Wednesday, February 28, 2007

All Dressed Up and No Place to Go

This is another story about "the myth of Canadian peacekeeping." Those who won't be happy unless Canada's soldiers are shooting at somebody and getting shot at in return - the red meat gang - like to point to Canadian peacekeeping doldrums of the past decade to prove their own myth, that the image of the Canadian peacekeeper was never more than a myth anyway.

What really lay behind Canada's decade of military slumber? Oh yeah, that's right, it was a national emergency. Don't remember that? Try to go back to Canada as it was when Jean Chretien took over from Brian "Big Pockets" Muldoon. We were broke and getting even broker faster than the country, our country, could stand.

The Canada we have today is in many ways a much better country than the Canada left by the previous conservative government. It's so much better that, today, Harpo can splash money around in the hundreds of millions of dollars. He cavorts bare arsed, rolling in the legacy of a guy named Paul Martin.

Despite General Rick Hillier's griping about a decade of darkness, the Canadian Armed Forces, like the rest of Canada, had to make do without while the Liberals pulled the country's fat out of the fire. It wasn't Hillier or MacKenzie or any other damned general that rescued Canada from that emergency and they were smart enough while that rescue mission was underway to keep their mealy mouths shut.

We had to put the military- and just about everything else - on the back burner for that decade so that we could restore the country, including the military, sooner rather than later. Lord knows if we'd just carried on in the Mulroney tradition, Hillier might be collecting shopping carts in some mall parking lot today.

So, yes, Canada did undergo a hiatus in its peacekeeping efforts and for longer than we should have but that hardly makes the country's tradition a myth. Now it's time to shatter the myth about the myth. We can save a lot more lives and do a lot more good in other spots around the world than we'll ever achieve in Afghanistan.

Here's another myth that needs to be shattered, the myth that we're all partners in America's "war on terror." At best, NATO has become America's Foreign Legion, enablers of its dysfunctional foreign policy and incompetent military adventurism. Why are so many NATO countries so reluctant to get dragged into Washington's 5+ year Afghanistan screw-up? Could it be because they see what Ottawa isn't willing to see?

It's time for a thorough debate on the future role to be played by Canada's military. If we're going to be America's water boy let's be honest about it and equip our forces properly so they can be the best water boys around. If we want our forces to maximize the good they can achieve, let's explore those options also. Before we consign it to the dustbin, let's go back and take a hard look at the peacekeeping option again.

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