Canada is at war, senior figures in Stephen Harper's Conservative government have reminded us, as this country's armed forces become more deeply involved in Afghanistan. The actual impact of this pseudo-declaration is debatable -- Canada has only 2200 soldiers there at present, not much more than it would have were the Afghan operation a genuine UN peacekeeping mission. But shift in language away from "peacekeeping," to "peace enforcement," to "war," is a worrying one. Both in the new federal government and in our current military culture, there appears to be an eager desire to both abandon and debunk international peacekeeping, and Canada's historical role in developing and supporting it.
We will be delving more deeply into the question of peacekeeping in the July issue of Peace Magazine. The debate over what constitutes peacekeeping, and the appropriate form of intervention (military or civilian) is a major focus of this issue as well.
Rennie Calder, a Vietnam veteran from Western Canada, argues passionately on why Canada should get out of Afghanistan. Elizabeth Raymer reports on a recent Toronto conference on peacebuilding, which can be conducted in tandem with traditional military peacekeeping, but much less successfully with warfighting. Alex Diceanu contributes a detailed criticism of the UN's stabilization force in Haiti, and suggests how the mission could be reshaped to more truly support peacebuilding and reconstruction. And our editor Metta Spencer interviews democracy expert Larry Diamond, who spells out his disillusionment with the US administration's attempt to bring democracy to Iraq.
Democracy can't be imposed, of course; it also has to be defended through nonviolent pressure, as is the case in Nepal, where civilian politicians have been sidelined in a worsening conflict between the King and the military on one side and armed Maoist rebels on the other; Shannon Boyce updates us inside this issue.
Finally, as we go to press we have just received the news that the surviving Christian Peacemaker hostages in Iraq -- Jim Loney, Harmeet Singh Sooden, and Norman Kember -- are now free. Peace, and those who bear its witness, ultimately will prevail.
Ken Simons, managing editor