Many Canadians have an almost mindless nostalgia for the good old days when Canada took a large role in supposedly glorious UN peacekeeping operations (but what about the former Yugoslavia, eh? see here and here–remember that UNPROFOR failed miserably in its mission and had to be replaced by a NATO force in which Canada took part)? Today both the NDP and Liberals still maintain that UN peacekeeping should be an important role for our military; the Conservatives clearly do not agree.
Now the Obama administration is asking for increased support from Western countries, and others, for what I call UN “killer peacekeeping”:
Countries to pledge troops as US steps up aggressive UN peacekeeping mission
The meeting of about 50 countries at UN headquarters comes after months of lobbying by Washington for greater contributions from European nations
US pressure to remake United Nations peacekeeping as a fighting force is expected to pay off on Monday as dozens of countries line up to pledge troops, equipment and technology at a summit chaired by President Obama.
The meeting of about 50 countries at the UN in New York comes after months of lobbying by Washington for greater contributions from European nations in particular [what about Canada with our supposed great international reputation as peacekeepers?] as it seeks to strengthen peacekeeping missions to take on a more aggressive role, particularly against the threat from Islamist groups in Africa.
But Obama faces strong opposition from some existing major contributors, such as India, which regard the changes as antithetical to the purpose and history of peacekeeping. Other governments, while publicly paying lip service to the president’s plan, are sceptical that it will amount to more than a legacy project or survive a change of administration in Washington.
The White House increasingly regards UN peacekeeping as a US national security issue, in large part because Islamist insurgencies from Mali to the Central African Republic, and entrenched conflicts in Nigeria and Somalia, threaten even wider instability.
Last year, the US launched an initiative to strengthen the militaries in six African countries and establish reaction forces to “rapidly deploy peacekeepers in response to emerging conflict”. Now Washington is looking to complement that with weaponry, equipment and forces from nations with the resources and recent combat experience, such as eastern European countries which fought in Afghanistan.
US officials say pledges at the summit are expected to “significantly exceed” expectations as countries step forward to offer everything from helicopters and engineering units to field hospitals and intelligence capabilities [see what the Dutch have been doing in Mali]…
The UK has said it will send forces to the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan but they are not expected to include front line infantry troops. Britain has come under private criticism from UN officials because, despite its resource and experience of its military, it has fewer than 300 soldiers deployed on peacekeeping missions [emphasis added, sound familiar?] and most of those are in Cyprus…
Italy offered to make a significant contribution but linked it to the launching of a UN peacekeeping operation in Libya to stem the flow of migrants, many of whom make their way to Italy. The permanent members of the security council have little appetite for intervention in Libya and it is not clear whether Rome will follow through on its offer…
The Americans sure aren’t promoting “traditional” UN peacekeeping, are they? And it doesn’t sound like there’s any great wave for buy-in from the West for their initiative, does it? As for Canada: