Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Moral Dilemma

"The sovereign democratically elected government of Iraq has asked Canada and allied countries to help them defend their innocent civilians from terror attacks being launched out of eastern Syria in a part of that country which the Syrian government either is unwilling or unable to control."

"We should not allow our opposition to the Assad regime to give this genocidal terrorist organization [Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham] a safe haven in parts of the country that Assad refuses to or cannot control."
"The Syrian civil war is a humanitarian disaster, but it's a multi-sided civil war. We are not picking sides. We are picking the side of vulnerable minority communities in eastern Syria and Iraq."
Canadian Minister of Defence, Jason Kenney

"Our objectives remain the same: we intend to continue to degrade the capabilities of ISIL, that is, to degrade its ability to engage in military movements of scale, to operate bases in the open, to expand its presence in the region, and to propagate attacks outside the region."
"Specifically, we will extend our air combat mission, that is, our airstrike capability, our air-to-air refuelling capability, our Aurora surveillance mission, and the deployment of aircrew and support personnel."
"Again, Mr. Speaker, the government is also seeking the support of this House for its decision to explicitly expand that air combat mission to include Syria. The government recognizes that ISIL’s power base, indeed the so-called caliphate’s capital, is in Syria."
"ISIL’s fighters and much of its heavier equipment are moving freely across the Iraqi border into Syria, in part for better protection against our air strikes. In our view, ISIL must cease to have any safe haven in Syria."
"Let me also be clear that, in expanding our airstrikes into Syria, the government has now decided that we will not seek the express consent of the Syrian government. Instead, we will work closely with our American and other allies, who have already been carrying out such operations against ISIL over Syria in recent months."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Video thumbnail for Stephen Harper and NATO secretary general discuss ISIL
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NATO Secretary General discuss ISIL

Yes, Canada is threatened by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, in its relentless public relations overtures and incitements directed toward recruitment efforts of Canadian Muslims to jihad, to travel to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS, or alternately to strike out on their own on Canadian soil to make an impact in the conflict by Islamist jihadis against all symbols of Western democracy, the military and civilians. We could focus on providing humanitarian aid to the victims of Islamic State; the Yazidi and Christian refugees, the Kurds, and others whose lives have been upended by the scourge.

And focus as well on strengthening our inner intelligence resources, our capabilities of detection and prevention, and abstain from becoming any further involved in the U.S.-led international coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. For the past six months the Government of Canada has authorized a small proportion of its military resources in taking part in coalition air strikes taking place in Iraq for the purpose of degrading the ISIS advance, and dispatching special forces to aiding in the training of Kurdish peshmerga fighters.

Now, the Prime Minister is seeking a one-year extension of Canada's fairly modest contribution in Iraq, and extending it to Syria where Canada has not heretofore been present. In the perplexing and ugly choices to be made, where to focus one's push-back against the forces of evil that Islamofascism represents, it's a tossup between engaging in a conflict with jihadi militias, or with nations like Shiite Syria and Iran whose obvious and deadly actions against Sunni terrorists really reflects two sides matched in pursuing their Islamist agendas.

Because the Islamic State agenda is more egregiously evident in its callously primitive and deadly atrocities which it takes great pride in recording and distributing for its public relations/entertainment value directed at its followers, they are seen as a more immediate danger to be eliminated. Their loathsome self-promotion in the beheading videos earn them the enmity of the West. And in so doing, the advantage is given by default to the likely more dangerous enemies of world stability, Syria, whose payback to its own population of relentless mass murder marks it as a conspicuous pariah, and Iran, whose focus is on regional domination and the ascension to nuclear power status.

The revulsion inherent in the very thought of operating against Islamic State's growing caliphate and putting a stop to its atrocities committed against ethnic and religious and tribal minorities creating an advantage for the terrorist nations of the Middle East and their proxy Islamist militias such as Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Hamas constitutes a Solomonic puzzle of choice. Which is the lesser of the two evils...? Help in the destruction of the ideological Islamist Sunni caliphate whose disregard for life and enjoyment of inflicting death marks it as the world's currently most dangerous purveyor of death, or simply sit back and allow the situation to deteriorate into a wider and deeper bloodbath?

Convincing ourselves that this is a problem for Islam itself to solve; which of the two warring sects should survive the monumental clash they are heading toward is enticing. And allowing the two terror-inducing, death-inviting halves of religious devotion to Islam through their disputed inheritance of the Mohammad line of rule, to engage full on with one another in a cataclysmic cleansing that will inevitably take the lives of helpless and innocent Muslims who just happen to be in the way of the final battlefield.

The Americans, the British, the Australians, French, Belgians, Danes, Dutch, Bahrainis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudis and Emiratis, along with Canada have all entered the international coalition in which 60 countries are in one way or another represented to engage in conflict against the growing presence of Islamic State. So far it is estimated that some six thousand ISIS fighters have been killed but it seems that as swiftly as some are taken out of commission, others flock from abroad to join the conflict, particularly because they are influenced by the claim that the West is attacking Islam.

Were the Middle East Sunni nations themselves to coalesce into a single-minded fighting force to combat both Islamic State and in turn the Syria/Iran/Hezbollah axis a purely Muslim conflict would result, with the usual scapegoat of interfering Westerners out of contention. And there is no good reason not to believe that their combined armies on which the oil-producing states spend enormous wealth in arming with the latest military technologies could account for themselves. They choose, however, to await the intervention of the West, allowing them to take the brunt of harm that comes to those who fight.

Logically, this is an geographically internal conflict, one that, reasonably, the very countries whose religion is Islam, should be engaged in as a collective shield against the growing strength of the fanatics among them. The fear of the West is, of course, that nothing will shield them in the long term from the pervasive effect of jihadism with the influx of immigrants from those very same countries bringing with them their tradition of loathing the other sect, and Islam's disregard for the rights of other religions as equals; while impressing the faithful to remain isolated from the foreign mainstream society and its unIslamic values..

It is difficult to look past the Western military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and in Libya, all of which were undertaken to remove from power the totalitarian rule of dysfunctional dictators. But those dictators represented the tradition of Arab and Muslim rule and their removal left a vacuum that psychopathic fanatical Islamists entered with their lethal message of martyrdom and carnage to be carried worldwide. In our choice to go to war with militant Islam and defeat it, we ended up encouraging and inciting to further mayhem.

And the conundrum is then faced of responsibility to react and act in the name of humanitarian response to the hundreds of thousands being slaughtered and the tens of millions driven from their homes as Islam devours itself from the inside out.

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