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Canada's New (Conservative) Foreign Policy

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Thucydides said:
The United States is wracked by division over "Obamacare", which is a warmed over copy of (or at least inspired by) the Canadian "Single Payer" healthcare regime.

You need to go back and look closer to what "Obamacare" is. It is in no way a "warmed over copy" of teh Canadian single payer system.

Other than that, the rest of the comment paints an unfortunate picture of what could happen, if the current political trends continue to play themselves out.
Some interesting thoughts from a couple of credentialed experts in an opinion pice which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail:

The last thing we need is another foreign policy review


Special to Globe and Mail Update
Published Friday, Jan. 20, 2012

Canada’s foreign policy is being subjected to yet another “review,” and an announcement of this government’s priorities may be imminent. Nothing has been reviewed so relentlessly over the years with so little in the way of revelation, impact, direction or useful purpose as this country’s foreign policy. To some extent, it betrays a reluctance to accept the reality of what we are and where we are. At the very least, the government should make a virtue of simplicity and precision, offering a clear-headed view of what our priorities need to be and why, while avoiding “feel good” nostrums about how we’d like others to see us.

The cornerstone of our foreign policy must be the management of relations with the United States, not for reasons of sentiment but because that’s how we preserve our most vital economic and security interests and our capacity for global influence. When we get this part of the equation right, our relevance and influence on global issues increases accordingly. When we don’t, our influence and relevance wanes.

We’re an Arctic and a Western Hemisphere nation, and our foreign policy priorities should anchor these dimensions as well, especially since the economic potential of both is likely to increase in the decades ahead.

The dramatic shift in economic power to rising stars such as China, India, South Korea and Brazil should also dictate a change of focus for Canada, especially since trade is a major component of foreign policy and many of these countries need commodities, which are pivotal to Canada’s growth prospects.

What needs to be recognized, however, is that conventional rules for trade and investment don’t apply as much to those emerging markets whose production and investment fall largely under government control. Canada would benefit more from a strategy that leverages our resource base as the means to secure better access for our exporters and investors in markets currently enjoying high rates of growth.

Maintaining an effective, agile military capacity will ensure that Canada can continue to play a selective role on behalf of the United Nations or NATO in combatting threats to global peace. But we shouldn’t pretend to be a universal donor. Future involvement should be calibrated against judicious assessments of our capacity and our interests, and not a Boy Scout inclination to be helpful fixers everywhere.

The hard lesson from Afghanistan and Iraq is that military options have limited long-term effect. “Muscular diplomacy,” the use of sanctions, and carrot and stick negotiations offer a needed complementary role and should be given greater emphasis.

The Middle East is a quagmire where the earnestness of Canada’s desire to be involved exceeds any rational analysis of our direct interests or our capacity for influence. But the same can’t be said for our relations with Turkey and Persian Gulf states such as Qatar that are playing constructive regional roles and with whom our ties need strengthening.

Nuclear non-proliferation is an issue on which Canada has real expertise. As the major flashpoints for global insecurity are likely to come from unstable nuclear powers such as Pakistan and North Korea or wannabes such as Iran, Canada should bolster its efforts with allies to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

Development assistance is also an instrument of foreign policy, but more analysis is needed for what works and what doesn’t. Rather than identifying priority sectors or countries for concentration, we need to target contributions in ways that underscore Canadian strengths and make a demonstrable difference to those in need.

Attention must always be given to fundamental principles of our political system – democracy and human rights, gender equality, religious freedom etc. – but these are best espoused by the model we present at home and by collaboration with those whose values we share.

G8 and G20 summits are the pinnacle of Canada’s global involvement. Our solid financial and economic record gives us credentials better than most to articulate and influence action contributing to stability and growth. As our economy continues to grow, while those in Europe sputter, our voice and our influence should increase accordingly. And less emphasis should be given to summits of marginal value, such as the Commonwealth and Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation.

Canada has indulged in more foreign policy reviews than any country of comparable size. More navel-gazing may simply magnify particles of lint. Ultimately, the effect of Canada’s role in the world will be determined more by what we do than what we say we should do.

Derek Burney, senior strategic adviser for Norton Rose Canada LLP, is a former Canadian ambassador to Washington. Fen Osler Hampson is Chancellor’s Professor and director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.

The real issue isn't whether we have yet another review - at worst such reviews waste time, at best they waste time that would otherwise be spent screwing things up - it is found in the last sentence: "the effect of Canada’s role in the world will be determined more by what we do than what we say we should do." To paraphrase an old saying, "those that can do, those that can't teach conduct policy reviews."

There is little with which to argue in the Burney/Hampson analysis, but I would suggest that we should:

1. Remain fully engaged with the USA on every single issue - it is the foundation upon which the peace and prosperity we need and want rests;

2. Increase our engagement with East and South Asia, especially China and India, but also with all the other countries in that triangular region, from India through to New Zealand and back up to Japan;

3. Increase our engagement with the Caribbean - especially the Commonwealth members therein;

4. Remain about as engaged as we are in Latin America and Europe; and

5. Concern ourselves less and less with West Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

We should spend our aid dollars in ways that advance our interests and provide effective help to some of the world's poorest people.

We should be wary of military engagement but when it is in our interest to employ our military it should be "all in, for the win" - with minimum caveats; but we should, publicly, reject participation in coalitions, even ones engaged in worthy causes, where most members of the coalition hide from risks behind walls of caveats - and we should say why we are rejecting such operations: we will not serve with those who will not share all the risks.

I would agree with most of your observations, Edward. Regardless of the outcome, we need a foreign policy that we'll actually follow. Not some "be nice to everyone" mishmash of appeasement. Canada has a golden opportunity to rise to the top of the middle power tier, and be an effective and strong voice in the community of nations. We must not lose this chance to build on our recent successes. The strength of our economy rests on our ability to build good relations with emerging markets and cement relations with existing ones. As our economy goes, so goes the nation.

The Good Grey Globe's Jeffrey Simpson stands in the corner, stamps his feet and threatens to hold his breath until Prime Minister Harper does as he's told in this column, which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail:

Truculent moralizing for a domestic audience


From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Feb. 04, 2012

American statesman Dean Acheson once acidly quipped that Canadians discussing foreign affairs reminded him of listening to the “stern daughter of the voice of God.” Canadians, he implied, were pious moralists, ready to give free and often unwanted advice, based on the assumption that Canadians possessed a rare insight into good and proper conduct.

Today, watching the Harper government, foreigners might conclude that Canadians have evolved from pious finger-pointers to truculent finger-pointers, with poses based on presumptive moral superiority toward others.

Almost everything the Harper government does internationally is rooted in impressing domestic audiences, so the truculence that now characterizes Canada’s foreign policy has domestic politics in mind. Judging by polling data, this aggressive in-your-face lecturing of others (save for China) appears to be winning some domestic favour, while, naturally, eroding our credibility abroad.

The latest egregious example of truculent morality was this week’s visit by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to the West Bank. At a meeting with the most moderate leadership in Palestinian Authority history, the Canadians lectured the Palestinians on the terrible mistake they’d made in seeking United Nations membership, a bid that won strong support in the General Assembly.

This unwanted lecture from visitors from afar came from a government whose ministers bragged in Israel that “Canada” is the most pro-Israeli country in the world. This statement is completely wrong. The Harper government may be the most pro-Israeli government in the world, but the population is not. Various polls taken in recent years have shown the reverse: Israel is one of the least popular countries among Canadians, a perception that deeply worries many Canadian Jews. (A poll did note this week that nearly half of Canadians surveyed believe Ottawa’s policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “strikes the right balance.”)

The Harper government insists it favours a two-state solution, but everyone knows it will do or say nothing to nudge Israel in that direction, or to chastise Israel for doing next to nothing to move in that direction. As a result of this attitude, manifested by the ministers’ trip, Canada’s reputation has sunk in the Arab world.

The week before the West Bank lecture, the Prime Minister was telling Europeans how they should deal with their economic crisis during a speech in Davos. This likely impressed Canadians, but not Europeans. The last thing they need is gratuitous advice from a North American country that, frankly, doesn’t count for much in Europe, as anyone who’s lived there knows. And the advice is especially unwelcome when it’s layered with self-applause by Canadians about how well their economy has done.

In climate-change negotiations, the government’s attitude of palpable disdain for the Kyoto Protocol, coupled with its own deplorable record of inaction against greenhouse-gas emissions, shredded whatever credibility Canada might have aspired to enjoy.

Truculent moralizing also is being directed at Sri Lanka, which the Harperites accuse of turning a blind eye to human-rights abuses. This criticism delights Toronto’s Tamil community (the largest Tamil diaspora outside southern Asia), whose members the Harper government is striving to mould into a Conservative bloc.

There was a time when Canadian governments tried to take an even-handed stand in that troubled country, urging reconciliation and offering help. But now Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese-dominated government gets lectures – and a threat that Canada will boycott the next Commonwealth conference there. That possibility so alarmed Britain and Australia that their leaders implored Mr. Harper not to make that threat at the last Commonwealth conference in Perth.

When your closest friends react badly to this proclivity for truculent moralizing, imagine what the rest of the world thinks.

Under the Harper government, Canada lost its bid for a Security Council seat – the first time it had ever been defeated. Were a vote held today, chances are Canada would get even fewer votes.

Simpson is trapped in a time warp, rather like Tannhäuser in Venusberg; but for Simpson it's 1969/70 and his hero, Pierre Trudeau is doing everything just perfectly ~ he is dismantling the St Laurent/Pearson foreign policy that saw Canada assume and play a leading role in the world but a role that, frustratingly, required us to "take sides," to "stand up" for something, for real values and to put our money and our soldiers where our mouthes were. Trudeau offered (and Simpson et al accepted) a new vision: Canada as an observer, not an actor; Canada as an amoral, neutral observer - a country that could, as Trudeau himself said, understand why the USSR felt it necessary to crush the Polish Solidarity movement; Canada as a country that could establish and maintain warm relations with Cuba, presumably because good healthcare is far, far more important than liberty.

But now it is 40+ years later and Canada and the world have changed - mostly for the better in both cases; the malevolent USSR is gone, rotting on the trash heap of history; China, a pleasant place with an unpleasant government, is a competitor, not an enemy; Islam is divided, bits of it, the backward, fundamentalist, medieval bits, have declared us to be sworn enemies but most of it just wants to left alone; America and Europe, although each is undergoing painful economic restructuring, are quiet and friendly, and so on. Canada is assering itself; asserting that its core values, liberal values, will shape its foreign policy: we stand with Israel because it is a thriving, liberal democracy facing threats from some of the most the frightening, fanatical tyrants in the world; we stand with the free, democratic, liberal West, against oligarchs, against terrorists and, often, against the manufactured, manipulated, "flavour of the month" causes ... against, in other words the Trudeau/Simpson version of the world.

Simpson is right in one thing: we probably would get less votes now in a bid for a seat on the UNSC than we did a year or so ago; we should rejoice and take great pride in that; most of the countries that voted for Portugal are not worth having as supporters and would never be considered friends.

Jeffrey Simpson is a twit ... maybe not the worst of all twits but, certainly:

Edit: punctuation
Perhaps Jeffrey should spend more time reading British newspapers.

In the last two years, since the latest iteration of "The Crisis" (How long can a crisis stay a crisis? Even if you are being bombed everyday you learn to adapt.) - but in the last two years I have seen an increase in references in the press to Canada.  Sometimes it is specific and reference how we are managed.  Sometimes it is just in passing as in references to "Washington, Tokyo and Ottawa" in the same sentence.  Even Harper's address to Davos, if not generating headlines it at least generated comment.

If Canada is not setting the world on fire at least it is not being ignored.
Mr Simpson seems to have forgotten that both Messrs Ignatieff and Rae vociferously denigrated the Governments attempt at a UNSC seat. Perhaps some of the countries that voted against us took this as a sign that we really didn't want the seat in the first place.
ModlrMike said:
Mr Simpson seems to have forgotten that both Messrs Ignatieff and Rae vociferously denigrated the Governments attempt at a UNSC seat. Perhaps some of the countries that voted against us took this as a sign that we really didn't want the seat in the first place.

And lest we forget: the winning competitor was Portugal.  No offense to the Portuguese but given their current predicament how much weight do we reckon Portugal carries in the "halls of power" and what does that say about the value of a seat on the UNSC in any event?

Syria: Russia and China's resolution veto shames UN, says William Hague
This report, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail, might have gone in the China Superthread along with other, similar reports, but it is indicative of the "about turn" we are making in our foreign policy:

On China visit, Harper picks up where Trudeau left off


Beijing— Globe and Mail Update
Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012

“What, in concrete terms, will flow from all this goodwill?”

The question could be posed of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to China this week, but in this case it was actually asked 39 years ago, in a CBC news report I came across regarding the visit of a very different Canadian leader, Pierre Trudeau, to a very different China.

Back then, Mr. Trudeau was trying out a strategy that Mr. Harper once rejected on principle (as he does most things Mr. Trudeau believed in), but is now embracing: engaging the Communist Party leadership in hopes of winning influence with them. Four decades on from Canada’s first stab at it, many digits have been added to the bilateral trade and investment figures, but what else has changed substantially in the relationship between Beijing and Ottawa?

Watching the CBC report from October 1973 is a reminder that these are two countries that still don’t know each other very well four decades on. Close your eyes (so you can’t see his mutton chops and floppy bow-tie) and much of what reporter Ron Collister said then could be repeated today.

“Exchanges galore, scientific, medical, cultural – the agreements, to quote one Canadian official, cover everything but the kitchen sink,” Mr. Collister intoned, sitting with his arms crossed in front of what appears to be a still photograph of Beijing’s main railway station.

Canada was going to open a new consulate in “Canton” (better known these days as Guangzhou), Mr. Collister reported, an act that would be repeated in 2009 when Canada added trade offices in six more Chinese cities. But there were concerns about how Canadian businessmen would be treated in the Chinese market.

As Mr. Collister put it: “Will there be, in fact as well as in promise, easier access for Canadian businessmen generally? The Chinese have let in only the businessmen selling the goods they want.”

The Chinese market has, of course, opened dramatically since then, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty. And more than a few Canadian businesspeople made their fortunes along the way. But this remains a unique market, a place where the success or failure of an enterprise can often be determined by the whim (or greed) of a local official, and where the foreigner who feels maligned has little recourse. The justice system is rarely a friend here.

So Mr. Harper comes to China 39 years after Mr. Trudeau, hoping for one more agreement to cover that kitchen sink – a foreign investment protection agreement (or “a FIPA,” as diplomats who need more time off call it) that would hopefully give Canadian companies another piece of paper to waive around in such disputes.

Negotiations towards a FIPA have been taking place since 1993, but expectations are high that Mr. Harper and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao can finally sign one this week in Beijing. But some believe Mr. Harper will either have to accept a weak deal or none at all with a rising China that doesn’t seem in the mood to make compromises (as China-watcher Charles Burton put it, “terms like ‘reciprocal fairness’ or a ‘level playing field’ are not in the vocabulary of the Chinese leadership nowadays, and Canada can like it or lump it.”)

The Chinese side certainly isn’t making any promises. “The prospect of economic and trade cooperation is bright, so I believe that we will have a lot of fruits during this visit,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told me when we chatted today about the upcoming visit. “But of course, as far as the investment protection agreement, my colleagues in the Commerce Ministry, they are working very hard with the Canadian side, so hopefully we can have some result for this visit.”

And even if there is a deal, as Mr. Collister asked 39 years ago, “How will Peking interpret the agreements?”

Of course, the relationship has never just been about trade. Mr. Trudeau met with a seemingly doting Chairman Mao in 1973, and came away with the impression that the Chinese leader was “very interested in our northern reaches, in questions relating to the Arctic” – another topic sure to arise when Mr. Harper meets President Hu Jintao this week. They also “discussed the Middle East at some length,” Mr. Trudeau said, a ritual that will be repeated just as ineffectually in 2012.

Unmentioned by Mr. Trudeau (and the CBC) in 1973 was the topic of how China’s government treats its people, a glaring omission given that the country’s bloody Cultural Revolution was then in full swing.

Following a year in which Human Rights Watch delivered another scathing report on the Communist Party’s intolerance of dissent, will Mr. Harper at least deviate from the decades-old script on that point? (The Prime Minister made no mention of human rights in a “written interview” he gave to China's official Xinhua newswire ahead of the trip.

Or would we lose the pandas after 40 years of waiting?

Mark MacKinnon is being too cute by half; he acknowledges that both China and Canada are "different countries," but he understates the enormous difference in China. In 1973 it was nearing the end of an 65 year interregnum that separated the Qing dynasty (which fell in 1911) from the new one, let's call it, for the moment, the Red dynasty, founded by Den Xiaoping in 1977. (By the way, 65 years is not overly long for an inter-dynastic interregnum in China, although most were shorter.)

We, meaning Canadians in general - ordinary people, experts and politicians alike, still do not really understand China; we don't "know" the Chinese people in the way we "know," for example, Americans or Germans or even Indians. We, that big broad "we," again, comprehend even less how the (now badly misnamed) Chinese Communist Party governs itself and how China's leaders are selected. We don't "know," beyond Hu Jintao,  the men atop the huge bureaucratic/industrial/commercial and military monstrosity that is the Ministry of National Defence ... we need to understand its central place in the Chinese power structure and we need to understand how it has been, under Hu Jintao, trying to reduce its own importance and we need to try to understand it it will continue on that path under Xi Jinping.

I welcome better, closer relations between Canada and China - primarily because I do not believe it serves anyone's interests to turn China into an enemy. But: we are dealing with the most foreign of foreign countries and we need to deal with caution and be prepared to surprises, some of them unpleasant. Remember Donal Rumsfeld's "unknown unknowns," China has more than any other other country with which we have ever dealt.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao today witnessed the signing of new joint initiatives and the renewal of existing bilateral initiatives between the two countries in the areas of energy, natural resources, education, science and technology, and agriculture.

“The rapidly increasing commercial, cultural and scholastic ties between our two countries are creating new jobs and economic growth that are benefitting Canadian families, businesses and communities,” said Prime Minister Harper. “The agreements being signed today, in such a wide range of areas, are further testimony that we are taking relations to the next level and further strengthening our strategic partnership.”

More specifically, the two leaders witnessed the signing of:

    A Memorandum of Understanding on Sustainable Development of Natural Resources that will provide a platform to promote Canadian expertise, technologies and services in that area;
    A renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooperation that will attract capital investment and improve access to Chinese markets for Canada’s energy resources, technology and related services; and,
    Initiatives on agriculture that clear the way for immediate access to the lucrative Chinese beef tallow market and joint research that aims to create a stable trading environment with China for Canadian canola seed;
    A statement of intent to launch two new calls for proposals for joint research and development projects under the Canada-China Framework Agreement for Cooperation on Science, Technology and Innovation, as well as the announcement of results for a previous call for project proposals;
    A three-year renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding related to the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program that will increase the eligibility criteria for Canadians to study in China; and
    A Memorandum of Understanding on protected areas and parks that will provide a framework for Canada and China to collaborate and share their professional and scientific knowledge and experience in the management of national parks and nature reserves.

The Prime Minister also announced the conclusion of negotiations toward a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).
PMO news release, 8 Feb 12
Here is the Good Grey Globe's Jeffrey Simpson on one of his favourite dead horses - Canada's Middle East policy, reproduced under the fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail:

With friends like Harper, Bibi can do no wrong


From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Mar. 02, 2012

With his country contemplating an attack on Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits his closest ally in the world on Friday: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mr. Harper has changed Canada’s traditional positions on questions relating to Israel, to the intense satisfaction of Israel and, in particular, the very right-wing coalition government Mr. Netanyahu leads.

All previous Canadian governments had fully supported Israel’s legitimacy, security and right to self-defence. Canada signed a free-trade agreement with Israel (and the Palestinian Authority). Thousands of people moved back and forth between the two countries. Canadian Jewish organizations received all-party support.

But all previous Canadian governments also had expressed sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians and supported their right to a state. Canada chaired a United Nations group on Palestinian refugees and, depending on the type of resolution, acknowledged the problem of Israeli settlements, including their illegality as defined by UN resolutions, on land occupied after Israel’s victory in the 1967 war.

Whether Liberal or Conservative, Canadian governments strongly supported both Israel and peaceful Palestinian aspirations. Canada had marginal influence in the region but, nonetheless, urged both sides to talk and, on occasion, was willing to criticize actions on both sides deleterious to peace.

No longer. Mr. Harper has taken a radically different approach. His government has become Israel’s pulling guard in the world. Inside meetings of la Francophonie and the G8, Mr. Harper has personally inserted himself – or instructed Canadian diplomats to insert themselves – to block resolutions even mildly critical of Israel, including references to the settlements. Mr. Harper has thus isolated Canada from its traditional allies such as the United States, Britain and France.

After last fall’s UN General Assembly meeting, Israel announced new settlements. Barack Obama’s administration criticized the move. So did the European Union. The German Chancellor personally phoned Mr. Netanyahu and asked him to desist. Canada said nothing.

At that UN meeting, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird wrote his own speech, an over-the-top effort laced with fiery rhetoric supporting Israel and damning its foes. Mr. Baird, on becoming the minister, had informed his department that he didn’t want to hear from experts there because he and the government had already fixed their positions on Israel and the Middle East.

Mr. Baird recently spent five days in Israel, with an Orthodox rabbi from Canada alongside. Retired Canadian diplomats, asked if they could ever remember a Canadian foreign minister spending five days in any country (apart from international negotiations), scratched their heads and said no. By contrast, Mr. Harper spent four days in China, a rather more important country than Israel.

But not more important, apparently, to the Harper government, whose insensitivity to the Palestinians is complete and whose support for anything Israel does or wants is unconditional.

Should Israel attack Iran’s nuclear installations – an attack Mr. Netanyahu will be discussing next week in Washington – he can assume complete support from Mr. Harper. The Canadian Prime Minister has already portrayed Iran in the worst possible light, using language that parallels the most hard-line rhetoric within Israel. He even suggested Iran might use nuclear weapons should they be constructed, as if the Iranians were completely suicidal.

The radical shift in Canada’s position comes from at least four factors: the Harper government’s sometimes “white hats/black hats” view of certain foreign-policy questions; an evangelical Christian streak in the Conservative Party that’s religiously favourable to Israel; the idea that Israel is a democracy and Arab countries are not; and a political calculation that most Canadian Jewish voters could be pried from the Liberals.

An attack on Iran, whose regime is thoroughly awful, would unite the Iranians, lead to reprisals and perhaps to a much wider conflict, delay but not halt Iran’s nuclear program, bring about the end of diplomacy and inflame the Muslim world.

So far, the Obama administration has been trying to counsel restraint. Not so for a Canadian government that has radically changed the country’s long-standing policies.

Memo to Simpson: Jeff, my boy, we have these things called elections; every few years the people, ordinary people, some not even from Toronto, get to decide to make a "radical shift" to long established policies.

Let me see ... maybe a lot of Canadians actually agree with supporting a vibrant, liberal democracy that is under constant, deadly attack from tyrants and terrorists. No, that must be wrong ... Simpson says so.
This constant fear mongering seems to be the current tactic of the liberal supporters.  It allows them to create fear of Conservative intentions and continue with their traditional "Conservatives are militaristic war-mongerers" line (for all those who remember the liberals aircraft carrier commercials) while at the same time attempting to demonstrate how just the former Liberal policies were, and frame it as the "good old days".

Sure beats trying to have actual policies and working to gain credibility at the grass roots, building a base, and presenting a reasonable option.
>the idea that Israel is a democracy and Arab countries are not

Sure, I enjoy the dramatic see-saw of elections in places like Egypt and Syria and Iran and Saudi Arabia, during which people like Mubarak and Assad and Hussein and the Saudi rulers trade places every few years with opposition party leaders.  It is much preferred to that one-party, one-ruler situation in Israel...what is the dictator's name, again?

You've an incisive intellect, Mr Simpson.  My esteem for you has changed by many notches.
Bird_Gunner45 said:
This constant fear mongering seems to be the current tactic of the liberal supporters.  It allows them to create fear of Conservative intentions and continue with their traditional "Conservatives are militaristic war-mongerers" line (for all those who remember the liberals aircraft carrier commercials) while at the same time attempting to demonstrate how just the former Liberal policies were, and frame it as the "good old days".

Sure beats trying to have actual policies and working to gain credibility at the grass roots, building a base, and presenting a reasonable option.

Fear sells. It's a much better sell than policy and credibility.
Sourced from the Winnipeg Free Press, 19 Jun 2012, Link <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/threat-to-israel-is-threat-to-canada-mackay-tells-israeli-military-commander-159630805.html">here</a>

Threat to Israel is threat to Canada, MacKay tells Israeli military commander

By: Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press
Posted: 4:27 PM | Last Modified: 5:10 PM

OTTAWA - Israel has received private assurances Canada stands ready to help defend the Jewish state, but just how far the Harper government intends to take that commitment remains unclear.

Newly released documents say Defence Minister Peter MacKay told Israel's top military commander, Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, during a 2011 visit to the Middle East, that "a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada."

The statement came a year after cabinet colleague Peter Kent was upbraided as junior foreign affairs minister for telling a Toronto-based publication that "an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada."

The declaration, appearing in an internal summary of MacKay's trip to Israel, could have important implications given the increasing military co-operation between the two countries.

Under the Harper government, Canada's support of Israel has been unwavering, even in the face of mounting international tensions over Iran's nuclear program.

When he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Ottawa earlier this year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper emphasized Canada wants to see a peaceful resolution in the troubled region, but it's unclear how far Canada has committed itself in the volatile region.

A spokesman for MacKay said the defence minister's comment was intended as an expression of support.

"Minister MacKay was making a statement of political solidarity with the Israelis and reminding our friends there that they are not facing global security threats alone," said Jay Paxton in an email.

The Israeli embassy declined comment, but pointed to remarks Netanyahu made to Canadian-Jewish publications following a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama on March 5, 2012.

"I appreciated the fact he made clear that when it comes to a nuclear-armed Iran, containment is simply not an option, and equally in my judgment, and perhaps most important of all, I appreciated the fact that he said Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself against any threat," the Israeli prime minister said.

Canada's military and industrial relationship with Israel has grown enormously. The two countries are negotiating or have signed a series of defence-based agreements over the last few years, details of which have been withheld.

The two countries do not have a binding defence arrangement, similar to Canada's obligations under NATO, but critics have begun to question the details and extent of the emerging relationship.

"These kinds of comments have consequences," said NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar.

"We're talking of a very sensitive part of the world. Every word you use has to be chosen carefully and so the question is: Is this the position of the Canadian government — or the Conservatives — when comes to a conflict in the Middle East?"

MacKay's assurances, unearthed by a Queen's University researcher using the federal access-to-information law, came during a Jan. 9-12, 2011, bilateral visit, where MacKay also met with Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

To underscore how intertwined trade and defence have become, the Israeli prime minister emphasized "the Iranian threat," but also expressed interest in buying waterbombers from Montreal-based Bombardier and asked MacKay to convey a letter to Harper.

Speaking to Barak, MacKay "stated Canada was a solid partner and that both countries were looking through the same filter" on the region, said the Feb. 14, 2011, summary.

Dewar said it's no secret the Conservatives have a one-sided approach to the Middle East, but he believes it will ultimately damage relations with Washington.

"It's fine to say we are friends of Israel and we support Israel. Sign me up, absolutely," he said. "But Canada's role in the world is to be able to talk to people the Americans can't talk to and to go to places where the U.S. can't."

MacKay and Barak signed a memorandum of understanding following their meeting, a document that acts framework to guide defence co-operation.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information shed light on the scope of that co-operation, which extends to the exchange of classified information, defence science and technology research, and defence procurement.

On the military side, the Canadian air force has taken the lead and "is looking at deepening relations with Israel given its modern and dynamic Air Force," said a July 27, 2011, briefing prepared for MacKay.

Also last year, Brig.-Gen Eden Attias was quietly named as Israel's defence attache in Ottawa, the first to be appointed in North America outside of Washington since 1948.

The countries have agreed to exchange secret defence information, a matter that required considerable negotiation, according to the documents.

Another aspect of the arrangements raises the possibility of joint military procurement. The two countries co-operated extensively when Canada went shopping for drones during the Afghan war and settled on the Israeli-made Heron.

The agreements also open the door to more Israeli participation in Canadian defence projects, specifically Elisra Electronics Systems Ltd.'s work on the Halifax-class frigate upgrade.
The story below is from one of the Afghanistan pages, but it relates to Canadian foreign policy.

Old Sweat said:
This piece bears on the issue raised in the book, but does not exclusively deal with it. It is reproduced under the Fair Dealings provisions of the Copyright Act.

After Kandahar, the history war

David Bercuson
Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Aug. 02 2012, 2:00 AM EDT

Last updated Wednesday, Aug. 01 2012, 5:31 PM EDT

Virtually every significant war in history is followed by another, smaller war: the bloodless war among historians, journalists and veterans to set the historical narrative of the war that just ended. That’s what the former Athenian general Thucydides was doing when he wrote his account of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. And now we have Afghanistan, still being fought, with the postwar accounts already appearing, written mostly by journalists – including a few very good ones by Canadians – and generals and diplomats.

Canada has not fared well in many of the accounts by non-Canadians – in particular, recent books by respected Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran, British General David Richards and Britain’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, Sherard Cowper-Coles.

Mr. Chandrasekaran’s book is not a memoir; it is based fundamentally on interviews, as most recent journalistic accounts are. That’s not a criticism of the book, because the real evidence of what happened in the war, from the highest political and diplomatic levels to the almost daily encounters between the soldiers at the sharp end and the Taliban, is mostly still classified and will remain so for years to come.

Nonetheless, a clear picture is beginning to emerge from these three books, and others, of a Canadian war effort that was confused, somewhat amateurish, overly optimistic and, in many parts of Kandahar province, simply ineffective. Mr. Chandrasekaran, for example, relates the disappointment of some U.S. commanders at Canada’s failure to actually occupy and secure the city of Kandahar, concentrating instead on keeping the main roads open and attempting to secure corridors from Kabul to Kandahar and from the Pakistani border at Spin Boldak to the Panjwai and Zhari districts, about 25 kilometres west of Kandahar city – the heart of the insurgency.

General Richards is particularly critical that Canada opted to take on Kandahar province instead of Helmand, where the British fought, because there weren’t enough Canadians for the job. The British had roughly three times the number of troops in Helmand (immediately to the west of Kandahar) than Canada had.

There is much truth to these evaluations of Canadian accomplishments in Afghanistan and they have recently been written about by Canadians as well. But there is also much truth to the old Chaucerian remonstrance that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. It applies equally to writers judging the conduct of other nations in war as it does to life in general.

Consider the British effort in Helmand province. The United Kingdom sent troops there equipped with Land Rovers that could not stand up to Taliban IEDs. They tended to place their operating bases inside villages that were controlled by the Taliban and wound up being constantly shot at, especially at night. Though equipped with Chinook helicopters, the British positions were so vulnerable that they were often under siege. In the summer of 2006, the road-bound Canadian Battle Group led by Lieutenant-Colonel Ian Hope was forced to leave its position in Kandahar province to rescue an important British position in Helmand.

Now, none of these failures are of themselves indicative of the overall British effort in Helmand. Rather, they are indicative of the very real fact that everyone who fights wars makes mistakes and that shortcomings can be found throughout a campaign and at all levels of command. Some British journalists, military historians and veterans too often write as if the British invented war and are the best at it. And that attitude is too often reflected in their observations of how Canadians performed, especially in the Second World War.

As for the Americans, it can only be said that the biggest blunder made by any country in the Afghan campaign was made by the United States, in virtually abandoning the necessary war there for the optional war in Iraq. Was Canada too weak on the ground in Kandahar? Without a doubt. But Canada was there between 2006 and 2008 – and the Americans were not. And U.S. mistakes were made at all levels, from the White House and the Department of Defence to the Korengal Valley in northeast Afghanistan, where dozens of American soldiers died trying to hold an indefensible area from forward bases far removed from close support. They abandoned the Korengal after about a year.

Whatever Canada may or may not have accomplished in Kandahar, one fact is indisputable: The Taliban could not seize it. The British and Americans have much to evaluate regarding their own performance. As do Canadians.

I am not interested in commenting on the "first draft of history," the journalists and generals are entitled to their opinions but they are, by and large, impressions, anecdotes and even "sour grapes" rather than history. As Prof. Bercuson points out, it will be decades before real historians have access to enough information to make reasoned analyses and then, as we can see, for example, in the popular revisions to the World War I histories (written to reflect Western distaste for American governmental and military leadership in the Viet Nam era) it will be revised again and again to suit the tastes of the times.

But, just for a moment, let us suppose that there is some military logic in e.g. Gen Richards' contention that "there weren’t enough Canadians for the job" in Kandahar. Does that mean that we should have joined with the Brits in Helmand or that they should have joined us in Kandahar? The reporting, at the time, was that Kandahar was all that was left for us because our government "dithered" over what role(s) it wanted to undertake in Afghanistan. Implicit in Gen Richards' comment is the notion that Canada should have decided, as a matter of policy, to play something less than a "lead" role in Afghanistan; perhaps Richards wanted us to be subordinate to the Brits, à la 1899, 1914, 1939 and even 1949. But David Richards is a smart fellow and he knows that Canadian policy in 2004/05, when we decided to go to Kandahar, was to "punch above our weight" and, in both the Chrétien and Martin governments our intention was to rebuild our international position; we were not willing to spend much money on it, but it was a stated policy goal. Indeed, when then Defence Minister John McCallum went to Brussels, in 2002/03, to negotiate Canada's participation into ISAF, his stated goal was to secure a "leadership" position. There was, simply, no way that Canada - not the CF, the country - could or would accept anything less than a full PRT task, as "lead" nation. Gen Richads must understand that, if he doesn't then he was intellectually unable to do his job and, demonstrably, that's not true. So why is he saying it? In my opinion Richards believes that Afghanistan will end up as a Western defeat and he wants the "first draft of history" to indicate that he Brits were not to blame and, since it is politically incorrect to blame the USA, that leaves us.

I agree with David Bercuson that, on reflection, from the outside, the "Canadian war effort that was confused, somewhat amateurish, overly optimistic and, in many parts of Kandahar province, simply ineffective." But why? Are our generals less able? No, not noticeably. Are our diplomats amateurs? No. What about our officials at the top of government? Are they bunglers? No, again. But we, as a country, were, and in my opinion still are, unprepared to "go to war." We may have an intellectual appreciation of the subject but we, the government, the military and, above all, the Canadian people, have forgotten 'how' to wage war. For over 30 years, a full generation, our foreign and defence policies explicitly rejected the idea of 'war.' We were a nation of "peacekeepers" and even as traditional, baby-blue-beret style Pearsonian peacekeeping morphed into something harder (in the Balkans, for example) our plans and policies and, above all, our finances were in denial. Our national policy, from about 1969 until 2006 simply refused to countenance the idea that we might have to go to war.

Policy, any policy, requires two things: thought and resources. Canadian foreign and defence policies, from 1969 until today, have lacked at least one of them: resources (mainly money), and usually, until about 2005/06, both.
E.R. Campbell said:
Policy, any policy, requires two things: thought and resources. Canadian foreign and defence policies, from 1969 until today, have lacked at least one of them: resources (mainly money), and usually, until about 2005/06, both.

Amongst the resources required perhaps we might add moral resources.

Do we, as a modern, secular nation have the moral support to accept personal sacrifice?  Or is it just coincidence that in the US, our nearest moral neighbour, that most of the volunteers for the Volunteer Force come from those parts of the country that are most likely to attend church on Sunday?

Where do we fall in the discussion over "atheists in foxholes" and "giving the lie to dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"?

What would it take to have the Nation, writ large, accept sacrifice?
Kirkhill said:
Amongst the resources required perhaps we might add moral resources.

Do we, as a modern, secular nation have the moral support to accept personal sacrifice?  Or is it just coincidence that in the US, our nearest moral neighbour, that most of the volunteers for the Volunteer Force come from those parts of the country that are most likely to attend church on Sunday?

Where do we fall in the discussion over "atheists in foxholes" and "giving the lie to dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"?

What would it take to have the Nation, writ large, accept sacrifice?

I'm not sure your characterization of our neighbours is on target. While I do not dispute, because I do not know, the religious beliefs of Americans in uniform, I would have said that "most of the volunteers for the Volunteer Force come from those parts of the country that are least able to enjoy the 'American Dream.'"

As Wilfred Owen reminded us, "dulce et decorum est ..." was a lie when Horace said it; it's something to put stars in schoolboys' eyes. As for atheists in foxholes, we, at least never wrote Gott Mit Uns on our belt buckles. I was just in a rather remote Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery - many, maybe even most of the graves had Christian markers, almost as many reflected the varied religious beliefs of the men from the 5th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment, 2nd Battalion, the 14th Punjab Regiment and the Hong Kong Chinese Regiment, and a few British and Canadian Jews are buried there, too. Maybe religious beliefs help individual face death with a tiny bit more equanimity, maybe it's something else that calms them ... maybe our markedly religious neighbours are better able to accept the deaths of their loved ones, or maybe just the deaths of some strangers' loved ones.

To your main point: the country will be able to wage war, as a nation, when the threat is clear and pressing. And that's something we have not seen since 1945 - even Korea and the Cold War could not convince us that we were 'at war.' Notwithstanding an explicit threat from Osama bin Laden himself, Canadians, broadly, do not agree that we, neither Canada nor the US led West at large, are under attack. Maybe they'e right, maybe the 'threat' is, partially, a creation of the "military industrial complex" which needs constant, renewable threats to whip up enthusiasm for 10 or 15 carrier battle groups and newer, better, costlier aircraft.

I believe that the defence of the realm, the protection of the country and its citizens, is, as Paul Martin said when he was prime minister, "the first duty of government." When one takes that position, and I acknowledge that few ever do,  then one does not need a "clear and present danger," one expects the government of the day to maintain sufficient armed forces to do the job - one can, and I would, argue that e.g. Mackenzie King failed in this in the 1930s, one can agree that the Great Depression made doing it, defending the realm, more difficult, but it didn't make it impossible. King may have failed but few others, excepting Louis St Laurent, have even bothered to try. I have argued, elsewhere how to do what's necessary.

I do not see a major, general war, not à la 1939-45 anyway, on the horizon - which, probably, means it will start next week! - but I can envision a global war, not, as George W Bush suggested, on terror (which is a tactic, not an enemy, in any event) but rather, as Sam Huntington suggested a clash or maybe clashes of civilizations. But even then I doubt Canadians will see themselves and their spouses and children as being 'at war.'

E.R. Campbell said:
Maybe they'e right, maybe the 'threat' is, partially, a creation of the "military industrial complex" which needs constant, renewable threats to whip up enthusiasm for 10 or 15 carrier battle groups and newer, better, costlier aircraft.

You forgot the :sarcasm: smiley.
Sythen said:
You forgot the :sarcasm: smiley.

Nope, I follow the workings of the US House and Senate foreign relations and armed services committees; I note, with interest, sometimes with dismay, the "threat assessments" proffered by various and sundry defence industry lobby groups.
E.R. Campbell said:
Nope, I follow the workings of the US House and Senate foreign relations and armed services committees; I note, with interest, sometimes with dismay, the "threat assessments" proffered by various and sundry defence industry lobby groups.

Though I will note that in your original post you said "partially", I think any reasonable person would take threat assessment from a lobby group with a grain of salt, and would do some additional fact checking before deciding billion dollar purchases. Conflict of interest isn't anything new, really..
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