It seems not that long ago that we had entered what was thought to be a post war era in which international conflict on the scale of World War II could never again occur. Militaries were downsizing and demobilizing. In Canada one proposal to manage the massive cuts to our defense budget was to eliminate support for our militia. I worked on Reserves 2000, a project to show why it was so important to maintain citizen soldiers along with a professional military, particularly when the role for the Canadian Forces was so frequently peacekeeping and disaster relief. That was then. This is now.
Today at Jesson we represent Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program. The F-35 is the stealth fighter jet intended to replace Canada’s aging fleet of F-18s. I am frequently asked why Canada needs an aircraft with the fighting capabilities of the F-35. There are lots of answers to the question but perhaps the most relevant today is the state of world unrest. Seems everyone I talk to these days is concerned that we may be sitting on another Sarajevo-type powder keg. Certainly Margaret MacMillan makes that case in her newest release: The War That Ended Peace.”
Despite international sanctions, the violence between Russia and Ukraine continues. In the Middle East the escalation is exacerbating the international tension. The rights and wrongs of the situation are complex but what really interests me in all of this is the war on the public relations front. This has become almost more relevant than the fighting itself. At least for now, the Palestinians seem to be winning the PR battle. This is in part because of the high number of Palestinian civilian casualties. No one wants to see children killed.
In looking at the various justifications for the fighting, the Israelies are absolutely correct that they have a right not to be hit with rockets by Hamas, not to be kidnapped, and not be subject to terrorist bombings. There is no question that Palestinians also have right on their side. They too have a right to live their lives fully as citizens in their own land. If solutions were easy this situation would have resolved itself long ago. One thing is certain, right won’t do anyone any good if we are all blown to smithereens. It is time to tone down the rhetoric on both sides and get to the table in good faith. But a real, workable peace is going to require concrete international particpation. Empty words will not suffice.