Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: PM's Policy on Canada's ISIS Fight Shouldn't Be Fogged Up

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: PM's Policy on Canada's ISIS Fight Shouldn't Be Fogged Up

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: PM's policy on Canada's ISIS fight shouldn't be fogged up

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An editorial from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, published Feb. 12:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been fairly deft on foreign policy in his first 100 days in office -- preserving room for manoeuvre on the Pacific free trade agreement and showing leadership in welcoming Syrian refugees.

But that touch wasn't evident in this week's decision to keep an election promise to remove Canada's six CF-18 fighter-bombers from Iraq, where they have assisted a coalition fighting ISIS since 2014.

Recalling the CF-18s is an unfortunate departure from capable foreign policy.

To be blunt, the CF-18 withdrawal has everything going for it except public support and a clear strategic rationale.

It's not that the new direction -- doing more to train, arm, advise and assist Kurdish and Iraqi forces -- isn't a serious contribution to the multinational effort to defeat the so-called Islamic State militia that has occupied large swaths of Iraq and Syria and terrorized the captive population. It is, as even the Pentagon acknowledged this week.

The Canadian commitment to spend $1.6-billion on these military measures and on humanitarian aid to Jordan and Lebanon as well as to Iraq and the Kurdish region, is significant support for the coalition and local population.

Canada will still provide refuelling and surveillance aircraft for the air campaign, as well.

And while Mr. Trudeau is adamant our ground forces will have "a non-combat mission," Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance made it clear at a briefing that Canadian advisers and special forces "will be involved in engagements as we defend ourselves or those partners who we are working with."

Indeed, our advisors have seen fighting already. They will see it again because, in a war, what the enemy does obviously plays a role in whether you are in combat. …

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