Why Canada is going to war in Iraq: From Harper's Mouth
Oct 3, 2014

Why Canada is going to war in Iraq: From Harper's Mouth

I recently wrote a post about the motivations for middle powers like Canada to join international coalitions for wars such as the recent war in Iraq.

Now that we have seen Harper official justification for the war to Parliament, it is worth noting how closely what I said tacked with what Harper himself said. We don't have to do some form of loose guesswork as we do with, say, Russia where the motivations of the leadership is wildly different from their public statements. Here, Harper is proudly and publicly proclaiming more or less what I suggested.

Most of the speech is identifying how ISIS are bad people doing bad things that ought to be dealt with. However, for a middle power like Canada the question is why do we specifically need to get involved. Surely, adding a few CF-18s and logistical support to the international coalition isn't a make it or break it difference on ISIS's capabilities. The section of Harper's speech justifying why specifically Canada ought to be involved is quite short, and quite telling:
"Indeed, we should be under no illusion. If Canada wants to keep its voice in the world, and we should since so many of our challenges are global, being a free rider means one is not taken seriously."

We are going to war because Canada's leadership wants to be able to sit at the big boys table on the international stage, with the semblance of influence that implies. Our small contribution won't make us safer, nor does it provide a good return on investment when thought of from humanitarian grounds. But neither of these is the goal. The goal is to maintain our credibility and limited influence on the international stage. 

For many middle powers like Canada that didn't follow the US/UK into the war in Iraq a decade ago, it was long a mark of pride, symbolizing that we were willing to engage in liberal interventionism in the "right" war of Afghanistan while standing up to the imperialism of the US in the "wrong" war in Iraq. As the years dragged on and Iraq descended further and further into chaos while the ostensible justifications for the war went up in smoke, this sense of moral superiority only increased. 

ISIS is largely a product of the failure of nation building in Iraq, having existed under one name or another since the civil war in Iraq kicked off by the US invasion. The world is rightly horrified at the atrocities ISIS have committed and the desire to do something - anything - to stop it is certainly well founded. Unfortunately, while bombing ISIS may achieve not unimportant goal of stopping their advance, it is merely a bandaid on top of the larger structural problems that simply haven't been resolved in a decade of war in Iraq and show no signs of being resolved any time soon in Syria.
Regardless, nothing in the above paragraph explains the decision to go to war. A decade ago Harper wanted to follow the Americans to war. Now he finally gets his chance to be included. It is the inclusion that matters and forms the core motivation, not any specific security or humanitarian objective. 

Thoughts on this post? Comment below!

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2 comments:

RuralRoots said...

.....any chance the approval of Keystone XL is a quid pro quo

Anonymous said...

Just a moment let me think- Negative Quantum Physics - we were lied to deliberately once before - Our Canadian Veterans are already treat horribly why create more. Just a Moment let me think- Negative Quantum Physics - negativity attracts more negativity in a continuous stream.

Just a Moment let me Think - How would GOD resolve this? Is the USA attempting to divert Canadians into an endless stream of armed conflicts bankrupting us in the same manner as the USA? END

Just a moment let me Think - Russia / electronic reports say that the Russian Red Mafia has infiltrated the USA 100% - Russians are immigrating into Canada with $200,000.00 + 6 years of tax free income at $100,000.00 per year and report they are loyal to Putin and Russia 100% and Russian Immigrants do not have $200,000 in the first place.END

Oct 6, 2014 Just a moment let me think . OH yes. 12:00 noon today a young lady (I am sure an angel) sat us the bus beside me with her Smart Phone texting away . So thinking she was an Angel sen by GOD I asked her who to? The apparent angel said "My Mother is a Canadian Chemical Weapons Inspector in Russia and does not make enough money to quit". So the passenger sitting beside her queried "Are they disarming and destroying their Chemical Weapons of War? The apparent angel
smiled sadly no they are not and the food is not good there anyway. Maybe we should keep out Canadian Soldiers in Canada - send some Russians Home - write to HM Elizabeth a personal letter. GOD save, sustain, defend HM Queen Elizabeth 11, Scotland, Canada and Morocco. Mr. Harper sighs forlornly. Please GOD save me and send an Angel or two. All Our Hope is in GOD. Just a Moment Let Me Think.END

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