Canadian Intervention in Syria (RELS 348)

The article I will be discussing is by Brian Stewart of CBC News, titled “Is Canada’s ISIS Mission ready for Syria’s moral maze?” In this internet news report posted on March 30th, 2015, Stewart goes into an analytical discussion of the potential consequences of Canadian airstrike in Syria, and gives multiple reasons as to why this may not be the most logical idea coming from the Harper government. He goes on to deliberate that we as a nation, and every other country, is blind to the full extent of dangers and negative consequences that lies within Syria, and that no one can fully predict what the outcomes of becoming involved via air bombings and warfare would entail. Not only would Canada and the U.S. have no idea what to expect from such action, but there is no guarantee that an airstrike would eradicate the Islamic State and rebel groupings out of Syria. It also has the potential to make a dangerous situation even more deadly, by helping Assad dictatorship, and causing more terrors and deaths for civilians. Stewart purposes the question that if we kill ISIS and move them out of Syria, who will take their position? And what does that mean for innocent citizens? There are hundreds of competing militias on the ground, as well as complexity and chaos. Stewart believes that there is some kind of “unspoken deal” between a Canada U.S. coalition, and if we were to get involved, it would be extremely unpredictable and multifarious, we would become mislaid in the metaphorical maze for quite some time.

Although I am no military strategy expert, or anything related to that nature, we have seen throughout this semester in Dr. Hexham’s lectures that there are usually negative consequences that follow when another country thinks they know what is best for another nation. This may not be in a direct form of colonialism or imperialism, but there are remarkable elements of that nature in the purposed airstrikes by the U.S. and Canada. I believe that by going off the arguments provided in Stewart’s article and lectures given by Dr. Hexham, the U.S. and Canada are acting in a colonial fashion as seen in previous years, by assuming they will be helping and also thinking that they know what would be best for Syria, without thinking the entirety of the situation through. Going in and physically bombing a country does nothing to get to the root and cause of the issues at hand. Dr. Hexham has described the tension between original African inhabitants and the European traders and missionaries, which resulted in countless conflicts due to differing interests, with many lives lost. An example of this is the Zulu war in 1879, where Zululand wished to be independent, however the British wanted to keep it together, demonstrating the assumption they knew what would be best for a different nation. With the later invasion of Zululand, there were many causalities of innocent people, thus demonstrating the negative effects of such assumptions. Another example of this theme given in lecture is the Sepoy revolts in India, who did not wish to be a part of British intentions and their cultural insensitivity (by the use of pork fat to lubricate the bullets, as they were Muslim troops). In Uwe Siemon-Netto’s book titled Triumph of the Absurd, he accounts his time in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He continuously describes throughout his novel the ongoing war between varying countries, with little or no consideration for the people that actually lived in that country, and the unfortunate consequences and causalities of more innocent people this resulted in. This is not the first time we have seen more powerful countries assuming proper knowledge over another, with minimal regards to the civilians. Although the political aspect weighs heaviest, there is also religious aspects involved.

The Assad family in Syria is not extreme in their religion, but the Islamic State is in their religious beliefs, undoubtedly creating more tension within the country. There are a plethora of notions and ideas that need to be taken into account for such a precarious and delicate situation that resides in Syria. The Islamic State has taken control of an increasing more amount of land, altering the balance of power. Syria has become a battleground location for opposing interests in the Middle Eastern nations by mainly Gulf monarchies and Iran allies. Consequences for Canada, Syria, innocent civilians, religion, and culture, all need to be heavily considered before Canada as a country can intervene in such a complex situation. The fact that airstrike has the potential to not help the people of Syria at all is a serious notion. Do the interests of such actions benefit Canada or Syria? I agree with Stewart that this is something that I believe needs to be heavily considered in all aspects.

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