So, apparently, we are going to war. Not in a World War I kind of way, with thousands of soldiers slogging through the mud — or in this case sand — of a foreign land, a nitty-gritty no-holds-barred way. We are going to war the way countries in the west do these days — from a distance, using bombs and missiles that will have dubious effect. Meanwhile boots on the ground will be managed by local folks, some of whom are committed to the cause, some of whom are terrified of the outcome of not fighting, most of whom are ill-equipped and ill trained and poorly led.
Meanwhile, our enemy is — what? This is one of the problems. Nobody seems certain what ISIS is, where they come from. One reputable headline read that the USA was taken by surprise by its emergence.
That seems to be the best summation of all our recent involvement with the rebels/terrorists/soldiers for God who have roamed about the Middle East for the last twenty years (as if it only started then). They took us by surprise.
I don’t pretend to have any answers to this mess which has been two centuries in the making. But I do have a lot of questions that I hope our political leaders will try to answer before we become engaged in yet another 10-year foreign adventure that will leave 100s of Canadians dead, thousands injured physically and emotionally and little change on the ground. Or maybe huge change but change which is remarkably fragile and in constant risk of reversal.
Do we know why ISIS has arisen beyond some vague statements that ‘they are evil?’ Do we have a sense of the ‘root causes’ of the violence? Is it poverty, oppression, cultural underpinnings, is it something that lies at the heart of certain types of religion (and these behaviors are not in fact confined to fundamentalist Muslims but seem symptomatic to all fundamentalists)?
Can any of these questions even be answered by western politicians who still seem locked in the view – you’re either with us or against us?
Personally I’m glad there is division in the Canadian parliament. This rush to unity seen in England and Europe is troubling. It is too reminiscent of the rush to unity in World War I where parties of the left immediately abandoned their pacifist principles for the love of the mother country, swept away in a tide of jingoism to hate the cartoon-like enemy.
That way lies horror. War will not solve the problems of the Middle East but politics — real divisive but rational, complex politics — might
But that’s ten minutes.