Best columns: International
Must we be the world’s policeman?
D. Michael Day
The Globe and Mail
Canadians love to think of themselves as key players in global peacekeeping, said D. Michael Day. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just committed to provide the United Nations with an aviation task force and 200 ground troops to form a rapid-reaction force that could protect peacekeeping operations in Africa. Opposition leader Andrew Scheer says that if he were prime minister, he would deploy a peacekeeping force to Ukraine. No matter who’s in office, it seems, Canadian troops will be sent out into the world. But as a former commander of Canada’s Special Operations Forces, I’d like to see a discussion of the strategic value of each peacekeeping mission, explaining “why it is worth endangering the lives of young Canadians.” We all agree “that the world would benefit from ‘more Canada’”— from exposure to the diverse men and women who make up our armed forces. And I would “never be reluctant to deploy soldiers where Canada’s interests and values intersect.” But sending troops to conflict zones just to be seen as dogooders helps nobody. Anytime we deploy military muscle, we must also deploy diplomats and aid, since firepower alone can’t rebuild a society. Before putting soldiers in harm’s way, let the government “explain how it plans to make a difference.”
The coming threat from the north
Israel’s northern border is about to get a lot more dangerous, said Ron Ben-Yishai. We’ve known for years that Iran-backed militias such as the Lebanese group Hezbollah are stationed in Syria, along with Iranian military advisers, but that hasn’t troubled us, because our military is more than a match for those units. But an Iranian strategic presence in Syria would be a game changer, and last week Russia, Syria’s patron, gave such a presence its blessing. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that any Iranian deployment in Syria is legitimate so long as it has been approved by Syria. That means Iranian planes and warships could be deployed right on Israel’s border. Israeli military or merchant ships leaving Haifa would “be threatened by Iranian missiles launched from the Syrian coast.” Worse, “Iranian surface-to-air missile batteries could take part in blocking the Israel Air Force from entering Syria’s and Lebanon’s skies.” And when the next war came, Iran would have two ways to attack Israel from the north, through Hezbollah in Lebanon and through its own forces in Syria. Such a situation would be intolerable. Israel must warn Moscow and Tehran that if Iran started to station planes and ships on its border, “Israel would be forced to declare war.”