03.24.2015 04:00 PM

ISIS: read this

This Matthews guy is smart.

One expert in genocide and war said the government motion neatly manoeuvred Trudeau into repudiating his own party’s foreign policy legacy.

“I think now from a political perspective this is a bigger wedge issue because Liberals were the ones who helped bring about responsibility to protect (R2P), that said we must do more to protect human security. They are now basically turning their backs on that notion,” said Kyle Matthews, senior deputy director at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies with Concordia University.

The mission has already exposed a split in the Liberal caucus. Veteran Liberal MP Irwin Cotler abstained from the first vote on the mission back in October — a decision Trudeau said at the time he respected…

For Matthews, that’s part of the larger problem. He said that the opposition parties are being too narrow-minded when they frame the mission from a combat perspective alone, neglecting to acknowledge Canada’s international legal obligation to prevent genocide.

“The Vatican has come out saying there’s genocide against Christians. The UN came out last week and said that ISIS is trying to commit genocide against the Yazidis. U.S. air power has prevented ISIS from committing that genocide but the Liberals who helped bring about R2P aren’t even mentioning it, and the NDP won’t even mention that a genocide is taking place,” said Matthews.

“Harper is kind of right in that there is a humanitarian imperative here, and not just ‘Harper’s war’.”


  1. James Smith says:

    – How does R2R work when one bombs targets (in a civil war) from 35,000 feet?
    – Can Canada stop genocide by allying ourselves with some who will only turnaround and wreak havoc on those who they will “liberate”?

    The trap is the false choice the present PM is presenting. We need people who can see beyond this and not fall into it.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      James Smith,

      Remember what Bouchard’s bombs got us in Libya: guys who in a New York minute couldn’t wait to deface and destroy the graves in the Allied War cemetary…

  2. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    A smart government knows how to choose its poison wisely. In my view, this ain’t it.

  3. King Prick says:

    Oh FFS! Where was all this rightousness for Sudan? This political game of labyrinth fills me with the urge to defecate. Trudeau’s an idiot because… Harper’s an idiot because… Mulcair’s an idiot because… Blame America. Blame Syria. Blame Saddam. Blame the people that agree. Blame the people that disagree. How about we just do what any sensible person should do… Mind our own business and let it sort itself out. We have a government that can’t even run this country nor protect it’s youth, the elderly, the disenfranchised or the mentally ill. If any of you believe that we’re making a difference over there, you’re mistaken. It’s nothing more than a way for the government to prop up the economy by building weapons and using war economics to prop up the economy. Only the weakest and most screwed of nations do that. See, the USA and USSR for the most perfect examples.

  4. smelter rat says:

    I’m sure the tens of thousands of Syrian civilians left to hang out to dry by the west for the past 4 years will appreciate the political nuances of Canadian foreign policy.

  5. Africon says:

    R2P is a meaningless, idealistic totally unrealistic and useless “norm” not even a law born out of the abject failure of the Clinton, Chretien and Blair governments to even try to do a thing about the genocide in Rwanda.

    1/ A state has a responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.

    Is ISIS a “State”? Who defines genocide or war crimes etc?
    Is a tiny First Nations Res in Southern Alberta a “State”?

    2/ The international community has a responsibility to assist the state to fulfill its primary responsibility.

    Define “International community” would that include N Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Liberia or Zimbabwe?
    Who really even has the means to “assist”” and just how is that done without some military muscle?

    3/ If the state manifestly fails to protect its citizens from the four above mass atrocities and peaceful measures have failed, the international community has the responsibility to intervene through coercive measures such as economic sanctions. Military intervention is considered the last resort.

    Um yes but only with approval of the security Council – how’s that working out for Ukraine?

    “He said that the opposition parties are being too narrow-minded when they frame the mission from a combat perspective alone,
    neglecting to acknowledge Canada’s international legal obligation to prevent genocide.”

    An absurd statement – how else can any of the above be accomplished without any military power behind it – perhaps this “smart” Mathews guy should go see ISIS and Assad with a please, pretty please approach and see how that goes over.

    • Étienne says:

      R2P is about balancing our responsibility as decent, moral people to stop large-scale massacre of innocent civilians with our responsibility as a state to mind our own business and let other states handle their own internal affairs. I’m sure you don’t support large-scale massacres of innocent civilians. R2P is the best way to stop that.

      1) ISIS is not a state, and neither are First Nations communities. The states in this case are Iraq and Syria. They have the responsibility to make sure their citizens don’t get slaughtered. But they don’t have the ability to protect them. So if no other states step in, there will be (there is, according to credible reports) slaughter of innocent people just trying to live their lives.

      2) Those who should get involved in the intervention includes, most importantly, regional powers, and those who have ability and expertise with military and humanitarian interventions. You need both to help a large population of civilians under assault. The dosage of each component depends on the context. There are no easy formulas for complex problems like this one, but I’m sure you’re not looking for simplistic answers considering your interest in this complicated issue.

      3) There is no case for an R2P intervention in Ukraine. The civilians in the Eastern parts of Ukraine and in Crimea are not under threat of eradication by their government or occupying forces. They may be victims of an armed conflict but they are not the target. In the parts of Iraq and Syria under ISIS control, civilians are targets. There are significant geopolitical considerations that will make some states balk at military and even humanitarian interventions in their neighbourhood. But, as much as possible, the goal with R2P is to try and get a broad consensus about the intervention. The more to help it succeed. But there have been R2P type interventions without UN security council approval.

      In my view, these are worthy goals: protecting innocent civilians from massacre when their governments cant or wont, seeking the largest possible consensus on the intervention, doing so with a balanced (military-humanitarian) approach. The fact that they are extremely difficult should not stop us from trying, for the smallest success is measured in numbers human lives saved.

  6. Al in Cranbrook says:

    There’s a basic operating assumption amongst naysayers on this forum: The rest of western democracies/civilizations will take care of this mess, so we don’t need to be involved.

    The question that they’re not addressing in any manner whatsoever is, what happens if nobody takes on this challenge?

    What happens?

    To the Kurds? To the Christians? To the women and children being either sold into slavery or slaughtered outright? To the stability of the entire middle east? Israel? North Africa?

    To European nations/allies when it lands on their shores? And only a GD fool would assume that it won’t.

    At what point is what Canada stands for in this world…freedom, democracy, human rights and dignity…finally worth taking a stand for?

    At what point to you finally start to take these barbarians seriously, and at their word? You think this is just a game of some sort? These bastards mean it! Every word of it! They’re out to create a world wide caliphate, at any cost. Everyone who does not share their vision is just so much human waste to be obliterated, and they have demonstrated in no uncertain terms that they intend to do exactly that.

    One can intellectualize around this until hell won’t have any more of it; they don’t give any more of damn what the rest of the world thinks than did the likes of Hitler, Tojo, Stalin, or Mao. They are motivated, clearly beyond anything most on this side of the fight can even begin to conceive.

    This is the real world. Deal with it.

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      Good editorial from the NP…


      The positions of both the NDP and Liberals is, in a word, pathetic.

      • smelter rat says:

        The only thing that pathetic here is your subservience to Harper’s ideology. I’m sure you also supported the war in Afghanistan and the US war in Iraq, not to mention the clusterfuck that Libya turned into. how did all that turn out, Al?

        • Al in Cranbrook says:

          Answer the question, rat.

          • Africon says:

            Let’s be fair Smelter, Al also appears to be being subservient to Mr O’bama’s ideology and a lot of other “progressives” in Europe.

            “At what point is what Canada stands for in this world…freedom, democracy, human rights and dignity…finally worth taking a stand for”?

            Good question Al, when did Canada’s freedom, democracy etc become threatened?
            Why the rush to defeat ISIS but not Boko Haram, Al Shabah, Janjaweed militias or any number of genocides and atrocities in any number of countries around the world?

            How is Canada “standing for freedom, democracy etc when we support any number of brutal dictators who don’t support democracy etc and have continued to do so for decades?

            The other question that remains unanswered by those like you who wish to defeat ISIS is this – Suppose the West succeeds?

            Assad becomes more powerful in Syria along with his backer Putin.
            Iraq is taken over by Iran who become more powerful along with their buddies in Lebanon Hezballah and also in Yemen – all lovely people.
            Is that really the goal here?

            You do realize that what this is all about is a battle royal between Sunni Saudi, Jordan, Gulf States, Egypt and Turkey vs Shia Iran and their allies. Watch if Iran ever gets nukes, Saudis will be next to get them.

            How does any of this have anything to do with Canada’s National interests?
            Isn’t supporting Ukraine militarily far more in our National interest?
            We need to build up our own military and defenses before we go play at war.

          • Howard Moon says:

            I guess it’s easy to talk so tough when you live on the outer cusp of the real world

          • smelter rat says:

            The ONLY reason we’re involved is that Harper has seen the writing on the wall. His dismal handling of the economy is an election loser. Ginning up fear and war is, in his mind, a winner. Al et al would seem to indicate he may be right.

        • doconnor says:

          The recent fighting in Libya has been tragic, with hundreds killed, but it would be wrong to assume that had we not intervened everything would be fine. When the bombing started there was a full scale civil war and a impending massacre of tens of thousands. The bombing may have prevented Libya from having a years of Syria-like war. Sure, blame the West for the chaos in Libya caused by its action, but you should also blame the West for the hundreds of thousands killed in Syria caused by its inaction.

    • Bill says:

      Same script that was used for Al Qaeda.

      Who’ll be next after ISIL?

      It ain’t our fight, it’s theirs.

      WW2 was our fight because it was, for most of us, the lands of our ancestors with shared values and cultures.

      Again, it ain’t our fight.

    • joseph says:

      You captured the essence of the question that someone was asked on live radio about a month ago.
      I do believe the host of this site elaborated on it too.

      “At what point is military intervention warranted?”

    • James Smith says:

      So let me get your point correct.
      This kind of intervention didn’t work in Suez, Vietnam, Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and again now in Iraq and Syria et cetera. et cetera.
      Suddenly now this will be so very different, so we should now join in this March of Folly? Am I getting close to your point?

      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        No, you’re evading my point: Answer the question.

        • cgh says:

          Al, they won’t answer the question. It’s been made quite clear on this and a couple of other threads that the opponents of intervention have no principles. There are no red lines for them, nothing so appalling that they will not find some tactical excuse to evade. There is one principled position they could take, pacificism, but not one of them has gone there. And not one of them will acknowledge that the intervention has thus far achieved the limited goals intended from the outset.

          • James Smith says:

            Um, I think I asking for you to be a little more specific in your post so let me be more clear:

            Do you believe that following the examples of failed interventions of the past 60 years is the same strategy Canada should be following now?

            I am sorry if you don’t understand my original question.

          • Howard Moon says:

            You are so tough CGH. You need to put that talk into action.


            You should get Cranbrook to sign up as well. Im sure he can find someone to run the sport trailer business while you guys are off playing

          • cgh says:

            James, the current intervention has succeeded in achieving its goals thus far.

            And as for you, Howard, your reply simply demonstrates my case.

          • Howard Moon says:

            Sure CGH. Your “case”

            I havent stated any view just asked you to put your words into action.

            I guess we should be thankful that you wont actually do anything to back up your bravado.

            I’ll go easy on Al. He fought in the war of 1812

          • cgh says:

            Then I’ll spell it out for you, Howard. You have no principled position with respect to dealing with ISIS. And every post you’ve made in this thread simply reinforces that vacuum you have.

      • Étienne says:

        I don’t think it’s fair to characterize Suez, Vietnam, Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon as R2P interventions. R2P was developed after the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and Srebrenica massacre in 1995, where there were no interventions and hundreds of thousands of civilians targeted and killed by their governments or by occupying forces.

        I’m not sure it’s fair to characterize the R2P intervention in Sudan was a failure because there really wasn’t much of one.

        While the R2P narrative was used in Iraq 1, Afghanistan, Iraq 2, to different extents, I dont believe it would be fair to ascribe to those interventions R2P as the main driver. The case for Libya is clearer, as far as an R2P intervention. It likely saved many thousands of lives. But, while it may be too early to judge the long-term outcome at this point, there is definitely lots of gray area in the net positive vs. net negative evaluation of the impact of that intervention.

  7. Mervyn Norton says:

    Oh, we boys do like to “whip out our CF-18s” (again) because of our status anxiety. Debate is supposed to involve actually listening to the opposition parties, who have repeatedly itemized the ways in which Canada can step up our help (supplying aid, safe refuge, training, etc.) without buying into the mythology that bombing somehow (surgically) prevents genocide.

  8. wsam says:

    War should only entertained if a direct national interest is at stake. Otherwise there will always be a temptation to not pursue the war properly. Without a direct national interest at stake you risk getting involved in something you cannot finish. This is because wars cost a lot of money and people die. The risks do not warrant the result. This is why Obama resisted getting the U.S. directly involved in fighting ISIL. That is the problem with R2R and why Susan Powers titled her book on genocide ‘A Problem from Hell’.

    Canada does have a national interst in being on-side with the Americans as well as in building multilateral institutions and encouraging multilateral actions and international co-operation. This is despite the Harper conservatives actively seeking to hurt the very multilateral and international institutions Canada has so long sought to help build. They are ignorant hicks from the suburban fringe of provincial cities. We get the government we elect.

    The reason Canada has troops in Iraq and not in Africa is because the U.S. has troops in Iraq. Anybody who argued otherwise does not understand how Canada works.

  9. wsam says:

    Oh. The Americans have admitted to supplying intelligence and other support to the Shia militias and their Iranian advisors who are attempting to take Tikirt from Islamic State militants. I wonder where Canada’s soldiers there are involved? Are we even in the main fight in Tikirt?

  10. Jeff says:

    I find it really hilarious the people who are defending the Liberal position on R2P are in the same breath turning around and saying that the current mission doesn’t do enough. I guess they would have to give the mission a lot more serious thought if we were contemplating sending the army in?

  11. Patrick says:

    And Boko Haram kidnapped 400 women yesterday, killing 50 in the process. Where’s the “humanitarian imperative” to stop this outrage. Is the problem they don’t have media say to stir outrage? Not enough oil in the area? Not enough minerals in the mountains that is the future of our technological world? No military state that needs to be protected? Who cares, they’re just a bunch of savages there anyway (grossly offensive a thought, I know)?
    Again, giving a genocidal cult the war they desire, only serves the cult.

    • doconnor says:

      The US has been providing assistance against Boko Haram, like doing surveillance drone flights.

      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        Special Ops forces have been in Nigeria for some time now, involved in training…and to some degree of success.

        I’d suggest that some here might take a moment to look up the meaning of “equivocation”…or more specifically, “moral equivocation”.

        Thus far, all have avoided directly answering the question at hand: What happens to…

        Short answer: Genocide, with the potential to match Rwanda, and much worse.

        And, yes, this is most definitely a direct threat to Canada. God forbid an incident like that which occurred in, for example, Mumbai ever happens here.

        • Al in Cranbrook says:

          Worth remembering why Rwanda happened…

          Essentially because people were given to eternally intellectualizing the entire religious, political socio-economic situation in ivory towers, but particularly the UN, while sitting around studiously picking lint out of their navels and pondering the appropriate wine for the menu du jour.

          Meanwhile, 850,000 men, women and children were slaughtered, a great many hacked to pieces with machetes.

  12. Africon says:

    Al, I think that you are mixing up two different things – Military intervention and rescue missions.
    Canada is ill equipped to more than a bit player in either one.

    If we are going to be involved in rescue missions, then it should be any and all regardless of whether it is white Muslim Bosnians, white Yazidis or black Rwandans or Sudanese that are at risk.

    If we are going to be involved in military intervention, it should only be when Canada or it’s NATO allies are directly threatened AND we are asked to help.

    I believe that it is the visuals of the IS atrocities that is driving you to support a military solution in this instance.
    How many close ups of human suffering have you or any of us seen from Drone attacks or bombs?

    Trust me, I’m no pacifist and now see a glimmer of a solution in the newly forming NATO rapid response force –

    In light of the changing security environment to the east and south of the Alliance’s borders, NATO Defence Ministers decided on 5 February 2015 to enhance the NRF by creating a “spearhead force” within it. Known as a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), it will be able to deploy at very short notice, particularly on the periphery of NATO’s territory. The VJTF consists of a land component of around 5,000 troops with appropriate air, maritime and SOF units available. This enhanced NRF is a concrete result of the measures endorsed at the 2014 Wales Summit. It aims to strengthen the Alliance’s collective defence and ensure that NATO has the right forces in the right place at the right time.

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      Rwanda, for example, was primarily an internal conflict, posing no real threat beyond the immediate region. An appropriately armed UN presence would have saved countless lives.

      To an extent, the same is true of Iraq/Syria. However, ISIS has designs that go well beyond any borders in the region. They are quite open about this, and even a basic understanding of the religious imperative to form a global caliphate clarifies their motivations. More worrisome in the long run is that this same religious justification underscores the intentions of Iran. Which is why virtually all nations in the region are deeply concerned about this nuclear treaty in the works…not the least of which are Israel and Saudi Arabia.

      No one nation is equipped, even America, nor should be relied upon to face this challenge. That said, aside from Britain and France, all the other nations involved are likewise relative bit players. Just listened briefly to an interview on the radio with a military expert. Of all the nations involved in the air campaign over Syria, ONLY the US has the capability of precision targeting, smart bomb technology. This is the aspect that Canadian CF-18s uniquely also can bring to the battle, which makes expansion of our contribution a very significant step in mitigating ISIS’s ability to operate within Syria’s borders as a base of operations. I have to believe that, for our forces, to watch these rats scramble back across what is now pretty much an imaginary line, and be constrained to do nothing about it, has got to be extremely aggravating and frustrating, to say the least. IMHO, it’s long past the time to dispense with this nonsense that serves no one but a bunch of murdering thugs!

      Precision bombing isn’t pretty, but it is nonetheless PRECISION bombing, with historically unparalleled attention to mitigating collateral damage and harm. One does not have to look back far in history to get a handle on what the alternatives used to be. Which is to say that the vast majority of those taken out by such methods are precisely those whom deserve as much. No, there’s no perfection in war. But there is no comparison whatsoever between now and how it was waged not that long ago. And it is not incidental that it is only ever our side that plays by such stringent rules of engagement. The other side, including the likes of Russia and China, could give a rat’s ass about such considerations, ya think? This is all praiseworthy stuff on our part, but at the end of the day are we prepared to lose a war for the sake of it??? Against enemies whom could care less about such details, and would just as soon see us all fry in a hell of their making??? I don’t think so.

      IMHO, the cutting edge are special ops, a relative handful of whom can achieve incredible results that entire armies cannot manage. More power to them, and let’s not let petty hairsplitting over “combat” get in their way.

      I, too, am encouraged by recent efforts by NATO. I worry, however, that it is far too little, far too late in the game.

  13. Howard Moon says:

    Hardly CGH. Sure you’ve frothed and ranted, accused everyone that doesn’t share your views to be all sorts of horrible things and you’ve claimed to speak for my views.

    Yet you won’t back up yours. Youre quite the keyboard warrior it seems.

    Anyways back to work. Gotta pay those taxes so you can load around bullying people online

  14. wsam says:

    Al is confused about a lot. Pretty much everything actually. His description of inaction regarding the Rwandan genocide has to be the worst, most inaccurate description of that terrible event I have ever come across.

    Does the UN have an army? No. The UN is dependent on national governments to authorize its missions and supply its troops. You can start by reading Dellaire’s book. Blame falls on western governments, not the UN, who almost uniformly pulled their troops out after 19 Belgium soldiers were ambushed and then hacked to pieces. Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa, for example, were all too casualty-adverse to intervene. Not without a direct and credible national interest at stake.

    I remember reading Nato made effective use of a rapid reaction force it created in the second phase of the Bosnian intervention. I had no idea what happened to the idea. Thanks Africon.

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      Not confused about anything, wsam. History is one of my passions, and I’ve dedicated a lot of reading time to that end.

      Metaphorical terms, I think I’ve pretty much captured the bullshit going on that led to the genocide.

      You know, Nero fiddles, Rome burns, etc., etc.

  15. wsam says:

    Picture books and ‘True Stories of the SAS’ don’t count as real history.

Leave a Reply to wsam Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *