Last week I attended a focus group on federal policies, namely on the state of economy (choose three words from the list in front of you, or write down your own, to describe Canada’s economy: mentally, unstable, rubber boots); agreements with other countries (so we’ll be getting European cheeses much cheaper, but our own Canadian dairies will have to compete with the new products? How much cheaper will those cheeses be? This sounds like a gouda deal); and our involvement in fighting ISIL/ISIS.
For those of you who may not know, Canada has sent six hundred troops and ten planes to aid the US-led coalition against the nut jobs attempting to set up their own Little Shop of Houris in the Middle East. From my outsiders perspective, the impetus to start to wage war against ISIS (and war it is, even if the word isn’t bandied about yet and is the obvious elephant in the proverbial) was when that group made a move on Kobane, a small city on the northern border of Iraq and Turkey, and nestled in the semi-autonomous region of Western Kurdistan.
Again, from my perspective, we were perfectly happy to let ISIS grow like a cancer while the group appeared to be fighting the Assad regime in Syria, and even when they crossed into Iraq and started taking large swathes of that country hostage. For better or for worse, the Iraqi army was, and is, completely impotent, and the only force with any hutzpah in the area are the Kurds, who fought, and who are fighting, ISIS, tooth and nail. The Kurds have worked hard to try to re-establish a homeland and damned if they will let some rabid dogs try to take it.
Anyhow, the West seemed rather content to let the petty parties duke it out amongst themselves, but the siege of Kobane really seemed to resonate with the Western media, and hence the public, who in turn started to put pressure on Western governments to do something about the festering situation with ISIS. ISIS at this point seemed to have turned from a haphazard rabble into a quasi-organized army, who were not only taking over large swathes of Syria and Iraq, but putting all sorts of people to the sword or slavery, and of course, shackling the newly conquered areas under a completely biased and culturally imbued interpretation of Sharia law (oh, dear ISIS, you will be surely very surprised when you find out that God really doesn’t endorse the imposition of your will in his name…just a tip, you don’t own the rights to God).
To make a long story short, the US pulled itself up by the bootstraps and put together a coalition to help the Iraqi army (or what is left of it) and the Kurds fight off ISIS, mostly through the medium of air strikes. Canada joined the bandwagon, because that is the way our Conservative government rolls.
It’s interesting though, I’ve always thought of my country as being more pacifist, and certainly, when you read the news here, there does seem to be a strong bias against taking any sort of military action unless it is peacekeeping (of which we are the originators of that idea, and, although a beautiful concept on paper, like Communism, peacekeeping has been shown to be, time and time again, completely ineffectual). In fact, words such as ‘army,’ ‘war,’ ‘troops,’ ‘fighting,’ often are said with the disdain that one uses when mentioning dog turds.
As such, I was pleased to see that a strong majority of the twelve people (and we’ve come back to the focus group full circle now) were in favour of Canada’s military involvement against ISIS, regardless of the reason why ISIS was aggressing in the first place, and of how Canada got caught up in ISIS’ anti-Western sentiment.
A few people tried to wave the pacifist banner under the argument that we shouldn’t be involved against any military action, even if in a purely supportive role, because that would just goad ISIS into attacking Canada.
At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law (when a reference is made to Nazis or to Hitler, an argument can then be considered finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress), I see that sort of attitude not unlike saying that well, because Hitler was only targeting non-Aryans and only taking over Poland, but not directly affecting Canada, Canada never should have joined the Allied forces in the Second World War; that sort of distasteful behaviour happens in other countries and Is Not Our Problem as such.
Good lord, people, what kind of an attitude is that to say that a group like ISIS is somebody else’s problem? I just don’t fathom the sheer ignorance of ignoring the power that the hate and fear mongering of these kinds of radical groups creates in our societies.
One reason why ISIS is our problem is because we’re all globally connected. There are both positive and negative consequences of being so interconnected. Most of us in the West live under the shroud of positive consequences, which are often spoofed as ‘First World Problems.’ However, our tolerance for all sorts of things has caused us to becoming overly sensitive to trying to not insult anyone, a sensitivity that radical groups (who are not in any way, shape, or form, sensitive to trying to understand somebody else’s perspective) take advantage of to propagate their skewed messaging to the disenfranchised both in their home countries and in all of our countries.
How can you expect to rationalize with someone who thinks it okay to drop people from the rooftop of a high building simply because the person is gay, or to stone a woman to death because she was seen outside her home without a male member of her family to accompany her, or who thinks that slavery is okay and a just a way of providing everyone with work?
Whew. I think I’ve covered the gamut here. At the end of the day, my people see ISIS as a very dangerous element in the world, and we’re very supportive of our government sending our military out to fight ISIS in the Middle East. We’re also okay with our troops having to return fire if they are being fired upon by ISIS militants, because our troops have the right to defend themselves when trying to help make things right in that part of the world.
Like I said, pleasantly surprised.