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A Threatening Future and a Plan for Action | The Ruxted Group Skip to content

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A Threatening Future and a Plan for Action

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The Ruxted Group takes note of a new report, ”A Threatened Future: Canada’s Future Strategic Environment and its Security Implications”, prepared by three distinguished Canadians: Jack Granatstein, Gordon Smith and Denis Stairs.

We heartily endorse their analysis and conclusions, which parallel our own as we have presented them over the past 18 months or so, and we hope that the Government of Canada, specifically the cabinet and the Privy Council Office consider their work on an urgent basis.
In their section on the Future Strategic Environment the three wise men posit that:

The established (in 1945) political order is broken. There is no longer
a single leader or even a (internally divided) leadership team. Power
is divided amongst several multi-national groups, nation-states and
non-state actors, including multinational corporations. The G8 nations,
say Granatstein, Smith and Stairs, need to step forward, but if they
fail “to do so, then no one will be in charge.”

2. ”The
drive for identity and the tendency in many cultures to associate it
with religion, when coupled with the reduction of the geographic
buffers between previously distant peoples, has led to dissimilar
cultures bumping and grinding against one other. A “clash of
civilizations” is certainly not inevitable, but it cannot be dismissed
as academic fiction … Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida and other jihadists
who would like to see the Caliphate restored and westerners driven from
Islamic lands have a clear view about who should be in charge: they
should. Canadians should not forget that Canada is fifth on the list of
countries that bin Laden has said should be targeted; it is the only
country on the list that has not yet been successfully attacked.”

In other words, those who believe we are safe if we will “just be nice”
and appease the “jihadists” are delusional – dangerously so.

The greatest risk comes from a nuclear weapon, even of the most
rudimentary form, coming into the hands of, or being made by, a
terrorist group. The use of such a weapon cannot be deterred – there is
no target against which retaliation can be threatened. Any attack on
the United States would have devastating consequences for Canada, and
we should also never assume that Canada itself is immune from such an
attack … The prospect of biological or chemical weapons being used by
either state or non-state actors also remains clearly visible on the
horizon, and scientific advances are likely to increase the risk by
making such weapons easier to produce.”

4. ” A
substantial amount of the oil that finds its way into the international
marketplace comes from unstable or potentially unstable countries. The
risk of armed conflict in those areas is real. The United States will
not accept a world in which Americans are denied the oil they need to
make their economy work. Neither will the Chinese, the Indians, or the
Europeans. Conflict over energy in several dimensions is unfortunately
all but certain.”

5. The ” prosperous countries of the
north, including Canada, will remain the targets of terrorist attacks
launched from desperate and unstable countries in the south, and
perhaps increasingly so.”

6. Our good friends and neighbours
in the USA are being pulled away from their recent positon of
“constructive-internationalism.” ”United States exceptionalism is
strong, and both political parties use exceptionalist rhetoric to
justify their positions on foreign policy. The rise of the Christian
right in the United States brings to a substantial portion of the
American population (perhaps a third) the conviction that God and
United States foreign policy are inseparable. For many, therefore, the
United States has a duty to advance its God-given values – sometimes
seen as truly universal values and sometimes not as universal, just
better – in the world. It is not a big jump from there to unilateralism
or isolationism. Even among American liberal internationalists, there
is a tendency to think of multilateral institutions as vehicles for
advancing what are really unilateral interests. This tendency is not
confined to the United States, but the American version of it leads
more seamlessly to the notion that the good multilateral institutions
are the ones the Americans can dominate, and the bad are the ones in
which they have to compromise.”

7. China, Russia, India, the Middle East and Africa all remain areas of potential trouble.

There will be no lack of threats to Canada and its friends from places
not normally on our map. Failing and failed states, post-conflict
reconstruction, and counter-insurgency operations will be the norm. The
threat will likely be from far away, or may seem far away, and it will
be replete with issues that many Canadians will not immediately grasp.
They will need to be ready to learn and sometimes, be ready to fight.”

The authors of “A Threatened Future” lay out five levels of threat which they suggest face Canada:

Natural disasters. They suggest, and Ruxted agrees, that, in the event
of a major natural disaster on the scale of Hurricane Katrina (an
eventuality which many scientists suggest is very likely) “local
police forces would be as unable to deal with it ... Canadian Forces
Reserves would be as helpless as the Louisiana National Guard and less
well-equipped … only the regular [Canadian military] forces ultimately
could restore order, care for the injured and sick, and feed and
shelter the displaced.”

2. Internal security threats and
civil disorder – especially amongst identifiable ethnic or religious
groups in major urban centres.

3. ”A third level of threat
arises when other states encroach on our territory and our sovereignty
… the need to demonstrate our willingness to protect Canada’s
territorial integrity is clear … Of more immediate seriousness,
Canada’s superpower neighbour sees itself under present and future
threat from terrorists and rogue states [and] if there is another major
terrorist attack there and if there is any sign of a Canadian dimension
to such an attack, the pressures to take extreme measures on the border
will be immense …there exists the real possibility that a United States
administration may take de facto control of Canadian airspace
and sea approaches to guarantee its self-defence. Such a move could not
be resisted politically or militarily by Canada, given it has no
“defence against help,” and it implies the end of Canadian sovereignty.”

The fourth type of threat arises when, as in Darfur or Afghanistan, a
state or a non-state actor becomes a regional threat, a host to
terrorism, or such a danger to its own people”
that nations, including Canada, are compelled to take action.
Canada has made a lot of noise about the “Responsibility to Protect”
(R2P). There is little evidence at this point that we or anyone else
meant it when we said in reference to genocide, “Never again!”

5. Finally, "there
are major wars, usually, but not only, interstate conflicts. These have
seemed unlikely since the end of the Cold War, but this may not be so
tomorrow. The strategic analysis in Part II is far from reassuring, and
it is possible that Canada might need to fight for its life and for the
survival of its people at some point in the coming two or three

The three wise men lay out some solutions:

1. They agree with the July 2007 Ruxted proposal that Canada’s defence budget should rise to about 2.2% of GDP
which will support a standing (full time), well trained, adequately
equipped, combat ready military force of 75,000 to 80,000 people. But
they caution that Canadian political realities mean that governments
(Conservative or Liberal) are likely to be too timid to do what is
necessary, to do the right thing. Instead they suggest, ” the
defence budget will probably rise slowly from its present level of just
above 1 per cent of GDP and then remain in the 1.1 to 1.3 per cent
This would be wholly inadequate and it would mean, de facto,
the end of Canada as anything like a leading or even a respectable
middle power. It would threaten Canada’s ability to maintain its
sovereignty over its own territory. It would mean that Canada would,
likely, become a colony of a diminished America.

2. Canada
needs better planning for catastrophic events. We need to have
equipment pre-positioned near the nation’s big cities and earthquake
zones. We need substantial government money put into training
programmes for first responders such as the police and fire
departments. Above all, we need to make the Canadian Forces do what it
has never truly wanted to do in the past for fear of being turned into
a constabulary: to train and to prepare to assist in such disasters.”

The Ruxted Group contends that this should be an important task for
reserve force units – for a number of fairly large, well equipped, well
trained regional rapid reaction units.

3. ”Canada needs to increase its domestic intelligence efforts to ensure that this [attacks like those in Madrid and London]
does not occur … the nation needs to increase its educational efforts
to better integrate these Canadians into our society and to ensure that
ghettoes of the mind do not take permanent form. We also must be aware
that the great majority of our immigrants today come to us from nations
with no democratic tradition; they cannot absorb our values by osmosis
alone. Canadian leaders must try to ensure that the nation’s interests
and values, rather than pressures exerted by the various diasporas in
Canada, drive our foreign and defence policies.”

4. ”Canada needs a foreign intelligence agency …”
While the report argues for a foreign intelligence agency as part of
CSIS, Ruxted remains open to a variety of solutions including separate
foreign intelligence agencies in DND and DFAIT.

Finally, the report suggests that:
The first priority must be to ensure the security of Canadian territory
and the Canadian people, something, it must be said, that has not been
done over the last forty years. Next, we have responsibilities for the
defence of North America and, we expect, increasingly for the Western
Hemisphere in the coming years. These close-in concerns should be our
highest priority. Far out priorities – Europe, the Pacific, Asia, and
Africa – are important because they are the areas from which major
threats of war will arise, along with large-scale humanitarian crises
that can lead to calls for intervention. Canada needs to be prepared
for such events, but they will always require careful consideration of
the Canadian Forces’ resources and the national interest … Canada’s
voters and the governments they elect will need to make a commitment to
the Canadian Forces and to our national security …Canadians want to be
proud of their servicemen and women, even if they do not want to pay
the bills. This requires well-equipped, well-trained forces that can
distinguish themselves in the full spectrum of military operations
ranging from blue beret peacekeeping through peace enforcement, and
finally, to war. That is the best way to ensure that our sovereignty is
respected and our independence reinforced."

The three wise men
have made a good, sound, sensible case. The Ruxted Group urges our
readers to get behind this report. Send a letter to your local
newspaper telling the editor that you support the report and that you
want to and are willing to pay the bills (which implies doubling
defence spending to 2.2% of GDP in the not too distant future) –
preferably by finding economies in current government spending. Send a
copy to your MP and tell your MP you want the government to take action
to implement the general thrust of the report and you want the
opposition parties to support that action. Canadians want to be strong
and free; this report shows the way.
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