For more than a century Canadians have gone abroad to do “good” in poorer parts of the world. Whether they spurred positive change or simply became foreign agents should be of interest to international non-governmental organizations.
Last week the Globe and Mail reported on the Canadians Christians who set off to proselytize in China in 1891. Focused on their medical achievements, the laudatory story hinted at a darker side of their work. It quoted a missionary who was “critical of the lifestyle most of the missionaries led, with their large houses, many servants and imported comforts which contrasted with the far lower standard of living of their Chinese fellow Christians.”
Of more consequence than their opulence, Canadian missionaries aggressively supported colonial officials, as I discovered researching Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation. By the end of the colonial period 2,500 Canadian missionaries were proselytizing in Africa and Canadian churches raised large sums to support mission stations across the continent.
Four Québec Jesuit fathers left for the Zambesi Mission in southern Africa in 1883. Alphonse Daignault rose through the ranks of the Catholic male congregation to become Prefect Apostolic of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). Then Superior of the Jesuits’ Zambezi Mission, Daignault backed the British South Africa Company’s invasion of Mashonaland (Zimbabwe) in 1890. With their evangelizing shunned by the Ndebele people, the Jesuits and other foreign missionaries supported the “destruction of [the] Ndebele system.”
Granted a charter from London in 1889, Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company offered white men in Kimberley, South Africa, 3,000 acres of land and mining rights if they joined the Company’s fight to conquer part of today’s Zimbabwe. Daignault offered the invading force chaplaincy services, mobile ambulances and nurses. The British South Africa Company paid the Jesuit nurses’ costs and compensated Daignault’s mission with conquered territory, including a major piece of land on the outskirts of today’s Harare. In A History of Christian Missions in Zimbabwe C. J. M. Zvobgo writes that the Harare “farm which consisted of 12,000 acres, beautifully surrounded by hills, was given to the Jesuits by the BSA Company in recognition of FR Alphonse Daignault’s service to the [Company’s] sick.”
The Québec Jesuit leader worked with Rhodes and British officials for years. He also supported the colonial authorities’ efforts to drive Africans from their traditional economies into wage work. Reflecting the settler community’s attitude in 1897, Daignault told the deputy administrator of the city of Bulawayo in 1897 that the “natives of this country… are but grown-up children” prone to “idleness”. “Men in authority who have the true interests of the natives at heart ought to treat the natives not only as children but are also to do all they can to make them acquire habits of work. As this cannot be obtained by mere moral persuasion, authority must necessarily be used.”
To the north, dozens of Canadian missionaries helped the colonial authority penetrate Ugandan societies in the early 1900s. The preeminent figure was John Forbes who was a bishop and coadjutor vicar apostolic, making him second in charge of over 30 mission posts in Uganda. A 1929 biography of the founder of the White Father in Canada describes his “good relations” with British colonial authorities and the “important services Forbes rendered the authorities of the Protectorate.”
In 1918 Forbes participated in a major conference in the colony, organized by Governor Robert Coryndon in the hopes of spurring indigenous wage work. The Vaudreuil, Québec, native wrote home that “it’s a big question. The European planters in our area, who cultivate coffee, cotton and rubber need workers for their exploitation. But the workforce is rare. Our Negroes are happy to eat bananas and with a few bits of cotton or bark for clothes, are not excited to put themselves at the service of the planters and work all day for a meager salary.” British officials subsidized the White Fathers schools as part of a bid to expand the indigenous workforce.
During World War I, Canadian White Fathers Ernest Paradis and Wilfred Sarrazin helped Brigadier General Edward Northey conquer German East Africa. Serving as civilian transport officers, Paradis and Sarrazin focused on organizing African carriers, who were generally press ganged into service. Paradis became Senior Transport Officer for all British forces east of Nyasaland and North of Zambesi in today’s Malawi and Zimbabwe.
By volunteering to join the war, the White Fathers sought “respectability … in the eyes of planters and government officials.” Afterwards, Paradis used his heightened status to gain the colonial administration’s support for the White Fathers’ educational work.
Paradis evangelised in Malawi for several decades. He led the White Fathers campaign to supress “the Nyau”, a religious belief among the Chewa and Nyanja people that included elaborate dances. In May 1929 Paradis wrote an East Africa article titled “Devil Dancers of Terror” that claimed Nyau dances were seditious.
Another Canadian missionary engaged in the White Fathers’ efforts to outlaw Nyau customs in Nyasaland. Father Superior David Roy called on colonial officials to criminalize their dances and in 1928 Christians in the Likuni district, which he oversaw, killed two Nyau.
Thomas Buchanan Reginald Westgate was a Canadian missionary who joined the Church Missionary Society in German East Africa in 1902. With the support of the Ontario branch of the Church Mission Society, Westgate remained in Tanzania for over a decade. The Watford, Ontario, born missionary translated parts of the Old Testament into Cigogo, the language spoken by the Gogo nation in the central region of the colony.
Westgate worked with the colonial administration. His son, Wilfrid Westgate, authored a book about his father’s life titled T. B. R. Westgate: A Canadian Missionary on Three Continents. In the biography, Westgate writes: “Governor [Heinrich] Schnee looked upon the mission as an asset to this part of the German colonial empire.” German soldiers protected the Canadian’s mission post when the population rose up in 1905 against the colonial authority. Dissent was sparked by measures to force Africans to grow cotton for export, and an uprising known as the Maji Maji rebellion swept across the vast colony. It lasted two years. During the rebellion, Westgate coordinated with German Captain von Hirsch. Westgate’s wife, Rita, later wrote, “at times we feared the Germans could not suppress the rising.” The Germans succeeded, however, and the Westgate’s fears did not come to pass. In The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective, Isabel Hull writes that 15 Europeans and 389 allied African soldiers were killed by the rebels. By contrast, writes Hull, whole areas of the colony were depopulated with 200,000 to 300,000 Tanzanians killed between 1905 and 1907.
Another Ontario native by the name of Marion Wittich (later Marion Keller) felt called to missionary work while working as an Anglican schoolteacher in Parry Sound, Ontario. She set off with her husband to proselytize in Tanzania in 1913. Her husband died in Tanzania and several years later she remarried a man by the name of Otto Keller, a German born US émigré, who the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada sponsored to set up a mission station in western Kenya. In 1914 Otto Keller claimed that “here [Africa] we see the power of the devil in an astonishing form, almost beyond belief. The noise of drunken men and women, fulfilling the lusts of the flesh come to our ears. All seemingly bound and determined to fulfill the cup of their iniquity.” By the time Marion Keller died in 1942, the socially conservative Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada had over 200 branch churches in Kenya.
An official history of the Canadian church attacked the anti-colonial movement in Kenya as “a resurgence of primitive animism.” Published in 1958, What God Hath Wrought: A History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada notes: “Unfortunately, sinister forces were bidding high for the souls of Kenya’s millions. In the 1950s there was to be a resurgence of primitive heathenism which had as its aim the expulsion of the white man from Kenya and the extinction of everything Christian in their land. This was the Mau Mau uprising.” In putting down the uprising the British killed tens of thousands.
In 1893 Torontonians Walter Gowans and Rowland Victor Bingham founded what later became the largest interdenominational Protestant mission on the continent: the Sudan Interior Mission (Though SIM initially focused on modern- day Nigeria, at the time “Sudan” generally referred to the area south of the Sahara and North of the equator from the east to west coast of the continent.) Head of SIM for four decades, Bingham described “facing millions of people in the darkness of their heathenism” and “seeing the people in all their savagery and sin.”
In the 1950s SIM described growing Nigerian nationalism as “dark and threatening”. Adeleye Liagbemi writes that “the nationalist upsurge of the post Second World War era engendered a new spirit of independence and experimentation; positive, forward-looking, purposeful and militant. The situation sent chills down the spines of some Christian missionary organizations in the country — including the S.I.M.” In response SIM ramped up its literature output, deciding to “take the offensive out of Satan’s hands”, which it felt had “been winning the war of words among the new literates” of Africa.
Official Canada generally supported these Christian activists. Missionary leaders were well-regarded and received sympathetic media coverage. Leading business people financed mission work and Ottawa sometimes looked to missionaries for advice.
Most of the Canadians who proselytized in Africa were “good Christians” who saw themselves as helping to “civilize the dark continent”. While formal colonialism is over and paternalism has been tempered, Canadians supportive of international NGOs should reflect on missionary history.
Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
How biased are the US media, really? This is a frequently asked question. The answer is – they are biased very much and they know how to instill the vision of things in a quiet and unobtrusive way. Here is an example to prove the point.
«Defense Secretary Mattis Arrives at Only US Base in Africa» reads the Voice of America’s headline on April 23. «Only US Base in Africa»? It’s hard to believe one’s eyes but that’s what it says. This is a good example of what is called «inaccurate reporting», to put it mildly. Probably, some people will call it outright distortion because anyone who knows the first thing about military matters knows it has nothing to do with reality.
Suffice it to take a cursory look at the US military presence on the continent. Guess who is spending $100 million to build a new drone base in Niger? What about a “cooperative security location” in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, which provides surveillance and intelligence over the entire Sahel?
In recent years, the US Army has rolled out an extensive network of over 60 outposts and access points in at least 34 African countries – more than 60 percent of the nations on the continent. To compare, the US has only 50 diplomatic missions in Africa.
In his 2015 article for TomDispatch.com, Nick Turse, disclosed the existence of an «America’s empire» comprising dozens of US military installations in Africa, besides Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. These numerous cooperative security locations (CSLs), forward operating locations (FOLs) and other outposts have been built by the US in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Senegal, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda. The US military also has had access to locations in Algeria, Botswana, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Zambia and other countries.
According to a rough guide of foreign bases in Africa, the US military uses Garoua airport in northern Cameroon as a drone base for operations in northeastern Nigeria. It houses Predator drones and some 300 US soldiers. Predator and Reaper drones are based in Ndjamena, the capital of Chad. In Kenia, the military uses Camp Simba in Manda Bay as a base for naval personnel and Green Berets. It also houses armed drones for operations in Somalia and Yemen. In Niger, the American armed forces use Agadez, capable of handling large transport aircraft and armed Reaper drones. The base covers the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin. US special operations forces (SOF) use compounds in Kismayo and Baledogle in Somalia. A drone base is operated on the island of Victoria, the Seychelles. PC-12 surveillance aircraft operate from Entebbe airport, Uganda.
At least 1,700 special operations forces (SOF) are deployed across 33 African nations at any given time supported by planes and drones. In 2006, just 1% of commandos sent overseas were deployed in the US Africa Command area of operations. In 2016, 17.26% of all US SOF – Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them deployed abroad were sent to Africa. They utilize nearly 20 different programs and activities – from training exercises to security cooperation engagements – these included Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, among others.
Drone warfare is a special case as the vehicles are carrying out combat missions in peacetime. The full scope of the US unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) program has long been shrouded from view. Only sketchy details emerge off and on about individual drone strikes. The US African Unified Command (AFRICOM) is known to operate at least nine UAV bases in Africa located in Djibouti, the Seychelles, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Niger, Burkina Faso and Cameroon.
Housing 4,000 military and civilian personnel, Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, is the hub of a network of American drone bases in Africa. It is used for aerial strikes at insurgents in Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia, as well as exercising control over the Bab-el-Mandeb strait – a strategic maritime waterway linking the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea. In 2014, America signed a new 20-year lease on the base with the Djiboutian government, and committed over $1.4 billion to modernize and expand the facility in the years to come.
Unlike other installations, the Djibouti base is called a permanent facility. Not the only facility on the continent but the only «permanent» base. The US military uses the terms Main Operating Base (MOB), Forward Operating Site (FOS) and Cooperative Security Location (CSL). Camp Lemonnier is a MOB. The difference is the size of the presence and the scale of operations a facility is designed for. The terms used do not change the essence – the US uses a vast array of military installations in Africa and the presence keeps on growing. Temporary and permanent facilities are hard to distinguish – you sign an agreement and operate a facility as long as you need it. It’s just a play of words without any effect on substance. For instance, US forces are reported to be deployed in Europe on «rotational basis» or temporarily under the pretext of participation in exercises. Every army unit has an operational cycle, which inevitably includes various stages in training. From time to time, they leave home bases and rotate, moving from one location to another. All military career paths presuppose rotation. Using this or that term does not change the reality – US forces are constantly stationed near Russia’s borders on whatever «basis» it takes place.
It’s not only the increasing number military facilities in Africa and elsewhere. The Donald Trump administration is considering a military proposal that would designate various undeclared battlefields worldwide to be «temporary areas of active hostility». If approved, the measure would give military commanders the same latitude to launch strikes, raids and campaigns against enemy forces for up to six months that they possess in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. No top level permission will be required anymore. The authority could be pre-delegated to Defense Secretary James Mattis on extremely sensitive operations. It could be pushed down all the way down to the head of the Joint Special Operations Command for raids or drone strikes against pre-approved targets. If a high-value target is spotted, a force can move into action without wasting time.
How all these activities jibe with the pre-election promise «A Trump administration will never ever put the interest of a foreign country before the interest of our country. From now on, it’s going to be America first» is an open question. Looks like the whole «black continent» has become an area of vital interests for the United States. But reading the media headlines one gets the impression that it’s just «one base» on the huge continent. Not a big thing from point of view of expenditure and the extent of dangerous involvement in faraway conflicts that have no relation whatsoever to the national security, a reader may say. The lesson is – take what the media tell you with a grain of salt, never at face value. It would stand everyone in good stead.
English law courts allow for something called a private prosecution. Typically, criminals are prosecuted by the state body Crown Prosecution Services, but on some occasions private individuals can bring forward criminal charges against another person or entity they believe is guilty of a criminal offence.
Currently, there are attempts by private citizens to bring former British Prime Minister Tony Blair before a criminal court over alleged war crimes in Iraq which led to the slaughter of over a million Iraqis.
However, Britain’s current Attorney General Jeremy Wright is moving to stop such a prosecution.
Wright’s spokesman has stated,
“It’s not unusual for the attorney general to intervene in cases in order to represent the public interest. He has sought to intervene in this case because it raises important issues about the scope of the criminal law”.
There are several odd things about this statement.
First of all, if it raises the scope of criminal law, it means that the crime of stealing a car can be prosecuted and is in fact done so on a daily basis, but the far more violent act of war criminality cannot be.
Secondly, Wright implies that a private prosecution of Blair would not be in the public good. If holding leaders who engage in illegal warfare is not in the public good, I fail to see what is.
The real danger to the ruling elite is that English Common Law is based on precedent. This would mean that if Blair was convicted for war crimes, so too could many of his successors. This is a precedent that the elite clearly do not want to set due to the basic principle of self-preservation.
And then there is another problem. War criminality is not currently on the English statute books. It is an international offence that could only be applied in an international court.
As we all know, international justice for war criminals is exclusively reserved for Africans and Serbs. Tony Blair does not fit the racial profile.
The United Nations has raised alarm over a climbing number of refugees passing through Libya who are being traded in so-called slave markets before being held for ransom and subjected to malnutrition and sexual abuse.
Migrants are typically traded for as little as $200 to $500, and are held for an average of two to three months, said the head of the UN migration agency’s Libya mission, Othman Belbeisi, in a Geneva press briefing on Tuesday.
He emphasized that “migrants are being sold in the market as a commodity,” cautioning that “selling human beings is becoming a trend among smugglers as the smuggling networks in Libya are becoming stronger and stronger.”
Many of the asylum seekers are used as day laborers in construction and agriculture, Belbeisi further stated, noting that although some are paid, others are forced to work without pay before being sold again to new buyers.
He also pointed to the extremely tragic fates that female refugees often encounter, saying, “About women, we heard a lot about bad treatment, rape and being forced into prostitution.”
According to a report released Tuesday by the agency, officially called the International Organization for Migration (IOM), its representatives have spoken to African refugees who recounted their experiences of being bought and sold in garages and parking lots in the southern Libyan city of Sabha, one of the nation’s main refugee smuggling hubs.
In the report, the IOM recounted the story of a Senegalese refugee – referred to as ‘SC’ to protect his identity — who spoke of being ‘bought’ and taken to his first ‘prison’ – a private home where more than 100 asylum seekers were beaten and held as hostages.
SC, the report added, was asked to pay 300,000 Central African Francs ($480) for his release, which he could not pay. He was then sold to another Libyan, who set his release price at 600,000 CFA ($970).
The Senegalese refugee further spoke of awful sanitary conditions and meals offered only once per day, adding that he was eventually able to get money from his family and work as an interpreter to avoid future beatings.
However, the IOM report added, others are not so lucky. Those who cannot pay are often killed or left to starve to death. They are buried without being identified.
“What we know is that migrants who fall into the hands of smugglers face systematic malnutrition, sexual abuse and even murder,” said IOM’s director of operations and emergencies, Mohammed Abdiker. “We are hearing about mass graves in the desert.”
The development came as Libya remains a major gateway for asylum seekers hoping to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, with more than 450,000 people making the crossing over the past three years.
So far this year, of an estimated 26,886 refugees who have crossed into Italy, more than 600 are known to have drowned at sea while an unknown number perish during their journey north through the desert, according to press reports.
Fake news stories roar in like a storm, but often evaporate with time. Seven years ago, President Obama and other fake news vendors depicted Joseph Kony as the devil incarnate, a dire threat to western interests and the people of central Africa. But it was all a ruse to smooth U.S. military intervention on African soil. Obama “The Faker” played Kony for a demon and the public for a fool.
The United States government is the biggest purveyor of fake news on the planet. In fact, most of U.S. foreign policy is based on lies and outrageous distortions that are methodically disseminated by corporate media in the form of fake news. Fake news is a weapon that has killed millions in Libya, Iraq and Syria, where the United States and its allies have armed and trained jihadist terrorists to wage a proxy war against secular governments, while claiming to be fighting these same jihadists. Every word that President Obama ever said about Libya and Syria has been a lie — a fake story.
The threat that Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army supposedly posed in central Africa was also fake news, a lie circulated in order to justify sending 100 U.S. Special Forces troops to the region, in 2011. Obama needed a villain, so he chose Joseph Kony, a guerilla fighter from the Acholi people of northern Uganda, as his nemesis. The Acholi had been defeated in a civil war by another guerilla fighter, Yoweri Museveni, who went on to become Ronald Reagan’s favorite African and a main puppet and hit man for the U.S. in Africa. He would play a key role in the genocides in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But first, Museveni laid waste to the Acholi people’s lands in Uganda, massacred them by the thousands, and locked them up in concentration camps.
Joseph Kony’s guerilla band emerged from this bloodbath, but he was already considered a spent force by 2011, when President Obama used him as an excuse to intervene in Congo, the Central African Republic, and oil-rich South Sudan. By 2012, Obama was in need of more justification for having U.S. troops running around central Africa. As if out of the blue, a shady so-called charity group calling itself Invisible Children, that worked closely with Ugandan strongman Museveni’s regime, released a 30-minute video on YouTube, titled “Kony 2012.”
Few people outside Africa had ever heard of Kony, but the video went super-viral, garnering 100 million viewers. The video told a cartoon-like story, bearing little relationship to fact, but it prompted celebrities like Oprah and Angelina Jolie to support Obama sending in 150 more troops, supposedly to track down Kony.
Since 2012, hundreds of thousands have died in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Congo, but little or none of this carnage has had anything to do with Kony, The Obama administration spent $780 million on the operation to find-and-destroy Joseph Kony. But, by June of last year, even the Ugandan army was trying to withdraw from the hunt for Kony, who clearly lacks the capacity to attack anybody. Finally, the U.S. military command had to admit that Joseph Kony was no longer a priority target. The truth is, he never was. The real target was the American people, who were subjected to a fake news blitz so that their government could deepen its military occupation of central Africa. What’s most shameful is that it was oh-so-easy to convince Americans, including Black Americans, that what Africa needs is more invasions by foreign soldiers.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
As the Swedish manufacturer Saab experiences growing problems trying to market its Gripen fighter jet, the company is forced to try and woo previously unbeknown markets. This, however, has attracted criticism from peace researchers, who claim the move contradicts Sweden’s long-lasting foreign policy goals.
A group of peace researchers from Uppsala University condemned Saab’s campaigning in Botswana, saying the move was in direct conflict with Sweden’s foreign policy goals. These are peace, human rights and poverty reduction, according to an opinion piece published by the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.
In 2016, a high-ranking Swedish delegation, led by Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, toured Botswana. The subsequent scandal involving ballooning costs diverted Swedes’ attention from more pressing issues, such as Sweden’s plans to market JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets to the African nation. According to peace researchers Johan Brosché, Kristine Höglund and Sebastian van Baalen, the deal is highly controversial, especially given the bribery scandals that followed a similar deal with South Africa.
Firstly, in Botswana, which has long been touted as an African success story in terms of equality, human rights and economic development, democracy has gradually eroded. The country’s government is hardly an eligible partner for Sweden, which is trying to emerge as a champion of human rights on the international arena. Botswana, according to Uppsala University researchers, is clearly heading in an authoritarian direction, with growing surveillance, reduced opportunities for freedom of expression and reprisals against anti-government views.
Secondly, a Saab deal would contradict Sweden’s goal of combating poverty, as Botswana is facing major economic problems. Over a fifth of its population of two million live in absolute poverty and subsist on less than two dollars a day, despite the country’s large diamond resources. The billions to be invested in fighter jets would undermine efforts to curb unemployment, and fight drought and corruption.
Third, the idea of Botswana acquiring a fleet of advanced fighter aircraft may trigger a regional arms race, with Namibia and other neighboring countries to follow suit, with detrimental consequences for everyone but the arms dealers. At present, Botswana is not faced with any direct external threat and it is unclear why huge sums must be invested in the acquisition of advanced fighter jets. Whereas the need to protect the country’s tourism industry, combat poaching and monitor the flow of refugees previously were indicated as reasons, none of these problems can be solved with advanced fighter jets.
The Swedish researchers concluded that the arms deal with Botswana would worsen the economic and democratic development in the country, undermine regional security and mar Sweden’s reputation in Southern Africa.
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft in the same class as Airbus’ Eurofighter Typhoon, the Rafale by Dassault and Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter.
Despite Saab’s ambitious hopes for the Gripen to “dominate the market,” the company’s bids were consequently rejected by Norway, Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands. The Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon are also regarded as favorites in Malaysia, where the government will decide on an aircraft fleet upgrade.
So far, Sweden remains the largest consumer of the Gripen, with an order of 60 new-generation Gripens placed by the Defense Ministry. Saab’s agreement with Brazil on 36 planes worth 40 billion SEK ($4.5bln) remains the company’s largest overseas success. Other Gripen consumers include South Africa and Thailand, while the Czech Republic continues to rent Gripens from Sweden.
As Black History Month draws to an end it is important to reflect on the European conquest of Africa. Is there a connection between colonial rule and the continent’s impoverishment today? Should the beneficiaries of European imperialism pay reparations or at least acknowledge the injustices committed?
When thinking about these questions it’s important to look at my city’s contribution to this history. For example, few are aware that a Montréaler played a key role in expanding British colonial rule across Africa.
Sir Edouard Percy Girouard rose to fame by helping Britain conquer Sudan. The Royal Military College of Canada graduate and former Canadian Pacific Railway engineer oversaw the construction of two hard-to-build rail lines from southern Egypt towards Khartoum, allowing British forces to bypass 800 km of treacherous boating up the Nile. Able to transport ammunition and guns into Sudan, the British killed 11,000 and wounded 16,000 in the final battle at Omdurman (only forty-eight British/Egyptian soldiers died).
At an 1899 dinner in this city Canadian minister of militia Frederick Borden celebrated Girouard’s contribution to the slaughter in Sudan. “Major Girouard has added luster, not only to his own name, but also to Montréal, to the dominion of Canada.”
During the 1899 – 1902 Boer War Girouard was Director of Imperial Military Railways. Afterwards he became Commissioner of Railways for the Transvaal and Orange River colonies, which are now part of South Africa.
Girouard’s efficiency in the Sudan and South Africa impressed British under-secretary of state Winston Churchill who promoted the rail expert to high commissioner of Northern Nigeria in 1906. Two years later Girouard became governor of the colony, sparking a Toronto Globe headline that read: “Northern Nigeria: the country which a Canadian will rule”.
Girouard enjoyed lording over the 10 to 20 million Africans living in the 400,000 square mile territory. In a letter to his father, Girouard described himself as “a little independent king.”
The Montréal born “king” justified strengthening precolonial authority by stating, “if we allow the tribal authority to be ignored or broken, it will mean that we… shall be obliged to deal with a rabble, with thousands of persons in a savage or semi-savage state, all acting on their own impulses.”
Local chiefs provided forced labour to construct Girouard’s signature project, a 550-km railway stretching from the city of Kano to the port of Baro. Designed to strengthen Britain’s grip over the interior of the colony, the rail line also provided cheap cotton for the textile industry in England.
After Northern Nigeria, Girouard became governor of British East Africa from 1909 to 1912. Girouard’s unchecked zeal for efforts to turn today’s Kenya into a “white man’s country” eventually prompted the Colonial Office to relieve him of his duties. When a prominent British settler confessed to the murder of an African suspected of stealing a sheep, a white jury rejected the judge’s counsel and acquitted the killer after five minutes of deliberation. London wanted the assailant deported, fearing political fallout in the UK from the judicial farce. Girourd not only refused to condemn the murder and the jury’s decision, he attempted to block the deportation.
Girouard’s indifference to this crime caused a rift with London, but it was his underhanded abrogation of the sole treaty the East African protectorate had ever signed with an African tribe that spurred his political demise. Weakened by disease and confronting an ascendant Britain, in 1904 the Masai agreed to give up as much as two thirds of their land. In exchange, the cattle rearing, semi-nomadic people were assured the fertile Laikipia Plateau for “so long as the Masai as a race shall exist.” By Girouard and Britain’s odd calculation, the agreement expired fewer than seven years later. About 10,000 Masai, with 200,000 cattle and 2 million sheep, were forced to march 150 km southward to a semiarid area near German East Africa. An unknown number of Masai and their livestock died on this “trail of tears”.
In Origins of European Settlement in Kenya, M. P. K. Sorensen describes the Montréaler’s effort to sell London on scrapping the agreement. “Girouard had to abrogate the 1904 Masai treaty and pretend to the Colonial Office that the Masai wanted to move south. At the same time he had to disguise the fact that he was acting in the interests of the settlers, some of whom had been promised land on Laikipia.” Girouard’s deception and abrogation of the treaty caused tensions with the Colonial Office, which would be his downfall.
The son of a long serving Member of Parliament and Supreme Court of Canada judge, Girouard remained honorary lieutenant colonel of the Chicoutimi-based 18th (Saguenay) regiment throughout his time in Africa. In 1903, Montreal Herald readers ranked Girouard seventh among “the ten greatest living Canadians.” A mountain in Banff National Park, as well as a plaque and building at the Royal Military College, are named in his honour. In 1985 the Gazette published an article headlined “Maybe Africa needs another Percy Girouard”.
Perhaps it is time to consider Girouard again, but in a less laudatory fashion.
Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
or why the “oops we accidentally let ISIS get our guns” excuse does not work…
We get a few people here saying some variant on “ISIS, al Qaeda etc are all the unlooked-for by-product of the criminal western policy in the Middle East.” It’s one of the would-be middle-of-the-road positions occupied as much through fear of what lies beyond it than for any inherent value it contains. It’s still possible to be considered relatively mainstream and hold this position. Sensible people like Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky promote it. There’s only one problem with it really, namely that it is not true. Recent leaks/releases of government documents have put it beyond question that the US, its Gulf allies and NATO at very least willingly got behind the creation of extreme jihadist groups and have been funding such groups in their attempts to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government.
So we thought we’d address that claim very quickly with the help of this graphic originally made by professor Tim Anderson. It makes the point more clearly than many paragraphs of text.
That’s all you need.
Stop making that bogus and unhelpful claim here or anywhere else.
US Central Command has been misleading the public in its assessment of the overall progress in the war on terror by failing to account for thousands of airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria, a Military Times investigation reveals.
The investigation revealed that open source data of US Air Force strikes does not contain all the missiles fired. That incomplete data, however, continues to be used by the Pentagon on multiple occasions in official reports and media publications.
The publication says that in 2016 alone, American aircraft conducted at least 456 airstrikes in Afghanistan that were not recorded in the database maintained by the US Air Force.
The investigation also revealed discrepancies in Iraq and Syria where the Pentagon failed to account for nearly 6,000 strikes dating back to 2014, when the US-led coalition has launched its first airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS,ISIL) terrorist targets.
According to the Air Force, coalition jets conducted 23,740 airstrikes through the end of 2016. The US Defense Department, however, puts the number at 17,861 until the end of January 2017.
“The Pentagon routinely cites these figures when updating the media on its operations against the Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates in Iraq and Syria,” the publication says.
Military Times remains especially puzzled by a statement made by an Air Force official in December who assured the publication that its monthly summary of activity in Iraq and Syria “specifically” represents the entire American-led coalition “as a whole, which is all 20-nations and the US branches.”
“It’s unclear whether this statement was intentionally misleading, or simply indicative of widespread internal ignorance, confusion or indifference about what’s contained in this data,” Andrew deGrandpre, Military Times’ senior editor and Pentagon bureau chief, said in the article.
Military Times says that the “most alarming” aspects of the investigation are that the discrepancies in numbers go back as far as 2001, when the US, under George W. Bush’s administration, struck Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks on American soil.
The publication reveals that the unaccounted-for airstrikes in all three war zones were allegedly conducted by US helicopters and armed drones which are overseen by US Central Command.
“The enormous data gap raises serious doubts about transparency in reported progress against the Islamic State, al-Qaida, and the Taliban, and calls into question the accuracy of other Defense Department disclosures documenting everything from costs to casualty counts,” deGrandpre wrote.
The Pentagon and Army did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“Those other key metrics include American combat casualties, taxpayer expense and the military’s overall progress in degrading enemy capabilities,” the publication added, wondering whether the military wanted to mislead the American public.
I attended the women’s rights rally in Portland, Oregon, today to support women worldwide and urge Trump to end Obama and Hillary Clinton’s record weapons deals with the most repressive state for women in the world, the totalitarian dictatorship of Saudi Arabia.
In 2010, the Clinton state department organized the biggest weapons sale in US history. The sale was to strongman Abdullah Abdullaziz, who had women executed as punishment for being raped. The Kerry state department followed the deal with a sale of almost a billion dollars worth of illegal cluster bombs to the dictator. Obama approved both deals.
Bloomberg reports Clinton’s weapons sales to woman-oppressing dictators increased dramatically after the tyrants ‘donated’ to what Harper’s magazine calls the Clintons’ ‘slush fund’, the Clinton Foundation.
An unfortunate aspect of much of the current anti-Trump upheaval around the country is that similar actions were not undertaken when policies Democrats would or will oppose if Trump carries them out were not opposed by Democrats when Obama and Hillary Clinton performed them.
However, this is largely because the general public is kept ignorant of most of these policies. Such actions, Dr. Chalmers Johnson has noted, are “kept secret” from the US-American public.
Respected analysts this week highlighted the disparity between Obama’s treatment in the neoliberal press and his actual record.
John Pilger quotes a typically sycophantic example of a description of Obama, this one from The Guardian:
“But the grace. The all-encompassing grace: in manner and form, in argument and intellect, with humour and cool … [He] is a blazing tribute to what has been, and what can be again … He seems ready to keep fighting, and remains a formidable champion to have on our side … The grace … the almost surreal levels of grace …”
Nicolas J S Davies outlines the reality: Obama, whose political career has been sponsored by, among many other similar elements, lethal weapons manufacturer General Dynamics, “has increased U.S. military spending beyond the post-World War II record set by President George W. Bush. Now that Obama has signed the military budget for FY2017, the final record is that Obama has spent an average of $653.6 billion per year, outstripping Bush by an average of $18.7 billion per year (in 2016 dollars).
In historical terms, after adjusting for inflation, Obama’s military spending has been 56 percent higher than Clinton’s, 16 percent higher than Reagan’s, and 42 percent more than the U.S. Cold War average…”
Under Obama, “… the U.S. and its allies dropped 20,000 bombs and missiles in his first term. In his second term, they have dropped four times that number, bringing the total for Obama’s presidency to over 100,000 bombs and missiles striking seven countries, surpassing the 70,000 unleashed on five countries by George W. Bush.”
Pilger notes Obama ordered an average of 72 explosive devices to be planted and detonated every day in 2016.
Davies continues that Obama has used the US’s Central American model of favoring proxy-armies and death-squads over sending in US troops, and has thus provided arms and ignited and fueled conflicts that have killed hundreds of thousands around the world.
But the strategy has also included “a massive expansion of U.S. special operations forces, now deployed to 138 different countries, compared with only 60 when Obama took office.”
Pilger notes this “amounted to a full-scale invasion of Africa.”
Highlighting what these US operations and hegemonic expansion mysteriously achieve, Oxfam this week released a report noting that about 8 people now control as much wealth as half the world’s population. This is down from 16 people within the past year or so, and around 70 people before that.
Within the US, while thousands of the poorest people in places like Detroit had their water turned off in violation of the universal declaration of human rights, Obama allocated a trillion dollars to the nuclear arsenal, in violation of legal obligations and agreements.
And while he has refused to prosecute torturers and war criminals from the Bush Jr. regime (let alone his own), he has waged a campaign of persecution against those who have exposed torture and war crimes.
Amnesty International and other groups note a highlight of Obama’s presidency was his recent commutation of the sentence of US political prisoner Chelsea Manning, who released documents exposing some US war crimes. But the commutation came after an offer from another, higher-value whistle-blower and political prisoner, Julian Assange, to accept extradition to the US in exchange for clemency for Manning.
Others note Obama has deported millions of people and increased military aid to human rights violators like Israel and Saudi Arabia more than any other president.
While at least some Democrats would express opposition to these actions if they were performed by Trump, this cannot necessarily be called hypocrisy, since the US and Western propaganda model (corporations dumping billions into favored media outlets to overwhelm the market) prevents the vast majority of them from knowing Obama undertook the actions himself.
This is not new. Similar demonstrations expressing disgust were carried out by Democrats and others during the inauguration of Bush Jr., but not in opposition to policies carried out by Clinton such as his genocide in Iraq that killed some 500,000 children, his support for terrorist Paul Kagame in Rwanda, which has contributed to the deaths of millions, or Clinton’s aggression against Yugoslavia.
Continuing to illustrate how these and other crimes are “kept secret” from or distorted for the US and Western public, Reuters this week said the US/NATO aggression against Yugoslavia was carried out in response to Serbia “killing about 10,000 ethnic Albanian civilians there.”
But Noam Chomsky and other US/Western propaganda analysts note that according to the West’s own monitors, including the British Parliamentary inquiry into the matter, this is a reversal of the chronology.
In the year before the US/NATO attack, about 2,000 people were killed due the conflict in Yugoslavia, with more killings attributed to the KLA – the terrorist-integrated guerilla force backed by the US and Western countries – than to the Serbs. Before the US/NATO attack, the killings had mostly subsided, but the KLA continued to carry out provocations to, as it stated, try to instigate NATO intervention on its behalf.
Wesley Clarke, the NATO commander at the time, said bombing Yugoslavia would cause more deaths and atrocities than would occur without Western bombing. Others agreed, but, with Hillary Clinton’s urging, Bill Clinton began bombing the country, leading to the “about” 10,000 deaths Reuters this week says the bombing was a response to.
The Reuters article also mysteriously fails to mention that if the US had intervened to prevent atrocities, it would not have been supporting what Dr. Michael Parenti, in a book on the topic written under the supervision of Balkan experts, notes were worse atrocities carried out by Turkey (against the Kurds) and other regimes around the world.
Through countless similar distortions and omissions, the US/Western propaganda model thus continues to keep Democrats uninformed and thus complacent or supportive of politicians who carry out actions Democrats sometimes vehemently oppose when the same actions are planned or carried out by Republicans.
Comparable dynamics are also true in reverse.
Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter whose interest in propaganda and global force dynamics arose from working as a cross-cultural intermediary for large corporations in the film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. Updates on Twitter.
Following rhetoric regarding Europe’s refugee crisis, one might assume the refugees, through no fault of Europe’s governments, suddenly began appearing by the thousands at Europe’s borders. However, this simply is not true.
Before the 2011 wave of US-European engineered uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) transformed into Western military interventions, geopolitical analysts warned that overthrowing the governments in nations like Libya and Syria, and Western interventions in nations like Mali and the Ivory Coast, would lead to predicable regional chaos that would manifest itself in both expanding terrorism across the European and MENA region, as well as a flood of refugees from destabilized, war-racked nations.
Libya in particular, was singled out as a nation, if destabilized, that would transform into a springboard for refugees not only fleeing chaos in Libya itself, but fleeing a variety of socioeconomic and military threats across the continent. Libya has served for decades as a safe haven for African refugees due to its relative stability and economic prosperity as well as the Libyan government’s policy of accepting and integrating African refugees within the Libyan population.
Because of NATO’s 2011 military intervention and the disintegration of Libya as a functioning nation state, refugees who would have otherwise settled in Libya are now left with no choice but to continue onward to Europe.
For France in particular, its politics have gravitated around what is essentially a false debate between those welcoming refugees and those opposed to their presence.
Absent from this false debate is any talk of French culpability for its military operations abroad which, along with the actions of the US and other NATO members, directly resulted in the current European refugee crisis.
France claims that its presence across Africa aims at fighting Al Qaeda. According to RAND Corporation commentary titled, “Mali’s Persistent Jihadist Problem,” it’s reported that:
Four years ago, French forces intervened in Mali, successfully averting an al Qaeda-backed thrust toward the capital of Bamako. The French operation went a long way toward reducing the threat that multiple jihadist groups posed to this West Africa nation. The situation in Mali today remains tenuous, however, and the last 18 months have seen a gradual erosion of France’s impressive, initial gains.
And of course, a French military presence in Mali will do nothing to stem Al Qaeda’s activities if the source of Al Qaeda’s weapons and financial support is not addressed. In order to do this, France and its American and European allies would need to isolate and impose serious sanctions on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two nations which exist as the premier state sponsors of not only Al Qaeda, but a myriad of terrorist organizations sowing chaos worldwide.
Paradoxically, instead of seeking such sanctions, the French government instead sells the Saudi and Qatari governments billions of dollars worth of weaponry, proudly filling in any temporary gaps in the flow of weapons from the West as each nation attempts to posture as “concerned” about Saudi and Qatari human rights abuses and war crimes (and perhaps even state sponsorship of terrorism) only to gradually return to pre-sanction levels after public attention wanes.
The National Interest in an article titled, “France: Saudi Arabia’s New Arms Dealer,” would note:
France has waged a robust diplomatic engagement with Saudi Arabia for years. In June, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited France to sign deals worth $12 billion, which included $500 million for 23 Airbus H145 helicopters. Saudi and French officials also agreed to pursue feasibility studies to build two nuclear reactors in the kingdom. The remaining money will involve direct investment negotiated between Saudi and French officials.
The article would also note that Saudi Arabia’s junior partner in the state sponsorship of global terror, Qatar, would also benefit from French weapon deals:
Hollande’s address was delivered one day after he was in Doha, where he signed a $7 billion deal that included the sale of 24 French Rafale fighter jets to Qatar, along with the training of Qatari intelligence officers.
In order to truly fight terrorism, a nation must deal with it at its very source. Since France is not only ignoring the source of Al Qaeda’s military, financial and political strength, but is regularly bolstering it with billions in weapons deals, it is safe to say that whatever reason France is involved across MENA, it is not to “defeat” Al Qaeda.
The refugee crisis that has resulted from the chaos that both Western forces and terrorists funded and armed by the West’s closest regional allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is a crisis that is entirely self-inflicted. The rhetoric surrounding the crisis, on both sides, ignoring this fundamental reality, exposes the manufactured and manipulative nature of French government and opposition agendas.
The chaos across MENA is so significant, and terrorism so deeply rooted in both Western and their Arab allies’ geopolitical equations that even a complete reversal of this destructive policy will leave years if not decades of social unrest in the wake of the current refugee crisis.
But for anyone genuinely committed to solving this ongoing crisis, they must start with the US, European, and Gulf monarchies’ culpability, and resist blaming the refugees or those manipulated into reacting negatively to them. While abuses carried out by refugees or locals are equally intolerable, those responsible for the conflicts and for manipulating both sides of this crisis are equally to blame.
Until that blame is properly and proportionately placed, and the root of the crisis addressed, it will only linger and cause further damage to regional and global security.