Unwilling or Unable

AuthorCraig Forcese
Chapter 30
Unwilling or Unable
If the Americans either cannot, or will not, guard the integrity of their
own soil, or prevent it from becoming the common arsenal and recruiting
ground of outlaws and assassins; if they cannot even prevent the National
Artillery of the United States from being carried away publickly at mid-
day by pirates, to be used for the deruion of a neighbouring and friendly
people; have they a right to expe that the soil of the United States will be
respeed by the deined viims of such unheard of violence?
— henry stePhen fox, British aMBassador to the united states
(19 january 1838)1
M ,  of military force in response to ter-
rorist groups has galvanized debate over yet another
matter for which the Caroline af‌fair serves as a signpost.
In March 2015, then Canadian defence minister Jason Kenney justi-
f‌ied the dispatch of Canadian f‌ighter jets to f‌ight the terrorist insur-
gency Daesh (ISIS) in Syria. By that point, Daesh occupied much of
northern Iraq and eastern Syria, with the intent of spreading fur-
ther. It would soon be responsible for terror attacks in Europe, most
notoriously at a concert hall in Paris in November 2015, where hun-
dreds were killed and wounded. Thereafter, the Security Council
(obliquely) suggested that states might use force against Daesh in
Iraq and Syria, without clearly authorizing such use.2
In the absence of a surer Security Council authorization, lawful
use of force in Syria in March 2015 (and even at the time of this writ-
ing) depended on self-defence. And in fact, Canada’s actions were
justif‌ied, Minister Kenney argued, under article 51 of the UN Charter
as an exercise of collective self-defence done in assistance of the
Iraqi government. The Bashar al-Assad government in Syria was not
a member of the alliance, and was at odds with much of the world

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