Monday, March 27, 2017

Am I Unreasonably Impatient?

Mrs. Spew would probably argue, hell's yes, I am unreasonably impatient. But the issue du jour is whether the Liberal government is taking too much time deciding which peacekeeping mission to participate in and how.

I absolutely get that it makes sense to take seriously the various options before choosing.  That going in precipitously can have consequences.  But being slow also has consequences.  There are those that say that Canada moved so slowly about deciding to deploy in Afghanistan that it got stuck with Kandahar.  I don't buy that argument (see my book), but it is out there.

For instance, it is my belief that Canada worked the decision to deploy to the Baltics slowly, which meant it got Latvia, which, I have been told, was the least desirable of the four possibilities (Lithuania, Estonia, Poland being the other three).  The Latvians have apparently expected way too much from the Canadians--that the Canadians would serve in the Latvian chain of command (hell no).  It also meant that Canada was at a disadvantage (I think, I have no evidence except for the outcome) in the process of getting partners.  Canada got two of the countries that had the tightest restrictions in Afghanistan (Italy and Spain) as well as, wait for it, Albania.  Poland is joining as well, and they had formally wide discretion in Afghanistan limited by the realities of providing their soldiers with very limited benefits, which meant that they did not go out beyond the wire much.  Maybe that has changed.  Slovenia?  I have no clue what they have done, which might be suggestive.  On the other hand, Canada moved fast regarding Libya, which made it easier to give LtG Bouchard the job of running the entire mission.

What are the consequences of being slow in deciding to participate in a peace keeping effort? People might die.  The usual justification for a PKO is that it needs to be done to manage violence, to enforce a settlement, to prevent the spread of conflict.  The only reasons that taking lots of time to decide would not be harmful are if the Canadian contribution is going to be to replace a unit that is rotating out or if it is to provide some training or technical support to help continue the effort.  Or if the Canadian contribution is purely symbolic so it does not matter when it arrives as long as it shows up (before the next election).
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that there are other consequences.  There have been stories about unhappiness at UN HQ, about Canada losing the chance at gigs to command as the organization waited and waited for a decision.

I would be willing to buy the arguments of those in government and its supporters (see the rest of Roland's tweets today--he makes much sense) if we were not more than nearly 18 months into this government and if we had any sense of when this decision process would end.  It seems like they were on the verge of making decisions at several points and then backed off.

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