Michael Petrou: Why Trudeau is lost on the Middle East
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has had almost two months since his election win to craft a sensible response to the question of why he’s withdrawing Canada’s CF-18s (and possibly other aircraft) from the combat mission against the so-called Islamic State. He hasn’t come up with one yet, and didn’t again Wednesday when asked by a member of the public at the Maclean’sTown Hall in Ottawa.
You almost want to sympathize with the guy, because his position—by its own logic—is shot through with contradictions.
Islamic State, he says, must be confronted, including militarily, and Canada must play a role in the fight against it. “The question that we have to ask ourselves, as a government and as a country,” he said during the Maclean’s Town Hall, “is how best can we help.”
Trudeau suggested that training local forces to take the fight to Islamic State is the answer. This is a skill, he said, that Canadian troops honed during 10 years in Afghanistan.
Fair enough, although training is hardly the only thing Canadians did over there. But there’s a strange implication here that Canada can’t do both: bomb Islamic State and train local forces. This, of course, is what Canada has been doing for more than a year. Trudeau added: “We know that Western armies engaged in combat is not necessarily the way to solve the challenges in the Middle East.”