Picking the Right Fight

ISIS Ebola

The Prime Minister and Conservative Party are beating the war drums in Ottawa today, offering a motion on the floor of Parliament to have Canada supply warplanes in support of the US mission against ISIS. A vote on the resolution will pass sometime next week, enjoying the support of a broad majority of Canadians. It will commit more than 600 Canadian Forces, six CF-18 fighter-bombers, two CP-140 surveillance planes, one aerial tanker aircraft to a six-month “limited mission” of air combat. The cost of this war has not been estimated; but Canada’s seven-month air war in Libya, which involved similar force and equipment commitments (650 personnel and 7 fighter jets at the mission’s peak) cost Canada $347 million.

ISIS is hardly the only source of bad, scary news these days. The ebola epidemic is on-pace to kill more people than ISIS ever could and has the likelihood of a much broader global calamity.  By all accounts, the international response has been way too small and way to slow. Canada’s contribution to “humanitarian and security interventions” addressing the ebola outbreak total a mere $5 million, although Canada pledged last week to spend up to an additional $30 million. The United Nations and World Health Organization have estimated that it will cost nearly $1 billion over the next six months to fight the spread of the epidemic.

Here’s an idea for Canada: take all the economic and military resources we are so ready to spend in Iraq and Syria and deploy them against the ebola catastrophe. Canada could exercise real leadership in this fight, thereby re-establishing its moral credibility on the global stage and demonstrating that it chooses its international engagements thoughtfully.

Canada loves its military history — to a bizarre extent for a country of only 35 million, that sees itself as peacemaker, and that has no congenital or chronic enemies. But why make more military history just because the opportunity presents itself? Canada has no direct interest to advance in the Middle East other than to kiss the ass of America, which is in the ISIS fight largely because of its own idiocy in destabilizing Iraq. But the risks of joining an air war that Stephen Harper admits will not eradicate ISIS could be long-term and dangerous. America wants others to help share the burden to curb ISIS; but it does not deserve that assistance. As former US Secretary of Defense Colin Powell articulated in his “Pottery Barn Rule“: you break it, you buy it. The “you” in that rule is not Canada.

Don’t get me wrong: ISIS is evil. Fucking evil.  Murderous evil.  And it needs to be stopped in its tracks.  But that is the responsibility of the US and those in the Middle East that have long turned a blind-eye to coherent, ethical regional foreign policy in favor of oil-wealth gluttony, religious parochialism, and faux pan-Arabism.  Unlike the ebola epidemic, the rise of ISIS is not a situation where blame is difficult to parcel-out.

In the weeks and months ahead, we may well regret the feeble, too-little-too-late international response to the ongoing ebola crisis; and we may also ponder, as the US has been pondering for more than a decade, how much national treasure has been spent to make little-, no-, or negative-progress in the struggle against violent religious extremism.  If Canada wants to pull on its big-boy pants, it should pick the right crisis to address.

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3 Responses to “Picking the Right Fight”


  1. 1 mbjesq 15 October 2014 at 11:11 am

    Now things get interesting. Ebola transmission is occurring in North America, with two health care workers having been infected by the “index patient” who brought the virus to Dallas, Texas from Liberia.

    At some point in the very near future, Canada will fully commit itself to fighting the spread of ebola infection out of pure self-interest. This is not-at-all the same as engaging in that expensive, dangerous effort as a matter of responsible global engagement and compassionate foreign policy. Doing the right thing and doing what is necessary are two very different things. Canada has lost the opportunity to show its generous spirit and fitness for any sort of meaningful global leadership. Hopefully we will learn — quickly and for all-time — that qualification for a position of authority in the international community is based on ethics, judgment, and action, not on being English-speaking, industrialized, and predominantly white.

    In the meanwhile: how’s that war on ISIS going?

  2. 2 Elizabeth 22 February 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Hello Mark … I really appreciate this article.

    I spent some time in Guinea, West Africa and really connected with the incredible warm hearted generous people I met there. I was there just before the Ebola outbreak, so I saw the new of the outbreak in Guinea right as it started and I have been appalled at the general lack of regard and financial support that the western world gave to this crisis ~ until it arrived on the shores of our continent.

    Human nature, some would say … but I would say it is one more indicator of how pathologically fractured humanity has become and how deeply our species been effected by an even worse scourge that is at the heart of this human pathology …. a wide spread human amnesia, the epidemic delusion of separation.

    We have nearly completely forgotten that we are a living breathing expression of the Source of Life on Earth ~ Our One Water. And that we are each an integral part of the Water Cycle of Life … we ARE ALL indelibly connected by the very Sun, Soil, Air and Water which sustains us. What happens in the deep interior of the Guinean Rainforest DOES effect health workers in Dallas, TX. What happens in Syria effect those of us in the Sierra. My son was in Paris, in the very area of the attacks, on that fateful morning and only missed being involved by a few hours.

    What effects one of us effects ALL of US.

    Also, I have a small pet peeve I wish to share with you. It is about the name ISIS. ISIS is a beautiful Goddess, not a label for terror. She is a radiant symbol of the feminine, not a tool for fear manipulation. She is Isis the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She is the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden. The insurgents do not use it themselves (they go by Islamic State or Daesh); the Europeans use the term ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

    It is only the western governments, military complex and media that insist on using that name for the horrific group. I do wonder why. Is this also an expression of the same pathology of separation from the Mother Earth (really she is the ultimate abused woman). I also wonder if we can return the use of name of the Goddess to herself as a sacred honor … as she is certainly deserving of better treatment that this.

  3. 3 beckercarver32278 9 April 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I bought these bad boys 2 weeks ago and the left side has slowly got quieter and quieter, and the “active noise cancellation” seems to be more of just Click http://tu2s.in/searchll100830


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