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Canada's Peacekeeping Commitment – More Political Rhetoric to Honour Lester B Pearson’s Legacy

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Canada's Peacekeeping Commitment – More Political Rhetoric to Honour Lester B Pearson’s Legacy

Post by Guest on Wed 05 Oct 2016, 13:44

Perry Grey
Chief Editor (VVi)

“The grim fact is that we prepare for war like precocious giants, and for peace like retarded pygmies.
Politics is the skilled use of blunt objects.

As a soldier, I survived World War I when most of my comrades did not.

It has too often been too easy for rulers and governments to incite man to war.

The choice, however, is as clear now for nations as it was once for the individual: peace or extinction.”
Mike Pearson

Mr Pearson, a Liberal, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis and supported UN peacekeeping in general. Is his legacy worth maintaining even if Canadians are killed or permanently disabled?

Recently the government announced that it will be increasing its commitments in international peacekeeping. Future operations will have a significant impact on the number of Veterans, who will need support from DND and VAC, after they are wounded or injured.

Before the Liberal government commits Canada to more hazardous missions, may be it should take the time to “get it right”. does not usually comment on CF operations; however, this will change because of the relationship between military operations and systemic problems in supporting Veterans who are negatively affected by those operations.

Like many currently disabled Veterans, I was “injured” as a result of my participation in peacekeeping missions. As others can confirm, often these missions are very dangerous, particularly if combatants continue to engage in conflict and target Canadian “peacekeepers”.

The decision to commit Canadians to such operations without fully preparing for the consequences is dangerous. No government should be willing to engage in war and related activities without first ensuring that it can support ALL who are victims of such activities.

Furthermore, Canada should not make any commitment unless it is prepared to pay for better equipment, better training (particularly of non-Canadian personnel), better logistics and better long term support for Veterans and their families.
Retrofitting a mission is not the solution or paying a lump sum to the disabled Veteran.

Canada can never give enough to any operation and if it can not pay the price, then do not commit.

Canada tried to give better support for returning Veterans the end of World War 2 (the old Veterans charter). It was supposed to do the same for Veterans of Afghanistan and other operations with the new Veterans charter. Sadly, Veterans know the difference between the two charters and improper administration by DND and VAC.

The logic should ALWAYS be that if you can not care for Veterans, then you should not commit them to dangerous operations.
Even the US government, with its massive military force, and its 152 VA medical centres and approximately 1400 community-based outpatient clinics, is not providing exceptional support for its Veterans. It is estimated that more than 50,000 US Veterans are homeless. The US Congress has tried to eliminate some problems with the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act (2016), but many more exist including deplorable health care in VA’s many institutions.

By the way, the United States military operations represent about 40 percent of the world's military expenditures. It can afford the best equipment if it wants, so why does it not provide the best health care for its disabled Veterans?

Canadian Veterans have nothing comparable so where will future peacekeepers get their long term care when they are forced out of the CF and RCMP because they are unfit to serve?

They will be competing with other Canadians for limited beds in provincial institutions.

Lest we also forget, the UN believes that its peacekeeping operations have been successful. Well what about Cyprus, which has had a UN mission since 1964. After 52 years, a resolution has not been achieved, but the UN mission gets renewed every six months. If this is how the UN measures success, then is it really effective?

Judge for yourself, by reviewing UN missions:

“We know now that in modern warfare, fought on any considerable scale, there can be no possible economic gain for any side. Win or lose, there is nothing but waste and destruction.” Mike Pearson

“No state, furthermore, unless it has aggressive military designs such as those which consumed Nazi leaders in the thirties, is likely to divert to defence any more of its resources and wealth and energy than seems necessary.” Mike Pearson
Peacekeeping in Canada’s interest, but reform desperately needed: Romeo Dallaire
Canadian Press September 19, 2016

It is in Canada’s interest to play a leadership role in United Nations peacekeeping, former military commander Romeo Dallaire said Monday even as he delivered a pointed critique of how the world body runs such missions.

The retired senator and lieutenant-general, who famously led the UN’s ill-fated mission in Rwanda more than 20 years ago, told a Senate committee that the world has failed to act on some much-needed reforms when it comes to peacekeeping.

The problems he cited include poor mission planning and the appointment of unqualified military officers and diplomats to lead missions and diplomatic efforts.

But Dallaire said the many conflicts the UN is trying to manage will have an impact on Canada in the form of refugee crises, pandemics and terrorism, and that only by returning to peacekeeping can Canada help strengthen the world body’s ability to respond.

“Those reforms are critical to the future. And I think you can move the yardsticks,” he said after the meeting.
“Don’t go away from the UN. On the contrary, get into entrails of the damn thing and start pulling out some of that stuff.”

Dallaire’s appearance before the Senate committee coincided with the return of Parliament from the summer break. Opposition critics wasted no time criticizing the Liberal government’s plan to commit up to 600 troops to at least one still-unannounced peacekeeping mission.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose accused the government of using Canadian military personnel as “pawns” in its push for a UN Security Council seat, and demanded any future deployment be subject to a debate and vote in the House of Commons.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who invited Dallaire to escort him on a tour of peacekeeping operations in East Africa in August, said the government would “welcome a healthy debate.” But he stopped short of saying whether there would be a vote.

While Dallaire voiced strong support for Canada jumping back into peacekeeping, he said there could be challenges beyond simply dealing with the UN. Those include making sure any mission can be deployed and resupplied in a timely manner, and having enough troops to sustain a long-term effort.

“It is simply the fact that there has been mass attrition from the ’90s, and we have never recovered,” he said, in reference to the Chretien government’s decision to cut the military by about one-third in the 1990s. “That is what will limit our options.”

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance told The Canadian Press on the weekend that the military was not recommending any missions that would stretch it too thin. He also said he was comfortable the military could conduct a peacekeeping mission in Africa while operating in the Middle East and Latvia.

While Dallaire was supportive of the Liberal government returning to peacekeeping, he was somewhat critical of its decision to commit only 150 police officers to such efforts. He said the National Police Services advisory council had recommended 600 police officers back when he was a member.

“One-hundred fifty is a good first shot,” he said, “but not enough.”

Editor’s Note: Should Canada get involved in African operations after what happened in Rwanda? The mission suffered a disproportional fatality rate given the number of suicides. Do not forget that Governor-General Michaëlle Jean formally apologised to Rwandans for Canada’s role in the failure to prevent the 1994 genocide. Will Canada have to aplogise in the future even if Canadians can not be held directly responsible?
Reality check: Canada commits 600 soldiers, $450M to UN peacekeeping missions, but do they work?
Global News August 26, 2016

The Liberal government is committing nearly half a billion dollars and up to 600 soldiers toward United Nations peacekeeping operations, signalling Canada’s return to peacekeeping — a role the country was once known for around the world.

Along with the soldiers, equipment such as helicopters and planes will be deployed to peace operations, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said Friday at a military air base in Bagotville, Que.

“It is time for Canada to choose engagement over isolation,” Dion told reporters. “[It is] time to act with responsible conviction as a determined peace builder.”

Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale also announced up to 150 police officers will support various U.N. peace operations.

The announcement means a dramatic increase from the current 19 Canadian troops, 75 police officers and nine military experts participating on peacekeeping missions, according to UN numbers.

Does peacekeeping actually keep the peace?

Walter Dorn, an expert in peacekeeping with Canadian Forces College in Toronto, welcomed the move by the Liberals, adding that Canada has effectively been absent from peacekeeping missions since the early 2000s.

He said the majority of UN peacekeeping efforts have been “effective” and are essential for protecting civilian populations.

“[Peacekeeping] has a very good track record. If you look at over 70 operations, run by the UN, the vast majority of them have been successful,” Dorn told Global News. “Even the ones that are routinely [called] failures they also made important contributions to peace.”

The 1994 Rwandan genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 to 1 million people and the failure of Dutch peacekeepers to stop the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men in Srebrenica have been seen as low points for peacekeeping efforts.

Other operations like a U.S.-led UN humanitarian operation in Somalia in 1993 and missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone in the 1990s raised questions about the efficacy of peacekeeping.

But even in failure, Dorn says peacekeeping still has a positive impact.

“Gen. Dallaire, for instance in the Rwandan mission, was able to save 20,000-30,000 people with just 300 peacekeepers on the ground,” he said. “Even when the missions are failing to secure the peace they still have a positive impact.”

“Of course peacekeeping is far from perfect and there are limited things you can do to keep people from fighting each other,” Dorn continued. “But I think peacekeeping is an essential component in making securing peace agreements … and protecting local populations.”

Where are Canadian troops headed?

One big question Friday’s announcement failed to answer is where Canadian troops will placed. There has been speculation about Canada joining missions in Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan or the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan said Friday’s announcement raises more questions than answers and criticized the decision to “blindly” pledge Canadian troops for possible deployment.

“Today’s announcement provides absolutely no details as to where, when or even why our troops will be deployed,” Bezan said in a statement. “The Liberals must answer basic questions such as what will the mission entail? What are the rules of engagement? Who will we be working with? Will there be a vote in Parliament?

“Instead, all we have learned is that the Liberals are sending almost half a billion dollars to the United Nations, at a time when that investment is desperately needed at home.”

But all four operations raise questions about safety and complex political situations. In Mali 86 peacekeepers have been killed since April 2013.

“Today, peace support operations are conducted where there may be no peace to keep, or where the fragile peace constantly teeters on the edge of violence,” Sajjan said. “We need to understand conflict better. We need to look at the root cause of conflict, and think of innovative ways to move forward.”

Dion said Canada cannot turn away from the “complex” political entanglements of certain countries.

“Canadians are aware that our brave men and women in uniform [will come] into tough situations, but Canadians are proud of it,” he told reporters. “It’s for the protection of Canada and of the world that we cannot be absent of the peace operation missions.”

Perry Gray is a Regular Force veteran, serving as the Chief Editor of VVi. Perry has been with VVi for 13 years.


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