Monday, October 6, 2014

Why I Cannot Support the Next War in Iraq

I just got off the phone with my grandfather, a staunch Conservative for his entire life, but an extremely intelligent and reasonable man who knows a good or bad thing when he sees it. The conversation went, paraphrased, as such:

"Your leader is a disgrace."
"For the 'whipping them out' joke-"
"I found it funny, I guess its a generational thing."
"He is refusing to stop these terrorists."
"I happen to agree with him."
"You want to let those people continue to terrorize Iraq?"
"No, I just-"
"That is just wrong, its shameful."
"He is not a leader for this country, he is a disgrace."

Nothing hurts me more as a person than to have my grandfather call a decision of mine "shameful," and call into question my judgement. I don't think anyone would find it grand to hear such things from someone they respect. I suspect many don't voice their opinions on many issues for those reasons.

I watched a video last night as well from CBC where the hospital bed-ridden, possibly terminally ill father of one of the British hostages of the Islamic State pleaded for his son's life - it was, very simply, something I could not watch, both for the raw emotion and for the fact I could never sit under the glare of someone affected so profoundly by a news event, and say to their faces that I oppose an action that may very well help their family member.

Such is my life at the moment.

Let me be clear in saying that, at the moment, I have no ties to anyone or anything going currently on Iraq, outside of the fact of me being a Canadian taxpayer. I don't know anyone in the military, I have never met any refugees currently fleeing the conflict in Iraq and Syria, and so on. Its very likely that this war/combat action/whatever you want to call it will never affect me personally. But I still feel the need to speak out, because as a politically active Canadian, I have an opinion - one that seems to be in the minority, but an opinion nonetheless.

My opinion is thus: I do not support the current combat action in Iraq (and also possibly Syria). I believe wholeheartedly that sending in aging jets to bomb IS strongholds will not do any significant damage to their grip on power. I do not agree with the notion that this deployment is the end of our involvement - like Jean Chr├ętien, I think we're either in this or we're not. When we see the bombing runs do nothing to IS, there will be serious consideration of sending in ground forces to re-occupy the currently occupied areas - and I do not at all trust Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to say "no" when the US and NATO come knocking on our door. "Mission creep" is not only real, it is inevitable in this situation.

I am not a post-modernist, wish-washy liberal who thinks that what IS is doing is perfectly OK in the context of their region and religion - I believe they must be stopped, and will be stopped, because they have no way of building up the support they need if this is how they treat their own country men and women. I believe we should support the citizens of Iraq, Syria, and the Kurdistan territories against their oppressors, these IS fascists, who justify their sadism and psychopathy through religion and xenophobia.

Here is the thing, though - IS has been enabled because of the missteps of previous attempts to "correct" the situation in these countries. The US invasion of Iraq in 2003, agree with it or not, allowed this to happen. When you create a power vacuum the way the Americans and their allies did, you never know who or what will end up filling it. The decision, waffling as it has been, to support rebels against Assad's regime in Syria has also not exactly helped things along, with the oft-touted "moderate opposition" against Assad that we have tried to support being ineffectual at best, untrustworthy fronts for the darker elements in that war at worst.

With that in mind, invite anyone to explain to me why us stepping into the arena again is going to help matters, because the fact is I have not seen anything except "well IS must be stopped." All well and fine, but why do we believe stopping IS with the same thing that enabled IS is going to fix the situation? Everyone knows it - we'll either end up in a quagmire again, or if we leave, IS 2.0 will just pop up.

The difference is that I recognize it, and I am choosing to speak out about it. I am not opposed to war for the right reasons, with clear goals, proper exit strategies, and local solutions. I am simply opposed to stupid, blind, wasteful wars that, frankly, seem to serve the interests of our government more than the people actually being affected.

Finally, I think this is an important point that my grandfather, and many others, are missing when considering this issue, yet probably should.

The facts are that they not the ones who could be sent into these countries to risk their lives - its my generation that will be on the frontlines. They will not be the ones who will have to decide when to bomb or invade the next group - my generation will be burdened with those decisions. They are not going to be around long enough to have to deal with the consequences of their actions today - but I will be.

As someone who will be the most affected by the decisions being made now, I say "no" to this war. Simple as that. We can find other ways of stopping IS - bombing people is not the only solution. I support not just Justin Trudeau on that point, but any political leader or voice that realizes the mistake we're making, and is choosing to speak out about it.


  1. Tough call, Kyle. And, I agree with you. (Age-wise, I could be your parent.) There is no critical thinking going on here. Harper taking this to parliament, when he never does anything he doesn't have to and doesn't have to do that, is to set up the opposition for failure. It's his final gamble.

    If this going to war is for humanitarian reasons, then why are we not in the Congo? What about the root causes? (oops, that's a Trudeau thing!) Where is ISIL getting its arms and funding?

    We should be sticking to strictly humanitarian aid and avoid combat for now. The high-level bombing that CF-18s can do will only kill civilians. ISIL is the Arab Taliban. (And, our excursion in Afghanistan worked out so well, didn't it.) We never seem to take into consideration that the politics is so different from "western" politics (even more tribal - and the "west" drew the non-sensical "national boundaries".)

    And, this is not a UN or NATO effort. This is a US led loose coalition - Iraq 3.0.

    1. There is a UN sponsored mission in the Congo with roughly 20,000 troops. I do not know why Chretien and Martin did not allow troops to participate probably because of our role in Afghanistan. The Belgians and French still hold strategic interests in that region and it is possible they wanted limited involvement from other Western countries.

      Canada's inviolvement in Afghanistan went very well. Today that country has a level of stability not seen for forty years. It is not perfect but, enough stability exists for normal politics to convene as we saw recently with the Afghan presidential election. It is a very substantial improvement from the barbaric public executions and misogynistic education policies of the Taliban and the Afghan stadard of living is improving albeit at a modest pace.

      The United Kingdom did not draw nonsensical boundaries, the biorders were based on a number of considerations including; religion and ethnicity. Unfortunately, internal Arab disputes prevented the full implementation of those policies; thus, Kurdistan which was supposed to be an independent Kingdom, became integrated into Iraq not because Britain wished it but, because the King of Iraq would accept nothing less. The Arab people and others' need to stop blaming "The West" for their plight and start taking responsibility for their own predicament. Is it really the West's fault how the Middle East turned out or the people who reside there? The Ottoman Empire had been a declining power for centuries why did it take so long for Arabs and others to seek their independence?

      It is great some people wish to solve the root causes of IS but, that means likely military force and a coup against the Saudi monarchy. Today the US, UK and Canada do not want to establish a new political order in the region (although that may be nice) we are getting involved to prevent humanitarian disaster and very possibly genocides. Canada and all the signatories of the UN Declaration of Human Rights hold an obligation to do so-to protect human rights and human dignity.

    2. The United States and its NATO allies spent the Cold War backing Islamic extremists against liberal and socialist movements in the region. Women and religious minorities have borne the brunt of the suffering.

      Since 9/11, the United States has been involved in the overthrown of secular leaders throughout the Arab world, including Hussein (admittedly a monster), Al-Assad (not much better), and Gaddafi (a flawed leader who nonetheless presided over the highest HDI and most equitable distribution of wealth on the African mainland, and who was among the primary benefactors of the ANC and other African movements that were resisting White minority rule).

      The Saudis remain unpunished for the decades they have spent propagating the terrorist-enabling ideology or Wahhabi Islam (often with tacit support from the West) and for the untold atrocities that women, religious minorities, and foreign workers suffer there.

      The Israelis cry about Muslim extremists but have spent their entire modern existence as bosom buddies to Saudi Arabia. They also backed the Mujahideen and the Islamic military dictatorship of Pakistani tyrant Mohamed zia ul-Haa throughout the Cold War. It is gratifying that some Israelis are wise enough to show their disdain for their agenda on the streets and at the ballot box, but it is quite short-sighted to see that so many ignore the wisdom of Albert Einstein and continue to swallow the Likudnik kool-aid.

      As for Iraq, Canada should be providing arms, aerial, and logistical support to Kurds, leftists and other progressive factions in Iraq that are resisting the IS, but if it comes to ground troops we should let the American and the British clean up their own goddamn mess and let their citizens and their taxpayers foot the bill.

  2. I agree with a lot of points you have made too. ISIS is terrible (no debate needed about this) and must be stopped. But I am skeptical that another boorish Western-led intervention in that region would help matters at all. It can continue to fuel extremism for another generation or two. And of course, I agree about the generational issue.

    In Ottawa, I feel Conservatives has tried to make this too much of a political issue. Sure Baird, Dewar and Garneau went to Iraq together in harmony, but everything fell apart after that. A clever government would at least try to lure the support of the Liberals if they want to the mission to be seen beyond a partisan affair. The NDP and Liberals did support the government's plans in Libya. There is no transparency here and the debate is being delayed. Now we have Conservatives mocking Trudeau for some "joke" he made about the fighter jets.

    The Prime Minister seems too eager to get involved in the military campaign against ISIS. The PM chest bumping rhetoric can be nauseating too. We do not have anywhere near the same clout as the UK or France, let alone the US. On the world stage we are more comparable to Italy, Spain or Australia. Why has Canada become the defender of Ukraine, Israel, Iraq etc? Especially at a time when the American left and right are both increasingly frustrated at being the world police. Canada works the best if when we realize our strengths and weaknesses and our place in the world.

  3. No offence but if you think they "will" be stopped, just because they are evil to their own citizens, you need to read more history.

    Liberal after Liberal after Liberal has come out in support of action against ISIS. It is this Trudeau decision that's made me realize the party I joined is no longer the party I am a part of. I will therefore be letting my membership lapse.

    1. I think it was clear from the get go that Trudeau was going to take the Liberal Party is a different direction. The Liberal Party needed a new direction. They will never win if they remained the same old party from the past.

      It was never going to be a kumbayah moment once Trudeau became leader. Liberal after Liberal came out against Trudeau's abortion policies too. I'm sure there are left-leaning Liberals in the East that are skeptical of Trudeau's staunch resource development rhetoric. There are many Liberals that are either skeptical or critical of Trudeau for various reasons.

      Lloyd Axworthy, Bob Rae and Romeo Dallaire are respectable individuals. They have the right to voice their opinion.

      Trudeau should come out with more clarity why he chose his decision. I'm sure Trudeau and his advisers knew that this decision was going to ruffle some feathers. Leaders take bold and controversial decisions all the time. Time will tell whether Trudeau was right or wrong. But, I doubt this is not going to make or break the leader or his party.

  4. hi ... if you want to stop the slaughter in Iraq you have to do the following ...

    know who is behind this ISIS ...

    it's a family business ... Freemasons whose symbol is yellow and black triangle ... if you look at the pics carefully the triangle are all over the pictures in the background ...

    a single family is behind this very rich ... their head is the black pope of masons ..a mad man behind IS ... 3 ppl from New York presently hiding in Switzerland ....

    Find 100s of men and women have them ready ... to pressure peacefully initially

    The head is

    John Kulajian or Koulajian he uses several aliases ...

    This war is because his son who runs a fund and uses wealthy Saudi ppl money to indirectly fund IS

    his name is Nigol Koulajian

    John his father is a career murderer who killed my grandparents .... his objective is to make his son inherit the seat of the black pope of masons and illuminatis ....

    find them and eliminate them, the war will stop the same day ... they are my close realtives ...

    They are holding the US hostage by threatening beheadings ....

    John K is the head of the masons ... he stole that seat from me .... I was almost killed many times ...

    You either listen to me or be responsible for more killing in Iraq ...

    take it or leave

    the fund is called Quest partners LLC.

    if you try to approach them you will see layers of guards, bribes friends at the Pentagon/FBI.

    Illuminatis run the world everything courts etc ....

    your only choice is to gather 100 of men women and put the Koulajians of NY.

    My mother is number two .... I am in exile ...