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The Mess => Canadian Politics => Topic started by: MarkOttawa on March 29, 2006, 15:14:09

Title: Afstan vs. Congo
Post by: MarkOttawa on March 29, 2006, 15:14:09
The Canadian Defence Attaché in Israel takes on Prof. Walter Dorn in a letter to the Globe (full text not online).

"By R. G. ST. JOHN

COLONEL, Canadian defence attaché to Israel, Canadian embassy

Tel Aviv -- Walter Dorn is laudably clear in his article Canada Pulls Out Of Peacekeeping (March 27); he believes Canada should be involved in more United Nations peacekeeping operations with more troops. What are not so laudable are some of his assertions he uses to make his case. First, the Canadian Forces' peacekeeping record is second to none, and Canada has nothing to apologize for because our UN numbers are currently low. To imply that only the UN conducts peacekeeping missions is misleading. Second, Canada continues to contribute to no less than four peacekeeping missions in the Middle East, two of them UN missions.

Third, Prof. Dorn's wish to distance Canada from "search-and-destroy missions" overlooks the fact that some UN "peacekeeping" operations, such as the one in Congo [see the linked guest-post for the equal UN basis of both the Congo and Afstan missions], include searching out and destroying armed gangs. Given his evident horror of offensive operations, he should have argued against Canadian participation in UN missions that involve such aggressive operations, but he doesn't; nor does he condemn the UN for conducting them.

Fourth, he says "the Canadian Forces have decided on an almost exclusive focus on Afghanistan." The Canadian Forces "decided" no such thing. The decision to deploy to Afghanistan was one taken by the prime minister, defence minister and foreign affairs minister of the day.

Fifth, Prof. Dorn plays the well-worn anti-American card. Our troops are under the command of U.S. generals and U.S. senior officials, he says. No, they are not. They are under the command of the Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff via the Canadian Forces chain of command. The degree of control that the Americans have over our troops there is limited to the extent that the Government of Canada decides, just as will be the degree of control exercised by the Canadian general in Kandahar over any American troops in the Canadian-led brigade.

If there is going to be a constructive debate on the merits of more Canadian involvement in UN peacekeeping operations, then we need more objective input than that of Prof. Dorn."

The Globe, in the typically light and objective fashion of its Letters section, gives Col. St. John's letter the title: Hear the cannon roar.

And an unpublished letter to the Globe of mine on the same topic:

"Walter Dorn, in his article "Canada pulls out of peacekeeping" (March 27), is unhappy that Canadian Forces in Afghanistan are now serving under US Operation Enduring Freedom, and as of this summer  under NATO command.  He would prefer that they serve under UN command in a "peacekeeping" role such as the UN's Congo mission (MONUC)

But MONUC is not a "traditional" peacekeeping mission of the sort Canadians seem to love so.  The Congo mission is authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1635 (2005) under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the chapter that authorizes the use of force.  Peacekeeping missions are conducted under Chapter VI of the charter.

Similarly both the US and NATO missions in Afghanistan are also authorized under Chapter VII of the Charter by Security Council Resolution 1623 (2005).  The difference between the Congo and Afghanistan missions is simply that the UN is running the former, not their basis in international law.

Canadian troops are able to do a much better job when they are not under UN command.  Compare their experience under UN command in Bosnia and Croatia with their subsequent experience under NATO command in Bosnia.

If the Canadian Forces had not been reduced to their current small size by previous Liberal governments perhaps they could do more to help the UN.  But in their present state it makes sense to use them where they can work most effectively.  I also wonder how Prof. Dorn thinks the Canadian Forces could logistically support a major mission in the Congo, given the sorry state of our air transport fleet and the lack of a sophisticated support infrastructure in that country--the kind of support (helicopters, airfields, field hospitals, etc.) that the US provides our soldiers in Afghanistan.

References:
http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N05/577/42/PDF/N0557742.pdf?OpenElement
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/sc8495.doc.htm"

Mark
Ottawa
Title: Re: Afstan vs. Congo
Post by: GO!!! on March 29, 2006, 17:50:19

Canadian troops are able to do a much better job when they are not under UN command.  Compare their experience under UN command in Bosnia and Croatia with their subsequent experience under NATO command in Bosnia.

If the Canadian Forces had not been reduced to their current small size by previous Liberal governments perhaps they could do more to help the UN.  But in their present state it makes sense to use them where they can work most effectively.  I also wonder how Prof. Dorn thinks the Canadian Forces could logistically support a major mission in the Congo, given the sorry state of our air transport fleet and the lack of a sophisticated support infrastructure in that country--the kind of support (helicopters, airfields, field hospitals, etc.) that the US provides our soldiers in Afghanistan.


Although I agree with the gist of the article, and the overall weakness of Dorn's arrgument, it should be mentioned that the Conservatives have just as shameful a record of slashing military spending and capabilities during their brief tenures. Cuts to the DND are not solely Liberal territory.