Vanguard Magazine

Oct/Nov 2014

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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40 octoBer/noVeMBer 2014 B BOOkSHelf "There are no good guys," a friend warned me before I deployed to the former Yugo- slavia in 1993. These two books suggest a similar situation may be the case in the Ukrainian-Russian confl ict in Eastern Eu- rope today. It is no surprise to fi nd a "Richelieu" Street in the city of Gatineau, but it is with perhaps some amazement to fi nd a street named "Richelieu" in Odessa. The explanation can be found in Odessa by American academic Charles King, who writes about the layers of history in this city where today more people live than in Ottawa, Canada's capital. Richelieu was the name of the foreigner in Catherine the Great's service who is considered to have moved Odessa out of the city's status as a recently conquered Ottoman outpost to the metropolis that it became. King pivots periods of history around personalities underling his themes of "ge- nius" and "death." In this year of anniver- saries, the impact of the disaster that was World War I on a city that exported agri- cultural produce through the Dardanelles can only be imagined. Liberation in 1944 was from Rumanian occupiers of the only major city of the Soviet Union not occu- pied by the Nazi Germans in the Second World War. King points out that this fact didn't spare Odessa from its own unique Holocaust story. Turning to the present Odessa, now in the Ukraine, and decidedly not the cos- mopolitan urban centre of some other periods, King offers us some hope. Al- though recognizing the "Ukrainian pre- occupation with national mythology" and "Russia's new fascination with its old imperial vocation," King suggests that Odessans themselves might again "fi gure out how to make a grounded kind of pa- triotism" out of the situation in Odessa. Kate Brown's book deals with a land- scape without "personalities" or even ur- ban centers of note, unless you consider Chernobyl to deserve this description. A Biography of No Place outlines how the borders a hundred years ago of the so- called "Chernobyl Zone" became a large- ly homogeneous Ukrainian heartland. Since the start of the First Great War that we are now commemorating, the human landscape dramatically changed although the actual population did not signifi - cantly increase. Seven hundred thousand Jews are gone from a region that once totalled a million. A population of half a million Poles has shrunk to 200,000. The 100,000 thousand Germans found there in 1914 are gone without a trace. Ethnic purifi cation was started by Tsarist Russia, continued by the new Soviet state, Nazi Germany, Parliamentary Poland and a nationalist Ukraine using tools such as deportation, collectivization, and out- right extermination. These actions were driven, the author argues, by government and bureaucratic desires to make this area "comprehensible as an ethnic pure nation- space." Gone are people farming at the subsistence level who didn't know what "nationality" they were. Chernobyl is surrounded by more than a radioactive tragedy. The integrated com- munities of a century ago are lost. Care must be taken that creation of nation-space in the Eastern Ukraine doesn't destroy all semblances of integrated ethnic communi- ties that remain in that borderland. Intriguingly, Brown asserts that during the Second World War when the Nazis imposed the most severe hierarchy of race, "among the most willing collaborators were Ukrainian nationalists living aboard." Canada must take particular care in this regard as the Croatian diaspora in Canada provided a Canadian passport holder as Minister of Defence for that ethnic group in the Yugoslav Civil Wars. He was indicted by the den Hague War Crimes tribunal but died before being brought to judgement. At a time when Canadians were cel- ebrating VE and VP, the borderlands of Brown's book eerily foreshadowed the atrocities of the Balkan civil wars of the 1990s. After helping the Red Army rid the borderlands of the racist regime of the Nazis and their Allies, the Polish and Ukrainian partisans engaged in what the author describes as an "epicentre of vio- lence." Chernobyl was certainly not the fi rst tragedy to strike "No Place." Both books should be required reading for our Minister of Foreign Affairs or his Parliamentary Secretaries as we take po- sitions in this confl ict. Let us try to fi nd the "good guys," not politicians seeking power on a policy of creating an ethnically pure national landscape. Where are the good guys? Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams Charles King W.W. Norton and Company, 2011 A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland Kate Brown Harvard University Press, 2004 Through a Canadian Periscope: The Story of the Canadian Submarine Service Julie H. Ferguson, Dan MacNeil and Peter W. Cairns, Dundurn, 2014 Originally published in 1995, this up- dated second edition offers "a colourful and thoroughly researched account of the Canadian submarine service, from its unexpected inauguration in British Columbia on the fi rst day of the World War I, through its uncertain future in the 1990s, to the present day." NEWLY RELEASED reviewed by Major (Ret'd) Roy Thomas, MSC, CD

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