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October 20, 2014

Once again Western nations, led by the United States and including Canada, are trying to impose a military solution on Middle East countries where terror has overrun any semblance of the common good. It has not worked in the past, and it won't work this time.

Indeed, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) grew out of the situation created by the two Iraq wars of the last 25 years. The successful overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein led, not to meaningful peace, but rather to the rise of an even more bloodthirsty monster intent on wreaking murder and mayhem.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama labour under the illusion that ISIS can be bombed into submission while they arbitrarily seek other local militias to reward with cash and weapons. Westerners only have the vaguest notions of why these people are fighting and yet suppose our bombs can help to resolve the conflict.

Syria, however, is already devastated with nine million of its people displaced. Since 2003, half a million Iraqis have been killed in the continuing saga of sectarian hatred.

In opting for bombs, our political leaders only entrench the beliefs of the region's people that the West is continuing its centuries-long quest to suppress them and the Muslim faith. We do virtually nothing to help create model states in the Middle East that would reveal that democracy and civility are the path not only to peace, but also to prosperity. We do nothing to bring hope to the vast numbers of young Middle Eastern men who are unskilled, unemployed or otherwise impoverished. Our nations' warlike ways make the alienated young easy prey for extremist preachers who peddle the glory of becoming a martyr in the fight against the infidels of the West.

With a trillion-dollar-a-year national security apparatus, the U.S. has a vested interest in imposing military "solutions" on impoverished peoples rather than developing political and economic strategies to bring peace. Canada's shame is that it has abandoned its longstanding commitment to peacekeeping in order to follow the way of war.

There is a better approach, but it is not one that will make things better by the next federal election. It is the way of imposing an arms embargo, strict sanctions and sending in a UN ground force to protect the innocent. It is followed up by working long-term for dialogue and democracy within warring nations.

Western nations cannot arrive late on the scene, appalled by the latest atrocities, and fantasizing that their military might will miraculously restore security. We can be horrified by evil, but if we are serious about replacing evil with good, it won't be done with bombs dropped from 10,000 metres high in the sky. We need to be on the ground unequivocally committed to building peace.