In the Service of Forward Security: Peacekeeping,
Stabilization, and the Canadian Way of War
by Sean Maloney
The danger that totalitarian despots may take passionate
gambles with new power is therefore always with us.
— Lester B. Pearson, Democracy in World Politics
Peacekeeping or “peace-keeping,” as it was called during the first half of the Cold War, is generally perceived to be a non-violent enterprise conducted in pursuit of vague, lofty, utopian goals of the likes found on bumper stickers exhorting us to “Think Globally and Act Locally.” Indeed, substantial Canadian mythology has surrounded the origins of peacekeeping, particularly its United Nation (UN) variety.
This concept of Canadian peacekeeping has been deployed by utopian internationalist factions inside the Canadian government and their academic and cultural support structures in several ways: as a means to affirm the UN as a prototype world government at every turn with Canada in a subordinate role; as a means of distancing Canada from its closest neighbour and trading partner, the United States, and to bamboozle the Canadian people into reducing the size of the Canadian Armed Forces and its ability to conduct offensive action.
The realities of Canadian peacekeeping lie elsewhere and cannot be detached from their Cold War origins. As well, Canada has found herself engaged in many operations since the collapse of Soviet Communism that have been erroneously labelled “peacekeeping” but are in fact something different. These “stabilization” operations, like the “peace-keeping” operations of the Cold War, serve to carry out a hundred-year-old Canadian strategic tradition called Forward Security: we project Canadian power (diplomatic, economic, and military) overseas to keep problems that will affect the security of the Canadian state and its people (political, economic, and military) contained and as far away from North America as possible. Forward Security is usually (but