Who is the IRC, and why are they sending unarmed Canadians into a war zone?

So who or what is the International Rescue Committee and what are they doing sending unarmed Canadian women into a war zone?

This is a serious question. Who had ever heard of these guys before today? If their Website is to be believed, they do nothing but good work. Between the lines, though, we can conclude that they have an agenda that – how can we say? – bespeaks a certain worldview.

Every year the group honours some worthy soul with what it calls its “Freedom Award.” The award is “presented to individuals for their contributions to the cause of refugees and human freedom,” the group says.

In 2001, the recipient was one John McCain, now the Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States. The next year it was Hamid Karzai, the Mayor of Kabul. In 2005, it was George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Presumably it’s only a matter of time until the Shrub gets his IRC Freedom Award, or maybe Dick Cheney.

So, while it is a genuine tragedy that the lives of two Canadian women were lost in an attack on a convoy in which they were riding, presumably by the Taliban, it should not come as a complete surprise. Nor should it surprise us that the Taliban might see these Canadians, no matter how honourable their intentions, as something other than “aid workers.”

This tragedy has provided Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his media toadies, of course, with an opportunity to try to score the usual propaganda points.

Harper referred to the victims as “murdered humanitarian workers.” According to the Canadian Press, the PM said “this cowardly attack on unarmed aid workers yet again shows the depravity of the Taliban.” According to the Globe and Mail, they were “gunned down in an ambush.”

In fact, we know virtually nothing of the convoy in which they were riding, how it was behaving, or whether it included people who were armed. Given that it was in a war zone, it’s likely that some people in the vehicles were in fact armed.

Presumably, when self-evidently innocent and unquestionably unarmed Afghans are caught in a Canadian crossfire, they haven’t been gunned down, they’re not murder victims and their deaths aren’t the result of a cowardly attack that should remind everyone of the depravity of Afghanistan’s Canadian occupiers.

Yet I don’t suppose Mulkia Mohammed, 5, and her little brother, Thorian, 2, were armed or were active Taliban agents when there were ripped apart by a powerful Canadian cannon that, as the National Post gleefully reported, “can slice through steel.”

Apparently no one in the Canadian media thought to ask Prime Minister Harper what he thought about that tragedy, which took place as the toddlers’ parents tried to carry them to safety from the war zone in which they lived. Media reports, however, were deeply respectful of the Canadian troops who pulled the triggers and profoundly shocked that the children’s father would have talked about killing Canadians in revenge.

But revenge is exactly the kind of thing that happens to your soldiers and citizens when you commit yourself to an imperialistic war to guard Dick Cheney’s pipeline. In the end, the insurgents will win, because insurgents can be counted on to lose every battle except the one that counts. This is an axiom of history.

We’ve now wasted 93 Canadian lives in Afghanistan and suffered about 600 non-lethal casualties, many of which will leave their victims crippled for life, on this tragic and pointless exercise.

It’s time to get the hell out!


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