The West needs new Middle East policies … but are we really headed for some new Grand Alliance from WWII?

Nov 18th, 2015 | By | Category: Key Current Issues

The Grand Alliance that won the Second World War — l to r : Winston Churchill, UK ; Franklin Roosevelt, USA ; Joseph Stalin, USSR. Can some revival 70 years later finally obliterate ISIS and its so-called new Caliphate state in parts of Iraq and Syria?

The appalling ISIS-related terrorist attacks in Paris this past Friday make at least one thing clear. How a person reacts to such international events in a place like Canada (or even the United States, sometimes) can depend a lot on general political brands that have nothing to do with terrorism.

According to the Toronto Star, Liberal Prime Minister Justin “Trudeau firm on halting Canadian combat role against Islamic State … Canada’s commitment in the terror fight will be to step up the training of local troops, with the year-long bombing campaign by Canadian CF-18 fighters to end as planned.”

Yet all this flies in the face of recent contrary advice from across the political aisle. Only a few days ago we were hearing that “Conservatives urge government to rethink halt to ISIS airstrikes … ‘It’s important that we remain resolute and support our allies,’ interim opposition leader says.”

Meanwhile, on another global front, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping as they take part in a bi-lateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Turkey, Monday, November 16, 2015. SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS.

A similar antagonism seeps from between the lines of such recent headlines as “US Republicans seek to shut door on Syrian refugees after Paris.” And we have had our own kinder and gentler Canadian version of such thinking in Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s advice about moving more slowly and carefully as “Trudeau holds firm on timeline for 25,000 refugees.”

As far as ISIS airstrikes go (or anti-ISIS airstrikes, as others call them), the right-wing conservative argument is that the perpetrators of the appalling attacks in Paris this past Friday need to be stood up to, and shown that what they’re trying to do won’t work, in a direct military way. The rationale here has just been nicely summarized by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Intriguingly enough, in the immediate wake of the Paris attacks, Russian officialdom has conceded that the cause of the  recent mid-air explosion of a Russian jetliner in Egypt was a terrorist bomb (as ISIS had much earlier claimed).

Obama and Putin at G20 summit in Turkey, Monday, November 17, 2015.

And : “The Russians said they were coordinating their military campaign with France in sharply ratcheting up [airstrike] attacks on Syrian territory, especially areas held by the Islamic State, the militant group that has asserted responsibility for destroying the Russian jetliner and for the spree of deadly attacks across Paris on Friday …

“‘We will search for them everywhere, no matter where they are hiding,’ Mr. Putin said at a meeting with his security council that was broadcast on national television. ‘Our military work in Syria must not only be continued, but strengthened so that criminals understand that punishment is inevitable.’”(And for other views and the new Grand Alliance, click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll below.)

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Left to right : Winston Churchill (UK), Harry Truman (USA), and Joseph Stalin (USSR) at the Potsdam Conference, 1945.

The left-wing liberal counter argument here is at the bottom of such headlines as “Trudeau firm on halting Canadian combat role against Islamic State …  year-long bombing campaign by Canadian CF-18 fighters to end as planned.”

This argument ultimately urges that, if the objective is to make us safe in our home countries, bombing the ISIS-held territory in the Middle East is not an effective strategy. It breeds its own collateral damage of civilian populations. And that just stiffens popular resistance and prompts further terrorist attacks in retaliation. (Somewhere on US TV lately I saw an alleged ISIS clip on recent Russian bombing of the civilian population in the so-called Caliphate territory. It was clearly enough intended to show why ISIS feels its terrorist counter attacks are justified.)

At the same time, Justin Trudeau’s current Canadian Liberal position here may ultimately just be an argument about bombing from the air.

Front row, l to r : W.L. Mackenzie King (Canada), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (USA), and Winston Churchill (UK) at the Quebec Conference, 1943. Not exactly a Grand Alliance, but could Justin Trudeau help bring President Obama and President Hollande at least a little closer together today ????

Among those Canada sees as its international peers, there is right now an inevitable pressure to support one’s allies under attack. And another Toronto Star headline summarizes this part of the ongoing story : “Canada to beef up training mission against Islamic State, Trudeau says … Trudeau promises to deploy more troops to train local fighters battling ISIS while remaining firm on withdrawing CF-18 jet fighters.”

So … that means planes will be coming home, but more Canadian  “troops” will actually be going to Iraq (or even Syria?). Yes, they’re just supposed to be on a training mission. But at this point I at least start wondering about such recent headlines as “France is at war and will destroy ISIS, Hollande vows … France seeks united US–Russia assault on Islamic State.”

As some of us can still vaguely remember (I was born early in 1945 myself), this is vaguely reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s old “Grand Alliance” that won the Second World War (1939–1945) — with France sitting in as European Union delegate instead of the United Kingdom. (So instead of the USA, UK, and USSR, in 2015 we have America, France, and Russia — and all their other allies of course, including Canada, Australia, ?India?, etc.)

US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande (R), pictured here in Washington on February 11, 2014, will meet at the White House on November 24, 2015. (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad.)

There are crazy moments lately, it has often enough seemed from Canadian locations at least, when some new “Western” Grand Alliance of this sort — among the victors of the Second World War, so to speak — almost looks ready to launch some new Middle East War to extinguish the psychopathic ISIS Caliphate Revival and all its complex sources, once and for all!

But then the general political brands that have nothing to do with terrorism return, with headlines like “Senators McCain and Graham to Obama: No Partnership With Putin and Russia.”  And it just seems like deja vu all over again. If nothing else, 2015 has (once again?) made very clear that the West certainly needs new Middle East policies. But we apparently still have many, many, many miles of almost entirely fruitless domestic ideological conflict to go before we rest. And all in aid of what remains quite unclear to me.

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  1. The bigger problem than the rising number of refugees (and potential bad apples among them) in EU is the whole reason why they had been running away from the Middle East (mainly due ISIS and other affiliated terrorist organizations). The world powers (US + Canada + EU + Russian + China + local Kurdish and other Sunni & Shia forces) need to unite in some type of a coalition format and hit the “daesh” with bigger, deadlier force + ground troops to recapture the key cities in Syria and Iraq and then drive them out from the remainder. ISIS is a cancer it needs to be eliminated. Until the ISIS won’t be eliminated in Syria and Iraq the number of refugees won’t decrease and the problems, security threats associated with it will only intensify on the EU societies, economies and social welfare system.

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