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Peacekeepers No More: Canadian Soldiers Off to Fiery Kandahar Could be Locked Into Losing War PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Thursday, 28 July 2005 12:13
Peacekeepers No More: Canadian Soldiers Off to Fiery Kandahar Could be Locked Into Losing War

NOW Magazine -
Steven Staples - The Liberal government has forged a new link in the chains that increasingly bind our Canadian Forces to the Pentagon... If things go badly, many soldiers could be returning in coffins, killed in a war that has little, if any, meaning for most Canadians. Even worse, it could result in Canada becoming the target of a major  errorist attack here at home.

www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005-07-28/news_story2.php
www.polarisinstitute.org

From: "Steven Staples" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Subject: Now Magazine: Peacekeepers no more
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005 09:25:22 -0400

NOW Magazine (July 28, 2005)
http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005-07-28/news_story2.php

Peacekeepers no more
Canuck soldiers off to fiery Kandahar could be locked into losing war
By STEVEN STAPLES

The Liberal government has forged a new link in the chains that increasingly
bind our Canadian Forces to the Pentagon.

Last week, the first Canadian soldiers departed on Canada's new, more
aggressive role in Afghanistan under U.S. command as part of Operation
Enduring Freedom. Their mission is to prepare the ground in the
strife-ridden southern city of Kandahar to receive the more than 2,000
Canadian troops and secret commandos who will arrive over the next 12
months.

The irony is that Canadian soldiers are deploying with the American war
effort at a time when even the Pentagon acknowledges there may be no
military solution in Afghanistan, but only a political one. This admission
has opened the door to U.S. negotiations with the Taliban.

This new mission for the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan could be a ticking
time bomb for the Liberals.

If things go badly, many soldiers could be returning in coffins, killed in a
war that has little, if any, meaning for most Canadians. Even worse, it
could result in Canada becoming the target of a major terrorist attack here
at home.

The car bombs and suicide attacks so commonplace in Iraq are now spilling
over into Afghanistan. The CIA acknowledges that Iraq has become a magnet
for terrorist organizations and serves as a recruiting, training and staging
ground for operations throughout the region. Taliban and al Qaeda attacks
are becoming more frequent, and Canadian troops may find themselves in the
same quagmire as the Americans in Iraq.

Without doubt, the government is taking a big risk. As a Foreign Affairs
official told reporters, Canada is opening a new chapter in Afghanistan, and
Defence Minister Bill Graham is warning Canadians to expect casualties.

The U.S. has lost 36 soldiers in Afghanistan already this year, the highest
death toll since the invasion. Seven Canadian soldiers have been killed
there since 2001.

There's little doubt that terrorists seeking revenge for Canada's occupation
of Afghanistan will see our country as a target. That's why, in the wake of
the terrible attacks against London, Public Safety Minister Anne McClellan
took every opportunity to remind Canadians that we could be next.

In effect, the government is trying to prepare Canadians for the worst, in
the hope that if something awful, such as a bomb exploding on the TTC, does
happen, Canadians won't hold the Liberals responsible.

To be sure, the average Canadian has little idea what the government is
getting us into. Andrew Sullivan from the polling firm EKOS Research said
recently, "We still subscribe to the anachronistic view of [our soldiers as]
peacekeepers?. It's an image that people cling to pretty tenaciously."

And this is the dilemma the government faces. On the one hand, Paul Martin
wants to push Canada toward deeper security integration with the U.S., a
move applauded by his big-business backers and Canada's defence lobby.

But to get the Canadian public to embrace the aggressive U.S. approach to
warfare, taking on its risks, the government will have to convince Canadians
to give up the notion of Canada as a peacekeeper.

Canadians won't be able to fight alongside Americans and still maintain the
aura of peacekeepers.

Peggy Mason, Canada's former ambassador for disarmament and arms control
affairs at the United Nations and an expert on peacekeeping, says the
differences between U.S. war-waging and Canadian peacekeeping are
irreconcilable. "The American war fighters operate on the basis of
overwhelming force and making deals with local warlords where it is deemed
expedient to do so," says Mason. "These forces were not helping to build the
peace.... Their objective is the elimination of the Taliban and serving the
perceived security interests of the United States."

James Dobbins, President Bush's first envoy to Afghanistan, agrees with
Mason. He says the U.S. suffers from "a generally negative appreciation of
peacekeeping and nation building as components of U.S. policy, a
disinclination to learn anything from? Bosnia and Kosovo." Furthermore, "the
U.S. focus on force protection and substitution of firepower for manpower
creates significant collateral damage [i.e., civilian deaths]."

It is the adoption of the U.S. attitude by Canadian soldiers that should be
most alarming for the Liberals, and indeed all Canadians.

We were given an insight into this shift when Martin's choice to lead the
military, General Rick Hillier, explained his views on the upcoming
peacekeeping mission to reporters: "We are the Canadian Forces, and our job
is to be able to kill people."

Hillier's controversial remarks won high praise from newspaper editorialists
and political leaders alike ? even NDP leader Jack Layton.

If the day has arrived when the NDP agrees with the Conservatives, then
perhaps Paul Martin has little to worry about as he closes the book on
Canadian involvement in UN peacekeeping and instead links arms with the
Pentagon and the global war on terrorism.

NOW | JULY 28 - AUGUST 3, 2005 | VOL. 24 NO. 48

______________
Steven Staples
Director of Security Progams
Polaris Institute
312 Cooper Street
Ottawa, Ontario  K2P 0G7
CANADA
t. 613 237-1717 x107
c. 613 290-2695
f. 613 237-3359
e. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.polarisinstitute.org

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 July 2005 12:13
 

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