No one wants to say unpleasant things about their friends. But what do you do if your friends are engaged in serial misbehaviour and you are getting dragged into it? Do you end your friendships, do you tell your friends to behave themselves, or do you just allow yourself to be dragged in?
This is the dilemma our government faces in the Middle East. The major troubles of that region have been caused in large part by the imperialist practices of three of our best friends: France, Britain and the United States.
The imperial powers have been making mischief in the region before and since the end of WWI when the British and the French carved up the old Ottoman Empire under the Sykes–Picot Agreement. (One of the stated goals of ISIS is to reverse the effects of that agreement). The last great binge of Western imperialism in the Middle East was the invasion of Iraq in 2003, one of the products of which was ISIS, and we, despite wisely opting out of the invasion, have now been dragged into dealing with it.
We cannot end our friendships with these powers. We are tied to them by generations of history and, of no small importance, we depend on the U.S. for 75 per cent of our exports. We need them a lot more than they need us. We have on occasion refused to be dragged into their messes while tactfully suggesting they are misbehaving, but it's too late in the game for that in dealing with ISIS. We are already in and to walk away now would require the government to explain itself publicly, and therein lies the problem.
That would require pointing a finger at the culprits, something political incorrectness simply does not allow us to do. It does not allow the very honest and open discussion and debate this issue demands.
Our previous government faced no such problem. It simply wouldn't accept that our friends were capable of sin. Israel could do whatever it wanted to the Palestinians and the US. could do whatever it wanted to just about anybody, and our job was to support our friends unreservedly. This is not a healthy friendship—one of the best things a good friend can do is tell you when your doing wrong—but it was part of Stephen Harper's black and white view of the world.
Trudeau is much more likely to understand issues in depth and recognize causes as well as effects. When he suggested it was important to understand the root causes of terrorism he was mocked by the Conservatives with comments about "committing sociology," but it indicated that he was at least thinking about Muslim extremism in more depth than the government of the day.
So this is his challenge. How can he withdraw from imperialist entanglements when he is unable to explain to Canadians, or anyone else, why we are withdrawing? Perhaps I misjudge Trudeau and he is as eager to be onside as Harper was, but it doesn't really matter. He is boxed in. And so are we. The terrorists have scripted war with the infidel and are masterfully sucking us all in.