Effect Of The Cold War On Canada’S International Role

The Cold War was a conflict lasting forty-four years long between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). This all happened post-World War 2 when the United States and the USSR two superpowers were in a nuclear arms race to see who could make the most nuclear weapons. With fear surrounding the globe tensions were high and nuclear war was on the rise no one could know what was next. Being caught geographically between two superpowers from 1945 to 1991 gave shape to Canada’s international role and its aspirations for middle power status. Defining a new international role in the post-Cold War era would take Canada into new conflicts. Without Canada’s help to keep tenstions low around the world this would have been a different world.

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Canada Was caught right beside the United States with made it very easy for us to involved in the Cold War so as a country Canada had to do something. Canada would end up helping the United States in many ways to keep the country safe from nuclear warfare. In December 1954 Canada and the United States began work on the Distant Early Warning line (DEW) which stretched 3000 miles and consisted of 63 radar and communication systems (1). This line of warning systems was used in case of emergency to identify if nuclear bombs were headed towards the United States or Canada. Canada was also involved in the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This would give the twelve original countries that were involved in NATO military protection against the USSR. NATO was created as a military alliance to help keep the struggling countries in europe safe so they could rebuild any failing countries(2). Canada did its job in helping the United States when is stationed in west Germany and France to help keep the USSR at bay. While this helped for most of the early stages NATO was soon outnumbered so they had to go to sing nuclear threats to keep the USSR from fighting a war for West Germany. In the fall of 1958 Canada’s Prime Minister John Diefenbaker agreed to accept and deploy 56 bomarc missiles for the United States after the Suez Canal peacekeeping mission the only problem was they were nuclear warhead which caused protests but Canada eventually accepted them on New year’s Eve 1963(3). Canada was set to do anything to keep it’s neighbour the United States safe and was ready at a blink of an eye’s notice.

Canada post World War 2 was a very powerful country at the time with the third largest Navy, fourth largest Airforce and around 1 million ground units. Canada was not a big superpower like the United States or the USSR but it could help resolve problems by being in the middle. Canada during this time became known as the peacekeeping nation because it would help settle problems around the world to keep tensions low between the world. Canada did several peacekeeping missions including the most influence one’s being Cyprus and the Suez Canal crisis. The suez canal crisis is one of the bigger peacekeeping missions Canada had to do during close the middle of the Cold War. This was a very important mission because this was a time when the USSR was threatening to shower the United States with Nuclear weapons if Britain and France did not withdraw from the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal was a major trade route for Britain and France and the USSR wanted that so they took it. The United Nations (UN) needed to find a way to keep peace and needed to have military on the border and Canada stepped in to do it. It was the first large international peacekeeping force. The force included 6000 men from ten different countries and it was under the command of a Canadian General E.L.M. Burns and it helped to keep peace inside the Middle East until Egypt demanded that the armed forces leave the area in 1967 (4). Cyprus is another very well-known peacekeeping mission because it was the longest overseas military commitments. Cyprus is a small island in the Mediterranean of just over 9,000 square kilometres, making it a little smaller than Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. It has a population of almost 800,000 people. Cyprus has a very tumultuous history, including the period leading up to and after 1960, when the island gained independence. Much of the unrest is rooted in ethnic tensions (5). It had a force of 25000 Canadian men go to Cyprus to help ease tensions between the ethnic groups of Greeks and Turks. The UN decided to send a peacekeeping force of Canadians to put rest to the dilemma inside Cyprus. This was a difficult mission as soldiers would have to fix disagreements. It’s Been remarked as hard because ‘Peacekeeping is not a soldier’s job, but only a soldier can do it’(6). These peacekeeping missions showed that Canada did have an international role to play and they played it well as they did a total of 12 peacekeeping missions which is quite a bit in 44 years.

The Cold War has shaped Canada into the country it is today making it the peacekeeping giant bringing it to some interesting places post-Cold War. After the Cold War Canada got involved in the war on terror because they were apart of NATO so Canada got involved in the Afghanistan War. Canada had 40000 personnel put in the Afghanistan war and it was only supposed to last from 2001-2014 but there are still troops inside of afghanistan but only very little. Canada has also helped with the Ebola outbreak in Africa. This may not have been a peacekeeping mission but it was a mission to stop the outbreak of the deadly infection ebola. Canadian doctors were able to make the ebola vaccine to stop the disease from spreading and even till this day Canada is working on the Ebola vaccine to make it better. Canada has grown as a country to be able to help other countries in need of help .

The experience Canada gained from the Cold War allowed Canada to get It’s middle power Status by doing all those peacekeeping missions having a spot in NATO and it’s international role will always be considered to be the country that will come in with a peacekeeping mission is stop the violence in a country. Canada after the Cold War has truly become that independent country it wanted to be.

07 September 2020

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