Saudi Oppression Boosts Canada’s Economy
The Trudeau government continues to issue export permits for the sale of Canadian-made LAVS (light armored vehicles) to Saudi Arabia – a brutal religious dictatorship that spends lavishly on advanced weapons systems provided mainly by American and EU companies.
The controversial sale of these General Dynamics Canada vehicles was originally orchestrated by the former Harper government who claimed it would stimulate the economy. As well, they emphasized the fact that the vehicles were being exported minus weapons systems. This is like saying that assault rifles are harmless if sold without bullets.
While both the Harper and Trudeau governments have attempted to present the LAV as a benign form of military transportation these vehicles are designed to carry a host of lethal weapons designed primarily for use against heavily-armed enemies. The powerful LAV will mount regular machine guns, automatic grenade launchers, automatic cannons and anti-tank rockets with computerized targeting systems.
Chronicle Herald writer Dan Leger’s recent column entitled, “Saudi deal creates problems for feds” cites a recentlyreleased video that appears to show LAVS, similar to the Canadian exports, employed against minority Shia Saudis. Lending credence to this video, Saudi Arabia’s neighbour Bahrain recently deployed Saudi LAVS to attack domestic pro-democracy demonstrators. Noticeably absent from public discourse in Canada is any input from Bahraini and Saudi human rights activists who have witnessed the lethal power of LAVS. One possible explanation for this exclusion is the cozy relationship the Trudeau government enjoys with media organizations like Torstar.
As an aside, I’ve always noted that air shows and arms “fairs” fail to demonstrate the lethality and power of modern weapons. I’m certain that attendance at military airshows would radically decrease if ballistic jelly dummies were bombed, strafed and napalmed before horrified onlookers. Military and “security” conventions have learned their lesson after many embarrassing demonstrations. They now operate on an invitationonly basis that naturally includes sympathetic members of the corporate media seeking defense association awards for their faithful service to Canadian militarism and the arms industry. Corporate pundits are positioned to reveal the darker aspects of Canada’s military activities including the negative effects of weapons exports. Instead, they regurgitate arms industry press releases and writing glowing accounts of overseas valor.
Canada currently exports light armoured vehicles, small arms, ammunition and a wide array of military training technology to other NATO states and any country not labeled communist or linked to federally-designated terrorist entities. Politicians and arms dealers frequently mention the security of end-user certificates but these documents can’t prevent recipient states from weapons redistribution. Canada’s so-called defense export industry is currently ranked at number fifteen globally. This is quite a feat for a nation formerly noted for UN peace-keeping.
Canada’s closest competitors are technologically advanced nations like Israel who specialize in surveillance systems and domestic security devices pioneered during their ongoing campaign to supress Palestinian nationalism. Both Canadian and American police are regularly advised and trained by Israeli experts who profit handsomely from teaching the latest techniques of crowd-control and the infiltration of activist groups opposed to government policy or advocating for the rights of indigenous people and immigrants.
Concerning designated terrorist organizations, Israel is the exception since Canada recently agreed to sell that state a large number of C7 assault rifles. These modern M-16s are being exported despite the Jewish extremist group Kahane being considered a terrorist entity by the Canadian government. The Prime Minister must be aware that eventually hypervelocity bullets from these weapons will strike Palestinians living in areas illegally-occupied by Israel. Of course, such exports were predictable after Canada signed the Canada-israel Free Trade Agreement in 1997. According to Canadian author Yves Engler, the pact is, “…an implicit recognition of the occupation” since Canada accepts Israeli customs jurisdiction over the occupied West Bank.
Before arming the Saudi despots, Canada was pleased to exports millions of rounds of small arms ammunition to the U.S. for use in Afghanistan and Iraq and anywhere else the Bush and Obama regimes chose to invade. Undoubtedly, Donald Trump’s America First policy will not preclude the importation of Canadian military products when required. Canadian manufacturers had previously profited from American militarism in South East Asia. As well, the Mulroney government sold Canada’s stock of used small arms to Turkey in the early 1990s but cancelled the sale of fighter bombers after public pressure. Then as now, Turkey is conducting a brutal campaign of atrocities against Kurdish nationalists.
Concerning the current LAV sales to Saudi Arabia, Chrystia Freeland and Justin Trudeau offer only indignation and vague statements about holding that government accountable for its savage oppression. While it is awful to contemplate the following conclusion, it seems that anonymous Arabs must indeed die to protect Canadian jobs and politicians. What some call diplomacy is really just cover for the sort of ruthless expediency that continues to justify profit at any price.
Light Armoured Vehicles like the Canadian-made General Dynamics Land Systems LAV III pictured here, are slated to be sold by Canada to Saudi Arabia, despite the country's record of human rights violations.