June 10, 2003


Congo: While it's always uncertain when the French get involved in Africa (they tend to write their own rules of engagement, and like the Americans with their own force protection firmly in mind), it's important to remember that the sole mandate for the small UN forces in Eastern Congo right now, before the French arrive, is protection of other UN personnel and assets, including humanitarian relief ones, in the region. So to describe them as "trying to maintain peace" is probably inaccurate. "Trying to keep from getting hacked to death" might be a little closer to the truth.

Afghanistan: Good piece by Scott Taylor in the Globe today, I thought. It's another brigade-sized organization, with a limited mandate, but I do think it's fair to say that ISAF's presence in Kabul, whatever its other virtues, is freeing up a U.S. brigade for somewhere else more useful. Something even Americans should be able to appreciate. The remarks at LGF yesterday exulting at the deaths of German peacekeepers are going to be no less unfortunate when those are Canadian bodies, I fear.

It's going to be interesting, by the way, to see how the calls for greater American national mobilization go over. Americans are already paying over twice as much per capita as nearly any other nation for defence, and have a military participation rate far above, say, Canada's. At least Canadians get the satisfaction of having a still pretty-damn-good social welfare net, to compensate for the whole undersized military thing. (Still there's no doubt America's in a bit of a fix in Iraq at the moment, and predictably so... it was something I believe I pretty extensively covered back in February).

Posted by BruceR at 08:51 AM