You've heard that, when the world dishes out lemons, you make lemon-aid. That's what Justin Trudeau has been trying with the peacekeeping file. During the 2015 election campaign, Canadians were ready to give Stephen Harper the heave ho. The promise to get back to peace-keeping was a no-brainer for the Liberal upstart.
But, in his first year, the new PM discovered, while there are lots of wars, there is no peace to keep anywhere. He wisely determined not to put Canadian troops in harm's way. This year he is backing and filling on an election promise that has come under global scrutiny. In doing so, he has been forced to address what the next iteration of United Nations Peacekeepers might actually look like.
Many peacekeeping missions have fallen into disrepute. Peacekeepers are drawn from the ranks of soldiers whose training and experience is the antithesis of keeping the peace. So the emphasis will be on small, elite teams that will train others for the job, and tactical support to deploy the peacekeepers who are mostly from third world forces.
He's also promoting women into peacekeeping and for good reasons. They have the sensibilities for prompt intervention against abuses of women and children. However, they're in short supply in the ranks of third world forces. And they, themselves, will be soft targets.
The PM painted himself into a corner. But when he extricates himself, he may well make a valued contribution to the future of peacekeeping.