The lessons of Afghanistan were purchased at a bitter cost: the war claimed more lives, more years, and more money than any other campaign in NATO's history. Unless the alliance takes those lessons to heart, a war in Syria and Iraq to extinguish Daesh -- the self-styled "Islamic State" -- will be worse. In any military campaign against Daesh, how will we identify effective allies on the ground, who are less pernicious than our common enemy? How will we ensure that neither chaos nor tyranny fill the vacuum left after a successful campaign? Whom will Syrians be able to trust to rebuild their country?
Whether our numerous interventions are justified or not, we cannot continue to let our self-imagined grand delusions make us blind to the fact that our actions abroad can come back to haunt us here at home. The problem with this admission, however is that it forces us to look in the mirror to confront our very own imperfections. Yet until we're able to do so, peace in our times will continue to remain an elusive fantasy and the carnage is destined to continue.
Each of the leaders would present a different face of Canada to the world. Mulcair clearly demonstrated a new NDP approach to the realm of foreign affairs for Canada. Trudeau worked hard to dig into his opponents, but didn't present himself as a possible world leader. Stephen Harper managed to stay out of any major trouble and reinforced his image as a "tough on terror" PM.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was the most successful alliance in world history, as it contained the threat of Soviet imperialism and international communism in the West for 50 years, until the Soviet Union disintegrated, without an exchange of a single pistol shot between the two sides. Today, every two weeks or so, we see a new demonstration of the fruit of weakness and delusional misjudgment in the chancelleries of the West, where formerly, great, or at least consistent and sensible, statesmen ruled. One dares not ask where it will all end, for fear that the logical answer spring from the mists of the unthinkable and legitimize the antics of the Russian gangster-state.
At the end of the day, it will always be the people who suffer, and Ukraine has a long history of suffering. There are enough populations who feel abandoned by a Ukrainian Ukraine to fight for Russia, and enough who are ready to engulf Kiev in flames in order to show their desire to move away from the perceived dangers of an Eastern block and take their place among Western nations.
At the end of March, Canadian military personnel will leave Afghanistan. That is too soon. As the second largest contributing nation to the training mission after the U.S., Canada's contributions to this capacity development are too valuable to withdraw this close to the finish line. Canada should renew its training mission for another term, and continue contributing to the Afghan mission in an area in which it clearly excels. Canada should stay, and continue to add value to the effort of training and educating Afghan soldiers and police. We have given too much and come too far to walk out this close to the finish line, and with so much progress at stake.
We now see every week the crumbling of foreign policy of the United States. The War on Terror was not without mistakes, but the War on Drugs has been a disaster in every respect. Only 20 years ago, the U.S. bestrode the world, the only super power, strong by any measurement. Today it is quavering, waffling, semi-bankrupt, lurching from one mistaken and often hypocritical policy to the next.
A model of non-violence and civil disobedience in line with the Green Movement that began in 2009 is the best course for the future of Iran. International isolation and pressure on the Iranian state will lead the government toward further repressive measures. Military intervention will only make things worse.