With the expansion of our combat role in Iraq and now Syria, there is little doubt that we are being drawn into what will inevitably be a costly and prolonged conflict.
The Prime Minister warns us our country is under grave threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Our Minister of Defence postulates that only by military strikes can we prevent this organization from metastasizing into a state that will recruit and radicalize people from all over the world to implement attacks here in Canada.
Does the government seriously believe that only by bombing the hell out this region will ISIL cease their recruitment campaign?
Whether we agree or disagree with expanding the war mission, we can legitimately state that Canada has done enough.
Given our limited resources, it would be wiser to reinforce protections here in Canada and work on a strategy to prevent the radicalization of our youth by the siren song of fundamentalist propaganda.
We could also take some of the millions of dollars earmarked for combat and increase our contribution to desperately needed foreign aid.
Why not use some of the millions we will spend in this futile endeavor to ensure our veterans receive the support they are entitled to?
Let us take a moment to reflect on what we have learned as a result of our engagement in Afghanistan.
In 2005, the Liberal government was pressured by the then Chief of Staff, General Hillier to send our troops into combat. Most other NATO allies, however, stayed on the sidelines.
This tragic conflict cost us 160 lives, 170 deaths by suicide and left hundreds of veterans with permanent physical and mental disabilities.
Even with those costs, the tragedy is that we cannot say that today Afghanistan is a safe and secure country grounded in the democratic principles we were fighting for.
The United States and its coalition of the willing, which we refused to join, illegally invaded Iraq under false premises in 2003.
As a result, hundreds of thousands Iraqi civilians were killed, their country was turned into chaos and their army dismantled. What we are seeing today with ISIL is a direct result of the destabilization of Iraq by the George Bush regime.
Canada has now entered the fray to clean up a horrible mess we had no part in creating and have no business dropping further bombs into.
If Canada were to withdraw from this conflict right now I suspect very little would change. The region would undoubtedly continue its slide into chaos until conditions were created that might begin to stabilize the region.
A leading Iraqi researcher, Munqith al-Dagher believes that as long as the political and social grievances of Iraq’s Sunni community go unaddressed and there is no hope for the future, Canadian airstrikes will not defeat ISIL.
“ISIL is not the disease, (it) is just the symptom. If we want to (push Islamic State) out of Iraq and the region, we should deal with the real reasons behind this disease. (Canada’s) prime minister, and US politicians and other politicians in the world…all they think about is sending troops and aircraft…no matter how strong the army is, there will not be any victory without a full co-operation from the people who are living there,” states al-Dagher.
We have no business taking part militarily in this tragic quagmire.
Let us be involved in peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts in a region that desperately needs our tremendous expertise on both these fronts.
Alex Atamanenko is the MP for BC Southern Interior