About 50 years ago the popular vocal group The Fifth Dimension recorded a Jimmy Webb song that went, “Maybe it’s the best thing for you, but it’s the worst that could happen …”
It appears that today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced just about the “best thing” for him and his Liberals in the long, long, long run up to the 2019 election campaign; but it’s pretty much the worst thing he could do for Canada and the Canadian Forces and the UN. In fact: it appears to involve a handful of “penny packet” commitments ~ a “grab bag” one journalist said, none of which will do much good ~ being too small to even been noticed amongst the 75,000+ UN soldiers in Africa ~ and none of which will contribute materially to the Trudeau Liberal’s quest for a second class, temporary, powerless seat on the worthless UN Security Council.
Let’s be very clear: Canada is not “back” ~ this is a far cry from the sort of traditional UN peacekeeping that Canada did in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s and that Justin Trudeau and many, many Canadians imagined in 2015, and it is a far cry from what Canada could do if the government really wanted to help.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s effort is nothing more than …
… putting lipstick on a pig … after the cosmetic treatment it’s still just a pig.
The Globe and Mail reports that “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Vancouver on Wednesday to outline Canada’s peacekeeping plans at a UN conference. The announcement marks Canada’s most tangible step back into peacekeeping — long the country’s traditional military role — since the Liberals promised last year to provide the UN with up to 600 troops and 150 police officers … [but, Canadian] … government officials who briefed reporters said Canada and the UN have only just started what could be six to nine months of discussions about when and where those capabilities are needed. A senior UN official has praised Canada’s decision to offer resources without dictating where they must go … [and, while] … Mr. Trudeau touted a “smart pledges” approach as the best way for Canada to make contributions to peacekeeping, suggesting planners are, too often, left with a gap between their needs and the support they receive …[but] … Canada backed away from quickly moving to send soldiers to Mali [or anywhere else, for that matter] instead saying any action would hinge on further talks with the United Nations. Federal government officials, speaking on background, said such a mission would take many months to initiate and, in any case, further Canadian action will hinge on working out missions with the United Nations.“
The Globe and Mail also says that “The federal government’s announcement on Wednesday committed tactical airlift support for up to 12 months to help the UN, including rapid deployment, and a quick reaction force of up to 200 personnel and required equipment … [and] … Officials also said Canada is considering the prospect of leading a peacekeeping mission to war-torn eastern Ukraine to help stabilize the conflict between Kiev and Russian-backed belligerents, but stressed that no decisions have been made. The idea has been championed by Ukrainian Canadians and the Opposition Conservatives … [further] … Wednesday’s announcement also included$21-million to bolster the number of women peacekeepers, a promise in line with an emerging view that gender equity can break down barriers in the field … [because] … Mr. Trudeau said women bring a more valuable perspective to conflict resolution. Given that one in three women worldwide are victims of physical or sexual violence, he said women and men would be more likely to report violence to women officers.“
One, integrated or combined (with a few other nations) Canadian led air transport support force for Central and East African missions might have made good sense …
… but I suspect that too many non-military voices in too many special interest groups argued for the “penny packet” and “let the Un help decide” approach. My suspicion is that the UN simply doesn’t know how to organize or manage a complex, logistical and/or air transport mission, and the “civil society” special interests that want Canada “back” in UN peacekeeping have no idea at all about military matters or how to get the most bang for the buck.
The good news for the Liberals is that it will the autumn of 2018, at the earliest, when “negotiations” with the UN come to some sort of conclusion and, probably, early 2019 before Canada actually sends anyone into anything like harm’s way … just in time for a campaign photo-op with the PM waving good-by to some female RCAF members in baby blue berets as they board a pane bound for somewhere. And, so long as the UN doesn’t send any home in caskets the Trudeau
government campaign team will be happy. But it will give Team Trudeau another chance to smugly proclaim that “Canada’s back,” and that’s all that really matters in official Ottawa late in this decade.
So, perhaps, it’s only the worst that could happen for that minority of informed and concerned citizens that actually cares about Canada’s actions in the world.