More than a decade after avoiding the Iraqi quagmire, Stephen Harper is sending Canada to bomb the desert
A little over a decade ago, George W. Bush tried to bait Canada into Iraq by asking then Prime Minister Jean Chretien if we would join his “coalition of the willing.” To my relief Chretien’s answer back then was a resounding “no.”
“If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the Security Council, Canada will not participate,” the prime minister said, referring to the lack of approval from the UN. It was an extremely important decision and a hard one. It marked the first time in history that Britain and the United States went to war together without Canada by their side.
On the other side of the House of Commons stood Stephen Harper, leader of what was called the Canadian Alliance at the time (the Conservative Party today) and the official opposition. “I can tell you that in this political party we will be cheering for the success of our allies,” Harper said. “If the Liberals are genuinely neutral, or will be cheering for Saddam Hussein, they should have the guts to say so. My guess is they don’t.”
Stockwell Day, the foreign affairs critic for the Alliance, had said Canada is now on the side of some questionable regimes. “The prime minister has thrown Canada onto the side of nations like Libya, Syria, China, nations who don’t want to see a united front against Saddam Hussein,” He failed to mention the questionable regimes of France and Germany of course.
If you fast-forward a decade or so, you’ll be hard pressed to find a Canadian who supported the 2003 invasion. Even Prime Minister Harper admitted in an election debate that he had made a mistake wanting to send Canadian troops into harm’s way. A mistake that Canadian voters should have held him accountable for, but didn’t.
So what has changed? Last month Canada sent 69 military advisers to Iraq for a duration of thirty days. In between, Harper went to the United Nations in New York and ducked the climate summit, preferring instead to give a speech about the evils of ISIS.
Harper came back after speaking with US officials and on Friday, in a motion to the House of Commons, he laid out some vague details on Canada’s new mission in Iraq. Given the Conservatives enjoy a majority government, the motion passing is not in question.
Canada will be going to war against ISIS. Canada is sending up to 10 aircraft and 600 personnel including 6 CF-18 fighter jets. The combat mission is restricted to the air and the mission is set for a maximum of six months.
Bombing targets will be restricted to Iraq for the time being. “We will strike ISIL where, and only where, Canada has the clear support of the government of that country,” Harper said. In other words, bombing Syria is off limits unless Bashar al-Assad asks him to.
So far early polls show support for the Iraq Mission at slightly over 50%. The thing that frustrates me most here, is how we rejected the first lie back in 2003, but have so eagerly eaten this one up.
The Iraq War was based on the lies of the Bush Administration and the threat posed by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda (who was not in Iraq at the time.) The lie was needed for the “legal justification” of the war which was self-defence under international law. Most Canadians saw right through it. But for some reason, people are spooked by ISIS, even in a country where fear is not broadcasted 24/7.
In September, the United States once again needed legal justification, this time to bomb Syria without U.N. authorization. So it borrowed a trick from Bush and used self-defence. The problem was, the Department of Homeland Security already said ISIS posed no current threat to the American homeland. What to do?
Along with building up the possible future threat ISIS may pose to the American people, the Obama Administration concocted “The Khorasan Group.” A fictional terrorist group operating in Syria, more extreme than Al Qaeda or ISIS and an immediate threat.
Within a day, media in the United States went nuts. It was like 2003 all over again. No one bothered to do any fact checking into the Khorasan Group. Well, Glenn Greenwald did, but it was too late. Obama got the support and excuse he needed. Evidently, that now includes Canada’s support.
I was in favor of the US defending the Yazidis when ISIS had them surrounded, I felt the US was the reason they were in danger in the first place. It was the right thing to do. But ISIS poses no threat to mainland America or Canada.
This war on ISIS will not and cannot be won by dropping bombs, so what business does Stephen Harper have in sending us there? Because America asked him nicely? Did Obama secretly OK the Keystone XL Pipeline in return for our participation? I doubt it. Harper just likes war as much as any neo-con Republican.
Now Canada is going into the desert to add to the mess we wanted no part of a decade earlier, and we’ll be using mainly American bought air power and munitions to do it. I feel as if our big brother murdered someone and now it’s our job to clean up the crime scene. Nothing good will come of it.