this was originally a response I wrote to a 'journalist' who wrote an article/editorial on Peacekeeping. He was well-meaning, but somewhat naive (as most Liberal-types are). It was too long to be published. But I've decided it needs to see the light of day (mostly because the damn thing took so long to type out). The opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Army.ca or it's members. (Just the ones who agree with me. You know, the common-sense ones.
Despite the Politically Correct spin that has continuously been put on the subject, Canada does not maintain her armed forces for â Å“peacekeeping operationsâ ?. The mission of the Canadian Forces is to engage in war fighting. Combat, full stop. Hopefully, always overseas. Canada needs her military to maintain it's offensive abilities in order to protect Canadians from war. In all likelihood, (and I fervently hope) not another World War, but it's certainly probable that conflicts in other countries will require Canada's military to respond yet again. Canada, with her deeply-held convictions about morality and it's obligations, will always want to do her part. And rightfully so. It's what makes me proud to be a Canadian, and to wear her uniform.
However, â Å“Peacekeepingâ ? as originally envisioned by Lester Pearson, was the last casualty of the Cold War. It was cremated in the ashes of Srebrenica. It was left to rot alongside the bodies of thousands of innocents in Rwanda. It was buried in the ruins of the World Trade Centre. Try as they may, those who wish otherwise cannot exhume and reanimate its corpse.
It has since been replaced by security operations, such as those in Afghanistan, and counter- (or, better yet, pre-emptive) strikes against terrorists, brigands, and rogue states. These are not peacekeeping missions. They are â Å“stability campaignsâ ? (or whatever the phrase du jour may be) and they require aggressive military operations (and aggressive military personnel), whether it be to remove tyrannical regimes or to disarm lawless and powerful warlords. Too, it must be mentioned that Canada has recently engaged in conventional combat operations - in Kosovo in 1999 and in Afghanistan in 2002 - operating under NATO in the former, and with a U.S.-led coalition in the latter. Neither of which, let me remind you, gentle reader, was a â Å“U.N. sanctionedâ ? Peacekeeping mission.
Peacekeeping was born of the Cold War: Joint task-forces replacing out-and-out combat forces, on the belief that belligerents could be separated, thereby allowing diplomats and lawyers to step in and resolve the conflict. That worked fine on paper. In practice, however, resolutions remained hard to pin down and peace was kept only so long as all parties accepted the continuing presence of a neutralizing authority. Witness the decades-long Peacekeeping presence in Cypress, and the continued presence of Peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.
This is not to say that â Å“Peacekeepingâ ? (or whatever term the High and Mighty wish to impose on such actions) are no longer necessary today. Quite the opposite. The cost of not imposing the Rule of Law in places like Rwanda, the Sudan, Afghanistan, Haiti, Somalia, Ethiopia, etc, cannot be underestimated. Complete cultures have been destroyed, young boys are shanghaied into child-armies, and women (both ancient and pre-pubescent) are being gang-raped by animals in human form forcibly spreading their ethnic seed in order to â Å“breed outâ ? other tribes. Entire nations today are living in a Post-Traumatic Stress induced nightmare. Add to this the ever-present shadow cast by Islamic terrorism, (whether sponsored by private individuals, organizations, or states,) and the world becomes a scary, scary place.
â ?Peacekeepingâ ? now, though, has become a catchall, touchy-feely phrase whose definition (or lack thereof, rather) means it can be applied to anything from peacekeeping, to peacemaking, to policing to war zones, and whatever other dirty little task is required. The bottom line remains the same, however. Peacekeeping today means imposing order on people. It means troops on the ground saying: â Å“Love thy neighbour, or I'll kill you.â ? And, all the time, they have to keep an eye out for those on both (or more) sides who intend to shoot them first. Or blow them up with a homemade belt of explosives.
I defy anyone to explain the difference between a modern â Å“peacekeepingâ ? mission and a D-Day style liberation invasion, to the man with his belly in the dirt dodging incoming rounds. To him, a bullet is a bullet, and whether it's fired by the child-soldier of an African army of brigands, or the highly trained commando of a â Å“civilisedâ ? enemy nation, makes no difference. To him, dead is dead. The only way he will survive is to aggressively close with and destroy his enemy, by any means available to him.
â ?Peacekeepersâ ? did not defeat the dictatorship in Iraq, did not overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan, and will not defeat the racist, genocidal regime in Sudan. â Å“Peacekeepersâ ? will not defeat the narco-terrorists in Colombia, the LRA in Uganda, or the Janjaweed in Sudan. â Å“Peacekeepersâ ? did not free the British servicemen held in Sierra Leone. The threat of â Å“Peacekeepersâ ? will not persuade Iran, Syria or North Korea to abandon their weapon programs, and did not convince Libya to abandon theirs. â Å“Peacekeepersâ ? are not hunting Al Qaeda, the Abu Sayyaf Group, or the dozens of other terrorist groups spreading chaos and their perversions of Islam.
Yet, Canadians still have a pie-in-the-sky, ivory-tower notion about peacekeeping. When Canadians say they want Canada to have an â Å“armyâ ?, what they really mean is an â Å“armyâ ? of peacekeepers. Our political leaders (and here I use the term in it's loosest possible definition) and the media need to disabuse the Canadian public of this balderdash and poppycock (stuff and nonsense?). We need to replace the lily-white myth of â Å“peacekeepingâ ? with the mud slogging, grinding truth. A peacekeeper in Kabul today is the same thing a war-fighting soldier was in Nazi-occupied France 60 years ago: an infantryman. A tired soldier on the ground, with a pair of dirty boots, a clean rifle, and the will to use it. A man who is willing to fight for peace, and who doesn't worry about the philosophical conundrum such a statement makes. A man who does what he does, so that others will not have to.
Fostering the myth of peacekeeping is not in the best interests of our nation as a whole, or the Canadian Forces in particular. Peacekeeping (by any name) is important, true, but Canada must be capable of waging war, in order to protect (or impose) peace. We could once