Spring 2008 (Volume VI, Issue I)
Promoting new understanding and improvement of Canadian foreign and defence policy.
In this issue:
- Message from the President – Robert S. Millar
- CDFAI Major Research Paper
- Article: Book Review of The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan after the Taliban by Sarah Chayes – David Pratt
- Article: Realism and the War – Jack Granatstein
- Article: Canadian Forces’ first priority in Afghanistan is not transport helicopters – Bob Bergen
- Article: NORAD’s Indefinite Future? – James Fergusson
- Article: The Canadian Exit from Afghanistan and the Taliban Strategy – Rob Huebert
- Article: Pakistan: The Pivotal State in the War on Terror – David Carment
- Article: After the Revolution: Stabilization, Security, Transformation and Reconstruction Operations in American Military Policy – John Ferris
- Article: The Manley Report and Public Support for the Afghanistan Mission: More than a Problem of Communication – Stéphane Roussel and Stephen M. Saideman
- About Our Organization
Welcome to the Spring 2008 issue of “The Dispatch.” This issue is primarily devoted to highlighting different aspects of the War on Terror in Afghanistan, and more specifically, Canadian involvement in that country.
In this newsletter there are eight informative articles, including two feature articles by CDFAI Senior Research Fellows Jack Granatstein and David Pratt.
Book Review of The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan after the Taliban by Sarah Chayes – David Pratt. Sarah Chayes’ book gives its readers excellent insight into post-Taliban Afghanistan and Kandahar in particular. With Canada’s current focus on Kandahar, David argues that this book needs to be read by soldiers, politicians, policy-makers, and journalists alike.
Realism and the War – Jack Granatstein. Jack argues that Canadians who oppose the Canadian military operation in Afghanistan do so for erroneous reasons and place unrealistic expectations on the CF. Canadians need to understand the true reason why their troops are fighting in Afghanistan and what the CF is actually capable of.
Canadian Forces’ first priority in Afghanistan is not transport helicopters – Bob Bergen. The Canadian government must provide its soldiers with the equipment necessary to protect themselves. UAVs would do just this but, Bob argues, if the Liberals have their way, the Canadian Forces will be reduced to sitting ducks in Afghanistan.
NORAD’s Indefinite Future? – James Fergusson. Although NORAD’s future appears to be secure, James states that it is anything but. NORAD, which is a binational institution, is now the exception in an increasingly bilateral relationship between Canada and the United States. Decisions made now by both states may forever change the defence relationship between the two.
The Canadian Exit from Afghanistan and the Taliban Strategy – Rob Huebert. The Canadian withdrawal date from Afghanistan in 2011 is based on three assumptions that could actually lead to the reinstatement of the Taliban. While deciding on a withdrawal date is understandable, Rob states, the government must understand the flaws in the assumptions underlying the withdrawal date.
Pakistan: The Pivotal State in the War on Terror – David Carment. Pakistan has been called the world’s most dangerous country. David argues that because Pakistan has so much influence over Afghanistan, Canada needs to take a regional approach to its strategy on Afghanistan and address Pakistan’s internal and political security problems.
After the Revolution: Stabilization, Security, Transformation and Reconstruction Operations in American Military Policy – John Ferris. John contends that the American military’s experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has driven military policy away from the idea of technological superiority and towards Stabilization, Security, Transformation and Reconstruction Operations (SSTRO). This shift has important implications for Canadian military policy.
The Manley Report and Public Support for the Afghanistan Mission: More than a Problem of Communication – Stéphane Roussel and Stephen M. Saideman. Stéphane and Stephen state that the Manley Report’s assessment that the Canadian public’s ambivalence towards the mission in Afghanistan has been caused by poor communication on behalf of the government is an oversimplification of the issue. The ambivalence, they argue, comes from the fundamental Canadian values that this mission touches upon.
Enjoy this issue and let us know what you think about the articles.
In the late 1970s, technological advances brought on changes within Western militaries. While several interrelated terms have been used to describe these changes, military transformation is the most recent. But what does military transformation mean in a Canadian context? Dr. Elinor Sloan is one of the first people to examine military transformation as it applies to Canada, studying Canada’s approach in each area of transformation. In this paper, the first to draw together the various views of military transformation into a single framework, Dr. Sloan argues that the 2005 Defence Policy Statement has largely shaped Canada’s reaction to this phenomenon. She concludes that currently Canada’s military transformation is on hold due to its commitment in Afghanistan.
by David Pratt
Very few war correspondents head into a conflict zone to cover a story and then decide to stay – permanently – to help rebuild the devastated society. But that is what Sarah Chayes did. In late 2001, she entered Afghanistan from Pakistan as a National Public Radio reporter to witness the fall of the Taliban. Shortly after, Chayes left NPR to join an aid agency called “Afghans for Civil Society” established by Hamid Karzai’s brother. Kandahar has been her home and her passion ever since. In August 2006, she published The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan after the Taliban.
The daughter of Abram Chayes, a legal advisor in the Kennedy administration, Sarah Chayes earned a master’s degree in history and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard. She later served in the Peace Corps in Morocco and did some free-lancing for The Christian Science Monitor. From 1996-2002, she was the Paris reporter for National Public Radio where she collected some prestigious awards for her reporting of the Kosovo war. Today, she manages a local Kandahar cooperative she founded called Arghand which produces skin care products made with local Afghan ingredients for export to the US and Canada.
Chayes seems to have gravitated to Kandahar for one simple reason: geo-politics. As she states in her book,
With more than its fair share of suicide bombers, navigating the streets of Kandahar can be rather perilous for Kandaharis and outsiders alike. But navigating the people, the politics and the hidden agendas of this area which traces its origins back 7,000 years is infinitely more complex and challenging.
Chayes, however, seems to have pulled it off with an inside story of the events and personalities that have shaped Kandahar and Afghanistan’s post-Taliban history. That she is a foreigner – an American woman – living and working in one of the most conservative and volatile parts of this land makes it all the more remarkable. Danger is never far. Having received death threats, she sleeps with a Kalashnikov under her bed.
Chayes has immersed herself in Afghan history and culture. She understands Pashto, and just as important, the Pashtunwali code of honour, which establishes the set of moral precepts and rules of behaviour. To gain the respect and trust of her hosts, she has observed Muslim fasts during Ramadan. Not unlike a female T.E. Lawrence, she also dresses like an Afghan male to attract less attention. The optical illusion she relies upon to make herself inconspicuous is a fitting metaphor. Things are rarely as they appear in this beleaguered land. As she notes:
The book’s title, The Punishment of Virtue, is based upon a despised Taliban institution: the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Punishment of Vice. Under their rule, religious police from this ministry would routinely beat women caught outside without a male escort or men whose beards were deemed too short. Chayes’ title is an obverse play on words referring to the penchant of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to promote warlords into positions of authority. The “promotion of vice and the punishment of virtue” was a joke she once shared with her Afghan friend and colleague, General Muhammed Akrem Khakrezwal, who served as Kandahar’s Chief of Police.
Chayes story begins and ends with Akrem’s death which she attributes to a bomb planted by Pakistani ISI agents. She mourns him not only as a friend, but also because his loss robbed Afghanistan of an honest, decent man who cared about its future. At the beginning of the book, she vows: “I don’t know if I will ever be able to find out who killed him. But I will try. By God, I will try.”3 Although unstated, it seems it is Akrem’s death, the punishment of his virtue that is the basis of the book’s title.
Her narrative chronicles the dying days of the Taliban regime in late 2001 and ends in June of 2005 - a little over one month before the arrival of the first Canadian troops in Kandahar. She intersperses her story-telling, observations and analysis with chapters on Afghan history including the invasions of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane through to the founders of modern Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Durrani, the first emir, and Abd ar-Rahman Khan, who led the country after the Second Afghan War. With centuries of context, she relentlessly drives home a very crucial point - Kandahar’s historic and current strategic importance.
From antiquity to the Russian invasion, control of Kandahar was pivotal for soldiers and statesmen alike. During the “Great Game,” the Victorian phrase used to describe the struggle for mastery of Central Asia between the Russian and British empires in the 19th century, Kandahar’s strategic significance was undisputed. The remarks of a British officer at the time are instructive:
The locals know instinctively what the outsiders have had to learn by experience. Afghans, says Chayes, have told her that “Whenever change comes to Afghanistan, it has come from Kandahar.”5 Change of a negative kind was evident when Mullah Mohammed Omar made Kandahar the Taliban capital in 1994 and again in 2001 when warlord Gul Agha Sherzai seized authority for Kandahar province. Both events were a harbinger of the misery, brutality and anxiety that has dogged Afghanistan for more than a generation. Whether the Canadians will be able to bring salutary change to Kandahar remains unclear. What is clear, however, is that they are in the vortex of Afghan insecurity and that much hangs on the outcome.
Chayes draws a bead on the problem with the warlords throughout the book. And none receives more attention than Gul Agha Sherzai. Following the initial defeat of the Taliban in 2001, Shirzai managed to convince the Americans that he is their “go to” guy in Kandahar to the detriment of Karzai’s hand picked candidate. Shirzai is a prime example, according to Chayes, that “In Afghanistan, the exercise of power remains personal. There are no institutions; there are only powerful men.”6
Ironically, says Chayes, US goals of supporting democracy, stability and development, have been subverted by the actions of warlords like Shirzai who has used US resources to further subjugate the Afghan people. In fact, Shirzai proved astonishingly adept at eliminating his enemies and amassing wealth and power. From selling the Americans $100-a-truck-load gravel bought locally for $8 per load to arranging for dope to be smuggled and sold on the US base, Shirzai knew all the tricks and then some. He even hired and paid the Pashto translators the Americans used to keep tabs on the information flow received by US Forces.
But Chayes through her contacts, particularly Akrem, was also in the know. She writes of a private prison run by Shirzai and a gang of Pakistani-infiltrated fighters who worked at the American base by day and shelled it by night. She also recounted how Shirzai could have stopped the murder of ICRC aid worker Ricardo Munguia who was shot and whose body was burned. Shirzai, she says, had “two kites in the air” – one for Pakistan and the other for the US. “Think of Gul Agha Shirzai as operating a valve,” she said, “carefully regulating the flow of extremism, but never fully cutting it off.”7 Shirzai was removed from his post as Governor of Kandahar province, but since 2004 has served as Governor of Nangarhar province.
Initially friendly to Hamid Karzai, Chayes has more recently levelled withering criticism at the Afghan President for his continuing association with warlords such as Shirzai, repeating her mantra that “warlordism encourages terrorism.” She is also hostile to the notion from some, including Karzai, that the insurgency can be ended by negotiation. These are not “home-grown insurgents,” she insists, and this is not a “true insurgency.” It is not an “ideological, grassroots uprising against the Western presence in Afghanistan.” Recently, she told The Washington Post that:
Today, the principal challenge facing the Karzai government and its coalition supporters is to undo the damage done by ill-advised policies that date back to the immediate post-Taliban period. Between funding Pakistan which supported the Taliban and cozying up to the warlords, who inflicted predations on their own people, Chayes says the ineptitude, arrogance and ignorance of US foreign policy in the region made a bad situation worse. Decisions based on flawed and distorted information she said made her want to “weep with frustration.” Now, caught between corruption and insecurity, the average Afghan, feels that “the Taliban prey upon us at night, and the government preys upon us in the daytime.”9
With all of these harsh judgments and pessimism, one might think Chayes would be less than supportive of NATO’s current stabilization efforts. In fact, the opposite is the case. She supports NATO’s continued engagement as a means to extend security and expand the process of reconstruction and development. In September, 2007 she wrote in The Globe and Mail about the need for Canada to stay the course: “Complex solutions demand adroit, experienced handling. Only now have Canadian officials accrued some experience. Afghanistan needs the benefit of it and programs whose perspective reach beyond 2009.”10
It is unfortunate The Punishment of Virtue has not received more attention in Canada. It is a book that deserves to be read and re-read by soldiers, politicians, policy-makers and journalists for its insights, analysis and observations. With the eyes of Canadians squarely focussed on the mission in Kandahar, this work provides an excellent window on the complexities and challenges of the Afghan operation.
The Afghanistan deployment will continue to test the mettle of our military, our diplomats and our aid personnel as never before. Success will likely hinge upon how swiftly we can absorb and act upon local knowledge and how committed we are to learn from our mistakes and those of others. We can also expect to discover something about ourselves as a people because nothing about winning Kandahar is likely to be fast or easy.
1 Sarah Chayes, The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan after the Taliban, (Penguin Press, New York, 2006) p. 53
by Jack Granatstein
I have difficulty understanding those Canadians who oppose the mission in Afghanistan. That they hate to see Canadians dying is understandable. No one can detest that more than I do. That they believe that we are in Afghanistan only to let Prime Minister Stephen Harper serve President George W. Bush’s foreign policy is, while incorrect, understandable. An independent nation needs a foreign policy that serves its national interests, and if our leaders do not bother to talk to the citizens about what those interests are, no one should be surprised if Canadians reach for the simplest explanation for every problem, every government decision.
Many Canadians, not least those in the New Democratic Party, have come to call Afghanistan “Stephen Harper’s war.” Well, he is the prime minister, and he must prosecute the war. But for purely partisan reasons, the NDP and too many Canadians, including what on many days still seems to be a majority of the Liberal caucus, have forgotten that the Paul Martin government put us into Kandahar knowing full well what the mission entailed.
I can at least comprehend these positions. Where I have a real problem is with those critics of the war who refuse to accept that Canadian troops in Kandahar are there as part of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led force operating under a United Nations mandate. This puzzles me, and so does the failure to recognize that the Afghan government and, according to opinion polls, the Afghan people want us there. There are whole faculties of legal scholars out to demonstrate that the UN resolution authorizing the mission has been misinterpreted or is illegal. Fortunately, statements at the end of January by the UN Secretary-General will put a crimp in these arguments – or should. These same pro-UN supporters rejoiced in 2003 when Canada stayed out of Iraq because the Security Council did not consent to the war. But now that the UN has spoken on Afghanistan, they still shout anti-Bush and anti-Harper slogans.
Can calling our soldiers “baby-killers” be far behind? It is only a matter of time, I fear. The anti-war movement – I use that term deliberately to emphasize the link to the Vietnam War forty years ago – has begun to move onto university campuses to block Job Fair representation by the Canadian Forces. At the University of Victoria on January 30, some 20 students (almost certainly Trotskyists, I’d guess) and a group of “Raging Grannies,” a seniors movement particularly virulent on the West Coast, armed with a cardboard tank and a flag-draped coffin blocked access to the CF display. The service personnel reacted calmly (despite having paid for their table with your tax dollars), but some students believed that the protest interfered with their rights of free speech and their right to see what the CF had to offer. Of course, they were correct, but we can expect this kind of protest to spread. The University of Western Ontario is already trying to restrict “military-related” research.
The simple truth is that Afghanistan is not analogous to Vietnam. Nor is it the same as the Iraq War. The Americans and South Vietnamese people lost in Vietnam. The Americans won in Iraq in 2003, but their lack of planning for what came after military victory and the factionalism and religious strife in Iraq that resulted have pushed that conflict close to the tipping point five years later. Both of those struggles produced and will produce major political and military changes in the United States. Lost battles can do that.
But the Afghan War is not lost. Militarily, the Taliban cannot stand and fight (as it tried to do in 2006). Yes, it can use IEDs and suicide bombers, but those are pinpricks, however costly in lives, that smack of military desperation. Yes, the Karzai government is not as democratic as Canadians and their friends would prefer. Yes, the opium poppies flourish, and warlords and corrupt officials skim off their full share. Yes, the Pakistan border is porous, leaking fresh Taliban into Afghanistan. Yes, prisoners are tortured by their Afghan jailers. It’s all true, but for a medieval state struggling to get into the modern world, such things regrettably are to be expected.
Not condoned, not accepted, but expected. We must remember that President Karzai heads a sovereign state, however weak, and there are limits to what the allied forces and governments can do. We can push and prod – and we should – but the Afghans themselves must decide to change their ways. For example, those Canadians who object to Afghan troops, operating with Canadians in the field, taking Taliban prisoners are simply missing the point. Mentored they may be, but the Afghan soldiers respond to their own chain of command and their own government, and rightly so. If those prisoners are tortured, that is the Afghan government’s responsibility—until such time as our Western practises can be inculcated into the Afghan justice system. Similarly, those Canadians who now argue that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should instantly and automatically apply to every Taliban prisoner touched by a Canadian soldier are playing foolish games with Canadian lives.
Indeed, the whole detainee issue in Canada is a deadly con game. Every complaint of torture, spurious or not, is treated as credible. The Governor of Kandahar personally tortured me, one prisoner says, and the Canadian media goes wild. Whether the charge is credible matters not a whit. The aim of those in Canada spreading the charges is clear: discredit the Afghan government; discredit the NATO-led force; discredit the Canadian troops; and, if this cannot be done, then hamstring soldiers in the field with regulations and rules that hamper their ability to operate effectively. The same Canadians who preferred Saddam to Bush now appear to favour the Taliban over the Canadian and NATO forces.
Lenin supposedly called those Western capitalists who supported his Communist regime “useful idiots.” We have similar folk with us today. Jack Layton says that we cannot win in Afghanistan. No invading army, he says, has ever won there and we should get out now, an unhistorical position that, even if delivered with his usual wide-eyed innocent look, is flatly disgraceful. Good thing we didn’t listen to his ilk after Dunkirk. What the NDP stand would do to Canadian credibility in Washington, in NATO, and in the United Nations is beyond Layton’s ken. Literally so, since such thoughts do not occur to his Toronto city councillor’s mind.
Although the Liberals now appear to have reached an accommodation with the government on the war, for weeks Stéphane Dion and his caucus called for Canadians to do development and, possibly, military training, but to not engage in combat. Just how those useful roles can be carried on in the combat zone that is Kandahar was left unstated. There was no elaboration because there could be none.
Academics get into the game too. Michael Byers of the Liu Centre at the University of British Columbia makes no bones about his NDP policies, and he is omnipresent in the media, denouncing the Afghan struggle as “Stephen Harper’s war.” To Byers, Canada should be out of “a failing counter-insurgency mission” in Afghanistan. “It's time to move NATO troops out, and UN peacekeepers in,” he said. And “then, let's get serious about the ‘responsibility to protect’ where it's needed most” in Darfur.
That Darfur is a tragedy is clear. That Canadians could do anything to fix that genocide is far less evident. Byers – who knows nothing about the military, as all his previous writings make obvious – neglects that Darfur’s desert conditions and lack of infrastructure make a massive logistical effort a pre-condition for any Canadian commitment. Shortages of aircraft, equipment, and personnel make this unlikely for the CF to carry off successfully. Nor is Darfur the simple blue beret peacekeeping that Byers appears to assume. There will be casualties there, perhaps as many as in Kandahar, and any troops deployed into the desert will require heavy weaponry. Then there is the opposition of the Sudanese government to Western troops on their (contested) terrain. But the “Darfur good, Kandahar bad” mantra goes on without cessation. Somehow, saving Darfuri women and children has become more important to Byers and his party than saving the women and children of Afghanistan. I am not sure why this is, why one Sudanese is more valuable than one Afghani. If I could, I’d prefer to save both—but Afghanistan has invited us in and Khartoum won’t let us enter. Realistically, the choice has been made for us.
Realism is the key to all this. We need to recognize that Canada is a small nation with small numbers of military personnel. There are realistic limits to what we can do. We have a perpetually divided nation that splits sharply on military questions. We have an anti-American streak in our character that sometimes serves us poorly. And we have an over-developed moralism that makes us preachy in the extreme. At root, most Canadians sound like NDPers!
But we are in Afghanistan to serve our own interests in shutting down a terrorist haven. If we can help bring a better governmental system, aid and education, and perhaps even a variant of freedom to a part of the world that has not known these things before, well and good. Realism demands nothing less than that we try.
by Bob Bergen
Given that 79 Canadians have died to date in Afghanistan, with growing numbers the result of roadside bombs, you might be surprised by the equipment priorities of Canadian commanders on the ground in Kandahar.
The first priority is not helicopters to transport troops far above the roadside bombs: it is much better unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) than the unreliable Sagem Sperwer aircraft the Canadians currently use.
“My first priority would be UAVs. With UAVs, you can save lives,” explained Brig.-Gen. Guy LaRoche,
Kandahar-based commander of Task Force Afghanistan.
“UAVs; that’s what we need first. Failing that, choppers.”
LaRoche’s preferred choice of UAV would be the powerful U.S.-made Predator which can operate up to 12 hours at a time, compared to the Sperwers’ three.
Twelve hours makes a big difference and the equipment on board makes a big difference, too.”
With radar, video cameras, global positioning and forward-looking infra-red systems that can feed video in real time to front-line soldiers and operational commanders, the Predators would give Canadians battlefield information they need to better defend against marauding insurgents.
“People in the command centre can say: ‘There are bad guys 200 metres in front of you,” explained one Canadian commander.
“The guy in the field says: “I don’t see them,’ and the control says, ‘Trust me, they are there.’
“The UAV can establish a GPS location for the enemy and can bring in artillery or Close Air Support (from fighter aircraft).”
Those who operate Canada’s Sperwers long prefer the Predator variant that is fitted with missiles, laser guided bombs and joint directed attack munitions.
One Canadian journalist, Canadian Press’s Bill Graveland, described being in the room when Canadian UAV operators clearly saw Taliban on the ground.
“The UAV was close enough, you could see the RPGs (rocket propelled grenades). Taliban saw the UAV and they tossed their weapons. There was nothing they could do about it. They were furious. What I was amazed at, though, was that you could see nests of Taliban everywhere.”
So what are we to make of the observation that there are nests of Taliban everywhere? Does that mean Canadian and NATO troops are not winning?
In fact, it means exactly the opposite.
Canada and NATO are winning in Afghanistan because the insurgents can not mass in large numbers and fight NATO troops as they had in the past when they lost horribly.
“The Taliban cannot put a force of 100 together,” explained LaRoche. “We’re talking 10, 15, 20 people, which is the maximum we’ve seen. Their commanders are section-sized commanders.
“If you are involved in reconstruction in an area where they are, they will attack you, but it’s more spontaneous and hit and run. That’s not strategy. That’s not a plan.”
There is a critical point to be made here.
Like him or not, in the recent State of the Union Address, U.S. President George W. Bush said, and it is worth quoting:
“This evening, I want to speak directly to our men and women on the front lines. Soldiers and sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen: In the past year, you have done everything we've asked of you, and more.
“Our nation is grateful for your courage. We are proud of your accomplishments. And tonight in this hallowed chamber, with the American people as our witness, we make you a solemn pledge:
“In the fight ahead, you will have all you need to protect our nation. And I ask Congress to meet its responsibilities to these brave men and women by fully funding our troops.”
That is precisely the message that Canadian troops on the ground in Afghanistan need to hear from Canadian politicians: that with Canadians as their witness, they will be provided all they need to protect our nation.
But, what are Canadians and Canadian troops hearing instead?
They are hearing drivel from Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, for one, who would “refocus” the Forces on providing security for reconstruction and development efforts and would only allow them to defend themselves if attacked.
What part of the message do the Liberals not understand? If the Taliban are in the area, they will attack.
The Canadian Forces have done everything asked of them and more. Are they now to wait to be attacked like sitting ducks?
Canadians need to listen to soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, like Gen. LaRoche who wants to save his troops’ lives.
His message is Predators and helicopters; the Liberal message is unmitigated disaster waiting to happen.
by James Fergusson
Proponents of Canadian participation in the US missile defence program for North America constantly warned that the future of NORAD was at stake. On the surface this warning appears to have been hollow. In 2006, the NORAD agreement was renewed indefinitely. This year, Canada and the US celebrate the 50th anniversary of the formal signing of the NORAD agreement.
All seems well. The air defence mission remains significant in the wake of 9/11.The US still needs a mechanism of communicating warning of a ballistic missile attack to Canadian authorities, and NORAD remains a logical and functional means to do so. This in part ensures continued access to space via the supporting assets of US Strategic Command. NORAD also has the early warning mission for the US ground-based missile defence system under US Northern Command. Whatever residual loss of access remains, the forthcoming launch of a Canadian space-based space surveillance satellite (project Sapphire) contributing to the US space surveillance network will restore access to levels of the past.
All these positive signs mask significant issues facing the arrangement. Indefinite renewal does not mean that either party cannot reopen the agreement. As 9/11 recedes further into memory, assuming no future air-based attacks, the air defence mission will become more and more marginal, as it had become prior to 9/11. The missile defence early warning agreement was in many ways premised on a subsequent Canadian commitment to participate in missile defence in some form. The failure to carry through with this commitment complicated NORAD’s relationship with US Northern Command. This, alongside technological reality, ensures that its missile defence early warning mission will become completely redundant and likely bypassed. Sapphire might help a little, but the US will still determine what Canada can and cannot have access to regarding space. As the significance of space for US missile defence grows, Canadian access will continue to decline.
Perhaps most ominous, Canada’s unique defence relationship with the US is no more. Once all alone, Australia and the United Kingdom now have officers posted to the US space operations centre in Vandenberg. Both Australia and the United Kingdom, of course, have signed missile defence MOUs.
Further complicating the future relationship is the establishment of Canada Command on July 1, 2005. The logic on the surface for assigning the operational defence of Canada and in effect North America made sense, especially after the creation of North Command and Canada Expeditionary Command. Some means was needed to provide a point of contact and cooperation on the land and sea side of the North American equation, once it was agreed that the NORAD model was not to be replicated.
However, NORAD is now an anomaly; a binational exception in an evolving bilateral relationship. Once the institutional expression, it is now the institutional exception. Exceptions for organizations, especially military ones that are desirous of operational efficiency and elegance, are problematic to say the least. Standardization is a preference, which places NORAD in their sites.
There is also the problematic command relationship. The commander of Northern Command is also the commander of NORAD. For General Renuart, the aerospace/NORAD component co-exists with land and sea components. Canada’s Deputy Commander is next in line on the air side, working alongside US only Deputy Commanders of land and sea in Northern Command. The Canadian anomaly then works it way downward. This implies that NORAD is in effect subordinate to Northern Command.
If NORAD is subordinate to Northern Command, then it should also be subordinate to Canada Command. But, its relationship with Canada Command remains to be seen. This also raises questions about the status and command and control channels for the commander of Canada NORAD Regional Headquarters, a combatant command, who is also commander of the 1st Canadian Air Division, a force generator command. For now, Canada Command controls operational (combatant) land and sea, but not air and space.
Finally, moving NORAD beneath Canada Command raises the nature of its specific relationship with Northern Command. How can the aerospace defence of North America be binational and controlled by two commands whose relationship otherwise is bilateral? This problem also extends further into the relationship between these Commands and the non-military security actors in the relationship. This, in turn, is affected by different US and Canadian perspectives on the relationship between defence and security authorities.
When Northern Command was established, the Binational Planning Cell (and its successor Group) was created post facto to deal with the implications of Northern Command for the relationship. Then, Canada Command was created with its implications for the work of the Planning Group. In the end, the Planning Group’s report was ignored, and now the problems are to be worked by the tri-command study group.
In effect, NORAD’s indefinite future is truly indefinite. Both parties took decisions for a range of immediate political interests with little thought about the long-term implications. The danger right now is immediate functional organizational interests will take decisions that will fundamentally change the overall defence relationship also with little concern for long-term implications.
Of course, reconsidering missile defence will not solve this problem. But a signal in this direction might serve to rekindle some memories as to why a unique binational defence relationship was in Canada’s strategic interests. Otherwise, NORAD will likely become hollow.
by Rob Huebert
The Taliban and their allies must have been horrified to recently learn that they will be defeated by 2011. After all that is the date on which the Liberals and the Conservatives have agreed that Canada will pull its troops from Afghanistan and hope that one of the now reluctant NATO allies will step in to replace the Canadian forces. Obviously this strategy is based on three main assumptions: 1) that we can defeat the Taliban by this date; 2) that the Taliban will not use the announcement of Canada’s exit strategy in their strategic planning; and 3) if the Taliban are not defeated, they will not use the withdrawal of Canadian forces to retake the areas in south Afghanistan that the Canadian forces have continually prevented them from taking. How sound are these assumptions?
The idea that the Taliban can be defeated by a set date is of course dead wrong. One of the greatest problems with fighting the Taliban is that it is not clear who they are and, even more importantly, who is supporting them. Many observers have pointed out that the Taliban is not a homogenous group. This is undoubtedly true. There are many who fight for the Taliban because they pay more, or are more closely associated with their own regional alliance. This group will move their allegiance depending on the particular circumstances. They could be convinced/bought/led out of the fight by 2011. But there is equally no doubt that there is a core of Taliban fighters and leaders who will fight until they win or are militarily and politically defeated. Their response to time tables associated with exit strategies/withdrawals will be to simply wait the west out. The manner of how they will do this raises the issues associated with the second assumption.
The Canadian debate on the war in Afghanistan has been frustrating to follow in that there has been a general tendency to recognize that Canada is facing a dangerous and strategically intelligent enemy. The Canadian debate has tended to assume that the Taliban is a rag-tag force without any real strategic direction. Yet a closer examination of the war suggests that the Taliban leaders are continually responding to Canadian and westerns tactics and strategies with their own strategies. Initially the Taliban was willing to directly engage Canadian and western forces. When they were continually defeated on the battlefield they stopped this tactic and instead limited their attacks near or in settlement areas. In doing so they were clearly trying to force western forces to injure and kill civilians caught in the cross-fire. This was a particularly effective tactic with the Americans who initially preferred to keep a distance between their forces and the Taliban during engagement. When successful this created a win-win situation for the Taliban. They could rely on media reports that suggested that western forces were doing more harm than good. They could also point to the dead civilians in any village who had been accidentally killed by western troops as proof that the western forces were the true enemy. The western response was then to engage the Taliban more closely. This created more casualties among the western forces, but minimized the civilian losses. Once this strategy began to lose its effectiveness, the Taliban moved to placing improvised explosive devices (IED) on the roads travelled by Canadian and western forces. This had the twin effect of causing casualties among western troops, which then affected the level of public support at home. This style of attack also affected the west’s abilities to supply and support outlying regions. Once again, as long as it remained effective it negatively affected support for western action both in Afghanistan and at home in the western states. It is clear to all observers that the western forces have been developing countermeasures against these tactics. For Canada this comes in the form of new detection devices and the deployment of tanks. The question that now comes forward is what the Taliban’s next move will be.
This brief review of Taliban strategy should illustrate several critical points. First, they have seemingly read their Carl von Clausewitz who pointed out that war is ultimately a political act. They are not fighting for a military victory, but for a political victory. As the North Vietnamese proved when engaging a militarily more powerful enemy, you do not need to win a battle to win the war. Instead, what is necessary is to convince the local population that the western forces are the problem and hence the true enemy. At the same time, military victory against western forces is not necessary. Instead all that is needed is to demonstrate that you can outlast them. In order to achieve this objective, the Taliban have shown that they can respond in a dynamic and deadly manner. Their strategy is fluid but always directed towards their core objective - outlast the west. This being the case, the Canadian setting of an exit timetable means that the Taliban’s strategy needs to ensure that Ottawa does not change its mind and that no other western state wants to replace Canada. If they are successful, then they only have to focus on destabilizing the Karzai Government to engineer a return to power for themselves. Thus the third assumption of Canada’s commitment to withdrawal will now become the major focus of the Taliban strategy.
The Canadian decision to set a date for withdrawal is understandable. Canada has been paying dearly for its involvement in the war in both human and economic costs. Canada is also justified in resenting the reluctance of most of its allies to commit to a rational strategy of burden sharing to defeat the Taliban. Unfortunately the decision to set a specific time for withdrawal is based on assumptions that could ultimately create the conditions by which the Taliban will achieve victory. One can only hope that the western allies will step up. One can also hope that the withdrawal can be recast as a much needed rotation until the enemy is defeated. Only then can Afghanistan truly be on the path to reconstruction and only then can Canada be assured that a rejuvenated Taliban will not once again pick up its alliance with Al-Qaeda. This is of course the same Al-Qaeda that has always listed Canada as one of its core five enemies in the west. Unfortunately a strategy based on hope and wishful thinking rather than on careful strategic planning and calculation has historically had a record of failure.
by David Carment
In a prescient 2004 article forewarning what has become the most crucial issue that will determine mission success in Afghanistan, Stewart Bell made a persuasive case for Pakistan as “the world’s most dangerous country.”1 Four years later, in January 2008, following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, an Economist editorial argued that democracy offered the best chance for bringing stability to what the magazine called “the world’s most dangerous place.”2 It would seem that on the surface little has changed in Pakistan during the four years since Bell submitted his compelling analysis. Some analysts believe the country’s situation has worsened despite the fact that it remains one of the leading partners in the world-wide coalition against terrorism and political extremism. Because of its geopolitical position, Pakistan is a pivotal state. The country has deployed significant forces against militants in its northern border region, sustaining considerable casualties. And its security services continue to play a crucial role in fighting terrorism and containing the spread of extremism.
Despites its importance, the Manley report makes little reference to Pakistan as a pivotal state. It is mentioned only as the home of training base camps for the Taliban. More troubling, perhaps, nowhere in the Manley Report are specific recommendations on how to approach Pakistan’s deep rooted and internal political and security problems. Nor does the Report specify how Canada and its allies might engage Pakistan in dialogue and diplomacy so the newly revamped Afghanistan Task Force can begin to develop a much need regional solution to Afghanistan instability.
To this end, this summary, drawing on Country Indicators for Foreign Policy reports and data on Pakistan (www.carleton.ca/cifp), identifies the full range of Pakistan’s risks. That Pakistan is a pivotal state in the war on terror is not news. That Pakistan is also a fragile if not failing state is also true but less well understood. Externally the risks that Pakistan poses have been shaped by its historical rivalry with India. Pakistan’s behaviour specifically in reference to Kashmir was, until recently, influenced by the need to counterbalance Indian military superiority in the absence of Pakistani nuclear capability. Beyond Kashmir the news does not get any better. In addition to supporting separatist movements in India, Pakistan has provided sanctuary, training, as well as arms to other “hot beds” of conflict throughout Asia including Sri Lanka, the Thai Malay of Southern Thailand and of course to the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan during the war against Russian occupation.
More fundamental analyses suggest that the risks Pakistan poses to its neighbors lay in the need to externalize internal tensions through territorial expansion and conquest; what MIT Professor Myron Weiner called many years ago The Macedonian Syndrome. In essence this argument is premised on the assumption that the only way to hold together an ethnically fractionalized and artificial country like Pakistan is through strong arm leadership. Key attributes are a bureaucratic-authoritarian government, heavy investment in the military security apparatus and a weak middle class.
The goal here is not to challenge these claims but to show that Pakistan’s problems are, to a large extent, self created. An analysis of Pakistan’s underlying risk factors using CIFP’s indexing methodology demonstrates that Pakistan faces significant performance challenges in all but a few of its core state functions. Of particular concern are its governance and human development scores, low even when compared to others in the region (See Table 1). It is both weak and unstable; it ranks as the 3rd most fragile state in Asia. The country is particularly weak in Authority – ranked 4th in Asia – because of security challenges presented by various armed militant groups. State Legitimacy is also problematic, as the government of President Musharraf is seen by much of the population as illegitimate and his attempts to retain control of the government and army are drawing protests from numerous quarters. Capacity is also a high risk area; the state effectively conducts international affairs and economic management, but other capabilities are limited. The Pakistani state is unable to extend control throughout the country, and faces secessionist movements from tribal and militant groups.
Strong economic growth of over 6% per year is not addressing sources of poverty in the country. Pakistan is ranked 134th out of 177 countries on the 2006 UNDP Human Development Index; inequality is also significant in the country. Pakistan faces a range of development challenges in the areas of primary school enrolment, health expenditure, and respect for human rights. High numbers of refugees hosted further exacerbate tensions in certain areas of the country. Pakistan is unlikely to meet its MDGs in primary education and gender equality, as well as child and maternal mortality.
What is to be done? Arguably, once a country like Pakistan enters into “failed state” status, it is simply too late to do anything but shore up existing security institutions and structures, no matter how weak or corrupt they are, as a bulwark against further decline. Such an emphasis, exemplified in the United States’ long term aid program for Pakistan, leads to potential distortions in both the selection of aid recipients and the types of aid provided. Large amounts of aid have been given to Pakistan regardless of the legitimacy of the regime in power. The result can be a deeply unpopular regime heavily dependent on external aid that can be unstable over the long term. This “shoring up” of authority structures then results in a vicious cycle of further decline in which both capacity and legitimacy are undermined and in turn, authority is further challenged. The overall claim being made here is that misdiagnosis has the potential to lead to the misallocation of policy resources, which, in turn can, lead to ineffectiveness and further state decline. Our approach proposes a rethink of how to engage Pakistan.
To be sure, Canada’s aid contributions to Pakistan are modest in comparison to others (see Table 2). But there are specific areas that Canada can engage in and with good reasons for doing so (see Table 3). There are five primary areas in need of attention. 1) Security & Crime: An improved security environment would facilitate strengthening measures in other areas. Long-term security can be improved by providing financial assistance for primary education by moderate-run public schools, decreasing enrolment in radical Madrassas. 2) Economics: Despite impressive economic growth, poverty and inequality continue to be pressing concerns. Community-based poverty reduction in rural regions and poor urban areas would alleviate inequities. 3) Governance: Effective governance would strengthen stability throughout parts of the country. A basic objective is to develop accountability programs that help combat corruption and promote state legitimacy. 4) Human Development: Building human capital can ensure long-term consolidation of gains made in all areas of fragility. Strengthening female education in areas relatively free of militant resistance and improving literacy skills (current literacy rate: 49.9%) are core objectives. 5) Environment: Disaster preparedness efforts are needed to help residents overcome frequent natural disasters. Food supplies are still needed in displacement camps resulting from the 2004 earthquake.
No country, let alone Canada, is in a position to “fix” Pakistan. These changes must come from within. But there are good reasons for bringing an integrated regional approach to Canada’s current strategy on Afghanistan, if only to protect our heavy investments there. Such an approach requires a frank assessment of how Pakistan and Afghanistan (and India) are historically interlinked, how Pakistan has historically been the source of much of the instability in the region, recognition that the current strategy on Pakistan is not working and that Pakistan’s internal problems are fundamentally linked to core problems in governance and human development. Canada’s immediate goal should not be to help restore democracy to Pakistan. Pakistan has not been a functional democracy for some time now and there is little reason to believe that holding elections in the country now will bring positive change in the short run. As I have suggested above, there are high risk areas where Canada should invest its energies and in doing so help bring positive change to the world’s most dangerous country.
1 Stewart Bell, “Pakistan: The World’s Most Dangerous Country?” International Insights, CIIA, vol. 1, no. 3 (2004).
2 Pakistan: The world's most dangerous place”, The Economist, Jan 3rd 2008
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