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Matthew Willis Matthew Willis is a Research Associate at RUSI where he focuses on the Arctic as a region of emerging strategic importance. His research involves historical, political and commercial trends in the Arctic, with a particular interest in the policies of the coastal states. Matthew's secondary focus is NATO's campaign in southern Afghanistan, especially the policy process behind Alliance-members' Stage 3 deployments and the campaign's subsequent development. In addition to his main research interests, Matthew has also worked on and managed RUSI projects in North Africa and the Middle East and works closely with the Institute's Qatar office. Matthew completed his Bachelor's degree at the University of Toronto, where his dissertation examined Canadian Arctic foreign policy in a historical perspective. He also studied at the Sorbonne and completed his Master's at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

An Unexpected War, A Not-Unexpected Mission

Matthew Willis | January 8, 2013
Canadian soliders on the ground in Kandahar

The following article will be published in the upcoming issue of the International Journal. 

As the fullest mobilization of Canadian men and materiel since the Korean War, and also the costliest in blood and treasure, the 2005 deployment of the Canadian Forces (CF) to Kandahar would deserve scholars’ attention even if it had gone according to plan. That it instead developed into something neither the government nor the public had anticipated only enhances the challenge – and value – of understanding it. Fuelled by the mission’s controversial nature, a sizeable literature soon developed to explain the government’s actions. The international system, institutional imperatives, and even specific individuals have all been identified as key shapers of policy. Diverse though it is in some respects, however, the literature is in others strikingly homogeneous, particularly as concerns its geography: most of the studies of Canada’s third Afghan deployment have been carried out in North America, and usually Canada. More …