Saturday, September 06, 2014

What a Difference a Decade (or so) Makes: Canadian Forces to Iraq

What a Difference a Decade (or so) Makes: Canadian Forces to Iraq

by C. L. Cook - Pacific Free Press

Fresh from the NATO confab in Wales, Stephen Harper announced Canadian troops will be sent to Iraq, ostensibly to aid in the fight against ISIS.

Candidates for the Canadian Special 
Operations Regiment train in Kamloops, B.C.
 (Lt(N) Meghan Marsaw/Combat Camera) 

Days before 9/11's 13th anniversary, and nearly eleven and a half years after George W. Bush's declaration of "mission accomplished" in America's war against Saddam Hussein, Canada will finally (officially) have 'boots on the ground' in that benighted nation.

It's a move resisted in bygone days by former prime minister, Jean Chretien, and opposed vociferously then by his Liberal party and the left-leaning New Democrats. But, why is the official opposition, and the unofficial government-in-waiting now on board with the PM and, what will Canadian Forces be doing when they get over there?

According to state broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) "No specifics were available on what type of work they'd be doing." But, the CBC reports;

"Harper has said the Canadian Forces deployed to Iraq won't be involved in combat." 

What the PMO can say, and the CBC is ready to relay about the mission is that several dozens of members from the Special Operations Regiment will be deployed in an effort to provide, "strategic and tactical counsel to Iraqi forces before they start tactical operations" against ISIS, or the Islamic State in Syria, also known as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The ultimate aim the CBC says, is that, "[O]ver time, ISIS could be pushed back into Syria." Presumably, they will then be left alone to do what the Americans had equipped and trained this "scourge," as Liberal Marc Garneau describes them, namely continue killing and beheading, terrorizing and maiming Syrian civilians.

Speaking to the House's unanimity on the Harper initiative, former astronaut and Liberal party star Garneau says, "we all have the same interests here. ISIS is a scourge and we have come together to help Iraq here."

That's right, after eleven years of horror Iraqis can rest easy because we're only here to help!

Without complicating the issue, or putting too fine a point on what constitutes "involvement" and what "commitment," Canadians should be disabused of the notion their country had no part in the invasion and occupation of Iraq from the outset. All parties in the House of Commons maintained the fiction of Canadian neutrality (itself a tacit approval of U.S. actions there) as the country's corporate players made like bandits, American planes refueled in Newfoundland, the nation's Navy ran patrol and "interdiction" on behalf of the "allied forces," and, as Canadian author, Yves Engler documents, Canadian soldiers did indeed take part in ground operations. Canada's air force too took part, running "training" missions over Iraq; training that doubtless proved useful later during the bombing of Libya.

The only element missing then was an official 'Made in Canada' stamp of approval, one endorsed by a consensus of the Parliament. That seal of approval is now provided*, as the "opposition" NDP's foreign affairs "critic" Paul Dewar assures, characterizing his government counterpart, John Baird's visit to Iraq as a "multipartisan trip to assess what’s happening in Iraq, to assess what Canada can do."

Canadian involvement is good news for America's Secretary of State, John Kerry who, while stressing the importance of the fight against ISIS at the recently concluded NATO meetings, outlined his nation's priorities, saying;

"We need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, to bolster the Iraqi security forces and others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own."  


"Obviously I think that's a red line for everybody here: no boots on the ground."

All this comes at a time of intense war weariness in the West, where a growing skepticism of the benefits of military actions around the globe and ever greater demands of NATO-member nation monies for war and war preparedness strain credulity. This despite the media's best efforts to bolster the militarist agenda in the middle east, Asia, and now in Ukraine, where U.S. and NATO's assertions of Russian belligerence being the driver of the crisis there, (a claim the most basic internet search easily puts the lie to) sound more bizarre by the hour. 

Nevertheless, Stephen Harper, so far backed by the major parties in the Parliament, is committing Canada to greater military involvement in Iraq and against Russia, while also making quiet promises to dedicate more of the country's GDP for NATO's ever-broadening military ambitions. All naturally in an effort to "help."

Friday, a government press release assured "a special meeting of the House of Commons standing committee on foreign affairs and international development will be provide information to Members of Parliament." Next is Canada's further progress towards what is shaping up to be a 21st Century global conflict whose promise can only be one of unprecedentedly disastrous potential.

*Elizabeth May's and the Green Party of Canada's reaction to the Harper announcement at time of writing is unavailable, but presumably will be forthcoming.

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