The Quagmire of Parliament’s “Mission Extension” Debate

Ottawa Citizen, March 25, 2015:

As this week’s weird unfoldings in the House of Commons should at last make plain to even the most casual observer of the global struggle against theocratic fascism, Canada’s part in it has come down to this: Even the notoriously “right-wing” Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives are making a more objectively “progressive,” classically liberal and genuinely militant contribution to the fight than the opposition Liberals and the New Democratic Party put together. That’s how low we’ve sunk.

To understand just how this strange state of affairs has arisen, it’s useful to unburden oneself of some of the great weight of pretty lies that Canadians are routinely told in order to disguise the disgrace of this country’s elites in their overall indifference to the suffering victims of Islamist terror. The first lie that would need to go is that Afghanistan is a quagmire, that we expended all that blood and treasure for nothing.

This fairytale is immediately relevant to this week’s debates because the Taliban are the incubators, precursors and role models of ISIL, and breaking the Talibs’ grip on Afghanistan has opened up the brightest democratic space anywhere between Syria’s bomb-strewn Mediterranean coast and the outskirts of New Delhi. Some quagmire.

Some sense of proportion: the death toll of 158 Canadian soldiers during more than a decade of hard-won gains in Afghanistan is only slightly greater than the number of dead Muslims – 137 innocents at last count – butchered in a single jihadist suicide bombing last week at a mosque in Yemen. Some further proportion: the contribution Harper is making to the half-baked U.S.-led coalition is only another year’s modest commitment of a mere half-dozen Canadian fighter jets, a couple of Aurora patrol planes and a Polaris transport plane, a ground crew and a few dozen Special Operations Regiment advisers and trainers up in Kurdistan.

You’d think we were invading Russia.

The news from Yemen isn’t likely to be getting any better. The day after the mosque suicide bombing, the United States pulled the last of its troops from the country. Don’t expect the news from Libya to improve any time soon, either.

This brings us to another fiction: If we’d only left Moammar Gadhafi in power, we’d all have been spared the embarrassment of the failed-state nuthouse we created there in the first place. Another inconvenience: we didn’t overthrow Gadhafi, his slaves did.

After a UN-sanctioned, NATO-led airstrikes campaign prevented Gadhafi from turning Libya into the barrel-bomb abattoir that Syria has become, Libyans went on to approve a reasonable constitution, elect a fairly decent parliament with a former human rights lawyer as prime minister, and vote again in elections that returned quite a few secularists and liberals. The reason why the expected assortment of proxy jihadists has turned Libya into a bedlam is that by then, we’d all run away. We were “war weary.” Besides, there were just so many Israel Apartheid Week events to attend.

One could go on, but it is into this milieu of fables and propaganda that Harper brought his motion to the House this week. If the American-led coalition is shabby and feeble, it’s hardly Harper’s fault. It is because there’s no way Obama is going to jinx his vanity-project nuclear deal with the Iranian ayatollahs, no matter how many Syrians have to die in the meantime. But in the cause of at least stalling the ISIL rampage, it’s the only thing on offer.

Besides, since Canada’s contribution was first debated in the House last October, all we’ve been getting from the NDP caucus is conspiracy theory and giggling on cue every time NDP leader Thomas Mulcair or his foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar find some clever excuse to repeat that childish jingle of theirs, the one that makes “mission creep” rhyme with the “mission leap.”

Given that Justin Trudeau’s many clumsy fouettés and glissades last October caused such acute embarrassment to Liberal party elders, it was amusing to speculate what he’d say this time round. But really, was there any reason to seriously imagine he’d show up to Tuesday’s proceedings with proper shoes on?

It’s one thing to act the dashing ballerino on behalf of perhaps a handful of women from some schismatic Muslim sect who may or may not prefer to remain shrouded for the brief duration of a Canadian citizenship oath-swearing ceremony. It’s obviously quite another thing for the Canadian Forces to come to the aid of millions of Muslim women who face the rather more bleak prospect of being enslaved and raped by gangs of ISIL psychopaths. For the dauphin, that would be taking chivalry a bit too far.

For his part, Mulcair heaped incoherence upon ineptitude on top of conspiracy theory.

The NDP objects to the ISIL engagement because NATO isn’t leading it and the UN Security Council hasn’t authorized it, Mulcair says.

Never mind for a moment that the UN authorized Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan, and NATO led it, but Mulcair’s predecessor, Jack Layton demanded that we stick knives into the backs of Afghanistan’s feminists, secularists and civil society reformists, withdraw all Canadian troops from the country and parlay peace with the Taliban.

Mulcair now wants us to believe that NATO’s direct leadership of the anti-ISIL effort is both necessary and possible, when neither is true, and that the UN Security Council’s permission is required and its explicit authorization is obtainable, when it isn’t and it’s not. The UN Security Council is mobbed up by China and Russia, both armourers and bankrollers of Assad’s filthy regime.

It is their permission Mulcair wants, if you don’t mind. But get this: by formally dropping the proviso that had hitherto rendered the “moral clarity” of Canada’s anti-ISIL commitment singularly opaque (the bit about seeking Assad’s permission before Canadian fighter jets targeted ISIL positions in Syria), Harper is in fact conniving to do just that, and worse: Harper is “openly considering an alliance of sorts” with Assad.

Canadians are not so gullible, it would seem. A Global News/Ipsos Reid poll had found that by last week, three-quarters of us support Canadian participation in the anti-ISIL campaign. Two-thirds of respondents also said they would support a mission extension, and would approve even a Canadian ground-forces combat mission.

Only a third of Liberal voters take Trudeau seriously on the subject. Mulcair commands the support of fewer than half of NDP voters.

It serves them both right.

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