Yves Engler on Lester Pearson

Truth is often a casualty in politics. Thankfully, there’s Yves Engler–Canada’s version of Noam Chomsky–to set the record straight when political spin morphs into historical fact. Engler, who was born in Vancouver, has written a new book called Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping–The Truth May Hurt, which dispenses with all that hogwash about Canada’s Nobel Prize-winning prime minister actually being a man of peace.

“As I’ve noted elsewhere, [Stephen] Harper militarized foreign policy, supported Israeli crimes, undermined Latin American democracy and weakened important international agreements,” Engler writes in his book. “Nonetheless, Pearson was culpable for more death and destruction.”

You can hear Engler make the case tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at W2 Media Cafe (111 West Hastings) when he speaks at a Vancouver book launch.

Engler relies in part on the research of another Vancouver-born historian, John Price, whose ‘Orienting’ Canada: Race, Empire and the Transpacific 1907-1956blew the lid off how Canadian officials supported U.S. preparations for the deployment and use of biological weapons in the Korean War.

And who was Canada’s external-affairs minister at the time? None other than Lester B. Pearson.

In his sixth book, Engler also demonstrates how Pearson enabled the massive U.S. bombing campaigns on North Vietnam.

The International Control Commission for Vietnam was created with members from Canada, Poland, and India to enforce the Geneva Accords to unify the country in a national election. Pearson thwarted its work by recognizing the government of South Vietnam, which refused to go along with allowing a vote.

Pearson also played a major role in ensuring that UN Security Council members have a veto, which has crippled the organization’s capacity to prevent bloodshed.

So why should we care today about a revisionist look at Lester B. Pearson, who left office in 1968? Because he’s being held up as a paragon of virtuous foreign policy by both federal Liberals and New Democrats who seek to supplant Harper. Do Bob Rae and Tom Mulcair really want to copy a guy whom Chomsky has referred to as a war criminal?

Speaking of foreign policy, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was in Ottawa mumbling about the need for F-35 fighter jets. But the Harperites are claiming that they’re reconsidering their plan to spend billions upon billions of your money on these planes.

The Conservative budget is coming out tomorrow. Expect deep cuts to public services. All this Harperite spin of cancelling the F-35 purchase is likely just a smokescreen to sugar-coat the other “spending efficiencies”.

Maybe it’s time to put Yves Engler on the case to tell the truth to Canadians. –Charlie Smith, straight.com, March 28, 2012

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