Target Practice in Iraq - Canada at War

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 16, 2014



In less than three weeks Canadian CF-18s will be bombing ISIS targets in Iraq. It seems like only yesterday we got out of Afghanistan, and now we’re back at it again. The US wants partners and Mr. Harper is only too happy to oblige, and add our jets to those of France, the UK and some of the neighbouring Arab states. Something we also did in Libya as well… and hasn’t that turned out well?

CF 18 witrh flags

Does this model sit on the Prime Minister’s Desk?

This engagement is fraught with even more challenges. First of all, we are only hitting Iraqi targets yet much of the ISIS organization is in Syria. Second, the US has already cherry-picked the best targets, such that US pilots are complaining that they are running out of things to bomb. Third, with no opposing ground troops ISIS will not be defeated, everyone concedes that. Fourth, this military action is not a UN mission and is therefore, arguably, illegal.

And it doesn’t even qualify as a NATO mission for the obvious reason that it is neither in the North Atlantic nor a response to an attack on a member nation. So who are we defending? Turkey, with the second largest army in NATO, is just sitting on the sidelines watching the Syrian Kurds get annihilated by ISIS, while simultaneously repressing its own Kurdish population. Recalling Turkey’s historical genocide of the Greeks and Armenians, should anyone be surprised?

Israel is perfectly mum on ISIS and is keeping its powder dry in the event it feels the need to pulverize Gaza again, and kill off another thousand or so innocent people. Iran is officially sitting on its hands, waiting for its neighbour to completely disintegrate, so it can absorb the southern Shia areas.

The bordering Arab states, including those that helped create ISIS, are doing little more than Canada is planning to do. And Russia, for which ISIS poses an eventual and legitimate threat is too busy sponsoring war in Ukraine. The point is that if the nations in the region, where ISIS is in play, can’t get worked-up enough to take the ISIS threat seriously, why are we going there?

CF 18 formation

Canadian pilots will get useful air time – what else is there in this “war” for Canadians? Another medal will get created and issued.

Mr. Harper has always had a bee-in-his-bonnet about Iraq, wanting Canada to pitch in with GW Bush’s ‘Shock and Awe’ adventure back then. So this was an easy decision for him. Besides the plan is that our CG-18s will be running target practice, not that much different from what they do at CFB Cold Lake. Except Iraq has a warmer climate and the targets are real people.

The US is testing two new planes in this conflict, the F-22 and the F-35, the latter of which Mr. Harper had wanted to buy, despite its many warts. So this is a good opportunity to see these planes in action before the PM lays down our cash. And if we lose one of our old CF-18s, well… what better justification do we need to replace it with a new stealth F-35.

Except, losing planes might bring our involvement into question, especially if a captured pilot is beheaded by one of those ISIS nut-bars. There would be no way of mounting a rescue without a ground component and that is just not in the cards. The fact is if Harper really believed ISIS was a threat to Canada he would have sent in ground troops, as well as the jets, since that is the only way to destroy the movement.

America used to command a certain moral authority among nations. It could be counted on to do the right thing most of the time. But then along came Dubya Bush. And now peace Nobelist Obama is unable or unwilling to change course. So when he asked other nations to join his coalition all who showed up were the usual suspects, and a spattering of local Arab states – those he supplies with war-toys.

The USA is Canada’s closest trading partner, ally and friend – and friends should help friends. No doubt that was behind Harper’s offer of CF-18s. Yet our six planes will be no more that a drop in the bucket when it comes to dousing the flames of Islamic jihadism. And even if we hurt them, they’ll be back. Haven’t we already seen this movie? Why does anyone think it’ll work out better this time?

Forces in the field - Canadian

Most observers argue that “boots on the ground” are what is needed to beat ISIS – will any of those boots be Canadian.

Sometimes the best help you can give a friend is to say no. After all, the Americans have already accomplished some key objectives.

They have slowed down the ISIS advance on the capital city, prevented the over-running of Kurdish areas and had a chance to test out new fighter jets. Still, without combat forces on the ground ISIS cannot be defeated.

But Harper wasn’t going to say no. The critics who opposed this, the NDP, Greens and Liberals, argued that Canada’s contribution should be limited to humanitarian aid.

They were overridden by a PM determined to go to war, probably convinced that this was just another bit of target practice for the fly-boys. We should all hope that the PM was right and our pilots come home safe and sound at the end of our commitment.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking. Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province.

Background links:

Illegal War     Limits of Air Strikes      Kobani Kurds    Air Strikes 

Canada’s Jets     ISIS Threat     Turkish Genocide     Air War 

F-35 Jet 

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2 comments to Canada at War – now doing target practice in Iraq.

  • Steve Robinson

    Obama’s plan will not succeed in stopping ISIS, let alone destroying it, as he so foolishly stated. If the Sunnis and the Shiites insist on killing each other, I suggest we just step out of the way. Help the Kurds, sure. Seems it’s overall safer for the West if Islamic countries are ruled by violent dictators whose only concern is their own continued power. Libya and Iraq were far less of a danger to the West then Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Pakistan and so many others are. Not any more, though Heck our good buddy Pakistan was harbouring Bin Laden just feet away from their West Point. The Wests best defense is to stop the insane fifth column we insist on growing here.

  • Gary

    I am confused. Am I supposed to despise Mr. Harper because he didn’t send the whole military kit and caboodle, or because he sent any at all? I thought we already provide humanitarian aid.