Among Justin Trudeau’s first acts after winning October’s election was to call US president Barack Obama and tell him Canadian jets would be pulling out of the fight against ISIS.
But in the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, is this still the best course of action?
Earlier today, Lynda Steele spoke with former US Army Colonel and CBS Military Consultant Jeff McCausland to drill down into the role of the Canadian military in Syria.
Has the situation changed?
One factor to consider in Canada’s involvement is the rapidly evolving situation.
McCausland says the war in Syria could enter a new phase if France chooses to invoke NATO’s Article 5, which requires allies to rally together in the face of an act of war.
“I’m sure the French are contemplating this. That is, an attack on one is an attack on all. The French President certainly used the language ‘we are at war,’ and Presidents don’t use that language idly.”
He says there is an expectation that all NATO members would contribute. He says that could could lead to a continuation of the air war, or an escalation to boots on the ground.
But it doesn’t necessarily mean Canada would have to join in combat roles, or keep the jets in Syria.
“I know full well in the recent election you all had it was a big campaign issue, and the new PM campaigned on removing those aircraft from the fight. It’s really more for the Canadian citizenry to decide whether or not that’s appropriate.”
McCausland says there is no doubt that the military will be a part of any solution. But he says beyond that, defeating ISIS will require economic, political, and diplomatic action as well. He says the key is to defeat the story ISIS is telling about itself.
“We defeated over time the narrative of the Soviet Union. You don’t see a lot of people running around wanting to be communists today, because that particular narrative was defeated.”
But he says the Western air war is also making an impact, and that attacks like Paris show that ISIS is trying to prove itself in response.
“Why did they do this? It’s really the first thing a terrorist organization tries to do is to terrorize, to intimidate. To try and make us afraid. To try and make Canadians take their CF-18s and go home.”
“If you’re a terrorist organization, you’ve got to be perceived by your own folks as winning, expanding your territory, doing something. That allows more fighters to join you, money to continue to flow.”