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Ignorance, Apathy, Empire

By Matthew Clark


It is difficult to believe any people are as ignorant of their nations history, as is true of Canadians. Of course when the education system only requires their pupils take history every other year, while the culture outside academia rarely refers to the past, except to express outrage, low expectations are realistic, if not desirable.


Perhaps the area of their past Canadians are most unaware of is the Canadian federal government, accompanied by a few private interests, ventures in Empire. As is common with good(?) progressives, Canadians verse themselves in the malignant characteristics of the European imperialists, or denounce China's occupation of Tibet as major power colonialism. Yet when it comes to the episodes of their own nations pursuit of Empire the citizens of the Great White North take an apathetic 'Ignorance is Bliss' approach.


How many Canucks know of their military intervention in Russian affairs during that country's 1918-1922 civil war? During March 1918 two companies of Canadian infantry, under Colonel J.B. Leckie, landed in Murmansk, Russia, assisting in taking physical possession of the municipality for the Western allies (United States, Great Britain, France, etc.). Canada was not at war with Russia, indeed Russia was a dedicated military ally of Canada from August 1914, until March 1918. Five months after landing in Murmansk, during September of the same year, the 16th Canadian Artillery Brigade took up position in Archangel, Russia. All of these units skirmished with Russian communists in a civil war which was none of Canada's business. How futile this intervention was is testified by the fact these units left Archangel in June 1919, and Murmansk during August 1919, without having accomplished anything of consequence, except to get some of their comrades wounded, and killed!


Unfortunately the Canadian governments meddling into Russian affairs, while the tragic civil war raged, did not stop. On August 12, 1918 the Canadian Dominion (federal) government authorized the Siberian Expeditionary Force. Four thousand Canadian troops went to Siberia, sevent per cent of whom did so unwillingly (refernce Valourcanada.ca/military-history-library) These armed forces personnel occupied Vladavostok. With Canadian trrops patrolling the streets of the Russian Siberian city the Royal Bank of Canada set up a branch in the metropolis. Royal Northwest Mounted Police (forefathers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP) assumed criminal enforcement responsibilities in town, while the Dominions postal service started to handle postal delivery. The Hudson Bay Company, an icon to many citizens of the Northern North America country, studied the possibility of expanding into Siberia. Eventually the company did briefly set up a trading post on the Tigel River, through the summer of 1921. All of these measures were decreed from Canada, not Russia! This charade of imperial pretension in Siberia started to be mercifully revoked April 1919, as the Dominion government ordered the first withdrawal of the nations military personnel. By June 5 the armed forces component of this sorry venture was over. Unfortunately not before a few more of Canadas soldiers had become casualties.


Another example of Great White North (absurd?) aspirations of Empire is the saga of The Brazilian Traction, Light, and Power Company, founded in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 7, 1899. During today's contemporary era of Progressive (?) Globalism there has been a great deal of focus on the extensive influence of multinational corporations. Yet multinational companies existed long before the present globalist age. Similar to Globalist times was the concern these entities raised among the populace by their seemingly overarching power within the jurisdictions where they operated.


Such was the case with the Canadian owned Brazilian Traction Light and Power Company, which retained and operated, the public transportation, and power electric utilities for Brazil's major urban areas. From early in the 20th century, until 1966 when when the Brazilian government nationalized the companies physical assets within that country, the Brazilian Traction Light and Power Company acted as almost a second government for the Portugese speaking state. Whenever a local lawmaker, or a social activist, challenged the companies status, it seemed that one of Brazils harbours was visited by an American, British, or Canadian warship. These courtesy calls produced effective results until 1966 when Brazilians, fed up with the intimidating tactics, nationalized the multinational corporation despite the chance of negative consequences.


Iceland has also experienced Canadian attempts at Empire grandeur. Iceland was the only non Axis alliance nation during World War Two to be occuppied by the Allied Powers. Originally it was the British who conquered the innocent country. Stretched thin by the wars demands, the Brits requested troops from their Canadian allies to relieve their own forces on the Atlantic Island. On May 18, 1940 the British left, and the Royal Canadian Army troops arrived. Three battalions (Royal Regiment of Canada, Fusiliers Mont-Royal, Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa) under the command of Brigadier L.F. Page took up sentry duty in the Scandinavian nation. Fortunately the amateur imperialists soon gave way to the genuine article. Starting in April 1941 American military personnel arrived on the island to assume control of the country. This allowed a quick escape by the Canucks before their presence had resulted in them inflicting any substantial damage on the Icelanders.


Canada is not a great power. Indeed, despite Canadian politicians claim to the contrary, she is not even a middle power! So Canadians escapades into empire have been dearth in volume, short in duration, and substandard in consequence. Nevertheless they have transpired. Citizens of the Northern Kingdom should not self righteously assert otherwise. To do so leaves the possibility for more ill advised imperial adventures, made possible by an ignorant, apathetic public. There is even the possibility that such an occurance is taking place now!


In the last 30 years there has been a geometric rise in the membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). At present the military institution comprises 31 nations, Canada included ( With a political movement within Ireland to join the organization). Geographically the Alliance stretches from the western tip of Alaska to the Eastern border of Finland, as well as having a northern border covering the Artic Ocean, with the southern portion of NATO being either the Mediterranean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico. NATO member nations are involved, in some shape or form, in military conflicts ranging from the Ukrainian steppes to the Syrian and Libyan desserts. Oilfields in Iraq, Somalia coastlines, the Serbian/Kosovo border, these and more are subjected to the Alliances military overlordship.


As if this range of territory was not difficult enough to manage, above all to manage peacefully, the NATO member governments, with the Canadian federal governments accordance, desire to expand into Asia, and Oceania. At the last 2 annual meetings of the military organization the political leaders of Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia, have been in attendance. A proposal submitted by the Japanese government to the NATO membership, to have NATO place an office in Tokyo (Japan's capital) is presently under consideration by the North Atlantic Council, the principal political decision making body within NATO. Furthermore the last annual membership meeting issued a statement that:" From a defence standpoint NATO and the four partners(Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand) will aim to improve the interoperability of their military(s)." In regular talk this last segment translates as :"Co-ordinate their military actions!"


From an Alliance formed in 1949 to protect Western Europe from Soviet Union predation NATO has metamorphisized into an imperial behemoth displaying a limitless ability to interfere in every nation on the globe internal affairs, no matter how inconsequential the issue may be. Originally a Republic in structure, NATO is now an imperial institution possessing scope, wealth, and power, which would cause envy in Augustus Caesar, or Tang Taizong, were they alive today to observe it.


Within this extensive domain lies a participating Canada, with a citizenry as currently ignorant and apathetic, of their present colonial engagement, as their foreparents were of past enterprises in empire. Historically efforts in empire have a tendancy toward war, whether they be European, Arab, Oriental, or any other civilization. NATO in the last 30 years has been involved in military conflicts transpiring in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine (volunteer forces). Canadians have had some degree of involvement in all these military clashes. With the Alliance's ever expanding breath, and scope, it is highly unlikely the organization can, or will, avoid getting entwined in a battle which demands substantial contribution from all it's member nations, both in warriors needed, and resources (equipment). The resulting bloodbath, because major wars are always a bloodbath, will make ignorance and apathy seem like poor excuses indeed.


In the interest of her sons and daughters, future prosperityof her population, as well as moral integrity of her people, Canadians would be wise to debate the wisdom, or lack of it, in continuing to participate within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Empire.


References:

The Royal Edmonton Military Webpage





nauticapedia



Library and Canada Archives Canadian Blog






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