Nossal: Should Canada's military support the intervention in Mali?

By: /
January 15, 2013

After five years of combat engagement in Kandahar, with 149 Canadian soldiers having lost their lives in that phase of our Afghanistan mission, the prime minister is, not surprisingly, cautious about calls for another combat mission in another country where it is difficult to make the argument that Canada’s national interests are so directly involved that the Canadian Armed Forces need to be put in harm’s way. And yet Mr Harper himself has made the argument—on 5 July 2011, talking to Kenneth Whyte of Maclean’s: “We know there are challenges to us. The most obvious is terrorism, Islamic extremist terrorism. We know that’s a big one globally. We also know, though, the world is becoming more complex, and the ability of our most important allies, and most importantly the United States, to single-handedly shape outcomes and protect our interests, has been diminishing, and so I’m saying we have to be prepared to contribute more…” Lending a Globemaster C-17 to France, which has taken the lead on combating jihadist extremism in the Sahara, is a good first step. But, as Mr Harper recognized eighteen months ago, Canada is likely to be called on again, and for more, before this threat is dealt with effectively.