* The article lists a helo with some guns on it as an attack helicopter. No. If the UN calls it such things, the UN is wrong. Let's not exaggerate what is being done.
It is probably underwhelming for many observers. It is clearly a much less dangerous endeavor (although still some risk) than sending troops into a semi-counterinsurgency mission in Mali or a peacekeeping operation in Congo or South Sudan.
Will this make Canada more competitive for the UN Security Council seat? No. Sure, helping lots of countries a little might impress many countries, but not putting any skin in the game (a phrase I would have used even before a recent conversation with a retired general where it came up) means not being that impressive. The good news is that Norway has even fewer troops dedicated to PKOs at this time. The bad news is that Ireland has more, despite having a smaller military. Norway almost certainly gives more aid as a percentage of their budget than Canada does, so, um, good luck with the seat.
To be clear, it is not just about the seat. The question is--how does this effort advance Canada's interests in the world? Does it mean that Canada gets a seat at meetings? Well, it probably will not be kicked out of this week's meetings in Vancouver.... But it will be at the kids' tables at the next rounds of UN meetings on peacekeeping because being present in small numbers in lots of places will not give it any heft anywhere. As someone reminded me on twitter, 600 troops in one spot would not have done the trick either.
How do I feel about this? Lukewarm. It is a smart move from the standpoint of domestic politics--there will less risk here than doing something more significant. The Conservatives can't really outbid them on peacekeeping. The NDP? They can try, I suppose, but it probably will not get much traction. Canada will make a contribution, so woot for the international relations side? Meh. Will Canada be making a difference? A modest one, I guess.
Perhaps I will have a less hot but more complete take as this thing gets clearer.
What do you think?