Iraq and ISIS - The Struggle between Good and Evil
ISIS, a radical Islamic militia, is a perfect example of why you need a forceful approach to international relations that draws clear divisions between good and evil. ISIS was created out of the ruins of the Syrian civil war, raging since March 2011, and aims to create a new state from Aleppo to Mosul.
The forcible expulsion and systematic killing of minority groups such as the Chaldean Christians, the Yazidis, Shias and Sufis, is part of an intentional terror campaign led by ISIS. They are destroying churches, shrines and mosques (including gravesites in Nineveh) throughout their area of control as well as archeological treasures with ample evidence of their actions on websites such as Newsweek, the Conflict Antiquities blog, and the Daily Mail. Sites like YouTube provide video evidence of the atrocities committed against faith groups that ISIS hates. The destruction of the 8th century shrine of the Prophet Jonah in Mosul and the destruction of the Shia shrine in Tal Afar along with the desecration of the Chaldean cathedral and the Syrian Orthodox cathedral in Mosul is part of their barbaric campaign to wipe out any traces of Iraq’s rich religious and cultural heritage.
ISIS does not hide its intent. In fact it is leading a sophisticated and gruesome media campaign to publicize every act of cruelty and barbarity in order to cow their enemies and recruit new fighters. ISIS has been known to recruit child soldiers and to indoctrinate them for use on the battlefield and for possible suicide attacks.
Our response must leave no room for moral relativism or equivocation. There is no comparison a reasonable person can make between the actions of ISIS fighters and the defensive actions taken by the Israeli IDF in Gaza or the conduct of American soldiers in military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. To absolve ISIS of its crimes because other states engaged in the use of military force make mistakes would be the height of irresponsibility. To maintain moral neutrality or to compromise on the moral injustice of this humanitarian crisis is to engage in intellectual dishonesty on a grand scale.
To do so is to cheapen the horror experienced by hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq whose only crime is to have a faith or ethnicity that ISIS hates and is specifically targeting for extermination.
Canada’s options are limited but Prime Minister Harper has been a principled leader in discussions with our international partners to determine the best role Canada can play to provide humanitarian assistance. He has also publicly supported the air strikes on militant positions in Iraq and Syria.
Canada has been doing its fair share to assist Iraqis fleeing the violence. We have committed ourselves to accept roughly 20,000 Iraqi refugees and by the end of 2015 will have met that goal. Two thirds of refugees resettled in Canada are being done through privately sponsored refugee programs, typically organized by Christian churches and other faith organizations. Through these types of private sponsorship programs, Canadians through their preferred organization can assist in the resettlement of persecuted groups across the globe.
Providing a safe haven for refugees has been a long tradition in Canada deeply rooted in our past with United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American War of Independence and the Underground Railway that allowed victims of slavery to flee to then British North America in search of freedom and security. Canada has welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees over the past century, such as Eastern Europeans and South Vietnamese boat people fleeing communist oppression.
It is a critical part of our heritage that in the hour of need of the destitute and persecuted we stand ready to lend aid.
I am reminded of what Lady Margaret Thatcher said on politics and her statement about good and evil:
“I am in politics because of the conflict between good and evil and I believe that in the end good will triumph.”
Standing up to the evil that ISIS represents, supporting our Allies in their campaign against them and, whenever possible, providing an opportunity for the oppressed, the orphans, and the widows, a safe haven to find refuge are the very best qualities that Canada represents to me.