As Canada prepares to join other countries in a combat role in the mess of the Middle East we must contemplate whether we should or should not be involved. There has never been peace in the Middle East since the beginning of time and recent modern efforts to try and stabilize the situation with bombs, drones, humanitarian aid and training of local forces has still not solved the problem.
Having just returned from a two-week tour of World War I and World War II battle sites in Europe, I’m somewhat ambivalent. The Great War of 1914-1918 was unnecessary and ultimately provoked the rise of Hitler and World War II. World War II created the Cold War. War breeds war.
Viewed through my rose-coloured safe Canadian Maple Leaf glasses, I like to see Canadians as peacemakers who earned their stripes by being given some of the most difficult jobs to do in the first and second world wars. Now, we just want to live in peace. But the crazies of this world won’t let us. How long will it be before Putin starts marching his troops over the Vimy Ridge of the Arctic Circle into Canadaland? He’s already testing the waters. And how long can we allow Islamic extremists to continue terrorizing and beheading innocent people?
Standing in front of white marble grave markers in France and Belgium with tears in my eyes, I mourned for the mothers, sisters, wives and friends of those thousands of strong, well-brought-up young men who volunteered for service and gave their lives. A huge number of those graves bore no names; their remains were unidentifiable. I couldn’t help thinking that a few years earlier their mothers had dressed them warmly for school, fed them breakfast, nursed them when they were sick and loved them. Then, some crazy man with testosterone issues created a situation that demanded they go to war. The futility of it all.
While I’m convinced that war is not the answer, what is? How do we neutralize these monsters who are bent on destruction and conquering. They’ve existed since the beginning of time and will forever continue to deny the rest of us the peace we all crave. I certainly do not have the answer but after visiting those thousands of Canadian grave sites in northwestern France and Belgium, I’m very sure there has to be a solution better than war and bombs.