Into Africa – Peace Operations 2016

The Toronto Star’s 28 August 2016 editorial “Canada finally dusts off its blue helmet” has the subtitle “Canada is ready to assume its rightful role as a nation dedicated to UN peacekeeping following a welcome new commitment of troops and money.”  The helmets never got dusty; to so state is an affront to those who deployed the last decade.  And there is no ‘rightful role’ – no one gave Canada that right.  Intervention, with expenditure of lives and national treasure, needs to be based on something more than ‘it is the right thing to do.’  What are the national interests involved?  What is Canada’s Africa strategy?  Really, what is Canada’s peace operations strategy other than the country is committed to doing them? There needs to be a lot more information out in the public, and there need to be public debate, before Canada commits its Armed Forces.  It would not be good for our troops to be undertaking challenging and protracted activities in countries where connection to our national interests is tenuous.

But at least the editorial recognizes that peace operations now are not what peacekeeping was when it started (and from which there has been continual and far development).  There should be no call for a return to peacekeeping.  That time is past.  It’s 2016.

Colin Darlington

Colin Darlington is a retired naval officer of the Canadian Armed Forces. This work is the sole opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Department of National Defence, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Royal United Services Institute of Nova Scotia.