Mark Collins – Moral Dishonesty: The New, Improved Canadian Mission vs ISIS

First the government’s “backgrounder“:

Canada’s new approach to addressing the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria and impacts on the region: promoting security and stability

Now  consider that the new government has decided that Canada’s air force will no longer kill the bad guys directly with weapons from the RCAF’s own fighter jets.  Apparently that is not something with which we should bloody our hands doing–even though in fact our aircrew seem (pace what the prime minister says about what our forces are really good at) to have a “competitive advantage” in accurate bombing over some other members of this coalition (see the tweet here).

Therefore rather than ourselves do some killing as an essential part of our military activities Canada will instead:

1) Continue to deploy our aerial tanker to refuel coalition aircraft to help those planes conduct lethal airstrikes;

2) Continue to deploy two surveillance (ISR) aircraft to help identify targets for those coalition jets to bomb;

3) Continue to employ those ISR platforms to help the Peshmerga (Iraqi Kurds) in deadly offensive and defensive operations against ISIS; and

4) Continue on the ground to train, advise and assist those Kurdish forces so that in military actions they can combat and kill ISIS opponents.

So one can only conclude that all sorts of other people, but not Canadians, must go on killing the enemy directly.  Our military, for their part, will simply do what they can–within the resources allocated by the government–to help those other people do the wet work.  Canadians themselves AS A MATTER OF POLICY will not be tasked with killing enemies as part of their mission.  If that be not moral dishonesty what might be?  Moral ignorance in fact.  

Here’s video of the prime minister and three other ministers announcing the government’s “new approach” at a press conference February 8; and here’s video (after a bit) of the national defence minister spinning that approach as best he can.

Perhaps somewhere in the background this may have helped in some way shape the thinking of some members of the government:

‘Twould seem some people suffer from a quease factor.  Clean(ish) hands, eh?  Put another way: I train the shooter; I find his target; I point it out to him; and then that shooter pulls the trigger for the kill shot.  Feel better?

A more temperate appreciation from CGAI Fellow Prof. Steve Saideman:

Trudeau’s New Anti-ISIS Policy 

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


9 thoughts on “Mark Collins – Moral Dishonesty: The New, Improved Canadian Mission vs ISIS”

  1. Canada’s most clear-thinking columnist, Andrew Coyne of Postmedia, exquisitely eviscerates the prime minister along similar lines–a sample:

    “…in any mission, you need to make choices, even false ones. We can’t do everything. Rather, in the fight against ISIL we have chosen to do everything except the one thing our allies have asked us to do: fight ISIL. While Canadians have always been prepared to fight, we believe that in this campaign there are better ways we can contribute that build upon our uniquely Canadian expertise. Thus, rather than actually fly the planes ourselves, we will rely on our uniquely Canadian expertise in refuelling planes for others to fly.

    Let me be clear. There is a role for bombing — just not by Canadian pilots. After all, combat is not what Canada is all about. Rather, what Canada is all about is standing by while others engage in combat on our behalf. Think of the consequences, if in the course of an airstrike aimed at ISIL one of our brave and talented Canadian pilots were to inadvertently kill a great number of innocent civilians. Whereas merely providing the fuel for the plane that does — along with aerial surveillance, and of course the essential work of identifying targets by our special forces, er, training advisers working on the ground — leaves us wholly uninvolved…”

    Do read it all.

    Mark Collins

  2. Good stuff here:

    “David Bercuson
    Remind us, why are we pulling out of the IS mission?

    Unless that is, the Prime Minister himself is a pacifist (which he certainly has a right to be as a private citizen), who hid his secular or religious pacifism from his voters when he ran for election last fall…

    …if Mr. Trudeau is not in tune with his voters, he ought to say so. If he is in tune (though in the campaign, he never gave an example of just what sort of an enemy he would fight) then the explanation lies elsewhere. Perhaps in a misreading of the so-called golden age of Canadian diplomacy, lasting from roughly 1943 to 1963 when great Canadian diplomats, headed by Lester Pearson, seemed to accomplish so much for Canada on the world stage through reason, argument, negotiation and an honest-broker approach, and not through violence. Why misreading? Because they did it under the American nuclear umbrella, at a time of large Canadian military expenditures, which gave their voices clout. And also because although they strongly hated force, they – especially Lester Pearson, who was Canada’s external affairs minister during the Korean War in 1950, knew it was sometimes necessary…”

    See also regarding Mike Pearson:

    “The Great Canadian Traditional Peacekeeping Myth vs Nuclear Weapons”

    “Canadian Suez Policy was not About the Middle East”
    [in which I mention a personal connection with Mr Pearson]

    Mark Collins

  3. Note this at

    ‘Quote from: recceguy on Today at 14:27:48

    “The MND has said we are going to be part of the mission. At least, once they figure out what kind of contribution we can give. However, once again, Canada does not seem to have a seat at the table with the United States, France, Italy and Britain, or we are not being acknowledged, at any rate. Deja vu all over again?”

    Wrong. There is a small planning group that was formed in Jun last year when the Italians took the lead on planning for a Libyan International Assistance Mission, or LIAM. We have been included, at our request, in the planning since Dec. The group includes US, UK, ITA, FRA, ESP, GER and CAN. The LIAM presumes an established Government of National Accord (GNA), an invite from said GNA, and a UNSCR.

    As to a “seat at the table”, note the 8 nations that, literally, sat at the table for the C-ISIL Ministerial meeting on Brussels earlier this week: US, UK, ITA, GER, FRA, AUS, NLD and CAN – in other words, those at the infamous 20 Jan Paris meeting, PLUS Canada.

    All of that to say that we definitely do have a seat “at the table”.’,122088.msg1417935.html#msg1417935

    Mark Collins

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