Opinion Column

Furey

Decisive strike needed now against ISIS

By Anthony Furey, Postmedia Network

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a welcoming ceremony during the Group of 20 (G20) leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a welcoming ceremony during the Group of 20 (G20) leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

If we don’t want to fight the Islamic State for years to come, we have to hit them as hard as possible now.

Canada has a few weeks or so of fighting left. Hopefully our remaining contribution can count for something.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally spoke to reporters at the G20 and confirmed Monday he’ll still pull us out of the combat portion of the mission despite the Paris attacks and France’s resolve to hit ISIS harder than ever.

Trudeau added that he’ll get us out before the mission’s set expiry date of March 30 — which Stephen Harper would have likely extended.

So what do we — and the broader coalition — do in the meantime? French President Francois Hollande said his country will wage a “pitiless” war. On Sunday, France launched an aggressive strike.

Based on what experts tell us, this is the right approach. If we go light now, it’ll just be a tougher fight later on.

Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger referred to the current effort as “inconclusive” in the Wall Street Journal last month.

Former CIA director James Woolsey told me in a phone interview Monday that what the U.S. is doing is “not a systemic attack.” Prior to the Paris attack, the coalition was only launching about eight sorties daily.

Woolsey contrasts this with the 1991 Desert Storm attack against Saddam Hussein. “We were flying thousands of bombing sorties a day,” said Woolsey. “In 1999 (during the Kosovo War) we were flying hundreds of sorties a day. Now we’re flying eight.”

He doesn’t fault Canada for withdrawing if only because “nobody really wants to hook up to something that’s really just a public relations step.”

Still, as of Nov. 12 the U.S.-led coalition had conducted 8,125 airstrikes since the operation began. It's so far destroyed or damaged an impressive 13,781 targets, including 126 tanks, 561 staging areas and 3,930 fighting positions.

This may seem like a major campaign but the fact ISIS is still going strong proves otherwise.

That Canada’s CF18s have only done 193 of these airstrikes isn’t a reason to say our contribution doesn’t matter. It’s a reason to ramp it up.

There’s nothing stopping Defence Minister Harjat Sajjan from briefly increasing our efforts while also fulfilling his orders to execute withdrawal.

Where we’re at now is similar to where the United States was in Dec. 2001 as it tried unsuccessfully to capture Osama bin Laden and his followers in the hills of Tora Bora, Afghanistan.

A 2009 U.S. Senate report confirmed what many security sources said at the time: the failure of the mission was caused by a refusal on the part of the Bush administration to put larger resources into the fight that generals on the ground were requesting.

Just like how you can’t be a little bit pregnant, you can’t be only partially at war.

If they’d been successful and bin Laden hadn’t instead escaped into Pakistan, the military and civilian death count, financial cost and geopolitical instability caused by the war on terror would likely be much less than it is today.

This is the question world leaders are facing. It’s the question Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing. What’s the point of fighting if we’re not fighting to win?