Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Measured Response Needed

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Measured Response Needed

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Measured response needed


An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published Nov. 15:

An attack on all of humanity, U.S. President Barack Obama called it. French president Francois Hollande declared it an act of war.

So the chorus of outrage went.

What happened in Paris Friday is a tragedy and there must be a response. That response, despite the outsized rage, must be appropriate. A NATO-led boots on the ground invasion into northern Syria and Iraq is hardly fitting. Bombing Islamic State militants to oblivion will show how tough Western leaders are on terrorism, but will it do anything to end the civil war in Syria? Suspending civil rights and spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year in a coordinated effort by Western governments, including Canada, to spy on their own citizens doesn't seem to be working either. Now what?

History is always a good place to start.

So much has changed in 20 years.

Two decades ago, about 800,000 people were killed in about 100 days in the summer of 1994 during the Rwandan genocide. From a body count perspective, that works out to a Paris every half hour, every day, for more than three months. The United Nations stood by, forcing Canadian general Romeo Dallaire to be a

witness to the atrocity.

In the end, it was the French military that finally put a stop to the bloodshed.

At the same time, genocide was also happening in Europe although the more polite term "ethnic cleansing" was being used, as if a term invoking tidiness around the murder of thousands of civilians for their heritage and language made it more palatable. That kind of linguistic cowardice leaves the users of such phrases with, as one commentator has aptly called it, a mouthful of blood. The NATO allies, including Canada and the U.S., were slow to respond in Bosnia, as well.

Even in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, it took the mighty American military two months to conduct a full-blown invasion of Afghanistan, after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden. Once there, the trepidation of America's civilian and military leaders continued, allowing bin Laden to cross the border into Pakistan and remain free another nine years. …

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