October 8th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 39
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Who's in Charge
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
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S.C. RUDEGAN
Feature Writer
Since 2003, some 4500 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq and over thirty-two thousand wounded. More than 500,000 Iraqi citizens have died. The U.S. government has spent $1.1 trillion on planes, bombs, drones, meals, tents and training. Based on that level of commitment you might believe that in 11 years Iraq would have emerged as a fledgling democracy perched on the edge of promise.
Fat chance. Not only is Iraq physically and psychologically in ruins but human life continues to have little value. After American taxpayers poured billions of dollars into the economy, one quarter of all Iraqis earn less than $2 a day. An average Iraqi makes $2000 a year, half of what he or she earned under Saddam Hussein. Fewer children go to school in 2014 than in 1980.
Seventy-five percent of all Americans believe that it was a mistake for the U.S. to invade Iraq. Yet, this week President Obama announced that 300 American military personnel would join the 275 pilots and support workers sent the week before. Within days, our own fearless leader, Stephen Harper, informed Parliament of the deployment of six CF-18 fighter jets and 320 military personnel to take part in coalition airstrikes in Iraq. As a Canadian taxpayer, a student of history and a realist I strongly object to this decision.
I want to know how American and Canadians pilots are going to differentiate between ISIS targets and Iraqi civilians. Does no one remember Vietnam? One of the reasons the U.S. lost that war was because each time their hit-or-miss bombing killed a child or a mother or a grandfather – the rest of the family immediately joined the guerillas. Jessica Stern, a Fellow at Harvard, has called the war in Iraq an “engine of terrorist growth.” Instead of eliminating the terrorist threat, American action has only fuelled it. Who needs recruiting posters when Canadian bombs are killing children?
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I also wonder, if $1 trillion worth of military hardware and over half a million American and Iraqi lives couldn’t “fix” the problem, what will a few dozen airplanes achieve. It’s as if the generation raised on video games is making the decisions and believe that all it takes is good graphics and a nimble joystick. What happened to the age-old military adage, “know thine enemy?” I wonder how many Islamic terrorists Stephen Harper has interviewed.
And how much effort has been put into finding new ways to fight ISIS? If we really want to challenge their power, we need to fight a different kind of war. Remember that great line from The Untouchables when street cop Sean Connery tells government agent Kevin Costner: “You wanna know how to get Capone (ISIS)? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue.” We should not only cut off any funding going from Canada to Iraq, Iran or Syria, but if we know a Canadian citizen has joined ISIS, we take away his citizenship and put his family in Canada in jail. Harsh? Perhaps. But how cruel is it that a family in Iraq is obliterated because the guy pulling the joystick on the Canadian jet overhead was trying to hit the ISIS neighbour next door.
I have become so disillusioned with Stephen Harper that I distrust every action he takes. I think that sending planes and soldiers to Iraq, a country we rightly refused to invade in 2003, is another of Harper’s desperate attempts to join the big boys in the World Leaders tree-fort. I think our jets and soldiers won’t make one bit of difference to the outcome of the war against ISIS. All it will mean is that somewhere in this country, within the next few months, a family will grieve the death of a son or daughter.
And somewhere in the desert a terrorist will be born.
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October 8th ~ Vol. 84 No. 39
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