The Harper Conservatives are prolonging the mandate for Canadian bombing raids targeting Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) forces inside Iraq, and extending it to include bombings in Syria.
Foreign Minister Nicholson has said Conservatives believe Islamic terrorists abroad represent a threat to Canadian security. Citizens are supposed to understand that by fighting ISIL, Canada is protecting itself from terrorist action on Canadian soil.
The ostensible reason for the bombing is to attack and destroy the former al-Qaeda forces now expanded and regrouped as ISIL that control territory in Iraq, and have moved war-making equipment into Syria. In reality Canada has agreed to serve American Middle Eastern foreign policy, without regard to the consequences at home or for peace in the region.
It was of course the U.S. that originally funded al-Qaeda, its ally in the failed Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan before becoming its enemy after the 2001 New York World Trade Centre bombing. As Patrick Coburn has explained, the “Jihadi movement” in Iraq did not exist prior to the American occupation of that country.
The Iraq bombing mission has no UN support, and is not even a NATO operation. Yet as the Argentinian president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner outlined in her important speech to the UN General Assembly, only a truly multilateral world order offers any hopes for securing world peace.
Instead of looking to end violence through peace-keeping, Canadian armed forces have been enlisted to continue decades-long attempts by the U.S. military to ensure that Iraqi oil resources do not end up in the wrong hands. None of this military action is sanctioned under international law.
No official authorization from Syria for bombing ISIL forces is being mentioned by Canada. Ironically, by joining the U.S.-led bombing operations in Syria, Canada finds itself siding with Iran and Russia, allies of the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in his own war with ISIL.
Canada broke diplomatic relations with Iran, and Stephen Harper claims to want nothing to do with Russian ruler Vladimir Putin. Yet the Harper Cons are supporting Iranian and Russian objectives in Syria.
Acting outside the law, Canada has become complicit in a diplomatic and military fiasco originating in Washington.
The Syrian dictator now receiving Canadian support in a civil war is responsible for the death of over 200,000 of his citizens. The war he wages against his own people has caused over 6 million Syrians to leave their homes.
By widening its bombing to include Syrian territory, Canada is adding additional violence to a major humanitarian crisis. Over 3 million Syrians have taken refuge in neighbouring countries.
Since 2003 the United States has been conducting illegal military actions against Iraq. A March 2015 casualty report by Nobel Peace Prize winners Physicians for Social Responsibility and by Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War documents one million dead in Iraq since the second American-led invasion began 12 years ago.
As with military operations in Afghanistan (and Pakistan), the U.S. claims to be waging a war against terrorism in Iraq. As part of its war, the U.S. government has tortured prisoners in defiance of international law.
It is fair to ask: who are the terrorists? Those who took up arms against a foreign invasion are certainly not terrorists. Those who initiated a war of aggression are clearly war criminals as defined by American Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson who presided over the 1946 Nuremberg judgment of Nazi war crimes.
Canada did not join the second American invasion of Iraq in 2003, though Stephen Harper as leader of the Opposition was in favour then of Canadian forces joining American military actions.
After the Harper Conservatives took power in 2006, Canada did begin torturing suspected terrorists, four Islamic men, at Millhaven Penitentiary near Kingston.
By joining American bombing raids inside Iraq six months ago, the Canadian government made Canada more visible to terrorists who want to strike back against foreign aggression by attacking the aggressors on home soil.
Aware of the dangers to Canadian security occasioned by bombing in Iraq, and about to bomb inside Syria as well, the Canadian government decided to strengthen already robust anti-terrorist legislation by introducing Bill C-51.
Among many obnoxious features, this legislation gives quasi-secret police powers to CSIS, allowing it “to act at home and abroad, without regard to any law including foreign domestic law and international law” according to parliamentary testimony by Sukanya Pillay, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Canada under the Conservatives does not even make a pretence at acting within the law.
Duncan Cameron is the president of rabble.ca and writes a weekly column on politics and current affairs.