In the run-up to the 2003 war with Iraq, there was a paucity of context in the Canadian media about long-term Canadian interests and involvement in the Persian Gulf region. The media was reporting as if Canada had not been involved. National security commentators were picking up this train of though. To provide accurate and detailed context for Canada’s ongoing involvement, War with Iraq examined, using declassified material, Canada’s military involvement with the region going back to 1979. It revealed Canada’s deep involvement with the UNSCOM weapons of mass destruction operation, how she interoperated with American naval and air operations, and what was at stake as we knew it in both in December 1998 and October 2002. In effect, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM was Phase III in a war which started in August 1990: it was not really a separate war as military operations were conducted continuously by the US-led coalition from 1991 to 2002.
This information proved controversial when I attempted to explain it to elements in the media, particularly with a senior editor at a national newsmagazine, because it undermined the incorrect assertions made that Canada had not been involved and therefore should not be involved. Apparently, policy advisors in the Chretien Government omitted the details of Canada’s long involvement in countering the Saddam Hussein regime during deliberations in 2002-03. There were no overt attempts to suppress the information in the occasional paper: inconvenient historical context was merely ignored and the mythology that Canada was somehow morally superior to the United States because of decision not to participate in the 2003 Iraq operations took hold. I was accused in various quarters of the usual heinous left-wing nonsense when all I did was provide Canadians with historical context to our operations.