Should Canada Focus on Keeping the Peace? No
The Ottawa Citizen
12 November 2011
The resolution poses the question very starkly: Peacekeeping or war-fighting for the Canadian Forces? But the reality for both Professor Michael Byers and me in this debate is probably somewhere in the middle.
Certainly I want the Canadian Forces to be able to fight a war if necessary and to be able to do all varieties of peace operations — and everything in between the two.
The real question is what kind of CF we need to cover the spectrum of conflict. Can a peacekeeping-only force, lightly equipped and trained only for peace missions, ever be sufficient? I think not, certainly not for tough peace enforcement or R2P (Responsibility to Protect) operations.
A peacekeeping-trained force can only do peacekeeping. But a Canadian Forces trained for war, a force much the same as we have now, can cover the spectrum of conflict. It can fight a war, as in Afghanistan, or an R2P operation, as in Libya. It can do peace operations of the traditional types whenever and wherever called upon. A well-trained soldier, in other words, can fight or act as an observer, serve as a buffer between warring parties, or as a peace enforcer. The peacekeeping-only soldier can only act as an observer or as a buffer. To me, this is decisive when, as they always will be, the CF’s numbers and budgets are limited.But having said this, Canada still must exercise judgment on where it sends its men and women in uniform. (…)
For peace operations and for R2P missions, however, United Nations approval ordinarily should be a prerequisite.
The key for Canada, however, is that saying yes to the UN is not and should never be automatic. Judgment must always be exercised and questions must be asked before Canada commits to every UN deployment and indeed to all other deployments as well. (…)
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