Many years ago the media dubbed Prime Minister Paul Martin “Mr Dithers”in some (small) because of the time it took (and the rumoured discussions that led) to make a decision about which provincial reconstruction team area to take on in Afghanistan. No matter what some Canadian advisors may have recommended, by the time Canada was ready to choose all that was left was the very dangerous Kandahar province. It appeared to many observers that the military wanted Kandahar to curry favour with Washington, while many in Foreign Affairs wanted a (relatively) “safe” place in the North of the country, while other analysts suggest that the decision to go to Kandahar was made by a small team of British and Canadian generals, in London, without consulting the prime minister and the, at the last moment, presenting it as a fait accompli. In any event, it appears to me that Canadian policy was divided, as it often (almost always?) has been when important strategic decisions need to be made.
Now it appears, according to a report by Global News, that the UN’s under secretary general of the UN’s Department of Field Support is trying to push Canada into Mali .. with some very specific tasks in hid mind:
- To protect other UN peacekeepers ~ because, presumably, other countries sent troops that are unable to fight or, perhaps, the rules of engagement are too restrictive; and
- Move UN troops around the country by helicopter.
He also, by the way, wants Canada to, simultaneously, commit forces to South Sudan. Perhaps Mr Khare, and Indian diplomat with extensive experience in the senior ranks of the UN, didn’t hear Canada when we said we’ll send 650 people or, perhaps, he doesn’t know enough about military operations and logistics. In any event Minister Sajjan’s somewhat surprised (perhaps bemused) expression in Halifax seems to say it all.
The Minister appears, to me, to have some well formed notions of his own but it also seems, to me, that he is being forced to bite his tongue or, when he does speak, to eat his words because the government’s propaganda machine cannot square the circle of wanting to send French speaking, female police officers to protect women’s rights with the realities of 21st century “peacekeeping” in Africa which is a messy, bloody business that is all about killing terrorists and thugs and marauders, some of whom may be UN “peacekeepers.” This, the realities on the ground in places like Mali and South Sudan, is not, I think, what Team Trudeau imagined during the election campaign.
I think we know who is indecisive and cannot keep all the policy balls, based on flimsy promises, in the air …
… but it is time to step up on this issues, and on pipelines and the carbon tax and defence, in general, defence spending and the war against Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS and free(er) trade, and, and, and … In short it is time for less dithering and it is time to display some real leadership, for a change.