Friday, December 15, 2023


A reminder to members of City Daily Photo- the theme for the first of January is your favourite photos of the year. 

This is a Soviet tank from late in the Cold War. The invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet forces in 1979 drove up tensions, making the first half of the 1980s a dangerous time.

But things changed. Gorbachev came to power, and words like glasnost and perestroika entered the common vernacular. Western leaders were able to work with him. And in the extraordinary fall of 1989, communism in the old East Bloc began to come to an end. This section of the Berlin Wall,which once divided the city, now resides here at the Canadian War Museum.

It was given to the country after the Canadian government hosted a conference of foreign ministers about the process of reunification of Germany.

It was a heady time, of possibilities and optimism, of a new world order based on peace and justice. History would take a different turn.

In 1990, Iraq under Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of its neighbour, Kuwait- effectively speaking, theft writ large. American President George Bush, drawing on a career of work in the international community, skillfully brought together a coalition of countries to drive Iraq out. This included Canada, which committed military assets to the Gulf War, also known as Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Much of Canada's offensive assets in the theatre were air and sea. The Canadian air base in Qatar hosted squadrons that took to calling themselves the Desert Cats.

Their sign is now home here.

Ted Zuber went to war too, decades after serving as a young man in Korea, and this time as an officially commissioned war artist. This is Night Run.

In the end, Desert Storm achieved its objectives in victory. Canadian servicemen and women returned home in celebration.

But the 1990s would see dark times. Canadians served in various peacekeeping operations, and one of the darkest times of that period was the Rwandan civil war and its genocide.

There weren't enough peacekeepers, or international help in reinforcing what was there. In the end, the peacekeepers could only bear witness to violence between two ethnic groups of the country that went to horrific lengths.

General Romeo Dallaire was the Canadian commander of the mission. He did what he could, but what he witnessed had a permanent effect; he's been open about his battles with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Canada also sent peacekeepers to Yugoslavia as it splintered back into ethnic lines with hundreds of years of bad blood. What would unfold there for years would be violence and a situation where peacekeepers would find themselves under fire, and having to fire back.

This is the flak jacket of Canadian General Lewis Mackenzie, who commanded the sector around Sarajevo for a time.


  1. I still remember turning down my friends when they asked me to join them on a visit to Berlin. A week later the wall came down.

  2. ...I never thought that wall would come down!

  3. I think everyone was happy to see that wall come down. Take care, have a great day and happy weekend!

  4. Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose. The physical Berlin Wall came down but the old tensions remain.

  5. The world has changed to even more ugliness.

  6. And in the meantime, the cards have been shuffled again. To prevent a collapse of Ukraine with all its consequences, we are once again arming ourselves against Putin's Russia.

  7. Interesting contest of the good things and bad things that happened in the late 20th Century.

  8. Loved the caption of the photo of Reagan shaking hands with Gorbachev. There was momentary hopefulness on the news that night. And as easy as it is to see how Russian politics never really change (no matter which kind of government there is) I realize American politics never really change either. Our corruption is just as bad!

    1. Gorbachev and Yeltsin were okay, but Putin fancies himself as Tsar.

  9. There have always been conflicts going on even when the big one, cold war, was over.

  10. You don't need a wall to divide people today.

  11. I remember feeling threatened by the talk of the Cold War when I was a child.

  12. Glad the wall came down ~ people build walls amongst themselves, though ~ sigh.

    Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)