By now you’ve no doubt heard that Canada’s Parliament voted to send CF-18s to Iraq to bomb ISIS strongholds.
Aside from the discussion about royal prerogative and whether the government really really needed Parliament’s consent to send those planes to Iraq (although if you want to know, the answer is no), I wonder what the point of all of this really is.
I can’t help but be suspicious of the motives of Western leaders. Syria has been mired in a brutal civil war for more than three years. It’s estimated that nearly 200,000 people have died in that conflict. Yet the deaths of less than a handful of Westerners has prompted a concerted military response in that region that has more support than the last war in Iraq had in 2001.
I’m not oblivious to the obvious cruelty and depravity of ISIS. As a woman that is allowed to live and move about freely, the details of the horrors experienced by women and young girls in ISIS-controlled territory is wrenching.
But I have to ask the question: why THIS enemy? Why THIS territory? Why THIS time?
A headline in Maclean’s says, “In the fight against ISIS, it’s worth getting our hands dirty.” Yes, ISIS is cruel. Yes, ISIS is deadly. Yes, ISIS is a threat to the territories around it.
But is the idea that it’s a threat to us, as Westerners, really the reason why this enemy needs to be defeated?
I can’t remember where and when I heard it, but I recently heard someone say something along the lines of one Israeli live is worth more than a Palestinan life. I get the same feeling here. By only taking military action after the deaths of a few Westerns when hundreds of thousands of Syrians have already died is basically saying that Western lives are more important than Syrian lives, not?
I’m not necessarily against military action here. I believe in the principles of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), as problematic as they are in terms of their implications for state sovereignty and the difficulties inherent in determining a threshold for intervention. However, I believe it is incumbent on us as citizens to really drill down into the political motivations for military action and to question what compels such action in this instance as opposed to others. Is it simply because people are being brutally murdered for being different, i.e., are we intervening to stop a form of genocide? Is it Western machismo and/or pride? Is it guilt in not being able to uphold what that ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner promised many years ago? Hell, is it oil? I suspect it’s a combination of all of these things, with a dash of fear of future terrorist attacks thrown in for good measure.
Regardless, we’re now involved in a military imbroglio with no exit strategy and, in my opinion, with no clear, definitive reason as to why this specific case warrants intervention over other similar cases. While frustrating, unfortunately it’s not all that surprising.