The Misguided Mali Mission

I don’t like the term virtue signaling. It’s often used as a slander by the further than centre right to attack the left of centre and far left. However, I see the Ministry of Defence’s announcement that 200 Canadian troops will be going to Mali as nothing more than a giant virtue signal. The UN has been a political dead horse in armed conflict for over two and a half decades. It was unable to stop the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, or ethnic cleansing in the Balkans during the Yugoslav wars from 1991 to 1995, and it was so ineffective in the Sierra Leonean Civil War from 1991 to 2002 that the British Military was used outside of a UN mandated presence to bring the conflict under control. Justin Trudeau truly believes that United Nations peacekeeping is virtuous and he believes the nonsense told to many history classes that Canadian soldiers are “peacekeepers”. They are not, as my many friends who have served in the Armed Forces are quick to agree.

It does not help the Armed Forces’ relationship with the public if we’re dishonest about what the military does. This tripe taught to Canadian students at many high schools and universities fails to present the abominable failings of United Nations “peacekeeping”. Canadians are stuck with the notion that peacekeeping means a UN force standing between two sides to prevent fighting, yet it hasn’t been that way with active UN mandated missions for five decades. If you want to hear about the peacekeeping reality today, I highly suggest reading the book, “Ghosts of Medak pocket” by the CBC’s Carol Off, or at least watching the documentary. In 1993, Canadian troops fought with Croatian troops in what was then the heaviest engagement since the Korean War, and which was labelled as a “peacekeeping” mission. A Canadian Forces officer has the most memorable quote in the book when briefing his troops for the mission, “Train for peace is bullshit ? train for war.” War is what most peacekeeping missions are at this point. Calling a mission “peacekeeping” is a clever way to tell people that our troops are going to war, without having to actually call it war.

The UN has a laundry list of peacekeeping missions, in name only. Today in South Sudan, there is a UN mandated mission that has done nothing to prevent the deaths of 300,000 people. Wherever UN forces go, there are problems with rape and sexual assault due to the poor chain of command and military discipline amongst African and central Asian countries who contribute the most troops to these missions. The reason these countries contribute so many troops is because each UN peacekeeping soldier is paid $1,800 per month by the UN. Participating countries pay their soldiers a pittance of the $1,800 and keep the rest of the money for their governments. All this results in poorly trained, poorly educated soldiers who are then sent to represent the UN in these deployments. The UN Congo mission has been particularly notorious for the rape epidemic. Why are we giving the UN credibility to continue acting corruptly and without much effect, given the problems? Is this the organization to which Trudeau should really hitch his “Canada’s back” slogan?

Throughout the last quarter of the 20th century, Canadian forces have been engaged in a non-UN mission in the Sinai with the Multinational Force and Observers. It’s been far more successful than most UN missions in the past 3 decades and has helped prevent conflict between Israel and Egypt. Justin Trudeau is using the UN mission to virtue signal to people who believe the Canadian military is for “peacekeeping”. This is not a peacekeeping mission in anything but name. It’s a deployment to fight Al-Qaeda in Mali with the added baggage of UN corruption and rules of engagement such as don’t fire unless fired upon. These very rules were notorious for failing to stop the Rwandan Genocide or the shelling of Sarajevo and will be placed upon our soldiers again. This mission is not for security. The whole point of the mission is so Justin Trudeau can say Canada is back and smile and appear virtuous  to people who, like Trudeau himself, don’t understand their own history or events in their own lifetime.  Canadians should be told the history of peacekeeping before we’re told it’s a good thing.