Major General MacKenzie Interview on the Canadian Military and War on Terror

By Greg Farries on Apr 3, 2008

My interview with retired Major General, Lewis MacKenzie has finally been posted. The General had a number of interesting things to say relating to Canada’s Armed Forces, the War on Terror and Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan.

Here are some of the points I found the most interesting:

On the tension between General Hillier and former Defense Minister O’Connor

[…]O’Connor and Hillier got along extremely well. The tension between the two was a myth. Mind you, the myth was exasperated by the [Prime Minister’s Office] floating trial balloons about firing Hillier – to see what the public reaction would be if Hillier was in fact fired. However, the public reaction was very supportive of Hillier.

On the size of the Canadian Armed Forces:

Well, when you’re talking about a military – an Army in particular, which I’m more familiar with – that you can march into the Maple Leaf Gardens and tell it to sit down and there are still 3,000 empty seats. You’re talking about an infantry that is 2,000 smaller than the Toronto Police Services. You’re talking about a minuscule military that requires vision as to how it’s going to be deployed.

On peacekeeping:

I’m the guy who has the presentation called, ‘The Peacekeeping Myth.’ Peacekeeping was never really a priority during the time, post-Pearson, when we had maybe 2,000 troops, at any one time, for over 30 years, outside the country conducting peacekeeping missions. We had 15,000 stationed in the central front in Europe, Air Force, Army, armed with nuclear weapons – CF104 and the Honest John missile systems. And we had our Navy, at sea, as part of the North Atlantic Fleet. So that was our number one priority – foreign policy priority – by far. Peacekeeping was way down, maybe fourth of fifth on the list of priorities. But successive governments, of both political stripes, kept pushing this myth because it’s cheap. You don’t need a lot of kit, you just need a blue beret and a pistol and get international credit for it. So, what is happening in Afghanistan is not peacekeeping, its counter insurgency.

On the conflict in Darfur:

The world should just bow its head in shame, but it’s happening because of the rigor mortis in the decision-making process of the [UN] Security Council. You could put a military force together and go in and put the rout on the Janjaweed, the militia, and on the rebels who started this fight. We could put the boots to all of them, but it’s not going to happen. [But] it should happen, because now hundreds of thousands of people have been either pushed over the border into camps in Chad or have been killed.

This is just a small sampling of what General Mackenzie shared. Make sure to head over and read the full interview.

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