16 May, 2017
There are times when one expects the Ottawa’s Liberal Caucus to turn up in neon-leg-warmers and madras shorts; they seem so committed to returning to the practices of the “good old days”. One old-fashioned item they seem especially determined to bring back is the old UN Baby-Blue… Pray for our soldiers.
This yen to subject our military to Peacekeeping missions once more is hard to explain. Perhaps it might be the shambling undead left over from the 1990s who form the Liberal’s brain trust, or a lust for Nobel Peace-Prize (once valued in the distant past and now meaningless), or a seat in the UN Security Council.
Nevertheless, our ragged, resource and training-starved military might be sent off to Africa once more – and under UN command. Liberals pay even less attention to history than most politicians do, and whatever lessons we learned in the Balkan debacles, Somalia cluster-f**k, and Rwandan disasters seem to have been glossed over.
Memo to the Liberal Brains Trust: UN peacekeeping is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late concept. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. Even if we nail it to a new perch, it would still be pushing up the daisies. Peacekeeping has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-concept.
UN Peacekeeping was a Cold War concept intended to keep a lid on crises before the nuclear armed super-powers got seriously drawn in. It is not “Nation-building”, an exercise in altruism, and doesn’t need boy-scouts in Army uniforms.
The reasons why Canada was good at it in the early days (if you don’t look too closely), was because we sent fully-manned well-trained combat units, full of senior NCOs and field officers who had war-fighting experience in WW-2 and Korea. They knew logistics in their bones, were full of human wisdom and… also knew when it was time to quietly leave a few bodies around.
Peacekeeping is not a Heritage Canada TV moment with a young soldier calmly telling squabbling civilians to go back to their homes. When it really takes is the ability to look some truculent nogoodnik in the eye and growl “Don’t f**k with me” and have him understand you clearly. There are details that don’t make the official histories because they weren’t recorded in the War diaries…. Get it?
In the “Good Old Days” like 1964 in Cyprus or 1963 in Yemen the other countries that turned up were the likes of Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK. Nowadays we get contingents in their stocking feet, who run for the horizon at the first sign of trouble, with officers setting up drug and human trafficking rings. We get the dauntless legions of other nations whose military traditions consist of coups d’état and shaking down civilians when pay is slow.
A “peacekeeping” military is not an alternative to a “combat-oriented” military. (Liberals may pause for more frissons of horror at the sheer gaucherie of the Harper government). A combat-oriented military can peace-keep effectively, if UNHQ is not in the loop, but a military designed for peace-keeping is called a constabulary force, and if it gets into real trouble, all they can do is run for it.
If this government wants to use our soldiers to get some international influence, keep them at home, recruit heavily, train exhaustively, and equip generously. When we did this in the 1950s, Canada had a lot of international respect.