Tuesday, September 09, 2014

ISIS, IS or ISIL ... Whatever It's Called This Week

It comes as no surprise that Harper is in a great hurry to commit Canada to a shooting war in Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria.

Make no mistake, "military advisors" is a euphemism.  Harper is committing troops to a shooting war that frankly we have no business involving ourselves in.

I remember saying back in 2002 that invading Afghanistan or Iraq was a fatal mistake.  It was a mistake on two basic levels.

First, direct military intervention in the Middle East has never been an effective strategy.  While military intervention has made Israel happy, and has no doubt done wonders for lining the pockets of the corporate types who profit one way or another off oil extraction in the region, it has done little but prop up regimes which exist as a result of the artificial borders cooked up as the colonial powers pulled back at the end of WWI.

The second aspect was the ridiculous claim that a new government could be installed at gunpoint and have any expectation of credibility on its home front.   You can call it "democracy" all you like, but that doesn't mean that the understanding of democracy is the same in the new country as it is here, or that it is even respected.

The rise of ISIS as a threat should come as no surprise to anybody, nor do I want to diminish the awfulness of ISIS.  Often after the dominant powers in a conflict pull back, those who went underground during the occupation will resurface and organize themselves into something.  In Afghanistan after the Soviets pulled out, the Mujahadeen more or less collapsed into the Taliban; ISIS is no doubt a similar phenomenon.

With over a thousand years of failed interventions in the Middle East to reflect upon, we would be well advised to consider stepping back, and let the peoples of that region organize themselves.  I am profoundly concerned by the apparent lack of engagement in the ISIS matter on the part of the regional powers.  Except for those directly affected, the silence (at least in our media) of countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya or Iran is deafening.  I have less than no interest in seeing Canada, or any other western power trying to "lead" an intervention.  When the other powers in the region step forward to put troops on the ground and go after ISIS, then perhaps there are degrees of support we can provide.

Western powers trying to lead such an intervention is merely a repetition of mistakes we have already made.

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