WAR: The complete opposition

by RimaAlha on April 29, 2015 - 2:47pm

In the article “As wars go, Syria is pretty safe for Harper — so far”, L. Ian MacDonald is doing an interesting analysis of the conflict between the Canadian political parties about whether or not to expand the mission in Iraq to Syria. Stephen Harper, who wants to extend Canada’s military campaign against the Islamic State, affronts well his test so far. He is courteous with his opponents (NPD and Liberals) and does not intend to send on-the-ground military advisers into Syria. Indeed, this would be too much for Canadians to accept, too dangerous. By focusing on air attacks, pilots are less in danger and the public is less reminded of all the deaths that occurred in Afghanistan during 12 years – the length of the Canadian mission. Also, Harper did not take the permission of the Syrian government to enter in its air space: he dissociates himself from a man who killed over 200 000 people in various horrible ways. Even if Harper took his precautions by working in the airs, sending Canadians there is simply too risky (Damascus and ISIS are both threats).

            On the other side, the NPD and Liberals proposed to give humanitarian aid only, but Harper declared that both can be done at once, “military action and humanitarian aid”. Tom Mulcair from the NPD is completely opposed to this war and promised that Canadian troops would be able to go home if his party forms government. He repeated that it is “a war that is not ours”. However, Muclair asked the right question when talking about the exact plan of our prime minister. In the end, L. Ian MacDonald reminds us of what happened in Afghanistan to our troops and how it is primordial to learn from the past. We would hate to repeat the same mistakes.

            Personally, as I explained in previous posts, I do not agree with the government’s decision to enter in war with ISIS, especially for the sake of Syrians. If we look at the issue with a more political Canadian point of view let’s say, I would be in agreement with myself. Canada is not a country that needs war: it is a peaceful one. As the NPD leader said, this war is not ours and we are not targeting the good organization. Canadians now look like allies of Damascus since they are ignoring its cruel actions against Syrians. Sending humanitarian aid is one of the best thing we do, we should do more of it and less of the military stuff. Also, as the author said, we should learn from what happened in Afghanistan or we would be doing the same mistakes, which is not really smart.

            In this issue, new power, which implies mass participation of all usually aided by Internet, can help. Whatever is your opinion (pro or against war), an open and transparent conversation can be created through different networks and lead to change. If lots of people participate, they can change the public's view and the government's decision.


You have chosen a very interesting and important topic and one that is also highly divisive. Personally, I agree largely with your view that Canada should refrain from engaging militarily in this conflict. However, an important question to ask ourselves is what exactly constitutes a morally “just war”. In order to explore a question such one is well advised to apply a moral framework. Moral frameworks are divided into numerous subcategories two of the largest being teleological and deontological. A teleological approach set a desired goal called the ‘summum-bonum’ and then considers the outcome of an action with respect to the desired goal to determine its moral legitimacy. Conversely, a deontological approach concerns itself primarily with respecting a set of universal maxims, rules if you will, when determining whether an action is morally justifiable. For example, generally speaking a teleological approach could justify sacrificing one person to save many others as moral whereas typically from a deontological point of view taking human life is forbidden and hence immoral. When we apply these moral frameworks to the situation you outlined: Ethically speaking, should Canada fight in Syria, we can come to different conclusions depending on which framework we adopt. From a deontological point of view one could argue that participating in this conflict will endanger civilians and result in numerous deaths and hence is immoral, instead of fighting we should provide humanitarian aid instead and try to sort out our problems with diplomacy. From a teleological perspective one might argue that IS (Islamic State) presents a serious threat globally and must be eliminated, even at the cost of some civilian casualties, to ensure the safety the majority of the Syrian and world population as well as protect fundamental human rights and democratic values.

I find your post about the Canadian involvement in the war on ISIS very interesting. In fact, you grabbed my attention by carefully analyzing the risk and reward of this war. Notably, you condemned Stephen Harper’s choice of sending bomber jets in Syria for the sake of the Syrian people and of the pilots. The high risk per reward ratio seems to bother you. You also mentioned about how Canada should behave as a peaceful nation. Personally, I believe that Canada is a peacekeeping rather than a peaceful nation so I believe it shouldn’t skimp out on neither humanitarian nor military aid. Furthermore, everything is fair game against ISIS because their organization does not act morally. Executing hostages and making death threats provoke terror which can only be removed via military invasion. Sending humanitarian aid only wouldn’t help stabilize the situation because you would be feeding ISIS hostages and resources that can be used to levy against Western powers. This might sound cruel, but from a utilitarianist perspective, the sacrifice of a few citizens is needed to stabilize the situation in the Middle East. Western countries are simply acting in good faith by maintaining peace in the Middle East.