After Afghanistan, what next for our military? Many Canadians want to pull back, and it's easy to understand why. The mission - with too much investment in traditional forces, and too much trust in unreliable allies - has not gone as we had hoped, and more soldiers have died than in any conflict since the Korean War.
But we cannot revert to a romantic Pearsonian ideal. The battles of the future will be waged in failed states and by terrorists inspired by twisted belief systems. Blue helmets deter neither.
The peace must be made, not kept, and Canada cannot shy away from bloody conflict zones. If we are not willing to deploy the military, injustice will prevail: dead judges, meaning the death of the rule of law. A pirate-riddled Somali shoreline, auguring the death of commerce. A porous Arctic, risking the death of Canadian sovereignty. And legions of raped women in the Congo, signalling the death of our common humanity.
We will need to be armed and ready to join UN, NATO or other missions and restore order. And Afghanistan has made us ready. We are fighting an enemy that wears no uniform, and we are helping subjugated peoples rebuild roads, schools and courthouses. That has given us the muscle, knowledge and logistical expertise the world respects and needs.
Canada's interests are global. Let us take full advantage of our military strength - and, quite literally, choose our battles.
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