I was at a briefing recently on Parliament Hill about the situation in Northern Iraq. I can’t tell you about it.
One of the reasons I attended was to get an update on what is happening in the region. I was there twice last year and do feel I have a bit of connection to the area and its people. However, shortly after she started speaking, the presenter said “this is of course all off the record.” As a one-time journalist I respect that.
The funny thing is, I didn’t really learn anything new so being off the record doesn’t really matter. The situation has not changed appreciably since I was there last in November. There were horror stories of ISIS atrocities, but sadly those too are nothing new. Maybe it was just natural caution. By making the briefing off the record the speaker, from an American NGO, felt she could speak more freely.
The unanswered question remains: How should the world deal with ISIS? In Canada that was a matter of some debate during last year’s election campaign. Voters were presented with three distinct viewpoints.
One party wanted to provide air support for Iraqi and Syrian troops battling ISIS, plus a small number of trainers to help the Kurdish Peshmerga. A second party felt we should keep our jets at home and increase military training and humanitarian aid. And a third suggested we just not get involved, that it really isn’t our battle.
You can make a strong case for all three positions – and pretty much whichever one you choose is going to be the wrong one. That has less to do with the intelligence of politicians and their advisors than the nature of the conflict. It’s a complex war. There are no simple solutions.
Actually, that’s not quite true. There are simple solutions. The problem is they just will make things worse in the long run. It’s a complicated part of the world, centuries and millennia of clashing cultures and conflicts. It seems to me that every time outsiders get involved things get worse.
So how do we who don’t live in the area respond? Can we ignore the humanitarian crisis brought on by military conflict? Should we leave the region to solve its own problems?
I have very definite opinions – but I won’t detail them here. That’s because those opinions keep changing and what I think about the situation today will probably be different tomorrow. I am though rather interested what you think needs to be done. Any thoughts?