Peggy Mason on extension of the military mission in Iraq and Syria

Peggy-Todd Van Der Heyden CTV interview March, 26 2015

Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute,  was interviewed on the extension and expansion of the Canadian military mission in Iraq and Syria on CTV News, hosted by Todd Van Der Heyden, on Thursday, March 26th, 2015.

Watch the full interview here: CTV News Channel.

Here’s the transcribed and edited text of the interview.

Todd Van Der Heyden

Let’s go to Ottawa now. Peggy Mason is my guest; she’s the President of the Rideau Institute and Canada’s former UN Ambassador for Disarmament. Peggy, good to have you on the program, and I want to get your take on this now, the government’s announcement that, as expected, they want to extend and expand this mission.

Peggy Mason

Well, I have to say I’m rather surprised at the extension into Syria because it is so clearly not sanctioned under international law and it’s also not clear at all what our objectives would be by doing that.

Todd Van Der Heyden

Yeah, Peggy, let’s expand on that because some people might be confused over that, this idea that the Iraqi government formally asked for military help whereas in Syria it’s a much more chaotic situation, no formal help has been asked by the regime of Bashar Al Assad. So, there are a lot of countries, including European allies, who say we don’t have a legal mandate to go into Syria, this would be illegal.

Peggy Mason

Exactly, if we consider the situation with respect to Russia and the concern about Russia breaching the sovereignty of Ukraine and thereby breaching international law, and all of the concern of this government and others over that, then it would seem to be very unwise for Canada to take the position we don’t really care about international law and that we will breach the sovereignty of Syria if we so wish.

There is also a practical aspect to this, of course, and that is if we don’t have the agreement of the Assad regime, then there’s a very real risk that we will be fired on by the Assad regime, and in fact it’s widely believed that the United States—which has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria as well as Iraq for some time—that they are tacitly coordinating with the Assad regime. They might not be acknowledging it, but they must be doing this tacit coordination in order to avoid being fired on themselves.

So, a very murky business, and why would we want to be doing this?

Todd Van Der Heyden

The Obama administration has notified the United Nations of what they did in terms of Syria.  Is that enough?

Peggy Mason

No, it isn’t. What the United States has done is they’ve used this argument of Article 51 of self-defence. If you actually read Article 51 of the UN Charter, it talks about a state’s inherent right of self-defence in the face of imminent attack, in the face of an armed attack, and it has been interpreted to also include an imminent one.  So, clearly that is not the case: the United States is not under an armed attack from Syria, nor under an imminent threat of it. The United States has tried to say, ‘well, we can extend this to non-state actors’. Well, even if one did, and I would argue you cannot, Islamic state is not threatening an [imminent armed] attack on the United States.

It’s an interpretation of international law that only the United States and Israel advance. No other country uses this rationale, and it would be a terrible thing for a country like Canada, which has played such an important role in building international law, to use a very dubious argument which in fact undermines international law.

Todd Van Der Heyden

Peggy Mason is the President of Rideau Institute. Great to get you on the program and share your perspective. Thanks for this.

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8 Responses to “Peggy Mason on extension of the military mission in Iraq and Syria”

  1. ALBERT DARMOMay 28, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    the only reasons for this war are …..the americans want empire. = power and loot.. and canada is a puppet of america.. Syria and iran are the only countries left that are not client states of the ruling 1% . so they must be destroyed , like libya. iraq. and afghanistan. were destroyed. afghanistan and vietnam

  2. Elizabeth Oliver MaloneApril 7, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    If the Shia replacement regime had tried to get along with the ex Saddam Sunnis -there might not have been ISIS.But the U.S.,Euros and Can. cannot be blamed for the centuries old Muslim conflicts.Why don’t the world’s arms manufacturers have a tax on all destructive materielto to support the maimed amd dead,regrow the agriculture and buildings and educate the innocent.?The only reason we support the autocratic dictatorships of the middle east is oil, and greed. Air strikes sound harmless to the aircrew except for “friendly fire deaths” but -as the Globe cartoon suggested-how do you tell the “better from the worst”?-it is still destruction upon destruction.–The only true path is negotiate,negotiate,negotiate–

  3. PJ RobertsonApril 3, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    Nine years of this self-serving, power-hungry incompetent. It should be clear by now to all thinking Canadians that Harper is totally for himself and callously indifferent to suffering, waste, and the Canadian taxpayer. But, of course, he counts on people not to think. In an earlier age, he’d have been removed from office years ago.

  4. Caroline MaloneyApril 1, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

    “Comotose Canadians” who support Harper–well said, William! Couldn’t agree more!

  5. Nancy KlassenMarch 31, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    I am completely opposed to any Canadian military action in Syria and would advocate for additional Canadian humanitarian aid and medical support for Syrian civilians.

  6. william sweetlingMarch 31, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    It should be clear to any non-comatose Canadian that Harper is vying for the inglorious title of “War Criminal”, joining the Bush, Clinton, Obomber, Blair and countless other prior regimes, and trying to build his legacy on the blood of innocent civilians and Canadian soldiers. He is dragging Canada into a Hell which will become more and more impossible to escape from with his totally insane actions and his equally insane Tory majority. 2015 has to be the end of this horrible government or the decency that was once Canada’s “trademark” will be lost , possibly forever, traded for one of blood lust and murder.

    • dimitriMarch 31, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

      You got that right William! Harper is leading us down an uncertain outcome that may likely become another hell we will regret. The powers that be, that is; USA, UK, Israel, NATO are consistently using smear tactics as a precursor to war and aggression by calling the governments that stand in the way of their nefarious intentions as “regimes” or “despots”.

      We are being constantly mislead by the media who are willing participants in this highly questionable pursuit of the government and big corporations who are controlling them.

      It is costing the lives of our soldiers and countless innocent civilians abroad. We here know this is all about control of resources, and is TOTALLY WRONG AND UNNECESSARY!

  7. Audrey MurrayMarch 31, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    I am completely and totally opposed to this initiative taken by the Conservative government.