Thursday, 23 October 2014

Modern Warfare

It was hard, yesterday, listening to the new about the shooting at the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. This is the way war is fought these days, particularly this kind of ideological war, where the objectives are not simply territory, but a way of life and a way of thinking. These are the most dangerous kinds of wars, the kind that become intractable, almost permanent. Think of the many, many years of trouble in Northern Ireland, and how that conflict reached beyond the borders of two constituents and involved so much of the English speaking world.

There are those who will say that terrorism is not warfare. They would be wrong. Anytime someone acts in concert with a national or state power in the effort to build that nation's objectives, using weapons of any sort, it becomes a war. The problem is that we, as a society, are ill equipped to fight this kind of warfare, where the participants are amongst us, unseen until the moment of attack.

There are those who would say that this kind of attack should be expected. After all, we, as a nation, are sending military participants to engage those whom these attackers would believe to be their nation, their primary allegiance, their fellows in arms and belief. They are correct; we should be prepared for those with whom we engage in war to fight back. This is how warfare works; strike and be stricken.

Ultimately the question will arise. Should we be there? This is not a simple question. There is no doubt that ISIS and those who would stamp the Middle East with fundamentalist Islam are dangerous, both within that historically troubled region and around the world. Religious fundamentalism, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any other belief set, inevitably leads to conflict. ISIS is not the first movement to engage in "conversion by the sword". As with all difficult questions, there is no easy answer. Perhaps a better question is "Now that we are involved, what should our involvement look like?"

The single greatest issue that I see, as a Canadian, is our slow, incremental move from being a peace keeping country to a peace making country, and thus to a war making country. In a land of tolerance and compassion, this move from standing between combatants to choosing a side will inevitably put us in harms way. I wonder how well we will serve the greater good of humanity? Of course you cannot be a peacekeeper if only one side wants the peace to be kept. So then what is our role?

This conflict, this long, slow, slog against ideology will change us. It will change our way of life and the tone of our national dialog. What it will become I do not know; all I know for sure is that it will happen, and the journey will be perilous. I will not be here to see it end. Perhaps my children or grandchildren will see it. I hope so..

No comments:

Post a Comment