Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Let's not march until we know who the enemy is|
|09/18/01 at 05:05:26|
|Bismillah and salam|
Not bad, from the Toronto Star
Sep. 16, 02:00 EDT
Let's not march until we see who the enemy is
Before we saddle up and ride off in all directions in this "first war
of the millennium," I would like
to report to Field Marshall Bush that I have cold feet.
Mind you, I'm a representative of Canada's fighting forces that are
likely believed of little
account in wars of retaliation, since we have been, since the last
world war, largely into
peacekeeping, allowing for Korea where we fought for the United
So saying, I am as horrified as any civilized human being at these
unspeakable crimes against
helpless and innocent people. There are, indeed, mad dogs loose in the
world and we all want
them identified and brought to justice.
But clear-eyed justice is not blind vengeance, a distinction that some
of today's belligerents
consider a mere nuance. Further, I have some hesitation in being a
conscript in a war against an
unidentified enemy and, as well, some reluctance to join in an attack
upon so fuzzy a target as
This leads to a further reluctance to join in an action in which, by
the admission of some of the
ranking belligerents in this war, there will be collateral damage to
unintended sites and victims,
including the killing of helpless and innocent people.
Of course, as Sherman said, war is hell, which is why we should not
rush to the colours and
march off into battle until there is some more coherent definition of
who we're fighting and - as a
second thought - when and how we will know when the war is over and
who's supposed to
surrender to whom.
We should recall the last time we signed up for a war, under the
command of the first president Bush, to which we contributed
a frigate (which never really got to the scene of the action), an
ancient supply ship, a squadron of jet fighters and a hospital
unit. The purpose of that war was to save the Kuwaitis, and their oil
wells, from the grasp of Saddam Hussein. We won,
hardly anyone among the allies was killed - none were Canadian - and
peace was restored.
But Saddam has remained among the world's oversized hairshirts and is
now among the leading suspects in the criminal
attacks against America on Sept. 11. The Iraqi people - notably the
children - have suffered exquisitely from efforts made by
the winners of the Gulf War to adequately punish the losers. There are
clearly those in command of the war on terrorism who,
in the euphemism of war-zone speech, believe "we should go in there
and take him out."
Taking out Saddam would likely cost the lives of still more thousands
of suffering non-belligerents. Such an attempt might also
create extraordinary dangers for Arab regimes in the region that have
difficulties internally that would be considerably
worsened by overt acts of war against Iraq: Some of these are presumed
to be our friends.
Details, details. It is difficult, admittedly, to mention complexity
and complications, or to speak of limits to what is possible in the
real world, when so many of us are in pain and terribly angered, and
when summary and visible vengeance seem the only balm
to terrible loss. Still, it is not too early to appeal for reason and
to admit to the limited healing powers that can result from the
application of brute force.
Indeed, when the fires are out and the smoke clears, most of us will
be found somewhere between the biblical injunction of an
eye for an eye and the other that suggests we turn the other cheek. In
truth, George W. Bush must find some reckoning that
falls between the two.
As of now, however, he has got us all off on the wrong foot. It is
folly to speak of going to war, or being at war, or to suggest
that by force of arms and embargoes or cajolery and bullying, we can
put down terrorism as an earlier generation put down
fascism. To believe so is to raise unrealistic expectations and to
mistake the nature of the enemy and the several and complex
reasons for his enmity.
Unless we are to treat Bush's declaration of war as a fictive turn of
phrase, the president's putative allies need to know more
about the rules of engagement and the criteria that he means to apply
in determining who is friend or foe. Then, we allies need
to know about the exit strategy. None of this, surely, can be left to
Donald Rumsfeld, much less to the advice of the CIA.
More likely, however, Canadians will have as much to say about future
proceedings as we had about U.S. policy in the region
we shall be at war against.
Notwithstanding, Canada's bottom line remains unchanged, despite the
ambiguity and uncertainty of American intentions. We
are its foremost friend, partner and ally and our responsibilities are
clear. But the relationship is a two-way street and the Bush
administration has a responsibility to its allies, no less to Canada,
to proceed with prudence, restraint and due diligence.
Thus far, in the early stages of this war, the bluster, rhetoric and
theatrics coming from the leadership are neither impressive
nor inspiring to those who are marching toward the front, wherever
Dalton Camp is a political commentator. His column appears on
Wednesday and Sunday.
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