In 2013, Canadian government officials spoke about punishing Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons to kill his own people. Back then, Canada lamented Russia’s refusal to allow the UN Security Council to take strong military action against Assad. Today, Canada is planning to take strong military action in Syria. This time, though, we are planning to target Bashar al-Assad’s strongest enemy. How times have changed.
Months ago, Canada sent a few crippled birds to the Iraq to bomb ISIS/ISIL/IS/the bad guys over there. Since the start of that mission, we’ve received frequent updates from the Department of National Defence detailing how our six fighter jets are saving the free world, one bomb at a time. It’s no surprise then that Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to expand the mission to target bad guys in Syria too.
Last week, Harper proposed extending the timeline for the existing Canadian mission by one year. He also proposed authorizing the Canadian military to operate in Syria. Months ago, he said he would never authorize military action in Syria without Syrian government consent, but, come on baby, that happened in the past. Times have changed, and he’s changing with them.
Speaking about the proposed mission extension and expansion, Defence Minister Jason Kenney said that Canada “has no interest in getting involved in the Syrian Civil War, in any shape or form.” That’s a brilliant explanation for his government’s decision to propose targeting the IS, which is actively engaged in the Syrian Civil War. Weakening the IS would not only help our old enemy Bashar al-Assad, it would also strengthen al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda offshoot that is fighting both the IS and Assad’s forces. Despite all this, Kenney is still technically correct. Canada has no interest in getting involved in the Syrian Civil War. We seek no advantage or benefit. We are wholly aware that this military action will be bad for us no matter how we spin it.
How do we justify our continuing, expanding military involvement in the area? When pressed for answers, Harper and Co. said, “the U.S. is already doing it,” and that the chances of the IS suing us for violating international law are “negligible.” This explanation teaches us common folk two things: first, if the U.S. is doing it, then it is okay; second, you can break the law if someone else is breaking it, especially if you think that person has a lousy lawyer. When Tom Mulcair expressed amazement that “this idiocy passes for argument,” the great moral arbiter, Speaker Andrew Scheer, promptly silenced him. Perhaps one day that exchange will inspire a Heritage Minute.