Minister of Foreign Affairs Rob Nicholson has declared that extending Canada's war effort into Syria is a matter of "moral clarity." After reviewing the results of military incursions into Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, Gerald Caplan writes:
Lesson learned? We’re living them. They’re in the headlines every day. The consequences expected of military intrusions are rarely achieved. On the contrary: overwhelmingly, when the west has intervened in foreign lands with little understanding of local conditions and no strategy or plan beyond military force – we should add here Vietnam and Cambodia, though they aren’t Muslim like all the others – the result has been increased violence and chaos there and increased danger to ourselves as shown by al-Qaeda, 9/11 and the Islamic State.
Perhaps, Caplan writes, these military interventions provide another kind of moral clarity:
Canada’s mission involves collaboration with war criminals, mass murderers, ethnic cleansers and deadly fanatics of various kinds. How else to describe the rulers of Syria and Iran, our tacit allies against IS? Or the Iraqi militias – also allies – described by the United Nations as guilty of war crimes and perhaps crimes against humanity? Or Kurd fighters from an organization listed as terrorist by NATO? We’re already tight with Saudi Arabia, which can teach IS lessons about serious beheadings.
The truth is many of our allies are hardly better than IS itself. That’s what’s morally clear. We throw around accusations of genocide against ISIS when we ourselves collaborate with war criminals and terrorists. Is it moral to send our troops into Syria when we haven’t been invited by its government, a clear violation of international law despite the government’s flimsy rationalizations? (Ask Putin about the Ukraine.)
Nicholson's moral clarity is the same moral clarity that burned witches in Salem.