A Clarification
Canada on Iraq.


The position of the government of Canada is clear. We have always clearly said that we would go to war only with the authority of the Security Council. Now clearly that means that in the event the Security Council did not give its authority, we would not go to war, except if we did. Certainly it is clear that we have never gone to war in the past without the Security Council’s authority. Unless you count Afghanistan. Or Kosovo. Or World War II. Or World War I. Or the Boer War.

It couldn’t be clearer. This war is unjustified under the Charter of the United Nations. On the other hand, we have always clearly said that Resolution 1441 of the Security Council provided all the authority needed to go to war; there was no need to vote on a second resolution. Unless, of course, there was a second resolution that was never voted on, in which case it clearly supersedes the first resolution, which was.

It’s perfectly clear. The Americans lack the authority to launch this illegitimate and unnecessary war, which can only bring great suffering and instability to the region. At the same time, clearly it is their privilege and right to do so, and we wish them Godspeed.

It’s as clear as can be. The inspectors should have been given more time to do their jobs. Force was unnecessary; inspections were working. In fact, they were working so well that we circulated a paper saying they should end in two weeks: if Iraq did not disarm by March 28 we would go to war.

It’s clearer than clear. We have always said there was no proof Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Nevertheless, we agreed that he had to be disarmed of the weapons there was no proof he had. In fact, there was clearly no need to disarm him. The mere presence of all those American troops was enough to prevent him from doing anything with them. The president has won.

So we always give praise to the Americans. Saddam would not have made the concessions he did if the president hadn’t threatened to use force. Clearly, this makes the U.N. more needed now than ever: to prevent the Americans from using force.

It’s as clear as day. Regime change is not authorized by the United Nations. We do not support regime change in Iraq: after all, if we’re going to go knocking over every genocidal dictator with a taste for weapons of mass destruction who has invaded two of his neighbors and defied 17 U.N. resolutions over a dozen years since a ceasefire that was never honored in a previous war duly authorized by the Security Council, well, where do you stop?

However, we are supportive of our American friends in their desire to get rid of Saddam.

At the same time, we believe that having fought a war to disarm him, the Americans should leave him in power, assuming he still is (we have not yet decided whether he should be restored to power once he’s gone). But we agree with the official opposition: He should be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity and brought to justice. There is no contradiction. He could serve out his sentence on weekends.

It’s very clear. We are not participating in this war. We have always clearly said, however, that we would participate in the last war, the war against terrorism. So when Canadian warships are deployed to escort U.S. ships through the Persian Gulf on the way to Iraq, or when Canadian officers direct bombing runs on Iraq from AWACS aircraft, it should be clear that they are not fighting in the war in Iraq, they are fighting in the war on terror. Though there is clearly no link between the two, whatever those American morons say.

That was not an anti-American remark, and we regret any inference that it was somehow reflective of our personal opinions.

Do we make ourselves clear? We are not contributing ground troops to this war. That is to say, we are, but they are not in Iraq. That is to say, they are, but they are not in combat. That is to say, they are. But we do not support them being there.

Let us be clear. We are in favor of U.N. resolutions but against their enforcement; against the use of force but in favor of the threat of it; against fighting the war, but in favor of winning it. This is part of Canada’s unique national identity. Other countries may support the war without participating in it. Only Canada is participating without supporting it.

You see, there’s an important principle at stake here. That principle, as the prime minister said clearly in the House of Commons just the other day, is to show that Canada is an independent country, able to make up its own mind about whether to go to war. That is why we have always clearly said we would go along with whatever the Security Council decides. Or fails to decide. Whatever.

At any rate, we clearly have the support of a majority of Canadians, the ones who tell our pollster that although they do not want a war, they would accept one.

What could be clearer?

Andrew Coyne is a columnist for the Canadian National Post. A version of this first ran in the National Post and is reprinted with the author’s permission.