Winter 2005 (Volume III, Issue III)
Promoting new understanding and improvement of Canadian foreign and defence policy.
In this issue:
- Message from the President – Robert S. Millar
- CDFAI New Fellows
- Changes at CDFAI
- Military Journalism Course
- Ross Laird Ellis Memorial Lecture in Military and Strategic Studies
- Article: Alongside Ayatollahs: American Strategy and the Middle East - John Ferris
- Article: Missile Defence, The Bilateral Puzzle Made Easy - Alexander Moens
- Article: In Search of a Canadian Strategic Culture - Scot Robertson
- Article: Canada’s Missile Defence Decision in Historical Context - Andrew Richter
- About Our Organization
I wish to thank all our readers and suggest that the regular quarterly publishing of this Newsletter is getting closer to reality. The past four months have been very active at CDFAI during which time we have been finessing several of our programs and support systems.
It is great to see the expansion of the Fellows' program. With each of the Fellows presented in this quarterly there is a new dimension to the knowledge base that is developing at CDFAI. This Institute has the critical expertise to take on most if not all defence, security, diplomacy and development issues that Canada faces and provide an informed public opinion, either on a forward thinking or retrospective basis.
As we are sending this issue to distribution the Fourth Annual Military Journalism Course has ended with 12 eager young Canadian journalism students here in Calgary. Given the quality of applicants, the selection process is tougher each year and this was no exception. In time these new journalists will be covering Canadian external operations with a better understanding of defence policy and military capability.
In this publication there are four thought provoking articles. In a couple of cases events in Canadian politics have somewhat overtaken the issue but the thesis presented remains current. John Ferris in his article “Alongside Ayatollahs: American Strategy and the Middle East” suggests that war is not a continuation of politics by other means, it is politics; and politics is war. If the Americans did not understand this before Iraq, they are certainly realizing it now. Alex Moens in “Missile Defence, The Bilateral Puzzle Made Easy” should have been read by every politician and thoughtful Canadian for its clarity of thought before the recent Federal Government announcement. Maybe there is hope yet for a different decision in the future. Scot Robertson’s “In Search of a Canadian Strategic Culture” is looking for the development of a multi-disciplinary Canadian strategic culture and why not. Maybe the recent government announcements, Making A Difference, Canada’s International Policy Statement, will precipitate more public discussion and academic research in a multi-disciplinary context? Finally, Andrew Richter’s article on “Canada’s Missile Defence Decision in Historical Context” is a reminder that this nation has dithered and made similar decisions in the past, but never one where Canada decided against participation with the US in a defence initiative aimed at protecting North America. These articles continue to develop a continuum of ideas that CDFAI wishes to put forth, authored by articulate Canadian experts and aimed at all our readers who seek different perspectives on topical issues.
Enjoy this newsletter and if you have any comments please let us know
CDFAI now has 26 Fellows in its organization. Since the last newsletter, six Fellows have joined the group. They include, Ray Crabbe, Michel Fortmann, Mike Jeffery, Eric Lerhe, Reid Morden and David Pratt. Their bios are listed below.
Ray Crabbe was born in Neepawa, Manitoba, and joined the Canadian Army in September 1963. After graduating from the University of Manitoba he served in a variety of command and staff appointments, including a tour of duty with the United Nations in Cyprus and NATO Forces in Germany. He served in several command and staff appointments including CO 1 PPCLI, Commander Special Service Force, Commander Canadian Contingent United Protection Forces in the Former Yugoslavia, Commander Land Force Atlantic Area, and Commander 1 Canadian Division.
In 1997, Ray was appointed Deputy Chief of Defence Staff at National Defence Headquarters where he was responsible for Canadian Forces operations and intelligence worldwide. He retired from the Canadian Forces in October 1998.
Ray was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross in 1996 and the Defence Medal from the Government of France for his work in the Former Yugoslavia. In 1998, he was promoted in the Order of Military Merit to the grade of Commander. Ray is a graduate of the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College, the Canadian Forces Staff College, and the United States Armed Forces Staff College.
Ray is a member of the Board of Directors of Southport Aerospace Corp. as well as two private companies in Michigan. He is also Past President of the Board of the Royal Military Institute of Manitoba and a member of the Advisory Board of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. He also served as the Chairman of the international Steering Committee for the Standby High Readiness Brigade for UN Operations. He operates a consulting business in Winnipeg.
Michel Fortmann (Ph.D., Montréal) is a Professor of Political Science at the Université de Montréal. He is the Director of the Research Group in International Security (REGIS), which he founded in 1996. He has written extensively and edited several books on defence policies, arms control, European security and strategic studies, notably, Multilateralism and Regional Security (Queen’s Centre for International Relations ) in 1997 and Le système politique américain, mécanismes et décisions, (Montréal, Presses de l'Université de Montréal) in 2001. His articles have been published notably in International Journal, Études internationales, Canadian Foreign Policy and Relations internationales et stratégiques. His research interests include nuclear strategy, arms control and the evolution of warfare.
Commodore (Ret’d) Eric Lerhe joined the Canadian Forces in 1967 and was commissioned in 1972. From 1973 until 1983 he served in the HMCS RESTIGOUCHE, YUKON, FRASER and ANNAPOLIS. He was promoted to Commander on 1 January 1986 and assumed command of HMCS NIPIGON in September 1987 and then HMCS SAGUENAY on 6 January 1989.
During the 1990’s he served as Director Maritime Force Development and Director NATO Policy in NDHQ. He earned his MA at Dalhousie in 1996 and was promoted to Commodore and appointed Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific in January 2001. In that role he was a Task Group Commander in the Persian Gulf during the War on Terror in 2002. His achievements included the capture of four al Qaeda members and making significant improvements in coalition C41 interoperability. Commodore Lerhe retired from the CF in September 2003 and commenced his doctoral studies at Dalhousie.
Mike Jeffery has over 39 years service in the Canadian Forces. He started military service as a Rifleman in the Essex and Kent Scottish, but soon joined to the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery under the Canadian Army Soldier Apprentice Programme. After his commissioning in 1967, he served in a variety of command and staff positions both in Canada and overseas. These included Commanding Officer of Third Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, Canadian Contingent Commander to the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibia, Commandant of the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College and Commander of the lst Canadian Division. He served as Chief of the Land Staff from August 2000 to May 2003. He retired from the CF, in the rank of Lieutenant General, on 1 August 2003.
Mike is a graduate of the Long Gunnery Staff Course (Field and Locating) (UK), the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College, The US Army Command and General Staff College and the National Defence College. In 2000, he was promoted in the Order of Military Merit to the grade of Commander. In 2004 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Royal Military College.
Mike runs his own consulting business, focusing on defence, security and strategic planning. He is also the Honorary Campaign Chairman for the Royal Canadian Artillery Heritage Campaign.
Reid Morden is President, Reid Morden & Associates which provides advice and comment on intelligence, security, and public policy issues. He is currently on an exclusive assignment as Executive Director of the Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations Oil-For-Food Program.
A career public servant, he has held a number of senior positions, including Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and President and CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. Following these appointments, Mr. Morden spent four years in the private sector, mostly dealing with business intelligence and the security and intelligence sector more generally, with such firms as Kroll and KPMG Forensic Inc. Mr. Morden is a Member of the Order of Canada, a Grand Officer of the Order of the Southern Cross (Brazil) and a holder of the Ian L. MacRae Award from the nuclear industry.
The Honourable David Pratt, P.C. is currently serving as Advisor to the Secretary General and Special Ambassador for the Canadian Red Cross. Mr. Pratt’s focus is on issues related to conflict prevention, the control of small arms and light weapons, international humanitarian law, war affected children and security sector reform.
For 16 years, Mr. Pratt served as an elected representative at the municipal, regional and federal levels. He was first elected to the House of Commons for Nepean-Carleton in 1997. From December 2003 to July 2004, Mr. Pratt served as Canada’s Minister of National Defence. Prior to his appointment to Cabinet, Mr. Pratt was Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs – a position he held from 2001 to 2003. He also served as a member of the House of Commons Justice Committee’s Sub-Committee on National Security.
As Canada’s Special Envoy to Sierra Leone under two ministers of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Pratt was involved extensively in legislation to address the “conflict diamonds” issue.
Four essays are included in this newsletter. The essays featured are:
Alongside Ayatollahs: American Strategy and the Middle East / J. Ferris
Missile Defence, The Bilateral Puzzle Made Easy / A. Moens
In Search of a Canadian Strategic Culture / S. Robertson
Canada’s Missile Defence Decision in Historical Context / A. Richter
Other research papers to be published in 2005 on our website with limited number of hard copies include:
David Carment, “Peace Support Operation, Failed States & Canadian Defence Policy” to be published in June 2005.
J.L. Granatstein and Charles Belzile. “The Special Commission on the Restructure of the Reserves after Ten Years”, to be published in September 2005. Plans are underway for a conference to be held in the Fall of 2005 in conjunction with the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies of the University of Calgary upon publication of this report.
Elinor Sloan, “The Origin and Evolution of the Canadian Forces’ Strategic Capability Investment Plan” to be published in December 2005.
The Fellows Program is intended to achieve two primary goals: to give our Fellows a greater opportunity to reach a wider public audience and to add the talent of our Fellows to CDFAI’s other expert resources. Persons interested in being considered for CDFAI Fellowship should contact Dr. David J. Bercuson at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Dr. Anne Irwin was appointed the first CDFAI Chair in Civil Military Relations, Department of Anthropology and CMSS at the University of Calgary.
Dr. Irwin served in the Canadian Forces Reserve from 1972 to 1987, retiring as a Military Police Officer with the rank of Major. She is a graduate of the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College’s Militia Command and Staff Course. She holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from the University of Calgary and a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Manchester. Her PhD thesis, entitled The Social Organization of Soldiering, was based on extensive field research with a Canadian Regular Force infantry unit and was concerned with how soldiers in a peacetime army intersubjectively construct identities as warriors.
Anne has taught courses in military anthropology both at the University of Calgary and at the University of Victoria. She has been an invited speaker at Defence Research and Development Canada and at the 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group office study week and has consulted for the Minister’s Advisory Board on Gender Integration and Employment Equity.
Janice Andersson joined the CDFAI staff as Manager, External Relations in February. Janice replaces Alexis Apps, who has departed on maternity leave for the next year. Janice has a degree in English from the University of Lethbridge, a Broadcast Journalism Diploma from Lethbridge College and a Public Relations Certificate from Mount Royal College.
|Once again this year, the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI), in partnership with the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies (CMSS) at the University of Calgary (U of C), hosted their Fourth Annual Military Journalism Course which ran from May 2nd-11th, 2005.
CDFAI sponsored scholarships for twelve students to attend a ten-day course on military journalism and the Canadian Armed Forces. The goal was to enhance the military education of Canadian journalists who will report on Canadian military issues domestically and abroad.
The course included a combination of media-military theory in a classroom setting, coupled with field visits to Armed Forces regular and reserve units. Journalism students from across Canada were eligible to apply.
Included in the scholarship are:
On May 10, 2005 at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, AB, the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute co-sponsored the Ross Laird Ellis Lecture in conjunction with the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. The lecture series was named after Ross Laird Ellis, a militiaman who rose through the ranks to become the Commanding Officer of the Calgary Highlanders in the course of the Battle of the Scheldt Estuary in World War II. Open to the general public and University of Calgary faculty and students, the purpose of the Ross Laird Ellis Lecture is to provide Canadians with access to relevant and reliable information on Canadian defence and foreign policy.
Steven Silver, Writer/Director of The Last Just Man was this year’s lecturer. This feature documentary tells the story of General Romeo Dallaire, the UN force commander during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The film has won three Geminis and over 12 international awards including Audience Awards at The Double Take, Hot Docs and Hampton’s film festivals and the Gold Plaque at the Chicago International Television Competition.
by John Ferris
All along, the real question about the Iraq war of 2003 was, “what do you do when you win?”. The Bush administration never posed this question to the American public before the war; even worse, it had no answer in private. It believed this war would be won easily, military victory would produce political success without unintended consequences, while Iraqis would view Americans as liberators, rather than as enemy to their enemy. So, the Bush administration won its war but not the peace. It did not achieve the aims it pursued. It did not intend the consequences it caused.
The United States proved strong enough to destroy a regime Iraqis could not overthrow, yet too weak to impose its will on them. It did not understand the politics of Iraq, hence it could not control them. Immediately and increasingly, Iraqis had more influence than Americans on the politics which determined what victory meant. The Bush administration hoped to make of Iraq a shining minaret on a hill; it found itself dickering over the price of carpets in the Baghdad suk. It became a prisoner of Iraqi politics.
In Iraq today, war is not a continuation of politics by other means--it is politics; and politics is war. The questions are, what kind of war and what kind of politics? One must answer these questions accurately in order to understand this war, or to win it. This is not a war of national liberation--if it was, the United States would have lost by now. Left wing critics see this as a colonial issue, and believe, like Tariq Ali, that in Iraq only “neo-liberal” puppets or “janissary politicians” can cooperate with Washington. In fact, the United States is intervening in a civil war which it unleashed without planning to do, in a context of decolonization, where a retreating imperial state tries to transfer its power to a local faction willing to work with it and able to maintain stability. This explains why so many Iraqis are willing to cooperate with the United States. They see it as an evil, but just a little one, and necessary to boot. They cannot get home without it.
Meanwhile for Washington, the problem is less its’ declared enemies than the friends those foes deny it, or force it to embrace. The point is not how many Iraqis are shooting at Americans, but how few, and how divided. The resistance is split between ex-Baa’thist officers, Shi’ite politicians, jihadists and opportunists. They fight each other as much as they do the United States, and their resistance often is a form of politics. By fighting American forces at the Inam Ali shrine in Najaf last year, Muqtadr al Sadr tried not so much to drive out the Americans, as to increase his political influence within the Shi’ite community. He achieved some of that aim; and now his political allies claim they are willing to work with the Americans, whom they want to stay in Iraq for another year. So too, the shadowy figures behind the bombing campaign in Iraq have been too weak to destroy a government, or create one. All they could do is slaughter civilians, especially Shi'ites, so to punish them and drive that community to violence of its own which would destabilise Iraq and perhaps cause them to break with Washington. Instead, the Shi'ites kept their eyes on the prize and seized it.
Like the United States, the guerrillas failed to achieve their aims, but their actions had great unintended effects. These should be measured not in casualties, but in politics. The problem is not that Sunni Arabs shot Americans; it is that they refused to cooperate with Washington’s efforts to reconstruct Iraq. In order to achieve its aims, the United States had to conduct war and politics at the same time: to destroy its enemies while avoiding unnecessary harm to neutrals, to find new friends who could do it good and to ditch old ones who could not. The point of fighting Sunni Arab guerrillas was not just to defeat them, but to bring their community into its politics; a tricky task, which failed, unfortunately for both parties—it weakened both Sunni Arabs and Americans.
Meanwhile, by sapping American public willingness to stay the course, the guerrillas strengthened the leaders of the politically most powerful elements of Iraq, including the Shi’ite and Kurdish communities. They, not the guerrillas, are the real resistance to the United States, doubly effective because they are smart enough to fight where the Americans are weak, rather than strong: with politics, not bullets. By cooperating with the United States, they have co-opted it. These leaders are not American puppets—they are the puppeteers. They, and their communities, are winning the war lost by Saddam, the guerrillas, and George Bush. The real resistance to Washington is not military, but political, and comes from its allies rather than its enemies.
In effect, the United States did the fighting for the Shi’ites of Iraq and then gave them a veto over American policy. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the main leader of that community, usually is regarded as a quietist, who favours a division between religion and politics, and regards the Islamic theocracy of Iran as a heresy. Perhaps so, but he knows his politics. Last year he defeated American attempts to control the political process in Iraq and took control of the agenda. Then, by exploiting American rules, the Shi'ites took over the government. They have everything to gain from making it work, their way.
The Americans have something to gain from working with them, and only one other choice—to withdraw from Iraq, and watch it explode, perhaps splitting into three states, Shi’ite Arab, Sunni Arab and Kurdish. Either step, alas, would spread war and instability from Iraq to the Middle East as a whole, and possibly force the United States into later and greater interventions from a weaker position. Even today, it confronts the question of whether it, or Israel, will destroy Iranian nuclear facilities. Washington cannot impose just any government in Baghdad, nor prevent the Shi’ites from dominating most or all of Iraq. It is, however, strong enough to help put a decent and stable regime in power. Its interests lie in doing so.
Not that such a regime will be easy to establish. Any attempt to do so will confront armed resistance, popular opposition from 18% of the population, the Sunni Arabs and weaknesses in the security forces. The present Iraqi Interior Minister, Falal al-Naquib, expects these forces to handle security fully within 18 months. This target seems optimistic. The Iraqi government’s security forces number 80,000, with 40,000 more in the pipeline. Of these, one expert, Anthony Cordesman of The Center for Strategic and International Studies, believes only 12,000 have “any kind of meaningful training and equipment”, and just 2—3000 could withstand a serious attack without direct American support. Still, these personnel are rising in number, while their training is adequate, if rudimentary: one question on the graduation examination for policemen, for example, asks, “Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person is a) torture; b) interview techniques; c) interrogation techniques; d) informative and reliable”. 6,000 Iraqi policemen graduate each month after eight weeks of training; not dramatically below the Canadian norm of five months, much of which focuses on bureaucratic and legal procedure. The real issue is whether their willingness to do their job, and popular attitudes toward security, will change now that Iraqis own the regime--whether Shi’ites and Kurds will support the defeat of people slaughtering them. Meanwhile, armed opposition is small and split. Current American estimates define it as including 5000-7000 ex-Baa’thist fighters, some 1000 in the al-Qaida Organisation for War in Iraq under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and another 500 foreign jihadists. The Baa’thist resistance represents a community and its actions will depend on relations between Sunni and Shi’ite Arabs—the outcome may be peace, or war to the death. The jihadists, conversely, are out for blood, because they regard Shi’ites and Americans as anathema, and hope to spark a real civil war. What they may do is drive Americans and Shi’ites together—nothing makes better friends than a common enemy.
The real problem in Iraq is the need to create a new system of politics, which will determine who does what to whom. This can have only three outcomes—partition, imposition of Shi'ite rule through force, or a remarkable and simultaneous willingness to share power between suspicious ethnic communities. Here are grounds for pessimism. Iraqis, inexperienced in mass politics, are in a revolution. Such conditions create chaos. The Shi’ites act as a bloc, out to escape marginalisation and mistreatment and to dominate Iraq, all at Sunni Arab expense. Sistani made voting in the election a religious obligation. Spokesmen for the Shiite clerical leadership, the marijiya, insist that Iraq must have an Islamic identity and be dominated by the-- Shiiite--majority, yet they also claim to oppose theocratic government and to favour compromise with other communities. So too, some Sunni Arab leaders recently have claimed to be willing to cooperate with the new regime. The Americans cannot affect this issue. That is the measure of their failure since the fall of Baghdad.
Obviously, matters still could go tragically wrong in Iraq--simply envisage what would happen if Sistani were assassinated--but there is a reasonable chance they will become rather good, for Iraqis. The war has ended their problems of the past 15 years, sanctions and Saddam. With luck, a stable regime will emerge, perhaps the best they have known in modern history--scarcely a hard target to reach. It will be dominated by Shi’ites, but not by Iran. Who could have thought the United States would go to war so to give Ayatollahs power in Iraq? but sometimes, old enemies make the best of friends.
Perhaps against their will, the Americans have been forced to become what they always said they would be—liberators. If so, they will get little credit for any improvements in Iraq, or gain much from sustaining the regime, but at least their actions there will no longer fuel Arab hatred. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq has taught the United States humility and its enemies fear. These are good things. It cannot be loved in the Middle East; better be hated and feared, than hated and dissed. In any case, for years to come, Iraq will cost the Americans. For the next five years, perhaps 20% of its army combat forces may be tied down in Iraq, which will compromise any attempt to take a hard line with Iran. Washington wants to make Iran end its nuclear programme, but Teheran has a powerful bargaining position—it easily can cripple American efforts to stabilise the West Bank or Iraq. The Middle East is a tar baby. The US is trapped in it, alongside ayatollohs.
4 Barbara Starr, “Official: 13,000—17,000 insurgents in Iraq”, 9.2.05, www.CNN.com
by Alexander Moens
Participating with the Americans in national missile defence is a common sense, low-cost, and low risk choice for Canadian defence policy. Alas, Ottawa’s footdragging on this decision is turning it into a growing bilateral sore point. Picture the problem from the American perspective. Suppose a missile from Iran or North Korea targeted for an American city was slightly of course. Without a doubt, the American president would order the missile to be intercepted before it would fall on Canadian territory. Now you would think that Canada would be eager to pay 10% or less for the radar facilities and other infrastructure to benefit from this layer of protection that we could never afford ourselves. Rather not. Instead, many Canadian opinion makers and political party leaders worry about the viewpoints of Moscow and Beijing, the impact on arms control and disarmament treaties, and the future of outer space. Having set the public on edge, the government now feels leary about being decisive. Is it any wonder that President Bush during his recent visit to Canada, as reported in the Washington Post, allegedly threw up his hands in unbelief when Prime Minister Martin and his advisers tried to explain that they could not make a decision because of politics? Bush, according to a senior Canadian official who leaked the story—an act which will not help Martin’s quest for a better personal relationship with Bush—was at pains understanding why Canadians would be opposed to defending themselves. I can see Bush’s point. Is he supposed to appreciate that Canada is more closely integrated with American defence functions than any other country in the world while at the same time most Canadians wish they were not? Is he to see the nuance in the fact that Canada has been in the co-chair on air and missile threats through NORAD during all the decades when we did not have defences against ballistic missiles and now that we do, Canada wants to opt out? Should he be impressed that most Canadian defence debates are not about what we actually need or do to defend ourselves but rather about faraway ‘international security’ and how Canadian words and deeds may affect that esoteric phenomenon?
Instead of discussing the practical costs and benefits to our national sovereignty and defence as well as our overall relationship with the Americans, most Canadian commentators have changed the subject of missile defence into a debate about science and international relations theory. What is most maddening about this approach is that at the end of the day, Canada’s decision to cooperate or not has no impact whatsoever on any of the grand issues from which we are trying to build our counter arguments.
Take the scientific issue. Canadians should not accept the American offer, it is argued, because missile defence may not work. So what? We are not asked to build, deploy or pay for the actual missiles or their bases. The Americans, like us, hope we will never have to use interceptor missiles. Just as deterrence during the Cold War had the desired sobering effect, a missile defence network may have a sobering effect on radical regimes that may not be stopped by deterrence alone. In the same vein, it would prevent would-be aggressors from using their few missiles for nuclear blackmail. If it does work, we are all the better for it, if it does not, it is not Ottawa’s fault. The scientific argument has no clincher in the fact that thus far many missile defence tests have failed. We need to look at the lessons learned from the program closest to the current one, namely theatre missile defence. Because some 20 Americans died in the first Gulf War as a result of Iraqi SCUD missiles, the U.S. military started a ‘crash’ program on theatre missile defence, doing research, development, deployment and testing all at the same time. In the early 1990s, the Patriot Missiles did poorly. The commentators who said that you cannot ‘hit a bullet with a bullet’ felt vindicated. But look ten years later: Every Iraqi Ababil-100 and Al-Samoud missile launched at U.S. forces in 2003 and engaged by the PAC-3 was shot down. If theatre missile defence works now, who is to say that national missile defence will not work ten years from now?
Then there is the theoretical critique that says it is extremely unlikely that regimes in Pyonyang or Tehran would be launching anything that would cause them to be annihilated in an American nuclear response. In a pure brainstorming session, Bush would agree. But what option does he have? Is it absolutely impossible that a Kim Jong Il or whoever is in charge at the moment would not push the button? Has he shown any respect for the lives and well being of his own people? If the despotic North Korean regime is willing to starve one million of its own people to develop nuclear weapons can we be sure it would be rational enough on how not to use them? The U.S. Congress tackled this question back in 1999 and passed a law with veto proof majorities in both houses instructing the executive branch to build missile defences.
Another frequent objection raised is the notion that modern terrorists are far more likely to use dirty nuclear bombs in shipping containers, suitcases or through improvised sea borne launchers rather than via intercontinental ballistic missiles, and hence that the real threat is too low to warrant building an anti-ballistic missile capacity. This is a weak argument in the real world where people need to worry about all contingencies. If the United States was completely ignoring homeland security and counter-terrorism such an argument would be reasonable to make in a bilateral session. The fact of the matter is that Washington is going full bore on all fronts. At the moment and for the foreseable future, no budget item in the Pentagon or the Department of Homeland Security is suffering because of missile defence.
This brings us to the final possible dealbreaker. Canada has found in the ideal of a weapons-free outer space a high moral value, a line we could never in good conscience cross, which is advanced as the prime reason to stay out of the missile defence business. Unless the American government guarantees that the Unites States would never place weapons in space, we cannot join. Space like an endangered species must be defended at all costs and it takes principled powers such as Canada to lead the way. Put in such terms, opponents have found a real winner with the Canadian public. But what if the issue is actually less black and white, even somewhat illusionary, and potentially counterproductive? Look at this moral claim in its wider context: weapons are legal under the sea, underground, on the surface of water and land, and in the air. By what magical formula should they be illegal in space? Given the fact that the newest frontier in military affairs is a fully integrated global network capacity, what real likelihood is there that the already militarized space will keep out every form of weapons? Moreover, have we really got our definition right? Is space really a weapons-free zone? If a country launches a nuclear missile, it actually places a weapon in space in a matter of minutes. So space is weapons free until the trigger is pulled. Its virgin status is a myth. If the United States placed a defensive weapon or weapon component in space that could defeat any offensive weapon, would that be unprincipled? Though Canada’s moral position is attractive, is it also innocent? Take the likely scenario that space will sooner or later join the domain of arms and arms races. Canadian national and economic interests depend more and more on our military and commercial satellites. Of course we would need a close working relationship with the United States to defend our Canadian space assets. When we go hat in hand to Washington with that need, would we not be in a stronger position if we had not dropped the ball on missile defence in the first place?
1 Peter Baker, “Bush Doctrine is Expected to Get Chilly Reception,” Washington Post, January 23, 2005.
by Scot Robertson
Canada finds itself in an uncomfortable position as it confronts the uncertainty of the world beyond its borders. The traditional anchors of our foreign and defence policy no longer seem to be sufficient. Instead, the ship of state seems to be drifting, either rudderless, or without a helmsman. While there were indications of a problem well before dawn of the twenty-first century, the problem became all-too apparent in the prelude to and aftermath of the US action against Iraq. The growing gulf between the United States and Europe left Canada and Canadians torn and confused. For a small few, there was a desire to support the United States in its efforts to grapple with the twin dangers posed by the global war on terror on the one hand, and the perceived threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. For a far larger number, the curious and persistent trait that seeks to "blame America" again rose to the surface, as foreign and defence policy elites deliberately sought to distance Canada from the United States and the actions of the Bush administration.
It is indeed unfortunate that at a time such as this, a time that cries out for clear-sighted and forthright guidance in formulating defence and foreign policy, Canadians are so poorly served by the defence and foreign policy apparatus. Sadly, it is not clear that Canada, as a nation, as a people and as a government, is able to make timely and appropriate decisions on the best direction to take, and how we will get there. This inability to consider something as fundamentally important as our strategic interests is a reflection of a lack of or immaturity in strategic culture that has plagued this nation for much of the past decade, if not longer. The reasons for this, while important, are best left to historians of future decades, who will have both the perspective and the context to allow for dispassionate judgement. For the time being, however, we will be forced to grapple with the consequences and implications of this lack of a mature strategic culture. This may prove difficult but it must be faced, for we stand at the beginning of a new security environment, the contours of which have begun to emerge and portend significant implications for our long-term strategic interests. The question that remains, however, is whether the traditional and comfortable methods of the Canadian foreign and defence policy apparatus will be enough. Or, as some others have intimated, the situation may be so different from our past experience, that the "old ways" offer precious little comfort and even less direction.
What is clearly becoming necessary is to have a meaningful debate aimed at achieving a clear understanding that concrete strategic interests and a more coherent national security strategy are essential preconditions for success and relevance in the 21st century security environment. Absent such an effort at considering our strategic interests and crafting a national security strategy to support and secure those interests, Canada runs the risk of picking the wrong path, or perhaps most dangerous of all, choosing none, exposing the country to the vicissitudes of fate and risks of irrelevance.
This will not be an easy task. In the first instance, it will be necessary to overcome a strong and pervasive overhang that makes discussing national security policy difficult and challenging. Desmond Morton, in his recent book, Understanding Canadian Defence captures neatly the challenge. While Morton provides a broad, and by and large accurate reading of how we reached our current nadir, he then basically shrugs his shoulders and suggests that we are condemned to continue down the same path. This attitude is representative of a school of thought that could be best characterized as the historical drag school. While it is important to understand how we reached the point we are at, it is equally important to look to alternate paths for the future.
With that in mind, perhaps it is time for the national security studies community in Canada to come together to explore some of the fundamental aspects of a Canadian strategic culture. This may sound grandiose at a time when Canada's armed forces are starved of essential funding for everything from strategic lift to recruiting and training capacity. However, it is painfully obvious that the lack of coherent direction and guidance stems from something more than government neglect. One possible explanation for this is the immature strategic culture. The national security studies community should undertake a multi-disciplinary effort to explore the notion of a Canadian strategic culture.
As a starting point, the following areas and issues should be considered as key to understanding national strategic culture:
An effort such as the one proposed here might move the national security policy debate beyond the simple calls for increased resources. As we wait the results of yet another defence and international policy review, the national security studies community must be excused if it is not breathless with anticipation. Defence reviews have a checkered past in Canada. By and large, they offer much yet, after considerable deliberations, and some consultation, deliver very little. The reasons for this are both myriad, and well understood, and hence require no elaboration here. As defence analysts and specialists, we should view this with considerable chagrin, for arguably, the strategic calculus has changed sufficiently to suggest that we require a new foundation, something more appropriate for the early twenty first century than for a by-gone era.
by Andrew Richter
The Canadian government’s decision to decline participation in the US missile defence program represents a watershed moment in the Canada-US defence relationship. For the first time in over half a century, Canada has decided not to cooperate with our larger neighbour on an issue of critical importance to the defence of North America. With the decision sure to reverberate for some time, some historical background might help frame the current controversy, as well as provide some much needed perspective.
The decision on missile defence is, in many ways, the most important continental defence issue to arise since the late-1950s and early-1960s. At that time, two issues proved similarly controversial for Canada, and for many of the same reasons as missile defence. These issues were the decision(s) to establish a binational air defence command in 1957-1958, and the debate over whether Canada should acquire nuclear weapons. Both involved Canada in the defence planning of North America, and both had important implications for the larger bilateral relationship. But what is most interesting to this observer is how all three debates have revolved around concerns over sovereignty and political independence in Canada, regardless of the larger strategic context.
The 1957 decision to establish a Canada-US air defence command was not initially contentious. The two countries’ militaries had specifically designed the command for defence purposes, and thus with the diplomats largely excluded from the discussions, the end result was a structure that had widespread military support in both countries.
Once it was announced in Canada, however, the political implications of the command became clear. For the first time in its history, Canada had ceded operational control of its airspace to another country, and yet the unnamed command did not even have an official exchange of notes establishing it. A political storm immediately erupted in Ottawa, and Prime Minister John Diefenbaker quickly announced that the new command would receive a more formal structure, with the result that the North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) was created in April 1958. Even in the aftermath of NORAD’s formation, however, the decision remained controversial for some time in Canada, as the Prime Minister insisted -- in spite of military advice to the contrary -- that the command was closely tied to the Atlantic alliance.
A second controversy worth recalling was the Canadian government’s lengthy debate over whether or not to acquire nuclear weapons, a dispute that has obvious parallels with the current one over missile defence. Despite making a series of commitments from 1955 to 1958 to accept such weapons, in 1959 the Diefenbaker government abruptly changed course, and over the next four years, the Prime Minister’s stance on the issue was almost comically inconsistent – some days indicating support for nuclear acquisition, while on other days comments were made that suggested that Canada had never, in fact, made any nuclear commitments. With peace and women’s groups staging large anti-nuclear protests, and Diefenbaker under attack for some other difficult defence decisions (ie., canceling the Arrow, purchasing the Bomarc in its place, etc.), the Prime Minister likely concluded that avoiding a decision was preferable to angering either faction. Perhaps most importantly, critics alleged that Canada’s defence policy was being formulated in Washington, a charge that the government, in the aftermath of the NORAD debate, was particularly sensitive to.
The uncertainty continued until early 1963, when the American government of John Kennedy revealed its unwillingness to continue the charade. In a State Department press release, the US publicly declared that the Canadian government was refusing to honour previously made commitments, and that the defence of North America was being compromised as a result. Within months, the Diefenbaker government was defeated on a Parliamentary vote of non-confidence, and the new government of Lester Pearson quickly reached an agreement for Canada to acquire the weapons (which this country quietly maintained until 1984).
Thus, in both of these prior bilateral defence debates, the Canadian government ultimately cooperated with the US, in spite of the negative political fallout and the clamor from the political left, which (both then and now) opposed every proposal to tie Canada more closely to the US, regardless of military, political, or strategic benefit. Clearly, the government recognized that where the defence of North America was concerned, Canada was better served having a seat at the table, as opposed to charting its own course and therefore assuming far greater defence responsibilities and heavier financial costs.
Like the earlier issues, the debate on missile defence was slow to evolve. The first American request for Canadian participation came in 1999, and for much of the next four years, the government of Jean Chretien did virtually everything it could to avoid making a decision. During this time, some comments indicated support for the US project while others suggested Canadian opposition. In this regard, Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1995 to 2000, developed a reputation as a fierce opponent of missile defence, and made several speeches ridiculing the program.
Prior to 2003, it appeared as if the likely response of the Canadian government to the American request would be “no”. But through 2003 and 2004, a series of developments suggested that Canada would, in fact, participate. In May 2003, Canadian approval was granted for the initiation of bilateral negotiations aimed at defining the possible Canadian role in the program. In January 2004, a formal bilateral exchange of letters was approved that outlined Canada’s willingness to negotiate an agreement on missile defence. And in August 2004, changes to NORAD were made that ensured that the command would continue its missile warning and detection roles. With Canada’s military strongly supportive of the project, and the Liberal party attempting to balance the vocal anti-American faction that had taken control of caucus, many assumed that it was only a matter of time before the official announcement of participation was made.
But then came last week’s decision. Among the many suggested explanations for it was Prime Minister Paul Martin’s concern over the unpopularity of missile defence in Canada, and particularly in Quebec, where the fortunes of the Liberal party must improve if it is to have any chance of forming a majority government again. In addition, as in the two prior defence debates, the political left in Canada (this time led by many Liberal Members of Parliament) has championed a near-hysterical campaign against defence cooperation with the US, offering objections to the missile defence program that frequently have no factual basis, but touch on traditional Canadian concerns of political sovereignty and independence (although normally left unstated in such critiques is how Canada’s lack of involvement in continental defence improves this country’s sovereignty).
In the aftermath of the missile defence decision, it is difficult to predict what the fallout may be. Without question, the Martin government has lost much goodwill with the Bush administration, and reclaiming it will be difficult, especially considering that the US is still smarting from the anti-American comments made by several Liberal officials in the prelude to the Iraq war.
However, the decision’s long-term significance may be far more important than lost goodwill. For the first time in 60 years, a Canadian government has decided against participation with the US in a defence initiative aimed at protecting North America. As is clear from recent comments made by Bush administration spokespeople and a rash of angry newspaper editorials, the US is having difficulty understanding Canada’s opposition to a program aimed at defending this continent. That resentment might ultimately herald a fundamental change in the relationship, one that will have dramatic negative consequences for the more dependent of the two states.
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