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Whose War Is It [Hardcover]

J L Granatstein
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 11 2007

What if a major earthquake devastated the west coast of North America, killing thousands of people, flattening entire cities and fracturing the economy? How would the Canadian government address the crisis when many of our already weakened forces are deployed in Kandahar or in supporting roles? Or suppose terrorists attacked the Toronto subway system during a convention of Canadian and American emergency-room physicians? Would our military have the manpower, equipment and technical resources to protect our citizens and visitors?

Granatstein says never mind hypothetical—and completely probable—threats; our military is incapable of dealing with current and ongoing crises that require well-trained, well-equipped and properly deployed troops, supported by a confident military policy. He argues that Canadians’ once-vaunted role of peacekeeping is no longer relevant in a post-9/11 world, since recent missions, from Somalia to Kosovo to Afghanistan, are akin to war. Granatstein also takes Canadian attitudes to task, criticizing our increasing reluctance to support a military presence in countries such as Afghanistan.

Whose War Is It? asks the questions Canadians need answered right now:

• How can we negotiate with US policymakers when anti-American sentiment is affecting our military and foreign policies?

• Do multiculturalism and our immigration policy make us vulnerable to terrorist attacks?

• How can we protect our northern sovereignty most effectively?

• What should we do about a “pacifist” Quebec?

• Just what are Canada’s national interests, and how can we advance them?

In the same tradition as his #1 bestseller Who Killed the Canadian Military?, Whose War Is It? is a hard-hitting, timely clarion call to arms.


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Review

"A clear-eyed, tough-minded argument for the primacy of national interests in the formulation of policy." (Winnipeg Free Press)

About the Author

J. L. GRANATSTEIN is the author of over 60 books, including the bestsellersWho Killed the Canadian Military? and Whose War Is It?, along withYankee Go Home?, Victory 1945 and The Generals, which won the J. W. Dafoe Prize and the UBC Medal for Canadian Biography. A distinguished research professor of history emeritus at York University, he was a member of the RMC Board of Governors and is chair of the Advisory Council of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. He lives in Toronto. Visit Granatstein atwww.whosewar.ca.


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I have never been a big fan of military spending but this book makes some very compelling arguments. The author argues that the role of the military is not just to fight wars but to provide key support in civil disasters and maintenance of sovereignty, particularly in the two thirds of our country which is largely unpopulated. It is less about carrying guns and more about providing logistical support, food, shelter and mobilization of resources to areas of acute need. We currently have little capability to handle any sort of crisis, whether it is an ice storm, earthquake or terrorist attack.

The other key points in this book include the dangers inherent in constantly bashing our major trading partner to the south and our inability to maintain any sort of significant presence in the north especially as the world demand for natural resources increases.

This is not an alarmist book in any sense but rather a realistic appraisal of our current state of readiness which should be a source of embarassment for all Canadians.

Every Canadian with an interest in our national identity and how we define ourselves should read this book. At 200+ pages it is a quick and easy read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read March 7 2007
Format:Hardcover
Now I have to state right at the onset, that I have never been a particular fan of the writings of Granatstein. I tend to find his work very elementary. Until now! This book is amazing and is a real eye opener for people in Canada who continue to hold outdated and antiquated views of the Canadian military and its role in society.

I feel that some of the strongest arguments that Granatstein makes in this book centre around the perversity and sickness of anti-Americanism in Canada and why it is so harmful to us as a country. We do not always have to see eye-to-eye on every issue with the United States, and we do not. However, to take disagreements on policy and turn it into hatred is not healthy for Canada. It only adds a sense of false nationalism. The other area where he is strong is the myth of the Canadian peacekeeper. Armies are not trained to be peacekeepers and in fact, Canada has long abandoned its role as a peacekeeper because of the draconian budget cuts in the 1990s. Now, Canada is not even called on to provide troops for UN missions.

This book is a welcome, and much-need addition, to Canadian foreign and defense policy literature. This book has made me a fan of Granatstein.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars RiskAversion Unlimited? Oct. 21 2008
By K. Neil Earle - Published on Amazon.com
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Risk Aversion Unlimited?
In Whose War Is It? How Canada Can Survive in the Post 9-11 World (2007) Emeritus Professor Jack Granatstein attempted a wake-up call to Canadians. Tom Friedman's "Flat World" presents unique challenges to Canadian security. Canadians need to get serious about the post 9/11 world even if the leader of that effort was/is a discredited U.S. President, George W. Bush, whom he ranked as "the worst...since Warren Harding." Like Peter Newman years ago, Granatstein attempted a coldly realist perspective. Because of its geographical position Canada, he argued, has long-term responsibilities not only towards the United Nations Organization (UNO) but also as partners in Northern Command (formerly NORAD) and as a founding member of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with commitments since 1949 that include the use of military force.
In true professorial style, he neatly pinpointed six critical areas Canadians now need to consider:
1. Getting beyond the one-dimensional and (he argues) largely fictitious view of Canada as world peace maker and the dire need to reinvigorate our armed forces;
2. A clearer focus on what our national interests are as a country rooted in the Western Civilization tradition of the rule of law but one also with long-standing commitments to both NATO and North American defense;
3. Cultivating a realistic relationship with the United States (which doesn't always mean saying "Yes" to the Americans);
4. Awakening to the opportunities and complexities in the Arctic as new tests for Canadian sovereignty;
5. The reality of a "virtually pacifist" Quebec which hampers effective national action against foreign threats. This charge was refuted by authors Roussell and Boucher in the Spring, 2008 American Review of Canadian Studies.
6. Insisting on a minimum standard of allegiance to Canada by new arrivals and recent immigrants.
Granatstein is no warmonger even if his argument to support the Iraq misadventure weakens his stance on Afghanistan. He is a resolutely passionate Canadian of another generation. I remember hearing Granatstein speak in 1991 at a Toronto conference where he warned that Canada's peacekeeping forces were being placed into more and more perilous situations. "This is not what Lester Pearson meant by peace keeping," he insisted. Earlier he had caused a minor hoo haw about the Mulroney government's inserting Canadians between the two "lunatic governments" of Iran and Iraq as United Nations Military Observers in 1998. Peacekeeping was popular, Granatstein said then, "because it was something we could do and the Americans could not."
In Whose War Is it? Granatstein offers a "damn the torpedoes," hard-hitting polemic. In spite of harsh, blunt assessments of George W. Bush, sweeping indictments of Quebec as a pacifist state, and worrisome solutions to how to make New Canadians toe the line, Granatstein nevertheless raises some important themes. "Peacekeeping does not mean disarming Canada," he was saying, "It was made possible in the first place by our World War Two military buildup." Granatstein outlines the limitations of peacekeeping. This was apparent in the Sinai in 1967 when the Canadian peacekeepers were ordered out so President Nasser of Egypt could more easily plan to attack Israel. Nor is peacekeeping a neutral endeavor, he charged, as when Canadians went to Cyprus at President Lyndon Johnson's worried request to keep two NATO allies, Greece and Turkey, from coming to blows. Most importantly and passionately, Granatstein feels that peacekeeping does not mean inserting blue helmets into the vicious ethnic rivalries that now dot the globe. This, he feels, is acting recklessly with young Canadian lives..

Granatstein's harsh polemic often makes good sense. Unscrupulous policy makers have too often gone for the quick fix of peacekeeping rather than paying attention to our defenses or outlining the specifics on how Canada would respond to terrorist attacks. Furthermore, it is no great credit to our dedicated foot-soldiers when the Americans often have to escort the CAF to their assigned destinations, a point Andrew Cohen confirms. Nor does he spare the Americans in his critique. "Within a year their attention was badly distracted by their planning for the invasion of Iraq and looked to hand off responsibility for Afghanistan to others." Above all he offers clarity on the central point. "Stripped of all the rhetoric, Canada's soldiers are at war to prevent the re-establishment of a Taliban government in Afghanistan," he states. "Canada continues to fight in Kandahar because the government of Afghanistan asks for its continued presence and support." Sometimes he reaches sonorous heights as when he stresses "one operational effect from the Afghan conflict...the soldiers have seen enough combat to become blooded--a terrible, old-fashioned, but not wholly inappropriate word. They have learned as their great-grandfathers and grandfathers did in two world wars and Korea that well-trained soldiers can fight and survive and that a unit can sustain casualties and continue to function."
At such times Garantstein almost acts as our town crier. This side of the Millennium, wars are not going away. In this connection, the respected American journalist David Halberstam quoted the Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky on a PBS program after the events of September 11, 2001. "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." In such a tone did Professor Jack Granatstein, a distinguished Order of Canada winner and a chairman of the Royal Military College's Board of Governors, lay out his forceful polemic. His hard-edged realism is often grating but perhaps deserved, on balance, a better hearing even if forces seem to be already moving towards an eventual negotiated settlement in Afghanistan.
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