Your Aug. 29 editorial Canada must act on Syria is injudicious and unworthy of a Canadian newspaper. The credibility of western intelligence in matters relating to the Middle East and Afghanistan has been in doubt since the Iraq war.
The western coalition has been effectively beaten by the Taliban and al-Qaida (which it created) is negotiating a face-saving withdrawal and blaming Karzai and the Afghans for the failures.
Their actions, including drone strikes that often kill innocent civilians, have also helped strengthen the Taliban and al-Qaida in Pakistan. The action in Libya has had a similar effect. In all these countries, where western military action headed by the U.S. has occurred or covert operations conducted, "our" legacy has been civil war and the rise of fundamentalist Islamic groups.
Thousands of innocents have been killed and wounded, many of them women and children. The devastation to families must be horrendous. Ironically, the West has also failed in its duty to its soldiers, who return often with post-traumatic stress syndrome.
The main beneficiaries of all these conflicts are the arms producers and dealers, most of whom are in the West, and the politicians who support them. The unquenchable thirst for regime change on any pretext, with catastrophic consequences to local populations, is colonialism at its worst.
There is as yet no concrete definitive evidence to suggest Assad, whatever his faults, is responsible for alleged chemical attacks. Opposing groups, including Islamic fundamentalists, could well be involved.
There was a time when Canada was highly respected the world over for its thoughtful commitment to neutrality, humanitarianism, peacemaking and keeping; a reputation that brought so many of us here. We must reclaim this proud and worthy heritage.
DR. SHASHI SESHIA