While much of the Western press has been rallying around the sensational and gruesome videos depicting the murder of two journalists and one international aid worker to justify yet another imperial adventure into the Middle East, very few journalists, politicians or critics seem to be questioning why this might not be such a hot idea. I certainly don't like the idea of beheading journalists (nor do I like the massacre of 150 Syrian soldiers that preceded them) but "It's never turned us wrong before!" is not quite the foreign policy thesis that stands up to the scrutiny of history.
Even so, a new "Coalition of the willing" is already in Iraq, with Canada's "maybe 30 days, maybe more" mission tailgating the U.S. nicely. Sure Parliamentary Secretary Paul Calandra has damaged the government's credibility over when and if that mission will end on October 4 (and whether or not the Conservatives know the difference between Iraq and Israel), but the resulting calamity was less a bit of Ari Fleisher-era obfuscation (how's that for Iraq war nostalgia?) and more just baffling circus work. Once again, Harper's Canada has proven itself to be the farce to America's tragedy: they're Lieutenant-Detective Andy Sipowicz, we're the Keystone Kops.
While it certainly would be nice to get answers from our government to questions like "How many Canadian soldiers are actually in Iraq?" and "Will they be there forever? Y/N?" no one in Parliament is asking how the destablizing of Iraq and Syria through serial acts of Western aggression has led to the formation, radicalization and power of ISIS in the region. One notable exception in Canadian media can be found here on rabble.ca, Matthew Behren's excellent "ISIS: Their barbarism...and ours."
Well, no one, that is, except the Twitter account of the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani.
No shade, Barack. President Rouhani doesn't actually write his own tweets, of course, following the practice of Obama and every other international leader on social media, but in advance of Rouhani's address at the United Nations in New York this morning, his social media team was absolutely throwing down.
Good questions, Hassan.
Well that sounds just downright reasonable. Following his unabashed trolling of the United States and its eager band of willing mercenaries (i.e. Harper), President Hassan Rouhani -- not @HassanRouhani -- addressed the United Nations this morning with much of the same message:
Extremism is not a regional issue that just the nations of our region would have to grapple with; extremism is a global issue. Certain states have helped creating it and are now failing to withstand it. Currently our peoples are paying the price. Today’s anti-Westernism is the offspring of yesterday’s colonialism. Today’s anti-Westernism is a reaction to yesterday’s racism. Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of madmen, who now spare no one....
The strategic blunders of the West in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Caucuses have turned these parts of the world into a haven for terrorists and extremists. Military aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and improper interference in the developments in Syria are clear examples of this erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East....We have always believed that democracy cannot be transplanted from abroad; democracy is the product of growth and development; not war and aggression. Democracy is not an export product that can be commercially imported from the West to the East.
While we should obviously treat any foreign leader trying to jockey for position and power at the United Nations with skepticism, these words warrant Rouhani -- or at least his Twitter account -- a high five. And of course, a bit of soul searching as to why we are not hearing more of this sort of warning from Canadian journalists about getting involved it what we already know will be a losing battle.
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