Why Canada Goes to War : Explaining Combat Participation in U.S.-led Coalitions

Massie, Justin


Canada has taken part in six wars since 1945, all of which have been conducted under US leadership. Despite such military interventionism, there have been no systematic comparative analyses of Canada’s decisions to take part in US-led wars. The objective of this article is to develop and test a theoretical framework about why Canada goes to war. More specifically, it seeks to account for variations in Canada’s provision of combat forces to multinational interventions led by the United States. It assesses leading theoretical explanations by examining five post–Cold War cases: the wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya; the war against ISIS; and the refusal to take part in the invasion of Iraq. The article concludes that Canada’s willingness to go to war is shaped primarily by a desire to maintain transatlantic alliance unity and enhance Canada’s alliance credibility. Threats to national security, the legitimacy of the intervention, government ideology and public opinion are not found to consistently or meaningfully shape Canadian decisions to take part in US-led wars.

Massie, J. (2019). “Why Canada Goes to War : Explaining Combat Participation in U.S. -led Coalitions”, Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol.52, no 3, p.575-594.

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