This is a section of the Berlin Wall, displayed at an angle so that you can see the other side. This side, facing West Berlin, has graffiti. The other side does not. Given to Canada after the government hosted a summit of foreign ministers to sort out the details of a new Germany, it is now housed here at the War Museum, a fitting place. What strikes me is how thin it is.
The Fall of the Wall was the most momentous event of an eventful 1989 as the old shackles of Communism fell across eastern Europe and the Cold War thawed.
In its wake so many things seemed possible. But as we move into the final section of the War Museum, what came after the Cold War posed its own difficulties. President Bush spoke of a new world order, but new world disorder seems more apt.
The Persian Gulf War of 1990-91 included Canadian air and navy assets in a broad international coalition led by the United States, triggered when Iraq invaded its neighbour Kuwait. Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm, a near textbook example of how to successfully prosecute a war.
Canadian artist Ted Zuber, who had served in Korea and painted of his experiences there, went to war as a commissioned war artist, and several of his paintings are in the collection here, including this one, Loaders.
Canadians have taken part in other international operations during this era, including in Somalia, where the forces did not distinguish themselves (an airborne regiment of the period was disbanded because of members involved in the beating death of a Somali teenager, an episode that is examined here). But on a longer term scale, the Navy has been part of the regular operations against Somali pirates. Weapons confiscated from those pirates are displayed here.
Canadian forces also took part in operations in the former Yugoslavia as that country descended into multiple layers of civil war. Major-General Lewis Mackenzie commanded UN forces at Sarajevo.
And here is his flak jacket.
Yugoslavia, however, would prove to be a harder mission than peacekeeping would entail, and force would be required.