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NATO: Guarding the peace in Afghanistan

Its goals were lofty and practical: to protect the free world and each other. Attacking one member of NATO meant you had attacked them all. At first, Canada played an important role as a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during the Cold War. But when the Communist threat died, some Canadians wondered why we were still part of the alliance. As NATO continues to redefine its mandate, Canada struggles to determine its own role.

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For the first time in its 54-year history, NATO is embarking on a mission outside Europe. Approximately 1,900 Canadian troops, serving with the NATO forces, are stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan to guard the peace after the fall of the ruling Taliban regime. In their non-combat role, Canadians will advise and assist the Afghan transitional authority. "The peace that you're bringing us today, through your contribution, is bringing to the Afghan people institution-building for the future of this country," says Afghan President Hamid Karzai in this CBC Television news report. 
• In 2002, Globe and Mail columnist Jennifer Welsh said that NATO's invocation of Article Five actually revealed the irrelevance of the alliance. She argued that the Americans conducted their attack on Afghanistan largely on their own and only turned to NATO once the Taliban fell. Welsh wrote, "Europe was brought in to direct a stabilization force once the Taliban fell, leading Europeans to say that, while the United States does the 'cooking,' Europe is left to the do the 'washing up.'" -- Nov. 26, 2002.

• In August 2004, Canada returned half of its soldiers home and turned over command of its region of Kabul to the NATO Norwegian forces.

• On Nov. 17, 2004, Canada's chief of defence staff, Gen. Raymond Henault, was named chairman of NATO's military committee. Admiral Robert Falls is the only other Canadian to have held the position. Falls, who was chairman from 1980-1983, caused a controversy when he suggested that it was unnecessary to counter the Soviet threat with the deployment of Pershing missiles in Europe.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Aug. 11, 2003
Guests: Don Denne, Hamid Karzai
Host: Brian Stewart
Reporter: Rob Gordon
Duration: 2:56

Last updated: May 12, 2014

Page consulted on May 12, 2014

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