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On Sale: October 15, 2010
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-307-37077-8
Published by : Vintage Canada RH Canadian Publishing
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Synopsis|Excerpt|Table of Contents


Three Canadians – Lewis MacKenzie, Romeo Dallaire and Louise Arbour – were at the centre of the two greatest tragedies of the 1990s. Two of them could have stopped the killing. One was asked to bring the perpetrators to justice. In this riveting, original and explosive book, Carol Off explores the failure of peacekeeping missions in Sarajevo and Rwanda, and the international community’s attempt to redeem itself by prosecuting the people responsible for the genocides. Events turned on the action of two Canadian generals: the fox of the title, Lewis MacKenzie, who commanded the UN forces in Bosnia for the first crucial months of the conflict; and the lion, Romeo Dallaire, who developed an interventionary plan that he believed would have prevented the Rwandan genocide but was forced by the UN to stand by while 800,000 people were slaughtered. The eagle is Louise Arbour, a Canadian judge who became Chief Prosecutor for War Crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.



This is a story about right and wrong, and about people who can, and cannot, tell the difference between the two. The villain is not a person so much as a giant bureaucracy, the United Nations, which was founded to create a more civilized world but has instead created a sophisticated system of reasons why we cannot be more civilized.

The lion, the fox and the eagle symbolize three Canadians who played critical parts in the drama of the final decade of the twentieth century. All three were employed by the United Nations. They were not necessarily chosen for their missions because they are Canadians, but their nationality was a determining factor — the United Nations has come to depend on Canada for people the world believes it can trust. The three were required to rely on their personal moral compasses, since the UN had lost its own. They did so with varying degrees of success.

These characters — two generals and a judge — made decisions that affected the lives of millions. Unlike so many others at the UN, they did not act behind the scenes or in the diplomatic shadows, but were front and centre, openly stating their objectives and publicly influencing events. They became celebrities around the world, and all were decorated or honoured by their country for their perceived accomplishments. As a journalist, I was fascinated by all three; as a Canadian, I followed the events in which they were involved, and covered many of them with feelings of pride and admiration. But in this book, the characters that emerge are different from the ones we witnessed on the international stage. In some instances, their real acts of heroism have been obscured; in others, the heroism was never really there. I have come to see these stories as a Greek drama in three acts, each a test of human character in an impossibly difficult situation.

As Communist Europe collapsed in 1989, the world order went topsy-turvy. Nation-states braced themselves for the fallout, Canada not least among them. Canada likes to play an international role out of proportion to its place in the scheme of things, and it hoped to have a suitable part in the New World Order. As our neighbour to the south became the single superpower on the globe, Canada feared the immense influence it would wield. Our government has always supported global organizations as a counterweight to the influence of the United States, and in the 1990s that had never seemed more crucial.

The United Nations is the most important of all the institutions Canada uses as a conduit to the larger world. Lacking sway at the Security Council — the UN's powerful inner cabinet — Canada turns to other functions of the organization to find its sphere of influence. Chief among them is peacekeeping. Canadians are the world's pre-eminent peacekeepers, and Canada is the only country that has sent soldiers to every important mission since the UN first defined its peacekeeping role.

As the history books tell us, Canada invented peacekeeping. It was Lester B. Pearson, as secretary of state for foreign affairs, who stood in the United Nations in 1956 and proposed a solution to the tense standoff between France and Great Britain — our two colonial founders — over the Suez Canal: "While the political climate of the Middle East is maturing towards the time when conditions will be more appropriate for a comprehensive settlement, it is essential, I think, for the countries of the region, and indeed for us all, that there should be no return to the former state of strife and tension and conflict on the borders.... And this...might well require the continuing presence of a United Nations Force.…"

The idea of a United Nations force became the prototype for all such missions in the future, and Pearson won a Nobel Peace Prize for his suggestion. The image of Canadians as international do-gooders is a part not just of the national mythology, but of Canadian foreign policy. Canada is one of only a handful of nations that include peacekeeping as a permanent part of their national defence, and no other country gives peacekeeping such a defining role in its international politics. It is in our genetic code as a nation.

The United Nations drew up the blueprint for how the world should react to future conflict through its defining charter of 1945 and more definitively through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted for the UN by McGill University Dean John Humphrey and passed three years later. The two documents between them are a proclamation that all people — from every nation — deserve the same security of person and fundamental rights. It's unlikely such a consensus on first principles would have been reached without the horrors of the Second World War and the Nazi Holocaust to prick the world's conscience. The overwhelming response to those catastrophes was "never again."
Pearson's call for a lightly armed force to intervene, peacefully, in global conflict is drawn from the imperatives of the UN charter. But peacekeeping is really an ad hoc, unofficial outcropping of the code — a way to physically step into the breach in a country's affairs to ensure the idea of "never again." As a term, peacekeeping is never mentioned, but Pearson derived the idea from the international responsibilities outlined in chapter six of the charter, entitled "Pacific Settlement of Disputes." Chapter six calls for the UN to intervene at the behest of "the parties to any dispute" and attempt to mediate a solution. The charter's chapter seven suggests flexing more muscle: "Action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression" calls upon signatories of the UN charter to get tough with countries that are destabilizing a region, or the world, through their acts of aggression. Increasingly, peacekeeping has become chapter seven material.

Table of Contents


Book One: The Lion
1. Slouching towards the Millennium
2. Into Africa
3. The President is Dead — the Genocide Begins
4. This Time We Knew
5. The Search for a Scapegoat
6. The Belgian Legacy
Epilogue: Lessons Learned

Book Two: The Fox
1. Birth of a Natin
2. War in Bosnia
3. The President is Kidnapped
4. Day of the General
5. The Breadline Massacre
6. A Time for Appeasement and a Time for War
7. The Airport is Open — the City Is Closed
8. Major General Superstar
9. Lift and Strike
10. An Officer and a Gentleman
Epilogue: New Frontiers

Book Three: The Blasted Heath
1. Rwanda
2. Bosnia

Book Four: The Eagle
1. In the Shadow of Nuremberg
2. Education of a Convent Girl
3. Culture of Impunity
4. Le Cousin Pauvre
5. Justice Delayed
6. In the Field of Black Birds
Epilogue: Porcelain Grand Prix

Conclusion: "By No Man's Leave"

Source Notes
Carol Off|Author Q&A

About Carol Off

Carol Off - The Lion, the Fox and the Eagle

Photo © Kevin Kelly Photography

Carol Off has witnessed and reported on many of the world’s conflicts, from the fall of Yugoslavia to the US-led “war on terror.” She has won numerous awards for her CBC television documentaries in Africa, Asia and Europe. She lives in Toronto.

Author Q&A

An interview with Carol Off by Matthew Sibiga

Carol Off has always approached her work with a large measure of passion, whether it be her reporting on the Gulf War or her award-winning television and radio coverage of the war in Bosnia, the plight of women refugees or the fate of war criminals living in Canada. This characteristic passion and incredible energy have now been focused into what may well be the most volatile and controversial book of the year. Carol Off has written a damning indictment of theUnited Nations' failed peacekeeping missions in Rwanda and Bosnia and compelling portraits of the three Canadians — Romeo Dallaire, Lewis MacKenzie and Louise Arbour — at the centre of the storm. Her perspective, which is argued forcefully and without ambiguity, is often contrary to conventional views held on this subject — a particular case in point being the section that deals with the U.N.'s handling of the war in the former Yugoslavia. At its core, the book is a meditation on the nature of morality and justice.

I met with Carol Off in the Random House offices in Toronto to discuss The Lion, the Fox and the Eagle.

Your choice of animals to describe the main actors in your story is interesting. How did you come up with the names?

They came to me instantly. I wanted something to symbolize them in a very simple way. Romeo Dallaire was the lion because of his isolation in Rwanda from the rest of the world. I immediately thought of General MacKenzie as the fox because of how cunning and clever he has been. He can dance circles around people and many could never really be sure where he was coming from. The first thought I had about Louise Arbour was that she was an eagle. She has an eagle eye and was focused on exactly what she wanted to accomplish. She circled her prey when she was in the Hague and lined everything so that she could get the indictment for Slobodan Milosevic. I don't know if Dallaire or MacKenzie are good soldiers. I'm not a military historian and I can't analyze either man in that light. But I do feel that Dallaire is a moral man. I admire him because he believed he was fighting tyranny. Morality was this prism I looked through in my analysis of all three characters in my book. I tried not be judgmental but I knew the book had to be told from the point of view of the people whose lives had been so seriously affected by their actions and not from the point of view of the Canadian government, military or judiciary. It had to be told from the point of view of the people who were powerless: the victims of the genocides.

Since the end of the Korean conflict in 1953, the major occupation of the Canadian military has not been combat duties but rather peacekeeping operations. Has the benevolent image of the Armed Forces suffered in the eyes of the Canadian public since the obvious, catastrophic failures of the Canadian-led missions in Rwanda and Bosnia? Do you think Canadians will have to re-examine the mandate of our military?

I hope that a re-evaluation of the role of our military and its role is the biggest issue this book will raise. Canada has lost 107 peacekeepers over various missions yet we have never been specifically targeted as the Americans were in Somalia and the Belgians were in Rwanda. We have never had to go through the emotional crisis of watching our peacekeepers killed in a horrible way. If we did go through this, I'm not sure how long our love affair with peacekeeping would last, particularly if we, as a nation, witnessed on television one of our dead soldiers being dragged behind a truck as the Americans did in Somalia. We have to re-evaluate this whole fiction we that we should commit troops just to keep warring sides apart. In Bosnia and Rwanda, the fighting was intended to kill as many civilians as possible. You can't "keep the peace," when there is no peace to keep. The first thing to come to terms with is to admit that innocent civilians are being slaughtered and in the case of Rwanda and especially Bosnia, U.N. officials at all levels refused to acknowledge this. In 1999, the U.N. admitted, for the first time, that the difficulty in Rwanda and Bosnia was that it failed to recognize that there were victims and perpetrators. In the past, the U.N. has looked at conflicts like these with an air of neutrality, of moral equivalency — which is the most immoral thing I have ever encountered. The world community — the U.N. — must recognize that innocent people are being killed by vicious tyrants and stand up to them. NATO — not the U.N. — did this in 1999 in Kosovo. People have said that aspects of the NATO operation in Kosovo were badly handled, and I would agree with them. People have also said that we shouldn't have been there and I would disagree with them strenuously. NATO decided it could not allow Milosevic to do this any more and took action.

NATO intervened in Kosovo and risked airmen's lives (a much easier sell to the general public than committing ground troops) in order to save the lives of white Europeans. Do you think racism is a factor in whether or not the decision is made to commit western troops to a Third World conflict?

I definitely think there is racism involved, but most importantly it is a media issue. Decisions on how and where to intervene are based in large part on what is being beamed into the living rooms of the general public. With the situation in Kosovo, NATO action was precipitated by the horrific TV images we received daily, but Africa simply does not get the same volume of press attention needed to get the west to act.

Relatively speaking, who had a more difficult job, Robert Jackson, chief Allied prosecutor at the Nuremberg trial or Louise Arbour, chief prosecutor for war crimes in the Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia?

I think Arbour had a tougher time because she did not have the same kind of political will behind her to prosecute that Jackson had at Nuremburg. Jackson had the force of the Allies behind him — most of whom wanted to see the German leaders hang. There was also a massive paper trail in the wake of World War Two that made the Allied prosecution easier. Arbour had very little paper documentation but she did have a large number of witnesses who could testify. The problem is that many of the witnesses are destroyed on the stand by vicious, high priced — and frequently American — defence attorneys. In the former Yugoslavia, corruption is very common among accused war criminals as well as the lawyers hired to defend them, so the whole process is very difficult. In Rwanda Arbour had an even tougher time with corruption than in the former Yugoslavia, owing to the complete lack of infrastructure to conduct investigations and trials. Yes, Arbour definitely had a tougher time than Jackson.

What aspect of your book will generate the most controversy?

I think the section on Lewis MacKenzie will receive a lot of attention because he is considered a hero to many Canadians. He is revered as a symbol of how we want to be perceived internationally. I also question the role he plays in our collective imagination. In Sarajevo many of the citizens referred to peacekeepers — whom they loathed — as "MacKenzies." Almost all of the material in the section about MacKenzie came directly from him. He is an extremely charismatic and charming man. He is funny and fearless; people from all over the world were interviewing MacKenzie and were interested in what a Canadian had to say and we felt proud of that. He was also telling people what they wanted to hear, which was, not to intervene because these were crazy ethnic tribes killing one another and they were not worthy of our help. When we were hearing reports of 13-year-old girls being gang-raped, of massacres and of men being held in cages wallowing in their own excrement, and these reports turned out to be true, we didn't know how to act or respond and we felt impotent as a result. So if someone like MacKenzie comes along and tells you the stories are lies, we feel better about it. The fact remains that an extremely large Bosnian Serb army descended on Bosnian Muslims and blasted them. MacKenzie had succeeded in convincing people that the war in Bosnia was a fair fight — which it most certainly was not — and that we should stay out of it. This moral equivalency was wrong and immoral.

What needs to be done in the future to prevent another Rwandan or Bosnian type of disaster?

Peacekeeping as we know it does not work in these types of situations. There was a recent report from the United Nations proposing that it implement Dallaire's rapid reaction force to respond to future crises, but it would still remain under the auspices of the Security Council. If the Security Council did not want that force to be deployed it would not go in to the conflict zone. I believe this to be the route to go. I think our armed forces have to be increased. We spend far too little on our military, and Canadians have to change the way we look at peace and conflict. We led the way in objecting to air strikes in Kosovo on the grounds that we did not want to appear as though we were submitting to American and European pressure to get involved. Our initial response — which I believe wrong — was a knee-jerk reaction that did not look at the issue at hand: the plight of the refugees being expelled from Kosovo. I admire Dallaire because he felt he was fighting tyranny; and for Arbour to indict Milosevic while he is still the leader of a country is revolutionary — the idea that there is no such thing as sovereignty to protect tyrants is a huge step in the right direction.

Have western governments accepted this idea that sovereignty offers no protection against war crimes
particularly if, hypothetically, NATO was committing war crimes in their bombing campaign against Serbia?

I'm not sure they have accepted this idea, but I would bet that Wesley Clark thought about how he was going to conduct his bombing campaign after Arbour told him, "I'm watching." We certainly know that Milosevic changed his ethnic cleansing policies in Kosovo because he saw what Arbour did in Bosnia. If a sovereign leader thinks there is a possibility that they might be prosecuted for war crimes, he might think twice about committing these acts. It is what the rule of law is all about. Leaders don't know what the war crime tribunal's reach will be. It may never reach the corridors of power in Washington — but it is progress.

Interview reprinted with permission. Copyright Random House Canada.

From the Hardcover edition.

Praise | Awards


“In Off’s fluid and measured account, Dallaire emerges as a tragic hero, a symbol of the world’s failure to respond to the second genocide of the 20th century….Off’s opposing role models — the impotent man of conscience and the cynical advocate of moral equivalence — offer insights into how we might do better next time the unthinkable happens. And it will.” —Time (Andrew Purvis)

“Off is a smooth and powerful writer, delivering a mixture of descriptive passages, contextual background and editorial argument which collectively produce a provocative page-turner….Her concise backgrounder and summary of the horrific genocide in Rwanda in 1994 is the best account I have read." —The Globe and Mail (Scott Taylor)

“…the CBC reporter steers by her own conscience and that is to tell the story from the point of view of the powerless.” —Vancouver Sun

“Off deserves praise for painting this appalling picture so vividly.” —The Edmonton Journal

“The Lion the Fox and the Eagle
provides a solid account of the roles three Canadians played on the world stage in two of the bloodiest conflicts at the close of the century.” —The Chronicle-Herald

“It is a powerful book, and Off writes with a meticulous sense for disconcerting details that resonate with ugly truth.” —Calgary Straight

“In her portraits of Dallaire and Mackenzie, Off has written a pair of biographies that bring to mind Suetonius’s lives of Nicias and Alcibiades — the ancient Roman’s portraits of two brilliant but contrary generals, one good, but maligned, the other as famous as he was duplicitous. These are shocking and instructive moral studies of what it can cost a man to be involved…We learn from [this book] that the work of peacekeeping is not derived from some neat and formulaic model that is universally applicable. It cannot be grafted onto a hostile landscape and it requires historical knowledge. It cannot be applied halfheartedly.” —Noah Richler, National Post

“This is an explosive look at what really happened in the failed peacekeeping missions in Sarajevo and Rwanda.” —Ottawa Citizen


WINNER 2000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing
WINNER 2000 Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing

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