Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Canada’s return to racist peacekeeping

Sending white people to Africa isn’t a great idea

The Canadian forces made an announcement on behalf of the Trudeau government last week. At face value it seemed to push the Liberal line on defence that Canada is reestablishing itself as an international player in defence (without any over arching strategy or hard assets - but that’s a different story). Here’s a quote from the Canada’s top military official Johnathan Vance 

"Internationally, the army is at the forefront, managing conflicts around the world, contributing to operations in Iraq, building capacity with allies and partners in Poland, Ukraine, and very soon in Africa.”

Lets break this down a little bit before I get to the punchline of this article. 

“contributing to operations in Iraq”

Most Canadians (who pay attention to these things) know that we have special forces training local forces on the ground in a variety of middle eastern countries who are fighting ISIS. These soldiers are not however, directly engaged in combat. They are what’s referred to as military advisors or military trainers, and the theory is if they train local forces to fight, its more effective, genuine and more accepted by local populations especially when contrasted with a force of largely white foreigners. Hence the language “contributing” as opposed to conducting are similar language that implies direct engagement by our forces. I’ll explain further in this article why sending a bunch of white people to a country with no white people to fight a war, defeat one side, and leave isn’t a great idea (though do I need to?) but lets move on.

“building capacity with allies and partners in Poland, Ukraine”

This one is a little more simple, but also not. Supporting Poland is the simple part. Poland has been a NATO ally since 1999. Why we need to help them with troops as Canada contributes a total of 95,000 active and reserve troops to NATO compared to Poland’s 635,000 is beyond me. 

For Canada's support of Ukraine we need to go just a little deeper. Canada was the first state to recognize the Ukrainian government publicly after its separation from the Warsaw pact. Canada was also one of the first states to formally recognize the post-Euromaiden governments. There’s some pragmatic reasons we want to stay chummy with the Baltic sate, such as Ukraine’s nuclear and satellite capacity, both things it was given as a Soviet state but it kept after departing the Warsaw pact. There’s also some reports to indicate the Harper government granted citizenship to former Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk proving they like both sides of the Ukraine-Russian conflict - though no conformation from Ottawa. Though this might be at the ire of the Russians, Canadian soldiers don’t really do a whole when they go to Ukraine, except sit there and act as a deterrent. However, as they are still Canadians and not indigenous to the region there is some controversy as to their presence. They blend in though, so its not such a big deal. 

(an actual picture taken of Canadian military trainers
identifiable by the distinctive "CadPat" camouflage with
Ukrainian separatists who *may* share Nazi sentiments)
Image result for romeo dallaire
(Romeo Dallaire - amazing humanitarian - not very African looking)

These two exercises are in line with modern theories on peacekeeping (though i'm aware they're both NATO missions). In this day and age its not seen as sensitive to a state to send of bunch of military personal there who look nothing like the locals, and aren’t familiar with the customs. People can criticize lack of physical intervention from UN states in african genocides of the 90’s such as Rwanda, but the fact of the matter is filling the country with white people in uniform to stop the violence doesn’t work. 

As we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan filling a war torn country with people seen as infidels has the tendency to drive resistance underground until the white folks go home, at which point even more radicals arise. 

Although it has been criticized by the left sending military trainers or advisors is a decent “boots off the ground” approach, and its progressive as far as peacekeeping goes. It also doesn’t count as deploying military if its just a few guys, so governments like being able to deny culpability of full scale military deployment. Advisors train locals who were already there, and the eventual military action is seen as genuine, coming from the right sources, and doesn’t generate implications neo-colonialism from the left. 

What doesn’t fit with modern peacekeeping is more Canadian peacekeepers.

Most parts of the world where conflict necessitating peacekeeping occurs isn’t filled with a whole lot of white people, the fact that western soldiers cost more to pay, and some other minor reasons, mean there has been a dramatic reduction in western Peacekeepers. 

For instance the US with all their military prowess contributes a whopping total of 73 individuals to UN peacekeeping. 33 of those aren’t even military personal, but rather police. Canada contributes a little more than our southern cousins with 106 personal contributing to UN peacekeeping missions. So who are the top contributors ? Malawi, Zambia, Mongolia, Guinea, France, Malaysia, Cambodia, Congo, Republic of Korea, and Fiji rounding out the top ten contributors of personal. I have a suspicion France and the ROK are on there because of the massive French Foreign Legion (made up of largely non-whites), and North Korea (The UN maintains peace between the DPRK and ROK) respectively. (Source for all these numbers)

The Fact that these troops look like the locals they are protecting, have a better idea of local cultures, and are far more cost effective should be enough reasons for preferring to deploy them as opposed to western counterparts. There’s one pretty crucial other reason however, Malawi, Zambia, Guinea etc. are not rich countries. They can’t very well donate a bunch of funds to the UN, as they are often on the receiving end of UN aid. Because many of these countries are not in the most stable regions, they do posses large militaries relatively speaking. The reason they send troops is because it keeps military members employed and not turning into trained mercenaries, an altogether common practice in developing regions. They send troops because most of the nations mentioned don’t have the capacity for monetary contributions. The send troops because the people they send blend in a whole lot better than a bunch of white guys from Canada. 

By saying Canada is going to send its army to Africa implies we will be sending troops. This is a bad idea, plain and simple. We don’t blend in, we don’t understand the culture, or for that matter then language, and by doing so we presumably reduce the numbers of troops deployed from african nations, contributing to the dangerous set of problems i’ve alluded to. 

The era of white peacekeepers running around the world with little more good than their intentions is over. Sending Canadians to pacify Africa is racist, and the Trudeau government needs to seriously consider how this action will affect the very people they are trying to help. If they really wanted to help they would contribute the one thing improvised, war torn nations don't have - money. However, its harder to film money flying over to Africa in a military transport plane

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