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Council of Canadians opposes Harper motion to wage war in Iraq


The Council of Canadians opposes the Harper government’s intention to send CF-18 fighter jets to join U.S.-led bombing missions in Iraq and possibly Syria.

The Harper government plans to send up to six CF-18 fighter jets to bomb Islamic State (IS) targets in Iraq for a period up to six months. Two Aurora surveillance aircraft, a refueling aircraft and 600 military personnel would also be sent. Harper has said these airstrikes could expand into Syria if the al-Assad government approves that action.

The House of Commons will vote on a motion in support of this military action tomorrow (Monday October 6). The Liberals and the NDP have indicated they will oppose the motion, though of course they do not have the votes to defeat it.

The Leader of the Opposition Thomas Mulcair is concerned that the six month mission is likely to be extended, a matter that Defence Minister Rob Nicholson has already said will need to be assessed and that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has said would go to the House of Commons for another vote. Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau has questioned what the government will do if the situation is going “badly” after six months and Green Party leader Elizabeth May has said the airstrikes could make the situation worse.

The Toronto Star has commented, “Given the anxiety many Canadians feel about being dragged into a protracted, amorphous, seemingly unwinnable war against Islamic State extremists with no clear strategy to defeat them on the ground, both opposition parties have ample reason not to support plunging our military into a fighting role.”

The newspaper editorial board adds, “The sad reality is the Islamic State isn’t likely to be truly defeated until Syria’s vicious civil war plays itself out and the Iraqi government and military are rebuilt from the ground up. It will take stronger regional actors and more friendly boots on the ground than Obama can yet count on, to erase the threat. This could drag on for years.”

Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson has previously commented, “Syria is a seething cauldron of endemic violence, sectarian strife, religious rivalries, Islamic-style eschatology, foreign agendas, legendary animosities and generalized fear. …Into this cauldron, where it had previously refused to go, the United States and some of its allies are now dropping bombs, hoping (against much experience elsewhere in the region) to pinpoint one adversary for destruction – the Islamic State, the nastiest of all of the Sunni factions but not the only nasty one. …No one in the bombing countries should assume anything but a campaign lasting many years, with very imprecise ambitions and shifting targets.”

There is every indication that the Harper government is committing Canada to a war that is very likely to last years, without a credible military strategy, and without a clear understanding of the complex political factors involved in this situation.

We encourage Council of Canadians supporters with a Conservative MP to call them as soon as possible to demand that they do not support this dangerous course of action.

Further reading
House of Commons to vote on Monday on expanded combat mission against ISIS