Summer 2008 (Volume VI, Issue II)

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

In this issue:

Message from the President - Robert S. Millar

Welcome to the Summer 2008 issue of “The Dispatch.” This issue covers a variety of pertinent topics including Canada-U.S. border relations, General Rick Hillier’s resignation, and military transformation within China and Russia. 

In this issue you will notice CDFAI is in the process of revamping this document, which will continue to evolve over the next few issues. The first change is the introduction of a short article by our Editor-in-Chief, David Bercuson which will be an ongoing part of The Dispatch. Our Assistant Editor, Kate McAuley is now doing the article summaries which follow this message. 

Enjoy this issue and let us know what you think about the articles.

Article Summaries from the Assistant Editor – Kate McAuley

In this newsletter there are eight enlightening articles, including two feature articles by CDFAI Senior Research Fellows Reid Morden and Elinor Sloan.

  1. Canada’s Complacency: The Conditions for Radicalism Abound – Reid Morden. While Canadians celebrate multiculturalism, they don’t realize that many immigrants feel like outsiders and that their ties to Canada are steadily weakening. This, Reid argues, creates the perfect conditions for radicalization of disaffected communities within Canadian society. Canadians need to accept this new reality and ensure that Canada remains multicultural but in a way that does not allow for the growth of radicalism. 

  2. China’s Military Transformation – Elinor Sloan. In this article Elinor examines the steady transformation of China’s military from a massive force geared towards protecting the mainland to a smaller, high-tech military capable of fighting limited wars far from China’s borders. She details the changes taking place in China’s land, air, and naval forces, as well as its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Although China’s military is not yet an easily deployable, high-tech force, Elinor argues that there is no doubt China will achieve this goal in the years to come. 

  3. ITARs – Barry Cooper. The American International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITARs) legislation is intended to prevent countries the U.S. doesn’t trust from attaining access to its security and defence technology. Instead, it has often been used to protect U.S. firms from Canadian competition. Barry states that the Canadian government’s refusal to sell a Canadian space technology firm to an American firm is like the Canadian equivalent to ITARs and opens the opportunity to examine an area in which free trade cannot exist. 

  4. Declining to Take on an Impossible Challenge – Nelson Michaud. In this article Nelson tackles the question of why General Rick Hillier resigned as the Chief of the Defence Staff. He examines some of the possible reasons but argues the most likely reason is that Hillier’s vision for the Canadian Forces (CF) and Canada’s role in the world did not mesh with the current government’s weak foreign policy. He states that Maxime Bernier’s demand for the dismissal of Kandahar’s Provincial Govenor undermined Canada’s credibility in Afghanistan and made Hillier’s job impossible to complete. 

  5. The Bear Roars…Or Not: Should Russian Muscle Flexing Cause Concern? – Cameron Ross. Demonstrations of military might and an increasingly aggressive foreign policy have some people concerned that Russia is bringing about the return of the Cold War. Cameron examines the recent displays of Russian military power as well as the country’s willingness to use its energy supply as leverage in exerting its influence internationally. He concludes that the desire to regain the respect that it once held fuels Russia’s recent actions rather than any desire it might have to restart the Cold War. 

  6. CF Personnel Management in Need of Transformation – Anne Irwin. Throughout the 1990s media coverage of the Canadian Forces was almost non-existent. Now that Canadian soldiers have proved their mettle in Afghanistan, the Canadian public is much more aware of their capabilities and achievements; however, while the sense of pride among those in uniform is increasing, large numbers of them are leaving the CF. Anne believes poor personnel policies can explain this paradox. She argues that the cavalier attitude with which the CF treats is members creates a sense of dissatisfaction that drives many trained and experienced soldiers away. 

  7. North American Sclerosis: A Threat to Canada’s National Interest – Alexander Moens. Canada has an immense economic interest in the United States but many in Canada see any attempt to deepen trade relations and improve regulatory harmony as tantamount to surrendering Canadian sovereignty. This ill-informed public opinion has hampered the Canadian government and caused a lag, or what Alexander calls sclerosis, in North American cooperation that endangers Canada’s national interests. Alexander argues that the cure for sclerosis is market-led integration that will result in increased North American production and a smart border. 

  8. A New Foreign Service as Relationship Manager – Mark Entwistle. Today celebrities and other select individuals have an exaggerated influence over global politics. That, combined with a tendency for politicians and world leaders to make decisions without consultation, has made the traditional role of the Foreign Service irrelevant. Mark contends that the Foreign Service no longer provides political leaders with exclusive analysis and that diplomats no longer negotiate or impact fundamental decisions. He argues, then, that the Service’s future role should be that of a relationship manager that keeps relationships with local authorities in foreign countries open and friendly and hopefully disposed towards Canada. He discusses five implications this new role will have for Canada’s Foreign Service.



Message from the Editor-in-Chief - David Bercuson

David Bercuson is the Director of Programs at CDFAI, the Director of the Centre forMilitary and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, and the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the 33 Field Engineer Squadron based in Calgary.

Despite the repeated claim that NATO forces in Afghanistan are making significant progress in putting down the Taliban insurrection, most of the news from Afghanistan points the other way.  Over the last several months, the Taliban have pulled off a daring assassination attempt against President Hamid Karzai, they broke into the Kandahar jail housing hundreds of Taliban prisoners (and criminals) and set them free, and they mounted a major suicide attack outside the gates of the Indian embassy in Kabul.  Virtually every agency that tracks the violence in Afghanistan reports increased attacks across the country, but especially in Regional Command South where the Canadians operate in Kandahar province and in Helmand province to the west of that.  U.S. news media recently reported that monthly casualties suffered by coalition forces in Afghanistan now surpasses the monthly totals in Iraq.  Part of that reflects the falling toll in Iraq but it also reflects the rising toll in Afghanistan.  So what is really happening?

For one thing, there is no end in sight to this insurgency.  The peak fighting months of July to October are only now beginning.  There will be more attacks, more Taliban successes and more coalition casualties.  For another, the number of illicit border crossings from Pakistan is clearly rising and NATO is now in the same situation that the U.S. was in Vietnam in the 1960s, fighting an enemy with a ready sanctuary just a few hours drive from Kandahar City.  History shows very clearly that imported insurgencies cannot be defeated unless the country exporting the insurgency is neutralized either militarily or diplomatically.  But Pakistan is now itself paying the price of coddling its own home-grown Taliban who are raising incidents of violence there too.  The current governing coalition in Islamabad doesn’t know whether to hug the Taliban or try to kill them, and the very instability of that country virtually guarantees that the Taliban will have free passage into Afghanistan for some time to come.  The border problem is compounded by the utter failure (or the utter inability) of the Karzai government to seriously attack corruption, warlordism and nepotism in Afghanistan.  This alienates more of the people every day, especially in the south, where there is lingering ambivalence about the Taliban.  When coalition forces occasionally inflict collateral damage on property or people when fighting back against the Taliban (virtually unavoidable in that kind of war), alienation grows.

Getting Pakistan out of the picture is one key to winning the insurgency.  Odds are increasing that this will have to be done by simply ignoring the border and intervening in force to destroy Taliban and al-Qaeda strongpoints and kill their leaders.  At the same time, NATO simply MUST exert a great deal more pressure on Karzai to clean up corruption, especially in the country’s police.  If  there is no action on either front, there won’t be any real improvement in the situation. 



Registration has begun for the 2008 Annual Ottawa Conference!
This year the conference, Canada and the United States: What Does it Mean to Be Good Neighbours?, will examine outstanding unsettled issues between Canada and the United States from both sides of the border and suggest ways to resolve those issues.

The conference panels will explore four key areas of cross-border relations: territorial and resource issues; multilateral and unilateral relations and spheres of influence; North American defence issues; and border issues such as cross-border business, immigration, and intellectual property rights. Two high calibre keynote speakers will also be addressing these issues:

  • Michael Kergin, former Canadian Ambassador to the United States; and
  • Paul Cellucci, former American Ambassador to Canada.

The conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ottawa on October 27, 2008. For more information and to register, please visit www.cdfai.org/conf2008.

We look forward to seeing you there!

CDFAI Advisory Council Update
After six years as the Chair of the Advisory Council, Jack Granatstein decided to step down in March 2008. As Chair, Jack provided superb feedback on, and direction for, CDFAI’s current and future programs. We are very grateful that he has decided to remain a member of the Advisory Council.

Thank you to Denis Stairs, Professor Emeritus in Political Science and a Faculty Fellow in the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie, who has graciously taken on the position of Chair. We look forward to working with him in this position!

Congratulations to CDFAI Fellows Dany Deschênes and Elinor Sloan who were appointed to the Royal Military College Saint-Jean Board of Governors in February 2008!



Canada’s Complacency:
The Conditions for Radicalization Abound

by Reid Morden
Reid Morden is President of Reid Morden & Associates and the former Director of CSIS, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and President and CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

So who was Guy Fawkes, anyway? Just a 17th century terrorist, taking his orders from higher authority in setting a primitive IED, and targeting a select group with little concern for collateral human damage. Perhaps even, if he had gotten the fuse length wrong, an early suicide bomber. This home-grown product was radicalized to the extreme point of attempting to blow up the monarch and most of the Protestant nobility by a sense of religious grievance. He and his fellow plotters were also no doubt egged on by Catholic forces outside England. Dress this up in modern garb and the package will have familiar attributes in this post 9/11 era.

Should Canadians care?

Indeed they should care because the very conditions which drove Fawkes and his collaborators to the point of violence have some parallels in the rapid changes now being experienced in the demographic of Canadian society. In fact, as this paper briefly explores, these far-reaching changes have so far not brought about any overt rethinking of the multicultural approach to nation-building which, to this point, has been one of our major strengths and an abiding source of pride. Yet dramatic and urgent changes to our social policy framework may well be necessary.

Go back to July 2005. Two deadly bombings in London, one in Sharm el-Sheikh, and kidnappings and killings continue in Iraq. An apparently innocent man shot dead by police in the London subway.

Canadian reaction? Media comment trivializing the threat to our country. Criticism of the Minister of Public Safety who had acknowledged in public that Canadians should at least be psychologically prepared for an attack, and was reaching out to affected communities to address it.  A belated condemnation of violence against innocents by Canadian Islamic clergy and a call to his community from one prominent Muslim cleric not to cooperate with Canada’s security services.

Why would he do that? Probably for a variety of reasons, including our foreign policy that leads us into areas of ideological and religious conflict, where violence is often seen as the means of resolution. What has changed is that we are no longer simply a refuge for those seeking escape from hatred and strife in their homelands or a parking spot for those few who abuse Canada’s hospitality and bring their homeland problems to our door. Now our own policies and actions motivate those who disagree with them to retaliate on Canadian soil.

We do not need to look to foreign policy to sense what has changed in our comfortable world. Our own country’s human landscape is dramatically changing, as is our increasingly urban geography. A makeup which, within a decade or so, will see somewhere over 25% of Canada’s population comprised of citizens and residents originating from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

A recent publication by the Institute for Research into Public Policy (IRPP),1 suggests that Canadians have done a reasonable job to date in managing diversity. However, the same study warns that we have unfinished business both in recognizing and respecting differences and in strengthening social integration.

Across the country, and now especially in Quebec, there has been considerable reflection about how Canada accommodates its growing diversity. While dialogue, flawed though the Bouchard-Taylor Commission may have been, offers an opportunity for people to share their concerns, the IRPP publication argues that we must keep a balanced perspective. Overreaction and drastic changes to policies would be as bad as inaction and the study concludes that Canada does not need to make a U-turn in its approach to multiculturalism and diversity.

Nevertheless, the study warns that problems could result from rising levels of immigrant unemployment, roughly double that of the Canadian-born population, lower income levels for recent arrivals, greater instances of perceived discrimination felt by newcomers, and slower social integration of visible minority immigrants. Most worrying is the evidence that the sense of discrimination is higher among immigrants who have been in the country longer and among the children of immigrants. Out of these dissatisfactions emerges the home-grown or second generation radical turned terrorist, an alleged eleven of whom are about to go on trial in Ontario.2

Two thoughts are worth keeping in mind. First, consonant with the broad mix of ethnicities in Canada, radicalization and extremism with violence are not present solely in Islamic communities; however, that is not to ignore Islamist trends and realities. Second, radicalization is a process, not an end in itself, nor does it necessarily lead to violence.

Conceptually, and seen at its broadest, there are such authors as Samuel Huntington who see the 21st century world as a clash of civilizations largely based on religious heritage. Others, like Dominic Moïsi,3 argue that globalization has spawned three large cultures: that of fear (Western world), that of humiliation (Muslim world), and that of hope (rising Asian societies).

In many ways, the latter’s thesis is more interesting. In the West, the response to radicalization is complicated by conflict between the major players: the U.S. and Europe. The former is given to overstate and overreact to the issue while the latter has a tendency to deny reality and underreact. Canada seems to listen more carefully to its European roots on these problems.

Whatever their differences, globalization has compounded and fragmented their fears (e.g. fear of being left behind by the dynamic societies of Asia, fear of being blown up by (Islamist) fanatics).

Clearly there are political realities which both divide and unite the “Muslim” world. What is pervasive is the sense of humiliation that advancement and prosperity in other societies has pushed aside the intellectual and material brilliance of medieval Islamic society. Contrast this with the optimism that permeates many of Asia’s societies. For some, particularly China, this includes a sense of satisfaction in returning to its rightful place on the world stage.

How does this relate to Canadian society? Very directly in terms of both governmental and societal response to the issues of “humiliation” which centre on a lack of social mobility and degenerating or, at best static, material prosperity.

The easiest thing to do is to react repressively but this will not deal with the problem. The better way to react is to intensify efforts and policies aimed at a more rapid integration of immigrant communities. It is a must to cast this net much more widely than merely the Muslim community. Although many Muslim youths were involved, the Paris suburbs riots of 2005 had little to do with radical Islam. Rather than religion, the violence stemmed from a non-denominational sense of stagnation and socio-economic isolation.

That said, the conundrum remains for immigrant societies like Canada’s: how to retain respect for society’s basic values while importing and respecting the values of incoming cultures? More mundanely, how are Canada and Canadians to respond to the areas of grievance and dissatisfaction among newcomers to the country? There is a litany of concerns, all given their public due in the mainstream media. The list includes feelings that the government misled potential immigrants in encouraging them to come to Canada and then ignored them upon arrival as well as feelings that educated immigrants face considerable systemic difficulties in having their credentials recognized. Whatever the reason, immigrants who do not prosper are susceptible to natural feelings of resentment, and these feelings open the way for people to take a radical interpretation of their situations (the role of today’s media in sensationalizing these feelings is worth an intensive analysis but lies beyond the scope of this article).

In keeping with a certain sense of pessimism that seems to permeate many analyses and discussions of the international situation today, one must state that the normal, reactive and conventional policy responses may not fit, nor be effective. It may be necessary, in keeping with dynamic world changes like globalization, to countenance a significant paradigm shift.

At the base, the concept of the nation state may be eroding. Many would argue that it reached its apogee in the 19th century and has been in decline since. If so, that decline has steepened dramatically as globalization has advanced. Phenomena such as so-called circular migration (one might almost call it peripatetic migration) have surged whereby a family may settle somewhere for education and employment, settle again to raise a family, and finally retire to a third location or perhaps to the original homeland. The net result is a weakening of loyalties to any one state entity but without necessarily weakening the bonds of religious or cultural community. Moreover, the action is now, and will be, overwhelmingly concentrated in urban centres because it is in the large cities that human capital is most highly valued and rewarded.

This hyper urbanization, driven by a rapidly diversifying population also intensifies the tendency for immigrants to settle in enclaves, defined as geographic areas whose populations are over-represented by those from specific cultures or religions. However, in the past, the enclave has been a temporary haven, a place to get acclimatized to new surroundings, but one from which a newcomer would move from once settled in employment and having acquired some savings. This pattern is now beginning to change and the change, when taken together with the staggering advances in transportation and especially communications that we associate with globalization, has profound implications for immigration policies of integration.

What we now see is the emergence of “astronaut” families where some members of the primary family live in one country while others live in another, many in community enclaves. This strengthens religious and/or cultural ties but clearly weakens any impetus to give undivided loyalty to any one country of residence. In fact, ties to an original homeland are facilitated in a world in which countenance is dual or multiple citizenships are permitted. This environment may well mean that “the idea that, when emigrating, one resigns oneself to relinquishing not only a national but as well an ethnic or cultural identity, is an idea from the past.”4