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September 23, 2017 10:03 pm

A Case Against Canadian Military Involvement in Iraq and Syria

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 @ 3:45 AM

by Peter Ewart 

Back in 2003, as leader of the Opposition, Stephen Harper was a prominent cheerleader for Canada to join U.S. president George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” to invade Iraq. At that time, luckily for us, he was unable to convince the Canadian parliament to participate in that disastrous war.

What would likely have happened if Canada had participated? Undoubtedly, many hundreds of our troops would have been killed and thousands wounded or permanently disabled.  In addition, hundreds of millions or even billions of government funding would have been diverted from much-needed health, education, and social services in Canada and poured into war spending.  Indeed, in the annals of history, Canada would have been numbered among those countries held responsible for a criminal act, the launching of an unprovoked war, one that, along with other actions, has wreaked havoc, death and destruction on a sovereign people and has spread chaos throughout the Middle East.

Flash forward to today. Unfortunately, Stephen Harper, using his Conservative majority in parliament, has finally got his way.  Canada will be expanding its role and sending combat forces, not only into Iraq, but also possibly Syria, supposedly to fight the forces of the latest terrorist threat, ISIS.  Although the mission will be limited to air strikes (at least for now) and has a six month duration, it is not minor.  Forces will include 10 aircraft, including 6 CF-18s, and 600 aircrew and support personnel.  This is in addition to the 26 non-combat military advisors already in Iraq (footnote 1).

But just who is this ISIS? Much has been made in the news media and by politicians of some sensational Youtube videos showing ISIS combatants beheading a couple of captives from the U.S. and Britain.  As horrific as these videos are, since when are beheadings and other atrocities new in the chaotic Middle East (footnote 2)?  Saudi Arabia, a supposed U.S. ally, beheads many dozens of its own citizens every year.  And just a few days ago the Taliban in Afghanistan beheaded over 25 villagers.  For that matter, U.S. military personnel have been implicated in a whole number of atrocities, including torture and killings of civilians, in the past dozen years in Iraq.

The utter incoherence of U.S. policy regarding ISIS was revealed in the last several days when U.S. Vice-president Joe Biden acknowledged that close allies of the U.S. – Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates had been pouring “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons” into the hands of ISIS and ISIS-connected groups that are operating under the banner of opposition to the Assad government of Syria (footnotes 3,4,5,6).

What Biden failed to acknowledge is that the U.S. itself has been doing the same for the last several years, even going so far as to train militants who have gone on to join ISIS in its terrorist war against the Syrian government (7,8).  As some observers note, the so-called “moderate rebels” that the U.S. have been supporting with arms are largely a fiction, and that many of these arms eventually ended up in the hands of ISIS connected groups (9).

Now ISIS, this horrific creature nurtured into being by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UAE, has turned on its sponsors, at least for now, which is very convenient for those Western powers who have long wanted a pretext to escalate intervention in that part of the world against Syria, Iran and other countries. In that regard, ISIS is a very convenient “all-purpose” terrorist group (10,11).  On the one hand, it can be used to destabilize countries not part of the U.S. “coalition.”  On the other hand, if it gets out of control, as it is now, it can be used as a pretext for intervention or invasion.

For example, just as the 9/11 attacks by Al Queda terrorists back in 2001 were used as a pretext to invade Iraq (a country that had nothing to do with the attacks), many observers fear that the ISIS intervention will eventually morph into an escalated war against the Assad government of Syria, which has long been in the cross-sights of the U.S., Britain, Saudi Arabia and others. In that regard, the British establishment newspaper, “The Independent”, published an article in its October 2nd edition, claiming that such plans to use the ISIS crisis as a cover to overthrow the Syrian government are already well underway by U.S. and British intelligence forces (12).

Similar tactics were used to overthrow the sovereign government of Libya several years ago. While U.S., Canadian and European airforces dropped bombs on Libyan government forces, various Al-Queda connected forces on the ground were provided political and logistical support.   It is interesting to note that many of the current ISIS personnel are made up of these same Libyan forces that only yesterday were being hailed as freedom fighters by Harper and Obama.  In that regard, U.S. general Thomas McInerney has acknowledged on Fox News that the U.S. “helped build ISIS” by supporting ISIS personnel in Libya and allowing arms to be smuggled into Syria (13).

And what has happened since the Libyan government was overthrown? What was once one of the most prosperous countries in North Africa has been reduced to chaos and destruction, becoming a dysfunctional state overrun by numerous warring factions.

It is clear that some dirty business is afoot in this latest Iraqi and Syria intervention. Yet Prime Minister Harper appears obsessed with dragging us into the quagmire.  As a result, besides only making a bad situation worse, he exposes our soldiers and military personnel to prolonged and unnecessary danger (some observers say the conflict could go on for years), as well as leaving our country open to possible “blowback” from terrorist forces as a result of our intervention.

Who should deal with ISIS? Well, first of all, the countries in the Middle East region who spawned it, starting with Saudi Arabia and Turkey who both have powerful, well-equipped armies.  Turkey in fact has the second largest army in NATO (600,000 in total).  If these countries are truly serious, they should cut off all under-the-table assistance and “safe haven” to all the rebels and work in a common front with Syria, Iraq and Iran and other countries already fighting ISIS.  In the final analysis, Middle Easterners must be the ones to sort out Middle Eastern problems.

The Opposition parties in Parliament were right last week not to go along with Harper’s latest Iraq adventure. But they should stiffen and expand their opposition, and not support military aid of any kind including providing “military advisors” to this or that faction in the shifting sands of the Middle East.

As the old saying goes, “Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.”

Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can be reached at: peter.ewart@shaw.ca


  1. Payton, Laura. “ISIS in Iraq: 5 things we learned about Canada’s mission.” CBC News. Oct. 3, 2014.
  2. Simpson, Jeffrey. “Our Mideast mission implausible.” The Globe & Mail. Oct. 3, 2014.
  3. Tanis, Tolga. “Biden says Erdogan admitted ISIL mistake.” Daily News. Oct. 4, 2014.
  4. Brookings Institute. “Playing with fire: Why private Gulf financing for Syria’s extremist rebels risks igniting sectarian conflict at home.” Analysis paper, Number 16. Dec. 2013.
  5. Cockburn, Patrick. “How the US helped ISIS grow into a monster.” Mother Jones. Aug. 21, 2014.
  6. Rogin, Josh. “America’s allies are funding ISIS.” The Daily Beast. June 14, 2014.
  7. Reuters. “Americans are training Syria rebels in Jordan: Spiegel.” March 10, 2013.
  8. Klein, Aaron. “Blowback! U.S. trained Islamists who joined ISIS.” WND. June 17, 2014.
  9. Reynolds, Ben. “There are no moderate Syrian Rebels.” Counterpunch. Oct. 3-5, 2014.
  10. Glazebrook, Dan. “This war is not aimed at ISIS, but at Assad.” Counterpunch. Oct. 3-5, 2014.
  11. Nazemroaya, Mahdi Darius. “Fighting ISIL is a smokescreen for U.S. mobilization against Syria and Iran.” Strategic Culture. Sept. 26, 2014.
  12. Sengupta, Kim. “War against ISIS: British troops likely to train Syrian rebels nearly three years after similar plan failed.” The Independent. Oct. 2, 2014.
  13. Watson, Paul Joseph. “U.S. General: ‘We helped build ISIS.” Global Research, Sept. 3, 2014.


First off I do not think it is in good taste to compare the atrocities of isis to normalcy in the Mid-East much less the American occupation of Iraq. The genocidal rampage through Iraq and Syria is one of the biggest war crimes in a generation.

Then their is our so called NATO ally Turkey. Expect nothing but self serving exceptionalism from that quarter. Sure they partook in training isis along with Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Qatar… but the real sinister part is that Turkey to this day is using isis to wipe out the Kurds on the Syrian side of the border… refusing to intervene until isis has eliminated a Kurdish militia that has long been an aim of Turkey. When Turkey does intervene it will be limited to creating a so-called buffer zone that just so happens to include the Turkish shrine to its founder 28km within Syria where Turkish troops have been stationed since Turkey was a nation. That will be the extent of Turkish help on the ground… it will be to self serve their own agenda of a ‘buffer zone’ that just so happens to include the Tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire. For this they are willing to stand by and allow a genocide to take place right up to their door step… some ally of ours.

Canada could have done some real good being an advocate for the innocent civilian populations under attack and putting forth an effort to ensure they have essential supplies like tents and food for the coming winter. Maybe putting pressure on so called allies like Turkey and Israel to cease and desist in their destabilization plans in the Middle East. Adding a few planes to the mix three weeks from now when every thing that can be bombed will have already been bombed seems like a dollar short and a day late.

Point well made, ISIS although evil was a product of the US and others. Now they threaten big oil and that’s a fact and we will pay the bill with more of our men and woman being killed. Bombing is not the answer or the resolve its not a plan to root out ISIS its just a reaction.

Suppose there was a group of people in the world who were bent on getting themselves into a position where they would have absolute power over everyone else.

That they saw themselves as being so superior to their fellow human beings that they believed, in a religious sort of way, (although they may, or may not, be a part of some, or any, of the recognised religions), that they had been given a right to rule. As if by by some Divine power.

Suppose those people realised that the way to achieve this dominance by their minority over a probably unwilling majority, (if that majority were conscious as to their real aims), would best be achieved through the time-tested process of ‘divide-and-conquer’.

Suppose to achieve this ultimate goal they, themselves, had self-divided, with one part of their group being ‘visible’, and promoting their goal more or less ‘openly’, albeit in small increments. With the necessary propaganda apparatus operational to try to ensure that anything horrible they were really doing, and why, was always explainable as unfortunate, but necessary for their own survival as the long-suffering underdog to have a right to a mere existence.

While the other part was ‘invisible’. Even seemingly opposed sometimes to what their ‘visible’ counterpart was doing. Yet subscribing to exactly the same overall hidden philosophy, under seemingly kinder and gentler methods to enforce it as their policy on their unwitting victims.

Which of these two parts of the same thing are the greater danger? That which we can see, which, despite all its efforts at mass-deception cannot help but make mistakes which expose itself to be seen for what it really is? Or the other part, which can’t be seen, which operates in the shadows using deception to get others to do whatever it wants under the guise this will be ‘good for everyone’?

Which of the two will be the easiest for those of us, the majority of us outside this ‘elite’ group, I believe, to defeat? Or do we want to defeat them at all, and just bow to their superiority as a manifestation of God’s will?

Canada is the second largest country in the world. We have everything we need and what we can’t grow or manufacture here we can import from other countries through peaceful trading, including exporting to others.

Staying out of the disputes of others is not going to inflict any harm on our way of life. We may be wise and use our financial resources to build up a strong home defense system rather than squander them abroad on unwinnable conflicts.

However, politicians don’t think and reason like ordinary people, so here we go again…

Canada did have a presence in the Iraq war. About 100 personel and a few frigates, etc; and we ran patrols in the Persian Gulf. In fact out participation made us the 4th largest contributor over the coalition of the willing, even though we did not publically declare our participation.

Furthermore in 2003 we had committed 2000 troops to Afghanistan, which took the pressure off the Americans in Afghanistan and allowed them to beef up their forces in Iraq.

When you look at the big picture you would see without a doubt that we participated in the Gulf War, and of course in Afghanistan. On the other hand if you want to target Harper, and overlook that it was Jean Chretian that got us into both wars, then go for it.

We should always keep in mind that the first casualty of war is **truth**.

“When you look at the big picture you would see without a doubt that we participated in the Gulf War, and of course in Afghanistan”

Not to forget that both of these misadventures turned out to be dismal failures and yes, the truth is the first casualty of war, even the undeclared (illegal) ones. Chretien did not listen to Harper and kept us out of Iraq, the Afghanistan mission was one that Canada as a member of NATO could not refuse. Common knowledge.

Revisionism often doesn’t come up with any better truths.

“Roses are red, violets are blue, IS is coming, to a town near you.” Another nice Canadian quote. It will never happen….right??

Actually X-it, it can very easily happen. The Americans have already admitted ISIS has crossed into Turkey blended in with refugees and there is no practical way of stopping them on their way into Europe. At some point in time the UN is going to ask Canada to accept refugees from this area, and it is inevitable ISIS operatives will be mixed in with that group, and one day, a horrible thing will happen, and our kindness will be aptly rewarded.

Prince George. Can you not read. We had personel in Irag, and we had patrols in the Persian Gulf. We made a contribution to the Irag war, without having boots on the ground.

Much like the Americans supplied the Allies with planes, and equipment for the first 2/3 years of the 2nd world war, even though they were **not in the war**

Time to take off your blinders and see the big picture.

Prince George wrote:-“Canada is the second largest country in the world. We have everything we need and what we can’t grow or manufacture here we can import from other countries through peaceful trading, including exporting to others.”

But we CAN’T do that under the current system of finance we subscribe to. Where the goal of every country is to export more than it imports and receive international ‘credit’ convertible into its own currency for the difference. Without doing this, under the current system of finance, the ever widening overall ‘gap’ between the rate that consumer product PRICES are generated and the rate that consumer INCOMES are distributed, still primarily from wages and salaries, could only be bridged by exponentially increasing un-repayable debt. And the public, everywhere, would very quickly see that this financial set-up was completely unsustainable, and ask some questions about why we persist in retaining it. Questions you’re never going to hear from ANY of our current crop of politicians, and especially from those aspirants to the top job in the land, who, if they truly had “our” interests at heart would be asking them already.

Socredible, maybe you have the answer to this one. Every government in the world it seems is in deficit, or has a national debt, so, who does all these government’s owe all this money too? And where did they get it? Even the richest corporation’s in the world don’t have enough cash to fund the national debts of the all the nations in the world. It would seem we have debtors without corresponding creditors?

They just stopped a sixteen year old kid from getting on a plane with a ticket bought by ISIL to Turkey. Actively recruiting on an internet page near you. Turkey has trade for the cheap oil that ISIL eels from wells it has taken over, drone and manned air strikes are perfect for hitting tanker trucks trading oil for weapons.

Eels? No idea how ‘pumps’ ever autocorrects to ‘eels’ but ok Apple

Palopu, you and I know the definition of troops on the ground. Yours is the unofficial version, mine is the official. Troops are armed soldiers in uniform, firing their weapons at the enemy in active combat. Advisors and other personnel like mentors and technicians are not combat troops, i.e. not troops on the ground. Period.

Blinders? Kind of below the belt, but who cares?

The point I was trying to make is if Canada puts 2000 troops into Afghanistan, which then allows the Americans to take troops from Afghanistan, and build up their troops in Irag, we are in fact helping to fight the Iraq war. The only difference is, is that the Canadian troops died and were injured in Afghanistan.

ski51 wrote:-“Socredible, maybe you have the answer to this one. Every government in the world it seems is in deficit, or has a national debt, so, who does all these government’s owe all this money too? And where did they get it? Even the richest corporation’s in the world don’t have enough cash to fund the national debts of the all the nations in the world. It would seem we have debtors without corresponding creditors?”

Fundamentally, government’s generally owe all that money to the citizens of the nation. That’s probably not very enlightening as an answer, but a complete explanation could easily stretch to great lengths, more than we’d have space for here. Pay off the National Debt and we would, under the current set-up, have no money

Where did the government get it? The money, that is? It was created, “out of nothing”, as the saying goes, by the banking system. In Canada, as in most of the western democracies, the banking system consists of the central bank, (the Bank of Canada, government owned), and the private banks. We have allowed the banking system, properly, I believe, to ADMINISTER the creation and cancellation of financial credit. Unfortunately, for us, they have also appropriated OWNERSHIP of the credit they create. Our money system is strictly ‘creditary’ ~ every time any bank lends or spends it creates new financial credits, ‘money’, if you will. When it’s repaid what it has loaned, or sells what it has bought, or had earnings as a ‘business’, the process is reversed, and the ‘money’ it has created is destroyed. Only a miniscule amount of that ‘money’ ever materialises in a tangible form as currency, (Bank of Canada banknotes and government issued coinage), and actually ‘circulates’. Most money only exists as bank account deposit balances. Purely bookkeeping entries.

It is created as loans to facilitate some form of ‘production’, and indeed, the rate of its creation largely determines the rate that goods and services can be produced or provided.

It is cancelled, or should be, at the rate of ‘consumption’. When all the costs that have been paid out as incomes in making or providing something end up in final price, and somebody pays that price, sending what was borrowed back to its point of origin, the bank, and its extinction as ‘money’. The dynamic nature of this whole process gives the illusion that (all the same) money continually circulates. This is not actually the case. To a far greater extent, money ebbs and flows, as new loans are continually written by the banking system, become business costs and personal incomes, and those loans are subsequently paid off as those incomes are spent on personal consumption, and the business recoups its costs, and repays its borrowings to the banks. There is a constant creation and destruction of account balances taking place.

There are a number of correctable problems with what currently attends in banking. The first being that the banking system, the proper ADMINISTRATORS of the essentially ‘bookkeeping’ system any money system is, have been allowed to appropriate OWNERSHIP of the financial credit they create. This puts them in the very advantageous, (to them), position of being not only the ‘terms maker’ to a public in constant need of financial credit as loans, but also the ‘deal breaker’, by periodically acting in concert in a way that ensures those loans, in general, can not all fully be repaid.

Through this process they are able to come into ownership of Assets pledged as collateral, and often of considerably greater real value, for, essentially, ‘nothing’. And also become the creditors of a government, which, as the set-up currently operates, transmutes a great deal of the otherwise un-repayable floating debts of the private sector into the permanently un-payable fixed debts of the public one whenever there’s a recession. The National Debt. On which a government can always (so far, here, anyways) TAX to pay the interest.

Much has been written about the ‘conspiratorial’ aspects of banking, with names such as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, George Soros, and a number of others “pulling the strings” and causing the world to lurch from boom to bust and back again, ad infinitum, and greatly enriching themselves with each successive cycle.

The bigger question is mainly whether there is something in banking that such people are truly masters of in purposefully manipulating, causing a financial crisis whenever it suits them for their own advantages; or whether there is something inherent in banking as it currently operates that does this periodically on its own, and is a more natural ‘flaw’ that could be corrected, but hasn’t been (yet). Something which has given such people an opportunity to do what any others in the same position they are would do, namely, take advantage of it. There is quite probably truth in both points of view, and it would only be their particular opposition to the correction of that ‘flaw’, once it was clearly understood by the general public, that should condemn such people to truly being the evil incarnate so many are convinced already they actually are.

You’re last question is quite interesting. It is always assumed that somewhere, someplace, there is , in the hands of the public, rich and poor alike, a totality of money equal to the price values of everything for sale to the public. That the reason we have trouble in our economy is because money is not fairly distributed. Some people have too much, others have too little, so we’re told. The poor can’t buy what they need and want, and the rich already have bought it, so they save and supposedly become richer still. That’s what we’re told.

If you took the total amount of money in the hands of the public and used it to offset every debt that was incurred in the course of getting that money into the hands of the public, remembering that it is not WE that literally ‘make’ money, only the banks can do that, (and the Mint, minisculely nowadays, and the occasional counterfeiter, til he’s caught), and the banks only issue this money as loans, which they want back, (so virtually ALL the money in existence, with very minor exceptions, is ‘on loan’ from the banking system), what would be left at the end of the process? Keeping in mind that when a sum of money is returned to the banks as loan repayment that money is cancelled out of existence as money. What would be left after all this was done, assuming it could be done? Some coins, and a whole bunch of physical ASSETS, with a ‘price tag’ on them, in money, but not a dollar in existence to meet that price. Now if we ‘produce’ to ‘consume’, and if money is the facilitator of ‘production’, the financial credit that enables it, then surely money should be created and issued at the rate of production, and withdrawn and cancelled at the rate of consumption. Is it? Or is it withdrawn faster than the rate of consumption, leaving us in a position of having ‘produced’ things which we can’t ever fully ‘consume’, unless we do something truly silly, like ‘produce’ more, whether it’s actually needed or desired or not.

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