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Canadian Involvement in 21st Century Wars

Posted by Hurrikane , 28 January 2011 · 1,158 views

Canada Afghanistan Iraq Military
Hello all, welcome to my first Blog Post on UM. For my first blog post, I am concerned about the lack of understanding between the USA and Canada when it comes to the war on terrorism. Here, I present a quick rough paper I have written on the subject. This is the before edited version I am writing for a college 111 class on Canadian Studies.
Feel free to counter-argue or add points you feel I have missed. If you see any glaring grammatical errors then let me know too because I am bound to miss them later on!

Canadian Military and its Wars in the 21st Century

A Brief Look at Canada’s Involvement in the War in Afghanistan and its Refusal on Entering the War in Iraq

Unexplained-Mysteries -Hurrikane


Canada’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan has been quite monumental. However after almost nine years of fighting, it is finally leaving Afghanistan by the end of 2011. Canada’s military forces were not a part of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Few people can argue adequately that US political priorities were not dramatically changed by the September 11th 2001 attacks. There was a dramatic shift from debates on revamping education, trade and infrastructure to actions dedicated to the national security of the American people. The United States political policies regarding national security, in lieu of foreign terrorist actions, has had an unintentional impact on political policies of its close neighbors and allies. The relationship between Canada and the United States is far more complex than most people understand. What happens and occurs in one country has a similar effect on the other whether or not the ordinary citizen notices the effects of it. The Canadian government has been adamant in establishing itself as a separate entity from the United States, but it has also ensured that its own prosperity does not become the target of similar terrorist attacks. Canada has played its part in the United States war in Afghanistan and war on terror, but did not take part in the military invasion of Iraq. In this essay, Canadian foreign policy regarding the war in Afghanistan will be discussed. This will include why Canada became involved, Canadian public perception of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as how Canada’s support in these wars compare to its support in other large scale wars like World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.
Canadian Involvement in Afghanistan
Canada was one of the United States first countries to support actions it deemed necessary after September 11th. It was also one of the first countries to offer soldiers and military assistance for the invasion of Afghanistan. The reasons for invading the country and helping the United States remain somewhat unclear to the Canadian public with support for the war being extremely low. The high deaths per troop ratio (14.4 per 1,000 troops, which is higher than any other country involved in any war in Afghanistan including the Soviet Union during the 1980’s), the cost of being involved (which was calculated at twenty-two billion dollars), and public perception of civilian casualties have all had a detrimental impact on public opinion.
Initial deployment happened in 2002 with Canadians split as to whether to enter the conflict. At it’s peak, as many as 3,000 Canadian forces were deployed in Afghanistan which is the sixth highest of any country involved in the Coalition. Many Canadians were outraged when four of their soldiers were killed and another eight wounded when an American fighter-jet used a laser-guided bomb on the convoy near Kandahar. From 2003 to 2005 Canada was the head of Operation Athena, an International Security Assistance Force program in Kabul with the main objective to bring the democratic process back to the area.  Since 2006, the majority of Canadian forces have been based in the dangerous Kandahar province. Kandahar had been a Taliban stronghold and fighting within the province rapidly escalated despite almost two-thousand Canadian soldiers being present in the area. Constant deployment of Canadian forces to Kandahar, considered to be one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan, was met by resentment by many Canadians with some saying other allied forces should pitch in troops to help manage the area (Woods, http://www.thestar.c.../article/296594 ). Canadian forces eventually got American help in 2010 after Canadian General Rick Hillier and Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie had voiced concern over Canada’s role. With the help of international support, Canadian forces managed to defeat the resurgence of the Taliban in the region (Carnwest News http:// www.canada.com/ ottawacitizen/news/story
?id =c5ca775a-a5a4-486a- a24d-e4eb3ccd7d32).

Public Perception, Cost and Future Involvement
Canadians have actively voiced their concern in a number of peace protests regarding involvement in the war. In March of 2006, over 1000 people in Toronto protested the war claiming the government should focus more on homelessness and poverty within Canada (Red Orbit, http://www.redorbit.com/new s/international/43 4017/canadian_peace _protests_mark_third_anniversary_of_iraqi_invasion/ ) Larger scale protests across all of Canada several months later used slogans including "Build Homes Not Bombs," "Drop Tuition Not Bombs" and "Is This Really Peacekeeping"  in an attempt to gain more support to bringing Canadian Troops back to Canada. More conservative critics of the war issued declarations claiming Canada should be a “Peacekeeping” force within the country and should not be used as a military force (Globe and Mail, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/ subscribe.jsp?art=673243 ). Many Numerous reports in 2007 indicated that Canada's navy was ‘out of money for basic operations as the military diverted resources to the war in Afghanistan’ while the more than half of the Canadian Army’s Armored Vehicles were now out of service due to the stresses they had faced in Afghanistan, in particular while serving in Kandahar (Campion-Smith, http://www.thestar.c.../article/599366). High ranking former Canadian navy officer Peter Haydon was quoted as saying “Afghanistan is eating money like you wouldn't believe….Afghanistan is a huge financial drain."  Mainstream media outlets have jumped upon the many accidental killing of many civilians and have often painted a picture of abuse of force by Canadian forces in Kandahar. This has lead to many people feeling that Canada’s international image is being tarnished by involvement in the conflict.
Even if Canada does leave by the scheduled deadline of late 2011, it will be the longest war Canada has ever participated in. The country will still play a pivotal role in the war on terror and on the future of Afghanistan. Canada declared it would pull most of its personnel out of Afghanistan by the end of 2011 despite the Canadian military announcing recently that the fewest number of soldiers injured or killed in Afghanistan happened in 2010. The Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper has pledged to other NATO countries Canadian forces will remain in Afghanistan but merely as “classroom” soldiers (CBC News, http://www.cbc.ca/ne...anadavotes/stor y/2008/ 09/10/harper-afghanistan.html). This means they will train the Afghan security forces. The government has also taken numerous steps to keep radical Islamic beliefs out of the country. They are attempting to deport an Algerian native it says is an al-Qaeda sleeper agent living in Toronto (British Broadcasting Corporation, http://www.bbc.co.uk...canada-12257930). Public support for the war continues to drop, with the most recent statistics showing that 56% of Canadians disprove of Canadian involvement with 30% saying they strongly disprove of any involvement. Canadians are also split on whether to remain in the country as a peace-keeping force (Conseco, http://beta.images.t...il.com/archive/ 01065 /Angus_Reid_poll__W_1065345a.pdf)
Canadian Relations with America’s Wars
On the other hand, Canada refused to be a part of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 much to the displeasure of many US high ranking politicians. Its’ refusal to join the coalition was met by snide remarks by US popular comedic pundits, including Conan O’Brien who jokingly said “The Canadian government continues to say they will not help us if we go to war with Iraq. However, the prime minister of Canada said he’d like to help, but he’s pretty sure that last time he checked, Canada had no army.” Though the comments were supposed to be seen as a joke between the military might of the United States compared to Canada, O’Brien brought up an interesting point about the history of Canadian military policy, especially in a post Cold War era. In World War I, Canada had over 600,000 participants in the war effort with 67,000 people killed. Canada declared war on Germany,” the country's first independent declaration of war” during World War II, where there were roughly 45,000 Canadian casualties. During the Cold War, Canada is often referred to as a Middle Power because it had close relationships with the United States but it also had relationships with Cuba, China and other communist supported countries. However it did feel the obligation to support the United States during the Korean War where many Canadians fought under American command. However during the Cold War Canada did not divulge nearly as much money on protection. During the 1970’s Canada spent 18 percent of its budget on military because the country could count on the United States to provide some of its defense if necessary (James, Canadian Studies in the New Millennium, 59). During the late 1990’s, Canada spent just 1.0% of its GDP on its military. There has been a slight increase in military expenditures after September 11th 2001 by Canada but little to no research could adequately conclude the increase was in part due to an escalation in global terrorism. Today, it spends twenty billion US-dollars, just 1.3% of its GDP, on military expenditures compared to over six-hundred billion dollars and 4.3% of GDP by the United States (SIPRI Military Database, http://milexdata.sipri.org/). The small amount Canada dictates to its military seems miniscule to Canada’s southern brother and with the USA feeling it is the only nation truly fighting the wars against terror with a debt of $14 trillion, it is bound to take cheap shots at its better-off allies like Canada.  It is obvious that Canada does not feel obligated to have a strong military in part because of its alliance and close proximity to the United States, but also because it does not feel threatened by other countries nearly as much. It spends considerably less than many other developed countries on maintaining a strong military and no longer has a large army which is probably another reason why they refused to be a part of the war.
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien voiced serious concern over any invasion of Iraq and was backed by about seventy-one percent of Canadians in a poll by popular Canadian newspapers (Harper, http://25461.vws.magma.ca/admin/ articles/torstar-24-03-2003c.html) as well as by the United Nations who would not authorize the invasion. With the Canadian military apparently already stretched, high disapproval against an invasion by the Canadian public, and with no backing by the UN, it did not come as a shock to many that Canada refused to be directly linked with the war. However, Canada still has three ships in the region as part of the war on terrorism and many have concluded the government is gaining support for moving away from the Americans in the national public eye but secretly supporting the Americans at the same time.
In the current international dilemma revolving around the war on terror, Canada remains an imperative and integral part on the US-led missions. It has supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the war on terror but has become a focal point in international mainstream media for not completely supporting the missions as much as the United States would like. This increase in resentment of Canada has occurred mainly because of poor economic structure in the USA and the country looking for someone to blame for its increasing deficit and decreasing popularity of the war. Canadians have also voiced their continued concern and have managed to make strides to have its troops out of combat action by the end of 2011. It appears that for many people, it has become easier to blame other countries and ignore the growing concern of Islamic extremism than to unravel and understand the complexities of the war on terror, as well as understanding other countries concerns. It can only be hoped that in the future, international diplomatic concerns can be resolved before there is a necessity for more violence.  The United States needs Canada as much as the Canada needs the United States. It can only be hoped that the countries can move past their differences and forge a strong alliance that prevents terrorist actions  and continues to be mutually beneficial.  

Works Cited
British Broadcasting Corporation, . "Mohamed Harkat: Canada bids to deport 'al-Qaeda agent'." British Broadcasting Corporation News. BBC, 21 January 2011. Web. 24 Jan 2011. <http://www.bbc.co.uk...nada-12257930>.
Campion-Smith, Michael. "Army Running on Empty."The Star. The Star, 10 March 2009. Web. 24 Jan 2011. <http://www.thestar.c...rticle/599366>.
Carnwest News, Service. "New Top Soldier a 'Gentleman's General'." Canada.com. CanWest MediaWorks Publication, 06 June 2008. Web. 24 Jan 2011. <http://www.canada.co...4d-e4eb3ccd7d32
CBC, News. "Harper says 2011 'end date' for Afghanistan mission." CBC News. CBC News Canada, 10 September 2008. Web. 25 Jan 2011. <http://www.cbc.ca/ne...hanistan.html>.
Conseco , Mario. "Canadians Divided on Assuming Non-Combat Role in Afghanistan." Angus Reid Public Opinion. Angus Reid Public Opinion, N/A. Web. 25 Jan 2011. <http://beta.images.t..._1065345a.pdf>.
Globe and, Mail. "Canadians Call for "Peace Keeping" Role." The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail, 14 February 2006. Web. 24 Jan 2011. <http://www.theglobea...sp?art=673243>.
Harper, Tim. "Canadians back Chrétien on war, poll finds." The Star. The Star, 22 March 2003. Web. 24 Jan 2011. <http://25461.vws.mag...03-2003c.html>.
Red, Orbit. "Canadian Peace Protests Mark Third Anniversary of Iraqi Invasion." Red Orbit. Canadian Press, 18 March 2006. Web. 24 Jan 2011. <http://www.redorbit....aqi_invasion/>.
Woods, Allan. "'Step up' in Afghanistan Mission, PM told." The Star. The Star, 23 January 2008. Web. 25 Jan 2011. <http://www.thestar.c...rticle/296594>.

Jan 28 2011 09:58 PM
Great read, very well written. I have actually learned 2 or 3 things when it comes to the relations between Canada and the US, so thanks for sharing, I'm waiting for the next one. :tu:
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