A flawed and dangerous foreign policy
I’m certainly no expert on the Middle East but it doesn’t appear as if anyone else in the West is either, given the chaos in that region. I join many others in saying that George W. Bush started all this by attacking Iraq and throwing Saddam Hussein out of power. Now the Shias and the Sunnis, sworn enemies for 2,000 years, are destroying what little is left of the country. At one point, under Hussein, Iraq had the best education system in the Middle East. There are times when a dictator is the only solution and we should leave well enough alone.
Canada wasn’t involved in the Iraq war but we were on the ground in Afghanistan. Our goal seemed to be so that girls could go to school. Laudable, but impossible. The Soviets, who may have had other goals, lasted a decade in Afghanistan then finally pulled out, unable to control the regime. Why did we think we would succeed? After nearly ten years and 158 deaths among Canadian forces, the situation is not only worse, Pakistan, a nuclear power, has been destabilized.
Libya was another terrible blunder. Even though we were operating under a NATO umbrella, there was never any master plan. Our CF-18s helped bomb the country, got rid of Gaddafi, but we had no one lined up take over. The country has descended into tribal warfare. We are making an even worse mistake in Syria where we’re attacking targets with limited success in a place with hundreds of independent, armed groups. Assad has all but flattened his nation, ten million people have been displaced, and we are among those attacking a sovereign power – which is illegal under international rules – again without a plan.
Canada’s help for the Syrian people has been pathetic. After four years, fewer than 200 immigrants have arrived in Canada. Compare this to other, similar situations: Jack Pickersgill went to Europe to help Hungarians after the Soviets beat back the 1956 rebellion, Bryce Mackasey greeted at the pier in Montreal Ugandan Asians fleeing Idi Amin, and Vietnamese boat people were welcomed into thousands of Canadian homes. We’re big-hearted, given the chance.
I liked better the action of Lester Pearson when he refused to help the U.S. in Vietnam or Jean Chretien when he said no to the U.S. on Iraq. We’re better off staying out of such melees while instead helping those in need. At the moment, we’ve got both ends of the equation wrong.