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

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

In fact, this “transnationalism” may well increase the attractiveness of non-permanent migration as it rewards, in particular, those with the mobility to take advantage of the current conditions described above. Moreover, some, like Howard Duncan, argue that “modern social dynamics are under the influence of global forces far more powerful than the integration programs that are currently on offer by governments in the West.”5 In short, governments should no longer assume that integration with the host’s mainstream will exert a stronger pull on the newcomer than the “transnational” enclave.

Canada’s latest Census tells us that urbanization continues apace and that our urban agglomerations are becoming increasingly diverse. Moreover, as developers in Toronto now design whole neighbourhoods with homes which include prayer alcoves or rooms, we can safely assume that the concept of the complete enclave is advancing and spreading. What need, therefore, for the newcomer to pay the costs, financial and emotional, of truly integrating into Canadian society?

The real question is, of course, does it matter to the greater polity, given a globalist outlook? Should Canadians worry about the strengthening of enclaves as a source of security threats? Do enclaves foster an antagonism and a radicalization toward mainstream society?

Do we have definitive answers to these questions right now? Probably not. However, it is worth harking back to the issues raised by Banting and his co-editors6 cited earlier in this article. There is a sense of alienation and of being tolerated rather than accepted. Leaving aside cultural challenges, probably the seminal cause of this alienation stems from the challenges of what Statistics Canada calls “chronic poverty”7 which would seem to be chronic low-paying jobs, largely induced by shortcomings in Canada’s immigrant selection process.

It is but a short step from these harsh realities to a downward spiral in which not only the original immigrants but following generations harbour a sense of grievance and alienation from their perhaps less than hospitable welcome. This, in turn, leads to a continued identification with their original homeland nationality and a continued arms-length relationship with their new country. With indifference to the latter, and a well of bitterness inside, is there a better breeding ground for radicalization? Answer this question in the affirmative and you must accept an attitudinal tendency to fall back into the comforting arms of religion.

In all this complex and potentially explosive mix, what is needed is recognition from the Canadian public that there is a new dynamic abroad in the cities of our land. It is everyone’s responsibility to understand the dynamic and act to ensure that it becomes a constructive element in building society rather than a progenitor of threats. We also need sustained and open government leadership that levels with Canadians on the changes to Canadian society and the policies it will pursue to keep society whole through the matrix of immigration and social policy levers. It must also make clear that it intends to continue to deal firmly with elements of any community supporting or advocating violent acts, no matter the cause.

Why? Because, for the foreseeable future, hovering on the periphery of societal change is the reality of a world in which random terrorist violence is the norm, and we in Canada are not immune. The comfortable or complacent view of Canada, held by, I suspect, the majority of Canadians is obsolescent, if not obsolete. The time for an informed public, which can calibrate for itself the balance between risk and adaptation to the changes which constitute the new normalcy, is now.


1 “Belonging? Diversity, Recognition and Shared Citizenship in Canada,” edited by Keith Banting, Thomas J. Courchesne, and F. Leslie Seidle, 2007.
2 This paper was written before the trial for the youngest accused terrorist began on 30 May.
3  Based on Moïsi’s article “The Emotional Clash of Civilizations,”, 2006.
“Will Immigrant Integration Enhance National Security,” Howard Duncan, Executive Head, Metropolis Project, Global Futures Forum Workshop, Ottawa, March, 2007.
5 Ibid.
6 See footnote 1, Ibid., Banting, et al.
7 “Chronic Low Income and Low Income Dynamics Among Recent Immigrants,” Statistics Canada, Business and Labour Market Analysis, January 2007.



China’s Military Transformation

by Elinor Sloan
Elinor Sloan is an Associate Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University. She is also a former defence analyst at the Department of National Defence.

When one thinks of the advanced technologies and new doctrines and military organizations associated with military transformation, it is developments within Western militaries that immediately come to mind. But much is happening in other areas of the world, notably in China.1

Military transformation in China is driven by the dual forces of responding to developments in the West, and meeting the challenges of its new strategic situation. The wars the United States and its allies have fought since the end of the Cold War have given China a window on future conflict. Profoundly influenced by the 1991 Gulf War, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) leadership replaced its doctrine of a massive war on the heartland with a new doctrine of “fighting a limited war under high-tech conditions.”2 The conflicts in Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001-02) and Iraq (2003)—studied closely by China—further indicated future directions in warfare, with the result that China’s 2006 defence white paper stated an overall strategic goal of building a digitized military capable of winning high-tech modern conflicts.

China’s new strategic situation is characterized by good relations with Russia and growing imperatives to look outward. The two countries have resolved most Cold War border disputes, reducing or eliminating China’s need for a large ground force to repel possible incursions. China is looking outward to Taiwan, preparing for possible military action in order to prevent separation. Perhaps more significantly, it has undergone an economic surge that has both tied its economy to a globalized world, and driven a domestic demand for imported energy. With new global interests, Chinese scholars have argued, China needs to transition from a continental land power to a sea power, and build a military that can fight far from Chinese borders.3

Land Forces
China’s overall ground force vision is to transition from a large continental military to a “smaller, more flexible, highly trained and well-equipped ground force centered on rapid reaction units.”4 To this end, the PLA is reducing overall force size, increasing education levels, professionalizing the force, and developing smaller, more mobile units. The size of the PLA has been cut by over half since the Cold War, to about 2.3 million personnel. The majority of the reductions have come in the army, with the PLA navy (PLAN) and air force (PLAAF) increasing in relative size. The idea behind a reduced ground force size, the Chinese leadership has stressed, is to allow greater resources to be devoted to acquiring advanced technology and developing a better-educated military force.5 The Chinese leadership has recently announced new measures to attract and retain high-tech talent for the military, including a recruitment drive for technology specialists, increased pay for such recruits, and extra training in top Chinese universities. China is also in the process of professionalizing its military forces. The PLA went from more than 80 percent conscript in the early 1990s to less than 65 percent conscript by 2000, and has now set a goal of instituting force-wide professionalization. Finally, the PLA is taking steps to restructure its ground force units into those that are smaller and more expeditionary. Corps-sized group armies comprised of divisions have been disbanded in favour of brigades that are more rapidly deployable and flexible.

Part of the expeditionary equation is to equip ground forces with lighter equipment, armed with precision munitions. China is producing a family of eight-wheel-drive medium-weight armoured vehicles similar to America’s Stryker.7 It is also developing self-propelled artillery and howitzers that have been modified for airdrop and rapid deployment missions, and it is fielding precision-guided artillery. For battlefield mobility China is indigenously producing a dedicated attack helicopter that will fire an antitank guided missile and have a reported combat performance equal to the Eurocopter Tiger.

An expeditionary capability also requires strategic air- and sealift. For the former, China has a handful of Antonov transporters, as well as about a dozen heavy Russian transporters dating from the 1990s. China is now trying to create an indigenous capability to design and build a fleet of large cargo transporters to enable power projection missions. For sealift and power projection from the sea onto land China is focusing on amphibious capabilities. It is increasing its amphibious ship production, modernizing its amphibious armoured personnel carriers and light amphibious tanks, and has signed a contract with Russia for new air-cushion landing crafts that are designed to disembark amphibious forces. That said, with seventy-five medium landing ships China currently lacks large amphibious vessels. Moreover, the PLAN’s older amphibious warfare assets are considered ill suited for operations beyond coastal waters.8 U.S. intelligence agencies estimate that even with the new ship construction, China will still have lift deficiencies.9

Air Forces
China’s 2006 defence white paper stresses that the PLAAF “aims at speeding up its transition from territorial air defence to both offensive and defensive operations,” and in particular, increasing its capabilities in the area of strike operations.10 With more than 2,000 combat aircraft in the PLAAF and PLAN, including a mix of air-to-air and air-to-ground strike aircraft, China would seem to have a formidable stand-off precision force capability. Yet, as one analyst put it, most of these aircraft “are better suited to museum displays than to the front line.”11 Only about 300 are third and fourth generation fighters armed with sophisticated munitions. These include fourth-generation Russian-built tactical fighters, as well as multi-role strike platforms to be armed with precision strike munitions. China also has a new indigenously developed fighter, now in operational service with the air force. To enhance the precision strike capability of its fighters and interceptors China has reportedly developed a strap-on guidance kit for gravity bombs similar to America’s GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions. It has also purchased refuelling aircraft to increase aircraft range, although questions remain as to whether the PLAAF has mastered in-flight refuelling techniques.12

China’s standoff precision force capability includes what may be considered “precision” ballistic missiles. It already has close to 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles deployed opposite Taiwan, but recently it has begun fielding the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile. This is a medium range ballistic missile fitted with an infrared guidance system that allows it to strike surface ships at sea, notably aircraft carriers. In addition, China has improved the accuracy of its short-range tactical surface-to-surface missile using satellite-guided technology. Generally speaking, China is seeking to integrate satellite navigation technology into most or all of its new fighters, helicopters, and missiles. Beyond this, it may be pursuing technologies for unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). In 2006 it unveiled a concept for a supersonic UCAV with a primary air-to-air mission. More recently, it has identified a new satellite-guided bomb intended for UCAVs.

To locate targets for precision strike, China is pursuing improved intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities through unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), satellites, and more “informationalized” special operations forces (SOFs). The latter forces could provide targeting coordinates for standoff precision strike assets, much as U.S. and allied SOF called in precision force in the 2001-02 war in Afghanistan. China’s UAV assets include tactical drones for battlefield reconnaissance, as well as a long-range air launched reconnaissance drone. But this UAV does not have capabilities comparable to American long-range drones, like the Predator for example, in that it cannot provide real time information back to the operator (much less to a platform, like a fighter). For the future, China is looking to develop a UAV that will be able to provide continual surveillance beyond the country’s coastal waters.

China is placing a major emphasis on space-based surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Its current earth-imaging satellites have twenty-meter resolution, but follow-on satellites are expected to have greater resolution. China is also developing an indigenous GPS-like system, the Beidou Satellite Navigation and Positioning System, with the first five satellites of this thirty-five-satellite constellation already deployed. This combination of satellite programs will improve the accuracy of China’s ballistic and cruise missiles by providing both terrain mapping and satellite navigation.

Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft figure centrally in China’s efforts to create a technologically advanced command and control capability. China introduced a new Airborne Early Warning aircraft in 1999, it is purchasing up to four AWACS-type Russian planes, and it is developing a new AWACS variant based on a strategic air transporter airframe. At the most strategic level it is thought that China’s next generation communications satellite is being used for Chinese military satellite communications needs. And at the tactical level, China is organizing its first experimental digital brigade with the goal of developing the capability of providing each soldier with real-time information about the enemy’s location.


Naval Forces
Historically, China designed its naval forces to protect its coasts, and its surface combatants and submarines generally did not operate beyond Chinese territorial waters. In response to its new strategic situation, China is now strengthening its ability to conduct naval warfare several hundred miles or more from Chinese coasts. The Pentagon has noted China’s expressed interest in developing naval capabilities that can “hold at risk” an island chain some 1,000 miles off the Chinese coast, including Guam. Recent acquisitions relevant to this mission include eight stealthy Russian-built diesel electric submarines and two Russian-built guided missile destroyers, while indigenous production includes new diesel submarines, nuclear propelled attack submarines, and stealthy frigates, all of which are armed with anti-ship cruise missiles. Thus, while the vast majority of the PLAN’s ships and submarines are quite old and possess limited modern capabilities, the Chinese navy has begun to change with the acquisition and development of advanced platforms.

An ongoing debate is whether or not China is developing an aircraft carrier for power projection. Analysts have predicted China could have an aircraft carrier as early as 2015, while a Chinese government-backed newspaper has put this date at 2010. This development has led to speculation that China is trying to build a blue water navy that could project force into the Pacific and patrol oil-shipping lanes from the Middle East. But even if China were to acquire an aircraft carrier, it would have many challenges to overcome to make it operational, not least the fact that it has little experience with ship borne aviation. Given that the United States has eleven fully operational carrier battlegroups, it is unlikely China could create a blue water navy that could challenge U.S. maritime dominance in the near to medium term.

Overall, China’s current ability to project conventional military power beyond the Taiwan Strait remains limited. The bulk of its ground forces are still large and unwieldy and its elite units have access to relatively few airlift and sealift assets that can transport them far from Chinese borders. Most of its air force platforms are old and for those that are new, Chinese pilots must still master the art of in-flight refuelling. While China’s newer ships are suited to a blue water navy, most of its current fleet is still more appropriate for coastal, defensive operations. It remains several years away from an operational aircraft carrier. Not surprisingly, the Pentagon has recently concluded China will not be able to project and sustain military units far beyond China before 2015.14

But the future trends are unmistakable. Driven by its strategic situation, and by the lessons of recent wars, China has undertaken a process of developing a smaller, more deployable military force that is expeditionary in so far as it is focusing on power projection well beyond its traditional territorial and coastal area of emphasis. It is also seeking to incorporate advanced technology into its military, and it is taking steps in the area of education to develop the skilled military force necessary to operate in a high-tech environment. China is investing significantly in all areas relevant to a deployable, high-tech force, indicating that at some point—whether measured in years or decades—this will eventually be achieved.



1 For a more in-depth elaboration of China’s military transformation please see my Military Transformation and Modern Warfare (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008), chapter 6.
2 You Ji, “Learning and Catching Up: China’s Revolution in Military Affairs Initiative,” in Emily O. Goldman and Thomas G. Mahnken, The Information Revolution in Military Affairs in Asia (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. 106.
3 “Coming Over the Horizon: Why China Wants a Bigger Navy,” Economist (January 6, 2007), 34; David Eimer, “Beijing’s Modern War Machine is Closing Rapidly on its 2050 Target,” Sunday Telegraph (April 2, 2007).
4 Keith Crane, et al., Modernizing China’s Military: Opportunities and Constraints (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2005), p. 201; Wendell Minnick, “China’s Think and Move Army,” Defense News, 8 October 2007, p. 34.
5 Robert Wall, “China to Cut Military Size, Improve Capability,” Aviation Week & Space Technology (September 8, 2003), 52.
6 Dennis J. Blasko, “PLA Ground Forces: Moving Toward a Smaller, More Rapidly Deployable, Modern Combined Arms Force,” in James C. Mulvenon and Andrew N.D. Yang, The People’s Liberation Army as Organization (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2002), p. 116. See also, Dennis J. Blasko, The Chinese Army Today (London: Routledge, 2006).
7 Wendell Minnick, “China’s Think and Move Army,” Defense News (October 8, 2007), 34.
8 J. Marshall Beier, “Bear Facts and Dragon Boats: Rethinking the Modernization of Chinese Naval Power,” Contemporary Security Policy 26(2) (August 2005), 303.
9 Annual Report to Congress on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2006), p. 30.
10 Robert Wall, “Coming Out: Beijing Acknowledges J-10 and Issues Defense White Paper,” Aviation Week & Space Technology (January 8, 2007), 26.
11 Douglas Barrie, “Great Leap Forward…In Small Steps,” Aviation Week & Space Technology (November 8, 2004), 51.
12 Paul H.B. Godwin, “China as a Major Asian Power: The Implications of its Military Modernization,” in Andrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzel, eds., Shaping China’s Security Environment: The Role of the People’s Liberation Army (Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, October 2006), p. 119.
13Command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance.
14Annual Report to Congress on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China(Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2008), p. 22.




by  Barry Cooper

Barry Cooper is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, of the Institute for Health Economics, and of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

“Canada is open for business but it’s not for sale,” Industry Minister Jim Prentice remarked to the Vancouver Board of Trade last October. At the time he was concerned about investments by state-owned enterprises from unpleasant places such as the Peoples’ Republic of China. He also made explicit and neutral reference to the U.S. The Americans, he said, can block private deals in the name of infrastructure protection, national security, and protection of important technology, and “Canada asserts no less a right.” The issue, he said a couple of month later, “isn’t where the capital comes from; the issue is how the capital conducts itself.”

When Prentice announced the government would block the proposed sale of MacDonald Dettweiler and Associates (MDA) to the American company Alliant Techsystems (ATK), he received considerable praise from the most unlikely sources: knee-jerk economic nationalists among the opposition parties, left-wing academics, journalists, and trade-union members. In fact, the issue remains conduct, not source. Accordingly, the implicit anti-Americanism that undergirds this reluctant praise is misplaced. The context for that conduct, however, is much wider than has been indicated in the media.

Among the contributions of MDA to space technology are the Canadarm and a robot named Dextre. The Canadarm has been used extensively on the Space Shuttle and both have been used on the International Space Station. But the real jewel in the MDA package was said to be Radarsat-2, a high-resolution, all-weather spy satellite.

As is well known, Canada and the U.S. disagree about the status in international law of the Northwest Passage. More importantly, given government policy of asserting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic, Radarsat-2 was designed and intended to be an important part of Arctic surveillance. Finally, this satellite was said to be, in the words of Michael Byers, a “taxpayer paid” satellite.

Consider only the last issue: as Terrence Corcoran pointed out in the Financial Post, the Canadian government has simply contracted in advance for satellite images from Radarsat-2. They did not make it or pay for it. MDA did that. Moreover, MDA sells its product, namely images, to many governments besides Canada. So why would an ostensibly business-friendly and free-trade government prohibit the sale of a successful commercial enterprise?

First, the point of the proposed sale to ATK was, from the perspective of MDA, to sell more images to American customers as well as to obtain increased access to U.S. space technology contracts. The problem if the sale went through was, and is, that despite the statements from both parties that the Canadian government would retain access to the images produced by Radarsat-2, in fact neither company had the ability to make such a guarantee.

This indicates the wider context noted above: American legislation, regulations, and directives regarding strategic assets owned by a U.S. company would require that company to respond directly to American government instructions regarding the use of Radarsat-2, whatever existing contracts might stipulate regarding its other customers.

Canadian experiences in dealing with the Americans on security issues, including matters analogous to Radarsat-2, are extensive, long-term, and far more detailed and integrated than those of any other country. A central piece of U.S. legislation governing defence and security goods is called the “International Traffic in Arms Regulations,” (ITARs) which restricts the export and sale of defence goods and services.

The intention of ITARs legislation was to limit security and defence technology to countries the Americans trust, which is a sensible enough objective. A more contentious issue has been a provision that requires Canadians born outside the country (or who are eligible for citizenship elsewhere) to be approved by the State Department before they can work on ITAR-related projects. If a Canadian shares citizenship with one of the 25 or so countries named by the State Department, he or she is simply prohibited from ITAR work.

That such provisions contravene the Canadian Charter is an unintended, if annoying, consequence. That they have been used as a means to protect U.S. firms from Canadian competition has on occasion been an intended and mendacious one. Several studies and law suits have documented both aspects of the problem. Protectionism in the guise of American national security was one understandable but underemphasized response to the anti-Americanism of the Chrétien government. Today it has acquired sufficient bureaucratic momentum to give it a life of its own.

In this light the government action on the MDA deal looks like the Canadian equivalent to ITARs. It also provides a splendid opportunity to revisit an important policy issue where free trade can never fully exist. 



Rick Hillier’s Resignation: Declining to Take on an Impossible Challenge

by Nelson Michaud

Nelson Michaud is the Director (Teaching and Research) at the École nationale d’administration publique and a regular speaker and expert commentator in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

Rick Hillier has chosen to bid farewell to his troops. The Harper government did not do much to keep him on board. What did happen? Speculation will probably go on until the general writes his memoirs. Was Hillier requested to hand over his resignation? Doubtful. Was the government happy with his decision? Probably. Some say that image makers – more than policy makers – were afraid of a massive Canadian operation in Afghanistan resulting in a high casualty rate right in the middle of a badly timed election campaign. Who knows? My analysis is much more down to earth. To me, this sudden turn of events could be explained by the unsuccessful graft of Hillier’s vision for the Canadian Forces and for Canada’s role in the world with the Harper government’s anaemic Canadian foreign policy.

A Job Well Done
When one looks at the possible causes for Hillier’s resignation, it seems that several options may easily be put aside. From an operational point of view, there are no grounds sustaining Hillier’s decision. Hillier was liked by his troops. He was highly respected as a commander and was able to give the Forces new tools, new blood, and a new voice. His vision of a specifically Canadian role for the armed forces was carried from the Martin to the Harper government and he energetically defended it no matter what stumbling block he encountered. Was he influenced by the U.S. military doctrine? To some extent, yes, as was demonstrated by his adoption of the “three block war.” However, Hillier consistently aimed at getting the best from the best ideas, while keeping in mind Canadian specificities.

Lack of Support
To me, it is not pure coincidence that Hillier resigned only a few hours after Canada’s Foreign Minister, Maxime Bernier, asked for the dismissal of the Kandahar Province Governor. Bernier’s description of the situation may have been right. However, in doing so publicly, he infringed on the sovereignty of a country that we like to portray as an emerging democracy. He spoiled an operational basis that took several months to build from a scarce and expensive commodity that is called credibility. Diplomacy is a quiet art, something that Bernier has forgotten – or has never learned. Bernier’s declaration offers grounds to dismiss Canada as an honest broker in Afghanistan because it designates the country as a colonialist Western power to be fought against. Not only that this no doubt negatively impacts Canada’s image, but it also weakens the integrity factor from which Canadian military operations are conducted.

In these circumstances how was Rick Hillier supposed to be able to deliver? He did not need his political sixth sense to understand that the challenge was from then on impossible to meet. Seen from this angle, Hillier’s resignation is easy to understand: after over three years of continuous work that included an open feud with Minister O’Connor and a lack of leadership afterwards, it was better to lay down the cards and honourably leave the table. 

Impact on Canadian Foreign Policy
At this point, one question remains unanswered: will Hillier’s departure have an impact on the future of Canadian foreign policy? Indeed, for unless his successor has as much clout as Hillier had, Canada’s international role may very well decline. Not that Defence questions are the only ones that matter. It is simply that in a world where so many new players are involved, it is impossible for a country like Canada to have a one dimensional foreign policy as a peacekeeper, an international aid provider, a dedicated trader, or a seasoned multilateralist diplomat. This new world asks that Canada have a clearly stated, plainly framed foreign policy that both its international partners and its own craftspeople know and understand – a policy from which speeches and actions can be interpreted. Not the other way around.

And here is where the fundamental problem lies. As long as the Harper government relies solely on the Prime Minister’s views, as long as the government “does foreign policy and does not write it down,” we will lack a frame of reference from which missteps such as Bernier’s could be toned down through a larger context. Under present circumstances, Rick Hillier might not be the last good soldier to step down.



The Bear Roars…Or Not: Should Russian Muscle Flexing Cause Concern? 

by Cameron Ross
Major-General (Ret’d) Cameron Ross is the Senior Military Advisor for EnCana Corporation and the President of HCR Security International Ltd. which provides security advice to governments and the private sector.

BBC News 2 Mar 08.  Vladimir Putin on a training mission in a
supersonic bomber in August 2005

Recently, there has been a great deal of speculation about Russia’s more aggressive foreign policy.  Some are fearful of the return of the Cold War while others believe we are witnessing the gasping breaths of a dying empire.  Is there justification for concern?  Are we entering a more traditional state-on-state confrontational era?

There is little doubt that Russian military actions have caught the interest of NATO capitals.  In addition, gas supply disruptions and inflammatory rhetoric from Vladimir Putin have added fuel to the speculative fire.

Surveillance flights by TU-95 long-range bombers were common in the Cold War but dramatically dropped off until May 2007.  Since then, over 30 interceptions of TU -95’s have occurred including a TU -95 twice overflying the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier.

Meanwhile, a Russian fleet of 11 warships ventured into the Mediterranean for the first time in 15 years.  Long believed to be the domain of the U.S. 6th fleet and NATO's Standing Naval Forces Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED), the presence of a third fleet, especially during heightened Middle East sabre-rattling, caused consternation amongst NATO Admirals.

But in context, should we be concerned?  The TU-95 is a lumbering 50’s era turbo prop.  Although nuclear capable, it poses a questionable threat.  As the U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations said in reference to the Nimitz over-flight, “It was a predictable flight.”  And the Mediterranean fleet included Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. An aging Soviet era vessel, it has only 17 aircraft compared to the Nimitz Class’ 90.  New nuclear-powered carriers carrying 30-40 aircraft are planned but work on them has yet to be started.



After over a decade of neglect, Putin has revived the Russian military.  By 2006, 2.7% of GDP was being spent on defence, this in a year when the federal budget had a surplus of 9% of GDP.  However, while defence expenditures rose in 2005, 2006 and 2007 by 22%, 27% and 30% (est.), the Russian military has a long way to go from its low of the Kursk sinking and Chechnya debacles in 2000.

Often, the perception of power has greater impact than the reality of power projection.  The underwater planting of a Russian flag beneath the North Pole and naval visits to the Syrian ports of Tartous and Latakia, where Russia is building a new dock, had a great impact on the psyche of Canadians and Israelis respectively.  ‘What if’ scenarios reverberated in western media.  These scenarios have considerable traction when juxtaposed with the expiry of the lease by the Russian Black Sea Fleet of the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol in 2017.

Deployment of military hardware is one thing; the threat to deploy is something else.  In response to the U.S.’ proposed Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic, and the possible inclusion of Ukraine into NATO, Putin said Russia may target its missiles at the Ukraine.  Such rhetoric in favour of military action overshadows any positive diplomatic steps that may be gained on the margins.

And it is not just incursions into the Pacific, Bay of Biscay, and the Mediterranean that have policy makers concerned.  The formation in 2001 of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has resulted, for the first time ever, in the hosting of Chinese soldiers in Russia for a major exercise.  "Peace Mission 2007" joint war exercises in the Urals in August 2007 saw some 6,500 soldiers from China and energy rich members including Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. SCO’s recent outreach to Iran has caused some to call SCO an ‘OPEC with nukes.’

This leads to the most substantial display of increased Russian assertiveness in foreign policy – energy. Twenty-five percent of Europe’s gas supply comes from Russia. With tens of billions of dollars committed to gas pipelines through former Soviet states in Eastern Europe, that percentage is about to rise sharply. Recent periodic reductions in gas supplies to the Ukraine, Belarus, and Estonia indicate leverage that Russia is willing to exert. Although the former two were commercial decisions (lack of timely payment), the cuts to Estonia with accompanying internet disruptions indicate a capability in raw vindictiveness.  While countries like Poland are taking the lead in trying to wean themselves off of dependency (61% of supply) on Russian gas by building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near Gdansk, others are affected by dwindling North Sea supplies.  Russia needs the revenue from gas sales to address legacy issues from Soviet days; this in an era of 10% inflation (2007). However, efforts by Europe to have liberalization and transparency introduced into the Russian gas market have failed. Gazprom, the Russian gas company, has been steadily acquiring transmission, distribution and storage capabilities within Europe. Furthermore, the nullification of Shell contracts on the Sakhalin Island in the Pacific and the recent cancelling of $4.5B of Libyan debt in favour of Gazprom contracts suggest a grand strategy at play.


(BBC 5 Mar 08)

What influences Putin and presumably Medvedev most is the lack of respect given to Russia.  The September 2007 Israeli aircraft penetration of Russian-supplied Syrian air defences to knock out an installation in northern Syria hit a raw nerve in the Kremlin. A deficiency in Russian capabilities had hit a low point. It is a desire to regain Russian pride that is driving the Kremlin: “...what Mr. Putin seems to be aiming at is not so much to replay the cold war, as to rewrite its ending. That means using energy policy and any other restore the influence Russia lost after the Soviet Union collapsed” (Economist, 14 Feb 08). 



CF Personnel Management in Need of Transformation

by Anne Irwin

Anne Irwin is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and the CDFAI Chair in Civil-Military Relations at the University of Calgary. She served in the CF Reserves for fifteen years, retiring as a Military Police officer with the rank of Major.

Members of the Canadian Forces are enjoying unprecedented popularity. Regardless of how Canadians feel about military operations in Afghanistan, the general public has shown tremendous support for the men and women who are carrying out the role that their country has assigned them. The positive media attention represents a dramatic departure from the 1990s when coverage was almost entirely absent or negative. The mission in Afghanistan has tested the Canadian military and its members have passed the test, demonstrating professionalism and competence. This high profile, along with the confidence that comes of performing well under stress, has led to a renewed and well-deserved feeling of pride amongst those in uniform. 

All this should be a positive development, yet large numbers of trained and experienced service members are leaving the Forces. Recruiters report not having any trouble attracting new members to today’s Canadian Forces, but at the same time, the very people needed to train the new recruits are taking their releases. Demographics can explain some of this exodus, but there are deeper and more disturbing reasons why these members are choosing the civilian world just when they might be expected to enjoy the benefits of popularity.

Although many of those getting out are veterans of at least one, and often multiple, tours of Afghanistan, the tours are not the reason they offer for leaving the Forces; instead, dissatisfaction with personnel management is at the root of many decisions to leave. To be fair, a number of those leaving never had any intention of making a career of the military, and they get out once their preliminary contract is up and they feel that they have accomplished something significant, such as the tour in Afghanistan. Others get out because of problems with postings, courses and promotions.

There are numerous examples of soldiers being promised particular postings or occupational changes, only to have these promises rescinded. At times this is because the person, who made what the soldier understood to be a promise, was not empowered to make that commitment on the part of the service. At other times the person may have had the appropriate authority, but the situation has changed so that the promise is no longer feasible. Worse are cases where soldiers have been told that they will be posted to another city on a particular date, only to have this date changed many times until just before the posting date, resulting in additional stresses on families that are trying to make arrangements for accommodations and for schooling of their children. These sorts of changes are particularly onerous if they occur during the tour when contact between deployed personnel and home can be limited.

One regular force non-commissioned member spent the last few weeks of his tour in Afghanistan distracted by conflicting and contradictory information he had been given about his posting which was to be effective upon his return home. While he appreciated the exigencies of the service, not knowing whether he would have to move his family in September, November, December or March added significantly to the stress of the tour.

Although the Canadian military’s mission in Afghanistan relies heavily on the employment of reservists, the articulation between the Regular and Reserve personnel management systems is less than efficient. Once deployed, Reservists are treated the same as Regular members of the Forces, and display the same level of professionalism. But the process between volunteering and actually being deployed is fraught with administrative hurdles and problems. It is not uncommon for reservists to be told that they are being deployed and then, before signing their contract, having their deployment cancelled or altered.

On one occasion a reservist who was already serving full-time in Canada was told, in a period of two weeks, first that he was going to be training in Edmonton for a year, followed by a tour of Afghanistan, secondly that he had not been chosen for Afghanistan, but would be spending a year in Shilo, Manitoba, thirdly, that he was indeed going to Edmonton and then Afghanistan, and then, finally, that he would be spending four months in central Canada. During these two weeks he and his wife had to decide what to do about living accommodations, her employment, and child care in the context of constantly changing conditions.

These two examples, which are, unfortunately, quite typical, are symptomatic of an institutional culture which does not adequately value the people in whom it has invested training and development. For decades members of the military have accepted this type of treatment as their lot in life. They complained; but, they put up with it. Today, along with their newfound pride in their professionalism, military personnel have a better sense of what their worth is and they will no longer tolerate being treated so cavalierly.  



North American Sclerosis:A Threat to Canada’s National Interest

by Alexander Moens

Alexander Moens is a Professor of Political Science at Simon Fraser University, a veteran of Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department, and a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute.

The average cost to merchandise trade for crossing the Canada-United States border over the last six years has been estimated at 2 to 3 percent of overall trade volume. This is the accumulated cost of outdated infrastructure, insufficient border staffing, elaborate customs processes, and new post 9/11 security measures. In addition to the commercial cost, the Canadian federal government alone has spent some $10 billion dollars over the same time period to enhance border security. The cost of border processes and delays in tourism and other personal visits is rising but difficult to measure. Soon we may see investment patterns change as the U.S. dollar is extremely low and European and Asian investors find it more attractive to set up shop in the United States than Canada, knowing the ‘border costs’ of exporting into the United States.

The total value of Canada’s imports and exports as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product has risen from just over 50% in 1986 to a peak of 85% in 2000 and is currently at 70%. Nearly 85% of that trade is with the United States. Surely, in any definition of national interest, such an enormous economic interest must have first priority. Yet, public opinion is out of focus and thus governmental action is largely hamstrung. As in the early 1990s, public opinion is bombarded by nay-sayers who use any attempt to achieve deeper trade and regulatory harmonization with the American economy as the equivalent of surrendering Canadian sovereignty. This time, the activists have fastened on secret negotiations toward a so-called North American Union allegedly taking place inside the Security and Prosperity Partnership talks.

Canada and the United States have a twenty-year old free trade zone agreement (made trilateral with Mexico in 1994) that is losing its competitive edge in terms of North America’s position in global competition. The three parties administer rules of origin and differentiating external tariff processes, even though these levies are fiscally and policy irrelevant to our trade. A common external tariff is long overdue to put our commercial border at ports of entry. The Canada and United States border is not moving quickly enough towards a risk-based joint security regime focused on keeping North America safe from offshore threats. The U.S. political system, especially in election season, is focused on protectionism as if it were a realistic option in a global economy in which the United States is increasingly interdependent with other regions in terms of financial markets, global production processes, and, of course, resources such as oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

In his 2001 book, Toward a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New, Robert Pastor argued that the lag in cooperation in North America – which I would now call sclerosis – can be remedied by adopting a modified version of the integration model as developed by the European Union. While Pastor advances many good ideas, the problem is with the foundation: it does not fit in North America. As early as the Rome Treaties of 1958, European states agreed to the principle of an “ever closer union;” code for economic and possibly even political union; however, political union is a non-starter in North America. Both Canada’s origin and its continued raison d’être is not to be part of America. At the same time, the American constitution gives the balance of governing powers to Congress and thus makes it politically impossible for the president to transfer supranational powers to any outside body whether it be the United Nations, NATO, or the World Trade Organization.

The model for North America is not political integration but market-led integration. The oil and gas sector between Canada and the United States is a good example. That is why the sectoral and market-advisory process in the Security and Prosperity Partnership negotiations is a good process. In fact, the goals should be set higher, namely to achieve a North American Standards and Regulatory Area (NASRA). In this dialogue between representative governments and business stakeholders, solutions can be found. Solutions on how to harmonize security standards and checks of products coming into North America, how to set up combined risk-based security controls on the inflow of people into the continent, and a collaborative approach to combat smuggling and organized crime inside North America.

Compatible or harmonized product standards, regulations, and security processes will immediately produce lower transaction costs in Canada-US trade and create an incentive to more North American production. It will also leave in place a smart border as a final check inside an integrated risk management area in which trade and customs policy, as well as terrorist and criminal threats, are dealt with at the source or at entrance to the continent. There is nothing mysterious or suspicious about the benefits to Canadian and American interests of such deep cooperation. Both governments should go out of their way to educate the publics and launch a political strategy to get us there. 



A New Foreign Service as Relationship Manager 

by Mark Entwistle

Mark Entwistle is an independent consultant, Vice-President, International and Government Affairs with ExecAdvice Corporation, and Senior Associate with Prospectus Associates. He also spent 16 years in the Canadian Foreign Service.

In his new book, Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making, former Managing Director of Kissinger Associates David Rothkopf argues that a collection of about 6,000 unelected individuals set the world’s agenda. This group includes hyper-rich individuals, or those who can invoke the name of certain key organizations like the Federal Reserve or the World Bank, some criminals, and a handful of cultural and scientific figures. Canadian political scientist Andrew Cooper has written on celebrity diplomacy, in which Irish rock star Bono is the poster boy for involvement in global poverty issues. If Bill Gates needs to talk with a world leader, his office calls in the same way as the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada might place a call but Mr. Gates might well get his call taken much faster. His travels to foreign countries have the feel of official government visits with de rigueur calls on the senior political leadership of the country.

This is no paranoid conspiracy theory nor is it necessarily a new development; it is the way the public pendulum has been swinging in an undemocratic arc.

World political leaders simply call each other on the phone to resolve important problems.

A plethora of cable media outlets provide instant notification of breaking news, and substantive analysis is pieced together by an extensive network of university experts, think tanks and policy institutes.

Against this background of concentrated influence, celebrity politics and politicians who think they can do it themselves, where does traditional diplomacy fit? It has been a question troubling the professional Foreign Service for probably two decades as it has struggled to stay relevant in changing times, and not just in Canada. But, arguably never have the challenges been greater.

It is time to give up, finally, the notion that the professional Foreign Service, housed in foreign ministries and international trade and development agencies, adds much value in alerting political leaders to developments or in providing substantive analysis that cannot be found elsewhere in this world of global connectivity. Set aside, also, the assumption that, perhaps with the exception of the technical thicket of the multilateral institutions, diplomats negotiate agreements or affect the fundamental decisions of the day. They may clear away some underbrush but the pivotal agreements in any international accord are made between politicians themselves and, all too often, in spite of the advice of senior diplomatic counselors. As a case in point, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s decision to sign Canada on to the Kyoto Accord taken at the Johannesburg Summit follow-up to Rio in 2002 was a personal action that seemed to take the Canadian policy bureaucracy by surprise.

The Foreign Service’s real and important role for the future should be transformed into, and recognized as, that of relationship manager. The objective is to keep the relationships on the ground with local authorities and civil society open and friendly at least and disposed to Canada at best. This is intended to maximize the impact of decisions and agreements reached elsewhere, but, equally important, to minimize the damage to Canadian interests by decisions taken elsewhere. A prime example of the value of Canadian diplomacy as relationship manager can be found in the Palestinian territories, where Canadian officials in the field must pull every possible magic trick they know to mitigate, at a personal level, the harm caused by the Stephen Harper government’s lurch from a traditional balanced Canadian Middle East policy to a declared a priori bias toward Israel’s positions. The consequences throughout the Arab world are real. Even the most talented of relationship managers cannot be a miracle worker analogous to the challenge of Britney Spears’ publicist.

The corollary of the relationship manager is the associated role of brand and marketing manager for Canada. There is no shortage of work to be done in promoting the Canadian brand internationally and precious few resources are devoted to it.

What are the implications of these core roles for a new Canadian Foreign Service?


Five concrete recommendations come immediately to mind:

  1. Restructure deployment of resources in DFAIT and CIDA to put three quarters of its human capital into the field and transfer domestic program support to line departments with international operations to deal, once and for all, with existing bureaucratic tensions in Ottawa. Such a new Foreign Service would be considerably smaller and very focused; 

  2. Change the hiring process to seek out people with skills who would normally be hired by private sector public relations, communications and business development firms, rather than policy wonks, and stop the recent importation of public servants from other government departments into a new Foreign Service. DFAIT should be a specialized agency;

  3. Put increased resources into language training and focus on recruiting in Canada’s diversified cultural communities;

  4. With the exception of basic consular services to Canadians in distress overseas, force Foreign Service officers out of the Diplomatic Missions and into the street in their host countries to build relationships, rather than reading newspapers in their offices to feed dispatches; and, 

  5. Convoke a task force of a half-dozen of the top private sector marketing and advertising firms in the country to articulate a real comprehensive branding strategy and campaign for Canada, and give a new DFAIT the mandate and resources to deliver it around the world.


About Our Organization

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

CDFAI is a charitable organization, founded in 2001, and based in Calgary. CDFAI develops and disseminates materials and carries out activities to promote understanding by the Canadian public of national defence and foreign affairs issues. CDFAI is developing a body of knowledge 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 and essays, responding to media queries, running conferences, initiating polling, and developing outreach and education projects.

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

CDFAI was created to address the ongoing discrepancy between what Canadians need to know about Canadian foreign and defence policy and what they do know. Historically, Canadians tend to think of foreign policy - if they think of it at all - as a matter of trade and markets. They are unaware of the importance of Canada engaging diplomatically, militarily, and with international aid in the ongoing struggle to maintain a world that is friendly to the legitimate free flow of goods, services, people and ideas across borders and the promotion 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 education 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.  



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