Spring 2006 (Volume IV, Issue I)

Promoting new understanding and improvement of Canadian foreign and defence policy.

In this issue:

Message from the President - Robert S. Millar

Welcome to the Spring 2006 issue of “The Dispatch” newsletter. In this edition we introduce two new Fellows, Barry Cooper from the University of Calgary and Stéphane Roussel, Université du Québec à Montréal to our network of Canadians interested in providing informed opinion on Canadian security, defence and foreign affairs issues.

Since our last newsletter CDFAI has been planning its programs for 2006 and working on broadening its outreach assets.

Along with this newsletter Dr Elinor Sloan’s paper, The Strategic Capability Investment Plan: Origins, Evolution and Future Prospects is being released.

In this newsletter there are four compelling articles for your consideration on topics such as the OAS, Hamas, Opportunities for the new Conservative Government and Putting Public Servants in Harm’s Way.

The first article by George Haynal is titled - Canada in the Americas: Whence did it Come, How did it Do, Where is it bound? George provides an analysis of Canada’s involvement in the OAS and Hemispheric multilateralism plus some suggestions on where this country should consider going in the future.

Tami Jacoby’s article The Writing was on the Wall! Implications of the Hamas Victory briefly discusses the issues facing Hamas and the key question on whether it can resolve the seeming contradiction between its internal and external agenda.

The North American Cocoon by Gordon Smith touches on many of the current challenges facing the new federal government and some of the issues that need to be considered.

Putting Public Servants in Harm’s Way: Dilemmas of the Democratic State in a Violent and Uncertain World by Dennis Stairs examines the “substantial and significant” Canadian interests that need to be analyzed by governments in Ottawa before authorizing the deployment of personnel to dangerously violent environments abroad.

2006 is now upon us, there is a new government in Ottawa and already the international scene is changing. How will Canada respond? CDFAI believes that there are many positive ways that this nation can and should be involved. Enjoy this issue of “The Dispatch” and contact us if you have any comments.  


CDFAI New Fellows

barrycooper.jpg Barry Cooper: a fourth generation Albertan, was educated at Shawnigan Lake School, the University of British Columbia and Duke University (PhD, 1969).  He taught at Bishop's University, McGill, and York University before coming to the University of Calgary in 1981. He has been a visiting professor in Germany and the United States.  His teaching and research has tried to bring the insights of Western political philosophers to bear on contemporary issues, from the place of technology and the media in Canada, to the debate over the constitutional status of Quebec and Alberta, to current military and security policy.


stephaneroussel.jpg Stéphane Roussel:  is Assistant Professor - Department of Political Science, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and the Canada Research Chair in Canadian Foreign and Defence Policy. From 2000-2002, he was Professor at Glendon College (York University) in Toronto where he taught international relations and security studies. He has also lectured as a visiting Professor at Université de Montréal. He graduated from Université du Québec à Montréal (B.A. and M.A., 1983-1990) and Université de Montréal (Ph. D., 1999). Professor Roussel has received several grants and scholarships from institutions such as Department of National Defence, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and NATO.

CDFAI Fellow, Alexander Moens, Professor at Simon Fraser University, BC was a panelist at the February 23-24 CDA Conference: “NATO in Transition: The Impact on Canada” held in Ottawa. The panel was titled: The Political and Military Transformation of NATO.



jeansebastianrioux.jpg February 28, 2006 – CDFAI Fellow, Jean-Sébastien Rioux, was appointed Chief of Staff  for The Honourable Jim Prentice,  Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.


Education - Canadian Military Journalism Course

 WHO:  Eleven Canadian students enrolled in the 3rd and 4th year (minimum) of a university journalism degree program
 WHAT: This program introduces students to military journalism and the Canadian Forces.  The course includes a combination of media-military theory in a classroom setting, coupled with field visits to Canadian Forces regular and reserve units. 
 WHEN:     May 7 – 17, 2006
 WHERE:  Classroom work – Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary
Fieldwork – Calgary reserve units and regular force units in Edmonton, Alberta
Included in the scholarship are: 
Transportation to and from Calgary
Meals and,
Ground transportation in Alberta

 DEADLINE:    Submissions must be post-marked no later than March 24, 2006.


Research Paper: The Strategic Capability Investment Plan: Origins, Evolution and Future Prospects

On March 13, 2006, Dr. Elinor Sloan’s paper entitled:  The Strategic Capability Investment Plan:  Origins, Evolution and Future Prospects will be released.  This study is an analysis of current Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence plans for new capital spending over the next 15 years. The complete paper is now available online at and may be downloaded by clicking here.  



Canada In The Americas: Whence Did It Come, How Did It Do, Where Is It Bound?

by George Haynal  

Canada’s 1990 decision to enter the OAS was touted as the beginning of our “decade of the Americas”. Rightly so, as it turned out.  We did play a successful multilateralist role in the hemispheric system that has served both our partners and ourselves well. Now the Americas’ receptivity to hemispheric cooperation is in decline.   We need to refine the way in which we continue to build a place for ourselves in this important part of the world.

How We Came To Be A Hemispheric Player      
The decision to join the OAS came a full century after the foundation of the International Union of Pan-American States in 1889 (the predecessor to the OAS, which itself was founded in 1948).  Put another way, Canada had refused to join the interamerican system for a hundred years until the Mulroney government in one of its underappreciated acts of statesmanship (like its campaign against Apartheid) did so. Its successors maintained the Mulroney vision, and to his credit, Lloyd Axworthy, actually built on it.

Why? What explains our apparently sudden engagement with the Americas in the 90’s and the bipartisan determination thereafter to maintain it?

A review of our motives is useful because the interests that drove policy then continue to drive it now.  Only the environment for pursuing them has changed. 

Our Americas policy is built on six pillars: 

First, by the late 1980’s there was no reason not to engage. The Hemisphere had become club-able (In the peculiar Canadian sense of the word, i.e. that we were prepared to be part of it).  Our historic discomfort with the politics of the region, and our fear of being caught between conflicting U.S. and Latin American expectations, were no longer justified as the era of military dictatorships had ended. There were few governments that were active in the OAS by 1990 that had not been democratically elected.  Even if Cuba was a major exception, and if a number of other regimes had questionable democratic credentials, Canadian politicians were comfortable in arguing that by joining the Hemispheric club we would now be able to help embed democracy and respect for human rights, rather than legitimize despotism.

The region had also become economically more accessible.

With political change had come more open economies and Canadian companies, particularly telecom and resource companies were investing intensively in the region. They needed rules based systems and transparent governance to ensure the viability of their presence. The best way Canada could help them, and also help the region to attract stable constructive investment, was to help raise the bar for governance throughout the Hemisphere.

Second, Canadian decision makers saw Hemispheric multilateralism as useful in managing relations with the US. The United States wanted us to be engaged as independent but broadly sympathetic actors in the Hemisphere (as we had been in the North Atlantic in the course of the Cold War).  It was easy by the 90’s to accommodate them since Canadian policy in the Americas was broadly congruent with those of the Bush I and Clinton Administrations. Both they and we placed an emphasis on embedding free markets and democratic governance in the region.1 Canada, with no history in the Americas and respected as a democratic market economy, could be among the countries with credibility needed to stimulate and channel efforts at political and economic reform.

There was also another, narrower dimension to US arguments for Canadian engagement. The way the Americans saw it, the privilege of FTA partnership brought with it some obligation to help spread the values on which it was built, and that obligation could best be discharged in the Americas, the one region where Canada actually had both interests and influence.

The FTA also played a role in persuading the Canadian government to become a Hemispheric player. Our success in negotiating the agreement convinced political leaders that we could take an active( and sometimes divergent) role in America’s backyard without the United States being able to steamroll us.

The subsequent inclusion of Mexico in NAFTA further convinced Canadian decision makers that we were, whether we liked it or not, now tied to Latin America. If we wanted the region to live by our values and respect our interests, we could no longer go mano a mano with our partners wearing rubber gloves. If we wanted a more inclusive community (and one less dominated by the US), we had to join it.

Third, Canada needed a region that it could call its own. The end of the Cold War and the development of the European Union meant that we were no longer able to rely on the transatlantic relationship to offset the gravitational pull of the United States.2 If our diplomacy was effective, the Hemisphere could provide a bloc that we could leverage in the management of power relations around the world.

Fourth, an activist engagement through the OAS could, and did, burnish the Government’s multilateralist credentials, demonstrating Canadian determination to bring our values to a region that many Canadians thought were badly in need of them. Our engagement with the Central American peace processes showed what effective Canadian diplomacy could achieve in tough circumstances.3

Fifth, Canada’s cultural duality and our changing demographics both made it politically important to be seen to be part of the hemispheric system. Joining it recognized and leveraged Quebec’s identity as a non-English speaking civil law-based North American society. The Americas would be a stage to complement and diffuse the focus on the “Francophonie” and to assert internationally the Latin nature of one of our founding cultures in a body that was free of French competition.

Growing domestic political constituencies with ties to the Caribbean demanded that Canada engage as a big stick ally to the small, English speaking island states who felt their ambitions and interests were too often frustrated by the Hemisphere’s much larger Spanish speaking membership.

Sixth, we needed to distribute more widely the increasingly heavy political, moral and security load we were carrying in Haiti, while assuring us a visible leadership role in the effort.

Last, and most important, while few Latin American countries saw us as authentically part of the Americas (and there was little reason they should, given our record) virtually all genuinely welcomed our engagement. Fledgling democracies attempting the difficult transition from closed to open economies, they saw Canada as a helpful model.4 They also saw us as singularly effective in “managing” the United States and wanted us to help them do the same. They looked to us to modulate American policy and to bring a non US-North American dimension to the way that the OAS system worked.

How we did:
By and large our decade of engagement with the Americas seems to have served these diverse sets of interests reasonably well.

We made a modest but real contribution to the advancement of human rights, the rule of law, democratic governance and socially sensitive economic reform in the Hemisphere. We have helped strengthen ties between our economy and those of the region. We have helped the region, especially the smaller countries, to participate more effectively in the great multilateral institutions that shape so much of their environment.   Our decade of the Americas, in short, may have been among the most successful engagements we have recently had in any part of the world.

But while we can take comfort from what we managed to achieve, we certainly cannot afford to be complacent. We face a major challenge in ensuring that the progress continues in the less receptive environment ushered in by the new century.


The rise and decline of Hemispheric multilateralism
The Quebec City Summit of April 2001 was the culmination of our Decade of the Americas.  It was also to be the apogee of the current efforts at hemispheric construction. A gathering of democratically elected leaders, the Summit affirmed a shared commitment to both democracy and free trade (in an economic zone that was to have free access to the US market).  But as with all apogees, that Summit was the top of a down slope, in this case for hemispheric cooperation.

There were many reasons for this decline of common purpose.

Enthusiasm for Hemispheric free trade had already started to wane when it became clear that the new US Administration could not deliver it.5  By the early years of the new decade, botched economic reforms brought ( and continue to bring) into power a number of anti free trade governments to align with President Chavez in opposing free trade and the market economy. Brazil‘s determined diplomatic efforts to scupper what they saw as a US centered economic system is also bearing fruit. Efforts to negotiate the FTAA are now condemned to irrelevance as countries in the region, including the US, make their own more restricted (and restrictive) trade arrangements.

Though constitutional form continues to be observed and the structures of democratic governance remain the norm, the tide of enthusiasm for parliamentary democracy began to ebb even before the Leaders met in Quebec City. Hugo Chavez announced the return of populist “Caudillo democracy” to a region that had spent the last decade desperately trying to distance itself from the legacy of authoritarian rule and move towards the more rules-based parliamentary model that Canada has tried to promote. His political success (and generosity with oil) has led other leaders to emulate (or at least to accommodate) the “Bolivarian” model. Chavez drew his ideological inspiration from Fidel Castro, a deeply divisive figure who is now again to be reckoned with, at least in rhetorical terms.

The Hemisphere has also fallen far among America’s priorities except as an active front in “the war on drugs”. It concentrates its foreign policy on fighting Islamic terrorism. Its international economic diplomacy is now dedicated to advancing the Doha Round and concluding a series of politically saleable bilateral arrangements that preempt competing regional arrangements. Rather than a region where the USA is advancing a broad progressive agenda, it has become, once again a place of troubles to manage, in Cuba, in Venezuela, in Bolivia, and it now has a a regional power, Brazil, that is challenging US primacy.

Alongside these divisive changes, all of which challenge hemispheric solidarity, is the corrosive persistence of problems that have not found a solution despite decades of effort by the regional community:

  • The Caribbean states are still struggling with deep economic and social problems, and the OAS seems to be of little more help than it was before Canada joined.
  • The global community is still struggling with the seemingly insoluble challenges of helping Haiti to help itself, though there are now others, like Brazil who are now sharing in that effort who were not before.
  • Deep economic inequalities still persist throughout the region.
  • Human rights are still only tentatively enshrined in many countries.
  • Narco trafficking (and the fight against it) persists as a profound social, economic problem, now transmuted into a political one with the election of Evo Morales in Bolivia.  

The picture is far from universally negative however.  On the positive side: 

  • Constitutional forms have been observed even where change of government has been out of cycle.
  • Elections, though often troubled, have been conducted under impartial supervision in most countries of the region, conferring legitimacy on the governments that were elected. 
  • The economies of the region, though many are unstable in  a  number of cases, continue to perform above the historic norm.
  • Foreign investment is flowing into stable and open economies, including from Canada.
  • Brazil has taken its rightful place among the emerging giants of the world economy and is increasingly active and engaged with the global economic system.
  • Though some border tensions continue to seethe, sometimes stoked by narco terrorism, there are no military conflicts on any frontier in the Americas

Where do we go from here?
Even if we did not meet all our objectives, our modest hemispheric investment has provided real returns. At the very minimum it has brought a major shift in perceptions. Canada is no longer a stranger in the Hemisphere. We are parties and partners who have earned respect if not yet affection. The question is how to build on this legacy in the current circumstances. The government has not yet decided. We are on rhetorical cruise control when it comes to the region. It is now as much the private sector as the government that is shaping our presence. Only with Mexico are we starting to make the kinds of efforts that indicate a wish for real engagement.

Given that the region represents real potential for Canada, even though it continues to be troubled, what should we do now that the impulse to common action has lost momentum?

Our interests are unchanged.  The government, however, has to decide how much of a priority to attach to them. The International Policy Statement was only modestly helpful on this front.  It may be time for a broader consultation among those interested in the subject. There are now far greater numbers of Canadians who have legitimate claims to seats at the table in such a consultation than there were before1990. That alone may be an important and positive result of the Decade of the Americas.

These consultations might usefully focus on the following questions, among others.

First, if the US has lost focus in the Americas, could Canada now play an even more important role as champion of democratic development and transparent economic governance than it had before.  Should we reassess the emphasis we place on our hemispheric multilateralism, and put a higher priority on strengthening the OAS system now that it is not only down,  but less dominated by what has too often been seen as a US agenda? We have had some success in making this body a credible instrument for shared effort. Should we not do more now that it needs our engagement more than ever, and when we could therefore have more influence than ever?

Second, should we not make more of an effort to shape some of our own domestic policy priorities with a more hemispheric perspective? Immigration is one area in which where we effectively ignore the wealth of resources available to us in the Americas. Should we not place more emphasis on enriching the mix of new citizens with systematic programs in Latin America similar to those that we now have in China and the Indian subcontinent? This is important to consider even as a matter of simple self interest. As economic opportunities continue to grow in the region (and as the United States continues to become increasingly Latino in makeup) we would be well advised to ensure we have bridges to the Americas.

Third, as we consider power relations in the increasingly global world order, should we not place more of our diplomatic emphasis on building up a global relationship with Brazil. It is one of the new economic giants, along with China and India, who are coming to be important players in shaping the world economy and the rules that govern it. Our relationship with Brazil is almost bizzarely thin for two countries that increasingly share so much in terms of values and geo-strategic interest. Educational and cultural exchanges, research collaboration, a shared effort on the global stage in defence of human rights and peace maintenance, cooperation in multilateral economic and social forums are all natural areas for development. Yet, we seem stuck with a relationship too thin to withstand frictions of the kind that other major country relationships withstand without the parties ceding their core interests.

Fourth, can we have a more productive relationship with Latin American countries whose economies, like ours, rely on the development and exploitation of rich natural resources? Our resource sector is, as noted, already deeply involved in the region. That engagement has largely been mutually beneficial.  Should Canadian governments not also engage, making, for instance a more concerted effort to ensure that resource management policies in the region reflect our own? Such a convergence would serve all of us well.

Should we, lastly, not use our privileged engagement with the Americas as leverage in our relationships elsewhere?

The EU have in the last years been working to establish close relationships in the region. China is entering the Americas to assure itself access to resources and markets and as part of its broader strategy to establish its global influence. We are already in the Americas, as members of the community, not as outside partners. Using the advantages of incumbency should be an important part of our future foreign policy?

Could we, for instance, use our influence in the region to press our issues more effectively (or push back) with major powers such as EU, China and the U.S., which have considerable leverage to bring to bear on us?

Could we not also work better with the countries of the region to ensure that their interests and ours are pursued effectively in the global system, for instance in the UN and the international economic organizations?

Could we not, conversely use our global networks of relations to continue to build positive change in the Americas?

Could we not work more with the EU in ensuring that the Hemisphere continues to evolve in directions that we both support, for instance in Cuba.

Could we not work with China to help ensure that trade and investment in the region are done on an open and sustainable basis.

 Lastly, could we not cooperate more fruitfully in the Americas with Mexico, the North American partner with whom we need to build common purpose on many fronts? Everyone would benefit from Canada-Mexico cooperation in the hemisphere.

It would bring a non-US, but North American dynamism to the region.

Canada would be able to enrich its own capacity for action by working closely with a country fully of the Hispanic and aboriginal traditions.

Mexico would be helped to move beyond the reticent engagement it has in the hemisphere which is based in part on concern about being caught alone between the U.S. and Latin America.

A win-win all around, if we took the opportunity.

The foregoing provides some ideas for a new approach to the Americas but others will have their own perspectives on where we should be heading.  It is time to hear from them.


1 Cuba, being an exception, but even here, our disagreement was on means, not ends. Both governments in the 90’s wanted a transition to democratic governance.

2 Nor were we able to make a significant region for ourselves out of the “Asia Pacific”.  

3 As would the role that Lloyd Axworthy and our OAS Ambassador played in 2000 in assuring a peaceful transition of power in Peru.

4 As one senior representative of a Latin American country so eloquently put it to a Canadian colleague. “My ambition is to make mine a middle class country like your own”.

5 It is worth noting that there was no unanimity among Canadian trade officials about the value of the FTAA, which some saw as diluting our privileged access to the US market.



The writing was on the wall! Implications of the Hamas victory 

by Tami Amanda Jacoby

The recent landslide victory of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) in Palestinian legislative elections on January 25, 2006 should be no surprise to anybody following the key fissures in the Palestinian areas erupting over the last few years. The writing was on the wall as student and Chamber of Commerce elections, as well as public opinion polls, consistently demonstrated, year after year, overwhelming support for Hamas over the ruling Fatah party in Gaza and areas of the West Bank. The electoral results punctuated a reality that was long concealed. What accounts for widespread support for the Hamas?

During the peace process era, the chasm between the haves and have-nots widened as Fatah party officials pocketed donor funds, evaded public accountability, and a myriad of self-preservationist security services cracked down on opponents with utter contempt for the rule of law. Palestinian officials negotiated with Israel at a time when the continuation of Jewish settlement activity and unilateral measures such as Israel’s security barrier and targeted assassinations rendered joint work increasingly unpopular. These actions resulted in the loss of legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian people.

Owing to the bankruptcy, both political and economic, of the Palestinian National Authority, Hamas gradually built a power base at the grassroots level through a loosely knit group of operatives functioning clandestinely and openly recruiting through mosques and a comprehensive network of social welfare services. These institutions obtained loyalties in exchange for badly needed relief at a time when basic services were unavailable from the main governing bodies. As a result, the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the entire peace process were undermined by a more radical agenda that spread like a cancer throughout the Palestinian areas and funneled in to the transnational development of radical Islam.

The ramifications of the Hamas victory are as yet unknown although a number of scenarios are possible. On one hand and for the first time ever, Palestinians elected a government that represents the popular will. In this respect, it was the first authentic exercise of democracy in the history of the Arab world. However, democracy does not necessarily bring with it a more progressive or enlightened agenda. The Hamas is not, in itself, a democratic entity and is no model of harmonious relations. Palestinian support for Hamas was motivated for the most part, by frustrations over the failed Oslo Peace Process, continued Israeli control, oppression on the part of their own police state, and abandonment by neighbouring Arab countries. For many Palestinians, Hamas is a protest vote that, although highly controversial, represents the hope of a better future, one in which corruption, nepotism, lawlessness, poverty and oppression are things of the past. If the Hamas comes through on its promise of Palestinian institutional reform and transparency, the very changes long demanded by the United States and its allies, it may well provide the needed internal stability that will fulfill the long-sought after Palestinian objective of national self-determination.

On the other hand, Hamas has the potential to destabilize the entire region by escalating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and transforming the Palestinian areas into breeding grounds for international terrorism. Democratic government is only possible in a peaceful society. While the religion of Islam calls for tolerance and peace, Hamas promotes extremism and war. Hamas is ultimately, a ruthless and radical Islamic fundamentalist movement whose founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamist state over every inch of Palestine. The Hamas deals ruthlessly with anyone suspected of collaborating with Israel and views with contempt visions of a secular ideological alternative.

Supported by fundamentalist Iran, the Hamas is designated within the overall global war against terrorism as a terrorist entity by the United States, Canada, the EU, and Australia. Hamas activists, through the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have conducted countless large-scale suicide attacks and other forms of indiscriminate slaughter of innocent civilians in Israel. Hamas was responsible for 67% of suicide bomb attacks between 2000 and 2005 (sometimes in collaboration with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad) resulting in thousands of Israeli casualties. Hamas shows no sign of changing its mandate to recognize Israel and engage in peaceful negotiations in the near future.

The key question is whether Hamas will resolve the contradiction between its internal and external agenda. On one hand, Hamas remains committed to the uncompromising platform of national struggle for all of Palestine. On the other hand, Hamas must now fulfill its obligations to improve the living conditions of the Palestinian people. Governance requires compromise. So does international legitimacy. If Hamas does not redefine its politics, it will be refused entry into the international community and denied access to funding, which can only undermine plans to redistribute wealth and build a platform for statehood. The international community can only hope that Hamas will moderate its stance in office, thereby opening the doors to collaboration with alternative leadership candidates, structures, and ideas that are more moderate and untainted by the ills of any previous governing body.



The North American Cocoon

by Gordon Smith

It is quite remarkable. The last election campaign barely touched on anything beyond our borders. One might think we lived in a North American cocoon. Actually, even that would be too broad a conception, as even Mexico was never mentioned, to the best of my knowledge.

Of course, relations with the United States were mentioned, with the winning Conservatives saying they should be improved. Even before the new government took office, however, the Prime Minister-designate as he was then known, had to tell the American Ambassador we didn’t need to be lectured on whether we needed icebreaking capability in OUR North. And then the US military in Baghdad shot at a convoy transporting the Canadian Charge d’Affaires and other Canadians. The US said the convoy ignored orders to stop; this was flatly rejected by the Canadians who were fortunate not to have been wounded or even killed.

The US is our “best friend”, it is often said. But countries have interests, not friends. The key in managing our relationship with the US is never to lose sight of our national interests. The US certainly won’t now or in the future, and nor should we be captured - either by our emotions (rhetorically bashing the latest excess from Washington) or wishful thinking (if only the US elections were sooner and the Democrats in power).

In short, Canada lives in an increasingly small world and needs to interact with it. As James Rosenau points out, it is a world of “fragmegration” (fragmentation and integration occurring at the same time), the “intermestic” nature of policy (the international and the domestic are increasingly meshed) and “distant proximities” (events seemingly far away can have an immediate bearing on our lives).

Let us hope that the new government does not commission a large number of basic policy reviews. Policy is made and not written about in abstraction by committee.  White papers are usually laborious to produce, bland as to their practical implications and soon forgotten.

The reality is that Canada has limited assets in the international arena. They must be harnessed to work together. I would hope the hugely unpopular decision to split Foreign Affairs and International Trade would be reversed without delay. I would also like to see Canada’s development assistance as a critical arm of foreign policy.

There are many issues in the world over which Canada has no influence, but about which Canada is often asked for opinion. It reduces our political credibility, however, if we make hortatory statements which will inevitably be ignored outside our borders.

As an example of a major international problem, let me take the Middle East.  The victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections has obviously complicated the situation in the Middle East, and raises many questions. Should donors, including Canada, turn off the aid spigot ($1B US a year) until Hamas changes its declaratory policy on the use of violence and the elimination of Israel? Or should donors continue providing assistance to a duly elected Palestinian administration, counting on positive incentives and realities of holding power to change Hamas?

This is a tough choice, and one on which the new government will hear from Canadians. I would urge those interested to read Graham Fuller’s book entitled Political Islam. Fuller is a former CIA official specializing in the Middle East who now lives in Canada. He argues the political Islam is a reality with which we will have to come to terms. It does not imply accepting violence as part of politics but dealing with people who may have been terrorists in the past, and tolerating other than traditional western forms of democracy.

In the Middle East, the key decisions will be taken by the Quartet (the UN, US, EU and Russia). Canada should try to influence these decisions by having its own position and by being ready to take a specific role in the process. We could, for example, concentrate on the issue of water, or refugees. The point is to choose a few global issues which we have knowledge of and experience in, and devote significant intellectual and financial capital on them, accepting we are not centre stage or unlimited in capacities.

CDFAI has long argued for a foreign policy based on national interests – which is not to say that values should be ignored.  Canada is largely made up of immigrants from various parts of the world, however, and Canadians hardly share a common perception of their national interests. Many Canadians press the point of view of their specific group, and it is a real challenge to balance various groups’ pressures. We need hard-nosed thinking as to where Canadian interests really lie, especially in Israeli-Palestinian issues.

The Conservatives have stated unequivocally that Canada’s climate change policy should not be determined by the Kyoto regime but should be “made in Canada” instead. A national policy should be formulated for greenhouse gas emissions reductions, as well as an energy policy which would ensure a maximum benefit from the use of technology.

There are opportunities here. Kyoto extension is going nowhere as the US will never participate without China and India being included, and that won’t happen. The US wants a “made in the US” approach to greenhouse gas reductions. The US is not arguing that climate change is a figment of the imagination and that human behaviour does not contribute to the problem; the point is that we should not  stick only to  a Kyoto type approach.  Canada could take a lead in developing a better approach, which would be more acceptable to the countries now outside the Kyoto protocol. Canada is eminently suited for a role as broker of an international agreement on a controversial issue like cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

We can expect the new Government to be sensitive to the fact that the US is obviously preoccupied by its security and the “war on terrorism”. This effects Canada in many ways. The threat that weapons of mass destruction might one day be used by terrorists adds seriously to the problem. Regimes to constrain non-proliferation need to be strengthened (Iran will be a good test case), and we in the West (not just the US) have a major problem with extreme violent Islamists.

In trying to forge international agreements on security, it is important, however, to remember that  security can be defined in different ways in different parts of the world. For example, many more people are killed in internal conflicts than by terrorists. Canada could help the international community achieve a broader global understanding of the various security needs and challenges.

There are far too many poor people in the world; this creates problems of global consequence. A researcher at the Centre for Global Studies has established, for example, that there was in Pakistan a clear link between poverty and terrorist behaviour – something I know will be a controversial finding.  Reducing poverty and inequity in the world is of great importance to improving world security, however, and needs more collaboration and imagination on a global level than has thus far been achieved. This is something to which Canadians could make a crucial contribution, considering  their skills and vast experience in building capacity in developing countries.

It is to be hoped that the new Government will continue its predecessor’s efforts to strengthen the world’s capacity to meet global challenges. This includes the reform of international institutions and the creation of both formal and informal networks  (see the writings of Anne-Marie Slaughter and Jean-Francois Rischard). There is increasing interest in the idea of a L20 on which Prime Minister Harper can build.

Finally, another subject dear to CDFAI, we must take on board the reality that our armed forces – and diplomats (Glyn Berry has recently been buried as this is written) – are now on the front line.  They should be given the appropriate equipment and resources to cope with this reality, once the government specifies its priorities and the roles it foresees for Canada on a global stage.



Putting Public Servants In Harm's Way: Dilemmas of the Democratic State in a Violent and Uncertain World 

by Denis Stairs

On 15 January a suicide bomber, apparently Taliban-inspired, detonated a car stuffed with explosives alongside a Mercedes “G Wagon” patrol jeep occupied by members of Canada’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Glyn R. Berry, a senior Canadian foreign service officer and the PRT’s political director, was killed instantly,1and the three soldiers who were his companions in the vehicle were grievously wounded. Several Afghan civilians also died, and early press reports indicated that at least nine others were injured.

The Minister of National Defence, Bill Graham, had warned Canadians weeks before that the Kandahar operation would be dangerous, and casualties were likely. So had senior military officers, and they have continued to do so repeatedly throughout the build-up of Canadian forces in the theatre to their current level of some 2,200 personnel.2

Notwithstanding the warnings, however, Mr. Berry’s death came as a profound shock – and not least of all to Foreign Affairs Canada. This can be explained in part as a natural response to the sudden loss in dramatic circumstances of a close friend and greatly admired colleague. But it also seems possible that the foreign service itself was caught be surprise. It had known, of course, what the dangers were. But its knowing was of the abstract sort – the sort that leads the wise and the thoughtful to insist in a policy meeting that the hazards be carefully weighed when recommendations to government are being thrashed out. Such knowing is important, even essential, to the making of responsible decisions. It is not, however, the knowing that comes from real experience. Canadian diplomats had often been in tight spots and dangerous environments before.  But none had perished as the direct result of a hostile act of political violence. With Mr. Berry’s death, the realities in Kandahar lost their abstract cover. They were really real.

It is reasonable in the light of all this to speculate that the Department, since the middle of January, has been reviewing its position and second-guessing itself, if not formally, then certainly in quiet corridor conversations and in solitary rounds of soul-searching. In assessing the options, in consulting with cognate departments, ultimately in advising the government, had it given the risks their proper weight? Were the objectives at issue clear enough, significant enough, to warrant taking the hazards on? That the Canadians in the theatre were doing magnificent work – professionally, selflessly and with courage – could not be denied.  That at least some Afghans would suffer much less misery in their lives because of it could not be denied either. Moreover, those who were actually doing the job – Mr. Berry included – were clearly willing as individuals to accept the sacrifices involved, including in extremis the greatest sacrifice of all. But in the end they were there not as private individuals but in their capacity as public servants3, and their presence was a consequence of government policy.  That being so, the question had to be asked: Were the prospects of long-term gain sufficiently promising to justify the effort – and the cost?  Should Foreign Affairs, in short, have recommended differently.

Given the tendency of Canadians to think their foreign policies should manifest their ‘values’, they might be wise to reflect on the tragedy that has befallen Mr. Berry and his family, and reconsider the criteria they need to apply in assessing their country’s operations abroad. Especially in cases where government policy places public servants (uniformed or otherwise) in physical jeopardy, they must surely ask whether the desire to ‘do good’ in the world is a sufficient ground in itself for authorizing hazardous deployments. This is because the perils involved are borne not by the Canadians (and public opinion polls would indicate that there are many of them) who hold such preferences, but by others – by professionals whose job it is to implement the policies of government authorities.

It should be remembered that in any liberal democratic society (and some, like Lloyd Axworthy, would universalize the proposition to argue that the same should be true of all societies), the first responsibility of those who govern is always to serve the interests of the citizens over whom they preside. In the case of liberal states, this obligation is reflected most obviously and tangibly in the structure of government institutions. Intellectually, these are founded in the western tradition of liberal political philosophy. Practically, they are imbedded in constitutional arrangements, practices  and conventions that are designed to ensure that those who govern do so to advance not simply what they perceive to be their own interests, but more importantly the interests of the citizenry at large. Since persons of power cannot be counted on to behave in this fashion on the basis of goodwill alone, we have contrived through the electoral process and myriad other protections to ensure that our political leaders will understand that serving the public interest is in their own interest as well. If they fail in that understanding, or if they lose track of it, they know they will be fired.

It follows from all this that governments in Ottawa have a duty to ascertain that a substantial and significant Canadian interest is at stake before they can reasonably authorize the deployment of their personnel to dangerously violent environments abroad. The interest at issue has to be “substantial and significant” because the burdens that may have to be borne by those in the field – loss of life, limb, or long-term health among them – are extremely severe. Making Canadians feel good about their country’s well-intended internationalism is not an objective that can meet by itself this “substantial significance” test.  Neither (I would argue) would an objective aimed primarily at reinforcing the influence of Canadian diplomacy at the headquarters of the United Nations, or in the councils of  NATO, or in the capitals of important allies.

It should be noted here that the justificatory requirements are much less demanding in cases where the expenditure of government assets bears only on public treasure, and not on the lives of public servants.  In the case of development assistance, for example, making at least some Canadians ‘feel good’ can be an acceptable rationale, provided only that the expenditures are not so extensive as to involve an ‘opportunity cost’ that deprives other Canadians at home of services, like health care, that they understandably regard as vital. In such cases, governments are free, within reasonable limits, to be generous to others with Canada’s public funds because at least part of the citizenry is asking them to be so. Other rationales, more utilitarian in character, can also be persuasive, provided they are empirically convincing. If development assistance promotes trade, enhances Canada’s image in the world at large, supports its diplomacy in the U.N. General Assembly, avoids embarrassment in the OECD, wins Ottawa a seat at the table in organizations that it wishes to encourage abroad, and so on, then the expenditures involved (if they are not out wildly out of proportion) are easily defended.  They can be defended, too, if persuasive evidence can be mounted to show that improving the conditions in which populations have to live overseas also serves in the end to increase the security of Canadians at home.

But where the lives of public employees may be placed in serious jeopardy, much stronger tests are necessary.  In the final analysis, these tests boil down to the requirement that the risk be assumed because it is necessary to the enhancement of national security –  to the defence (direct or indirect) of the realm and of those who reside within it. As individuals, those who volunteer for service in the Canadian Forces may be responding to any of a multiplicity of incentives – the prospect of learning a trade, seeing the world, operating complex equipment, working miracles with esoteric electronics, enjoying the rewards of membership on the team, ‘making a difference’ where the challenges are great and ‘making a difference’ really counts, and all the rest. But when their lives are seriously and predictably on the line, a government can justify their deployment only by reference to the increased level of security – Canadian security – that it expects will ultimately result. Other purposes, more mundane purposes, may also be served. But as justifications they are not enough.

It is precisely this circumstance that makes deployment decisions so very difficult in the current environment, especially for countries that have limited capacities and know they cannot by themselves have a decisive impact on outcomes. The world, as usual, is disordered, but the game itself is prosecuted by a far more variegated collection of players than the ones we associate with the traditional state system. Many of the adversaries are non-state actors. Some of them – not all – are loosely co-ordinated, but their networks are both shadowy and transnational. Their motives, moreover, are mixed, and the mixtures are different respectively for leaders and followers. Some of their purposes may be clear, but others are difficult to pin down. Since their conventional military capabilities are meagre, the political techniques they employ as a substitute are those of transnational guerilla warfare (techniques that are often unhelpfully subsumed under the heading of  “terror”). Some of these, in some locations, fit the traditional ‘hit, run, and-hide-in-the-mountains’ pattern. Others are targeted to the vulnerabilities of urban modernity.

The problem for decision-makers is that the consequences of any physical intervention in response to challenges of this sort are uncertain, and the cause-and-effect linkages between the intervention itself and security conditions at home are both indirect and highly unreliable. The results cannot be predicted. They may even turn out to be counterproductive. Under such circumstances, the interventionist enterprise is enveloped by the curse of ambiguity, and in a democratic society this is certain to generate debates that cannot be resolved in the abstract. The uncertainties, moreover, are not confined to the untutored and the uninformed. They afflict the professionals in the policy community as well.

Governments in the liberal world have experienced such problems often enough before, in recent times most tragically (if somewhat differently) in the context of the American intervention in Vietnam. But in Afghanistan, and in other cases like it, the difficulty may be worse. Perhaps the intervention will both weaken the Taliban and win the locals over. But it may just as easily weaken the Taliban only at first, and then strengthen it again by intensifying resentment, both locally and far away, of the muscular aliens who have come to do the stabilizing job. Again, the involvement specifically of Canada in the intervening coalition may well win Ottawa credit in Brussels, Washington and elsewhere, but it may also render Canadians at home much less secure than before by making them targets for guerilla attack. Will the Kandahar operation serve, in the end, to moderate the politics, or have the opposite effect and radicalize it? On these questions, and others like them, there are many who have strong convictions. But their convictions are not the same, and the reality is that no one really knows.

These ambiguities, clearly, are both real and recalcitrant, and the stakes involved in them are high. Decisions with regard to them certainly have to be made. But when the lives of public servants hang in the balance, as the professionals in government know all too well, these decisions simply must be founded on hard-headed policy analysis, guided by the real needs and the most fundamental interests of the Canadian community. Given their importance, and given the fog of uncertainty that inevitably surrounds them, they are not decisions that any responsible official would really wish to have on his or her plate.

Canadians at large should know that simply wanting Canada to ‘do good’ in the world is not a way of making such decisions easy.


1. Readers should know that Glyn Berry was a doctoral candidate in the Political Science Department at Dalhousie University at the time he joined the foreign service. While with us, he took my seminar on Canadian Foreign Policy, and I eventually became the supervisor of his thesis.  His project, an analysis of the governmental politics that surrounded the writing of a Canadian International Development Agency ‘strategy’ document in the middle 1970s, was completed in his spare time, when he was a junior foreign service officer. I cannot claim that this commentary has not been influenced by my admiration and affection for him, because I suspect it has. I would not, in fact, have presumed to raise the subject before us at all, even so briefly and crudely, had Glyn’s tragic death not occurred, for it bears on what are arguably the most complex and troubling questions in both the academic study and the practical conduct of international politics.  In a civilized liberal society, none should think to envy those who must decide whether circumstances truly warrant the placing of servants of the government in harm’s way in the pursuit of public policy abroad.
2. While the Kandahar deployment, taken as a whole, is staffed primarily by the military, it is a so-called “three-D” or “whole of government” operation, and now includes members of the RCMP, representatives of the Canadian International Development Agency, and employees on civilian contract, as well as professional diplomats.
. I am obviously not thinking at this point of the representatives of non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, whose motives and contributions have often been equally admirable. But they are private actors, not employees of government, and the moral obligation of the state in relation to them is therefore differently founded. That, too, is a matter worthy of close exploration, but I do not consider it here.


About Our Organization

Institute Profile
CDFAI is a research institute pursuing authoritative research and new ideas aimed at ensuring Canada has a respected and influential voice in the international arena.

CDFAI is a charitable organization, founded in 2001 and based in Calgary. CDFAI develops and disseminates materials and carries out activities to promote understanding by the Canadian public of national defence and foreign affairs issues. CDFAI is developing a body of knowledge which can be used for Canadian policy development, media analysis and educational support. The Fellows program, a group of highly experienced and talented individuals, support CDFAI by authoring research papers, responding to media queries, running conferences, initiating polling, and developing outreach and education projects.

Mission Statement
To be a catalyst for innovative Canadian global engagement.

CDFAI was created to address the ongoing discrepancy between what Canadians need to know about Canadian foreign and defence policy and what they do know. Historically, Canadians tend to think of foreign policy – if they think of it at all – as a matter of trade and markets. They are unaware of the importance of Canada engaging diplomatically, militarily, and with international aid in the ongoing struggle to maintain a world that is friendly to the free flow of people and ideas across borders and the spread of human rights. They are largely unaware of the connection between a prosperous and free Canada and a world of globalization and liberal internationalism. CDFAI is dedicated to educating Canadians, and particularly those who play leadership roles in shaping Canadian international policy, to the importance of Canada playing an active and ongoing role in world affairs, with tangible diplomatic, military and aid assets.

CDFAI Projects

Minor Research Papers – four papers are released each year on current, relevant themes related to defence, diplomacy and international development.

Major Research Paper – one or two major papers are released each year providing a detailed, critical examination on current issues or analyzing existing policy.

Quarterly Newsletters – educate Canadians on timely topics related to Canada’s role on the international stage.

Monthly Columns – a monthly column written by J.L. Granatstein that raises the level of public debate on defence and foreign affairs issues.   

Speakers’ Series – corporate and other leaders are invited to expand their knowledge of international relations through the experience and expertise shared by knowledgeable speakers.

Editorial Board – a group of highly respected academics ensure authoritative public policy integrity in all of CDFAI’s formal publications.

Annual Ottawa Conference – a joint project with Carleton, Laval, Queen’s University, UQAM, and the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars is held annually to address a topical issue.

National Polls – public opinion polls are commissioned to demonstrate Canadian current thinking on significant international issues.

Military Journalism Courses – annually, two eleven-day military/media courses (French and English) are run where upwards of 24 Canadian journalism students learn about dealing with the Canadian Forces.

Ross Munro Media Award – annually, CDFAI and CDA recognize one Canadian journalist who has made a significant contribution to the public understanding of defence and security issues.

Issue Responses – as required, CDFAI will respond to breaking news items with a reasoned, well articulated perspective to assist the public in understanding the issue. 

Each of CDFAI’s projects is developed to bring attention to pressing Canadian international engagement issues. These projects not only analyze the issues but also offer solutions. By publishing the results of these research projects, CDFAI gives policymakers the means to carry out policy formulation and administration in a more informed manner. Interested Canadians will be more knowledgeable. The ultimate aim is to strengthen Canada’s international role in the world, thereby supporting a reasonable standard of living for current and future Canadians and those living around the globe.

CDFAI’s annual budget currently runs at approximately $800,000.  Corporate, individual philanthropic, government contracts and foundation support are needed to carry on this important work.



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