Saturday, December 19, 2015

on ISIS and the middle east, is there a third way?

The debate over Canada's role in the middle east most specifically with regards to combating ISIS seems to be narrowly defined.  On the one hand, you have the conservative position, which is that Canada should continue fighting ISIS.  On the other hand, you have the social democratic position, as enunciated by Mulcair and Trudeau, which is that Canada should continue fighting ISIS but not quite as directly.  Instead of bombing directly, we'll send money and train troops.  There isn't even a hint among the establishment political parties or their lapdogs in the media that there is a third option, specifically non intervention.

Which is curious, really, when you consider how terribly Western interventions in the middle east have worked out.  It was after all, the coup in Iran in 1953 which Washington carried out at the behest of British Petroleum that led eventually to the Khomeini revolution. And let's not forget that Al-Qaeda before it was Al-Qaeda was called the Muhjadeen and received funding and training from the CIA to fight off the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The invasion of Iraq and the covert actions in Syria produced cumulatively over a million innocent casualties, but also paved the way for the rise of ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Virtually every foreign intervention in the middle east has resulted in blowback and inculcated hatred for the west. So why then is there not even a whisper in the press that perhaps we should consult the history books before rushing headlong once again into disaster?

The phenomenon of imperialism has been too brusquely treated by the social sciences.  One possible explanation advanced by Schumpeter, who conducted a survey of this phenomenon beginning in antiquity 'Imperialism', was simply that the weight of the military class carries the nation to war on it's own account. Whatever the cause it is important to consider the consequences that intervention has had in the past when analyzing the potential fall out from present day policy.

The foreign policy which the Canadian government should adopt is one of non intervention. It is not our role to reshape the world. We should not succumb to the hubris of Wilsonian imperialism; surely enough innocents have died at the hands of Western intervention in the middle east. Instead of bombing Syria and Iraq or funding and training a hated Vichy government we need to adopt a hands off policy and accept the limitations of our power. What hasn't worked in the past is not likely to work in the present.

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