Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Working with Neo-Nazis? Nyet

Congresspeople have imposed restrictions on training Ukrainian soldiers--that those associated with a Neo-Nazi unit would be prohibited from engaging in mil to mil efforts.  This raises questions in Canada where members of parliament have limited means to slap amendments onto bills that would impose such restrictions. 

This is causing some deja vu for me, as this kind of legislation is old news in the US.  In my year on the Joint Staff, whenever we worked on the possibility of engaging the local militaries in Bosnia, which we did as a major effort to try to build a single Bosnian military from three militaries (Bosniak, Serb, Croatian) we had to consider whether our efforts met the requirements set forth by the Leahy Amendment.  Senator Leahy of Vermont added an amendment that required any US funding for training to be conditional on vetting--that those who engaged in human rights abuses would be excluded. 

Since most of the Ukrainian army is not in the unit that is getting heaps of attention, it is unlikely that the small Canadian training effort will end up working with the Neo-Nazis.  Moreover, if the Canadians train at the same place as the Americans and train mostly the same people, it is likely that the American attention to this challenge will do the work for the Canadians--that the relevant unit will be left out of all of the reindeer games Western training.

One could call the US restriction a caveat, which goes to show that not all caveats are really so problematic.  Some are actually lined up well with the intent of policies and might actually foster the national interest.  Something to think about.

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