Omar Khadr: The High Cost of War and of Peace

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Its been raging for two days now: the debate, following the stunning announcement of our government paying former child terrorist Omar Khadr a $10.5 million settlement. I personally was shocked. After ten years of patriotically hating Omar Khadr, it seemed to be an unbelievable decision for our government to make. But then I thought about it some more, read all the comments on my social media and I have reached a conclusion that is quite different than what I began with.

I can totally see the injustice and sad irony behind the settlement decision. I can understand why it makes people mad and horrified and as I mentioned, that was my initial reaction as well. Is it really the right thing to do? While I can understand fully both sides of the argument, now I believe it really is, and we should be proud of our government for doing the essentially right thing, despite its being highly unpopular.

I can see why our government made the deal. It was smart because Omar Khadr was suing them for $20 million plus years of court costs and he could have easily won. That would have been a much larger expense for tax payers. Also, Canada feels very strongly about torture and has yet to make any clarification of their blanket condemnation of it and vow to protect Canadians from it. I think that’s a very good policy. Should it cover terrorists? No obviously not, but since Omar Khadr was legally a child, its harder to blame him fully for his actions. His is a special case legally, and this settlement doesn’t mean we need to forgive, remunerate or protect terrorists.

I think its also good because its taking a step towards peace. There’s so much hate, violence and animosity towards Muslims these days. Its like it was during WW II in regard to Germans,Italians and the Japanese. There comes a point where we need to take a step away from the hate and begin to make peace, and perhaps this a good first step in that direction. In war it’s natural to hate the enemy, but to achieve peace you need to see the humanity in all, so in that regard it is a good step. There was never any reason to hate Muslims and that hate is something that we all need to step back from and see it for what it is. 

As for it being unfair to our veterans, I think that’s a real and separate issue. Wounded veterans need good, adequate compensation and pensions and so, instead of continuing to hate Omar Khadr, I’m going to support this good cause. It is sad and ironic that conservative politicians will misunderstand and exploit this decision to win votes, but their track record on veteran affairs (cutting veterans benefits, refusing and making wounded veterans fight for adequate compensation and closing down many Legions) sure isn’t too great. 

War brings loss and misery and peace can be difficult as well. But peace is what matters and is important and we must do what it takes to achieve it. If this act helps bring peace to our world, our nation and society, than I must agree that it is the right and honorable thing to do, despite the moral irony and ambiguity.

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