So many missions, one common enemy

March 10, 2016 by Adam Day

Frontlines week 2C
Members from the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, from Canadian Forces Base Valcartier in Quebec, listen to farewell speeches while on parade, on June 21, 2013, at the Quebec airport.
Combat Camera
While Canada’s involvement in the war against ISIS in Iraq seems to be escalating (at least in numbers of troops involved on the ground, if not in numbers of ISIS killed) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has made it clear that it sees Canada’s military as peacekeepers more than warriors. 

While anyone paying attention to the past half-century of military history will concede that Canada was at one point more heavily involved in peacekeeping than it is now, the underlying truth remains that Canada’s military mainly spent the Cold War period preparing for combat against the Soviet Union and that peacekeeping was a secondary priority, at best.

Despite this, rumours abound in Ottawa about the possibility of Canada becoming involved in a new mission in Libya, a mission that would look very much like peacekeeping. And now, there are questions swirling about yet another mission, this one in Nigeria.

Rally in Lagos for Rescue of Abducted Nigerian Girls: A view from a rally held in Lagos, calling for the return of over 200 Nigerian secondary school girls abducted in April by the extremist group Boka Haram. Envera Selimovic (second from right, front row), Senior Public Information Officer for the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Lagos, was at the rally. May 8, 2014.
United Nations Photo #588032

United Nations under-secretary-general Babatunde Osotimehin recently told The Globe and Mail that Canada should step up and help his country in the struggle against the Islamic militant group Boko Haram in general, but in particular that Canada should help find the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by the group two years ago.



“This particular [Nigerian] government has proven to be socially responsible and they’ve tried to do as much as they can do [to find the girls],” said Osotimehin, “so Canada can engage with this government to find out what logistic support or what intelligence support it can provide to locate the girls.”

While it seems clear that the effort to find the missing schoolgirls would involve combat–as Boko Haram probably won’t just surrender them–it’s also true that there could hardly be a military mission more in keeping with Canada’s values than rescuing innocent schoolgirls.

Whether it’s called peacekeeping, or peacemaking, or an advise-and-assist mission, the reality is that whether it’s Iraq, Libya or Nigeria, the enemy is still the same: Islamic militants.

And they aren’t going down without a fight.

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