Gulf War 1991: Canada's Involvement

This letter to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney did not receive the courtesy of a response. It has not previously been published.


P.O. Box 140, Eden Mills, Ontario, N0B 1P0
February 26, 1991.

The Right Hon. Brian Mulroney, 
Prime Minister of Canada.


Dear Mr. Mulroney,

Canada's participation in the Gulf War has effectively destroyed our reputation in the third world as a nation which, however close its ties to one of the superpowers, could be relied on to exercise a moderating influence at moments of crisis. We should not have taken part in a naval blockade or in any other military activities except under a properly constituted United Nations command. Nor should we have taken part in a war which was launched under the fraudulent pretext that the economic sanctions against Iraq had been ineffective. (That these sanctions were having a crippling effect upon Iraq, and would within months have obliged the Iraqi government to order a retreat from Kuwait was evident to informed observers—not least to Mr. Bush and his advisers, whose about-face on the subject after October of last year was patently hypocritical.)

But my principal concern here is with more urgent matters. Now that the military coalition arrayed against Iraq has achieved the major objective of an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, all military operations should cease at once. Mr. Bush's refusal to put an immediate end to military operations is a clear signal—there have been many other such signals during the past weeks and months—that the aims of the United States in this war go far beyond those of the United Nations Security Council resolutions directed against Iraq.

Further prosecution of the war against Iraq would be criminal. (I use this word in a precise sense—that of the system of international law to which the United States appeals when it is convenient to do so, but which it has openly flouted in its attacks upon small nations, most recently Grenada, Nicaragua, and Panama.) Coalition air attacks have already violated international law in several respects. Refugee convoys on the Baghdad -Amman road have been bombed and strafed; residential areas and civilian air-raid shelters in Iraqi cities have been bombed; and supplies of food, water, and electrical power to civilian populations have been interrupted. The mounting evidence that Saddam Hussein's government is guilty of war crimes against Kuwait—as previously against its own Kurdish population and against Iran—does not excuse such acts: one war crime does not justify another.

I therefore call upon you to order the immediate withdrawal of all Canadian air and naval units from the Gulf region. I do not wish to see the Canadian armed forces stained with the shame of having participated in further attacks upon a routed army and upon the civilian population of an already shattered country.

Yours sincerely,

Michael H. Keefer