Friday, October 3, 2014

Will we ever learn?

A month ago I had blogged deploring the situation in Iraq and Syria, ending it with a the phrase,"Bomb the heck out of them!"

The following is the text of a letter I sent to the Ottawa Citizen (unpublished), arguing that bombing is something we should never consider.  It is just not productive, and as is shown by recent history, singularly creative of antagonist forces who wish "us" (gee surprise, surprise!) the same treatment.

If we persist in bombing IS, we will only create a worse terror than they already represent.  The focus of the world's attention and armaments on them will only encourage them.  The Australian cartoonist, First Dog on the Moon(1), has got it right.

Far from condoning what IS is doing -- of course they need to be stopped, but responding in a similar way, and even a more cowardly way (no boots on the ground!), is every bit as bad, and as destructive and uncivilised.  Far far better to isolate them and ignore them.(2)  Deny them access to the world's civilisation.  Deny them access to funds and goods.  While they persist in conducting themselves in an uncivilised way, deny them access to civilisation.  We're doing it to North Korea.  We've done it to Cuba and the palestinians.  We did it to South Africa.  So we certainly can do it to IS, with or without the support of Iran.(3)

Nothing "we've" done to the Middle East in the last 20 years has produced a peaceful result.  Our failures in Irak, Libya, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria (not to mention going a little further afield to Afghanistan), should give us considerable pause before attempting anything similar again.  We dont know how to realise our foreign policy goals through military action and should recognise this limitation.

If our civilisation is better than theirs, then we need to show it.  We pride ourselves on respecting the law, and in showing compassion.  Military law is of course an oxymoron: claiming that what we might be doing is legal, as both Obama and Cameron are doing (shades of WMD), is merely trying to hide behind a technicality, to justify illegal actions.

So lets treat murderers as such.  Bring them to court, as we have done with others such as Osama's son-in-law.  But extra judicial killing by drone is hardly legal nor civilised, nor compassionate.  They are the acts of a bully.  Just imagine how we'd react if drone killings occurred on our soils.  Two wrongs do not make a right.

The fact that it is difficult to isolate and ignore IS, should not deter us, nor lead us to lose our tempers and strike militarily.  We need patience and resolve and compassion.(4)  Not bombs.
(3)  Quoted from the President of Iran in New York this week.
(4)  I've used we and us throughout this letter to show inclusion of Canada as well as the US, Britain and France; we are all collectively responsible.