Evil war – Battlefield Canada

I have always blamed the west for having stereotype about the Middle East, but as it turns out, I had stereotypes about the west as well. Coming here from another part of the world, with its own set of political conflicts, economic problems, and social difficulties, I had an idea about Canada that is not quite accurate. One could assume that a society in a first world country would be more aware about (and more active in fighting) the impact of oil corporations, and foreign governments on their lives and their land. I was surprised to find that here, like in my region of origin, the lack of public knowledge and interest is causing the same difficulties!

Two days ago I met with Charlie Smith, the Editor of The Georgia Straight. Not to my surprise, he was one of the most enlightened people I had the pleasure to meet during my short time here in Canada. He was kind enough to give me an insight into the journalism industry in Vancouver, and to write very delightful words about our meeting on the Georgia Straight’s Blog.

We talked about many things, the Middle East, Canada, the economics of newspapers, and the casual chit chat of any two men in the same profession or industry.

Charlie opened my eyes to a whole new topic, that I, in my immigrant’s small world, was completely oblivious to, which is a proxy war over Canada’s tar sands between the US, and China.

What Charlie said rang a bell in my mind about many phenomena that we have been witnessing in the Middle East for a very long time, and made me realize that one of our most valued commonality as humans everywhere are our shared challenges.

For some reason, I have always imagined oil as some sort of black evil, buried deep inside earth. In fact in many religions devil is believed to have been made of fire. Oil is black, it burns, and it is making people go mad, and fight with each other. It seems as if wherever there is oil, there is always conflict, and in many cases there is also bloodshed. A quick look into the history of the Middle East (the world’s oil capital) could reveal how truthful this theory can be.

The battle over oil between the US and China is becoming pretty open, especially with the increasing global demand for oil, and the importance of oil supplies for the two countries’ economic growth. In some cases, this battle was dealt with by competing over oil supplies using better terms, prices, or proposals. In other cases, the situations got really nasty.

In the case of Sudan for example, the US supported the separatist movement in the oil-rich south, which recently led to announcing the sovereign state of Southern Sudan. By so doing, the US has taken over a big oil reserve away from China, who has been enjoying juicy oil exporting deals with the Sudanese government for a while.

Iraq, with its immense oil reserves, was one of the bloodiest battlefields for this war. The US involvement there upset many countries in the world, including three permanent members of the UN Security Council France, Russia, and, of course, China.

Iran is another place where this global race to secure long-term oil resources is taking place. China is one of the biggest buyers of Iran’s crude oil, and it has a vested interest in preventing the US from launching a war against Iran. It went to the extent that the Ex Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went to Saudi Arabia in a mission to convince the latter to promise China to substitute its crude oil needs in exchange for allowing the US to launch a military strike against Iran.

For us “in” the Middle East this play have been going on for a while, and for some reason it is easier to think that a democratic country like Canada, with high levels of education, would be immune from this type of influence. The truth is, if Canada, a first world country, is becoming the next battlefield for this evil war, then this will basically mean that the whole world is now a battlefield.

It put me beside myself to see the pictures of destruction that the beautiful forests of Alberta are suffering from for the sake of extracting oil. It made me feel that if the fight for sustainability is lost here in a country this beautiful, with natural life this rich, and with people this good, and this educated, and with this amount of freedom, then there is simply no hope for this planet. If we can’t stand against this evil war’s destructive footsteps on our beautiful land, then it would be almost impossible for those ruled with tyranny or burdened with hunger and ignorance to take on this fight.

Canada now stands in the forefront of this destructive war over resources, and at the center of the clash between environmental sustainability and oil greed. Getting involved in protecting this beautiful land, and therefore our planet, is no longer a matter of luxury, it’s a question of survival.

I understand and appreciate that Charlie wanted to encourage me and point me in the right direction, but what he didn’t know is that his words triggered something deeper in me. Charlie’s remarks got me out of my small-time immigrant’s world and threw me right into a furious, global, battlefield. A war that I thought was much smaller, a one that I thought I have left behind.

It got me out of my escapist’s belief that immigrating to a better land can be a solution to all problems, into being burdened with the aspiration to create a better world everywhere. It made me think that there are no easy fixes in this life, and that if you long for a better world you have to create it, there’s no other way around that.

Now it’s not just a matter of finding a job in journalism to pay the rent (it was never only that in fact), and it’s not about being a journalist because this is my calling or because this is what I enjoy the most, now it’s personal.

Now I know that there is no place to hide, and that this is a challenge that I just need to take. I need to find the truth, and then I need to deliver it. I will hope that after that we, as a nation, will find a way to spare Canada this evil war, and everything that comes with it, and then export our experience to the rest of the world. That’s the Canada that I want to belong to, and that’s the Canadian that I want to become.

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