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Friday, January 18, 2008

MacKenzie: Liberal plans endanger soldiers

Retired Canadian General Lewis MacKenzie was the first commander of the United Nations' Sector Sarajevo during the Bosnia civil war. He offers his reaction to some recent comments by the current leader of the Liberal Party.

Liberal leader Stéphane Dion's latest opinion on Canada's future in Afghanistan calls for us "remaining engaged" in Afghanistan with roles including "training, protection of civilians and reconstruction."

The last time I received an order regarding the "protection of civilians" was in 1992 when the UN Security Council, as is its habit, came up with its usual lowest-common-denominator direction and told the United Nation's Protection Force in Croatia to "protect civilians" without engaging in combat.

After shaking our collective heads at the idiocy of the order, we came up with a scheme to place our troops in badly sited defensive positions around the civilian concentrations so that anyone attacking them would have to pass through our positions and we could, therefore, use deadly force in our own self-defence.

In other words, rather than taking the initiative to defeat the threat to the civilians, we were forced to put our soldiers at increased risk to life and limb to appease the sensibilities of the Security Council. Any of our units given the task of protecting civilians in Afghanistan, having abandoned their "combat emphasis," would face the same dilemma.
Poor Stephane can't seem to make up his mind whether Canada should withdraw from combat or get NATO to invade a nuclear power.

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