10.08.2014 04:01 PM

Axworthy on the coalition against ISIS

He speaks for quite a few of us, I think:

“I was concerned, and I was surprised at the [Liberal] decision to be honest, because traditions and the history and the principles I think of the party were very much centred I think on this idea that part of our mandate, nationally, is to help protect innocent people,” he said. “And I’m surprised that was not given the kind of weight that it should have been.”

I’ll make a prediction, however, and I said this on Sun News this afternoon: this is where I think Justin Trudeau will end up, too.


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    MississaugaPeter says:

    I disagree WK.

    I hold to what I said here 2 years ago:

    “As I stated many years ago when I referred to him as The Dauphin here, the guy makes even middle-aged men love him (not just like, but I mean, some serious man crushes; see other posts on this fine blog). The NDP loves him (ever read the NDP’s mouthpiece “The Rabble”). Muclair is toast in Quebec and elsewhere up against him. The Liberal hemorrhage to the NDP is over with Justin at the helm. The hemorrhage to the Conservative will begin, but will it be more than what is gained from the NDP.

    WK; If there are no serious, recent skeletons in JT closet, he will unite the NDP and the Liberals on his own.”


    The key to JT becoming prime minister is to not create a wedge issue with the NDP. Politically, the right thing to do is to ape the NDP, no matter what elder Liberals think and believe.

    Wynne showed how it is done. The unions will go with whoever is more likely to win, and JT is light years ahead of Muclair.

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      Matt says:

      Except the latest Crop poll out of Quebec had the NDP ahead of the Liberals 37 to 35 overall, and 38 to 28 among Francophones.

      Now, take it for what it is, but I think it’s the first poll showing the NDP ahead since Trudeau became Liberal leader.

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        MississaugaPeter says:

        No consistency in the polls out of Quebec this year, except that the Liberals are leading or contenders (which they were not as much prior to Trudeau becoming leader).


        My point stands that it is in JT’s best interests to stay close to the NDP rather than do what many of us older, feeling disenfranchised Liberals believe he should. It’s killing us, and it may not work if enough Blue Liberals jump ship, but right now it is working. I would love to know what the brilliant minds behind Wynne’s campaign (including Bob Lopinski) think.

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    Sarah MacLeod says:

    Here’s another point of view:


    If protecting innocent people were our priority, we’d have gone directly from Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and we’d still be there today. The atrocities there are beyond comprehension, as is the scale. So, why Isis and not the ‘Lord’s Resistance Army’ or any of the other orgies of violence going on in Africa. Is it a coincidence that in so many parts of Africa where we ignored suffering, Islamists are flourishing?

    Maybe, as happened in Rwanda, the big boys in the Middle East need to sort their own backyard issues.

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      Lance says:

      If protecting innocent people were our priority, we’d have gone directly from Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and we’d still be there today.

      Yes, we’d still be, and we SHOULD have. Not doing so was wrong.

      But this isn’t a zero-sum game, and not doing so THEN shouldn’t be an excuse for not doing so NOW.

      Part of the reason isn’t so much that the M.E. should sort out their own “backyard issues”, but that their “backyard” is threatening to encroach on our backyard at home.

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        Sarah MacLeod says:

        You think I’m arguing that because we sat on our hands then, we should sit on our hands now? I’m shaking my head, Lance. Read it again, read the link.

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          Lance says:

          Well, I tried, Sarah, but the link was broken –
          We cannot find the page you are looking for. The page may have been moved, updated or deleted. There might be a problem with the website. You may have typed the web address incorrectly. Please check the address and spelling.

          If you want me to read the article, then maybe find a link that isn’t broken, and I’ll be glad to. 🙂 Until then, all I could do was address what YOU had written, which I did. And no, I am not saying that is the argument that YOU are making, only that I hope that we don’t end up going. down that road.

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    Elisabeth Lindsay says:

    Irwin Cottler abstaining spoke loudly to me.

    Trudeau`s “What`s Article 5?” spoke loudly to me.

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    Matt says:

    It should be noted the Liberals whipped the vote which caused at least 4 Liberal MP’s to abstain including their “moral compass” Irwin Cotler.

    As for Trudeau eventually coming around, you give him far to much credit.

    Did you hear his response when asked what the Liberals would do if Turkey were to enact Article 5 of the NATO charter should they be attacked by ISlL?

    Quote Trudeau: What’s Article 5?

    Seems someone wanting to be PM should know. Maybe his foreign affairs advisor should be explaining these things to him considering ISIL it a Turkey’s doorstep.

    After the reporter explained Article 5 to him, he said the Liberals would have “discussions”.

    Um, no Justin. There would be no discussion. An attack on a NATO member is an attack on ALL NATO members.

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      Lance says:

      It should be noted the Liberals whipped the vote which caused at least 4 Liberal MP’s to abstain including their “moral compass” Irwin Cotler.

      Those are the MPs CURRENTLY in the LPC caucus (let alone members not in caucus) that felt comfortable enough to make a stand. I wonder how many other Liberal MPs felt likewise and just ended up toeing the line?

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      Ronald O'Dowd says:


      My impression of Article 5 is that an attack on one NATO member is considered as an attack on all NATO members. However, this is a Cold War edict. It applies solely to an attack by a nation-state. In short, ISIL isn’t covered by Article 5.

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        Lance says:

        And you’re right, Ronald. Turkey, however IS a nation-state and is a NATO member. And ISIS/L is right on their border. Turkey has recently mobilized their armed forces along the border and if ISIS/L does anything to provoke a Turkish response NATO, of which Canada is a member, will be obligated to respond according to Article 5.

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      Just Askin' says:

      If Canada wants an Obama, we’re well on our way. My leadership litmus test is whether or not someone lives in the real world. Trudeau definitely does not, and he offers nothing beyond superficial platitudes, a family legacy and a pretty face (not IMHO, but apparently I’m in the minority on that one).

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    Vankleek Hill says:

    Yeah, maybe Junior will come around to this kind of thinking. Hopefully his handlers are telling him that serious issues should not be a set-up line for dick jokes.

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    ottlib says:

    The problem is the mission as it is defined right now will not protect those innocent people. It is symbolism only and will be totally ineffective.

    Recent reports indicate that the city of Kobani in Northern Syria is about to fall to ISIS despite the fact that Western aircraft have been bombing the snot out of ISIS forces around the city for a couple of weeks now. The reason why they are so ineffective is simple. The mission profile for Western fighters, and Canada will have identical profiles, is to fly over their targets at about 20,000 feet and release bombs on their targets.

    They have these mission profiles because it places the Western aircraft out of range of the small arms fire and the shoulder launched SAMs that ISIS has, which guarantees no Western casualties, which is THE only real objective of these attacks. Such tactics are great for interdiction missions, blowing up bridges and such, but it is not how close air support is done. For that you need to get your hands dirty close the ground. If the ground crews are not pulling branches out of the air intakes and scrubbing sand off the bottom of the fuselage you are doing it wrong.

    For the life of me I cannot shake the feeling that all of this is to assuage public opinion at home as opposed to actually helping the people most effected by ISIS. The military establishments in the US, Britain, Australia and Canada have to know that what they are doing will not turn the tide against ISIS. If they do not then I am really worried. However, they continue to pursue these tactics. I can only assume that they have told their political masters how ineffective these tactics will be but that those same political masters are not letting them do anything else.

    There is so much more the West could be doing that is more effective than what they are doing now and it is not a bad thing that some of the leaders of this country are pointing that out.

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      Matt says:

      No the haven’t “been bombing the snot out of ISIS.

      The American’s have launched 350 airstrikes since they began bombing in early August

      Compare that to Afghanistan where they launched over 17,000 in the first 70 days.

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        Al in Cranbrook says:

        I strongly suspect that the rules of engagement in this have the air forces hamstrung.

        ‘Cause you are right. There has not been near the engagement so far that we’ve seen in prior missions…not anywhere even close.

        Couple days ago I heard one expert on CNN state that there are fighter planes in the air for about only 2 hours on any given day so far. Really??? WTF is going on here???

        One of these days the truth is going to come out about this and Obama’s command of it all, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

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          MississaugaPeter says:

          It’s midterm elections in the United States next month dummy. That’s all House of Reps and 1/3 Senate. A body bag or civilian casualties would not help the Obama/Democrat cause. It will be interesting to see what happens after the elections.

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            MississaugaPeter says:

            Rereading my comment which was shot off at the tail end of a 20 hour day, I apologize and regret the use of the derogatory word “dummy”. Uncalled for here. Didn’t mean it and I am sorry Al (and others).

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        ottlib says:

        They have been bombing the snot out of ISIS for the last couple of weeks, around Kobani, in an effort to stop its fall. So far the defenders have managed to hold on but they are saying that airstrikes will not be enough to prevent its eventual capture by ISIS.

        But you raise an interesting point. If the stated objective of the airstrikes is to degrade and destroy ISIS, 350 airstrikes in a little over a month seems a little weak don’t you think?

        Why are the holding back?

        Could it be that the airstrikes are merely symbolic? Something to throw at the American people a few weeks before mid-term elections? Or something to take the people’s minds off of the near run thing in Scotland? Or something to try to burnish a reputation that got the shit kicked out of it by a certain Senator from PEI?

        Then again it could just be that ISIS is just not giving the Western air forces any real targets.

        Either way, your statement seems to demonstrate my point that the air strike strategy is not effective, will probably never be effective and that it is a valid position to offer other alternatives, if the real objective is to help the people who are threatened by ISIS.

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    Larry G says:

    Also of interest is Irwin Cotler’s explanation why he went MIA and abstained from the Iraq vote. If I understood him correctly speaking to Evan Solomon on CBC, he also wanted the motion to include attacking ISIS in Syria too! He wanted Canada to go full monty and follow Obama’s campaign to bomb both in Iraq and Syria! He mentioned Syria many times in his interview and perhaps used that as a crutch excuse for not standing with the Trudeau Liberals opposing the Conservative motion.

    Why do I suspect Cotler is standing on Liberal quicksand and getting sucked down into an ignominious retirement at the hands of Trudeau and his generational change purge of his Liberal party?!

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    Lance says:

    Where will he end up…………”history”?

    He may eventually come around, but in terms of leadership – too little, too late. This is another uptick in the slow roll of a building snowball, and he is just confirming Tory ads about him not being leadership material, which in turn will compound itself into yet more ads that will say just that, and that will be all the proof that is needed to put paid to their accuracy of the ones before and the ones at election time. The Tories won’t need to mine for this, Trudeau is just leaving this gold on the surface.

    The party drones are going to say what a simply brilliant strategy this is, but he is going to regret his wobbly, wishy-washy stance, and he should backtrack one more time and pay the price for it now, but he won’t and that will take it’s effect as an even bigger price later.

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    Lance says:

    And now what is Trudeau going to say to THIS –


    And what will he say if they fall into ISIS’ hands? Would THAT be enough to move him?

    What a fool.

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      Matt says:

      And if Syria has admitted to those 4 secret chemical weapons plants, there are probably more they are keeping secret.

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    MoS says:

    Lloyd doesn’t grasp the distinctions between Kosovo and Iraq/Syria. In Kosovo we bombed Serbia until Milosevic yielded. The equivalent of that where ISIS is concerned would be to bomb the palaces of the sheikhs and princes of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. Where do you think ISIS came from? Who recruited, armed and trained its members? Who funded it? The answer is the same Arabs who raised, trained, equipped and funded al Qaeda and who will raise, train, equip and fund the extremist Sunni groups that will carry on the campaign if we succeed in somehow neutralizing ISIS.

    We waged an air war against Serbia to achieve clearly understood objectives. Those aims were achieved and the war ended. ISIS, it could be argued is one of several successors to al Qaeda and it won’t be the last. Bandar bin Sultan (a.k.a. “Bandar Bush”) told the former head of MI6 that the Sunni princes see this as part of the inevitable clash between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam and we’re positioning ourselves right in the middle of it.

    We keep giving the Saudis a pass. Remember that 4 out of 5 of the 9/11 crew were Saudis. ISIS apparently has a hefty Saudi component. We consider its Wahhabist ways brutal and extreme yet they closely parallel the practices in Saudi Arabia.

    We’ve already seen from our decadal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that all the King’s horses and all the King’s men persistently fail to achieve significant, lasting results. The air war against ISIS is even more half-assed. We should be telling our Sunni “allies” to mount up and get their armies into Syria and Sunni Iraq to take down ISIS for good. They won’t because that would mean attacking the very force they spawned.

    To equate the battle against ISIS with the war against Serbia over Kosovo is dangerously simplistic.

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    davie says:

    Lloyd, Lloyd, Lloyd…these character have been committing atrocities for over two years. Either the media fell down on reporting your views on this, or you just recently jumped on the American band wagon.

    These guys were no labelled a global threat or terrorists until just about he time they grabbed from Kurdish control some oil facilities that had western investment in them.

    Are we getting after these guys from the air? Far as I can see we (the West) are bombing the same stuff we hit during the 1990’s…water works, roads, bridges, electrical production…all the stuff that is needed by ordinary people.
    I suppose you could argue we are indirectly hitting Islamic State because we are making it difficult for them to govern areas they control, but we seem to be maiming and killing civilians while doing so.
    (Maybe we have harmed only a few civilians, but that means to the world to those civilians and their families and neighbours.)

    I will admit, though, some reports today suggest constant aerial raids have helped Kobani stave off occupation.

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      smelter rat says:

      Our allies, the Turks, aren’t helping that situation at all, they seem bent on making it worse.

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        Lance says:

        I don’t know if they are making it worse, but I look at our NATO Turkish “allies” with a jaundiced eye. Something tells me that they aren’t overly worried that their Kurdish “problem” is being handled for them.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    This mission has absolutely no credibility because it is not serious. A true mission with a chance of victory would require pulling out all of the stops and preparing the public not only for immediate ground troops but also for the long haul — which means a five to ten year committment no matter the price paid by our soldiers. If you’re in to win, you stop at nothing to win that war. The West does not have the stomach nor the political will to leave positively no stone unturned. This is both improvisation and a quick fix — neither of which will mean anything strategically speaking. We’ve learned nothing from Iraq or Afghanistan. Just another fool’s war…

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    Mark says:

    Here’s what I’m hoping is going through Trudeau’s mind.

    A year from now, or sooner, when Harper gets the boot, it’s going to start becoming apparent that “defeating ISIS” didn’t turn out to be as simple as just dropping bombs on a few “ragheads.”

    Of course, it will still be early enough, at that point, that Harper will still try to claim that “victory” is “just around the corner.” The “just around the corner” narrative will be repeated ad nauseum, until the day after the election.

    Two, three years from now, when that corner still hasn’t been gotten around, the Conservatives will blame Trudeau for failing to finish the war that they started. (Ignoring the role of our “coalition partners.”)

    By that time, Harper is long gone. When he’s on the speech circuit, he’ll make it the centrepiece of every speech that he’s the Prime Minister who “Fought ISIS.” He’ll skip the part about how he also committed Canada to what we already know is a failing strategy.

    Trudeau, on the other hand, will be stuck with dealing with the results of a failed strategy that he didn’t initiate. Even if he came out in favour of the war, he wouldn’t get any of the credit for starting the war, only Harper will. He will, however, get all the blame for the failure of the war.

    Public opinion is currently in favour of war, but if you actually read the questions, it’s also clear that the support we see is based on a very limited role. A prime example of what’s known as support being “a mile wide, and an inch deep.” You can bet that support is going to drop fast when the war starts dragging on. Particularly so as it becomes more and more clear that we’re going to need to put troops on the ground. Kind of like what we did in Afghanistan. (A war, you may recall, which still has not been resolved.)

    The biggest potential hit to Trudeau’s popularity is not going to come from opposing the war now, but from the crapstorm that awaits if he waits too long, after becoming Prime Minister, to pull our military out from the Middle East.

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    Sarah says:

    Not unique to the Liberal Party either:


    A surprising number on all sides of the partisan spectrum back Canada’s limited intervention to help end ISIL atrocities. As does the public, according to the best evidence.

    Pacifism is not and has never been a political winner in this country.

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    Al in Cranbrook says:

    In case anyone thinks the threat to this country isn’t real and imminent…


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    Eugene Burdoch says:

    The Liberal grandees don’t seem to following leader Justin in his opposition to Canada’s mission to Iraq. Here they are:

    Irwin Cotler
    Stephane Dion
    Lawrence MacAulay
    Mauril Bélanger
    Byron Wilfert
    Michelle Simson
    Lloyd Axworthy
    Ujjal Dosanjh
    Bob Rae
    (Warren Kinsella?)

    Even Liberal admirers of US liberal Hillary Clinton are offside with her support for Obama’s mission.

    The most comical is Liberal MP Marc Garneau who came up with the lame statement that he opposes the Conservative motion to send the Canadian military to Iraq, but then corkscrewed himself by saying he would support Canada’s troops in Iraq. Talk about Liberal double-talk… lol

    Of course, we all know Trudeau is taking the anti-war stance to ingratiate himself and his Liberals in Quebec and to counter the NDP leftist support of jihadi terrorists. It’s all about the Quebec vote.

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      Matt says:

      You forgot perhaps the biggest, Romeo Dallaire.

      He has actually been saying we need a much stronger military response to ISIL.

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      Randy V says:

      I wonder why the CBC and CTV aren’t interviewing these dissident Liberals and only vaguely quoting what they are saying about the Justin Liberal position on ISIL in Iraq and Syria?

      Are the Liberal old veterans avoiding the media or is the media avoiding them to protect their Justin Trudeau? If Joe Clark disagrees with the Conservative government, he is given air time on the tv networks for his anti-Harper platform.

      The Liberal party is politically split and the media seems to be trying to heal the wounds by limiting discussion. So it is the “Media Party” backing Justin….!

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    !o! says:

    Don’t care who you are, you can’t dismiss Lloyd Axworthy as some ‘old man’.

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    smelter rat says:

    The war mongers will be singing a different tune the first time some innocent civilians get blown up by our bombs. I’ve seen no credible source that believes bombing will do anything positive in the fight against ISIL. It’s all theater, folks.

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      Steve T says:

      OK, so your suggestion to stopping ISIS is…. ?

      And please don’t divert the conversation, or cite other atrocities we haven’t addressed, etc. What specifically should be done to stop ISIS, or please explain how what ISIS is doing is OK?

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        smelter rat says:

        According to many credible military experts, it will take “boots on the ground” to stop ISIL/ISIS. I don’t hear any government making plans to send troops, so I can only conclude that what we’re doing now is simply showbiz.

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          Matt says:

          The theory, and I can almost see you rolling your eyes, is use the airstrikes to hopefully stop, or at least slow ISIL’s advance to give the coalition the time to get those on the ground who are fighting ISIL such as the Kurds the equipment and weapons they need.

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    Brian says:

    If we took our “mandate” to protect innocent people through military deployment to heart like Lloyd seems eager to do, we’d be in dozens of countries and have ground forces in the Congo. In reality, we have constraints to deal with, and have to consider dispassionately whether anything constructive can realistically be accomplished. And really, innocent people have been dying to atrocities for years there in great numbers, and nobody was suggesting bombing – the only thing that has changed is that just recently, the unfortunate victims were Westerners and the terrorists (no idiots, they) videotaped and broadcast it in the apparent hopes of provoking a reaction. Which has now been successful. So all evidence points to this being an emotional response, rather than a rational one.

    I have to roll my eyes when all the right-wingers who were raking Obama over the coals just weeks ago for saying there wasn’t a strategy to deal with the situation are now raking anyone else over the coals for not signing on fast enough without a strategy being outlined. John Kerry was out today saying that the key element of a Syrian ground force, or any dependable regional ground force, that could provide dependable opposition isn’t in place. That’s a rather large missing ingredient at this late stage. Apparently the whole thing hinges on identifying, locating, coordinating with and organizing the right ragtag group of rebels. Like that never backfires…

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    Joe says:

    Of the three leaders in the HOC Mulcair makes the most sense. I don’t think anyone is serious about fighting a war in the ME against ISIS. Even the alleged leader (USA) is more concerned about its own politics than actually fighting/bombing. Once the midterm elections are over the US will fold their tent and go home. Canada’s 6 fighters, two surveillance aircraft and an air refueling tanker is tokenism at its best. At least it might fool our allies into thinking that Canada is willing. However the really silly position of the three leaders is the one taken by the ‘hair apparent’ Justin. His idea of sending over the Canadian Tire camping section is just dumb. It simply concedes Iraq and Syria to ISIS in a move reminiscent of Chamberlain with none of the wisdom of Chamberlain. At least Chamberlain’s treaty gave Britain time to re-arm. Last time I looked our (allies and Canada) don’t need to rearm and the longer we fail to face ISIS the stronger ISIS becomes.

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      Matt says:

      No, actually for the most part Mulcair is spewing hyper partisan bullshit.

      Calling this “Harper’s war” Absolute and utter nonsense.

      Trying to equate the possibility of Canadian airstrikes in Syria as Harper “helping Assad” to continue to attack the citizens of Syria. Complete and utter bullshit

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        smelter rat says:

        He’s 42. Calling him a kid is just trash talk.

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    Merrill Smith says:

    “I was surprised at the [Liberal] decision to be honest…” Punctuation is important.

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    Steven says:

    Robert Fowler put it best recently.

    To paraphrase:

    -Half measures like this against the ISIS will only make matters worse.

    -ISIS fighters / Jihadis reject our values entirely and will not give in or surrender.

    -You either go in and drain the swamp effectively and completely, which has to involve troops going in and with likely casualties on our side, or don’t go in at all.

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    Randy V says:

    Do you think the Cons will suggest in the election campaign that Justin is an ISIS supporter since his Liberals voted against the motion to send Canadian military into Iraq?

    It’s the Bush logic of “you are with us or against us” mentality…. and depending on how things go in Iraq, Justin may become dead political meat come October 2015.

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