A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted July 15th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
When I turned on CBC this July 14th to the news that yet another horrific terrorist attack had been committed – this one killing more than 80 men, women and children in Nice, France – I immediately thought of a nice couple from Paris, France that my wife and I met while we were visiting friends on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
The couple, who came to the United States this spring to visit their son, who is working in New York City, decided to take a side trip to the Cape and other parts of New England before heading back home, and seemed to be enjoying their time except for the unescapable news that Donald Trump had emerged as the Republican Party’s frontrunner in the race for the U.S. presidency.
Even though the couple had lived through two other bloody terrorists attacks in their country in the last 18 months, including one last November that killed 130 people in suicide bomb attacks around Paris, they found Trump’s tough talk about a total ban on Muslin immigrants, and about bringing back waterboarding or worse and possibly dropping a few bombs himself to be troubling, and they wondered how much more dangerous the world would be if Trump became president and tried following through on those ideas.
I wonder what they might be thinking now with Trump using the latest attack in Nice to double down on those ideas and to say that if he’s elected president, he would ask Congress for “a declaration of war on the Islamic state” and would use NATO (a military alliance with Canada and European nations he’s s recently said he might get rid of) “for a purpose.”
The suggestion there is that he might want to use it to launch an attack somewhere, and don’t you just love people like this? He managed to avoid getting drafted into the armed forces when hundreds of millions of other Americans his age did during the Vietnam War, and none of his kids, who are in their 30s and have had plenty of time to join the military and serve tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 15 years, look like they’ve been spending most of that time counting money in their gilded Trump towers.
It’s okay to send someone else’s kids off to war though. That’s why they call people like Trump “chicken hawks.”
As for Canada’s leaders when it comes to the matter of what to do with terrorist groups, that topic didn’t come up with the couple from France, but I have a few things I’d like to say about it now.
In a statement Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued in the hours following the Nice attack, he begins by extending his condolences, on the behalf of all Canadians, to the families and friends of the victims, which is fine as far as it goes.
But here’s the part of Trudeau’s statement I find hollow and hypercritical – “Senseless acts like this one are not isolated events, and we will continue to work with our Allies and partners to fight terrorism in all of its forms,” Trudeau says. “We will bring those who are responsible to justice, whether they be the perpetrators, or those involved in funding or organizing such attacks.”
Excuse me. This is the same Prime Minister Trudeau whose new Liberal government has chosen to follow through with a deal Canada’s former Harper Tory government negotiated to sell military vehicles manufactured at a plant in London, Ontario to Saudi Arabia – a country with one of the most brutal human rights records in the world with a regime that has an ongoing track record of funding groups in various countries that breed extremists that go on to join terrorist groups like the Islamic state or ISIS.
In one of the latest in a series of stories The New York Times has published on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in funding terrorists; Times journalist Nicholas Kristof wrote this in a July 2nd, 2016 column headlined; “The Terrorists The Saudis Cultivate In Peaceful Countries.”
“Which Islamic country,” begins Kristof, “celebrates as a national hero a 15th-century Christian who battled Muslim invaders?”
“Which Islamic country is so pro-American it has a statue of Bill Clinton and a women’s clothing store named “Hillary” on Bill Clinton Boulevard?”
“Which Islamic country has had more citizens go abroad to fight for the Islamic State per capita than any other in Europe?”
“The answer to each question,” continues Kristof, “is Kosovo, in southeastern Europe — and therein lays a cautionary tale. Whenever there is a terrorist attack by Muslim extremists, we look to our enemies like the Islamic State or Al Qaeda. But perhaps we should also look to our “friends,” like Saudi Arabia.”
“For decades,” Kristof writes, “Saudi Arabia has recklessly financed and promoted a harsh and intolerant Wahhabi version of Islam around the world in a way that is, quite predictably, producing terrorists. And there’s no better example of this Saudi recklessness than in the Balkans. … Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries poured money into the new nation over the last 17 years and nurtured religious extremism in a land where originally there was little.”
Saudi Arabia, many may recall, was also the homeland of notorious terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and those who went to America and hijacked commercial jetliners they then slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, murdering close to 3,000 on September 11th, 2001.
Yet, despite polls showing that a majority of Canadians are in favour of cancelling the former Harper government’s deal to sell military vehicles to the Saudis, and despite documented evidence published in major newspapers in Canada and elsewhere that the Saudis have already used military equipment it has already purchased from Canada in attacks on oppressed people in their own country, the Trudeau government so far says it is going ahead with the deal anyway.
Trudeau’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephane Dion, has tried to argue that Canada has to follow through with this deal to ‘show that we are true to our word’ and because the contract was signed a year before the Liberals came to power anyway. But documents revealed this past April and reported in The Globe and Mail showed that the contract was not given the ministerial approval it always needed for the arms sale to precede, and that approval was given this spring, by the Trudeau government.
“The sale was still very much unconsummated (when) the Trudeau government came into office,” states The Globe in an April 15th, 2016 editorial on the arms sale, and “it took the steps necessary to bring it across the finish line. The government made its choice – while claiming it had no choice.”
So I don’t think I care to take seriously at all the part of Trudeau’s July 14th statement following the Nice, France attack where he says; “We will bring those who are responsible to justice, whether they be the perpetrators, or those involved in funding or organizing such attacks.”
Nor do I take seriously a statement interim Tory Party leader and former Harper loyalist and cabinet minister Rona Ambrose issued following the Nice attack that reads; “Time to get serious about terrorism as the world is only getting more dangerous,” for the reason that it was the government she was such a loyal member of that made the arms deal in the first place, knowing full well that the Saudis have had a long record of human rights abuse and funding terrorists.
As for Canada’s outgoing NDP leader Tom Mulcair and his party, they had a chance to strongly oppose this deal during last summer and fall’s federal election and didn’t after Mulcair got word from the UNIFOR union representing workers in the General Dynamics plant London, Ontario t manufacturing this military gear that it didn’t want him speaking out against the deal publicly.
An article in the London Free Press newspaper, published late last September and just three weeks before the election, quoted the area director for the union saying; “We asked the NDP to not make this an issue, that it be kept under wraps. There are a lot of issues out there to be talking about.”
But don’t even think about talking up this one. Never mind that the NDP has always wanted Canadians to believe that of all the parties in the country, it’s the one that can be most counted on to stand up for peace and human rights.
Muclair and his party could have used a little imagination during the election and said something like – ‘If my party forms the next government, were going to use some stimulus money to retool that London plant to build light rail trains and the other infrastructure we need to make Canada one of the world’s leaders transportation in the 21st Century transit system in this country.’
But they didn’t which is one of the reason why when Mulcair or any other federal NDP member start getting on a high horse about conflicts in other countries, I can’t take them seriously any more
Of course, Trudeau and his Liberals could have done something like that too and until they do, there is no reason why Canadians or anyone else in the world should take seriously any statement they make about bringing those who fund or organize terrorists to justice.
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