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Little Canada

Over the past several weeks, Ruxted has commented on the world-view of some politicians, journalists and academics who advocate withdrawal from the mission in Afghanistan (and by extension non-participation in other high risk, high payoff missions around the world) as being the vision of “Little Canada.”

“Little Canada” is the home of a greedy and timorous people who hoard their wealth and good fortune while mouthing platitudes about “solidarity”, “morality” and a “responsibility to protect”. When challenged directly to explain how Canada should assist the people of Afghanistan and other unfortunate nations of the world, no coherent answer is offered.

Senator Hugh Segal has now presented a proposal to change Canada’s role in Afghanistan. Replacing Canada’s ground forces in Afghanistan with naval and air assets seems motivated by the wish to end Canadian ground combat operations in Afghanistan. On the surface it is a logical application of high technology; in fact it is a breathtakingly ineffective use of resources that seems destined to create the conditions for failure in Afghanistan and beyond. The logic is beyond the ken of Ruxted, and frankly we are astounded that a member of the Red Chamber would propose something so sophomoric. We believe the Conservative senator, like so many of his colleagues in parliament, has put partisan electoral politics ahead of the national interest.

Ruxted suspects that this proposal is designed solely to show how Canada can still contribute to the Afghan campaign while reducing the "body count" ostensibly perpetrated by the Conservatives. We would avoid pulling out completely, which would start the exodus that ends NATO as an effective international alliance, and could claim continued support for the mission. The solution offered is a combination of high technology and hiding in the washroom, as former Deputy Prime Minister John Manley so aptly put it. It will fool no-one, least of all the Taliban and our NATO Allies. For the first time in our history Canada would be seen to be cutting and running.

If implemented, will his proposal contribute significantly to any model, theory, or campaign plan of counterinsurgency (COIN)? No! Without troops on the ground to provide continuing security, follow up actions and to support reconstruction and rebuilding activities (see Ruxted's “Good News!”), air and naval action alone cannot do the job. The British tried policing by air power in Iraq and on the North-West Frontier in the period between the wars; it failed miserably. The lesson was most recently given during the Kosovo air campaign in 1999, where fleets of the most sophisticated warplanes in the NATO armoury were unable to do more than damage a small handful of Serbian military equipment. Without the threat of ground action (eventually supplied by the Kosovo Liberation Army), the Serbian forces were neither deterred from “ethnic cleansing” nor forced to leave Kosovo.

If there is no military utility to this proposal, what purpose does it serve? Will it appeal to the uninformed and largely uninterested electorate? Probably. Emphasizing naval and air capabilities given the capabilities of the new CC177 and "big honkin' ship" seems to be a great way, politically, to get back into Canada's mythical place in the world – peacekeeping. In reality it is a casualty avoidance proposal, nothing more.

Since there is precious little peace to be kept out in the world, now or in the foreseeable future, Canadian politicians can support UN operations (that will be inevitable failures) by transporting/supporting less capable troop-contributing nations. No blame can be attached to the Government or the Canadian Forces for mission failures; politicians can always use the excuse, "they failed to keep the peace; we did our bit by getting them there."

While this is happening, we can:

1. Pat ourselves on the back because we are supporting peacekeeping ;

2. Feel morally superior to nations actually risking their soldiers' lives and align ourselves with the UN to appease the America bashers; and

3. Avoid all the dangerous up close and personal operations required in successful COIN and nation building missions.

If these proposals become reality, if the world view of “Little Canada” prevails, then we can expect to see more horror in the world, not less. We can expect to see more disastrous failures of UN missions, such as Somalia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, (prior to the arrival of NATO as the enforcement arm of the UN in 1995], the Congo, and Dafur. And we can expect more hand wringing by the same “Little Canadian” politicians, journalists and academics who set the stage for these horrors to come to pass.

Ruxted does not wish this on the innocent people of the world. We do not subscribe to the stunted vision of “Little Canada”, but believe Canada should use its wealth and good fortune as a leading middle power to make a positive contribution to the peace and security of the world.


The Ruxted Group on : M. Coderre is Wrong

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M. Coderre is WrongM. Denis Coderre, the Liberal Party of Canada’s defence critic, is wrong. We are not talking about his “fact finding” mission in Afghanistan – the one about which he says no facts can be allowed to change his or his party’s position abo


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