Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told a joint House of Commons committee that, combatting Islamic extremism represents the “greatest struggle of our generation.”
While I have a great deal of respect for John Baird, I have to say that these sorts of statements leave me cold. If he really believes in what he said, and if this is the official position of his government, why then is Canada not fully engaged in battling Islamic extremism from its source and root causes in Saudi Arabia through to the end results such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-Shabab of Somalia, the Taliban of Afghanistan and Pakistan and, of course, our old enemy, al-Qaida.
Logically, when the US declared war on illegal drugs it attacked the issue at its source—perhaps not as successfully as most would have wished. But, at least, the US approach of attacking growers and their drug factories in Columbia made good sense.
So, given that radical Islam has its home in Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi religious (Sunni Islam) movement, why do we treat that country as a friend and ally? And why do we officially ignore—and by doing so, condone—Saudi Arabia’s funding and its Wahhabi influence on Muslim mosques here in Canada?
A 2001 article in The Economist states that “the Saudi royal family has long exploited religion to bolster its standing,” which “has helped breed the very sort of religious extremism that inspired the terrorist attacks on America and is now threatening the kingdom's own stability.”
And have we forgotten that fifteen of the nineteen Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis?
You can talk about Islamic extremism representing the “greatest struggle of our generation” all you want for words are cheap—though mostly ineffectual.
What matters more, obviously, are actions. But our federal government is all about words and gestures with little substantive action to support its words.
I’ve little doubt the Conservatives will support, and even contribute to, direct action against ISIL. But I also believe its a safe bet that they’ll not try to root out Islamic extremism at its source. Rather, we’ll do what we always do: we’ll treat the symptoms and leave the disease to fester and spread.