By: Scott Taylor
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a public announcement that the actions of Daesh in Iraq and Syria can be formally declared “genocide.” According to Kerry, Daesh’s deliberate targeting of Yazidis, Shiites, non-fundamentalist Sunnis and Christians is designed to eliminate all but those who are true believers in the Daesh-proclaimed caliphate.
This is the first time in 12 years the U.S. has used the label ‘genocide’ to describe atrocities. The last time was in 2004 and it was applied to the massacres in Sudan’s Darfur region.
The timing and wording of Kerry’s genocide statement was clearly aimed at garnering additional international support for the U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition. As intended, it certainly lit a fire among Canada’s pro-war hawks. The common rallying cry was to chastise fellow Canadians for allowing Daesh to exterminate Christians. Omitted from their argument was the fact that the overwhelming percentage of Daesh’s victims to date have been Muslims.
Aiming to capitalize on the anti-Daesh sentiment, the Conservative Party of Canada launched an online campaign urging the Liberal government to increase our combat commitment in Iraq and Syria. Their plea reads in part: “At a time when our allies are doing even more to combat this genocidal terrorist organization, Canada should not be withdrawing. Let us know you support an active role for Canada in the fight against ISIS [Daesh].” The “donate now” link and request for any supporters’ full contact information (for future solicitations by the Conservative Party) make this campaign more about fundraising than anything else, but it is obvious that Daesh strikes a nerve with certain Canadians.
These would be the same Canadians who had a real hatred towards all things Taliban following 9/11. They may not have been ‘genocidal terrorists’ but they were deemed “scumbags and murderers” by Canada’s former chief of defence staff, General Rick Hillier.
Many Canadians were fully behind the commitment of Canadian soldiers to rid the world of the Taliban devils. That was of course until after more than a decade of the international community expending a fortune in blood and gold, and up until we finally admitted that it was a war we could not win. Simply put, the people of Afghanistan lent more support to the Taliban evildoers than they did to the corrupt regime of warlords we tried to foist upon them.
Those Canadians who are keen today to send our troops out to battle Daesh are the same Canadians who cheered our RCAF flyboys as they rid the world of that evil despot, Moammar Gadhafi. The premise of the international Canadian-led mission in Libya in 2011 was to save the Libyan people from the ravages of a brutal dictator. It seems to matter nought to these very same Canadians that by saving innocent Libyans from Gadhafi, we have since condemned those same Libyans to the fate of a failed state awash with violent anarchy. Even the fact that our efforts in Libya resulted in those really bad Daesh evildoers gaining a strong foothold does not sway the Colonel Blimp Brigade from focusing only on those Daesh genocidal terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
Why not a similar call for Canada to commit troops to battle al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)? It was this band of fanatical maniacs that killed six Canadians during the Jan. 16 terror attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Then, of course, there is Boko Haram, who caught the world’s attention in 2014 when they kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria. Canadians were outraged at this horrific atrocity, but not outraged enough to call for a military intervention to eradicate this terrorist group. Boko Haram operates in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, and is estimated to have killed 20,000 and displaced 2.3 million innocent civilians. Why are we not badgering Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to deploy CF-18s to West Africa?
There is no question that Daesh has committed serious atrocities in Iraq and Syria. However, they by no means hold a monopoly on evildoings, and they have already spread their influence into Afghanistan and Libya. Regardless of Kerry’s declaration of genocide, Canada needs to carefully chart its own policy and choose cautiously where and when we commit our meagre military resources.
Supporting an intervention with ground troops against Daesh in Libya makes more sense than sending back our six old CF-18s to bomb targets in Iraq and Syria.
America’s toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 destabilized Iraq and eventually led to the empowerment of Daesh. Canada objected to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, however, in 2011 we led the charge against Libya.
As they say in a china shop, “You break it, you bought it.” We owe the Libyan people the safe environment we originally promised them.