Albert Einstein described insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
If he had been alive, he could well have used the definition to refer to the third western military coalition, once again trying, unsuccessfully, to root out Islamic extremism: US-led military campaigns in Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq 2003 and now again in Iraq, this time also expanding into Syria, have been nothing but ineffective.
Each of these military campaigns has just helped Islamic terrorists to swell their ranks by recruiting more militants to their cause and expanding their area of operations. Last week’s media were full of news reporting that Islamic State has now not only become operational in Pakistan and Libya , but Nigeria’s Boko Haram and several other Islamic militant groups in the Middle East have declared their obedience to the self-styled khalif (prophet’s successor), the head of the Islamic State.
Canadian media were also reporting something else last week: Turkish police had arrested a Syrian citizen, who had connections to Canadian embassy in Jordan, and he was observed to be helping three young British women to join the ranks of the Islamic State. (I happened to be driving for quite some time on Friday, March 13 and noticed that CBC radio changed the wording of the news story on this man four times, to make that connection sound vaguer and vaguer in each newscast.) Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney refused to make any information available to the public on grounds that he would not comment on intelligence operations. Efforts by opposition MPs to have some questions answered on the parliament floor also proved futile.
Let’s face it, the world of intelligence gathering is murky, complex, confusing and treacherous. And it is not uncommon for intelligence agencies to use various assets permanently or temporarily to achieve certain results. But if an agent, operative, functionary or an asset (whatever that Syrian person might be) is caught doing something directly in contravention of what the government here is trying (to appear?) to achieve, the priority for secrecy of the operations is (or should be) overridden by the need of the public to know what the government is really doing.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been pushing Bill C-51 through the parliament in a big rush, despite the fact that Supreme Court judges, professors of law and legal experts have openly said that existing legislation is adequate to achieve the goals that the bill is supposed to accomplish.
And then you suddenly have the government paying their respects to veterans enhancing their benefits. (Not that the veterans don’t deserve the benefits, but isn’t the timing a bit suspicious coming only a few months before the election campaign?)
And add to that the latest announcement by the newly installed Defence Minister Jason Kenney that the government will not rule out expanding the mission of the Canadian military contingent to include Syrian territories in the anti-ISIS operations; what do we have at hand?
The great Hollywood actor Henry Fonda, in his probably only part as a villain in a movie, delivers a great line in the movie “Once Upon a Time in the West”: “They scare better when they die,” he says referring to people whom he was hired to force away from their land for his boss to acquire.
The thought of dying in an act of terrorism is probably enough for a lot of people in this country to crave the protection of the state and the fear of that thought could be a very influential instrument in cajoling people to believe that they should give up their liberties in return for security.
I just can’t help asking myself: With oil revenue-dependent economic policies in tatters, are we going to see a militaristic/security-focused Conservative election platform with the Canadian military contingent in the anti-ISIS coalition made to wave the flag for it?