Another New Year’s Resolution
About a year ago we offered the Government of Canada and the political opposition a New Year’s Resolution. Specifically we challenged the government to do three things:
“First: the Government of Canada, not just DND, needs to state its world view and its strategy for protecting and promoting Canada’s vital interests in the world.
Ruxted contends such a strategy will require, inter alia, a balanced, combat capable and ready Army expeditionary force which can promote and protect Canada’s vital interests and demonstrate Canadians’ commitment to playing a lead role and living up to our proclaimed "Responsibility to Protect" in the world.
Second: the Government of Canada needs to direct the Army to transform itself into a service which can, on short notice and on a global basis, conduct combat operations on an established ‘scale’ of size and intensity.
Third: the Government of Canada needs to provide the Army with more people and money to allow them to implement such a plan in a sensible time frame.”
We went back to the first point on several occasions, especially in A New World View, One Nation: Two Visions and A Look to the Future. We are saddened to note that the Government of Canada sits in stony strategic silence; unwilling or unable to enunciate any strategic vision for Canada on any important global issue.
We also revisited the second point in e.g. Adjusting to a New Model of Continuous Warfare. This is, perhaps, the toughest challenge. We have reminded Ruxted readers of former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s observation that we must fight wars with the armed forces we have, not the ones we wished we had been smart enough to build. While we are disappointed at a palpable lack of progress and even of some trimming of the sails we understand that this transformation requires some deep, critical thinking inside NDHQ and at the cabinet table.
We returned, over and over again, to the third point, too, starting with Time is Running Out and after A Triple A+ Military for Canada amongst others we concluded with Capabilities and Money. We heard lots from opposition MPs and sundry special interest groups re: where (other than on the military) Canadians urgently needed to spend more and more and more. We heard nothing at all from Prime Minister Harper about a national strategy, much less a long term defence plan and we heard nothing at all from Finance Minister Flaherty about the sort of stable, growing defence budget which is essential if we want to avoid disarmament by stealth.
Overall we are very disappointed. The government of the day seems intent on moving the military (and, by extension a national strategy, off the map. While we understand the pressing needs of a minority government to avoid telling the voters about an “inconvenient truth” we believe it is incumbent upon responsible governments to plan for the country’s future, not just for their own partisan political advantages. We believe Prime Minister Harper has failed to do that – it has put its own partisan political concerns ahead of the country’s needs. In this, we hasten to add, it shares responsibility with the three opposition parties, most of the mainstream media and much of the national “intelligentsia,” all of who are equally irresponsible.
It is clear to The Ruxted Group that Canadians are deeply divided on matters related to our national defence, our military forces and how we employ and deploy them. That’s fair enough – especially when one notes what we have termed A Continuing Failure to Communicate by the current government.
But, we are undaunted and our revised resolution, for the Government of Canada, for 2008 is:
First: stop taking counsel of your political fears;
Second: be honest with Canadians about the threats, problems and opportunities we face;
Third: propose what’s best for Canada - offer a grand strategy that puts our own national interests on top;
Fourth: propose a defence policy that provides the “Triple A+” armed forces we need to play just below the “big leagues;” and
Fifth: Commit the money, enough, as The Ruxted Group said to put Canada back into its rightful position as a leader amongst the world’s responsible, democratic middle powers.
Oh, and Prime Minister Harper: read Ruxted.ca every week.