This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

'Sunny Ways' Trudeau Government

"[The United Nations is a [black hole into which disappear[s] countless tax dollars and [a] hundred aspirations, never to be seen again."
"Our most grievous blunder was in Mali. ... More than 80-percent of the force's resources are spent on self-protection."
"The United Nations in Mali is day-to-day marching into its first quagmire."
(former) UN assistant secretary general Anthony Banbury
Mali -- UN troops recapture base following militant attack - CCTV Africa - Strengthening news coverage in Africa

Regardless, the current government of Canada under the Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau favours the United Nations, unlike his predecessor, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper who discarded Canada's traditional rose-coloured lens on the UN. The sunny ways of Justin Trudeau has restored tradition. And for him, it is the convention with NATO that finds disfavour, with its emphasis on group security of its member-states, as opposed to the United Nations' penchant for peace-keeping.

Peace-keeping has such a noble ring to it, a visceral feel-good quality. Who would not want to be a peace-keeper? Only those who are cynics, who view humankind through a dark lens of experience through historical realities. Mr. Trudeau has aspirations to be viewed in a vein similar to how the world regarded Barack Obama when he appeared on the scene as the new American saviour, bent on transforming the world's benevolent dictating-nation into an avuncular uncle-as-hermit.

True, Canada cannot slough off its international obligations, and so has agreed, tardily and perhaps a trifle grudgingly, to place a troop contingent in Latvia under NATO as a quick-response effort should Russia over-reach. But this government is somewhat nervous of confrontations, far preferring to talk things over amicably, even with snarling antagonists, in the belief that polite civility will be returned by the same. Some never learn not to pat the head of a menacing pit-bull.

To counterbalance the Latvian deployment of Canadian troops, the Trudeau administration is flirting with the United Nations' enticing invitation to deploy Canadian military to the peace-keeping role they once so excelled at and now exalt. So much so that Rwanda under the UN's peace-keeping watch with Canadian General Romeo Leblanc in charge exploded into instant intent of genocide and succeeded to an astonishing degree.

Now Canada's new Minister of Defence is en route to West Africa, to scope out potentials in search of a mission that will suitably enhance Canada's next attempt to be elected to the rotating UN Security Council in 2020, which his predecessor as good as spurned. Ideally, this would be a kind and gentle mission, in a country whose population is not beset by vicious tribal animosities. But, as a senior military source sighed, "That's hard to find in Africa".

Canada, feels Walter Dorn, professor of defence studies at Royal Military College of Canada, has capabilities that might be useful in French-speaking West Africa with the "new generation" of peacekeeping missions, unlike Rwanda, unlike Somalia, which now reflects a "protection of civilians" mandate. A sentiment which obviously does not extend to, for example, Syria.

Canada is considering Mali. Where 24 of the 27 fatalities among UN peacekeepers were inflicted during the civil war in 2016. An increase over 2015, though Central African Republic is another contender.  "I think they will be extremely leery of putting themselves in an area where significant groups target peacekeepers", was the opinion of one senior military source, commenting on the government's search for a solution to their desire to make Canadian UN cooperation more visible.

Try to imagine well-behaved Canadian soldiers in company with soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo known to have gone berserk raping women during the conflicts in the Democratic Republic. Yet UN bureaucrats assigned soldiers from the DRC as part of its Central African Republic mission with rather predictable results in serious human rights violations; notably, as Mr. Banbury pointed out: "a persistent pattern of rape and abuse of the people the UN was sent to protect."

This, the protection of civilian populations from abuse, aspiring to the admiration of emerging nations, while avoiding the cost in blood and treasure presents as an ideal to the Trudeau government.

Comments? Impressions? Prognostications? Well some do come forward from the source that will supply the soldiers to be tasked with the sunny ways mission. "It seems anything labelled 'peacekeeping' gets a free pass. But given the destination, that's a very bad idea", concluded one defence source within Canada.

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