Mark Collins – US-Backed UN “Killer Peacekeeping”: Would Canadians Support Taking Substantial Part?

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:

Central African Republic: Does the NDP Really Want Canadian Killer Peacekeepers?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


6 thoughts on “Mark Collins – US-Backed UN “Killer Peacekeeping”: Would Canadians Support Taking Substantial Part?”

  1. The US has been going to the UN and demanding countries surrender their militarise to the US so it can go on empire building missions with them for to long. I wish to hell our leader had the sense to keep us out of it but our dear leader has taken the position that if you just do every thing the Americans want they will show gratitude. What a crock. The election is a month to late to save us from this.

    The big problem in the world is terrorism, but you don’t need peace keepers to fight it. In fact that is the stupidest way to fight it. If fact the Americans are in a better position than almost any one to stop terrorism. What do these groups Daesh, Al Quada, Boko Harem, Taliban who are the heavy hitters all have in common? They are all funded by Saudis. If you want to stop terrorism fast an embargo of Saudi Arabia’s oil is the fastest, cheapest & most effective means possible. The world is awash in oil right now so now is the time.

    Unfortunately while the western public is horrified by terrorists western governments have fallen in love with them as they are both expendable and good for all purposes. Want to weaken Iran we have a terrorist for that. Want to bog Russia down in central Asia we have a terrorist for that. Want a proxy war with China? Well there is a terrorist for that to. Need to scare the public into abandoning civil rights we have a terrorist for that. Need to win an election, well terrorists are good for that to. You just have to hire that guy from Australia that knows how to use them right. And best of all the players lives don’t matter and the Saudis pay for it. What’s not to like? Of course like all US backed plans there is no end game. Good luck sticking the tooth paste back in the tube.

    If Canada which has oodles of oil and with one exception no big contracts with the KSA can’t stand up to the Saudis for what is right then who can? That was why I was excited to see the Block get the Saudis into the election and so disappointed when it stopped at looking at their domestic problems rather than the regional ones.

  2. Not much from US or Euros–rather Chinese and usual peacekeeping suspects (see end):

    ‘Countries pledge 40,000 U.N. peacekeepers at U.N. summit

    U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Monday more than 50 countries have pledged some 40,000 peacekeepers for possible deployment on United Nations missions, as well as helicopters [killer attack ones?], medical units and training and equipment to deal with roadside bombs.

    Obama chaired a summit of world leaders at the United Nations to garner commitments to boost the capacity and capabilities of U.N. peacekeeping and to allow the world body to deploy forces more rapidly if a new operation is created…

    The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said in addition to some 40,000 new troops and police, more than 50 countries had pledged to provide more than 40 helicopters, 15 military engineering companies and 10 field hospitals.

    China made one of the biggest commitments. President Xi Jinping pledged to set up a “permanent peacekeeping police squad and build a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops.”..

    According to the U.N. website, the United States provides 82 of the more than 106,500 people deployed on U.N. peacekeeping missions: 34 troops, 42 police and six military advisers. But Washington pays for more than 28 percent of the more than $8.2 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget.

    Obama said the United States would work to double the number of military advisers that it contributes to U.N. peacekeeping, and offer logistical support, including air and sea lifts, and training.

    “When there’s an urgent need and we’re uniquely positioned to help, we’ll undertake engineering projects like building airfields and base camps for new missions,” he said.

    During a speech in Brussels in March, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power called on Europe to consider contributing more to U.N. peacekeeping. She said two decades ago Europeans made up 40 percent of U.N. peacekeepers, but that has fallen to about 7 percent.

    More than a dozen European countries stepped up on Monday. British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to send 70 troops and experts to the U.N. and African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia and up to 300 troops to the U.N. mission in South Sudan.

    “I believe these things are in our own national interest,” Cameron told the summit. “When countries break up, we see the problems of migration can affect us all. When countries become havens to terror, we all suffer as a result.”

    The top five troop- and police-contributing countries to U.N. peacekeeping missions are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Rwanda. They all made further pledges at Monday’s summit.”

    Mark Collins

  3. National Post editorial very much worth the read on what realities should be considered regarding increased Canadian involvement in UN peacekeeping:

    “Make the case for peacekeeping

    NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar, a strong proponent of peacekeeping, notes the vast majority of missions now operate under a mandate authorizing the use of force. Yet the U.S., while seeking more troops from others, won’t increase its own minimal frontline troop commitment, arguing Americans wouldn’t stand for U.S. soldiers under a foreign command. The risks, military and political, are real. UN peacekeepers have recently faced allegations of rape and sexual assault, recalling the torture scandal that began Canada’s withdrawal from peacekeeping under Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government, which accelerated after the massacre in Rwanda, when Gen. Romeo Dallaire’s repeated request for additional troops were ignored.

    It is fine, then, for the Liberals and NDP to advocate a return to peacekeeping, involving Canadian troops in a largely U.S.-backed initiative with an expanded role in counter-terrorism and intelligence-gathering. But they should be clear about the realities and challenges involved, putting an honest case to Canadian voters rather than hiding behind rosy images of faded glories from the distant past.”

    Mark Collins

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