I read an interesting story in the Gulf News today- The Beginning Of A Great Game In Afghanistan. The article discusses how “regional states (are) busy carving out their respective spheres of influence.” Basically, everyone is fighting for their slice of the pie. It’s an interesting story, and has some parallels with what’s happening in Canada- things like pipelines, copper mines, small populations, and lack of military power. This was a toxic mix for Afghanistan- how will it work out for Canada?
The Great Game was a battle between the British and the Russian empires for control of Central Asia from the early 1800’s through to the Russian Revolution. The board game Risk is based on the Great Game- multiple players battle for world dominance through force and diplomacy. Curiously, both Alberta and Afghanistan are territories listed on the board.
But, that was 100 years ago- right? Who cares?
Today we have the New Great Game. It’s really the same game- only, the focus these days has been much more on the supply and movement oil and natural gas. I discussed this in Pipelines And Unintended Consequences– the countries of Central Asia are pawns in this game, and they have been subject to some pretty horrible experiences. Azerbaijan isn’t even a space on the Risk board. One of the most revealing quotes to come out of Bradley Manning’s submission to Wikileaks came from a leaked US embassy cable from London to Washington:
“Addressing the Ambassador directly, Prince Andrew then turned to regional politics. He stated baldly that “the United Kingdom, Western Europe (and by extension you Americans too)” were now back in the thick of playing the Great Game. More animated than ever, he stated cockily: “And this time we aim to win!
There are three types of players in a game like this- those who are encouraging the game, those who don’t know it’s being played, and those who would rather their country not be involved. Very few countries have been successful in the latter group- only Switzerland and Thailand come to mind.
So, which group is Canada in? It seems to me that many of our leaders – both on the left and the right – are in the first group, people encouraging the game. There are a couple of problems with this. First, it appears that the majority of Canadians are either ignorant of the big game, or they would rather we aren’t involved.
The next problem is that Canada is only a pawn- we’e a very large country with a small population and a weak military. Despite some people’s self-delusions, Canada has very little power in this game. If a Canadian government decided to close-down all oil production, it’s likely they would be crushed by foreign influencers. This could happen through military, economic sanctions, or being cut-off from vital resources we don’t have.
The problem is being exasperated by trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership. Not only are we losing control of our natural resources, but of our intellectual property rights too. Our government is negotiating this agreement in secret meetings- the people are only to know the results when they are ready to be signed.
Today there’s a New, New Great Game- and it’s migrated from Asia over to Canada. Foreign influencers in the US, UK, China, Iran and other countries are competing for power and influence here. Most Canadians know this, but only few take the time to understand what it all really means. Do you know who is in-control of Canada?
There was a lot of talk about China in the news this week. First there was the debate about the Chinese buying Nexen– an oil & gas (tarsands) company based out of Alberta. Next there was a story about Huawei- the US government has warned that their equipment has been used for spying, they supply equipment to Telus, Bell and Wind. Are we at risk? Of course we are- how many people have already died in this world over oil? If you know anything about the history of telecoms & spying, the Huawei story has probably already creeped you out.
Spying on telecoms is an old, and powerful, game that has been in-play for many years. Amdocs, an Israeli telecom billing company has been implicated in a number of spy scandals. Telus & Bell use Amdocs. Is the Chinese government using Huawei equipment to help with their negotiations over Nexen? They’re playing The Great Game, and Prince Andrew has already stated that he’s playing to win. So, it’s highly probable they are- they’d be fools if they weren’t.
As much as the Chinese are messing around with Canada, so are the Americans. The US government holds great power over Canada, many of our country’s decisions are made with great consideration to American needs. We’re bound by trade agreements, blackmailed with sanctions and stuck in the American’s insane drug war. And, don’t fool yourself- it’s not just Harper, Mulcair or Trudeau would be equally bound to Chinese and American power.
Canada is highly-influenced by American corporation and NGO’s. Americans own Canadian land, companies and natural resource rights in the same way as the Chinese. American NGO’s, however, have much stronger grasp on Canadian power than Chinese NGO’s could dream for. The Koch Brothers and the TIDES Foundation (Hewlett, Packard, Soros, Rockefeller & Pew) sink 10’s of millions of dollars into think-tanks, activist and lobbyist groups.
American unions are also very influential. Some have a direct presence in Canada, like the Steelworkers, Teamsters and the Communications Workers of America. Others are actively protecting the interests of their members over those of Canadians.
I don’t think it’s necessary to get too-deep into the power the British have over Canada. There’s one example that says it all- the queen’s representative has the power to shut-down our parliament. Enough said?
There are also smaller countries influencing Canadian affairs. We’re all familiar with the Israel lobby, and Stephen Harper’s often reckless support of Israel at any costs. There’s also influence from countries like Iran, who’s state-owned television network is broadcasting untrue propaganda pieces about Canada. The Palestinians are also trying to influence Canadians, with political influencers like Judy Rebick helping to lead their charge.
So, what does this mean for the people living in Canada, and how much power do we really have over our own country? Well, we may be the 2nd largest country in the world, but we are 34th in population. The reality is that we don’t really have that much power over our own country. Partly because of our size, part because of our lack of military power, and part because many of our politicians are too busy concentrating their own power to be thinking about what’s good for the country.
Our leaders have been very busy making compromises to foreign powers. The Conservatives are blatantly pushing forward in their support of Israel and China. The NDP is so deep in with American NGO’s and unions that they are losing their own identity. Adrian Dix of the BC NDP is already making compromises with China- standing against oil pipelines while quietly supporting natural gas fracking pipelines. Liberal BC premier Christy Clark has travelled to China more times than Marco Polo.
Meanwhile, ordinary Canadians are stuck in the middle, hoping that everything works out well in this Great Game. The only problem is that history shows that it won’t. The odds are against us, the world’s great powers want our wealth and they will do whatever it takes to get it.
So, should we just give-up? Of course not- it is more important than ever that Canadians take back control of their country. We need to insist that our politicians are working towards the good of our country, and less for the benefit of our foreign influencers. We need to better regulate foreign corporations, NGO’s, and unions who have been exerting their influence.
Individual Canadians need to me knowledgeable about our government’s policies, and more critical when they are being steered in the wrong direction. The reality is that it’s not Harper who’s killing Canada- if Mulcair or Trudeau were in power things wouldn’t be so different. The problem is with the people of Canada, most of us are not fully aware of the complexities of the Great Game and how it influences us. Until the people of this country understand what’s happening and until they are politically active, we will only be pawns.
It’s time for our country to wake up…