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What if We'd Gone to Iraq?
Description: Harper said staying out was 'a serious mistake.' Was it?
Date: 18 January 2006
Author: Jeremy Keehn
Source: The Tyee
Harper said staying out was 'a serious mistake.' Was it?

Where is Iraq in this election? If Canadian leaders had held a debate focused on foreign affairs, we might have expected them to make much of our relationship with the United States, and within that issue, of the still-burning question of the war in Iraq.

Save for muted criticism from the Conservatives and infrequent mentions in the media, Martin has received something of a pass on the Iraq war issue. His position is less firmly established than Harper's, for one thing, and a Liberal majority is unlikely, for another. But with a Conservative majority a distinct possibility, and a record of very strong statements from Harper on Iraq, the question bears asking: if we'd joined the "Coalition of the Willing" in 2003, where would we be now?

What follows is a thought experiment in "blowback"-the term coined by the CIA to describe the unintended consequences of a foreign misadventure. For the United States, the blowback from Iraq has been very real: lost lives, heavy expense and loss of stature abroad. According to several veteran foreign-policy observers, Canada would have shared in these consequences and seen any residual hopes on issues such as softwood lumber dashed, too. But as one of Canada's best-known peacekeepers points out, it's never as simple as "thank God we didn't go."

Michael Byers contributes his thoughts on this hot topic.

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