William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

THE HARSHER WORLD

The harsher world was always out there
Insurgents did not treat each other fair
The UN drew a line. Sides were held at bay
By the troops who wore the blue beret

Many were wounded and some of them died
But the Canadian troops all served with pride
These Canadians came home to little fanfare
And the peacekeeper’s myth, it’s still out there

Now terrorists use the world wide internet
To receive from the Madras’s the recruits they get
Youngsters who are willing to blow themselves up
For seventy two virgins and other mythical stuff

Rwanda, Somalia, the Gulf and Darfur
Sarajevo and Afghanistan, each is a hot war
No lines are drawn there’s no peace to keep
The tank and armoured car have replaced the jeep!

Our troops are protecting folks against the Taliban
They bravely patrol areas out in no man’s land
Their spring offensive was a well carried out plan
Resulting in a personal victory o’er in Afghanistan

The world at large is still is a very harsh dangerous place
Our troops are still protecting the whole human race
The hand writing is clear, it’s written on the wall
There never, ever was any real peace at all!!!!

Traditional Un Peacekeeping A Cold War Relic, Experts Say

Canada’s blue-beret ‘myth’ now on history’s scrap heap

By John Ward
The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The iconic peacekeeping missions of the past, with blue berets on a ceasefire line, so beloved by the Canadian public, are likely gone forever, lost in a harsher world.

Experts say missions of the future are likely to be more muscular – like Afghanistan – and will mesh a heavily armed military, humanitarian agencies, diplomats and politicians in an uneasy, but vital alliance. Combat may be a necessity, if only to provide security for relief workers and reconstruction efforts.

The handwriting has likely been on the wall for a decade, from the days that Canadian soldiers fought pitched battles in the former Yugoslavia, with no publicity at home among a public content with a “peacekeeper” image forged in quieter times.

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, founded in 1984 to be a sort of institutional memory for peacekeeping methods and lessons, brought university students, soldiers, bureaucrats and humanitarian experts together last week to run a role-playing exercise about a peacekeeping mission in the fictional country of Fontanalis.

This mission, like the operation in Afghanistan, suggested to the participants that times have changed since the early days of UN peacekeeping.

Flora MacDonald, former Tory politician and onetime foreign affairs minister, played the role of a senior UN bureaucrat in the exercise. She said in an interview that the old days are gone.

“Everything has changed.” she said. “Peacekeeping has changed. You can’t equate the 1970s or 1980s with today or the next few years. You have to recognize that nothing is static.”

Col. Pat Stogran, who led the 3rd battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry into Afghanistan in 2002, is a serving officer seconded temporarily to the peacekeeping centre. He agrees that there’s a new world to be dealt with.

“We used to fight wars in three ranks and colourful clothing, then we went into trenches and then we went into mechanized warfare,” he said.

Now the world sees insurgents able to use the Internet and stage attacks unthinkable a few years earlier.

“The world has changed and the nature of the threat has changed. You can’t hope to go back to the old way of peacekeeping when conflict has changed so much.”

Lew MacKenzie, the retired general who led Canadian soldiers to occupy the Sarajevo airport in the 1990s, said the players have changed, as well as the methods.

He noted that a senior UN official said recently that the world body simply is incapable of running a major mission where deadly force is required. The UN has always had problems with its member states when it comes to authorizing the use of any force beyond simple self-defence.

Where the UN once negotiated with countries, MacKenzie added, today’s peacekeepers must deal with far more shadowy groups.

One challenge, these experts say, is getting the Canadian public, which is caught up in what MacKenzie calls the peacekeeping myth, to recognize today’s efforts are as important and praiseworthy as those of the past.

“Successive governments have perpetrated this peacekeeping myth, that it’s No. 1 in our priorities, for government self-interest because you can chop defence budgets if you think it’s just blue berets and pistols”

Chief Supt. Graham Muir of the RCMP, who has served with the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, agreed that Canadians have to learn about the new model.

“They still effectively are consumers of yesterday’s message.”

He pointed out that when it comes to UN peacekeeping missions – outside of Afghanistan, which is a United Nations-sanctioned mission under NATO – Canada has more police officers serving than soldiers.

In the early 1990s, thousands of Canadian troops were serving in UN missions. Today there are fewer than 100.