On Target: It's all in the wording

By: Scott Taylor

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A new poll conducted by Nanos has revealed that the majority of Canadians are in favour of continuing the bombing campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. Only a tiny fraction of those polled, less than one in 10, felt that we should end all combat operations against Daesh. These numbers naturally inspired the Colonel Blimp brigade to thump their tubs even harder in the hopes that the Liberal government will abandon their campaign promise to withdraw the RCAF’s six CF-18 fighters from the international alliance.

According to the pro-war pundits, if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t take immediate action to bomb something — anything, he will risk looking weak and dithering. Such hesitation will only encourage the Daesh evildoers, worry our NATO allies and disappoint all those Canadians who told the pollsters they want more explosions.

Had that same questionnaire asked Canadians if they felt our flyers should be assisting Hezbollah terrorists, the answer would have been an overwhelming “no.”

Ditto if Canadians were asked if their taxpayer-purchased smart bombs should be employed to prop up the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, they would answer “no”.

The Canadian government demonized Assad to the point of him being evil incarnate, banishing his embassy from Ottawa and cutting all diplomatic ties.

Who in their right minds would argue that our RCAF pilots should risk their lives assisting Shiite militia in Iraq, which are armed, equipped, and mentored by Iran? Next to Assad in Syria, the Iranians ranked pretty high up on former prime minister Stephen Harper’s thermometer of evil. In September 2012, Harper cut all ties with Tehran and chucked all Iranian officials out of Ottawa.

Then, of course, there is Russia and the power-mad President Vladimir Putin. Canada was one of the most bellicose voices in denouncing Putin for his annexing of the Crimea.

There is no way Canadians would want us to employ our meagre military resources to help Russia project its power in the Middle East.

In other words, the way the Nanos question was phrased predicated the result.

We know Daesh is evil because they cut off heads and set people on fire, so yes, bombing them would seem to be a solution. However, if bombing Daesh means we are helping Assad, the Russians and Hezbollah in Syria, and Iran in Iraq then maybe dithering is warranted in this case. In fact, in view of recent developments, there is even more grounds that Canada should remove itself entirely from any attempt at military intervention.

In Iraq, Masood Barzani, the president of the Kurdish regional government, has now announced his intention to hold a referendum on full independence from the Baghdad regime.

Barzani can safely play this card, since his Kurdish militia took advantage of the Daesh offensive in the spring of 2014 to launch his own attacks to capture the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from Iraqi security forces. Controlling 40 per cent of Iraq’s oil exports provides Barzani with the economic engine he needs to sustain an independent Kurdistan.

Canada has been providing trainers and weaponry to Barzani’s Kurdish militia for the past 18 months.

These are the same Kurdish militia recently accused by Amnesty International of having committed war crimes in the form of ethnic cleansing Arab, Yazidi, and Turkmen villages. An independent Kurdistan will further fuel the Kurdish separatist violence in eastern Turkey.

For its part, Turkey has now massed troops along the Syrian border with the possible intention of shoring up Syrian Turkmen rebel groups battling against government forces loyal to Assad.

This would bring NATO-ally Turkey into a direct conflict with Assad’s Russian military allies. Turkey has already shot down one Russian warplane and diplomatic relations between these two regional powers remain tense. Add the fact that Saudi Arabia has offered to deploy ground troops into Syria and once again it becomes evident that dithering could be our best option.