Vital Signs

General Lewis MacKenzie on the Balkans War

Edward Gibbon wrote, "As long as the same passions and interests subsist among mankind, the questions of war and peace, of justice and policy, which were debated in the councils of antiquity, will frequently present themselves as the subject of modern deliberation."

To a career soldier there is something incongruous in the business of "peacekeeping." Offensive action is a principle of war, and the need to submerge that instinct in a bland neutrality calls for more than ordinary self-control. That Canada has come to play a leading role in this novel activity derives from the initiative of Lester Pearson when he was Secretary of State for External Affairs at the time of the Suez crisis in 1956. When he suggested using lightly armed forces to keep belligerents apart, the concept of United Nations peacekeeping was born. Since then, Canada has participated in every U.N. peacekeeping mission as well as supporting non-U.N. missions such as the multinational observer force in the Sinai Desert, two missions in Indochina and Vietnam, and the European Community's military monitor expedition in the former Yugoslavia.

It was there, after the United Nations assumed a protection role in 1992, that Canada's Major General Lewis MacKenzie was sent as UNPROFOR's chief of staff. Now retired (at his request) and running his own communications company in a suburb of Toronto, Lew MacKenzie exhibits all the characteristics...

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