To the editor:
In wake of the Paris attacks, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose has said she will fully support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should he decide to keep the F-18s in the fight against ISIS.
Militarily, the issue with bombing ISIS from the air is collateral damage. Every time we inadvertently kill innocent civilians who happen to live near ISIS fighters, we create potential recruits for ISIS.
People who were resisting ISIS pressure to fight with them have less inhibitions once they lose a loved one to a coalition or Russian air strike.
In Afghanistan, innocent collateral casualties from air strikes on Taliban targets led to a very tight policy, to the point that aerial engagement of the enemy became relegated to clearly identified fighters (holding a weapon) who were well away from buildings that might contain con-combatants.
Strategically, while bombing the Taliban could help in “winning the war” inadvertently bombing non-combatants, while also totally morally unacceptable, was counter-productive militarily to “winning the peace.”
Most nations place national rules of engagement caveats on the use of force of their assets.
Trudeau could direct a policy adjustment that restricts Canadian aircraft to targeting away from habitation areas, as became NATO policy in Afghanistan.
While this would still be an annoyance to the coalition partners and a complication for the co-ordination of air strikes, it would avoid major diplomatic and economic implications for Canada — and, with a proper explanation, would for most Canadians be seen to still meet the intention of the PM’s campaign promise.
It might also see other coalition nations follow and stop ignoring the reality of the morally unacceptable and militarily counter-productive impact of collateral damage.