The Contradiction of Khadr and Rivera

Contradiction… Marx said capitalism and other systems were rife with contradictions that made up the social tensions that we are faced with. But contradiction is necessary to perpetuate the rotten systems that we have used in the past. The contradiction of classes primarily. However sometimes these contradictions are not what they appear to be. They are interpreted in a superficial manner so that we do not immediately see the need for their existence.

Part of dialectical materialism is understanding contradiction and why it can be self-perpetuating and necessary to sustain systems and phenomenon. It can also be used to explain certain phenomenon and social events. Take this letter to the Toronto Star form October 2nd as an example:

The murderer Omar Khadr who fought against us in the war in Afghanistan, is allowed back in Canada while we reject the pacifist Kimberly Rivera, who, like Canada, believe the Iraq war to be immoral. Plans are being made to rehabilitate Khadr, while Rivera waits to go to jail in the US.
Kathey Millard, Toronto

Now on the surface this would appear as a contradiction, accepting into the country a person who has killed and pushing out a person who refuses to do so. If taken from a subjective view of violence and non-violence, this stance by the Canadian government would appear to be logically inconsistent. However, if we see this from the objective view of taking into account the relationships of different forces and material conditions, we gain an understanding of why this is not illogical, but a contradiction that arises from the system.

Both actions serve the desires of the US Administration. Khadr is removed from US custody and placed into the responsibility of the Canadian government. The US doesn’t want to pay for his continued incarceration, nor can they given that he has served the time for his conviction. Releasing him into the streets of the US is absurd, and releasing him back into Afghanistan is a politically unacceptable move. The only logical choice is to send him to the country he is a citizen of, Canada. This way the US can be free of any responsibility of him, or anything he does.

Now onto the issue of Rivera who is refusing deployment to the war (and occupation) in Iraq. She is refusing to go because she rightly acknowledges that the basis for the war was a lie, in addition to the actual war itself being illegal and therefore a war crime. As a result of her correct recognition of this, she is refusing to carry out her illegal (and immoral) orders. To avoid prosecution for disobeying the orders of her commanding officers, she left the US and came to Canada to seek asylum. The Canadian government has deemed it necessary to send her back to the US to face that prosecution.

The reason for this also lies in the interests of the US Administration. Any US soldier defecting from the military refusing deployment is a dangerous example that they cannot allow to exist. Such actions will encourage other soldiers who also don’t agree with the war to do the same. Her prosecution will send the message that anyone who tries to resist the unjust orders of the US government that they will suffer for doing so. Thus Canada (mostly) because it is under the imperialist orders of the US, is sending her back to face prison.

Both these actions by Canada are contradictory, but they are a contradiction that serves the functioning of US imperialist interests. They are not simply hypocritical actions taken by the Canadian government, they are a rational contradiction that serve a concrete purpose. When we understand the contradiction and how it functions, we gain a better understanding of what political reality we face in the world today.

(Of course there are other points to be brought up. Khadr was a child soldier and should never have been imprisoned at all. Also if Rivera is a pacifist, why did she join the military? I am personally of the opinion that both should be staying in the country, but this was written to explain contradiction.)