So Canada will cease bombing, then what? Is a coherent Mid East strategy possible?

Posted: January 19, 2016 in Canadian Defence, Liberals, Peace Building
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An open letter to Canadian Politicians

Dear Party leaders and elected members of Parliament;

What I find unusual is that the government cannot find and articulate a clear and compelling way forward for a Canadian contribution to peace and stability in the Mid East once our bombing ceases.

The Trudeau government has pledged to restore constructive Canadian leadership in the world, reenergize Canadian diplomacy and leadership on key international issues and to increase Canada’s support for United Nations peace operations and its mediation, conflict-prevention, and post-conflict reconstruction efforts. From this, viable options for Canada become a matter of common sense and of making choices.

I believe that in the mid east, we need to acknowledge that there is no current military or political solution to the numerous mid east crises underway, in all their unbelievable complexities.   Belligerent states or insurgents will change or stop violence when the readiness and willingness for peace arises. It is tragic that this usually happens when they hurt enough, or when they love their children enough. If we cannot help, we should not make it worse.

However, in the cause of peace, we can and should be present in the crises and with those suffering. We should not refuse to do what we can do. We can demonstrate a strong commitment to the values of peace, non violence, compassion, and respect. Perhaps this is a question of an even handed and consistent response to peace operations.   A new peace strategy could encompass all the possibilities of peace building, peacemaking, peace keeping, in pre-conflict, during conflict and post conflict situations in the world, and embrace principles such as the following in their implementation.

Peace Building

  • We can confront all countries regarding violations of human rights, international law, or the laws of armed conflict, no matter who they are.
  •  We can be a voice for diplomacy, truth, mediation, reconciliation and conflict resolution.   We can be a voice for dialogue and consular activity.
  • We can stop pouring billions of dollars of weapons or arms into the region.
  • We can promote principled non-military economic trade and development that can contribute to international peace and stability. Trade and relationships that benefit people.
  • We provide economic and governance development assistance to build ethics and reduce corruption.
  • We can advocate and support the building of institutions for peace operations and conflict management.

Peace Making

  • We can create and protect safe havens. We can protect civilian populations and refugees.
  • We can increase the provision of humanitarian aid.
  • We can assert that we do not contribute to the killing. We can believe that policing “serve and protect” and “apprehend and prosecute”   is better than military “search and destroy”.
  • We can welcome and provide for refugees.
  • We enable the provision of safe spaces, ongoing contact and communication for negotiated peace processes.   We can be impartial and talk to all sides. We can have a commitment to relentless peace diplomacy.


  • We can negotiate or monitor cease fire agreements.
  • We can train constabulary police forces to enforce the rule of law.
  • Eventually and given readiness and willingness, we work to enable truth, justice and reconciliation activity.

No matter how intractable, there is always something positive we can do. The over 500 million dollars we have spent on bombing, could have gone a very long way to saving countless lives with this approach. I believe that it is time we rebuild institutions for peace operations in Canada.   I believe it is time to earn the two Nobel peace prizes we have for peacekeeping. We can become a leader in next generation evolution of peacekeeping and peacemaking and peace building operations and practices. We can regain our place in the world as a country for peace.   This is only a question of courage and values.

In the cause of peace


Paul Maillet Colonel (retired)


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