May 19, 2005

Mackenzie on Dallaire

For Canadian military buffs, an important piece in the Globe today where Lew Mackenzie calls out Romeo Dallaire for standing with the government that just made him a senator on the Darfur issue.

I look forward to the inevitable rejoinder. Both men have a point... Dallaire in the old-school UN view that military intervention in a nation's internal matter without that nation's buy-in is a recipe for disaster, genocide notwithstanding... and Mackenzie for the Gladstonian appeal to DO something about Darfur.

The rejoinder to Mackenzie is the same point I made earlier re David Kilgour... advocating a larger Canadian role in Sudan necessarily means pushing for a more robust multilateral intervention, engineered by NATO, or an ad hoc coalition of the willing including Britain and/or the U.S. (or possibly France). If you want to advocate that Canada push for that eventuality, then fine, but spell it out (as Mackenzie does, reasonably well, because he's not hung up over U.S. intervention so much); don't just cavil about the low numbers of Canadian troops and keep everything else vague, a la Kilgour. We are proposing to send all the troops that the Sudanese will accept from us on their territory: ie, not many. To change the last thing, you have to change the first thing.

Dallaire and the Liberals' problem is they believe (he certainly knows) a UN-led approach won't work without host permission, which isn't going to come. Any other position involves calling on the US to engage militarily in another part of the world (with a few Canadian troops riding shotgun, naturally). This is not a position the Liberals can adopt, even if there was evidence the U.S. was willing. Hence the African Union approach, which is better than doing nothing.

Mackenzie's position (let's forget our old way of doing things and work with the U.S. to solve the problem, regardless of what the Sudanese government wants) creates as many problems as it solves in the long-run (what other problems do we acquiesce in having the U.S. solve for the world?) but at least it's morally and intellectually consistent.

Posted by BruceR at 03:19 PM