Summer 2006 (Volume IV, Issue II)
Promoting new understanding and improvement of Canadian foreign and defence policy.
- Message from the President – Robert S. Millar
- CDFAI New Advisory Council Member
- CDFAI New Fellow
- Congratulations - Frank Harvey
- Research Paper: The Homeland Security Dilemma: Success, Failure and the Escalating Costs of Canada-U.S. Security - Frank Harvey
- CDFAI 2006 Annual Ottawa Conference
- Article: Deprogramming the Cult of Peace - Mark Entwistle
- Article: Wanted (?) – A Canadian Defence Policy - John Fergusson
- Article: Canada in Kandahar - John Ferris
- Article: Eight Simple Rules for Dating the US - J.L. Granatstein
- Article: The Debate Between the Canadian Commitment to Afghanistan and the Sudan: The Need to Consider All Costs! - Rob Huebert
- Article: Consequence Management – A Growing Challenge to Canadian Security
- Article: Canadian Participation in EU-led Military Operations Does Not Serve Canadian Interest - Alexander Moens
- Article: Dealing with the Real Weapons of Mass Destruction - Small Arms and Light Weapons - David Pratt
- Article: It’s Time for Canada to Get Serious on Iran - Andrew Ritchter
- About Our Organization
Welcome to the Summer 2006 issue of “The Dispatch” newsletter. In this edition we introduce Natasha Hassan as a new Advisory Council member. Brian Fleming, previously announced as a member of the Board is joining the ranks of CDFAI Fellows. We look forward to their contributions on Canadian security, defence and foreign affairs issues.
In this newsletter there are nine amazing articles for your consideration on various topical issues facing Canada. They are as follows:
Deprogramming the Cult of Peace – Mark Entwistle. “There can never be peace in the absolute sense, only phases of relative success in managing conflict.
Wanted (?) – A Canadian Defence Policy – James Fergusson. Under whose defence policy are and should the Canadian Forces be operating?
Canada in Kandahar – John Ferris. Why are we there?
Eight Simple Rules for Dating the US – Jack Granatstein. Canada must follow a National Interests-based approach in dealing with the United States.
The Debate Between the Canadian Commitment to Afghanistan and the Sudan: The Need to Consider All Costs! – Rob Huebert. An analysis of four highlysuspect assumptions.
Consequence Management – A Growing Challenge to Canadian Security – Mike Jeffery. There are many dimensions to national security….a key capability is the ability to manage the consequences of disasters – a reflection on Katrina and lessons for Canada.
Canadian Participation in EU-led Military Operations Does Not Serve Canadian Interest – Alexander Moens. Does placing Canadian Forces under the European Union in military operations produce an effective political or force multiplier for Canada?
Dealing with the Real Weapons of Mass Destruction – Small Arms and Light Weapons – David Pratt. The problem with small arms is generally threefold: availability, durability and ease of use.
It’s Time for Canada to Get Serious on Iran – Andrew Richter. The key issue is whether the international community is committed to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and what states are prepared to risk in the attempt to do so – the PM is about to face an enormous test.
The mission in Kandahar and Transformation are two highly charged activities that the Canadian Forces are involved with at present. Seventeen suspected terrorists have been captured in Toronto in the past week. How is Canada’s security and international role evolving? Enjoy this issue of “The Dispatch” and contact us if you have any comments.
|Natasha Hassan is Deputy Comment Editor of The Globe and Mail.
She joined the Globe in early 2005 as Bureau Editor for the Report on Business, where she was responsible for the business section's national and international news coverage.
Ms. Hassan came to the Globe from the National Post where she held numerous positions, most notably Comment Editor from the paper's inception in 1998 till 2004. She was also a senior editor and editorial writer with the former Financial Post before the launch of the National Post.
Prior to her career in journalism, Ms. Hassan worked as research co-ordinator for the Centre for International Studies.
Ms Hassan is a fellow of LEAD International, established in 1991 by the Rockefeller Foundation to promote leadership in sustainable development. She has a degree in international relations from Trinity College, University of Toronto. She is also a co-founder of the Robert H. Catherwood Scholarship at the U of T and a member of its oversight committee.
|As well as serving as a CDFAI Board Member, Mr. Flemming recently became a CDFAI Fellow.
Brian Flemming, CM, QC, DCL, is a Canadian policy advisor, writer and international lawyer. From 2002 to 2005, he was Chairman of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), a Crown corporation that was created by Canada’s federal Parliament on April 1, 2002, to improve security at Canadian airports and on Canadian aircraft. He acted as CATSA’s first CEO and set up the Crown corporation.
Following his departure from CATSA, Mr. Flemming became a Special Advisor to Sypher-Mueller International, an Ottawa-based consulting firm working primarily in the aviation sector. In August, 2005, he was appointed for a two-year term by the Government of Canada to the new Advisory Council on National Security.
Previously, in 2000-01, Mr. Flemming was Chairman of the Canadian Transportation Act Review (CTAR) Panel, a major statutory decennial review of Canada’s transport policies. His report to the Government of Canada was widely hailed for its vision and balance. In 2003, he was awarded the National Transportation Week “Award of Achievement”.
Mr. Flemming is a former senior partner of the law firm of Stewart, McKelvey, Stirling & Scales and a former lecturer in public international law at Dalhousie Law`School. He has been chairman as well as a director of scores of public, private and not-for-profit corporations. His public company directorships have included Noranda, Brunswick Mining & Smelting, Enheat, VGM Capital, First Choice Canadian Communications, Azure Resources and Homburg Invest. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Trustees of PDM Royalties Income Fund.
Between 1976 and 1979, he was Assistant Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau. In recent years, he has spoken at international meetings or universities in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa on transport policy, general security issues, air transport security in Canada and internationally, the war on terrorism and the public international law of the sea.
He has been the vice chairman of the Canada Council for the Arts, a board member of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, chairman of the International Centre for Ocean Development, founding chairman of Symphony Nova Scotia and a board member of: the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the Van Horne Institute, Pearson College of the Pacific and the International Oceans Institute of Canada.
Mr. Flemming has degrees in science from Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, and in law from Dalhousie University, Halifax. He did post-graduate work in public international law at University College London, England, and at the Hague Academy of International Law, Netherlands.
He has an honorary doctorate from the University of King’s College where he was chairman of the Board of Governors for nearly 10 years. He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1989. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, is married and has two adult children.
Please click here for Fellows’ full biographies.
|CDFAI Fellow, Dr. Frank Harvey has received a 2006-2007 Fulbright Award and has been asked to take up the Fulbright-SUNY (Plattsburg) Distinguished Research Chair in Canadian Studies in the winter term of 2007.
Awards in the Fulbright Distinguished Chairs Program are viewed as among the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright Scholar Program.
The honour comes with a $25,000 (US) research grant to cover expenses while completing a major research project on “The Homeland Security Dilemma” during his residency at the Center for the Study of Canada at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Research Paper: The Homeland Security Dilemma: Success, Failure and the Escalating Costs of Canada-U.S. Security
On June 6, 2006, Dr. Frank Harvey’s paper entitled: The Homeland Security Dilemma: The Imagination of Failure and the Escalating Costs of Perfecting Security was released. The homeland security dilemma (and associated spiral in security spending) represents the ‘domestic politics’ equivalent in the war on terrorism and leads to the following counterintuitive conclusion -- the more security you have, the more security you need. The complete paper is available online at www.cdfai.org.
Foreign Policy Under A Conservative Government: An Interim Report Card
|Date:||Monday, October 30|
|Time:||7:30 AM - 5:00 PM|
|Location:||Crown Plaza Hotel 101 Lyon Street, Ottawa, Ontario|
For more information on this year’s conference, visit the website at www.peopleware.net/1540.
by Mark Entwistle
Leo Tolstoy did posterity a disservice when he chose the title “War and Peace” for his epic novel of Russia. He helped to cement in the public mind the sense of a dichotomy between two absolute states of being, where mankind lives either in one or the other. The idea of “peace” as commonly deployed is also rooted deeply in religious and theological traditions of God’s Kingdom and Peace with a capital “p.”
However, despite being noble and reassuring, the concept of peace is both delusional and dangerous. Delusional because it ignores wilfully the reality of the human condition held in evidence by the entirety of human existence and deludes us into a false ideal. Conflict in all its forms will always be constant and omnipresent in human interaction; the real issue is its healthy management.
There can never be peace in the absolutist sense, only phases of relative success in managing conflict.
Peace is never made, established or reached; there is no such thing as a peace treaty. There is no “soft” peace or “hard” peace. This is because, immediately on signature of any agreement, deal or treaty, negotiated or not, even after the cessation of hostilities, the dynamic of conflict begins again immediately, perhaps transmogrified into different forms on different issues and with varying intensity. But, left unchecked by lack of will or knowledge, or by being blinded by the laissez-faire ideal of peace, it is likely that “post-peace conflict” will devour the participants again. It is no coincidence that merely two decades separated two colossal conflagrations – the 20th century world wars.
There is no such thing as a peace process, but rather the altogether less sexy process of perpetual conflict management. It is no coincidence that there is still no reconciliation between the Palestinians and Israelis after repeated attempts. The protagonists have been hoodwinked for years by the idea of a peace process, leading to a universal settlement of all conflict in one dramatic flourish. A more realistic approach may be to take the conflict apart one smaller piece at a time and build new structures to absorb the inevitable future conflict.
Some will recoil from this kind of talk in fear of feeling hopelessness. But perhaps hope is more likely nurtured by tackling conflict in a realistic way with greater prospect of longer-term stability than by constant disillusionment before an ideal than will never be reached.
The idea of “peace” is dangerous because it is an enabler. It allows us to underestimate the hard work required to earn success in confronting conflict, and a safe haven to hide from reality. It is a distraction because it leads us to false conclusions on the basis of something that does not exist. While we wait for peace, conflict steeps. The greatest threat to any chance of managing our way out of conflict is the idea that peace just happens by willing it.
It also hides from us, perhaps ironically, the insinuation of progress in conflict itself, where the tension can effect positive change and innovation. The United Nations, with all the humanitarian coordination work it does, might never have been created in 1945 had it not been for catastrophic war.
Conservative hawks in Washington and chanting protesters have one thing in common. They are both addicted equally to the idea of peace, albeit in polar opposite ways. The former assume at the core that the military option alone can settle immediate conflict; this explains partly the mess in post-Saddam Iraq. The latter believe that conflict will settle itself as long as there is no military tool at all; they genuflect before the idol of peace. Both are passive in equal parts in the face of the challenge of conflict that requires relentless and never-ending application of human effort. Both want the quick fix that the dream of peace offers and a return on investment without making the investment in the first place.
The fact is that we have not made enough progress in understanding conflict and the tools to manage it. It is time to banish the easy jargon of peace and get down to the dirty business of confronting conflict.
We face a steep inter-disciplinary learning curve where ideas and concepts from fields as distinct as, for example, trauma psychiatry, hold promise. The medicine of trauma is the subject of lively debate in psychiatry. We accept a priori that individual human beings are affected psychologically by war, violence, community conflict, torture, deprivation, arbitrary abuse of human rights, but the idea that entire societies are no longer resilient opens new opportunities to manage future conflict. Here is arguably the greatest source of repetitive conflict; untreated, communities can become downright pathological. Witness the Israelis and Palestinians, who both live in a twisted vortex of violence, retribution and blame so severe that they have become virtually dysfunctional in the pursuit of a solution.
The conflict prevention function has been left by default and lack of resources to a relative handful of academics and NGOs, when, in fact, it is also needs to grow into a professional service. This is fertile ground for a public-private partnership approach, where the burden of professional research and development costs can be shared in the exercise of both good public policy and corporate performance.
Conflict is costly to the overwhelming majority of the private sector because it destabilizes potential markets. The more engaged and integrated companies are in international business, the more they are affected negatively by instability and the more likely they are to serve as counterweights in the political arena to the relatively few (but large) corporations that benefit from defence spending and preparation for war. History provides evidence. For example, “big business” in the United States was opposed generally to the Spanish-American war in 1898 so sought by Theodore Roosevelt and the militarist “jingoes” and newspaper editors of the day.
That conflict is expensive, above all in human loss, seems a self-evident truth. But the business case for damage to private sector interests from conflict and lost opportunity, and even by extension to national interest as a whole through reduced tax revenue from non-defence industry companies, has yet to be made in dollars and cents. This is an important piece of economic and political research waiting to be done.
The fact that traditional peace activists engage in protest alongside opponents of liberalised global trade is ironic because, in fact, freer international trade is a measure itself in conflict prevention.
It is a serious policy and political error that our societies cannot devote to preparedness to confront conflict even a tiny fraction of the financial resources available for military preparedness, as necessary as the latter will always remain. In terms of resources available for professional conflict prevention, our civilization is like a big city hospital with one doctor on call who can’t get past the triage. Only visionary political leadership will begin the process of aligning the balance.
In Canadian terms, Canada must devote the resources to its military required to get the job done. At the same time, and in no contradiction, it has the historic opportunity to lead the global debate on conflict and be a model to the world in dedicating attention and resources to conflict resolution and prevention. Such a decision would have positive reinforcing domestic political implications as well.
As historians have told us, war never in reality “breaks out” but is the culmination of a traceable sequence of events, often jumbled and confusing at the time. In the same way, conflict needs to be battled every step of the way.
by James Fergusson
Roughly over a year ago, the Liberal minority government under Paul Martin released the long awaited Defence Policy Statement (a White Paper by another name). Since then, the government has been replaced by a Conservative minority under Stephen Harper, and in its first speech from the throne, and first budget, little was said about defence. Both provided at best a minimalist window into the new government’s thinking, and this window not surprisingly reiterated the party’s positions laid out in the previous election campaign. In terms of the budget, the government noted some of its capital priorities, again reflecting its campaign rhetoric, but provided a modest immediate increase to the spending proposed by the former government for this fiscal year, which, if previous figures are to be believed, may not be enough to meet current spending shortfalls. Like its predecessor, more money is to come in future years.
To any attentive observer of Canadian defence none of this is surprising, even though some, such as the Canadian Defence Association (CDA), had come to believe that Canadian (and thus government’s) attitudes towards defence had changed significantly after 9/11. But, at least the last Liberal and the current Conservative budget speaks volumes to ‘business as usual’. At a time of record surpluses when a significant commitment is possible, very little is truly done. Instead, the increases are pushed into the future under the assumption that the good times will continue at least for the next five years. In effect, Canadian governments of either political stripe have long made promises to restore, modernize and expand the Canadian Forces (CF) only to find that the reality of Canadian political life gets in the way. Defence is quickly pushed down on the government priority list with little, if any fear, of electoral retribution.
Perhaps, this is a somewhat unfair assessment to make of the current government. Notwithstanding the previous, somewhat disingenuous notion, that National Defence and the CF could not spend a sizeable influx of new money, there remains difficult choices for the government to make, especially concerning new capital acquisitions. There will never be enough money under current and foreseeable circumstances short of full-scale war to re-create a balanced integrated force of land, sea and air as Canada last possessed at the end of World War II. This reality is further compounded by the continued, inexorable rise in costs of defence goods driven by technology and the U.S. defence budget. Even if the government decided to abandon inter-operability with the U.S. military as a defence objective, the CF could not escape these rising costs.
In effect, the new government, like the old, must make difficult choices about defence, and one of the most difficult choices is simply deciding how to proceed. It can accept the DPS as is and move to implement the choices of the last government; choose to move forward quickly to implement those elements of defence policy outlined in the Conservative election campaign alongside those parts of the DPS not at odds with these elements; reject the DPS and proceed only with the Conservative platform; or put defence on hold until the government completes a full review of defence. Either of the last two appears to be the path chosen by the Harper government. Of course, this will not make the advocates of defence very happy, as already evident in several opinion pieces. Nonetheless, before the new government proceeds, political and pragmatic considerations dictate a look at whose and what defence policy should be implemented.
At least on the surface, the DPS is the Liberal Party’s defence agenda having been accepted by Cabinet and the Prime Minister prior to its release in April 2005. No government willingly executes the policy preferences of its predecessor, especially when another election is probably just around the corner. Conservatives have always campaigned as the party of defence, and have been strong critics of Liberal weakness on defence, as evident in the last election. On these two grounds alone, the new government should be expected to abandon the DPS. Certainly, it could move forward with the Liberal agenda without any likely significant impact on voters not least of all because the DPS promised the re-capitalization of CF as part of transformation. Pro-defence voters are thus unlikely to object to its implementation. Furthermore, fears that the Conservative Party would not be able to use defence as a means to differentiate itself from the Liberals are likely unfounded. The Liberal Party may well abandon its own defence agenda with the process and final result of its leadership campaign. Indeed, Paul Martin quickly abandoned improving relations with the U.S. and ballistic missile defence within months of entering office in December, 2003.
However, the DPS is not just the Liberal defence agenda. If reports are to be believed, it is more the Chief of the Defence Staff’s (CDS) personal agenda. Immediately upon assuming office, General Hillier made it abundantly clear that the existing draft of the new defence policy statement was unacceptable. Apparently, it had reflected the longstanding consensus driven-process that sought to balance the needs and interests of each of the three services, and distributed benefits and costs relatively equally amongst them. In rejecting the balanced approach in favour of a single service dominant (Army-centric) approach, the CDS placed his own personal stamp on the subsequent DPS, and for good or ill personally took credit for its drafting.
From this perspective, one might expect the new government to be somewhat more comfortable with the DPS, which could be reasonably attributed to Canada’s senior military officer, rather than the previous government. However, there are different issues here concerning the politicization of the CDS and civil-military relations that the government confronts. First of all, Hillier’s ability to re-write the DPS and put his stamp on defence policy can be partially attributed to an image of a close personal relationship with the former Prime Minister, Paul Martin, which may be troubling for the new government. It speaks to a ‘liberal’ CDS. Second, accepting the CDS’ defence policy implies that the military makes policy, rather than advises and implements. Of course, in many circumstances especially when civilian leadership has little interest in, or is paying little attention to defence, defence policy making may by default fall to National Defence. But even here, it is not the CDS that makes policy, and the CDS’ input is to be weighed along with the civilian Deputy Minister (DM). Moreover, the CDS represents the ‘uniformed’ side, and the DM the ‘civilian’ side of Defence. The DPS represents in this context the dominance of the ‘uniformed’, whereas putting it aside would signal the re-assertion not only of political control, but also civilian input into the process.
Finally, the dominance of the CDS also raises questions about the internal politics within the military side of the house; politics which the current Defence Minister as a former senior officer no doubt clearly understands. In this regard, the Army leadership model adopted by the CDS over the long term raises questions of the sustainability of current plans. Despite the outward ‘three musketeers’ image, there are forces present which have been alienated by the process and outcome. From a process perspective alone, the current model is different from a Navy and Air Force culture, and also a bureaucratic one. One might bemoan organizational and cultural influences, but they are a reality that cannot be ignored. The next CDS may well look to return to more of a consensus driven process, such that the DPS will not survive the current CDS anyways. If this is likely, then another reason exists to put the DPS on the shelf.
In the end, idealists will suggest that defence is too important to be left to petty image politics. But, politics is about image and perception and to ignore this reality is to assume that military decision-makers are somehow immune to politics. In the end, the government has every incentive to make defence policy its own. With Paul Martin gone and Hillier likely past the halfway mark of his tenure, putting the DPS on hold or on the shelf makes political sense. It also makes some pragmatic sense when considering the ‘what’ of defence policy.
Three main arguments sustain the call for moving forward quickly and thus the emerging disappointment with the new government. The first is the generally positive reviews of the DPS. While criticisms have been leveled at some its elements, the DPS has generally been well received as a reasonable and accurate assessment of Canadian defence objectives and requirements for today and the future. Thus, it would be pointless to delay for even if the current government were to conduct its own defence review, the results would be the same. Second, the new government’s own priorities are not significantly different from those in the DPS, notwithstanding the armed ice-breakers. The government may disagree about the details of airlift per se, but everyone agrees that airlift is a priority. Finally, investment decisions must be made now otherwise it may be too late, especially given the length of time it takes to procure new equipment; an issue which is receiving much more attention today than the DPS itself. There is no time for a review.
However, these three arguments do not necessarily justify moving forward quickly. Certainly, few would disagree with the general tenor of the DPS. But then, few would disagree with the general tenor of most formal government policy documents, at least in terms of the defence portfolio since the lessons of the 1987 White Paper. Lack of details is the hallmark of a good policy document. The more detailed, the less room there is for manouever, especially relative to the unexpected, and no government wants to become trapped by its own policy rigidity, if it can help it. Furthermore, assessments of the threat environment and the fundamental objectives of defence policy, at least on the surface, always reflect the obvious. No one would object to the priority of Canada in defence and security first, then North America and finally the rest of the world.
One might readily conclude that the DPS can be implemented because it is general and short on specifics. But, this is the heart of the problem for the new government. In being asked to implement a document of the obvious and the general, there are no clear or necessarily logical investment priorities that fall out. Instead, any and all possible modern military capabilities can be made to fit. The DPS needs to be shelved because it lacks the very detail and rationale for making specific investment choices, or such choices must await detailed analysis. In this regard, there is a lesson from the death of the former investment priority list – the Strategic Capabilities Investment Plan (SCIP) – which was constructed after years of careful deliberations under the same government but different Prime Minister and CDS.
Of course, there are pressing capital needs facing the CF and these needs are reflected in the Conservative campaign platform. But even here this is more easily said than done. No one would disagree that airlift is a priority, especially with the ageing Hercules fleet. Even if the government implements its promise to procure strategic lift (roughly four C-17s), the Hercules fleet will have to be replaced very soon, and its obvious replacement is the J Model (notwithstanding a future Airbus competitor). However, needing airlift and deciding on the details of actual number and capability are two different things. This cannot be separated out from other investment and thus overall choices about the nature and type of armed force of the future. Any investment decision carries opportunity costs. Such decisions not only have implications for other choices, but also can in many circumstances dictate future choices and a future end state that may well be inconsistent with the direction the government actually would like to go.
This direction, whatever it may be, leads one back to the DPS and the type of armed force implicitly envisioned therein, or through other statements and actions emanating from the former government, the Department and the CDS. At best, the type of armed force and thus investment priorities follow from the Afghan experience and conflict model. If the new government has doubts or concerns about the Afghanistan commitment, then building an armed force to reflect it is problematic. Some might believe that the model is inappropriate for future defence requirements. Others might think that the experience over time will lead the government to eschew such missions. In either case, quick choices can build an armed force disconnected from political reality or result in capabilities of little actual value.
Finally, as it is somewhat imprudent for a new government to accept uncritically the priorities of the former government, it is also imprudent for a new government simply to implement its campaign promises when it comes to defence. Once in power, decision-makers gain access to detailed information not available when in opposition. Recall the price paid for the rash decision of the Chretien government in 1993 to cancel the EH-101 immediately upon taking office while reportedly rejecting any formal brief from the Defence Officials.
It is only logical and pragmatic that the new government takes some time before moving forward on defence. In the end, its decisions may not differ significantly from those of the past government. Regardless, it is politically reasonable, prudent and pragmatic for the Harper government to examine defence in detail before meeting its commitment to rebuild the armed forces. It has already inherited the most significant re-structuring of National Defence since Trudeau in 1972, if not since integration and unification of the CF in 1964, and will have to live with the consequences. Perhaps then it is reasonable to give the new government some time to make its own decisions regarding the future of the rest of the defence portfolio.
by John Ferris
Afghanistan is easy to enter and hard to leave. The country, split into many minorities by social, ethnic, religious, and clan divisions and with a weak central government, is governed not by one level of power, but by many. Kabul is cheap to conquer. Afghanistan is not, because Afghanis want to be there more than anyone else does. Britain was beaten in Afghanistan from 1838 to 1942, and the USSR between 1979 and 1989, not because their armies were crushed, but because they realized victory would cost more in men and time than they wanted to pay. On the other hand, limited aims are easy to achieve in Afghanistan, especially if one only wants to stop it from being a problem. In 1881, after an invasion producing mixed results, Britain formed an alliance with the strongest of Afghan princes, Abdur Rahman, helping put into power a man who kept his people from bothering the Raj. Britain maintained that situation until 1948 through a combination of bribery and threats: on the one occasion in 1919 when Afghanistan created a problem, Britain hurt Afghan forces and bombed Kabul, just to show it could. They then renewed the subsidy and kept the peace. From 1923 until 1975, similar means kept Afghanistan from bothering the USSR. Afghanistan is only a problem when it is invaded or ignored.
Western countries ignored Afghanistan from 1989 to 2001. They paid the price on 9/11. That event forced the United States to attack Afghanistan, the base for Al Qaeda. Other western countries followed suit, putting NATO multilateralism and old school ties into action in order to show the wounded and lonely hyperpower it still had friends. The Taliban regime was smashed rather more easily than Al Qaeda expected. The question then was, what next? Historically informed realpolitik suggested a simple answer: find the strongest warlord one could stomach and put him in power – admittedly hard to do, as some of the strongest warlords could not be stomached at all. Western states did not like this idea and pursued different initiatives. The Americans promoted a government of national unity but kept their forces out of it, focusing on the Afghani-Pakistani borderlands and on Iraq. Other western countries followed greater ends with greater means, namely to create a decent and legitimate government and have thousands of NATO soldiers help establish its rule across the country.
This was an honourable aim but not an easy one, nor are the liberal democracies of NATO the first states to think they can make of Afghanistan a better place. Britons believed they would do so in 1838, as did the Soviets in 1979, and Afghanistan did become a better place from 1881 to 1975. In 2002 western states gave a decent but militarily weak Afghan politician, Ahmed Karzai, power in Kabul and encouraged his efforts to create legitimacy and a national following. This was a difficult task, but it has enjoyed some success, first because western forces were the strongest in the land; secondly, because most Afghanis were tired of war; and finally, because Karzai and his backers were pragmatic enough to bribe many warlords into the process, leaving out only some of the most powerful and unpleasant among them. This first success has led NATO to up the ante and try to establish that regime in areas where it is powerless. It is that policy that has taken Canada to Kandahar.
Afghanistan has a way of arousing ambition in outsiders. The Martin government used the commitment to Kandahar as a means to show that Canada mattered in the world and to showcase its doctrine of focusing all parts of hard and soft power through the prism of “3-D” (defence, diplomacy, and development). General Hillier, borrowing the parallel, if militarized, American concept of counter-insurgency as a “three block war,” pinned the future of the Canadian forces to Kandahar. Stephen Harper is using that mission to symbolize his kind of Canada, a country acting resolutely on tough priorities. Contrary to some critics, this aim stems not from a neo-conservative aping of George W. Bush, but rather from Harper’s love of hockey and his roots in Anglo-Canadian culture. The public love-fest with its soldiers of recent years, marked by sentimentalism and a fetishization of war dead, reveals a popular hunger to see Canada do something in the world and develop a sense of national pride, lacking since 1990 – or 1968.
Harper also hopes to embarrass the Liberals. A party led by Bill Graham or Michael Ignatiev cannot easily repudiate a Canadian mission in Kandahar. That issue, however, can split the Liberals during a leadership campaign and an election, as Harper and Jack Layton hack at them as lumberjacks attack a tree, each using defence as a wedge to splinter opposite sides of the Liberal vote. In the confusion, the Conservatives may capture the role of the party of security and Pearsonianism without losing votes in Quebec. All shades of Canadian opinion brought us to Kandahar. All are caught in the outcome. Afghanistan has made the military more important to Canadian politics than it has been since 1984, or even as far back as 1967.
So, what is happening there? The unusual media focus on the mission, especially by embedded journalists, makes us think we know more than we do. In fact, the revolution is not being televised. The slogans of the “three block war” and “3-D” collapsed when they hit reality (or vice versa), crippling our ability to practice what we knew we should theoretically do. With the first death of a civilian Canadian official, Glyn Barry of the Department of Foreign Affairs, development officers and diplomats left Kandahar, leaving soldiers to handle these tasks. The latter’s ability to do so was diminished by the chance death and incapacitation of two of the few CIMIC officers charged with the military side of politics. The “three block war” and “3-D” have been translated, tactically speaking, into armoured convoys on dirt roads throughout Kandahar province, aiming to conduct “presence patrols” and attract enemy attacks – similar to the practices of Americans in Vietnam.
This image is familiar from press reports, but that is just part of the picture. However much Canadians may dislike the term, their forces are fighting a counter-insurgency campaign. That kind of war has a history from which lessons can and should be derived. Most insurgencies fail; poor counter-insurgents can crush bad guerrillas, but good ones are hard to beat. To extend the reach of an unpopular or corrupt government can strengthen rather than weaken resistance to it. In counter-insurgency, politics matters more than tactics, and the two must be coordinated. How far this is being done in Kandahar is unclear; no doubt the civil side is being left to Afghan civil authorities, as should be the case, but Canadian colonels and sergeants seem to be forced into making their own politics for Afghanistan. One’s impression is that coordination is fragile, but the fractures have not been exposed because the enemy is weak.
That enemy includes the armed forces of warlords, drug smugglers, and the Taliban which, incidentally, is far from a local body; many, perhaps most, of its soldiers are recruits from religious schools in Pakistan. Now, as ever, the Taliban relies on foreign jihadists and mercenaries to make up for its lack of support from Afghanis. Thus, many battles are being fought because the enemy wants them, which is not always a wise strategy for irregulars, and so far they seem to be getting the worst of combat. This suggests NATO’s strategy is having some effect. There are other promising signs: Afghan soldiers are motivated and brave, and the opposition seems to have little support in rural areas (nor do we, despite all the press about medics and CIMIC spreading the Canadian way in dusty villages), though we may yet acquire support through luck and hard work.
On the other hand, we are sitting beside a bomb and a fuse. The main cash crop in the Kandahar and Helmand provinces is opium. If we move to extend the government’s power and to suppress that trade, we may well fix the fuse and the bomb, creating an alliance between villagers and our armed opponents. If so, they will beat us, because they want to be in Kandahar more than we do. If that does not happen, we may win almost without noticing it when we suddenly find that the Afghan army and police force can stand without us. Meanwhile, by coincidence, public support for the mission probably is strong enough to carry us through to victory, but too weak to keep us there long in the event of failure. Win or lose, so what? Why are we in Afghanistan at all? At present, that question is posed only on the left, but judging from polls and impressions, it is on the mind of most Canadians. This should not be surprising. Indeed, it is a condition of our way of war.
Lucien Bouchard once said Canada was not a real country. When it comes to foreign policy, he was almost right. Canada is not a normal country. We do not need to defend our vital interests through power, nor could we. We do not use our forces to pursue our state interests. Instead, we loan them to some international organization, be it the British Empire, the UN, or NATO, which we think can maintain a liberal political and economic order across the world. We have never used our forces in direct service of our interests, not even in the emblematic case of 1939. We define our interests as being those of the world community. We want to be a referee even when we are a player.
Canada is not in Afghanistan to serve a neo-con policy, or at least not that alone, especially if one remembers that in foreign policy, neo-cons and liberal internationalists are sisters under the skin. We are there for the same reasons we have been anywhere since 1945: to maintain our influence among our friends, to stand on guard for liberal internationalism, and to do our bit to sustain a world order which we think is both good and good for us. What is on trial in Kandahar is any form of Pearsonian policy. If we do not stand there, where will we, particularly since the most obvious alternative, Darfur, is not exactly a picnic? If we sent our forces there, within a year we would probably face the same pressures and some of the same enemies as we do now in Afghanistan. Everything complained of by those who oppose our commitment in Afghanistan will occur in Darfur as we fight a neo-colonial counter-insurgency beside George W. Bush and against an Islamic government supported by Al Qaeda. Perhaps it would be right to intervene in Darfur, but it would be wrong to do so simply because we think it will be easy, or nice, or something Americans don’t do.
These dilemmas reflect the emerging conditions of our foreign and defence policy. Like most states, our military capabilities declined over the past generation, and we have moved to rebuild them since 2001. Because our forces are on an expeditionary force basis, however, their rebuilding will make us more powerful than most realize. If Canada acts on the defence policy announced by the Martin administration in 2005 – or on the beefed-up variant proposed by Harper – it will matter more in the world in terms of hard power than it has at any time since 1960. It will be a kind of world power so far as capabilities go, multiplying the value of our soft power (and vice versa). Most states in the world have little ability to project force. European countries, for example, unwilling to change their conscript systems and disinclined to intervene abroad, have large armies at home but little power to move beyond their borders. In functional terms, their conscript systems are ceasing to be military services and becoming social ones instead. World conventional power rests on a combination of a blue water fleet and an expeditionary capability in which the United States stands alone, Britain and France punch above their weight, and Australia, Canada, and India are the only bantams. We may become a middle power again, however, at least until China and India become world powers.
An irony is arising in Canadian policy. We are developing relatively great capabilities and more power than we need to pursue our own interests. This leads us into temptation as public pressure drives our government to do something to deal with any crisis overseas, while our way of war, lending force to international agencies rather than using it to further our own interests by ourselves, means that we can rationalize their use for every end on earth. But which of them are worth the pursuit and at what price? The commitment to Kandahar ended the danger that Canada would become invisible in the world. Now that we are becoming strong, we might ask what we want to use that power for.
by J.L. Granatstein
One of the great problems Canada faces in dealing with the United States is the Canadian public’s detestation of President George W. Bush’s America and all its works. If Animal Farm’s catchphrase was “four legs good, two legs bad”, Canada’s is “U.S. sucks”. For a nation that depends so totally on the United States for its economic survival and ultimately for its defence, this is utter foolishness.
To his credit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper recognizes this folly. As he told Policy Options in February, “the previous government…had fights with the United States” and “their fights…did nothing to advance Canadian interests.” Where his government disagrees with Washington, Harper said, “let’s stand up for our interests…in a meaningful way that really helps Canadians without poisoning everything else.” That is the key: Canada must follow a National Interests-based approach in dealing with the United States.
But what might this mean? Here are eight key rules that Canada needs to follow:
Those eight simple rules can put Canada’s relations with the United States back on track. Their application, for example, might not bring the U.S. to accept our Arctic sovereignty, but they will make the President, Congress, and the State Department more amenable to treating with a reliable ally. Good sense on our part can have a beneficial effect on all our relations with the United States. And that is very much in Canada’s national interest.
by Mike Jeffery
“First the levees were breached––and then law and order. As Katrina left people scrambling for food, for water, for supplies – for survival — lawlessness and violence, both real and imagined, spread, creating yet another problem for authorities who were burdened enough already.”1
There are many dimensions to national security, but as numerous incidents over the past decade, both in Canada and elsewhere have shown, a key capability is the ability to manage the consequences of disasters. No where was this more evident than in events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. The recent release of the US House of Representatives final report on the crisis is likely to result in considerable discussion south of the border on what should have been done to prevent the disaster from occurring and the means of managing the consequences once the Hurricane hit. It would be easy for Canadians to dismiss this as a unique American experience with no lessons for Canada. It would also be a mistake.
While the conditions which created the disaster in New Orleans are unique and there is very little likelihood such specific events would unfold in Canada, there are real lesson’s here for all developed countries. Katrina illustrates the increasing vulnerability, even fragility, of modern societies and the limits of emergency services in dealing with the consequences of disaster. It should serve as a wake up call to governments and policy planners alike.
Irrespective of debates over growing threats, natural events which result in death, destruction and the disruption of society have been around forever. Historically, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and other conflagrations have regularly caused upheaval, while pandemics have decimated populations. As society has advanced, man made destruction, as a result of war or accident, have added to the list of threats. What has changed, as illustrated by Katrina and similar events, is the structure of our modern post industrial society. In pursuit of efficiency, in our increasingly urbanized environment, we have integrated baseline infrastructure services resulting in an increased fragility or vulnerability, which amplifies the disruptive effect of any threat, while the ability of our emergency services to respond has not kept pace.
Just consider the foundation elements of our modern society. Electricity is the lifeblood of any modern society and, as anyone who experienced the ice storm or major power outages knows, we are wholly dependent upon it. Without it, our computers, the key information tool of society won’t work, traffic lights and control systems are out of order snarling our transportation networks, water pumps remain silent, allowing our homes to flood and industries and security systems are ineffective making people and businesses vulnerable. In addition, modern communications have made us a virtual community. No longer do we bond with our next door neighbours, rather we have friends and close contacts around the city, the country and even the globe. Communications technology sees us connected in ways our parents could not have imagined. Even more significant, business and government, upon which we depend, have become equally distributed. The help desk or customer service office you call for assistance is just as likely to be in India as around the corner. If these communications systems fail, society is paralyzed. Finally, advanced transportation systems have resulted in a global “just in time” society. This goes much further than manufacturing and pervades every aspect of our world. Without the constant movement of goods, everything from gasoline to foodstuffs ceases to be available. Equally important we have become routine world travelers, as we interact in these 21st century social, business and governmental networks.
It of course can be argued that society has always been susceptible to these weaknesses but able to weather such disruptions. That while the power may go out or the transportation system may fail, we can and do survive until the services are put back in order. The problem with this argument is that it ignores two significant trends. First is the reality that we have grown dependent on these systems and no longer possess the level of resilience that has saved us in the past. Perhaps the best example is the food supply system. I can remember when the home basement or storage room was a virtual grocery store. Fruits and vegetables, canned or frozen every fall, and a freezer full of meat were sufficient to see us through the winter months. There were items that we could only get at the grocery store, but the family would only shop once or twice a month, stocking up with “bulk” commodities. Other than fresh milk, which was often delivered, we didn’t spend a great deal of time going to the store. We could survive for months without re-supply. Today however, we have grown to depend on a grocery store which always has an ample supply of fresh food, negating the requirement to stock up “just in case”. But the grocery store is not a large warehouse but the distribution point for a constantly moving supply system. Disrupt the system and the grocery store stocks very quickly dry up. By some estimates there is approximately a three day supply in the North American food chain.
The second trend, in our complex society, is that these systems are increasingly interdependent and disruption of one can quickly lead to failure of another. A loss of power impacts on virtually every aspect of our infrastructure and even emergency power systems are time limited. Power outages disrupt communications, leading to a loss of situational awareness, resulting in less personal and organizational agility and decreased effectiveness. And both of these reduce the effectiveness of our transportation system. Collectively, such failures quickly lead to a decline in control of society’s activities and an unforecast surge demand on parts of the system, which further create erratic fluctuations. Here the spectre of tens of thousands of vehicles clogging the highways as people evacuated New Orleans, exacerbated by a lack of fuel, illustrates the problem. So it is my contention that the underlying threat is really no different than it has ever been. What is new is a society which has lost its resilience and has become, in effect, fragile.
At the same time, the expectation of society is that government, in particular the emergency services of the nation, will address these issues, providing life saving assistance until the required services are restored. These emergency services include the traditional first line responders, of police, fire, and ambulance but also hospitals and health services and the last resort support of the military. These “emergency services” have usually responded well to domestic events, but in this increasingly complex environment are facing two challenges. Most obvious is the fact that the emergency services themselves are dependent on the baseline infrastructure and loss of these capabilities significantly reduces their ability to respond. In extreme cases, as we saw in some constituencies during Katrina, the first responders themselves were victims and could do little to help anyone. But even more significant is the fact that these emergency services are too often not integrated and as a consequence responding to common threats is difficult, inefficient and sometimes even ineffective. The coordination between front line services in municipalities varies greatly. In some cases good, in others totally absent. The result may be inconsistent procedures, which result in lack of sharing of critical information, or incompatible technology, which prevents communication. By comparison, the coordination across municipal boundaries and with other levels of government is an even greater challenge and often complicated by turf wars. While there have been some recent steps towards improvement, emergency services are, in general, a collection of poorly coordinated agencies with an inconsistent ability to respond to major events.
The limitations of the emergency services to respond to crises has far greater consequences than just their limited ability to fix the breaks in the infrastructure, it hits at the roots of society’s security. We depend on a stable and peaceful environment for society to thrive. Military and police forces ensure that external and internal threats are kept under control while a range of emergency services ensure effective management of any crisis. In some areas of the world violence is a way of life and society adapts, learning to operate in spite of the violence. But we are fortunate to live in an environment of relative safety which provides us a measure of confidence and peace of mind. If that is disrupted, our ability to function is impaired. Faced with eroding security, the thin veneer of civility in society quickly disappears. And once things get to a certain point even “law abiding” individuals can be convinced to take matters into their own hands.
So we face a situation where our baseline infrastructure is becoming increasingly centralized and interdependent and therefore vulnerable while our emergency services lack coherence, efficiency and effectiveness in handling serious emergencies. Against this backdrop there are two main scenarios which we need to face. The natural or manmade event, which fractures our infrastructure, places our population in danger and simultaneously reduces the ability of the emergency services to respond. And the advent of a serious disease outbreak, such as a SARS type pandemic, which quickly compromises the emergency services and, in time, erodes the baseline infrastructure services due to the reduced availability of healthy personnel and the necessary limits on population mobility.
The publishing of Canada’s National Security Policy in 2004 highlighted the importance of building an integrated security system to address such risks but progress on the actual implementation of such a system has been, at best, slow. Given the events of Katrina, the time is right to look seriously at the risks of major disaster and, accordingly, the adjustment of plans and preparations. Significantly, this must be far more than just a review of consequence management but must include a change to the underlying framework. This means a look at Federal and Provincial policies affecting the full range of baseline infrastructure and emergency services and a long term strategy to update these policies. The objective must be, over time, a vastly re-structured national infrastructure with the inherent robustness and versatility to withstand future events and a truly integrated security and emergency response system, able to deal with any crisis quickly and effectively.
It would be easy to minimize the potential of a serious event in Canada – the view that “it couldn’t happen here”. Equally one can overstate our collective ability to respond. But one only has to look to the events in New Orleans and to review the report on the US response to Katrina to gain a sense of the risk. The spectre of the world most powerful nation unable to respond quickly or effectively to a natural disaster in one of its medium sized cities, should give us pause. We have no reason for complacency.
“A FAILURE OF INITIATIVE”. Final report of the select bi-partisan committee to investigate the preparation for and response to hurricane Katrina. US House of Representatives
by Alexander Moens
Successive Canadian governments have hedged their bets on Europe developing its own security and defence policy. Canada has declared the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, which was launched in 1991, as well as the European Security and Defence Policy of 1999 to be complementary to NATO objectives and NATO operations. In 2004, Canada and the EU signed a partnership agenda which was followed by an “Agreement Establishing a Framework for the Participation of Canada in EU-Led Crisis Management Operations,” signed in November of 2005. The accord provides the blueprint for Canada to join civilian as well as military EU operations. Military operations would come under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
It is fine for Canada to build on a long and multi-faceted relationship with the EU that began as early as 1976 when Ottawa became the first country to sign a framework agreement with what was then the European Community. The economic relationship was widened after the EU took on a role in foreign policy and home affairs. The Transatlantic Declaration of 1990, the Joint Action Plan of 1996, and the 2004 EU-Canada Partnership Agenda reflect this larger mandate.
The question that has not been discussed publicly to any extent in Canada is whether Ottawa should join in with the EU at the military level. Does Canada’s military agreement with the EU jive with our military interests in NATO? Up till now this has not been an important issue as most of Canada’s ad hoc contributions to EU-led missions have been very modest in scale. The largest military contribution has been in Bosnia where in 2005 some 80 Canadian personnel served in EU’s operation Althea which took over from NATO’s SFOR in 2004. Because Althea is an operation based on a NATO-EU cooperation agreement (the so-called Berlin Plus Agreement), which includes EU access to NATO’s assets and a NATO agreement that the EU take on the mission, Canada’s participation has not really been a question of choosing between the two.
The new Canada-EU agreement, however, does include the possible scenario where Canada may join an EU military mission that has no connection to NATO. There is a problem with Canada’s participation in EU-led missions that do not fall under the EU-NATO Political Agreement of 2003: How can Canada participate meaningfully in the EU decision-making process that determines the mission and its objectives when it is not a member of the EU? While the text of the Agreement of June 2005 has not yet been released, it is unlikely that it can overcome this longstanding problem. EU decision making--whether in its new Political Security Committee (the equivalent of NATO’s North Atlantic Council) or in the General Affairs Council—is exclusive to EU members. Thus Canada can only influence the EU decision through political directors meetings or other liaison channels, but it has no vote. Obviously, the EU is not so much interested in Canada’s voice around the table as in the experienced and highly qualified resources Ottawa is willing to offer. Unlike in NATO where the two issues (mandate and contributions) come together, not being an EU member will always relegate Canada to a second tier.
As is often the case in defence policy, words and statements may lead in one direction (closer Canada-EU military cooperation as pursued by the Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin governments) while actions and operations point another way (more Canadian involvement in NATO operations). Such is now also the case with respect to Canada’s policy towards EU-led military operations. The early Balkan crises formed a watershed point in terms of Canadian Forces deployment. After the dissatisfying UNPROFOR mission in the Balkans from 1992 till 1995, Canada has clearly invested in NATO-led peace enforcement and peacekeeping. Except for smaller missions in Haiti, East Timor, and Eritrea, Canada’s major deployments have been inside NATO mandates. Canada’s commitments after September 11, 2001 have sped up the trend away from UN peacekeeping to NATO or US-led peace stabilization missions.
The author wants to acknowledge the research assistance received from the SDF Special Projects fund in the Department of National Defence, Canada.
The major military reforms begun in the last year of the Martin government and accelerated under Stephen Harper move Canada’s political and military emphasis more deeply into NATO territory and especially NATO’s most recent global security operations. Also, Canada’s military transformation plans and the new budget increases in the defence budget give prominence to Canada’s role in NATO.
The major objective of Canadian Forces transformation is to generate stronger joint capability for operations in North America as well as more joint and robust expeditionary capacity. While it is true that a stronger and more streamlined capability in NATO’s global security operations also makes Canada more capable to participate in EU-led missions, Canadian military return from participating in EU-led operations is marginal at best.
Canada’s participation in future ESDP operations sends the wrong signal about NATO. The arguments for ESDP are that Europe should have more say in NATO and that European members should build more military capability. Canada’s identification with ESDP does not make sense on either point. Canada is not in Europe and has more expeditionary capacity than most European members. There are three reasons that argue against Canada’s participation in ESDP. First, the new threats that define Canada’s national interest, second, NATO’s transformation potential, and finally, ESDP’s ongoing weaknesses.
The key threats to Canada are international terrorism, weapons of mass impact, and aggressive dictatorships. Canada’s national security interest is now concentrated on fixing those failed states from which the terrorist threat or weapon of mass destruction threat is greatest. While they undoubtedly are lead players on the diplomatic, humanitarian, and development assistance fronts, neither the UN nor the EU have much to offer at the military level. Even so, ESDP has started to compete. There was an attempt in 2003 to turn the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) into an ESDP operation. Fortunately this effort failed as the requirements would be larger than the ESDP can yet offer. Likewise, NATO and the ESDP have skirmished a bit about who should lead the efforts in Darfur. As with the ESDP attempt to take over ISAF, Canada gained nothing from the EU’s attempt to lead the Darfur mission.
ESDP missions should be devoted not to Africa or Asia but to the further stabilization of security on Europe’s flanks. After Bosnia, ESDP’s task should be Kosovo with NATO planning, command, and control assistance as needed. Canada has no pressing national security interests in Kosovo beyond the interests European states have themselves. Unlike 1991 when Europe was not ready to manage the crisis of the disintegrating Yugoslavia, ESDP now has the decision making procedures in place to deal with the stabilization of Kosovo.
The second reason why Canada should focus on NATO is the transformation going on in that organization and how it matches Canadian objectives. Canadian Forces have been held back by numerous capability gaps. Most of these must be addressed at the national level. Still, NATO’s transformation and capabilities commitment plans can create synergy among willing allies to plug various holes together. NATO has a template; it can build onto its established record in command and control similar common strengths in logistics support, shared tactics, network-enabled operations, and force protection.
With ISAF, NATO’s geographical hang ups are over. NATO is now the vehicle through which to concentrate Western military resources to provide stability and security outside of Europe. Other countries such as Japan and Australia are already participating in NATO’s transformation command in Norfolk. NATO has deployed very robust forces in the south and east of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the new NATO Response Force (NRF) was stood up in 2004. Units of this new force deployed to Pakistan just days after the earthquake in 2005 and airlifted nearly 2000 tons of supplies to remote mountain villages and evacuated over 7,000 victims.
NATO has renewed itself not once but twice since the end of the Cold War. NATO has shown its intent to hand over operations in Europe when the EU is ready. There is no need for ESDP to compete with NATO outside of Europe.
Finally, although the EU has progressed a good deal in the civilian and policing aspects of crisis management, the military component of ESDP is still very much a work in progress. EU Battlegroups are not more capable than NATO’s Response Force. A major ESDP operation would have to rely on the national command system of Britain, France or Germany. Low defence spending and small investments in the renewal of military forces remains a problem among most EU members.
By mid 2006, not even a few hundred Canadian officers will serve in UN and EU operations while over 2300 soldiers will work in NATO’s toughest operation in the south of Afghanistan. These robust operations are not only compelling Ottawa to fund the renewal of Canadian Forces equipment, but also to focus on its most effective international military organization.
The EU has important humanitarian, development and police coordination functions. In some crises combining our strength in these areas with EU missions can be an effective way to get results, but placing Canadian forces under the European Union in military operations does not produce an effective political or force multiplier for Canada.)
EU-Canada Agreement on participation in crisis management operations signed 24 November 2005: Brussels, European Union in the World (http://europa-eu-un.org/articles/en/article_5365_en.htm).
ii) Recent budget increases are admittedly modest in the next two years, but potentially significant starting in 2008. See Brian S. MacDonald, “Budget 2006: Some Light at the End of the Tunnel!” Conference of Defence Associations, May 3, 2006.
by David Pratt
While nuclear, chemical and biological weapons remain the focus of high profile arms control initiatives, participants of a lesser-known UN process will meet in New York in late June to deal with what many consider to be the real weapons of mass destruction - small arms and light weapons.
Since the end of the Cold War, small arms and light weapons have been the tools of choice in large and small conflicts in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America where millions have been killed or wounded. While there is no universally agreed upon definition, small arms are generally defined as those designed for military use by a single person and include assault rifles like the AK-47 or M-16, machine guns and hand grenades. Light weapons are those intended for use by a crew and include heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, mortars, portable anti-aircraft guns and missiles and anti-tank guns.
The problem with small arms and light weapons is generally threefold: availability, durability and ease of use. On the supply side, it is estimated that there are 600 million weapons circulating on the planet; each of which with minimal maintenance has an operational life of between twenty to forty years.
There are so many assault rifles available in some countries one can be purchased for less than it costs to manufacture. In certain African countries, one can acquire an AK-47 for less than $20 or a bag of maize.
Operating an assault rifle is a breeze. Five minutes of training can turn a school boy into an efficient killing machine. The toll these weapons take is staggering. In 2005, it is estimated that 10,000 people per week were killed with small arms.
The international proliferation of these weapons is a problem not only by virtue of the numbers of countries affected but also because of their dispersion within societies. Highly lethal military weapons are becoming available to larger segments of the population. Street gangs, bandits, common criminals, undisciplined rebel groups – even children – have access to firepower that traditionally has been the exclusive preserve of professional militaries. Access to these weapons has left many parts of the world in a state of perpetual turmoil.
The Red Cross has had an interest in this issue for some time. Over ten years ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) did a study on “the relationship between arms availability and violations of international humanitarian law” (IHL). The Geneva Conventions form the centrepiece of IHL which is also known as the Law of Armed Conflict. Put simply, IHL seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict by restricting the means and methods of warfare and protecting those who are not or are no longer engaged in hostilities.
Completed in June, 1999, the ICRC study “Arms Availability and the Situation of Civilians in Armed Conflict” noted that the proliferation of arms and ammunition can increase tensions, heighten civilian casualties, prolong conflicts, hinder the provision of humanitarian assistance and increase violations of IHL.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement endorsed the report and called upon states to review their policies concerning the production, availability and transfer of arms and ammunition in light of their responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions to ensure respect for IHL and protect civilian populations. National Societies such as the Canadian Red Cross were also asked to raise public awareness of the issue.
The UN has been seized of the issue for a number of years. In 2001, a UN Conference adopted a comprehensive Programme of Action to “Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.” Biennial meetings of states were organized in 2003 and 2005 to measure progress on the implementation of the Programme of Action. However, because the document contains rather vague political commitments that provide few concrete benchmarks for implementation, the process so far has had limited impact on the ground.
Unless the global community is able to inject some urgency into the work of the UN Review Conference in July, it is likely the process will continue to plod along with little to show by way of tangible results. The Canadian Government and other like-minded countries have expressed strong support for the Programme of Action in the past and have made some constructive suggestions to accelerate the process of developing ideas and recommendations for states to consider and act upon.
The Canadian Red Cross, as part of the Red Cross Movement, supports these efforts primarily because of the devastating impact on civilians. But we also believe the availability and use of small arms and light weapons poses a direct challenge to our humanitarian work. For us, this is not an academic or theoretical exercise. In recent years, two Canadian Red Cross workers serving with the ICRC were killed in the line of duty - Nancy Malloy in Chechnya and Vatche Arslanian in Iraq. Dozens of other Red Cross personnel have also perished as a result of armed violence.
Concerted and determined steps by governments to find effective, sustainable and binding solutions are critical if words are going to be transformed into actions that will make a real difference in producing a safer more secure world.
by Andrew Richter
The dispute surrounding Iran’s nuclear program is deepening, and an international crisis regarding it may be only months away. What will Canada’s position be?
Iran’s January announcement that it would break the seals on nuclear-processing equipment, and its open speculation that it might withdraw altogether from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is creating the diplomatic equivalent of the perfect storm. Adding to the sense of urgency, in March Iran was referred to the UN Security Council, a move that had prompted earlier warnings from Tehran that it would begin full-scale uranium enrichment should such a decision be reached. At the same time, Iran warned the US of “harm and pain” in retaliation to any military attack.
Up to this point, Canada’s position on Iran has been somewhat ambiguous – hardly a surprise given Ottawa’s recent reluctance to take a firm position on many controversial issues. While Canada has indicated that Iran should not be permitted to develop nuclear weapons, it has done so in a very low-key manner, and has generally avoided public statements on the matter. This approach, originally formulated by the Chretien/Martin Liberals, and now followed by Harper’s Conservatives, apparently accepts the premise that public expressions of concern might worsen the situation, and that caution and prudence – as well as US and European leadership – will ultimately resolve the dispute.
The seeming unwillingness to take a firm stand against Iran is odd, though, given Canada’s traditional focus on nuclear non-proliferation. For over 40 years, Canada has viewed itself as a global leader on the issue, and has been a strong supporter of the NPT, the treaty that attempts to prevent precisely what Iran is widely suspected of doing. While Canada’s support of the treaty has often seemed self-serving – after all, this country has never had nuclear ambitions of its own, and thus our support has come with few direct costs – there can be little doubt that Ottawa has genuinely and enthusiastically supported the goal of nuclear non-proliferation.
Canada’s “soft power” approach on Iran (if one can call it that) may also stem from growing unease about the utility and desirability of the NPT treaty. Indeed, in this case, the global non-proliferation regime may be part of the problem, and not the solution that it is so often assumed to be.
While there is no opportunity here to review the history of Tehran’s nuclear program, it should be noted that until an Iranian dissident group came forward in 2002 with evidence of the country’s clandestine activities, neither the NPT or its watch-dog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), had any idea of what was happening. And while the IAEA has since attempted to make up for lost time by inspecting suspicious sites, there is no denying that the twin institutions failed in their primary responsibility – to prevent nuclear proliferation, and in those cases where a state cannot be effectively deterred/dissuaded, to provide early warning to the international community of the possible dangers.
But all of that is history. As for the present, Iran’s nuclear program is now the subject of debate at the UN Security Council, and with Iran expected to disregard any compromise proposal(s), the primary decision will shortly revolve around whether sanctions should be applied.
That debate is, in many ways, irrelevant. It is clear that sanctions alone -- even if they are applied -- can do little to prevent Tehran from moving forward. Previous cases of UN mandated sanctions have demonstrated that there are many ways for states to violate them, and that close allies can be expected to ignore them, regardless of the political consequences (which tend to be few, in any event).
The key issue, then, is whether the international community is committed to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and what states are prepared to risk in the attempt to do so.
The general outline of that debate is taking shape. The US, backed by the UK, Australia, several countries in Eastern Europe, and Israel (ie., many of the same states that formed the “coalition of the willing” in Iraq) can be expected to take an aggressive stance, which will likely involve the threatened use of force unless Iran begins to dismantle its program under international supervision. The recent release of an updated National Security Strategy in the US strengthens the possibility of military force being used, as it reiterated support for the policy of pre-emption, while at the same time it identified Iran as the country which poses “no greater challenge” to the US.
On the other hand, Russia and China can be expected to pursue a more conciliatory approach, as these two states wish to maintain the lucrative energy and military contracts that they have negotiated in the past few years (thereby repeating the pattern established over Iraq). In addition, Moscow and/or Beijing can also be expected to use their Security Council vetoes to prevent sanctions from being applied.
The wild-card in this debate may be France, whose allegiance to either side will be crucial. While up to this point Paris has given few indications of how it intends to approach the question, it appears increasingly likely that France will side with the US, as the aftershocks of last fall’s riots continue to reverberate and challenge the political status quo. In this regard, it is interesting to note that over the past few months, French political leaders have begun to use much more forceful language on a range of issues (as well as identified a new, more robust defence strategy), statements that might offer a clue as to how France might approach the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.
Which brings us back to Canada. On this debate, Canada will have to take sides, despite the expected calls for this country to chart a “middle” path. With a history of concern for non-proliferation, enormous faith in the importance of international agreements and institutions, and a realization that a nuclear-armed Iran is not in any country’s interest, Ottawa’s position should not be difficult to determine.
However, the issue is fraught with both military/strategic and political questions, questions that make Ottawa’s ultimate position a guessing game. Strategically, there is concern over whether a military operation aimed at destroying (or, at a minimum, severely damaging) Iran’s nuclear program is even feasible, given the large number of targets, the geographic distances involved, and the preventive measures that Iran has taken in the construction of its nuclear facilities (for example, placing many near population centers). Western intelligence agencies that have studied the issue have concluded that such an operation would be extraordinarily difficult, and the odds of success are low.
In addition, non-US participation in any such attack is unlikely, as only the US (and Israel) has the kinds of air assets required to attempt such a mission (ie., advanced strike aircraft, radar jamming equipment, penetration bombs, aerial refueling capabilities, etc.). Thus, even if Canada supported a US military strike against Iran, it is doubtful that this country would contribute to the operation in any tangible way, perhaps raising doubts about the desirability of taking this position in the first place.
Politically, a “hard power” approach towards Iran is also fraught with danger. Supporting the US on this issue will come with significant political costs. The Conservative government will be strongly criticized by the mainstream press, and such attacks will carry a heavy political price (particularly in Quebec, where the Tories hope to build on their unexpected success in the 2006 election). Given the relatively fragile position of the minority government, the Tories may not wish to use so much political capital on this issue. And in the back of many Conservative minds is the Iraq experience, where support for the US ultimately became a serious political liability, one which the Liberals continue to take advantage of.
The net result is that Prime Minister Harper is about to face an enormous test, one in which dangers abound regardless of what Canada ultimately decides.
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.
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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.
Minor Research Papers – four papers are released each year on current, relevant themes related to defence, diplomacy and international development.
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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.
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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.
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