BOOK REVIEW:  Linda McQuaig’s “Holding the Bully’s Coat”

Stephen Lendman

Posted Jun 27, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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BOOK REVIEW:  Linda McQuaig’s “Holding the Bully’s Coat”

by Stephen Lendman

Linda McQuaig is a prominent, award-winning Canadian
journalist, sadly less well known in the US because
she writes about her own country.  She was a national
reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail before joining
the Toronto Star where she now covers Canadian
politics with her trademark combination of solid
research, keen analysis, irreverence and passion.
She’s easy to read, never boring, and fearless. The
National Post called her “Canada’s Michael Moore.”

McQuaig is also a prolific author with a well-deserved
reputation for taking on the establishment. In her
previous seven books, she challenged Canada’s deficit
reduction scheme to gut essential social services.
She explained how the rich used the country’s tax
system for greater riches the way it happened in the
US since Ronald Reagan, then exploded under George
Bush.  She exposed the fraud of “free trade”
empowering giant corporations over sovereign states
while exploiting working people everywhere. 

She also showed how successive Canadian governments
waged war on equality since the 1980s, and in her last
book before her newest one she took aim at why the US
invaded and occupied Iraq.  It’s catchy title is “It’s
the Crude, Dude: war, big oil, and the fight for the
planet.”  It’s no secret America’s wars in the Middle
East and Central Asia are to control what Franklin
Roosevelt’s State Department in 1945 called a
“stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the
greatest material prizes in world history - the huge
amount of Middle East oil alone and veto power over
how it’s disbursed and to whom.

“Holding the Bully’s Coat - Canada and the US Empire”
is her eighth book. She writes about a country
slightly larger than the US in geographic size with
around one-tenth the population and one-twelfth the
GDP.  It also shares the world’s longest relatively
open, undefended border extending 3145 miles.  In her
book, McQuaig explains how corporate-Canada, its
elitist “comprador class,” the Department of National
Defense (DND), and mainstream commentators want Canada
to be Washington’s subservient junior partner. The
result is Ottawa abandoned its traditional role in
peacekeeping, supporting internationalism, as a
fair-minded mediator and conciliator, and it’s
continuing downhill from there.

Today Canada’s allied with the Bush administration’s
belligerent lawlessness in its phony “war on
terrorism.”  It’s not part of the “coalition of the
willing” in Iraq but joined Washington’s war of
aggression and illegal occupation in Afghanistan.  In
February, 2004, it partnered with the US and France
ousting democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide
in Haiti, then became part of the repressive Blue
Helmet MINUSTAH paramilitary force onslaught against
his Lavalas movement and Haitian people under cover of
“peacekeeping.”  More on that below.

In “Holding the Bully’s Coat,” McQuaig further
explains how Canada lost its moorings.  As an
appendage of the US empire, it abandoned its
traditional commitment to equality, inclusiveness, and
rule of law.  She wants her country to disgorge this
virus plaguing it - its uncharacteristic culture of
militarism, loss of sovereignty and one-sided support
of privilege, returning to its roots to reclaim its
once proud status now lost.  Its leaders might recall
former Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz’s lament saying:
“Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the US.”
Closeness plagues Canada, too.  It can’t choose
neighborhoods but can still go its own sovereign way.

This review covers McQuaig’s important book in detail
so readers can learn what afflicts America affects
Canada as well.  It’s a cancerous disease, and all
people everywhere suffer for it.

McQuaig starts off noting the “significant shift in
how Canada (now) operates in the world (having) moved
from being a nation that has championed
internationalism, the United Nations and UN
peacekeeping to being a key prop” in George Bush’s
“war on terrorism.”  It belies Canada’s now sullied
reputation “as a fair arbiter and promoter of just
causes (and as a) decent sort of country.”  She
laments how the conservative Harper government aids
the beleaguered White House, joined its war of
aggression in Afghanistan, and continues distancing
itself from its European allies “with whom we have a
great deal in common.” 

Canada and the continent have “compelling
similarities” shown in stronger social programs,
“aspirations for greater social equality,” and wanting
“a world of peaceful co-existence among nations.”  In
contrast, America continues growing more unequal,
focusing instead on achieving unchallengeable
economic, political and military supremacy in line
with its imperial aims for world dominance.  Nations
daring to step out of line, risk getting flattened the
way it’s now happening to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Canada’s tilt to the right began in earnest in the
1980s under conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney
and his relationship with Ronald Reagan.  Corporate
American elites fondly remember his December, 1984
appearance at the New York Economic Club where one
writer said business heavyweights were “hanging from
the rafters” to hear what he’d say.  They weren’t
disappointed, and it’s been mostly downhill since.
Back then, the order of the day was mainly business,
but it no longer would be as formerly usual with
Mulroney delighting his listeners announcing “Canada
is open for business.”  He meant US corporations were
welcome up north, the two countries would work for
greater economic integration, and America’s
sovereignty henceforth took precedence over its
northern neighbor.

Before Stephen Harper took office in February, 2006,
McQuaig notes Canada’s foreign policies began tilting
to the right under Liberal prime minister Paul Martin.
He replaced Jean Chretien in December, 2003, stepping
down after 10 years in office just ahead of the
federal “sponsorship scandal” over improper use of tax
dollars that doomed the Martin government after an
explosive report about it was released in February,
2004.  While still in office, Martin’s April, 2005
defence policy review stressed the integration of
Canada’s military with the US.  He also approved
redeploying Canadian Afghan troops away from
“peacekeeping” in Kabul to fighting Taliban forces in
southeastern Helmand province.  Based on Taliban
gains, since its resurgence to control half the
country, he and Harper may live to regret that

McQuaig notes the absence of any evidence Canadians
approve.  In fact, polls consistently show they’re
“increasingly wary of our involvement in Afghanistan
(and too close an alignment) with the United States.”
Their feeling may be heightened under Harper’s
“flag-pumping jingoism” aided by the country’s
dominant media championing the war effort much like
their counterparts in the US.  Public approval doesn’t
count in Canada any more than in the America.  What
George Bush wants he’s mostly gotten so far, and
Stephen Harper is quite willing to go along.

Anti-Canadians at Home and Abroad

Since taking office in February, 2006, Harper’s been
in lockstep with Washington, even abandoning Canada’s
traditional even-handedness on the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict.  One of his first shameless acts was to cut
off aid to the new democratically elected Hamas
government.  Showing his pro-Israeli bona fides, he
failed to show concern for 50,000 Canadians in harm’s
way in Lebanon after Israel launched its summer war of
aggression last year.  Instead of calling for a
ceasefire, Harper defended Israel calling their action
“measured.” In fact, it flattened half the country
causing vast destruction, many hundreds of deaths,
massive population displacement, and untold human
misery and desperation still afflicting those in the
conflict areas.

McQuaig notes Canadian internationalism evolved
post-WW II.  It showed in support for the UN,
peacekeeping as opposed to militarism, the rule of
law, distaste for imperialism, and by following a good
neighbor policy toward all other countries.  It was
completely contrary to American belligerence, hardened
under George Bush post-9/11, and now largely embraced
by Stephen Harper just like Britain did it under Tony
Blair.  The UK leader is leaving office June 27 at the
end of his prime ministership with an approval rating
lower than George Bush’s (at 26% in latest Newsweek
poll nearly matching Richard Nixon’s record low of
23%), maybe signaling what’s ahead for Mr. Harper.

His government, Canada’s elite, and its military
support policies distinct from the public’s.  They
want tax cuts for the rich, cuts in social spending,
more privatizations and less regulation, increased
military spending and closer ties to the US and its
belligerent imperial agenda.  That includes its policy
of torture Canada’s now complicit with as a partner in
Bush’s “war on terrorism” and how it’s being waged.
In contrast, the public “favours a more egalitarian
agenda of public investment, universal social
programs,” and maintaining Canada’s identity distinct
from its southern neighbor.  Most Canadians don’t wish
to emulate it, nor would they tolerate living under a
system denying them the kinds of essential social
benefits they now have even though they’re eroding. 

Their feelings are especially strong regarding their
cherished national health medicare system.  It’s
“founded on the principle that everyone should have
access to health care (and) be treated equally,”
unlike in the US where everyone can get the best
health care possible as long as they can pay for it.
If not, too bad, and for 47 million Americans without
health insurance it’s really bad along with around
another 40 million who are without it some portion of
every year.  For Canadians, that’s unthinkable and
wouldn’t be tolerated.

It should be as unthinkable that the Harper
government’s so-called Clean Air Act of October, 2006
meant Ottawa’s effective abandonment of the Kyoto
Protocol on climate change.  The Chretien government
accepted and ratified it even though little was done
under Liberal rule, making it easier to do less under
Conservative leadership.  That’s in spite of
near-universal agreement global warming is real and
threatening the planet with an Armageddon future too
grim to ignore.  Canada’s doing it under Harper just
like Washington ignores it under George Bush.

A large part of the problem is both parties’ support
for industry efforts to triple oil sands production
by 2015 to three million barrels daily.  At that
level, it’s impossible meeting Kyoto targets, but
Washington approves as most production is earmarked
for US markets.  It will feed America’s insatiable
energy appetite meaning planet earth’s fate is someone
else’s problem, and maybe it will go away if we stop
talking about it.  And maybe not after we learn it’s
too late to matter.  Canada’s record is already
disgraceful with one of the world’s highest levels of
greenhouse gas emissions per person.  Unless it acts
to change current policy, it risks being called an
international scofflaw, no different than its southern
neighbor, except in degree.

The Harper government is also massively ramping up
Canada’s military spending he plans to increase over
50% above 2005 levels to $21.5 billion annually by
2010.  That’s in spite of the nation facing no threats
and a public consensus favoring social spending.  It’s
also contrary to Canada’s traditionally eschewing
militarism unlike the US with its long history of it
since the nation’s founding.  It intensified post-WW
II after it emerged preeminent and chose to pursue an
imperial agenda for new markets, resources and
exploitable cheap labor now endangering all planetary
life by its recklessness. That’s what Canada chose to
partner with making it complicit with whatever happens

Unsurprisingly, the Bush-Harper “war on terrorism”
partnership now focuses on the Middle East where
two-thirds of the world’s proved oil reserves are
located (around 675 billion barrels) and the Central
Asian Caspian basin with an estimated 270 billion
barrels more plus one-eighth of the world’s natural
gas reserves.  It doesn’t matter that claimed
“terrorism” is phony and “war” on it against
“Islamofascists” threatening our freedoms unjustified.
It only matters that people of both countries believe
enough of the daily media-fed fiction so their
governments can pursue what enough popular outrage
never would allow.  Anger and disillusionment in both
countries are growing but haven’t reached critical

It’s the job of the dominant media to prevent it
getting there.  So the beat goes on daily keeping it
in check in both countries suppressing ugly truths and
preaching notions of American exceptionalism.  We’re
told it’s unique in the world giving the US special
moral authority to make its own rules, irrespective of
long-standing international laws and norms it openly
flouts as “quaint and obsolete.”  Because of its
privileged status, it reigns as a self-styled “beacon
of freedom” defending “democracy-US style,” empowered
to wage imperial wars using humanitarian intervention
as cover for them.  In the made-in-Washinton New World
Order, America answers only to itself, the law is what
the administration says it is, and, the message to all
countries is “Either you are with us, or you are with
the terrorists.”  Thus, Spaketh a modern-day
Zarathustra, aka George Bush.

McQuaig continues explaining how Canadians are used to
their own media, academic and corporate elites
pandering to Washington rather than taking pride
mostly in their own country.  She notes the National
Post and C.D. Howe Institute serve as “spiritual
home(s) for neoconservatism” favoring the same kinds
of policies as the US-based bastions of conservative
extremism like the Heritage Foundation, Hoover
Institution and Wall Street Journal editorial page
that’s hard right enough to make a Nazi blush.  She
mentioned C.D. Howe’s sponsored lecture in late 2004
by former Canadian ambassador to the US, Allan

He stressed Canada is a faded world power needing to
accept the “transcendant (reality of) US power” and
align with it.  He said Canadians have a choice
between “realism” and “romanticism.” The former means
accepting US preeminence, even when it violates
international law.  Further, Canadians must “liberate
themselves from the belief that the UN is the sacred
foundation of our foreign policy.”  According to
Gotlieb, international law, embodied in the UN
Charter, is obsolete and irrelevant including what
constitutes legitimate armed intervention. 

The “romantic” approach respecting international law
and treaties, that are law for signatories, are
“narcissistic” and “sanctimonious.” Following this
course will marginalize Canada reducing its influence.
It can only be enhanced by aligning with Washington
so as its power grows, so will Canada’s opportunity to
benefit from it.  Advancing this kind of tortured
logic guarantees Canada only trouble in light of
George Bush’s failed adventurism and US status as a
world-class pariah mass public opinion condemns
nearly everywhere.  McQuaig says “it’s hard
(imagining) we’d be viewed with anything but contempt
(for having chosen to “hold the bully’s coat” as its)
unctuous little sidekick.”  Not according to Gotlieb
who scoffs at the idea of “remain(ing) committed to
the values we hold….advance them to the world”
regardless of what direction the US takes.

McQuaig compares her country’s government, business
and military elite to the 19th century notion of a
“comprador class” serving foreign business class
interests.  Modern-day Canadian compradors serve as
intermediary junior partners for corporate American
giants especially as so much of Canada’s economy is
foreign owned or controlled - 28% of non-financial
sectors with 20% by US companies in 2004.  It’s much
higher in the key oil and gas sector at 45% overall
and 33% in US hands.  Further, of the 150 most
powerful CEOs on the Canadian Council of Chief
Executives (CCCE), about one-fourth of them are with
subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies and 18% of
them are American. 

McQuaig stresses these numbers are significant but not
overwhelming.  What’s astonishing and overwhelming is
Canada’s growing dependence on the US market now
accounting for 87% of all exports.  It explains why
Canadian business championed its Free Trade Agreement
(FTA) “leap of faith” in 1988, NAFTA in 1994, and the
new Security and Prosperity Partnership of North
America (SPP) founded in March, 2005 by the US, Canada
and Mexico. SPP aims to advance a common security
strategy veiling a scheme to destroy Canadian and
Mexican sovereignty under a broader plan for a North
American Union under US control. 

The plan is to create a borderless North America
removing barriers to trade and capital flows for
corporate giants, mainly US ones.  It also wants to
guarantee America free and unlimited access to
Canadian and Mexican resources, mainly oil, of course.
That will assure US energy security while denying
Canada and Mexico preferential access to their own
resources henceforth earmarked for US markets.
Finally, it wants to create a fortress-North American
security zone encompassing the whole continent under
US control.  The scheme, in short, is NAFTA on
steroids combined with Pox Americana homeland security
enforcement.  It’s the Bush administration’s notion of
“deep integration” or the “Big Idea” meaning we’re
boss, what we say goes, and no outliers will be

Stephen Harper and Canadian business leaders endorse
the plan. Canadian businesses will profit hugely
leaving the country’s energy needs ahead for future
leaders to worry about.  Today, it’s only next
quarter’s earnings and political opportunism that
matters.  McQuaig notes how Canada’s elites want to
push the envelope further by giving more tax breaks to
business and the rich while cutting social spending
for greater global competitive opportunities.  It’s
heading for the way it is in the US with a growing
disparity between rich and poor economist Paul Krugman
calls “unprecedented.”

It led to a Citigroup Global Markets 2005 report
describing the developed world divided in two blocs -
an “egalitarian” one made up of Europe and Japan and
“plutonomies” in the other one.  There the US, UK and
Canada are cited as members where wealthy elites get
most of the benefits and the disparity between rich
and poor keeps getting more extreme.  McQuaig mentions
journalists like Murray Dobbin saying resistance to
the US empire is futile and promotes “pre-emptive
surrender(ing)” to it.  McQuaig thinks Canadians in
their roots have other ideas being “neither
anti-American nor self-adoring - just resistant to
bullies, on both sides of the border.”  But given the
state of the world and how Canada today is closely
aligned with Washington, ordinary Canadians have their
work cut out for themselves standing up for their

How they’ve been cheated shows in a study released in
March backing up Citigroup Global Markets 2005
findings.  It was conducted by the Canadian Centre for
Policy Alternatives (CCPA) titled “The rich and the
rest of us - The changing face of Canada’s growing
gap.”  It documented how Canada, like the US, is
growing progressively more unequal with income and
wealth gaps between the richest Canadians and all
others widening dramatically.  It’s happening because
all segments of Canada’s political elite, even the New
Democratic Party, have been complicit since the 1980s
in reducing social services, attacking worker rights,
cutting corporate taxes and supporting corporate
interests, and redistributing wealth from the public
to the privileged so that real, inflation adjusted,
incomes for most Canadians have stagnated or fallen
even while they work longer hours for it.

No More Girlie-Man Peacekeeping

Canada sunk from “peacekeeper” to partners in illegal
aggression as McQuaig explains in this section. US
General Thomas Metz stated it his way sounding the
alarm that Islam was “hijacked by thugs” that could
number in the millions posing the greatest of all
threats the West faces - radical Islamic terrorism.
It doesn’t matter the threat is a hoax, and it’s easy
inventing this or any other one out of whole cloth by
just repeating it enough.

Why now? The general explains that, too, noting
America’s energy security for its huge appetite.  It
needs one-fourth of world oil production for 5% of its
population.  And, by chance, two-thirds of proved oil
reserves are in the Muslim Middle East and
three-fourths of it in all Muslim states combined
worldwide.  How best to control it?  McQuaig explains:
by “old-style imperialism - plundering the resources
of another country” using wars of aggression claimed
for self-defense against “the scourge of (Islamic)

McQuaig calls Canada’s new Chief of Defence Staff,
General Rick Hillier, a “whole new kind of general -
tough, brash, straight-talking….exuding a (new) kind
of bravado.”  He eschews Canada’s traditional
“girlie-man peacekeeping” role opting instead for a
“warrior ethic” and partnering with Washington to do
it.  Stephen Harper feels the same way, and so does
defence minister Gordon O’Connor.  They’re on board
together for ramping up military spending and getting
knee-deep in America’s “war on terrorism.”  All they
needed was getting the Canadian public to go along
that over the years showed a 90% enthusiastic
endorsement for peacekeeping, not war-making.

McQuaig notes “Canada (for decades) was a star
international (peacekeeping) performer, participating
in virtually every UN mission (with) substantial
numbers of troops.”  In recent years, however, “Canada
has virtually disappeared from the UN peacekeeping
scene” along with the West’s declining involvement
overall, preferring aggressive intervention instead
through NATO or concocted “coalitions of the (coerced
and/or bribed) willing.”

Enter the dominant Western media functioning the way
they do best.  Michael Parenti calls it “inventing
reality” while Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky call it
“manufacturing consent.”  It means manipulating public
opinion to go along with state and corporate policy,
nearly always counter to the public interest. So we’ve
had a warrior agenda post-9/11 invented out of whole
cloth against “Islamic terrorism” threatening Western
civilization unless stopped.  It turns reality on its
head portraying innocent Arab victims as victimizers
and Western aggressors as targets acting only in

Using CIA asset Osama bin Ladin as “Enemy Number One,”
illegal wars of aggression are portrayed as liberating
ones.  McQuaig calls the “arrogance of this notion
stupefying” including Western indifference to the
“collateral damage” of huge numbers of innocent lives
lost.  Most go unreported, while the few getting
attention are dismissively called “unfortunate
mistakes.”  Noted Canadian law professor Michael
Mandel disagrees saying every death constitutes a
grave international crime because the Iraq and Afghan
wars are illegal aggression under international law.

No connection exists between 9/11 and those wars or
that Saddam Hussein or the Taliban posed a threat to
US or western security.  Mandel also points out that
prior to the October, 2001 and March, 2003 invasions,
the Taliban and Saddam preferred negotiating with
Washington but were rebuffed.  Mandel stresses nations
have an obligation to respect Article 33 in the UN
Charter stating “the parties to any dispute shall,
first of all, seek a solution by….peaceful means
(through) negotiation, enquiry, mediation,
conciliation, arbitration (or) judicial settlement.” 

America flouts international law choosing imperial
wars of aggression Canada chose to partner with.
Mandel explains nations doing this are guilty of “very
serious crimes, in fact, supreme international
crimes.”  But unlike at Nuremberg, he notes the “great
big hole in the modern practice of international
criminal law: its refusal to distinguish between legal
and illegal war-making, between aggression and
self-defence.”  It’s “How America Gets Away With
Murder” (the title of Mandel’s important 2004 book)
with the developed world barely blinking an eye.  But
then, who’s brave enough to challenge the world’s only
superpower ready to lash out against any nation that
dares.  It’s lots easier partnering in aggression,
sharing in the spoils, or just staying silently
complicit in the face of overwhelming criminality.

Canada chose the easier route, its dominant media’s on
board selling it, and it’s no small factor that 87% of
the country’s exports go to US markets.  That means
Canada’s economic well-being and security depends on
America’s willingness to accept them.  McQuaig argues
if long-standing trade and security ties obligate
Canada to partner in Washington’s wars, it’s a
“compelling argument for loosening (them), for
developing more independent economic and military
policies….”  Otherwise, it amounts to committing war
crimes “to protect our trade balance.”

McQuaig wants Canada to renounce its warrior status
and return to its traditional role of internationalism
and peacekeeping as a member in good standing in the
world community of nations.  Her book touches on
peacekeeping without going into what this writer
covered in detail in a February, 2007 article called
“UN Peacekeeping Paramilitarism.”  It documented how
often Blue Helmet peacekeepers end up creating more
conflict than resolution or became counterproductive
or ineffective.  In the first instance, they became
paramilitary enforcers or occupiers for an outside
authority.  In the second, they end up causing harm
because they fail to ameliorate conditions on the
ground ending up more a hindrance than a help.  The
record post-WW II makes the case.

The UN’s first ever peacekeeping operation in 1948 was
and still is its greatest failure and outlandish
disgrace.  It’s the UNTSO one undertaken during
Israel’s so-called “War of Independence.” The
operation is still ongoing, peace was never achieved,
the UN is still there playing no active role, and
Israel gets away with mass murder with world approval
by its complicity and silence.

Over five dozen peacekeeping operations have been
undertaken since the first one with far too little or
nothing to show for at least most of them, including
where peacekeeping was most needed.  The article
couldn’t cover them all so chose five other examples:


—UNIMIK in Kosovo

—MONUC in the Democratic Republic of Congo

—UNMIS in Sudan, and

—MINUSTAH in Haiti the article focused mainly on.

They all were and are dismal failures or worse.

No country on earth suffered more than Haiti from its
unparalleled legacy of 500 years of colonial
occupation, violence and exploitation.  It’s still
ongoing today horrifically with Canada having an
active role to its discredit and disgrace based on the
facts on the ground.  It was complicit along with
France and the US in the February, 2004 coup d’etat
ousting democratically elected President Jean-Betrand
Aristide.  His “crime” was wishing to serve his
people, not the imperial master in Washington who
engineered his forcible removal for the second time.

The UN Security Council voted in April, 2004 to
establish MINUSTAH peacekeepers with Canada in an
active role.  From inception, its mission was flawed
as it had no right being there in the first place.  In
principle, peacekeepers are deployed to keep peace and
stability though seldom ever achieve it, in fact.  In
the case of Haiti, Blue Helmets were deployed for the
first time in UN history enforcing a coup d’etat
against a democratically-elected leader instead of
staying out of it or backing his right to return to
office.  Today, Haitians are still afflicted by its US
neighbor and world indifference to its suffering.
Canada shares the guilt acting as a complicit agent in
America’s crimes of war and against the humanity of
the Haitian people.

McQuaig stresses how Canadian elites want to move the
country away from its traditional peacekeeping role
opting instead for supporting American exceptionalism
and its right to “impose a Pax Americana on the world”
that’s, in fact, a “Pox.”  As Washington flouts
international laws and norms, “they want us to stand
by, helpfully, holding the bully’s coat.”

All Opposed to Nuclear Disarmament, Please Stand Up

McQuaig highlights the difficulty of achieving nuclear
disarmament by showing how hard it is eliminating land
mines.  They’re mostly used as terror weapons
inflicting most of their damage after conflicts end.
So in spite of a Canada-led Ottawa Process agreement
in 1997, it failed because the Clinton administration
refused to sign it. It acceded to Pentagon
obstructionism in spite of most of the world backing
it including Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams
and Princess Diana before her death. They both
spearheaded the effort without success.

Canada was on the right side of this issue exercising
what its lead proponent, Lloyd Axworthy, called “soft
power.”  His efforts led to a December, 1997 signing
ceremony accepted by two-thirds of the world’s
nations, an extraordinary achievement by any measure.
And as Axworthy noted: “No one was threatened with
bombing. No economic sanctions were imposed.  No
diplomatic muscles were flexed….Yet a significant
change was achieved in the face of stiff opposition.”

Using “soft power,” Canada initially played a small
role, Washington opposed, on nuclear disarmament. The
Bush administration was so determined to thwart any
efforts in this direction it refused even to allow any
resolutions being placed on the agenda for discussion
at the May, 2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT) review conference in Geneva.  As a result,
nothing was accomplished, and NPT was left in shambles
with nuclear disarmament derailed.

Canada then led an effort circumventing the failed
Geneva talks by going to the UN General Assembly with
voting rights but no enforcement authority.
Washington’s opposition was intense enough, however,
to get Ottawa to back down just hours ahead of the
October 12 deadline.  The Martin government acceded to
Bush administration demands it do so, and “the moment
had been lost.”  But it likely didn’t matter as
America under George Bush claims no need to ask
permission from other nations to do whatever it wishes
in the name of “national security” that can mean

For many years, Canada was more even-handed than
Washington on matters concerning Israel and Palestine.
While fully supportive initially of a Jewish homeland
and the rights of Israelis thereafter, Canadian
leaders also respected Arab peoples and their
interests.  McQuaig noted by 1987, Canada had tilted
heavily toward Israel, refused to support Arab UN
resolutions condemning its crimes, and was ranked by
observers as “second only to the US in support for

Now, under Stephen Harper, Canada’s Middle East stance
is as hard line as Washington’s.  It views everything
in the region from the perspective of “Islamic
terrorism” while ignoring the plight of Palestinians
and the illegal occupation of their land.  Harper also
joined western nations cutting off all aid to the
democratically elected Hamas government in 2006 and
supported Israel’s summer illegal aggression against
Lebanon last year.  He also supports the US-Israeli
coup against the democratically elected Hamas
government co-opting Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas to shamelessly participate in it.  Ottawa and
Washington approve of his defying Palestinian Basic
Law and international law.  He dissolved a duly
constituted legitimate government, and replaced it
with his own headed by illegitimate new prime minister
Salam Fayyad, the pro-Western former IMF and World
Bank official chosen by Washington and Jerusalem.

The Most Dangerous Man in the English-Speaking World

It’s not George Bush, at least not in this section of
McQuaig’s book.  It’s former Canadian statesman,
diplomat and prime minister (from 1963 - 1968) Lester
Pearson, but not because he was a menace.  After being
elected to Parliament, Liberal Prime Minister St.
Laurent appointed him minister of external affairs.
In that capacity, he supported an internationalist
approach to foreign policy highlighted by his
determination to reduce Cold War tensions with Moscow
and Peking.  That stance so irritated American cold
warriors, it got Chicago Tribune owner Colonel Robert
McCormick to denounce him in 1953 as “the most
dangerous man in the English-speaking world.”  It was
because Pearson refused to cooperate with Senator Joe
McCarthy’s witch-hunt communist hearings.  They
produced nothing but destroyed lives and ruined
careers, all to serve his own corrupted political

Pearson also thought NATO should be more than a
military alliance to be able to deal with economic and
social issues as well as defense.  He wanted the
alliance to encourage western ideas and free market
alternatives to communism.  Pearson was bold in ways
unimaginable today in Ottawa or nearly anywhere in the
West.  He spoke out against Truman’s threat to use
nuclear weapons in Korea and challenged Washington
when he thought its positions were dangerous and

In 1955, he became the first western prime minister to
visit Moscow. He spoke out against colonialism and the
rights of Third World nations to their own
sovereignty.  Overall, he supported internationalism,
conciliation and peace including helping in 1956
create the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) following the
Suez crisis that year.  It was formed after Israel,
Britain and France’s war of aggression in October,
1956 against Egypt following President Nasser’s
decision to nationalize the Suez Canal.  For his
efforts, Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize the
following year.  In his Nobel lecture, he stressed
nations faced a choice - “peace or extinction.” He
continued saying nations cannot “be conditioned by the
force and will of a unit, however powerful, but by the
consensus of a group, which must one day include all
states” and that predatory ones can’t be tolerated.

McQuaig notes Pearson’s “trickiest” relationship was
with the US, even at a time Washington’s footprint was
less obtrusive and aggressive than now.  He supported
sitting administrations and their aim to contain
communism. He even stood with Lyndon Johnson’s
military aggression in Vietnam “aiding South
Vietnam….resist aggression.”  For that, he shares
Canada’s complicity in Washington’s illegal war effort
that had less to do with containing communism and more
about America’s imperial ambitions ramping up in those
Cold War years following the Korean stalemate. For his
actions, Pearson exhibited an “early example of Canada
holding the bully’s coat” even though he later
publicly challenged the US role in Vietnam in a Temple
University address.

Pearson supported peace and peacekeeping. His Nobel
lecture cited “four faces of peace” - prosperity,
power, diplomacy and people.  As prime minister,
peacekeeping was one of his four top priorities that
later began to erode when pitted against the powerful
Department of National Defence (DND) bureaucracy.  By
the early 1980s (long after Pearson’s tenure),
peacekeeping amounted to less than 0.5% of Canada’s
defense budget. 

Earlier in the late 1970s, DND’s aim to regain a
war-fighting orientation got a boost from NATO that
Canada participates in as one of its founding members.
At its 1978 summit, member nations agreed to increase
their military budgets 3% annually to offset a
supposed Soviet threat. The real aim was to accede to
defense contractors wanting bigger profits.

In the 1980s, Reagan administration militarism helped
Canada’s defence lobby “emerge as a potent force in
Canadian politics.”  Most important in it is the
Conference on Defence Associations (CDA) functioning
as an “umbrella group representing military and
retired military personnel as well as business,
academic and professional types with military
interests.”  CDA has enormous influence at the highest
levels of government and key to it is the involvement
of corporate Canada, including the nation’s
multi-billion dollar arms industry.  CDA and weapons
makers are closely tied to the Pentagon and America’s
defense industry.  It’s a natural fit as many large
Canadian companies are US-owned including half of
Canada’s top 10 military contractors.

This assures Canadian government support for and
involvement in America’s war agenda that keeps profits
flowing.  Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney’s
election in 1984 provided and “energizing tonic
for….Canada’s defence lobby” as he supported a
strong military, wanted Canada to be “open for
business,” and “accepted Canada’s branch plant role in
the US military-industrial complex….”

McQuaig noted the danger then that’s now even greater.
A stronger Canadian defense industry and military
establishment favors not just diverting “the country’s
resources towards the military but ultimately”
pressuring the country to use it for war-making.  In
the 1980s, the phony “Soviet menace” was portrayed as
the threat while today it’s “Islamic terrorists”
involving Canada in Washington’s imperial agenda of
reckless foreign wars and occupation.

The Threat of Peace

The thought of it chills the marrow of the defense
establishment in both countries.  It happened in
November, 1989 when East German authorities announced
entering the West would be permitted, and the rest is
history.  The “wall” came down paving the way for
German reunification, and peace broke out.  Keeping it
depended on a strong UN that wouldn’t take long to
prove mission impossible, but for a short interregnum,
anything was possible.  In 1992, UN Secretary-General
Boutras Boutras-Ghali, at the behest of the Security
Council, prepared an Agenda for Peace.  It was an
ambitious plan promoting diplomacy, peacekeeping,
peace-making and peace-building.

In the early years of the nuclear arms race, there
were various efforts to achieve disarmament and
promote peace, some far-reaching and anchored by
strong UN enforcement mechanisms.  Despite the best
efforts of peace visionaries with good intentions, it
was all for naught.  Distrust and a prevailing culture
of militarism, especially in the US, trumped reason
and sanity.  But with the dissolution of the Soviet
empire, there was never a better time to achieve what
always failed earlier, if only the moment could be

It wasn’t, as McQuaig explains because “the
opportunity (for peace) fell….to two men
who….viewed the concept of ‘disarmament’ through
world law’ with ferocious contempt.”  They represented
Republican extremist thinking resenting the notion of
internationalism the UN represented.  That body was to
be rendered impotent under US control, even more than
in the past, especially its agenda for social progress
and peace-making.

With George HW Bush president, Defense Secretary Dick
Cheney and his undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz were
tasked to shape America’s post-Cold War strategy.
Boutras-Ghali’s Agenda for Peace was doomed with two
hard line US high officials committed to America’s
imperial supremacy enforced by unchallengeable
military power from the world’s sole superpower.  In
George HW Bush’s final year in office, Paul Wolfowitz
and convicted Richard Cheney aide Lewis Libby drafted
the scheme in their Defense Planning Guidance some
call the Wolfowitz doctrine. It was so extreme, it was
to be kept under wraps, but got leaked to the New York
Times causing uproar enough for the elder Bush to
shelve it until his son revived it in 2001.

In the early 1990s, public sentiment and high
officials in Canada’s Senate and House of Commons
supported Boutros-Ghali’s agenda embracing diplomacy,
peacekeeping, peace-making and peace-building.  The
country’s DND felt otherwise fearing promoting peace
meant marginalizing the nation’s military
establishment. Wanting to remain a fighting force, the
military was threatened with good reason.
Strengthened by international support, Canadian NGOs
established the Citizens’ Inquiry into Peace and
Security.  They travelled the country holding public
hearings.  They drew large supportive crowds
influential enough to get the Liberal Party to
highlight peacekeeping in its Foreign Policy Handbook
in May, 1993.  Liberals were backed by some prominent
academics, enlightened business leaders, and even some
media commentators in the Canada 21 Council they
formed to direct Canada’s defence policy toward peace

It was a threatening time for the military
establishment closing ranks to resist change harmful
to its interests and vision of what a fighting force
is for.  DND fought back with a Canadian Institute of
Strategic Studies (CSIS) watered-down
counter-proposal, the Liberals bought it, and the
party’s 1994 defence review ensured no meaningful
change from the status quo.  The defence interests
were served meaning public sentiment for peace
efforts lost out to militarism.  They were reinforced
by a Committee of 13, composed of generals, hawkish
academics and defense industry officials, countering
the Canada 21 Council ending up on the losing side.

McQuaig speculates whether wars are an expression of
human nature and inevitable consequence of human
aggressiveness.  She used an analogy to dueling, once
considered a proper way to settle disputes.  No
longer, and anyone in civilized society trying it will
end up afoul of the law.  So why might not wars one
day also be seen as an anachronism no longer
practiced?  She cites political philosopher Anatol
Rapoport and political scientist John Mueller who
think so, believing this practice only exists because
we give it legitimacy.  They point to other once
widely accepted practices failing to survive over time
- slavery (illegal everywhere but still widely
practiced sub rosa even in the West), absolute
hereditary monarchy, gladiatorial combat to the death,
human sacrifice, burning heretics, segregation and Jim
Crow laws, and public flogging among many others.
Over time, customs changed and these practices ended,
or mostly did.

So why not wars, and Europe post-WW II shows it’s
possible.  The horror of two world wars on the
continent combined with the emergence of super-weapons
underscored what Einstein said half a century ago on
future wars: “I know not with what weapons World War
III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought
with sticks and stones.”  European leaders apparently
feel likewise as the continent was relatively peaceful
for the past 62 years, with the Balkan wars a major
exception, yet a localized one.  In lieu of more wars,
the European Union was formed and continues expanding.
McQuaig strikes a hopeful note: Maybe “war among
European nations lost its legitimacy.”

For that to be true, however, requires these nations
renounce wars everywhere, not just in their backyard
or on their soil. With today’s super-weapons, nations
have the capacity to end what Noam Chomsky calls
“biology’s only experiment with higher intelligence.”
It can happen and once almost did during the Cuban
Missile Crisis in October, 1962.  Forty years later,
we learned only a miracle saved us because a Soviet
submarine captain, Vasily Arkhipov, countermanded his
order to fire nuclear-tipped torpedos when Russian
submarines were attacked near Kennedy’s “quarantine”
line.  Imagine the consequences if he’d done it. 

Today, we’re back to square one with a group of
American rogue leaders usurping the right to
unilaterally use first strike nuclear weapons.  They
claim it’s part of the nation’s “imperial grand
strategy” threatening everyone with extinction if they
follow through - and don’t bet they won’t.

Back From the Abyss

McQuaig highlights the secret September 13, 2006
American, Canadian and Mexican elitist meeting in
Banff, Alberta, Canada held to discuss the Bush
administration’s scheme for a North American Union.
Such an eventuality would mean US North American
hegemonic control.  It would have enormous
consequences on matters of political, economic, social
and national security issues adversely affecting
everyone on the continent except the privileged
plotters benefitting at everyone else’s expense. 

McQuaig called the meeting “the ultimate expression of
treachery” as two key themes were North American
energy security and Canada-US military and security
cooperation.  These are US priorities, not Canadian
ones, so Ottawa’s acceding to American demands amounts
to a national betrayal of the public trust.  The fact
that the meeting was secret only underscores the
threat.  That it was held at all shows the Harper
government placed “holding the bully’s coat (above)
Canadian public interest in energy, military and
security matters (crying) out for an independent
Canadian course….”

Even worse, McQuaig notes, is that the centerpiece
Alberta oil sands development part of a North American
energy strategy undermines responsible Canadian global
warming efforts.  By fall, 2006, the Harper government
proved no better than the Bush administration as a
leading climate change obstructionist.  Unlike
European nations cutting greenhouse gas emissions,
Canada’s are rising and are now among the highest
levels in the world per person.  In the age of George
Bush, Canada, under conservative leadership, is
heading in the wrong direction on this and most other
vital national and world issues.  Included among them
is being “complicit in some of the worst aspects of
the US ‘war on terrorism.’ ”

Torture is one of them, even of Canadian citizens,
like the outrageous case of Maher Arar.  He was
detained at JFK Airport in September, 2002 on his way
home, based on false Royal Canadian Mounted Police
(RCMP) information about him US authorities had.  It
was the beginning of “delivering an innocent Canadian
man into hell” because of Canada’s role in
Washington’s “war on terrorism.”

Arar was initially held in solitary confinement in the
US for nearly two weeks, interrogated and denied
access to legal help.  He was falsely labeled an Al
Queda member, “renditioned” to Syria where he was
born, ignored by his government, held under appalling
conditions, brutally tortured for a year before being
released in October, 2003 and allowed to return home.
A subsequent thorough investigation proved his
innocence provoking outrage across the country.
Canadian authorities treated him with contempt, even
leaking false information to the media suggesting he
was a terrorist and his claims about being tortured
were untrue.  That underscores Canada’s moral
depravity under Stephen Harper’s leadership
umbilically linked to the roguish Bush regime in

McQuaig stresses Harper’s cooperation with
Washington’s “war on terrorism” “lies at the very
heart of (his) agenda.”  Maintaining that close
relationship with America on all matters important to
Canada depends on it.  Defiling the rights of its
citizens and ignoring international law are minor
matters by comparison and easily ignored as Canada
sinks into the same moral swamp as America.  It’s
partnered with Washington’s war on the world, now
directed at Islam, but pointing in all directions
against any nation unwilling to become a subservient
client state.  Washington demands no less from all
nations, and those refusing risk the Marines showing
up followed by regime change.  The lord and master of
the universe tolerates no outliers.

Canada’s on board under Stephen Harper, so it needn’t
worry.  McQuaig’s book, however, sounds the alarm all
Canadians and Americans need to hear.  At book’s end,
she stresses how “Powerful forces in this country are
encouraging us to accept the notion of American
exceptionalism and a role for Canada as adjunct to the
US empire.”  She then quotes Rudyard Griffiths,
Dominion Institute’s executive director, saying “the
country’s most cherished myths seem to be melting
away.  If we are not what we were, what now defines us
as a nation?” 

McQuaig asks if Canadians will allow war-making to
replace peacekeeping and will sacrifice its social
state to pay for it.  Her answer is no, that Canadians
want none of neoconservatism, and instead want its
political leaders returning to the nation’s
traditional values now abandoned.  Her own views
likely mirror public sentiment: “a vision committed to
fair treatment and equality, to decency and to the
rule of law.” That’s what being Canadian means for
her.  It’s not serving “a helpmate’s role, with a
lucrative perch inside the US empire, obligingly
assisting the bully as he goes about trying to subdue
the world.”  She can take comfort knowing most
Americans likely share her views and don’t want that

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