The first opinion polls alarmed the ruling class. A massive media campaign was launched by the mouth pieces of Canadian imperialism to shore up support for the war; but this had little effect. Though the leadership of the NDP was certainly not in favour of the war, their position was much less obvious than that held by the majority of Canadians.

Instead of calling for “troops out”, the NDP focused on demanding a debate on the subject in Parliament. When the Prime Minister granted their request, NDP MPs didn’t have much to say. The NDP caucus focused on asking questions about the role of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. There was no clear opposition to the war, no clear explanation of imperialism and nothing to rally the millions of people opposed to this imperialist adventure.

As the death toll mounted, opinions hardened. The anti war mood is now reaching a critical point. It seems that every time you turn on the news, you hear about another soldier being killed. One that stands out is Corporal Anthony Boneca. After he was killed on the 9th of July, his girlfriend said that Boneca had hated the war. He believed he was fighting someone else’s war and even considered pretending to be suicidal just so he could come home (see “17th Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan“).

With the NDP federal convention fast approaching, Jack Layton has dropped a political bombshell:

“Despite the lack of answers, the government continues spending billions of dollars on the war in Afghanistan – a war that the government refuses to explain. A war that has claimed dozens of Canadian lives, and left dozens of other Canadians wounded.
By participating in this aggressive counterinsurgency war, Liberals and Conservatives claim to be making Canada safer. But Canadians are asking themselves whether Canada’s role in this war is actually making our country less secure. These are valid questions.

Our efforts in the region are overwhelmingly focused on military force – spending defence dollars on counter-insurgency. Prime Minister Harper need only look at the experience in Iraq to conclude that ill-conceived and unbalanced missions do not create the conditions for long-term peace. Why are we blindly following the defence policy prescriptions of the Bush administration?”

Jack Layton continued to call on his party members to oppose the war:

“Next week, our party gathers in Quebec City for our major policy convention. I’m asking New Democrats to send a strong message to all Canadians, and to the world, by supporting, in overwhelming numbers, motions that call for the withdrawal of our forces from the Liberal-Conservative mission in Afghanistan.”

The anti-war movement has finally been given a voice in Parliament. This will undoubtedly inspire millions of people to oppose this war more actively. But the NDP still hasn’t gone far enough.

Unfortunately, Layton and the NDP’s leadership are not taking a socialist or anti-imperialist stand on opposing the war in Afghanistan. This is shown by Layton calling on NATO to begin negotiating a peace with the Taliban! Although we demand all troops to leave Afghanistan, this does not mean that any support should be given to the Taliban. The Taliban are as oppressive and vile as the Karzai puppet government and it is doubtful that many Afghans are looking forward to a return of a Taliban government. (This is all in addition to the fact that the Taliban were created and armed by the United States to fight the Soviet Union in the 1980s.)

Afghanistan is a terribly poor and backwards country and it is the wildest of delusions to believe that, under capitalism, it can stand solely on its own two feet. The NDP must call for all imperialist troops out of Afghanistan. Simply putting forward negotiations between the past imperialist puppets (the Taliban) and the present ones (the Karzai government), on a capitalist basis, is not a solution. The NDP should be supporting the Afghan people, together with their counterparts in Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Iran, in fighting against imperialism and fighting for a socialist federation of the Middle East.

What is needed is a clear explanation of exactly what this war is and why it’s being waged. Jack Layton should go a step further and say that this is an imperialist war being waged for the profit of a handful of millionaires. The Canadian war machine is not motivated by humanitarian projects, but cold hard cash. The capitalist system will create one war after another and the only way to achieve peace is to overthrow it.

Canada Out of Afghanistan!
NDP to Power on a Socialist Program!

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