J.L. Granatstein: No Canadian boots on the ground

Last week, Ottawa announced that it was sending two Royal Canadian Air Force transport aircraft to ferry supplies to Kurdish forces in Iraq battling the Islamic State advance. The Royal Canadian Navy has a frigate in the eastern Mediterranean watching the Russians who threaten Ukraine, and the RCAF has fighter aircraft in Romania patrolling the skies to reassure our NATO allies. While the government has sent a few handfuls of soldiers on training exercises in eastern Europe, there are no troops for a long-term deployment. Ships, yes. Aircraft, yes. But no boots on the ground.

Two weeks ago, the World Federalist Movement-Canada issued a report calling on Canada to do more peacekeeping, suggesting a deployment in the Central African Republic. The organization pointed out that the Canadian Forces currently has only 34 members on peacekeeping service. Again, no boots on the ground.

Why? There are reasons that must seem compelling to the Prime Minister and his government. When he was first elected in 2006, Stephen Harper was markedly pro-military, promising more equipment and support for the Canadian soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. But as the casualties increased, the government’s commitment to the mission waned. After 158 dead, after hundreds wounded, and uncounted numbers suffering from post-traumatic stress, the zeal is gone. Defence spending is at its lowest level since the Second World War, a mere 1 per cent of GDP. The Canadian Forces are running on fumes, its equipment aging rapidly, and new procurements are stuck in endless meetings, re-evaluations, and bureaucratic processes. Apparently, there are no votes in supporting the troops.

But ships and aircraft might be provided. In 1950, as the war in Korea began, the United States pressed Canada for a commitment. “We’ve sent destroyers,” then foreign minister Lester Pearson reportedly said. “That’s just a token,” the U.S. envoy replied. “But it’s three destroyers,” Pearson plaintively said. “Okay, it’s three tokens.” Pressured, Canada duly sent a brigade of infantry. Boots on the ground mattered in 1950.

They still matter in 2014, but this Canadian government – and likely any future government in the near-term – will not send soldiers abroad in any number. We have become casualty averse, and the sight of body bags arriving at Trenton and being convoyed to Toronto loses votes and weakens ministerial will.

But this does not mean – and cannot mean – that Canada will never deploy its military again. We have national interests, and they need to be defended if they are threatened. The state has the obligation to protect the Canadian people and territory against invaders. It must protect Canadian unity, our economy, and those with whom we are allied by treaty. We must work with our friends to protect and advance democracy and freedom, a lesson we surely learned in the terrible wars of the 20th century and the conflicts of the 21st. Will we fight to keep our national interests secure? We must – to the limits of our strength.

We have real domestic and international obligations, and we maintain the Canadian Forces to meet them. We are in NATO, and if Russia or any other power attacks NATO members, we have a legal and moral obligation to assist in repelling invasion. We are in NORAD, and we have the obligation to work with the U.S. to protect the air approaches to North America. Will we fight to honour our treaty obligations? We must, but as an independent nation we can decide the scope of our contribution.

We are in the United Nations, and we should – when we are able and when the conditions are right – participate in peacekeeping operations. But we need to be selective. Peacekeeping in Africa is probably best accomplished by African states, not Canadian troops dependent on good roads and airfields for movement and support. We can contribute more than 34 peacekeepers, for sure, but no Canadian government is likely to send a large contingent into the coercive, violent peace enforcement missions that the UN is dealing with today, as in the Central African Republic. Casualty-averse Canadian governments simply will not do this, nor should they.

Certainly Prime Minister Harper will not deploy a battalion or brigade anywhere abroad before a 2015 general election, however tough his rhetoric sometimes sounds.

Thus, no boots on the ground today, and likely few in the future. It’s better to send a navy vessel or a half-squadron of CF-18s to troubled areas where there are few real risks of casualties. But the army will stay at home, training for the uncertain future.

Historian J.L. Granatstein is a fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.


Filed under Uncategorized

Mark Collins – UAVs, or, “Canada’s defense procurement system rivals India’s for inefficiency”

Defense Industry Daily said it, not me:

Canada Crafting High-End UAV Requirements


JUSTAS: Seeking the right solution

Is Canada Planning to Buy Armed Drones or Not?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mark Collins – Obama, Iraq…and Afghanistan

Con Coughlin, usually of the Telegraph, puts things starkly:

How to Lose a Won War [debatable, though, in either case]
The U.S. risks repeating in Afghanistan the same mistakes it made in Iraq three years ago.

Very relevant:

Afghanistan: Karzai’s Legacy–and Obama’s

Terry Glavin examines the current situation with his exceptionally well-informed eye–and insight into Canadian policy…


Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


Filed under Uncategorized

Mark Collins – Aussie Destroyer-Building Balls-Up

Further to this post,

New Navy Supply Ships: Aussies Do the Sensible Thing, Unlike Canada

The Australians are learning from sad and sorry experience.  When will Canada?  That includes all federal parties, all of which would have screamed had the government not decided to build its new ships in Canada.  We do need to get real and realize that. if we want capable maritime fleets, we cannot afford to build them here without crippling costs for other acquisition budgets.  Or we can just reduce the number of ships and their capabilities.

the Aussies are still learning:

Johnston says AWD programme in ‘deep, deep trouble

Australia’s Air Warfare Destroyer project has suffered from delays and budget over-runs. Credit: Australian Department of Defence

Australia’s AUD8.5 billion (USD8.25 billion) Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) project, the country’s largest current defence programme, is in “deep, deep trouble”, according to Defence Minister David Johnston [three ships, built in Australia and based on a Spanish-design].

In remarks reported in The Australian newspaper on 15 August and confirmed to IHS Jane’s by the minister’s office, Johnston also called the programme “a disgraceful mess”.

“The AWD will be one or two years late if we are lucky and several hundred millions over budget,” the minister said. “People are not wanting to be frank about how bad this project is.”

The AWD project was placed on the government’s Projects of Concern (PoC) list on 4 June after an independent review headed by former US Navy Secretary Don Winter. The review identified inadequate government oversight and also questioned the management abilities of the AWD Alliance, which groups government-owned shipbuilder ASC, the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), and systems integrator Raytheon…

Want to bet on this Canadian program sailing smoothly into service?

Royal Canadian Navy: 15 Canadian Surface Combatants? Maybe Some Offshore Patrol Vessels Instead

And for the really big picture:

Absurdly Extravagant Cost of Canadian Navy, Coast Guard Ships

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


Filed under Uncategorized

Mark Collins – Spying Schadenfreude: Germans Outed

Further to this post,

The US and Germany: Why Spy?

it turns out there may be of pot kettle black-calling:

1) Targeting Turkey: How Germany Spies on Its Friends

For more than a year now, German officials have criticized the US for the NSA’s mass spying on Europeans and even Chancellor Angela Merkel. Now, embarrassing revelations show that Germany has inadvertently spied on Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and has also deliberately targeted Turkey…

For years, the BND has intercepted satellite telephone conversations from its listening station in Bad Aibling in Bavaria in order to obtain knowledge of the Islamist terrorist scene. But intelligence sources now say that US office holders have also fallen into the BND’s crosshairs while making satellite telephone calls from airplanes. Sources described it as a kind of unintentional “by-catch”.

That’s how Clinton got caught in the BND’s net in 2012…

SPIEGEL has learned from sources that Turkey is one of the BND focuses included in the BND order profile, making the country an official target for the foreign intelligence agency’s espionage efforts. The fact that the German intelligence service, at the behest of the government, has targeted a NATO ally could undermine recent efforts by the German government to resolve tensions between Berlin and Ankara…

2) German spying report angers Turkey, embarrasses Berlin

Gosh.  As for Turkey, one might well want to know–amongst other things–what jihadis have getting up to there:

ErdoVlad? Plus Turkey and the Caliphate

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mark Collins – The Caliphate’s Foreign Jihadi Fighters, Indonesian and Malaysian Sections

Quite the Ummah:

After Iraq: The global jihad is coming home

Southeast Asian countries with large Muslim populations are bracing for an upsurge in terrorist attacks when young fanatics now fighting in the Middle East come home.

Of particular concern are the scores of young men, mostly from Indonesia and Malaysia, who have joined the Islamic State group (IS), which is carving out a fundamentalist Islamic enclave in Syria and Iraq and which glories in the brutal slaughter of non-Muslims.

Both IS and its rival terrorist group in Syria, the al-Nusrah Front, realise that Indonesia — where 88 per cent of the 250 million population are Muslim — and Malaysia, where 62 per cent of the 30 million people follow Islam, are useful reservoirs of recruits and financial support. Videos aimed at getting support from Malaysians and Indonesians were released recently by both the al-Nusrah Front and IS…

There are thought to be up to 10,000 foreign fighters with IS and other rebel and militant groups in Syria and Iraq, including young Muslims from Canada, the United States and several European countries. Of those, only about 150 are from Indonesia and 100 from Malaysia. But security agencies in Southeast Asia have no doubt that returning IS fighters are being programmed to launch terrorist attacks and stir up unrest in their home countries…


Worthwhile Aussie/US Initiative to Deal with Jihadi Foreign Fighters

Much earlier, in a review, Michael Ignatieff quotes from V.S. Naipaul’s second book about Islam in South and Southeast Asia, Beyond Belief:

”There probably has been no imperialism like that of Islam and the Arabs…”


Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mark Collins – Edmund Burke, the French Revolution and…Chairman Mao

An excerpt from a review article in the London Review of Books:

No Theatricks
Ferdinand Mount 


  • BuyThe Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke from the Sublime and Beautiful to American Independence by David Bromwich
    Harvard, 500 pp, £25.00, May, ISBN 978 0 674 72970 4
  • BuyMoral Imagination: Essays by David Bromwich
    Princeton, 350 pp, £19.95, March, ISBN 978 0 691 16141 9

…If Burke was frightened, well, it turned out that there was plenty to be frightened of, most immediately a world war that was destined to last more than twenty years.

What Burke also foresaw, as Pitt did not, was that this brutal rupture with the past would not easily settle down into a new normality. It was to take a century and a half and four more French Republics before the wounds of 1789 were finally healed. Yet Burke was not to be forgiven by his old friends for his clairvoyance. His attitude seemed to them a baffling betrayal. As a good Whig, he had endorsed the Glorious Revolution in England. The American Revolutionaries had no more loyal friend. Why then did he draw back in horror from this third and greatest revolution? Not merely the Foxites in his own day but a good part of liberal posterity have refused to recognise the distinction he sought to make: that in England in 1688 [more near end here] as in the American colonies in 1776, the aim was to continue an existing political culture, and to strengthen it by careful and restricted reforms. In France in 1789, the aim was utterly different. In the words of Rabaut St Etienne, quoted by Burke in the Reflections: ‘Tous les établissemens en France couronnent le malheur du peuple: pour le rendre heureux il faut le renouveler; changer ses idées; changer ses loix; changer ses moeurs … changer les hommes; changer les choses; changer les mots … tout détruire; oui, tout détruire; puisque tout est à recréer.’

Change everything, things, words, people; destroy everything; begin again from scratch; tabula rasa, Year Zero, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot. Rabaut was a Protestant pastor and a relatively moderate revolutionary, swept along by the giddy times and guillotined in 1793 along with the other Girondins. There were great men caught up in the American Revolution who thought a bit like that at the time. Such is the drift of Jefferson’s famous letter, ‘The Earth belongs to the living,’ in which he suggests that it ought to be possible for each generation of men to begin anew, cleared of ancestral debts and antiquated laws. But America did not turn out that way. On the contrary, the United States was to become a living monument of constitutional conservatism, uniquely reverent towards precedent and towards its Founding Fathers. The rhetoric of novelty remained, but the practice of politics became decidedly Burkean, which is why Burke is today revered more in the United States than anywhere else…

As for the chairman:


Dead People, Chicoms, or, Would Anyone Write Thus about A.H.? Part 2

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mark Collins – Dragon to Beaver: Suck it Up, Make Big Bucks–Plus That Chinese “Exodus”

Further to this post,

The Beaver and Filthy Dragon Lucre

1) His Excellency pens a piece at the Globe and Mail online-with a gobsmacking economy with the truth:

Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui

China and Canada: We can manage our differences

Right now, the Chinese people are pursuing the Chinese Dream. It is projected that in the coming five years, China’s imports will reach $10-trillion, its outbound investment will reach $500-billion, and the number of its outbound tourists may well exceed 500 million. In line with implementing this innovation-driven strategy, China is dedicated to develop industries where Canada boasts strong innovation, such as clean energy, environmental protection, information technology, high-end manufacturing and financial services. Canada’s innovation advantage combined with China’s well-established manufacturing industry, abundant technical workers and huge market will bring great possibilities for co-operation and yield sound economic and social benefits. Surely we can tell that it is a big delicious cake. In pursuit of common interests for our two peoples, there are no difficulties that cannot be overcome.

Fourthly, we should face up to individual cases and properly handle our differences, accumulating positive energy for the development of bilateral relations. Both China and Canada are nations under the rule of law [emphasis added]. It is

inevitable that cases of illegal activities occasionally surface with increasing exchanges between the two peoples…


Gosh.  Those pesky “illegal activities“.  Then the Globe’s news spin:

Chinese envoy offers olive branch on Garratts’ detention in Globe letter

2) Those Chinese leaving:

The Great Chinese Exodus
Many Chinese are leaving for cleaner air, better schools and more opportunity. But Beijing is keeping its eye on them

…Last year, more than 100 million outbound travelers crossed the frontiers.

Most are tourists who come home. But rapidly growing numbers are college students and the wealthy, and many of them stay away for good. A survey by the Shanghai research firm Hurun Report shows that 64% of China’s rich—defined as those with assets of more than $1.6 million—are either emigrating or planning to.

…More and more talented Chinese are looking at the upward trajectory of this emerging superpower and deciding, nevertheless, that they’re better off elsewhere.

The decision to go is often a mix of push and pull. The elite are discovering that they can buy a comfortable lifestyle at surprisingly affordable prices in places such as California and the Australian Gold Coast, while no amount of money can purchase an escape in China from the immense problems afflicting its urban society…

Whatever their motives and wherever they go, those who depart will be shadowed by the organs of the Leninist state they’ve left behind. A sprawling bureaucracy—the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council—exists to ensure that distance from the motherland doesn’t dull their patriotism. Its goal is to safeguard loyalty to the Communist Party. This often sets up an awkward dynamic between Chinese arrivals and the societies that take them in. While the newcomers try to fit in, Beijing makes every effort to use them in its campaign to project its political values, enhance its global image, harass its opponents…

In the U.S., a vigorous debate has broken out in academic circles about the role on American campuses of Confucius Institutes [see "What Does Confucius Say? Well, the Institutes are Chicom Fronts"]…

One supposes the Wall St. Journal’s world does not need more Canada.  Though we do get this one mention:

First-generation businessmen—the ones who powered China’s economic rise—now dream of a secure retirement. That means legal safety in places like the U.S. and Canada [cf. what the ambassador wrote above]…

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


Filed under Uncategorized

Mark Collins – Connecting the Communications Security Establishment Canada Dots…

…the Globe and Mail’s Colin Freeze (bit on an intel guy these days) gives ahelpful guide to the mosaic.  More on CSEC here.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mark Collins – Rum, Sodomy and the Lash Headline of the Day

At least the boat was docked:

Royal Navy alcohol consumption ‘curbed’ after fatal submarine shooting
Coroner Keith Wiseman wrote to the Ministry of Defence about the ‘culture of excessive drinking’ after the death of Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux on a nuclear submarine

And one worried about the Royal Canadian Navy.  Earlier, WSC.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized