11 September 2014

The Islamic State—should we be helping to clean up the Americans' mess?

In early 2003, there were no Islamic extremists in Iraq, or at least none that dared raise their heads above ground. Then the Americans and their "coalition of the willing" invaded.

Today, Islamic extremists so vile even al-Qaeda disowns them have taken control of a huge swath of the country including major cities and now threaten Baghdad. And, in a particularly unpleasant development, young men from the West, including Canada, are joining their ranks. The U.S. and its allies created chaos in Iraq and from the chaos has arisen a bogeyman even nastier than Saddam Hussein. So, right on cue, the Americans are creating a new coalition, this time a "core coalition" to confront the Islamic State, as the insurgents refer to themselves and their "caliphate."

Unlike the last time, Canada has opted to be part of this new crusade. Why, one must ask, has our government volunteered to participate in a war that does not threaten us. We ask because, firstly, this is largely a made-in-the-USA mess and therefore the Americans should be largely responsible for cleaning it up. And, secondly, we ask because the countries who should be most concerned with the threat, i.e. Middle Eastern nations, should be the members of the coalition. In fact, the only non-Western member is Turkey.

The United States has for a long time been generous to the Egyptian military, supplying it with more military equipment than any other country outside of Israel. Both the U.S. and Great Britain have made massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the Americans recently completed the greatest arms deal in their history with the Sauds. So what was all this largesse for, if not to deal with threats to their countries and to their region? If anyone is obligated to act against the Islamic State and follow the U.S. into war it is these guys. They have the money and they have the weapons, and it is their turf, not ours.

If Canada can help victims of the Islamic State, we should of course be generous. That's where our money and expertise should go. But we should be very wary indeed of getting involved in a now-extended American imperial adventure, keeping in mind that it began with an illegal invasion in the first place, an invasion neither sanctioned by the UN Security Council nor in accordance with the UN's founding charter. Only if any action taken is on firm legal ground should we even consider participating.


  1. I think ISIS is the offshoot of the outfit raised by Saudi crown prince Bandar, the close friend of the Bush family. He was incensed that Obama wouldn't attack Assad directly and so raised his own force that was equipped and trained in Jordan before moving into Syria. Once there they beset the original Syrian rebels before going completely rogue and moving to set up the Caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

    If what I've pieced together from reports over the past two years, this is an outfit the Saudis spawned and then lost control over. Why aren't Saudi forces going in to deal with their rulers' mess?

  2. Why, indeed.

    And wasn't it the Sauds who preferentially financed the extremists in Afghanistan in the war with the Soviet Union, thus setting a whole series of debacles in motion? And yet the U.S. and the U.K. continue to cuddle with them. So I ask again: should we be helping to clean up after the mischief?