A national economy underpinned by the extraction and export of Alberta’s oilsands.
A Canadian mission, the nexus of which, six CF-18 fighter jets, contributes two percent of all sorties, to the global fight against the Islamic State.
The former disintegrating steadily, and piercing every region across Canada, as the price of oil plumbs depths not seen in a generation or two.
The latter, the public flagpole upon which many fly their security blanket.
As if something as complex as a national economy or response to a group of barbaric thugs intent on recreating a caliphate in a region of mistrusting and murdering factions, can be whittled down to one variable.
One narrow element that will act as a sole pillar on which governments define, plan, and act, as Stephen Harper’s government did, from 2006-2015.
One pillar is easily digestible, easily promotable, easily messaged for quick sound bites on television, in newspapers, journals, web sites, blogs. Easily shouted across an aisle in the House of Commons. Easily acknowledged by media searching for succinct content in an immediate gratification and information era. Easily regurgitated by conservative pundits, supporters, fundraisers, politicians and senators in a robotic manner.
Canadians fell for that once. And look where the country finds itself today: facing a third recession in eight years; and a still-strong terrorist group expanding its reach beyond the Middle East to Africa and Asia, while displacing millions of refugees and beheading the unbelievers.
Canadians wised up on October 19th and threw out the one-pillar government intent on conquering and dividing its own citizens. Why would we or the media now fall for the same one-note call to defeating Islamic State of jets, Jets, JETS.
Ultimately, it goes back to immediate information on a twenty-four hour cycle.
Everyone wants strategies, plans, responses-to-the-responses, and success, now. Now, when questions are posed by journalists with airtime to fill, or columns to write. Now, when crises explode onto unsuspecting victims. Now, when these same victims appear on our screens, pages or sound waves in such graphic outcomes.
To my ears and eyes, the calls, shouts, finger-pointing, dress-downs, name-calling, labels either amount to immaturity, naïveté, or disingenuous characterizations.
No plan intent on successful outcomes, or, at least preventing further degradation, rests on one variable, one pillar. Not when your opponent is as fierce and diabolical as the Islamic State. Or as sophisticated and vexing as a national economy.
The immediate, short-term response was the strategic aerial bombing by a coalition of nations.
Until a medium-term, on-the-ground operational plan and funding in support of that aerial bombing could be devised by all partners and Middle East nations with skin in the game. Until permanent solutions to its root causes are devised both in the Middle East and in nations where recruits are born, converted or shouted out to.
While journalists like Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star and countless Conservative party MPs accuse Liberals of dithering or weakness, Liberals appear more focused on the ripple effects of the current military mission. Of jets bombarding targets and adding civilian casualties to its kills’ count.
Better to asses the entire environment and the multiplicity and duplicity of the players and nations involved. To review military strategies, and admit the West’s contributions to not only the failed states in the Middle East, but the birth of Islamic State in all its previous and current iterations.
Doing more of the same failed military tactics likely nets Islamic State iterations in the future.
Removing jets from Canada’s mission, does NOT represent a step backward, as Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose will have you believe.
Instead, it recognizes the limitations of jet bombings. It recognizes the ripple effects of civilian casualties.
It recognizes the only way to step forward, is to get to the root causes behind why youth in the Middle East and abroad are attracted to the Islamic State, and to the conditions that fed to its birth in the first place.
It replaces the approach and one-pillar ideation the previous government had. The same previous government uninterested in getting to the root cause of missing and undereducated indigenous women, or any crisis for that matter.
With that in mind, earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals announced, the following changes to Canada’s mission against IS:
- triple the 69 Canadian Forces members helping train local ground troops today
- add 230 to the 600 Canadian Armed Forces members deployed as part of Joint Task Force-Iraq
- maintain aircrew and support personnel for one CC-150 Polaris aerial refuelling aircraft and up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance aircraft.
- $270 million for social services to “build local capacity” in Lebanon and Jordan where a large number of refugees live in camps and other temporary centres
- $840 million in humanitarian assistance over three years
This new plan took time to negotiate internally and with international partners. It respects the military component by continuing its training mission and providing our allies with refuelling and surveillance services.
More importantly, it understands success will be born from within its Middle East partners. Funding infrastructure, promoting employment and economic growth, and fostering good governance as defined by Lebanon and Jordan means made-in-the-Middle-East responses to their local issues.
Not solutions we envision in the West. Fourteen years of failing to solve the Rubik’s cube that is the Middle East cries out for self-reflection.
The Pentagon, has yet to look in the mirror
The Canadian government, under Justin Trudeau, finally has. Just maybe, it understands defeating Islamic State requires a strong Middle East capable of defining how it will lift up all its citizens.
The path to an eventual exit from the Middle East stems from those citizens.