This conflict is not Afghanistan post 9/11 nor is it Iraq circa 2004. The fight against ISIS is far more complex, multifaceted and layered than any in which Canada has been involved in recent years. The Canadian government has suggested that the best that can be done is to act now and reevaluate in six months, figure out our goals and objectives as we go. And while the government's arguments against inaction appeal to our moral imperatives doing so basically asks Canadians to support military action with no clear or realistic intentions and with little acknowledgement that this conflict is likely to last longer than six months.
Outside the neighbourhood, there is one country leading the response. It is not Canada, despite statements from our ministers that the Canadian refugee response constitutes "more than any of our allies have done." This is deliberately misleading and a slight to what our allies are actually doing. Greater leadership can be found in a country with a quarter of Canada's population.
On Friday, Prime Minister Harper announced that Canada would join allies, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and others in launching air strikes against ISIL in Iraq. The announcement on Friday builds on the growing engagement that Canada has recently taken part in with respect to Iraq on a variety of fronts. Against ISIL and its genocidal agenda in Iraq, it's timely that Canada has stepped up.
The Canadian Forces situation is dire. Our compensation system woefully decrepit. Our government spends 1 per cent of the GDP on defense on par with Lithuania and Latvia. The equipment that soldiers use is in such a poor state that the probability of sustaining casualties is much higher. Casualties that veterans affairs can't possibly handle given the current state the department is in. The truth of the matter is Canada is about as ready for another war as the Hapsburgs were in 1914. I implore upon those deploying to Iraq to take care. I understand how much you want to deploy. You must understand that the current government support to you are hollow promises and even though you have given a blank cheque for this country the feeling is far from mutual if you return home missing pieces.
Zahar and Baghdadi, Hamas and ISIS share the same final goal: democracy must give way to theocracy, plural religions to a single Islamist belief, freedom to submission and social equality to the dictates of Sharia rule. Standing against Hamas and ISIS terrorism transcends politics and party lines. The rights and freedoms that comprise the very heart of our way of life are under direct attack in the Middle East from these and other groups seeking to build a radical, theocratic mega-state across the region, and, if they can achieve it, even beyond.
The Western interest in dismantling the Syrian regime was motivated by two factors. First, the Syrian regime had proven to be a sustained source of discomfort for Israel. Containing Syria meant additional operational space for Israel. The second factor had to do with the Arab regimes' interest in containing Iran's rising influence in the region.