Vanguard Magazine

Jun/Jul 2015

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

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Page 41 of 47

b bOOK SHELF 42 JUNE/JULY 2015 F or most of a decade, Canada poured money into Afghanistan. The country was one of our largest aid recipients. Just what effect it has had remains to be seen. In Aiding Afghanistan, two Canadians examine Soviet assistance prior to 1979, during 1979-86, and finally 1987-91. They outline the theory and motivation underlying Soviet assistance and exam- ine why it ultimately failed. Of particular interest, in an annex they list the major development projects completed by the Soviet Union and those that were cancelled between 1980-1985. The Soviets devoted considerable resources to training people to operate or administer their development programs, large and small; unfortunately, most of these individuals fled when the Soviets left. The authors' conclusions are perhaps most rel- evant to our own aid programs. "Poor governance more than offset any benefits which Soviet assis- tance might have provided," they write. "In face of an unreceptive culture, poorly functioning political institutions and bad governance, the failure of Soviet assistance was likely inevitable." Soviet aid stopped with the disappearance of the CCCP. In his tome, Vanished Kingdoms, Norman Da- vies details European political entities that disap- peared, including the Soviet Union. Of particular rel- evance to Canadian readers today are the chapters outlining the history of "Litva" (1253-1795), which put the history of Eastern Europe adjacent to the Rus- sian Federation in some context. Litva, at its height of power, stretched from the Baltic to Odessa on the Black Sea. The history of Poland, the Baltic states, Be- larus, and the Ukraine are found intertwined as part of the narrative of this "duchy." Davies' account of the breakup of the USSR con- centrates primarily on the history of Estonia as a case study of one of the republics of the short-lived Soviet empire. However, it places the narrative of the Union Soviet Socialist Republics in some perspective. He also unfurls the stories of "Galicia" (1773-1918), which touches on Ukrainian and Polish history, and "Rusyn, The Republic of One Day" (15 March 1939), both of which illustrate the underlying cultures of Eastern Europe. Pakistan's existence as a state is a matter of de- cades, not centuries, although the country's terrain has a recorded history that predates even most of Eastern Europe. Paul's book deals with the entity called Pakistan that emerged from the partition of India in 1947. Canadians were deployed very early in Pakistan's history to the UN mission in Kashmir, and again as observers to the 1965 ceasefire to the India-Pakistan conflict, one that erupted into major tank battles of divisions. Canadians were also deployed as observ- ers in the Tribal Areas as the Soviet Union withdrew from these battlegrounds. The geostrategic position of Pakistan, that was only too evident to Canadians who served in Afghani- stan, has led to the enduring patronage of both China and the United States. Paul puts forward a thesis as to why "Pakistan's elites" and external "power pa- trons" such as the U.S. and China have not brought about the same level of development as seen in the Islamic states of Turkey or even Indonesia. The presence of an external threat to South Korea and Taiwan did not prevent these two nations from joining the ranks of highly developed states. Yet the perceived threat from India seems to have left Paki- stanis in a state of permanent paranoia which has resulted in a "garrison" state mentality and contrib- uted to the enduring existence of a warrior state that is unsustainable without external aid, Paul argues. Assistance, however, has largely gone into the "palms" of Pakistan's political elites. Fear has led to maintenance of the status quo where a so-called na- tion has only the army as a country-wide presence, even though it is not a "national" institution. Although there are over 66 Baloch Regiments, no Baloch serve in the Pakistani Army. And yet the Baloch provide bri- gades of manpower for Gulf state forces. The enormous focus on the Indian threat appears to have left the Pakistan Army ill-suited to deal with the continual ongoing insurgencies or the terrorists who control swathes of both city and countryside. Bangla- desh, and more recently Swat, provide enduring evi- dence of military deficiencies. Not only are there the secessionist movements in Baloch, Sind and NWFP, but there are frequent violent clashes between Sunni and Shiite and mob attacks on non-Muslims. Paul adds a scholar's warning to those of Pakistani journalist, Ahmed Rashid, in his 2012 book, Pakistan on the Brink. With so much focus on security and Russia's near abroad, the political context in these three books alerts us to just how complex these parts of the world really are. Aiding Afghanistan: A History of Soviet Assistance to a Developing Country Paul Robinson and Jay Dixon Columbia University Press, 2013 Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe Norman Davies Penguin, 2012 The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World T.V. Paul Oxford University Press, 2014 russia's near abroad: Aid, fallen empires and security Reviewed by Major (Ret'd) Roy Thomas, MSC, Cd, MA (RMC)

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