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 Chrétien, 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.