Livermore, Welsh and Party: Ottawa shirking duty to help Canadians stuck abroad

The rhetoric versus the reality of consular assistance:

There is little that is more predictable than the soothing words spoken by Canadian governments when citizens are in difficulty in foreign countries. “We are fully aware;” “we are working to help;” and “we are doing everything to see them back safely in Canada” are among the familiar refrains.

For many Canadians in serious difficulty, the reality is different. Serious problems are not resolved quickly, communications and transportation are often difficult, legal problems are complex and even longer than in Canada to resolve, and frequently foreign governments do not see the problems of Canadians as warranting urgent action.

There are daily stories and reminders of such experiences and as recent ones demonstrate they are often matters of life and death. Since the 2015 election of the Trudeau government, there have been three deadly and tragic stories. In each, the actions—or lack thereof—by the government have contributed to the problems.

In 2016 two Canadians, John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, were executed in the southern Philippines when the government refused to initiate appropriate and available action to obtain their release from kidnappers. Two other Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, between 2018 and 2021, spent more than 1,000 days in the prisons of China. Ottawa, once again, refused to initiate appropriate and legal action to see them freed and returned home. It was the action of the United States that led to their release.

Today, nearly 50 Canadian children, women, and men have spent over two years in “filthy, deeply degrading, life-threatening, and often inhuman conditions” in detention centres in northern Iraq and Syria, in the words of Human Rights Watch 2021 annual report. Again, the Canadian government has refused to take action to have these Canadians returned to Canada.

This, despite the willingness of the authorities administering the detainees to have the Canadians returned. As well, other governments, including the United States and allies in Europe and elsewhere, have made arrangements for the repatriation of their citizens from the same areas. The United Nations and the House Foreign Affairs Committee have urged Canada to “pursue all options possible” to repatriate its citizens with the UN placing Canada on a “list of shame” for its lack of action.

So far only a four-year-old child has returned to Canada, initially without her mother, but in the face of court action, the mother was issued a passport and returned home. Who made the arrangements for this child? Not Canadian authorities but a former American diplomat who went to the region and made the arrangements.

Some of these Canadians have now filed an application with the Federal Court seeking relief from the lack of action by the Canadian government. The case is yet to be heard but it is hoped the court will force the government to take the necessary action to have these Canadians returned home using the mobility and legal rights guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The government argues it is too dangerous for Canadian officials to go to the region to make the arrangements for the repatriations. This is fallacious—other governments go to the region; international humanitarian organizations operate in the area daily; and the authorities administering the regions are willing and able to assist. But the government maintains Canadian officials are without the ability to do so.

The government’s reasons for not helping are specious and are meant to disguise its complete unwillingness to help this specific group of Canadians. They are the reminders of the thousands of foreigners who rushed to the region in support of the early success of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (IS/Daesh) in 2014. Countering military action by local governments supported by the United States and Russia put an end to IS in the region.

Thousands of the intervening foreign nationals were killed and thousands of other, and women and children, especially, were detained. For the most part, only the Canadians have been refused help by their government. In doing so, Ottawa conveniently ignores these persons are Canadians and are legally entitled to the support and assistance.

The government’s position finds some measure of public support and, importantly, both the RCMP and CSIS oppose the return of these detainees to Canada citing the impact on their responsibilities. Both organizations have a long history of opposing support for Canadians who have travelled to countries in conflict, some for legitimate reasons and others, like the detainees in Iraq and Syria, for misconstrued or illegal reasons. The RCMP and CSIS ignore the scope within our criminal justice systems for possible punishment in Canada.

Investigations by commissions of inquiry and various court applications provided ample examples of this opposition by the RCMP and CSIS. But tens of millions of dollars have been paid to the victims of this opposition and more is pending. For the small group of Canadians in Iraq and Syria it is now time for the government to accept its obligations and make the arrangements for their return to Canada.

Discretion must not be a cover for discrimination.

Dan Livermore is the former director general for security and intelligence. Michael Welsh and Gar Pardy are former directors general for consular services.  All three have served as ambassadors or high commissioners.   

Source: Ottawa shirking duty to help Canadians stuck abroad

The new Iraqi citizenship law stirs controversy

One year residency requirement must be one of the shortest, if not the shortest, in the world:

As soon as the Iraqi parliament passed a bill to amend the Nationality Law last week, many Iraqis have taken to social media to express their anger.

The new law states that any person who enters the country legally — and resides in it for a year legally — can get the Iraqi passport.

Iraqis saw it as a new “disaster” for their country.

Iraq, they said, had already suffered so much from the scourge of war and corruption.

Some see it as a way to change the demography and population of Iraq.

Others see that the Iraqi identity, which is already suffering from years of war, is being jeoprodised.

Most of the comments on social media accuses the government of passing the law because of the Iranian influence.

One user on twitter wrote: “Any foreign immigrant who stays in Iraq for a year can be naturalised. So our Iranian ‘brothers’ won’t be upset. Hopefully, in five years, Iraqis will be a minority.”

Another Iraqi wrote: “The new nationalisation law aims to change the demographics in Iraq, end the presence of the Iraqi people as a genuine people and replace it with races and ethnicities from Iran, Afghanistan, India and others.”
Raja’s Yousef explained the fear from the new law saying: “In the nearest religious visit, if 2 million Iranian came into Iraq, and a million do not return back to Iran, after one year they will be give the Iraqi passport and a social welfare of 500,000 dinars i.e. $400 and they will send to their families back home. This is all is taken from the Iraqi orphans money.”

Another used expressed her anger from the way Iraqis are treated now in their country “the new law gives a passport to strangers!! And the Iraqi to prove that his identity takes him over a year. As Iraqis we should stand in the face of this insult to our country and to us.”

Other Iraqis saw that such law can be positive for the Kurds. During Saddam’s rule, they were deprived of their citizenship and left at the borders between Iraq and Iran.

“Kurds are part of this society; they were victims of the sectarian and racist practices of the old regime. At the time of Saddam, they were subjected to the most heinous genocides and forced displacements, as hundreds of thousands of them were dumped in the open, on the Iranian border, and all their possessions were confiscated,” Abu Hussein added “Justice must be done and their rights returned to them”

Another Iraqi posted on Twitter: “You first give a decent and respectful life to the Iraqis, and then think of adding foreigners to our population. We are supposed to withdraw the nationality of anyone who agrees with such a law.”

Source: The new Iraqi citizenship law stirs controversy

For Yazidi survivors of Islamic State killings, the nightmares go on

Ongoing legacy of ISIS atrocities:

Ever since Islamic State visited death and destruction on their villages in northern Iraq nearly five years ago, Yazidis Daoud Ibrahim and Kocher Hassan have had trouble sleeping.

For Hassan, 39, who was captured, it is her three missing children, and three years of imprisonment at the hands of the jihadist group.

For Ibrahim, 42, who escaped, it is the mass grave that he returned to find on his ravaged land.

“They burnt one house down, blew up the other, they torched the olive trees two three times…There is nothing left,” the father of eight told Reuters.

More than 3,000 other members of their minority sect were killed in 2014 in an onslaught that the United Nations described as genocidal.

Ibrahim and Hassan lived to tell of their suffering, but like other survivors, they have not moved on.

She will never set foot in her village of Rambousi again. “My sons built that house. I can’t go back without them…Their school books are still there, their clothes,” she said.


As U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to announce the demise of the Islamist group in Syria and Iraq, U.N. data suggests many of those it displaced in the latter country have, like Hassan, not returned home.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim and his family live in a barn next to the pile of rubble that was once their home. He grows wheat because the olive trees will need years to grow again. No one is helping him rebuild, so he is doing it himself, brick by brick.

“Life is bad. There is no aid,” he said sitting on the edge of the collapsed roof which he frequently rummages under to find lost belongings. On this day, it was scarves, baby clothes and a photo album.

“Every day that I see this mass grave I get ten more gray hairs,” he said.

The grave, discovered in 2015 just outside nearby Sinjar city, contains the remains of more than 70 elderly women from the village of Kocho, residents say.

“I hear the cries of their spirits at the end of the night. They want to be buried, but the government won’t remove their remains.” They and their kin also want justice, Ibrahim adds.

When the militants came, thousands of Yazidis fled on foot towards Sinjar mountain. More than four years later, some 2,500 families – including Hassan and five of her daughters – still live in the tents that are scattered along the hills that weave their way towards the summit.

The grass is green on the meadows where children run after sheep and the women pick wild herbs.

But the peaceful setting masks deep-seated fears about the past and the future.


Until a year and a half ago, Hassan and five of her children were kept in an underground prison in Raqqa with little food and in constant fear of torture.

She doesn’t know why Islamic State freed her and the girls, then aged one to six, and hasn’t learnt the fate of the three remaining children: two boys Fares and Firas, who would be 23 and 19 now, and Aveen, a girl who would be 13.

There is no electricity or running water in the camp where they live today. She doesn’t remember when her children last ate fruit. “Life here is very difficult but I thank God that we are able to see the sun,” she said.

During the day, her children go to school and are happy, but at night “they are afraid of their own shadow”, and she herself has nightmares.

“Last night, I dreamt they were slaughtering my child,” she said.

Mahmoud Khalaf, her husband, says Islamic State not only destroyed their livelihoods. The group broke the trust between Yazidis and the communities of different faiths and ethnicities they had long lived alongside.

“There is no protection. Those who killed us and held us captive and tormented us have returned to their villages,” Khalaf, 40, said referring to the neighboring Sunni Arab villages who the Yazidis say conspired with the militants.

“We have no choice but to stay here…They are stronger than us.”

Source: For Yazidi survivors of Islamic State killings, the nightmares go on

The Man Raising an Army of Psychologists in Iraq

Good initiative and investment:

A year after helping more than 1,000 escaped ISIS captives resettle in Germany, Kurdish-German psychologist Jan Ilhan Kizilhan has returned to northern Iraq with a plan to save thousands of other psychologically scarred war victims left behind.

With backing from the German state of Baden-Württemberg, Kizilhan has set out to train a new generation of psychologists and trauma specialists he believes will be among the most qualified in the Middle East

After years of war, Iraq and Syria are struggling with a mental health crisis neither country has the capacity to address. In northern Iraq alone, where more than 1 million people are displaced by violence, just a couple dozen local psychologists are believed to be treating patients.

Various nongovernmental organizations and government initiatives have sought to fill the gaps, including Baden-Württemberg’s asylum program, which physically transported some of the most psychologically scarred women and children in northern Iraq to a part of the world where they could more easily access mental health care.

As a dark measure of the German program’s effectiveness, its directors boast that of its 1,100 beneficiaries—mostly women held as ISIS sex slaves and their children—not one has taken his or her own life in contrast to some other ISIS survivors who didn’t get a spot in the program.

Mindful of the deadly stakes for those left behind, Baden-Württemberg invested 1.3 million euros, a small fraction of its annual budget, into Kizilhan’s new institute, which aims to cultivate the experts where they’re needed.

The Institute for Psychology and Psychotraumatology sits on a neatly manicured hill at the University of Duhok in northern Iraq. On a sunny morning in May, the campus, set against the backdrop of picturesque mountains, hummed with the sounds of lawn mowers.

Just a short drive away, hundreds of thousands of displaced people live in sprawling camps, each one having risen up in the wake of an exodus—from an ISIS advance, bombings, or clashes. Just 40 miles to the south, chunks of Mosul lay in ruin from a months-long battle to oust ISIS from the populous city. Forty miles to the west: the Syrian quagmire. And despite the campus’ unblemished appearance, everyone at the school seems to have been touched by war.

Hewan Avssan Omer, a 26-year-old secretary at the institute, only escaped a 2014 ISIS attack on her village because she happened to be away at school. The militants kidnapped other members of her family, some of whom escaped just months ago. Omer’s 7-year-old cousin spent two and a half years in captivity and returned to society unable to speak his native Kurdish, confused about who his parents are and where he is from.

The staff’s proximity to and familiarity with the local crisis is intentional.

One of the biggest criticisms of the German program was that it exposed trauma victims to the additional stress of culture shock by transporting them to a foreign place.

At his office in Baden-Württemberg in early 2016, Kizilhan said the United Nations refugee agency was one of the critics to raise this concern of detaching victims “from their roots.” The German team responded that it was a price they were willing to pay, at that precarious time, for potentially saving lives. “In Iraq they are living in camps, their parents are killed, they have no roots!” Kizilhan responded. “It’s ridiculous. They need stabilization and security before they can talk about how it felt to be raped and helpless. How do you do this in a tent?”

Source: The Man Raising an Army of Psychologists in Iraq

Congress Just Put Iranian-Americans and Others At Risk for Becoming Second-Class Citizens

Under-reported, given the potential impact on the large number of Canadians (according to the 2011 NHS, about 170,000 Iranian Canadians, 50,000 Iraqi Canadians, 41,000 Syrian Canadians and 17,000 Sudanese Canadians):

TODAY BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill intended to keep government services funded through September 2016. Tucked into this omnibus legislation are provisions that could undermine, on the basis of personal heritage, the ability of many American citizens to travel visa-free to countries in Europe and east Asia.

For more than 25 years, the Visa Waiver Program has allowed people from a select list of countries, currently 38 nations long, to travel to the U.S. without a visa. Those countries, in turn, must reciprocate, allowing Americans the same privilege on their own soil. Today, Congress voted to change the deal: People coming from countries covered under the Visa Waiver Program, including people who are citizens of those countries, will now need to get a visa if they are determined to be nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria, or if they have visited those countries since 2011.

This is worse than it sounds, because at least two of those countries, Iran and Syria, deem people to be nationals, regardless of where they were born or live, if their fathers are citizens. So it’s possible that someone who is a citizen of one of the countries on the visa-free travel list — the United Kingdom, say — and who lives there and grew up there and has never visited another country, could end up denied entry to the U.S. because of a parent born in Iran or Syria.

It gets even worse still, because there is a strong likelihood that countries party to the newly altered Visa Waiver Program, including European Union member states, will institute reciprocal restrictions on Americans, meaning that many Iranian-Americans, Syrian-Americans, and others in the U.S. would see their ability to travel the world seriously degraded based on ancestry or dual citizenship. Potentially facing similar reciprocal restrictions are any aid workers, journalists, or other Americans who simply visited at some point since 2011 the countries targeted in the new legislation.

An open letter published by the European Union’s ambassador to the United States has already said that passage of the bill “could trigger legally mandated reciprocal measures” against American citizens, in this case, specifically those whose national origin is from Iran, Sudan, Syria, or Iraq, effectively placing them into a lower category of citizenship when attempting to travel abroad.

The new restrictions have alarmed civil rights groups in the United States, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which in a letter to the House of Representatives earlier this month called the changes arbitrary, discriminatory, and “un-American,” since they would punish individuals solely based on their nationality or ethnic origin. Despite this harsh criticism, at least some of the provisions were approved by the House of Representatives in a 407-19 vote on December 8, paving the way for today’s vote.

Jamal Abdi, a spokesperson for the National Iranian American Council, believes the legislation will eventually prompt other countries to deny Iranian-Americans the same rights of free travel enjoyed by other Americans.

“Targeting people who are dual nationals is particularly discriminatory and unjust, since dual nationality is not something you choose,” Abdi said. “Under this legislation, if you’re a European of Iranian origin or your father is an Iranian citizen, you wouldn’t be able to travel without a visa to the United States. As we’ve already heard from the EU, this would trigger reciprocal measures that would result in the passports of Iranian-Americans being treated as inferior, essentially putting them in a category of second-class citizenship.”

The bill approved by the House earlier this month, HR-158, which is related to the legislation approved today, was initially written for the narrow and reasonable purpose of blocking or restricting from U.S. entry individuals who traveled to Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria or Iraq. But provisions later added by Republican lawmakers made the legislation more draconian, including by imposing restrictions involving entire countries — official “state sponsors of terrorism” like Iran and Sudan. (In those two countries, at least, the Islamic State is nonexistent.)

Some parts of the newly passed legislation could even violate the recently negotiated deal between the U.S. and Iran to curb Iranian nuclear activity.

For example, under the new rules, a European or Japanese business owner who traveled to Iran to take advantage of recently lifted economic sanctions would thereafter find themselves denied visa-free entry to the United States — a restriction that would inevitably act as a deterrent to doing business in Iran. But the provisions of the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal prohibit policies that undermine “the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.”

Thirty-three Democratic members of Congress signed an open letter published last week criticizing some of the new Visa Waiver Program restrictions. The letter said the restrictions “would result in discrimination against people simply because they are dual citizens based on ancestry” and asserted that national origin should not be a factor when determining visa requirements. People entering the United States, the letter said, should be evaluated on an individual level, not based on “where their parents are from.”

In the end, those objections were not enough to stop the new rules. Abdi said that politicians have stoked fears of immigration and helped increase public support for harsh laws that target en masse individuals from Muslim-majority countries.

“This bill is a direct response to the rhetoric of GOP leaders like Donald Trump and others who have called for restricting people coming to the United States based on national origin,” Abdi said. “There has been a lot of outcry about his outrageous comments and proposals from the public and in the media, but now as a consequence of the environment he’s helped create, we’re actually seeing Congress take steps to turn such xenophobic ideas into law.”

Source: Congress Just Put Iranian-Americans and Others At Risk for Becoming Second-Class Citizens

David Mulroney warns Canada should apply Afghanistan’s lessons to Iraq

Sound advice:

A former top official on Canada’s work in Afghanistan is warning against getting too involved in Iraq without clear and realistic objectives.

David Mulroney, who served as the deputy minister in charge of the Afghanistan Task Force, said Canada hasn’t looked closely enough at its experience in Afghanistan.

“When I recently saw Foreign Minister [Rob] Nicholson musing that we’d apply some of the lessons of Afghanistan to our engagement, I kind of sat bolt upright because I think one of the problems is we haven’t spent much time learning the lessons of Afghanistan,” Mulroney said in an interview to air Saturday at 9 a.m. on CBC Radio’s The House.

Mulroney said a newly released audit shows “how hard it was to get that development assistance and humanitarian assistance right in a place where none of the officials were really clear about what Canada’s objectives were.”

Mulroney also served as secretary to the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan, which was led by former foreign affairs minister John Manley, and as foreign and defence policy adviser to the prime minister.

He said the lack of discussion about Afghanistan toward the end of the 10-year mission has kept Canadians from learning key lessons, which include being realistic about how much Canada doesn’t know about a region and setting “often very modest” goals.

Mulroney also said Canada needs an exit strategy.

“When does it happen for us and who’s around to pick up the pieces of what we’ve put in place. Until we’ve really talked honestly about that, I’d be very worried about our ability to pull something off in a place that’s as challenging as that nexus of Iraq and Syria.”

He also warned the government has to think about how the humanitarian, military and diplomatic pieces fit together.

“If it’s being done now, this is the time to tell Canadians that people have thought about that. Because if it hasn’t been done, we’ll get the same ultimately disappointing results that audit points to on Afghanistan.”

David Mulroney warns Canada should apply Afghanistan’s lessons to Iraq – Politics – CBC News.

And a good short interview with him in the Globe:

 How would you characterize the tension between diplomats and political staffers nowadays?

The truth is that public servants now serve a concierge function. They get difficult things done on the basis of careful instruction. So you focus on managing events, like visits, and then you report back to headquarters, but then you feel increasingly bullied. By the end of my career I’d written the same report on Sino-Canadian relations a dozen times. It was time to go.

In what specific way did Ottawa make you feel discouraged?

On the [Chinese social media site] Weibo we hosted a discussion about the case of Lai Changxing, [a fugitive to whom Canada gave refuge].

The other was about the official car I drove, which generated a real discussion about how what kind of accountability officials should be held to.

But there was complete silence from Ottawa, the kind that indicates disapproval. There was nothing they could hold against us because there were too many positives, including two editorials in The Globe. In the end though we turned the way embassies communicate on their head.

David Mulroney on pandas, the PM and Chinese-Canadian relations

ICYMI: Getting information on the ground on the Islamic State

Fascinating reporting in the Globe of some of the efforts to collect information on war crimes and other human rights violations:

There are risks, however, that come with sending investigators into a combat zone with armed opposition groups. Some outside observers worry about the reliability of the embedded investigators, in part because there is always a risk they could become involved in wartime atrocities themselves.

Documentation collected now could be dismissed by a future war crimes tribunal for multiple reasons. Questions about the investigators’ methods, issues with the way witnesses are interrogated, and errors in tracking custody of documents that are retrieved are all issues that could be picked apart by a defence team.

But many observers seem to believe the benefits of running an investigation now – rather than waiting until the conflict is over – far outweigh the risks.

Independent groups like the one investigating Islamic State also have a higher tolerance for risk than the more formal investigation by the United Nations commission of inquiry on Syria, which has produced reports on atrocities but is not focused on linking specific crimes to the individuals who may have ordered them.

“There is going to be an immense security challenge once the conflict ends,” one investigator said. “If the Syrians don’t want to endure a decade or more of terrorism, as experienced by Iraq, they’re going to need a security foundation, and that foundation will be built on information derived from investigations now.”

Getting information on the ground on the Islamic State – The Globe and Mail.

Canada’s true role in the Mideast conflict – Former PM Chrétien

Amazing op-ed and criticism of a current PM by a former PM: Jean Chrétien’s biting commentary on PM Harper:

For example, all the war in Iraq did was to make the region and the world a much more dangerous place. The legacy of colonialism in the Middle East had not been forgotten and was only exacerbated by the Western military intervention in Iraq in 2003, with the consequences we face today. Unfortunately, Mr. Harper did not understand that history in 2003, and he does not understand it today.

He basically articulates Liberal leader Trudeau’s dismissal of the military option but in a more sophisticated way, not incorrectly, and advocates, in concrete terms, what a meaningful humanitarian response would be ($100 m for the World Food Program for refugees, and accepting 50,000 refugees from those fleeing the Islamic State).

His defence of his government’s decision to participate in Afghanistan and assume the responsibility for Kandahar doesn’t quite jive with the excellent account by Janice Stein and Gene Lang in The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar, which, if I recall correctly, was led by DND advocacy, not the political level.

Canada’s true role in the Mideast conflict – The Globe and Mail.

Irwin Cotler’s principled abstention on Iraq

Thoughtful rationale:

“I have written ad nauseam almost on the responsibility to protect in general and in particular with regards to Syria … I was on record as, not only Canada joining an international coalition, but asking Canada to lead that coalition, to convene a UN security council urgent meeting, et cetera, et cetera.

Therefore, I would have generally supported a resolution of that kind,” Cotler told me this afternoon. “So why wouldn’t I support something that supports my position? Well the answer is because this does not support it, but turns R2P on its head. Harper took the astonishing position to say that … with regards to Syria, if we’re going to go into Syria then it’ll be contingent on Assad’s agreement.

As I said, this not only turns R2P on its head, it’s asking the criminal who should be in the docket or the accused for permission for us to engage in the very international military operation that he’s asking us to support.

To me that not only was the theatre of the absurd on Harper’s part, but in fact it evinced a lack of understanding of the whole initiative that he was speaking about. And then to invoke the UN security council resolution … when in fact there was no UN security council resolution showed, again, a lack of understanding.”

Irwin Cotler’s principled abstention on Iraq –

Fowler: Half measures in fight against Islamic State will only make matters worse

Former Canadian Ambassador to the UN,  foreign policy advisor to Canadian prime ministers,  and kidnapping victim of an al-Qaeda offshoot in Mali, Robert Fowler essentially answers the question he poses at the end of his long and thoughtful commentary in the Globe.

Well worth reading:

Were we, though, to seriously seek to excise the jihadi malignancy – to stop those who are so clearly bent on destroying the underpinnings of our civilization – we would have to engage far more thoroughly than we seem willing to do. We would have to convince our so-called friends in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to stop – really stop – financing jihadi preaching and terror networks throughout the world. At home, we would need to make very clear that we will not abide jihadi teaching, jihadi recruiting, or the dissemination of jihadi propaganda.

Should we seriously seek to damage the barbarous IS, we would have to prepare for and then commit to a long and ugly war against an implacable enemy who is genuinely anxious to die in battle with us. In addition, we would have to abandon the inane restrictions we have so hurriedly and complacently put in place arbitrary time frames, no-boots-on-the-ground, and accept that it will take some up-close and personal combat to get the job done and that there will be casualties, among them a full share of innocents.

Finally, and however improbably in today’s politically correct context, we would have to “maintain the aim” – the removal of an existential threat to our way of life through the crippling degradation of al-Qaeda and its clones – and make it abundantly clear that until that mission were truly accomplished, such a struggle would not be about those nice, distracting things politicians would much rather talk about when they talk about such engagements: development, jobs, democracy, corruption, individual rights, gender equality, faith.

We would also have to accept that, to achieve such an objective, it would take vast budgets and clear-eyed focus over the long haul to convince Muslims in the West and throughout the world that such an engagement had nothing to do with jihadi allegations about crusades; indeed, little to do with religion of any stripe, but rather that global jihad was simply inimical to a peaceful world. Once such a mission were truly accomplished, then and only then could we turn our attention to reconstruction and development.

Short of all this, it’s not worth attempting, and we should walk away, right now: A flaccid attempt, such as that upon which we now seem to be embarked, will undoubtedly make matters worse.

Half measures in fight against Islamic State will only make matters worse – The Globe and Mail.