This captures the gist of many defence/foreign policy debates. The latest one: are the Canadian Forces doing combat in Iraq? I got sucked into this discussion last year, and probably didn't help it much.
To say that the CF is or is not doing combat is a distraction. It can be fun to play word games, but having permission to shoot first or second is really not the most important question these days.
This is interesting:
“The rules of engagement allow Canadian Forces to defend themselves, [to] anticipate their defence so that they can engage a hostile act or ... intent before it materializes,” Gen. Vance told the Commons defence committee.But it ain't that important. What would be important is if the Canadian Special Operations Forces were engaging in raids (not that we can tell). Or that the trainers we are deploying might be embedded and engaged in significant offensive operations alongside Kurdish/Iraqi Security Forces. But they are not. This is not Afghanistan where Omelets (Observer Mentor Liaison Teams) were fairly standard procedure (although countries varied in the rules they operated under).
So, what would be the important questions?
- How does training the Kurds help kick ISIS out of Iraq if the Kurds are not likely to be willing to fight very far beyond the territories they claim (Kurdistan)?
- How does training the Iraqi Security Forces work? Will we be training those that work alongside the Iranian militias? Will folks we train be better able to engage in ethnic cleansing?
- How do we know that the Iraqi military forces will be used well or poorly by the Iraqi government?
- All this training might not mean that much unless the Iraqi government finds some way to credibly assure the Sunnis and Kurds that the government will not abuse its power .... again. What role can Canada play in that?
But, no, tis easier to look and see SQUIRREL!