Edmonton Ecumenical Peace Network board member Ike Glick had this letter published in the Edmonton Journal Friday September 19th:
Re: “Are beheadings a sign of miscalculation or desperation?” Commentary, Richard Spencer, Sept. 15
The West has been embarrassed by the ultimate put-down and the powerless feeling imposed by the beheadings of Western captives by ISIS. It is not hard to get consensus that “something must be done.”
But it is not likely that the bombing response will be any more effective than the Bush administration’s knee-jerk overreaction to the 9/11 embarrassment has been. Somehow the current response seems similar.
While giving the West a semblance of taking control and a hubristic demonstration of power, there has been no apparent attempt to understand the deep resentments toward the West by much of the world, nor recognition that our response only intensifies those resentments. By what logic do we imagine that repeating a more intense version of what didn’t work after 9/11 will be effective now?
Is the West’s conventional response because we lack the imagination for any other approach? Or just because we can? Perhaps we fear being reminded of our exploitive economic policies that favour the West and continue to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor, including unfair minimum wage levels in our own country.
Whatever the reason, a negotiated conversation with ISIS leadership, if such is possible, might at the very least provide some clues as to why young Canadians are being enticed to their ranks.
Ike Glick, Edmonton
Interestingly enough, it seems as if at least one Post Media writer might agree with some of what Ike has to say. In Friday’s Edmonton Journal Michael Den Tandt wrote:
OTTAWA – Tom Mulcair is deeply uncomfortable with the precious little we know, so far, about Canada’s involvement in the expanding war between the West and the Islamic State. He wants answers, more debate and a vote. For his troubles he will be dismissed as a naïf, willfully blind to the “dark and dangerous” reality in which we now live.
If only the NDP leader weren’t right…
He ends the column (which is well worth reading in full) by saying,
What do Canadians, even highly trained special-ops soldiers, have to teach the Kurds of northern Iraq about warfare on their home soil? If the 69 Canadians are JTF-2, which seems likely, it stretches credulity to suggest they are merely providing helpful advice. These are the most lethal, capable soldiers in the Canadian military.
In the earliest days of the Afghan war, though it wasn’t publicly known at the time, JTF-2 operators fought under American command. Mulcair correctly notes that, early on, that conflict too was billed as winnable through a combination of special forces and air power, with local armies and militias bearing the brunt on the ground.
As it turned out, Western ground forces were indeed eventually necessary in Afghanistan, in their hundreds of thousands – including 40,000 Canadians, over a decade – and even with that, the war was lost. In year eight, more or less, of a 20-year nation-building project, the international community – including one Prime Minister Stephen J. Harper – decided to cut its losses.
It is all well and good to rail against the Jihadists, chronicle their barbarisms, and insist that, as civilized people, Canadians have no choice but to join in the fight. Perhaps that’s true. But we’ve seen this narrative before. It didn’t end well. Mulcair is wise to ask tough questions. The government would be wise to answer them.
Indeed. And for Christians who are trying to figure out what it means to follow the challenging teachings of Jesus, who we call ‘Lord’, the questions get even tougher.
(Cross-posted to Edmonton Ecumenical Peace Network)