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February 20, 2016

Canada's the National Post beats the war drums as always

Scott Stockdale

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As the National Post did throughout the 12-year war in Afghanistan, it is beating the war drums for the war in Syria, in no small part because the newspaper is controlled primarily by two American hedge funds - GoldenTree Asset Management LP and Silver Point Capital LP.

Postmedia – the parent company of the National Post - is a national media giant with nearly 200 papers, magazines and websites, which is effectively owned by US hedge funds that put up the money to rescue the former Canwest newspaper group from the brink of bankruptcy.

Its dailies reach 6.3 million Canadian readers every week, with some of its best-known papers including the National Post, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Regina Leader-Post, Winnipeg Sun, The London Free Press, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette.

As the CEO of Postmedia, Paul Godfrey's obligation as a corporate officer is to act in shareholders' best interests. Thus when he ordered the newspapers in the company's chain to endorse Stephen Harper in the last election, was he acting in the interests of Canadians or U.S. hedge funds? And are these U.S. hedge funds invested in the U.S. armaments industry which finds any war extremely profitable?

The National Post continues to be highly critical of the Trudeau government's decision to withdraw Canada's six CF-18's from the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, notwithstanding Canada's commitment to triple the number of special forces training Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.

Canadian Forces spokesman Kirk Sullivan noted that in the air campaign in Syria and Iraq, which began on October 30, 2014, Canada conducted 251 air strikes, dropping 606 bombs, but only six of the bombing runs were in Syria, where the ISIS stronghold is.

A choir of National Post commentators – all singing the same tune, of course – is cheerleading the American War effort, at Canada's expense.

National Post writer John Iverson wrote in the January 19, 2016 edition of the newspaper:

“Tuesday, October 7, 2014 will go down as a day of ignominy for the Liberal Party of Canada. For crass electoral reasons, the party voted that day against the Conservative motion to send CF-18 fighters to join the coalition arranged against the barbarians of the Islamic State, the militant group who, at the time, were knocking at the gates of Baghdad. That they still haven’t found a face-saving way to fix that blunder is now Canada’s disgrace.”

Michael Den Tandt wrote in the December 22, 2015 edition of the newspaper:

“In military terms, simply put, the Liberals in crafting their policy and sticking to it doggedly have misunderstood the role of aerial combat in modern warfare ... In this campaign, which even now is modest in scope compared with the rate of missions flown in both Gulf wars and in Yugoslavia in the late 1990s, air power is being used precisely by the allies to degrade and destroy ISIL’s capabilities and allow allied local ground troops to take back territory more easily.”

What Mr. Den Tandt didn't say was that Canada's CF-18 fighters have accounted for 2.5 per cent of the air campaign against ISIS. This may be why Conrad Black wrote in the Saturday February 6, 2016 edition of National Post that “the withdrawal of our six aging CF-18's and three non-combat airplanes since their (Liberal Party) election is militarily irrelevant.”

But the choir continued to sing the same tune: in early February 2016, Andrew Coyne admonished the Trudeau government over its decision to withdraw Canada's CF-18's for sitting back and letting others do our fighting for us.

Failed US interventions in Middle Eastern and South Asian countries, in which Canada tags along, are becoming routine. Many Canadians still can't understand what was achieved by the recent 12-year war in Afghanistan: a 2015 mid-year report by the UN refugee agency estimated that 2.6 million people in Afghanistan are fleeing the Taliban – the group Canada spent 12 years fighting.

While nobody likes to lose, the National Post is doing its part in keeping Canadians' fighting spirit up.

Opinion polls indicate that the majority of Canadians favour keeping the CF-18's bombing. It appears that it's been no problem selling Canadians on another war. Moreover, it's not just Canada that has bought into another instalment of war.

In the wake of the September 4 - 5, 2014 Nato meeting in Wales, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark agreed to support the anti-ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria with supplies and air support, according to a statement that day by US Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

From the start, America’s Gulf allies – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar – have all taken part in some of the airstrikes. In September 2015, France joined the campaign, and has since stepped up its airstrikes in Syria in the wake of the Paris attacks with a “massive” attack on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in the north-east of the country.

By October 2015, there had been almost 3,000 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria, since a US-led campaign began in September 2014. More than ninety-five per cent of these had been conducted by the United States, according to the US monitoring group Airways.

“It’s a stunning indictment of the so-called coalition in Syria,” said Chris Woods, the director of Airways, a British-based monitoring group that tracks coalition airstrikes against ISIS, as well as the civilian casualties caused by those attacks.

If this, the latest episode of “War of the Week” seems familiar, it's because it's a continuation of the serial called “The War on Terror”; good theatre, almost live, for those of us who sit safely out of harm's way.

But how did Canada manage to once again find itself in a supporting role in the drama? For further clarification, get a subscription to the National Post.

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Dotan Rousso. Holds a Ph.D. in Law—a former criminal prosecutor in Israel. Currently working as a college professor in Canada.

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