In late 1956, Canada seemed at
of its international influence, the apex of its diplomatic "golden age":
Through creative diplomacy at the United Nations and its substantial
contribution to the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), Canada led
in resolving the Suez Crisis, thereby fending off a grave threat to its
national security, preserving the institutional order on which it
laying the foundation for a significant enhancement of its international
influence. In a few tense days at New York, Foreign Minister Lester B.
and his team carved out the role that would define Canada's security
the remainder of the Cold War: that of international peacekeeper.
Ottawa's latest foray into the field of peace operations, its ongoing commitment to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, presents a markedly different picture not only because it is not "peacekeeping" in the traditional Pearsonian sense. As the threat of instability in Afghanistan persists, the credibility of important institutions remains in jeopardy, and Ottawa's influence as a middle power is increasingly seen as "more imaginary than real," Canada's commitment in Central Asia also seems far from being anything like the beginning of a second diplomatic "golden age."
Thus pitching Canada's "finest hour" on the diplomatic stage against what is increasingly coming to be seen as its "darkest moment," this analysis aims to build a bridge between a large quantity of older, sometimes almost nostalgic perspectives on Canada's legacy as a peacekeeper during the Cold War and a rapidly growing number of critical assessments of the nation's role in Afghanistan and the "Global War on Terror." Using, in this manner, the snapshots of Suez and Afghanistan as points of departure from which to explore the continuities and breakpoints in Canada's role in international crises over the past half-century, this paper hopes to conclude by highlighting opportunities for Canada to adapt lessons of the successful performance in 1956 to the realities of the "New World Order."
Karsten Jung studied International Relations in Bonn and Washington,
D.C. His book Of Peace and Power: Promoting Canadian InterestsThrough Peacekeeping was published in 2009.
- Anders Fogh Rasmussen: The Future of Peace Operations
- Olaf Theiler: NATO Tensions No Cause for Alarm