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EVERYONE LOVES AN underdog. Think David beating Goliath, Rocky thrashing Apollo, you getting a tax refund from Canada Revenue. We all like to root for the horse with the long odds. Millions have been made promoting mismatches. But the trick is to make it believable. Mike Tyson versus your pet cat is just not going to sell. But if anyone actually managed to convince the paying public a duckling has a chance at savaging said cat on live pay-per-view, it'd be a license to print money.

Depending on how you play your cards, such a thing might also get you a seat on the UN Security Council, which seems to be the calculus going through the mind of Justin Trudeau these days. Let it never be said that Justin is not a promoter of the first order. Who else had Canadians believing First Nations would be drinking clean water, Canadians breathing clean air, and the middle class would be so busy and flush with money that they'd happily pay for it all. Admit it. He got you, didn't he?

He also promoted the idea that Canada would be doffing a blue helmet and getting back to what it does best. I refer not to world championship cricket, because we've never been good at that. No sir, I speak of peacekeeping, good old Lester Pearson style UN peacekeeping that is, back when the cold war was young and the NHL still had six teams. We were the little country that could keep the peace, save the world, or as Justin himself recently promoted it at his surprise Christmas dinner for the troops in Mali, "punch above our weight class."

Now, this is all well and good when you're doing the promoting and not the punching, but still, it made for quite the show. There in the red corner wearing red and white trunks, weighing in with a small but newly equipped and mission ready force would be Canada, kicking butt, punching hard and high, taking prisoners and flashing peace signs. Let's get ready to rumble!

Unfortunately for our men and women in uniform, that's not special enough for Trudeau. No sir, let's take that plucky middleweight of a force, tie its hands together, pull down its trunks, send the trainers home, and then ring the bell. In his zeal to please the UN, this is what he's been doing. Our forces are under-equipped for any serious and lasting contribution to stabilizing efforts in Africa or elsewhere, and the foreign aid contributions and diplomatic effort is not commensurate with the hype.

The peacekeeping force in Mali is a fraction of what it was supposed to be, and will end after exactly one year and not a day longer, logistics and needs on the ground be damned. And we've done next to nothing toward helping other peacekeeping requests even when we had the resources to do so, most notably in providing police personnel for critical training (Trudeau promised 150 in the field, instead we sent 15). Not only that, the UN is desperate for female, francophone police personnel which would dovetail nicely with the Team Justin[TM] promise of more women involved in peacekeeping efforts. Now I know he wants to put on a show for the fans, but this is getting ridiculous.

So if you're a member of the UN you have to start wondering if you've been taken for a ride. Looked good, sounded good, but something just doesn't add up here; maybe best to put money on a contender with a little more meat on its bones for the big Security Council bout, like Ireland or Norway. People would pay to see that.

Of course the irony of all this is not about who is punching above their weight, but below it. There is no heavier weight class than being a majority government. There you can throw your weight around, do what you want, get things done, follow through on your promises. No, there's nothing to stop you. Unless you put your guard down and never try. And then you're just out classed.

Michael Nickerson has been a columnist for Esprit de Corps since 2005. He can be reached at:

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Title Annotation:COMMENTARY; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's policy on peacekeeping forces
Author:Nickerson, Michael
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Article Type:Viewpoint essay
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Feb 1, 2019
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