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my op-ed article in the Hamilton Spectator today October 3, 2014

http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/4894518-bring-canadian-soldiers-home/
Bring Canadian soldiers home
U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria may provoke wider conflict
STONE

Hamilton Spectator
By Ken Stone
On 9/11’s anniversary, United States President Barack Obama announced escalating military attacks against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and increased funding and training of “moderate rebels” in Syria, to the tune of $500 million. He also called for a new “coalition of the willing” to do the dirty work. In response, the Harper government of Canada, with neither parliamentary nor United Nations approval, dispatched commandos to Iraq.

The irony is that the two leaders, along with others in the so-called “Friends of Syria” Group of countries (FSG), created the Frankenstein known as ISIS. They organized a covert war against Syria using jihadist mercenaries; arranged funding from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar; enlisted Turkey and Jordan to provide military bases and training; encouraged Israel to provide medical support in the Occupied Golan Heights; and funnelled arms and equipment from defeated Libya and Yugoslavia. For more than three years in Syria, jihadist mercenaries executed priests, journalists and prisoners of war; beheaded “infidels”; practised cannibalism; looted homes; engaged in sexual slavery; destroyed churches; used poison gas on civilians, and shamelessly posted videos of themselves committing some of these barbaric acts. All this without criticism from Obama or Harper.

However, when ISIS, an offshoot of al-Qaida jihadists in Syria funded by the FSG, invaded Iraq, pursued Yezidis up a mountain, and beheaded two U.S. journalists, Obama suddenly appeared concerned. In my opinion, he was only concerned about them as pretexts for intervention. He was, in fact, upset that al-Maliki’s government ordered remaining U.S. troops out of Iraq and that ISIS nearly overran the new U.S. puppet statelet in Iraqi Kurdistan, where the oil fields and headquarters of U.S. oil corporations are located. Obama ensured that al-Maliki was replaced. He drew a red line around Kurdistan.

There are many problems with Obama’s idea of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and increased funding for “moderate rebels.” First, airstrikes against Syria without the consent of its government is a violation of its sovereignty and of international law. So is arming mercenaries to overthrow its government, whose president, incidentally, was recently re-elected with a big majority in an election with a massive turnout.

If the U.S. really wants to stop ISIS, it should co-operate with the Syrian government…

Secondly, the notion there are indeed any “moderate Syrian rebels” has been repeatedly disproved. Mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times discount the very idea of their existence. The $500 million would be much better spent containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Thirdly, after the disastrous 2003 Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq, the world simply shouldn’t accept the return to Iraq of foreign governments guilty of major war crimes: Partly using craven lies about weapons of mass destruction and partly under the guise of a “humanitarian” intervention, the previous “coalition of the willing” was responsible for at least half a million Iraqi deaths, the creation of millions of internal and external refugees, the effective division of the country into three parts, and the destruction of its economy and infrastructure.

Finally, unauthorized U.S. airstrikes, especially in Syria, may lead to military confrontation with Syria’s allies — Russia, China, and Iran — provoking a wider regional and/or world war.

If the U.S. really wants to stop ISIS, it should co-operate with the Syrian government and people who have been the main victims of and fighters against ISIS. The U.S. could compel its client states — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar — to stop funding terrorist mercenaries. It could pressure Turkey and Jordan to close their borders to the terrorists. Finally, it could disband the FSG, which has co-ordinated the covert war of aggression against Syria and imposed illegal economic sanctions against it.

Harper, who was all for putting Canadian boots on the ground in Iraq in 2003 without UN approval, should be reminded that hundreds of thousands of us marched in the streets successfully to persuade Jean Chrétien not to participate in Bush and Blair’s Iraqi debacle. Chrétien did get us into the Afghan quagmire. But Harper also needs to comprehend that he lost his eight-year-long, unpopular bid to pacify Kandahar after his chief of staff promised to eradicate “the terrorist scumbags.” One hundred and fifty Canadians lost their lives there but Afghanistan is worse off now than when the NATO occupation began. And after all the talk of supporting the troops, the Harper government has shamefully shortchanged the injured vets. So, after all this, why is Harper again kowtowing to the U.S. by placing Canadian troops in harm’s way in Iraq?

Our message to Stephen Harper is the same as during the Afghan war: Bring the troops home now!

Ken Stone is treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War.