By Scott Taylor
The Trudeau Liberals have been at the federal helm for over one year now, and the grace period afforded any new government is rapidly coming to an end. During the election campaign Trudeau had promised to end Canada’s combat role in Iraq. However, once in power the Liberals settled for the compromise solution of not renewing the combat air mission when it was scheduled to expire last February.
While the CF-18 fighter jets were in fact repatriated to Canada, the refueller and reconnaissance aircraft continue to support the U.S.-led air campaign in Iraq and Syria. As for boots on the ground, the Trudeau Liberals actually increased the number of special forces trainers deployed to assist the Kurds in the battle against the Daesh evildoers.
The training role originally assigned to these Canadian commandos was soon defrocked when it was reported these ‘trainers’ had been involved in numerous firefights. Afraid to be caught exceeding their political masters’ mandate, military brass went to great lengths trying to explain to Canadians how firing rifles and rockets in battle is not ‘combat,’ so long as you are doing so in self-defence … or in defence of others … or in order to eliminate a threat that might later endanger you … or anyone at anytime for that matter.
Soldiers on the ground know all too well that combat is combat, and unfortunately due to the official policy of denial, a lot of heroic deeds done on the battlefield by Canadian special forces soldiers will go unrecognized. That said, despite the campaign promise to pull Canada out of another violent quagmire, under the Liberals we are even more directly involved in the fight against Daesh.
The allied siege against Mosul – Daesh’s last stronghold in Iraq – has been underway for more than two months now. While it may take many more weeks to eliminate the last of the Daesh fanatics, allied planners have suggested that resistance will not end with Mosul’s recapture. What is feared is that Daesh will simply change tactics and launch a campaign of terrorist attacks throughout the entire country. Canadian military sources have indicated that if such scenario unfolds, our troops would still have a role to play in northern Iraq. In other words, we are slowly being dragged deeper into an unwinnable quagmire of a multi-factioned civil war, in which we have absolutely no influence over the eventual outcome.
Then of course there was the Liberal promise to get Canada back in the game of United Nations peacekeeping. After announcing in August that 600 Canadian soldiers would be deploying to Africa, it seems that the government will soon announce that the actual destination for these peacekeepers will be Mali.
The original UN mission there, known as MINUSMA, was established in April 2013 in response to the northern half of the country being overrun by separatist Tuaregs allied with Islamic extremists flying the flag of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). France had sent a military intervention force to assist the demoralized Malian military to regain the lost territory, but to this day the Tuaregs and AQIM fighters continue to wage a bloody insurgency.
The presence of 12,000 UN peacekeepers from 48 different countries has only led to a lengthening list of casualties among the blue helmets. With over 100 peacekeepers killed to date, Mali is the UN’s deadliest mission. It is also one that bodes little chance of ultimate success. The semi-nomadic Tuaregs in Mali’s northern Saharan territory want nothing to do with the corrupt regime in Bamako, the country’s capital in the southern sub-Saharan region.
If these Tuaregs have violently resisted their fellow countrymen, the French military, and now the amassed UN forces, why would they submit to a young Canadian soldier from Red Deer, Alberta or Baie-Comeau, Quebec?
Embarking on a dangerous UN peacekeeping mission — one which has no clearly stated objective or easily attainable goal, for the sake of getting Canada back in the good books of the UN — is pure folly. Our veterans of Afghanistan are still suffering the mental anguish associated with waging a counterinsurgency against a hostile local population in order to prop up the corrupt regime in Kabul. Do we really need a fresh crop of disillusioned soldiers returning from a failed mission in Mali?