Since 2001, Canada has participated in multilateral security operations in Afghanistan and Libya, and as part of the anti-ISIS coalition. Canada's contributions have been the sum of eleven distinct time-delimited missions ranging from six months to four years. Until now, this variation in strategic duration has drawn little scholarly attention. This paper investigates the logic underpinning Canada's variable mission commitments. We find that the actions of specific allies, as well as the NATO alliance as a whole, can account for the particular duration of Canadian military commitments. External pressure, combined with Canada's internationalist orientation, reputational concerns, and the relative weakness of Canada's Parliament, contributes to a cycle of engagement and re-engagement whereby extrication is perceived to come with high costs in reputation. This creates a dilemma for Canadian governments: participate in multilateral operations and be seen as a good ally, but cede control over strategic duration to forces beyond your control; or, don't participate and risk that standing.

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International Journal

Ettinger, A, & Rice, J. (Jeffrey). (2016). Hell is other people's schedules: Canada's limited-term military commitments, 2001-2015. International Journal (Vol. 71, pp. 371–392). doi:10.1177/0020702016662797