Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On Keeping Perspective

With the cacophony of voices calling for Canada to continue to "Bomb, Baby, Bomb." and Canadian miscreants retaliating against Muslims by setting fires to mosques, it is crucial for voices of reason to be heard above the din of destructive rhetoric and behaviour that is emerging in the wake of the Paris massacre. Now is not the time for the default absolutist thinking so favoured by the fearful and the vengeful, who somehow believe that you cannot deplore and combat terrorism without uncritically endorsing military action that seems not to quell the threat of ISIS, but only embolden and strengthen it.

One such voice of reason is Trevor Amon of Victoria, B.C. In today's Toronto Star, he writes the following:
Paris has suffered a terrible tragedy. More than 100 people were killed, and many more were injured. How various countries should respond to this tragedy is the question to be answered going forward.

There are four of five permanent members in the UN Security Council involved militarily in Syria, and all four have long been nuclear weapon states. Any one of these five nations could make the choice of wiping Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Yemen off of the map within the next 24 hours, but none is willing to do so. None of these four nations is apparently willing to commit to making the much smaller choice of putting significant troops on the ground either.

And of course, China is doing absolutely nothing about this terrorist situation, and you do not seem to hear very much criticism from any source about China’s inaction and apathy.
Ah, but what should Canada do? Is Canada a nuclear power? No. Does Canada have one of the top 10, or even top 20 militaries in the world? No. Canada has spent over $500 million in the last 12 months on a bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, but are we any safer from ISIS in Canada as a result? No.

Stephen Harper found the money for a bombing campaign, but he cut money from the RCMP in an attempt to balance his budget when millions of dollars more were and are needed for the Mounties to keep Canadians safe at home.

Furthermore, the sole terrorist at the Parliament buildings in Ottawa left us with a video that explained his motivation for his actions: He was angry that Canada was military involved in the Middle East. How does our continued military involvement in the Middle East keep other radicals at home less likely to attack targets on Canadian soil?

What is our national interest here? What are our obligations to our allies? What are we trying to achieve? When will we know that we have achieved our goals?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be under pressure from many corners to do this or that in the coming days based on what has just happened in Paris. We need to take a step back here.

The Paris attacks were not of the magnitude of the Nazis marching into Poland in 1939, or the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbour in 1941, or even Al Qaeda hijacking four planes with devastating consequences on 9/11. Lots of nasty things are going on in Syria and Iraq, but there are also lots of nasty things going on in Nigeria that don’t seem all that 24/7 newsworthy, and therefore it seems that we just don’t care all that much about what is going on there.

Maybe Canada should do something in the light of the recent Paris attacks. Maybe Canada should not. Whatever Canada does or does not do there should be a reason, and the reason should be arrived at through reasoned discussion and not simply by way of emotion, ideology or perceived obligation.


  1. Lorne, we just don't pay attentions to our past failures . After utter failures in Afghanistan and Iraq we have learned nothing.

    Like you I hope that Trudeau keeps his words and does not get pressured in. Big powers like U.S , France and Britain are going to pressure him. It is hoped that he will make decisions keeping in mind the best interest of Canada which Harper was not capable of.

    1. So far, so good, LD. Trudeau seems resolute at this point in stopping the bombing; indeed, some would argue that the training mission is far more appropriate if the besieged countries are ever to be able to fight their own battles.

  2. .. Well said .. well said ..

    I often suggest to people (like yourself.. ha ha) that when confronted again & again by folks or certain circumstances.. that they arm themselves, in advance - with a 'tool' .. Now I see one of your excellent 'tools' is letters to editors or open letters or comments.. But when confronted by 'bomb baby bomb' or the murder of innocents - and the number of those grievously wounded, whether in Ukraine, South America or Paris, France.. one needs to identify an appropriate primary perspective - and its related 'tool' - so here is one for you.....

    For those demanding knee jerk 'retaliation' or 'justice' .. retribution, ultimate solutions etc etc.. ask them whether they have first sought to assist the survivors.. with funding, warm clothes, food, medical care, clean water, emotional support.. or funeral services, prayer, litigation, protection.. You know - the immediate needs of the victims who did not die, yet may have lost loved ones, friends, associates.. or remain under threat

    Its odd how this aspect of tragedy is overlooked.. OK. ignored by the shrill & self serving, the know it all's.. who really have nothing to offer but whining & noise... So use or build an effective 'tool' & challenge those who are opinionated.. but in reality bring a big fat zero.. or even worse, a negative to crisis...

    1. An absolutely brilliant suggestion! Thank you, Salamander.