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Letters to the Editor

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Canadian Military Journal Vol. 6, No. 4 (Winter 2005 –2006)Reference:

Peacekeeping Then, Now and Always
by Doctor A. Walter Dorn
Canadian Military Journal
Vol. 6, No. 4 (Winter 2005 –2006)

Walter Dorn remains convinced that there is no life after or outside of the United Nations (UN). Holding such a view was once considered a sine qua non of respectability within the Canadian academic community. Given the events of 9/11, even the die-hard Canadian liberal left has moved on to a more reasoned and responsible position regarding Canada’s place in the world. Dorn has not. He is trapped well within the mystique of the blue beret, a mythological throwback to simpler times.

Though no Canadian would question Dorn’s right to express himself, as an academic he must prove his point in reasoned argument, well supported by evidence, and demonstrating maturity and a sense of proportion. Evidently, all three hallmarks of academic responsibility are missing in Dorn’s most recent contribution to our national security debate.

Professor Dorn’s views on Canadian participation in UN peacekeeping operations misrepresent a number of important realities. Characterizing current Canadian foreign policy as retreating from our country’s obligation to contribute to international peace and stability under the UN flag ignores the crucial and dramatic contributions, and sacrifices, this nation continues to make every day in the war upon terror, both in Afghanistan and around the globe.

Dorn believes that participation in UN operations is an end in itself. Perhaps a clearer focus on Canada’s legitimate national security interests would be in order. Promoting safe and secure environments in failed states, and helping them to move toward stable democratic societies, will do much to deny our potential enemies safe havens in the short term, and will save Canadian lives and resources in the longer term.

In an article carried in The Globe and Mail on 27 March 2006, Dr. Dorn suggests that the Canadian Forces (CF) have decided unilaterally to focus upon Afghanistan. This creates the wrong impression that this nation’s military leaders have exercised a self-serving corporate option rather than fulfilling their moral and legal duty to put military expression to government policy. As both the Prime Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff have stated more than once in public: politicians decide, soldiers obey. Most distressingly, Dorn juxtaposes Canada’s operational posture in Afghanistan with American military operations there, which he mistakenly characterizes as ‘search and destroy’ missions. This is an unfortunate, misleading and incorrect description of Canada’s single-minded commitment to peace in the world.

Professor James Finan
Department of Political and Economic Science
Royal Military College of Canada

Major Michael Boire
Department of History
Royal Military College of Canada

It is interesting that Professor Walter Dorn (CMJ, Vol. 6, No. 4, Winter 2005) does not appear to appreciate the difference between national interests and national vanity. Neither does he seem to understand the important economic difference between a public good and a private good.

Lane Anker (CMJ, Vol. 6, No. 2, Summer 2005) draws attention to the national interests that are served by Canada’s contribution to the NATO force in Afghanistan. He also clearly delineates the peacemaking (waging war) and peacekeeping divide, a distinction that has been made in many other academic articles.

The peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and other United Nations (UN) mandates that Canada has undertaken in the past represent worthwhile charitable acts but should not be confused with national interests. The desire for recognition of these charitable acts is nothing more than vanity. The majority of the military operations other than war that are held in such high regard by Professor Dorn confer no national public good benefit to Canada expected of National Defence expenditures, nor do they confer on the rest of the world an international public good. They may confer benefits on a country, countries, or various factions – benefits that only they consume and thus the benefits are private goods to those consumers. Moreover, the benefits are not provided at least cost. It would be much cheaper to train police and light military forces from poorer countries and then mail cheques to the UN to use those cheaper forces in UN operations. But then the accolades for Canada’s role might be largely missing.

Doctor Dorn’s comment to the Anker article serves only to highlight the real disconnect between the public’s view of Afghanistan and peacekeeping: the Canadian public has been led by their governments, many academics and other pundits to believe that international military charity reflects well on Canada and its people and that this serves national interests. They do not perceive that global security and national security are the classical national interests, and national defence is publicly provided because the national interests are largely public goods in the economic sense. The pursuit of national interests requires more than global self-indulgent charity.

Doctor Lawrence McDonough
Department of Politics and Economics
Royal Military College of Canada

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DND Photo FA2006-0250 by Warrant Officer Serge Peters, Air Public Affairs

(R to L) Major Mike Collacutt, Canadian Forces, Instructor Tactical Director, Captain Olaf Meiser, German Air Force, Fighter Allocation Officer, Captain Juan Narbona, Spanish Air Force, Passive Detection Officer, and Major Peter Boersting, Royal Danish Air Force, Tactical Director, plan for the next mission at Exercise Maple Flag XXXIX in Cold Lake, Alberta, 17 May 2006. Maple Flag is an annual international air combat exercise that attracts more than 5000 participants from all over the globe, who engage in a simulated, 10-day air campaign. The exercise provides aircrews with realistic training in a modern simulated air combat environment.