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10 years of resisting the annual Halifax war conference

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – In part 3 of this series Tony Seed highlights the annual rallies held against the annual Halifax war conference, a.k.a. the Halifax International Security Forum (HISF), as part of the organized anti-war movement in the city since the 1980s, which gave rise to this opposition.

2009: Democracy never comes by war, by fire of guns, by cluster bomb

No sooner than the German Marshall Fund, based in Washington, announced that a “security forum” supported by NATO was to be convened in Halifax in November than people went into action. They formed the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Halifax War Conference, consisting of members of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada and representatives from the Halifax Peace Coalition, NSPIRG, Student Coalition Against War, Canadian Network on Cuba and the Canada Palestine Association with the support of the regional offices of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, PSAC and others on the basis of unity in action. (Their press release is here.)

The political establishment and the media presented the conference as a one-of-a-kind affair, “the first of its kind in North America.” The fact that it was the latest in a series of “security forums” organized by the GMFUS to interfere in countries in Eastern Europe under the rubric of “fostering democracy” and “trans Atlantic values” – in Kiev, Bucharest, Brussels, Tibilsi, Riga, Belgrade, Istanbul etc. – was kept in the background, glossed over or entirely overlooked. For its part, the Ad Hoc Committee publicly warned that the creation of these supranational agencies were a thinly-veiled attempt to implement the call being issued in the U.S. – notably by U.S. Senator John McCain, Bush’s NATO ambassador Kurt Volker and Obama advisor Ivo Daalder – for a “League of Democracies” organized outside and against the United Nations, whose crisis they blamed for self-serving reasons on “autocratic states,” like Russia and China. (For a discussion of this imperialist concept, see here.)

The coverage of the monopoly media was selective and distorted to mask the dangers posed by the conference and instead to portray a rosy picture about peace and rights – a friendly and innocent image of a Canadian forum held simply to discuss, debate and communicate with the outside world for the highest ideals. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald bannered a front-page story, “Military giants pursue peace at Halifax event” [2] An article by its business editor declared, “Security forum a big draw; Hundreds coming from around world.” [3]  In reality, “coming from around the world” was a fabrication: 80 per cent were from the USA and Canada. The next day’s headline proclaimed: “Human rights key focus of forum” (21 November 2009), glossing over the torture of Afghan detainees by American and Canadian occupation forces.

In other words, a compendium of lies and distortions regarding the content of this forum and the danger that war poses to the world. What was being expressed here is the wish of the rich that the destructive warmongering course they have set the government on is perceived by the public as inevitable or a matter of defending “human rights” or a tourist boon for the economy so that no new anti-war direction is ever established for our country.

The HISF was inaugurated by U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates. In the opening session Defence Minister MacKay, sounding like a yes man, stated, “We take great pride in knowing that Canadian’s contribution to transatlantic cooperation as a steadfast reliable friend and ally is recognised.” Gates lauded Canada as a “major contributor” to the Afghan war, for helping to “hold the line in the South before U.S. reinforcements arrived.” This followed the celebrated mini-surge that began in the latter days of the Bush administration, which was subsequently bolstered by Obama’s addition of another 20,000 troops. In line with the warmongering agenda of the conference, Canada’s former Chief of Defence Staff, Rick Hillier and U.S. Senator John McCain together advocated that “US President Obama send in thousands more troops to establish security.” Hillier avoided questions of his personal responsibility for the alleged torture of prisoners under his command.

Gates further called in his speech on the Harper government to play a greater role in “hemispheric security,” i.e., Fortress America. Thus, after a year of inflammatory statements about Russian intentions in the Arctic and as part of the secret deal-making, MacKay and Gates signed an agreement on November 20 providing for the annual participation of U.S. Marines in the Nanook war games, beginning in 2010, in the name of “protecting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic” – a peculiar concept of sovereignty!

On Friday, November 20, a vigorous picket was held on the sidewalk outside the Westin Hotel as the conference opened. The next day a rally was held in Cornwallis Park and a mass demonstration of some 175 people right across from the hotel, now “protected” by a massed police line which shut down the entire street. The Quakers and the Fredericton Peace Coalition also participated. A related event was held Saturday evening at Mount Saint Vincent University; Malalai Joya, a former Afghan parliamentarian and opponent of the occupation of her country, who had addressed the rally (pictured), also spoke to a packed auditorium. Ms Joya was refused entrance to the “security forum.”

Ms Joya said, “Democracy never comes by war, by fire of guns, by cluster bomb,” pointing out that thousands of innocent Afghan civilians were being killed on the ground by terrorists and warlords, and from the air, by the bombing of the NATO occupying forces. “Many of the weapons and bombs used in Afghanistan, used against my people, are made in Canada,” Joya said to shouts of “shame” from the protesters. “You have dropped two-thousand-pound large, Canadian-made bombs in my hometown which killed over 150 civilians, mainly women and children.”

When his turn came to speak, Tony Seed, editor of Shunpiking Magazine, emphasized that awareness of and opposition to state-organized disinformation, the blocking of the people to find solutions to their concerns, had become crucial. This was evidenced by the attempt of the monopoly media to give war criminals and NATO a human face. He called on participants to develop the no harbour for war movement, and concretely proposed that a rally be held every fall to oppose the war conference as an annual assembly point for the people to chart out an anti-war direction for the city.

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The main concerns expressed by speakers and participants alike included the use of the city and name of Halifax as a platform for organizing war, opposition to the welcoming of war criminals involved in the illegal wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, and Canada’s deepening participation in NATO. Dalhousie students expressed concern at the attempt by the DND-funded Centre for Foreign Policy Studies to recruit their fellow students as “volunteers” for the conference. As the alternative, they advanced a political platform to avert these dangers and make Canada a factor for peace, concentrated in the demands of No Harbour for War, Canada out of NATO and NORAD and for an anti-war government.

As an integral part of their opposition, people unanimously renamed “Cornwallis Park” to Halifax Peace and Freedom Park. They demanded the removal of the infamous statue of the 18th century British genocidaire, who offered cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaq person, including women and children. It commemorated war crimes against the Mi’kmaq people as well as the Acadians to sanctify war crimes today. This act was carried out in consultation with Mi’kmaq elders, such as acclaimed historian Dan Paul who, on behalf of the Mi’kmaq nation, supported this renaming. The youth covered this shameless monument with a shroud.

2010: Betty Petersen: The struggle against NATO is waged right here in Labrador

Eighteen defence ministers from the NATO bloc attend. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in the keynote speech demanded the “allies” shoulder the burden for the expansion of NATO and its expansion into the Asia-Pacific region.

Significantly, he further demanded a focus on other “forms of engagement” than military, i.e., “soft power,” saying “we must also constantly assess the forms of engagement that are most appropriate in light of the capabilities of our allies and the threats that we face” (emphasis added). “Soft power” serves “hard power”; it is not some policy option or alternative as some academics promote. They have double tactics: what they say, as they did in Libya, Syria and other countries, is “let’s create an internal opposition, and then let’s get them to do the fighting. We will bomb from the air.” This is a tactic that involves carrying out criminal acts and attributing them to someone else.

For his part, Sen. Lindsay Graham, a 2015 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, openly called for the United States to wage war on Iran’s entire military apparatus, not just its nuclear facilities. Graham said the U.S. should “consider sinking the Iranian navy, destroying its air force, and delivering a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard.” AP reported that Graham’s call to “neuter the regime, destroy its ability to fight back, and hope Iranians will take a chance to take back their government…stunned many in the audience.” The event also featured war criminal Condoleeza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State in the Bush presidency.

The late Betty Petersen, 93, a lifetime anti-war activist and Quaker, delivered the statement of the organizing committee to some 200 people at the rally against the HISF on November 6, 2010. In a memorable speech, she emphasized that the issue of Canada’s participation in NATO was not something abroad but right here in Canada, as shown by the life-and-death struggle of the Innu people being waged against the NATO training centre in Labrador, in which over 400 had been arrested by the government for defending their hereditary rights.

The Winter Olympics Relay re-organized its route through Nova Scotia at the demand of the Defence Department so that it passed right through the Westin Hotel for the pleasure of the generals. The diversion was part of the overall militarization of the Vancouver Olympics which was under way. However, a relay participant holding the Olympic torch stunned MacKay by denouncing him to his face right in the hotel lobby on Friday, November 16.

2011: After Libya, now Syria

In a new arrangement, the HISF was quietly spun off from the GMFUS to become an independent organization based in Washington, the heads of which had been involved in the “Arab Spring” in Egypt during the beginning of the year. The Canadian government continued its funding – to the tune of over $7.5 million in Canadian tax dollars – provided to the U.S. organizers to finance the 2011, 2012 and 2013 conferences. Of its board of directors, not one was from the city of Halifax, let alone the province of Nova Scotia. Of the five members, four were citizens of the United States, resident in New York and Washington. By whom and how they were originally appointed is not publicly known nor are the funding arrangements. This was all secret. It was a U.S. operation lock, stock and barrel, as we pointed out at the time.

The HISF now openly includes as “partners” the NATO military bloc (sending its top commanders), General Dynamic (exporter of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia) and Irving Shipbuilding – on October 19, it was awarded a huge $25 billion and growing warship contract – together with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the most powerful think tank of the U.S. ruling elite, known as the imperial brain trust.

The activity of the Harper and US government reached a new level in their euphoric celebration of NATO’s obscene and murderous “victory” against Libya: preparing intervention and a regime change operation in Syria which it championed as “the Syrian revolution.” Not a single representative attended the racist conference from Africa, including from the much-discussed “Arab Spring” countries of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

On November 19, Sen John McCain became the first U.S. official to issue a public call for formal recognition of the Syrian National Council (SNC) – formed in Turkey just 3 months before with the support of the Canadian embassy in Ankara – and its proxy force “Free Syrian Army” (FSA).

This was composed of mercenaries, wreckers and the Muslim Brotherhood (Jam’iyat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin), and designated at the time as the official U.S.-NATO instrument of “moderate rebels” for destabilizing the secular Syrian Arab Republic and regime change. (The al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra, is prominent in the SNC.) In the aftermath of the Arab uprisings, McCain had begun negotiating with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt to get them to reverse their traditional position on Israel.  

Two leading officials of the HISF, Van Praagh and Joseph Hall, both with a previous history in Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, had been deployed to Egypt in January-February 2011 by the National Democratic Institute headed by Madeleine Albright to work the “Arab Spring.” According to Philip Giraldi, a former CIA official, Hall was hand picked to link U.S. funding with the opposition that the US intelligence agencies were feverishly striving to manipulate in Egypt during the “Arab Spring.” Van Praagh was deployed from Washington to Egypt “to begin work with opposition politicians there on behalf of the National Democratic Institute.”

The November conference featured two expatriate representatives of the SNC resident in the U.S., both working with U.S. government-funded agencies, suspiciously identified on the program only as “human rights experts.” [4] The aim was to give them both credentials and an international profile in the NATO bloc. Other participants included the reactionary Henry Jackson Society of London which was authoring policy papers for the SNC; its Robin Shepherd is adviser to the HISF president and the McCain Institute; its patrons include ex-CIA director James Woolsey (also in attendance in 2009 and 2010, and whose wife was a member of the GMFUS board). Unleashing punitive sanctions in a co-ordinated move, the British and Canadian governments declared that they are prepared for war with both Syria and Iran. MacKay orchestrated the war psychosis by announcing that a Canadian warship had been deployed to the region to assist in the evacuation of Canadian nationals from Syria if necessary.

The duplicity behind the “democracy promotion” was clearly evident in the warmongering panel on “Iran: Pivot of the Middle East?” A report by the editor of a blog of the Canadian International Council included the following observation: “The moderator consistently brought the conversation back to conflict, air strikes and Iranian counter attacks.” [5] The panel featured two Iranian émigrés (one employed by the Rand Corporation) and a retired Israeli security expert then with the NED-funded Carnegie Endowment.

The moderator of the panel – paid by tax dollars in a scandalous conflict of interest – was the alleged “human rights activist” Nazanin Afshin-Jam, an acolyte of the fascist Pahlavi Shah dynasty of the Imperial State of Iran who was overthrown by the Iranian people in 1979. [6]  Six weeks later, she became Afshin-Jam MacKay, the wife of Peter MacKay and reportedly behind the government’s decision to impose the punitive sanctions on Iran. In reality, these steps were symbolic, because Tehran was deliberately curbing its ties with Britain and Canada.

In parallel, the Canadian government also had as its aim to split and divide the polity in Canada, disorient and paralyze the anti-war movement, and eliminate the defence then underway of the Syrian Arab Republic by the Canadian Arab Federation and Canadian Syrian groups. They insisted that the violence was not a matter of a “civil war” but due to external sponsors and provided detailed documentation to the foreign affairs department in a series of meetings to substantiate this.

This feature was also evident in Halifax. On the last day of the 2011 HISF, a small demonstration championing “human rights” was whipped together by two individuals of Arabic origin with the public support of some trade unionists in the name of “solidarity” calling for NATO intervention in Syria; another event was held in Ottawa. The ostensible pretext was a local concert by a Lebanese singer, who was accused of the “crime” of having sung hymns before the “tyrant” in Damascus. According to timeline entries on Facebook, the two individuals organizing the “protest” – one with the handle of “Peace Through Strength” – began their wrecking on August 22, i.e., the date of the formation of the SNC in Istanbul. The coincidence was precious.

Meanwhile, the government floated a new group in Central Canada allegedly representing the Syrian people. In December foreign minister John Baird privately admitted that it was a NATO initiative and that the SNC was in and out of his offices in Ottawa all the time.

2012: War mongers of world leaders?

On August 14, the HISF extended its tentacles further into Canada. It announced the formation of the Halifax Canada Club, as a “public-private partnership” with the government and the US-owned MEG Energy Corp., Calgary, an exploiter of the Alberta oil sands and backer of the Northern Gateway and the Keystone pipelines which are facing fierce opposition from Canadians. The oil supplies to the empire and control over Canadian energy was now brought to the table as integral to U.S. “security.” Membership in the “club” is by invitation and organized directly from Washington; Joseph Hall, HISF vice-president and an experienced former operative of the National Democratic Institute in the Middle East, was put in charge of recruitment. This agency aims to involve Canadian monopolies and corporate executives into the HISF in an organized form as “partners.”

In parallel, MEG Energy Ltd. is a donor to the McCain Institute in the “over $100,000” category. Although no explanation of what this sponsorship entails and details of the “partnership” are kept secret, facts speak for themselves. This initiative is in conformity with strategies elaborated of “forming elite regional opinion” in countries targeted for annexation by the United States. It is an agenda for the further annexation by the oligopolies of Canada with their control over its natural and human resources and over the state itself.

By 2018, this “club” included Boeing Canada, the world’s largest aerospace company competing to sell F-16 fighter planes to Canada, and ATCO, an Alberta-based utility monopoly involved in pipelines, natural gas and electricity and a major DND and NATO contractor including operating the Kandahar International Airport and bases in Kosovo, Bosnia, and the Canadian Arctic. The club even included two Turkish monopolies!

That same year, the HISF initiated its “Agenda Working Group” of “experts” in which the participation of Canadians is marginal: two, both NATO- and DND-funded academics.

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The incitement of war crimes is again the order of the day of the 2012 HISF, such as the McCain-Udall “bipartisan” advocacy of a no fly zone over Syria to protect the proxy terrorist forces, a violation of international law and a war crime, in opposition to the demand for a Syrian-based solution of peaceful dialogue to address the grave problems facing that country. McCain admits, “Americans are war-weary.”

The HISF begins and ends with indefensible justification of Israel’s criminal assault on Gaza as “self-defence.” Israel sent eight representatives to Halifax – from Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office of the Prime Minister on down to two newspaper correspondents – as part of its campaign for a more perfect marriage with NATO as a full member. The repression and slaughter of the Palestinian people and warmongering against Lebanon, Syria and Iran has been at the centre of every HISF, confronted by the solidarity of Haligonians with Palestine and the peoples of the Middle East.

MacKay announced plans to procure drones (from Israel) for the surveillance of Canada’s Arctic territories. Another significant feature is that for the first time the Conference is heavily promoted by the media before the event as a purely Canadian initiative and wrapped in a Canadian flag, for which the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge was brought to Halifax for a one-hour special, including a one-on-one interview with MacKay – as if it is MacKay’s conference. Warmongers are prettified by Mansbridge as “world leaders” and “heavy hitters in the security world.”

2013: Hands of Syria! Hands of Iran!

A dangerous new military agreement is announced by the United States and Canada at the 2013 HISF on November 22. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Minister of National Defence Rob Nicholson meet on the margins of the HISF to discuss the “Canada-U.S. defence relationship,” and sign a new Canada-U.S. Asia-Pacific Defense Policy Cooperation Framework.

The agreement revises the “relationship” and formally incorporates Canada deeper into the Asia Pivot strategy, also called “rebalancing,” which is aimed not only against China and Korea but against all peoples of the region. The actual agreement has never been released.

2014: Ukraine, and the USA as an indispensable superpower

(No photos available.) A major theme is the defence of the U.S.-led coup d’état in Ukraine in February as a “spontaneous” act and the need for the military “defence” of the Kiev regime.[7]

The HISF focuses on promoting the decisions of the NATO Summit in Wales of 4-5 September to form a new rapid reaction force and to further step up offensive military exercises in Eastern Europe. As the decisive reason, speakers refer to the alleged “occupation” of Crimea, mechanically reciting its worn-out legitimation phrase that “an attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all and that it would come to the aid of any NATO ally if it faced aggression” – even though Ukraine is not a member of NATO.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson issued a news release announcing that Canada will “provide further non-lethal military equipment to the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” which now include neo-nazi private battalions. From the US, nine members of Congress attended, led by the Senators McCain and Tim Kaine, later Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential nominee, said to be the largest congressional delegation ever to visit Canada. The two speak on a panel profiling America’s role as an “indispensable superpower.” In the context of a hue and cry about ISIS and the “war on terror”, Nicholson stated that Canada was willing to enter a more integrated common defence strategy with the U.S.

2015: We built this city on colonialism

El Jones, former Halifax poet laureate, spoke eloquently at the annual rally against the 7th Halifax International Security Forum. An excerpt from “We Built This City”:

We built this city on Cornwallis and Britain

We built this city on colonialism

Built on Mi’kmaq land without permission

We built this city with ammunition

And now that it’s risen we build it on prisons

We’re building off mental disease and addictions

No industry left so we build on tourism

We’re building a city of militarism

And off record panels inside of the Westin

By Western officials with global ambitions

Build with taxpayer dollars but deny us admission

New defense minister building with Mckay’s traditions

We’re building on rhetoric of change and transition

While behind closed doors it’s the same old position

We build interventions and armed expeditions

We claim bombing campaigns are human rights propositions

We build up Trudeau, build with liberalism

Same military, same wars, just new government edition

In November, Justin Trudeau, newly-elected prime minister, appointed Roland Paris, a member of the HISF Agenda Working Group, his senior foreign policy advisor. The National Post called Paris “the man behind Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy.” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan further announced the DND was extending the contract with the HISF for another three years. Ironically, in 2009 Liberal Senator Colin Kenny had complained that the parliamentary delegation to the HISF was dominated by the Conservative Party. For its part, the NDP’s foreign policy spokesman, the late Paul Dewar, was an annual participant. Upon retirement, MacKay joined the U.S. law firm Baker McKenzie on Bay Street in 2016 to boost his fortune and moved with his family to the Beeches. [8]

By 2016 both the HISF and the U.S. State Dept. were awarded “stakeholder” status in the “Defence Review” conducted by this government. The Defence Policy Review and consultation empowered private interests and imperialists to determine where Canada stands on these matters, resulting in a more aggressive, warmongering course for the country. This in itself is another telling comment on the Harper-Trudeau concept of sovereignty and governance. Talk about foreign influence and interference!

2016: Defend Venezuela

The scope of activities to defend Venezuela against all-sided aggression by the U.S. and Canada broadened with the renewed pressures placed on the country following the death of President Hugo Chavez and the deterioration in U.S.-Venezuelan relations.

As part of the preparations for the 2016 rally, a cultural function was held on November 1st to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the showing of the acclaimed documentary film, No Harbour War, on national television in 1991. The film vividly portrays the movement in the 1980s, in which thousands of people from all walks of life and affiliation protested against the militarization of the port, the “visits” of U.S. warships and, finally, against the 1991 Persian Gulf War itself. Film-makers Bill McKiggan and Chuck Lapp spoke with some 60-70 people who attended the meeting.

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Officials of the HISF become directly involved in the “dodgy dossier” of RussiaGate which forms part of the factional war in the U.S. ruling elite, which includes infighting between U.S. government, military, police and intelligence agencies. This has international dimensions and fuels the escalating offensive against Russia.

On the sidelines of the 2016 HISF, Sen McCain and David Kramer, a director of both the McCain Institute and the HISF and former head of Freedom House, negotiate privately with Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Russia, and arrange for the transfer of the so-called dossier which had been compiled in Britain by Christopher Steele, a former MI-6 spy, to James Comey, then head of the FBI. The trio have known one another for some time, including participating together in security forums in Europe. The fact of Kramer’s involvement as secretary of the HISF board since 2009 and in the regime change operation in Ukraine is kept out of the media.

On July 17, 2017 Kurt Volker, an attendee at every HISF since 2009 and a member of the Agenda Working Group since 2012, executive director of the McCain Institute, former CIA analyst and Kramer’s boss in the State Department, was appointed special U.S. representative to Ukraine by Rex Tillerson, Trump’s then Secretary of State. Volker was widely hailed as a “Russia hawk” upon his appointment, having previously advocated sending Kiev lethal aid.  His special remit was to intensify the integration of Ukraine into NATO and to renegotiate the Minsk Accords – the peace agreement over the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine

2017: Proud Boys, Know your enemy

On July 1, on the 150th anniversary of the neo-colonial Confederation, in which the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower and the Chilean torture ship Esmeralda participate, hooligan members of the navy feebly attempted to disrupt a ceremony of Mi’kmaq elders against the Cornwallis statue.

Despite much talk by the military brass about “diversity” and inclusion in the armed forces, these racists still remain in the navy, with one exception who left the forces. Unbowed, the Mi’kmaq advanced the demand not only that the statue be taken down but that Halifax also be declared a “zone of peace.”

Alex Khasnabish, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Mount Saint Vincent University, spoke at the 2017 rally. According to The Signal, an online periodical published by King’s journalism students, he said he hoped it would bring awareness to Haligonians and Canadians about the “racketeering” taking place at the security forum. “I think it is absolutely essential in dangerous times like these to show up and demonstrate our dissent,” he said.

Allan Bezanson, spokesperson for the No Harbour for War organization, which organized the rally, said he opposed the use of military solutions as the means to settle political issues like nuclear proliferation and climate change, which were on this year’s conference agenda. Other speakers included El Jones and Masuma Khan. Ms Jones, a former municipal poet laureate, read her poem “Know your Enemy.”

“Know your enemy … it is calling installing a brown face as defence minister inclusion and diversity,” Jones said into a megaphone that carried her voice around the park.

Ms Khan said she was not at the rally as a vice-president of Dalhousie Student Union, but as “Masuma Khan the Afghan woman who is a settler here.” She said she opposed foreign military intervention in her homeland of Afghanistan, but her emphasis was on Canada and the need for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. “There has been a war here for 400 years. There has been a war, an attempt to modernize our Indigenous people and to kill them and take them away from everything that they hold close to them,” she said.

A major theme of the 2017 HISF was the intensification of the attempt to recruit women for aggression and war. The Agenda Working Group includes two members who specialize on this front. There are no women on its board of directors. On November 18, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Canadian Clare Hutchinson will become NATO’s new Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security. TML Weekly warned that this constituted thinly-veiled support to the Trudeau government’s own program. It “has given itself the dishonourable task to convince women – who are in the front ranks of the opposition to aggression and war – to consider the ‘equal opportunity’ offered for recruitment as soldiers, police or spies on behalf of NATO and its members.” This is what it calls empowering women and inclusion.

The HISF further announced a “Halifax Peace with Women Fellowship” based on the “war is peace” and “peace through strength” concepts of NATO: “This 3-week program will initially be offered to between 6 and 10 women from allied militaries. It will give them the opportunity to visit Ottawa, Waterloo, Silicon Valley, and Washington, DC with the aim of studying how Canada and the United States approach strategic challenges.” The perfidy is an insult to all women of Halifax who have stood and fought for peace with dignity and principle.

2018: Not in our name!

After months of delaying tactics and disinformation about the “violence” of protestors, the Halifax City Council on January 31 is forced to send a crew to lift the statue of Cornwallis off its pedestal and removed from the park. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan photo).

The 2018 conference has eight open sessions and 28 closed-door sessions where the public will not know what goes on. Depriving the public of information is done in the name of security and the national interest to make sure that no one gets a sense of the magnitude of the dangerous activities in which Canada is being embroiled. Anyone who opposes such a self-serving conception of both security and the national interest can be then criminalized as a danger to society.

This year’s conference will inaugurate an award called the John McCain Prize for Courage in Public Service to honour as a “moral beacon” the late U.S. Senator, nine time participant in the HISF, who was second to none in using the Halifax podium to champion wars of aggression against Libya, Syria and Iran. Once again the agenda items for the forthcoming 10th Halifax war conference are replete with chauvinism against the peoples of the world. They underscore that this conference is based on an imperialist definition of “values” and “security,” which is itself based on U.S. hegemony, the dominance of “western civilization,” “might makes right,” “responsibility to protect,” and white man’s burden.

On the centenary of the ending of the First World War, t-shirts (below) and buttons declaring “Never Again” (above) have been made for the rally against the US-led Halifax War Conference to be held on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 1 p.m. across from the Westin Hotel.

The Nova Scotia Advocate salutes the thousands of people who have participated in opposing this war conference and the no harbour for war movement since the 1980s.

Not In Our Name!



[1] The GMF convened the “Security Forum” as a component part of a far-reaching reconfiguration for NATO. The NATO Summit in April 2009 held in Strasbourg and Kehl marked the official start of the elaboration of a “new security doctrine” to replace that of 1999, introduced during the air war against Yugoslavia and the first absorption of nations in the former socialist bloc. In July 2009 NATO announced that a “group of experts” would be convened to discuss and plan its new strategy, the same month that NATO’s partner, the GMF, launched its latest security forum to be based in Halifax. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright chaired the group. The co-chairman was Jeroen van der Veer, who until June 30, 2009 was chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell.

[2] Jeffrey Simpson, Chronicle Herald, November 20, 2009.

[3] Chris Lambie, Chronicle Herald, November 20, 2009.

[4] Radwan Ziadeh addressed the HISF but nowhere was it mentioned that he was “Director of Foreign Relations” of the terrorist group. He worked for the Washington-based Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), an U.S. Congress-financed institution studying possible interventions in conflicts around the world, and together with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird addressed the American Jewish Congress at this time. His delegation secretly met with Baird at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on August 5, 2011. No record of Baird’s trip to the U.S. capital appeared on the External Affairs website. This is what the government calls, “engaging with Syrian civil society.” Ziadeh has even been present at the same forums as the leaders of the Transitional Council of Libya.  From New York, Mohammad al-Abdallah, in charge of the SNC youth wing was a program officer with the International Center for Journalists, funded by USAID, the State Dept., NED, the Center for International Private Enterprise, Boeing, Coca-Cola and George Soros’ Open Society. It appears that Dr. Ziadeh and his cohort falls under the same track as a foreign agent. Ziadeh has refused to answer if they will recognize Israel if they form the government of Syria. Because of their allegiances, they refused to answer the question.

The presence of the two SNC operatives in Halifax was revealed on November 27, 2011 by the Turkish press, Today’s Zaman, in a selective interview. Today’s Zaman is an English-language daily, affiliated via partnership with the British daily The Times, and viewed as close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkey – an initial sponsor of the Syrian National Council. Today’s Zaman sent an editor to Halifax. Van Praagh, president of the HISF, is a former NDI country director for Turkey.

[5] Taylor Owen, “Conferencing in Halifax while Rome Burns?,” opencanada.org, 24 November 2011, Canadian International Council


[6] Photos of the Pahlavi monarchical family were prominent displayed on her narcisstic facebook page, (Nazanin Afshin-Jam – Official page). One photo of Reza Shah Pahlavi, and Reza the heir apparent and current head of the House of Pahlavi who resides in a gated community outside Washington was accompanied by the fawning nostalgic caption, “From the days, when Iranians were proud, respected and honored in the world.”

Afshin-Jam was the only Canadian who signed the open letter of “human rights” NGOs in February 2011 to the U.N. Secretary-General, President Obama, and Catherine Ashton demanding international action and intervention in Libya. “The subsequent campaign against Libya was organized by U.N. Watch, a NGO that firmly works to protect and serve Israeli interests. Additionally, only 25 members of this coalition against Tripoli actually asserted that they were human rights organizations. On the basis of their letter and without any evidence or proof about the accusations that Qaddafi had allegedly killed 6000 Libyan civilians, the U.N. Security Council was manipulated by Washington and its allies into creating a no-fly zone. The U.S. and NATO would use this as a pretext and cover for to waging a war of aggression that would illegally end with regime change in Tripoli that would ultimately result in the murder of Muammar Qaddafi in the city of Sirte.” (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, “Libya Déjà Vu in Syria: Using Human Rights Organizations to Launch Wars.” November 20, 2011, Global Research)

[7] Both Peter Van Praagh, president of the HISF board and former head of the Black Sea Trust of the German Marshall Fund, and David Kramer, a high-ranking official in Bush’s State Department responsible for Eastern Europe (2005 to 2008) and HISF board secretary, were intimately involved in organizing the inaugural 2007 Kiev Security Forum in November 14-15 of Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s Open Ukraine Foundation. This too is kept out of the media. At the time he was an obscure “technocrat” and former governor of the National Bank. The aim was to provide a platform to boost his political profile, create elite opinion on the progress made for NATO integration under the Individual Partnership Action Plan, and to combat the movement against joining NATO and against the “visits” of U.S. and NATO warships to its Black Sea ports. It formed a base for political and ideological intervention and subversion in the internal affairs of Ukraine. Sponsors included the U.S. State Dept., NED, the U.S. and Polish embassies, Poland, Swedbank, the NATO Information and Documentation Centre operated by Canada, the International Renaissance Foundation of George Soros, Royal Institute of International Affairs (now known as Chatham House); and Viktor Pinchuk, the second richest oligarch in Ukraine. Yatsenyuk was subsequently installed as prime minister as decreed by U.S. State Dept. official Victoria Nuland before the coup (“Yats is our man”). There is a short line between Kiev and Halifax. For further information on the Kiev Security Forum, see Tony Seed, “Canada’s Unacceptable Mission in Ukraine: Longstanding, Far-Ranging and Unprecedented Intervention,” TML Weekly, June 24, 2017 – No. 23

[8] According to the Baker McKenzie website, “Peter’s practice focuses on government enforcement proceedings and compliance matters, and he provides strategic advice to Canadian companies doing business globally and international companies doing business in Canada.”

Photos by Cal Amyotte; Allan Bezanson; Robert Devet, Nova Scotia Advocate; Jon Elmer; Envision Productions; Taryn Grant, The Signal; Miles Howe, Halifax Media Coop; Toni MacAfee; Mark Rushton; Shunpiking Magazine; Charles Spurr.


Part 3 of a series on the annual Halifax war conference,  written by Tony Seed for the Nova Scotia Advocate.  

See also

Next: The sponsors 

2018 Anti-War Rally: Saturday, November 17 — 1:00 pm


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