On Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, UofT’s Munk School of Global Affairs is presenting a talk that is basically a long infomercial to make the case for ever more extensions of imperialist military aggression in the Middle East, with a focus on Iran. The description of the event, with lines like “training and equipping terrorist organizations across the region” (unfortunately, not referring to the CIA), reads like a neocon propaganda piece… because it is. The speakers are both from the so-called “Foundation for Defense of Democracies”, a DC-based group which seems to exist mainly to lobby Congress for always more endless war, and which is evidently associated with the former home base of one of the speakers, the notorious neocon think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.
None of this should be surprising given what we know about the raison d’être of this Munk School business…
Check it out! http://munkschool.utoronto.ca/event/14931/
On Tuesday, over 40 people responded to the call despite the poor weather, and gathered at Hart House to denounce the Munk School’s imperialist war planning exercise, the Canada-Australia Military Conference. After some words from a variety of groups working for social justice in Toronto, we decided to march into the conference. Though the police stopped us from getting all the way into the hall, we did push their line part way down the hallway leading to it and chanted loudly for a long time, telling the Major-General and his cronies to go home. A member of Afghans for Peace joined us and delivered her speech right there within earshot of the conference, denouncing UofT complicity in the NATO occupation. A journalist who was on the inside later told us that things got pretty tense in there.
In terms of fighting imperialism on campus, we are barely scratching the surface. As a “world-class city”, Toronto is a place where institutions plan projects that displace people all over the globe – and a place where people gather to find livelihoods and security. It’s one thing to disrupt networks of war planning, it’s another to disrupt the deeper patterns of exploitation and social control that unfold around us. Take the case of campus food services workers: they are now facing serious hostility in their negotiations with the giant transnational corporations who control food concessions at UofT. Is it in keeping with values of justice and equality for our campus to be divided into those with the privilege to study (not to mention the hierarchies of power and privilege within this category), and those who do the manual labour? Can we say we’re fighting imperialism on campus if we’re not fighting the systemic exploitation that tends to go unmentioned?
With this in mind, all who can are encouraged to join the rally being organized by members of UNITE HERE Local 75, representing two thousand food service, hotel and hospitality workers, on Monday April 16. Cafeteria workers working for Compass and Aramark at the University of Toronto and York University and hotel workers at the Park Hyatt have recently joined this union. They are now fighting for new collective agreements with higher standards and more workplace respect, and they are calling for wider support.
The plan: gather at the Park Hyatt Hotel, then march to U of T’s Sid Smith Hall for a rally with Local 75 cafeteria workers, too many of whom still work for close to minimum wage, with only part-time hours, with few or no benefits. Help them tell university administrators it’s time to set a new standard for campus food service workers!
WHEN: Monday, April 16th
WHERE: Meet at the Park Hyatt (4 Avenue Road at Bloor) at 5pm.
March to Sid Smith Hall (100 St. George Street) for a Rally at Sid Smith Hall at 6:30pm.
Share the event on facebook.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Spread the word, and see you all there!
The Anti-Corporatization Working Group of the University of Toronto General Assembly is inviting students and community members to protest a high-level military conference being held on campus, sponsored by the Munk School of Global Affairs. The protest will target the increasing militarization of international studies at the University, which is being promoted alongside the ceding of academic planning control to the corporate sector.
WHAT: Protest Against the Canada-Australia Military Conference on Afghanistan at UofT
WHEN: Tuesday, April 10, 1 to 3 pm
WHERE: Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto
The two-day conference entitled “Afghanistan: The Australian and the Canadian Experience Compared” is being co-sponsored by UofT’s Munk School and Trinity College’s Centre for the Study of Contemporary International History (CCSCIH). The protest is planned to coincide with a panel discussion featuring Major-General Jonathan Vance, Director of Staff, Strategic Joint Staff, Canadian Forces, and one of the architects of the occupation of Afghanistan.
The Munk School is becoming a testing ground for the militarization of Canadian campuses. As University administrators consent to the withdrawal of public funding, academic decision-making authority is being given over to powerful companies like Barrick Gold. While career prospects in socially-conscious research are being squeezed to the unfunded margins, the global security-industrial complex is positioning itself to recruit newly precarious young scholars.
In response, we will gather to oppose the militarization of our university and the occupation of Afghanistan, and to demand that our resources be invested in building spaces for research in favor of social justice instead of imperialist war.
We oppose Canadian imperialism in its multiple forms: from outright invasion and bombing, to the training and supervision roles that are the new focus of Western occupying forces in Afghanistan; to the mining companies like Munk’s Barrick Gold who profit from militarization around the world. A conference concerned with regional peace and security might want to talk about the insecurity and destabilization caused by Barrick Gold’s incursions into the Balochistan region around the Afghan/Pakistan border. Instead, this conference excludes the voices of the local Afghan community and different anti-war perspectives, and aims to recruit researchers into the military-industrial complex.
On April 10 and 11, UofT’s Munk School of Global Affairs, along with Trinity College’s Centre for the Study of Contemporary International History (CCSCIH), is hosting a two-day conference entitled “Afghanistan: The Australian and the Canadian Experience Compared”. The event will bring together “Canadian and Australian military officers, senior diplomats, elected officials and other policymakers, and onetime representatives of international organizations and Afghanistan itself”. Speakers include Major-General Jonathan Vance, Director of Staff, Strategic Joint Staff, Canadian Forces, and one of the architects of the occupation of Afghanistan; author/politician Michael Ignatieff, famous for his endorsement of the war on Iraq; Conservative MP Chris Alexander, Former Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan and UN Special Representative to Afghanistan; and a host of other members of Canada’s militarist elite.
As is clear from the event description, with “Afghanistan itself” appearing as an afterthought, the perspectives of Afghans themselves are of little importance for those organizing this event. While two former high-ranking representatives of the Afghan government will be in attendance – Omar Samad, Former Ambassador to Canada and France, and Humayun Hamidzada, former Deputy Minister for Policy, Ministry of Finance – not a single member of Toronto’s populous Afghan community will be addressing the audience. The anti-war discourse and vocal local organizing of networks such as Afghans for Peace might help explain the fact that such groups are not invited to the table when Canadian military elites discuss their country’s governance.
Presented with partners Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy and Canadian Forces College, this type of event can be understood as a stage set for aspiring scholars of “global affairs” to become enrolled into projects of militarized global governance. This is in keeping with the latest Canadian government policy orientations: the Canadian Senate’s standing committee on national security and defence recently recommended the Department of National Defence/Canadian Forces re-establish a military presence on campuses.
Munk School: Global Security Nexus
The Munk School is becoming a testing ground for the militarization of Canadian campuses, reflecting the shifting priorities of UofT’s increasingly corporate-controlled academic planning. As University administrators consent to the withdrawal of public funding, academic decision-making authority is being ceded to the corporate sector. Career prospects in “pure” research are gradually being squeezed to the unfunded margins, and the global security-industrial complex is positioning itself to recruit newly precarious young scholars.
UofT’s promotion of careers in the ascendant war and development planning machine fits within broader trends towards securitization of research and development. The security agenda suits resource companies such as Peter Munk‘s Barrick Gold, whose profitability depends on the violent repression carried out by security forces around sites of extraction in countries such as Papua New Guinea and Tanzania. It also suits communication technologies companies such as Research In Motion (RIM), who design security platforms to equip the ever-expanding surveillance and communication networks of security states everywhere. The enrolment of scholars into militarization mirrors the work of one of the tenants of the Munk School’s new digs on Bloor Street: the Canadian International Council, a right-wing think tank directed by RIM’s Jim Balsillie, Peter Munk and other members of Canada’s corporate elite to lobby on behalf of banking, resource and technology sectors.
Imperial Fantasy and Confrontation
Canada’s military-academic nexus is particularly obsessed with fantasizing about countries such as Afghanistan as places in need of “counterinsurgency” and “stabilization” in the interests of “global security”. The Orwellian discourse that is being enacted at the Munk School is conveniently silent on the disruptions to security and stability being caused by Barrick Gold’s attempted incursions into nearby Balochistan. As we know from the case of Barrick’s successful SLAPP lawsuit against Québec publisher Écosociété – whose book Noir Canada documents Barrick, Banro and other Toronto-based mining companies’ role in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – such silencing can take a very aggressive shape.
Meanwhile, Canada’s state development agency CIDA is doing its part to contain surging global resistance to Canadian extractive industries, by linking its community programs to “corporate social responsibility” projects of Canadian resource extraction companies. Canadian foreign policy strategists are tightening the interlocking synergy of Canada’s defence forces, international development industry, and resource extraction capital. UofT has emerged as the central node for recruiting the intellectual talent needed to pursue this project of flexible, strategically networked Canadian imperialism.
The Munk School has a history of celebrating Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan, from speaking engagements with Major-General Vance, to Munk School director Janice Stein’s mindless war-boosting. As per standard procedure for these types of policy-oriented events, the sessions promise to be free of any opportunities for critical discussions beyond the limits of the standard narrative of benevolent Western intervention in a “complex” situation.
The escalation of war planning on UofT grounds demands public expressions of opposition. The recent rejection by York University faculty of a contract with RIM shows that campuses can be defended from the corporate/military governance agenda. It is up to members of the wider UofT community to contest and reject the war planners’ takeover of our learning spaces.
Interested in getting involved to challenge the militarization of UofT?
To urge Trinity College’s CCSCIH to disengage from the militarist agenda and withdraw from participating in this conference, email email@example.com
…and stay tuned for updates!
A tiny bit of good news: U of T media relations have taken the “Iran experts” page off their website. Of course, this doesn’t mean people like Aurel Braun won’t continue to use their titles as U of T professors to authorize their fear-mongering and urgings towards another Mideast war.
U of T’s war lobby will take hard work to dismantle. The ascendant Munk School of Global Affairs, created by secret agreement between the U of T leadership and mining baron Peter Munk, has been stocking its faculty with military-friendly scholars teaching students about how to govern the “global system”. Students in the new Master’s in Global Affairs program get to take fun courses such as “Understanding National, Transnational and Global Security Threats” taught by Linda Goldthorp – on leave from her job as Director of Intelligence Production at Canada’s Department of Defence. It is worth noting that students in other programs are barred from taking these courses, presumably to keep critical voices from disrupting the formation of imperial imaginaries in the next generation of elite technocrats.
U of T’s media relations team is doing its part to promote the Harper regime’s militarist agenda. Recently, media relations distributed a list of “Iran experts” for the media to contact regarding “a variety of issues related to Iran and its nuclear program”. The scholars listed include professors of Jewish Studies, Israel, International Law and War, but interestingly, not a single member of the U of T’s own Iranian Studies Faculty.
Some of the “Iran experts” U of T is feeding to the media are vocal supporters of war against Iran, such as Aurel Braun, the UTM PoliSci professor who is well-known for his active support of American and Israeli military policies. The list also includes the Munk Centre’s Wesley Wark, a past president of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies; Emanuel Adler, the Charles and Andrea Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies; and Ed Morgan, a lawyer who has defended the illegal blockade of Gaza.
U of T media relations is working to build the momentum of the war lobby in the wake of the latest IAEA report that was spun in the US and Canadian media as proof of the supposed threat posed by the Iranian state’s development of nuclear technologies. In most of this media coverage, the fact that Iran is in fact a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is apparently not worth mentioning, nor is the fact that Israel, with its hundreds of nuclear warheads and ongoing history of attacking both its neighbours and populations under its control, refuses to join the NPT. This obfuscation is true of U of T’s interventions on the issue as well, with a recent issue of the Bulletin featuring a ranting interview with Braun in which he states that “deterrence will not likely work” because Iran “celebrate[s] death”.
Who is “celebrating death” here? Why is U of T media relations promoting war instead of peace? Shouldn’t a list of “Iran experts” exclude neo-con war lobbyists and include instead actual scholars of Iranian politics and society? Let the media relations team know what you think: bother them at 416-978-0100, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Canadian military is intensifying its presence at the University of Toronto, and U of T decision-makers have opened the door to the war lobby.
This year, U of T created a new position called “Public Servant in Residence”, for Linda Goldthorp – who previously served as Director General, Intelligence Production at National Defence Canada. Dr. Goldthorp now teaches courses on the “globalization of Canadian national security” to undergraduate and graduate students at U of T. On November 29, she will be speaking at the School of Public Policy and Governance in an event titled “An Intelligent Role for Intelligence: Supporting Operations and Policy Planning” (12:15 pm at the Canadiana Gallery, Room 150, 14 Queens Park Cres. W). Part of a series aiming to “connect policy students, practitioners, and members of the public with prominent policy actors with international experience”, this is about enrolling the academic community into the imperial war effort, be it in Afghanistan, Libya, or wherever the Western powers decide to bring it next.
Last year, a group of students mobilized against military recruitment on campus. At that time, the Career Centre pleaded that it could not discriminate among employers, and simply wanted to provide students with a full range of career opportunities. With our new “Public Servant in Residence” straight out of the highest ranks of the military intelligence establishment, it becomes clear that the U of T administration’s commitment to war runs much deeper. The Munk School has provided a special chair for former war correspondent Brian Stewart to fawn over the likes of Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, one of the chief architects of Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan. Munk School director Janice Stein parades as a “peace expert” while consistently endorsing militarism, while PoliSci prof David Cameron brags about wearing a flak jacket in Iraq while helping the National Democratic Institute manipulate Iraqi politics. More recently, U of T sent out to its students an edition of the Bulletin containing a hawkish, islamophobic tirade in favor of war against Iran written by Aurel Braun, the UTM PoliSci prof and Munk Centre/Centre for International Studies fellow who was appointed by Prime Minister Harper to lead Rights and Democracy and promptly cancelled funding to NGOs working for Palestinian human rights. All this is in addition to the weapons design research being done by U of T researchers, U of T’s massive investments in companies that provide weaponry for illegal military occupations, and Munk Centre sponsor Barrick Gold’s bankrolling of oppressive militias and armies from Papua New Guinea to Tanzania. On every front, U of T’s public intellectuals are acting and speaking in the service of imperial war, and our administration and corporate benefactors are entrenching complicity.
How can the U of T community resist the complicity that is being forced on us by the administration and its high-profile public “experts”? In the face of the blatant dissonance between U of T’s stated commitment to “human rights” on one hand, and its embrace and promotion of militarism on the other, what can we do to enact a vision of campus as a space where people get together to work for justice and peace?
The situation calls for long-term efforts by members of the campus community. We need to make U of T’s involvement in imperial war into a topic of discussion on campus. In the meantime, concerned community members can contact those responsible for opening U of T to the war lobby and demand a change in priorities.
Tell Mark Stabile, director of the School of Public Policy and Governance, to cancel the Linda Goldthorp lecture, and to revoke her Public Servant in Residence nomination in favor of someone whose public service involves social justice, not war planning. phone: 416-978-4329, fax: 416-978-5079; email: email@example.com
Tell Louis Pauly, director of the Centre for International Studies, to demote his war lobby faculty and promote scholars critical of imperialism instead. phone: 416-946-8930, fax: 416-946-8915, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell Elaine Smith, editor of the Bulletin, to issue a formal apology and retraction for publishing and distributing Braun’s war-mongering. phone: 416-978-7016, email: email@example.com
Sign on to a petition against military recruitment and military presence on campus.
Sign on to Students Against Israeli Apartheid’s petition for U of T to divest from companies complicit in the occupation of Palestine.
Gather and distribute information about campus complicity in war: we need to know more about how U of T investments, research and participation in governance projects are contributing to the war economy.
Talk to your friends, family and the wider U of T campus community about what it means to be members of a campus where war and imperialism are being planned and promoted, and strategize around ways to build a campus movement for international solidarity, justice and peace.