York. Again, Prime Minster Chretien immediately gave his support to these lawless violations of the U.N. Charter. Again, Foreign Affairs Minister Axworthy and the Cabinet gave him their support. Again, there were no resignations in cabinet to protest Canada's eager complicity in these lawless bombing attacks which have continued, with few interruptions and minimal news coverage, to the present day.
Third, on Wednesday 24 March 1999, NATO launched heavy bombing attacks against Yugoslavia in open defiance, not only against the U.N. Charter and the authority of the U.N. Security Council, where Canada has a seat, but also in open contempt of the words of its own foundation documents (North Atlantic Treaty, 4 April 1949 & Founding Act on Mutual Relations Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, 27 May 1997) in which NATO acknowledges itself bound by the U.N. charter.
Again, Prime Minister Chretien gave his support to these lawless violations of the U.N. Charter, only this time he ordered Canadian Forces to take part in these lawless bombing attacks. This fateful decision was immediately supported by Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Defense Minister Art Eggleton whose job it was to give the orders for Canadian pilots to begin bombing Yugoslavia. Even then, there were no resignations in cabinet to protest Canada's fateful transition from an accomplice in international crime to a full- blooded participant.
These steps reveal a fateful decision at the highest levels of Canada's government to openly abandon Canada's long-time loyalty to the United Nations Organization, to Canada's respect for international law, and to Canada's widely respected and popular role as a peace-keeper and to align our foreign policy with that of the United States, no matter how belligerent, lawless and dangerous to world peace that policy may be.
Accusations of criminality against Chretien, Axworthy and Eggleton among other NATO leaders, were set out in detail in a NOTICE OF THE EXISTENCE OF INFORMATION CONCERNING SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE TRIBUNAL, dated 6 May 1999, and sent to THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA at The Hague, by a group of lawyers from several countries lead by professors of Osgoode Law School. This 26-page document should be acquired by all Canadians and read carefully.
If after reading this document and considering recent events we as Canadian citizens and peace activists conclude that our political leaders are war criminals, what are we to do?
I think that minimally we must:
1. Call for the immediate resignations of these leaders.
2. Support the action of the Osgoode hall law professors by openly addressing our own calls to the International Criminal Tribunal to investigate the charges made by these professors.
3. Make our calls and arguments for the cessation of bombing and for Canada's withdrawal from NATO, to the Canadian people, and not to these discredited leaders.
It is hard for Canadian peace activists to get used to the idea that Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Defense Minister Art Eggleton are war criminals. This is something new in Canadian history. Paradoxically, however, we can turn to the United States for help. Not only peace activists, but a very large popular constituency in the U.S.A. are quite used to the concept of criminality at the highest levels of their government. This has certainly been the case since Nixon was president. We must now learn similar concepts in Canada. We must stake out our position clearly.
If we fail to recognize the fateful road along which Chretien has taken us in the last nine months, if we go into denial over Canada's role in the fifty-days-and-counting lawless bombing of Yugoslavia, if we pretend that these very dangerous changes in Canada's foreign policy have not taken place, we too become complicit in these crimes. We absolutely must repudiate our government's criminal actions. We must no longer deal with leaders such as these.
David Morgan, National President,
Return to PMA's Alert: Stop NATO bombing, Condemn NZ government support for the airstrikes!