Targeted Sanctions #Cdnpoli #sanctiontrump

With the announcement today that Ivanka Trump is to receive security clearance, office space, and unprecedented access in the White House I feel it is time to revisit my idea on Twitter that the Trump administration warrants Canadian sanctions. Not being a lawyer I might be wrong but my understanding is international law gives Donald J Trump himself immunity. That immunity does not extend to his family nor any of his business interests, nor to his cabinet and their business interests. Canada already has the Special Economic Measures Act to lay sanctions.

Broad sanctions will hurt Canada and vulnerable Americans and not really be noticed by the Trump administration. Targeting the Trump family, Trump business empire, and those of the Trump administration who are poised to use their position for personal gain would be far more effective. Current Sanctions by Canada are for questionable election results, oligarchical seizure of public assets, denial of Human Rights, and destruction of essential services.

Donald Trump’s recent actions against democratic governance, Human Rights, public assets, denial of service, and fostering fear in minority groups should worry us. If they were committed by a leader in the developing world we would not hesitate to call on international sanctions. When African leaders are elected under suspicion or blatant fraud we slap sanctions on within days or weeks. With the suspicion of Russian involvement of in November’s results it would be hypocrisy of Canada not to sanction the United States regime as we would any African, South American, or Asian regime.

When North Korea or Iran sabre rattles and threatens to use weapons of mass destruction we don’t try to foster friendship and engagement we tighten the sanctions. When Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe pitted “veterans” against farmers and farm labourers to steal land we didn’t open trade negotiations to secure our market we sanctioned. How is Trump’s forcing through pipelines on Native lands, targeting of minorities, and threats of war with North Korea any different?

With the disturbing ties between the Trump administration and the Russian Federation’s government and ruling oligarchy we could call targeted sanctions as an extension of our current Russian sanctions. Those sanctions are in part due to the Russian annexation of Crimea and the proxy war in Ukraine. The call for NATO nations to spend more money while stating that the alliance is no longer relevant and that the United States wouldn’t come to members’ aid threatens security and may foster an international crises. The calls to end sanctions on Russia without Russia changing its support for its proxy wars or returning Crimea will embolden the expansion of Vladimir Putin’s empire.

It is Canada’s interests to sanction the Trump administration, as it will embolden resistance to Trump and roll back of some terrible policies. Millions of Americans have lost healthcare access and we Canadians can expect greater fraud in our systems as a result. Refugee bans have a greater number of people risking their lives to come to Canada and American minority groups might end up joining them. The removal of restrictions on small arms may foster more violence on American streets that spills into Canada. Already the unchecked hate and threats against minorities has spread north and cost Canadian lives. Tariffs on Mexico will hurt Canadian jobs dependant on supplying or being supplied by Mexican industry.

It is ultimately up to Americans to decide Trump’s fate, and by extension their own. Do they wait until America is a battleground or do they move quickly for a peaceful transition? Sanctions on the Trump regime can starve that regime of resources and distance support from people and organizations that are vulnerable to sanctions being imposed. Targeted sanctions may cost a few Canadian jobs, but doing nothing may cost many Canadian lives. Which is easier to replace, a lost job or a lost life?

The announcement today that Ivanka Trump is to be her father’s chief and most trusted advisor reminds me of Stalin and his daughter. By the end even Stalin’s favourite daughter wasn’t trusted by a paranoid dictator that had seized unchecked power. The Trump administration is working to removes checks on executive power and turn the United States into the Trump family’s personal property. Maybe sanctions on Ms Trump will convince her to reign her father in before she to is cut out of the decisions.

Canada and NATO #Cdnpoli #NATO

I know I shouldn’t have read the comments on an article about Canada’s Arctic being vulnerable to Putin’s expansion schemes. It annoys me when people say NATO’s expansion caused the current tensions with Putin’s Empire, saying it is American imperialism that is the driving force behind NATO’s recent moves. I get the sense people believe the USA are the ones making the decisions, that the eastern NATO nations are just doing as they’re told, and they are obeying to the wrong power. Even my limited historic knowledge of eastern Europe says this is wrong.

Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania have all suffered from Russian occupation, as has Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and Ukraine. These nations have suffered under Russian, Austrian, Prussian, Nazi, and most recently Soviet occupations. These peoples have been play things for regional powers, “great” powers, and distant ignorant leaders drawing lines on maps for centuries. Are those opposed to NATO asking these peoples to become pawns again?

The comment that sparked this post was about having Canadian troops in Eastern Europe coming home. As if our small forces, mostly company sized groups (+/-60), are the tipping point to spark armageddon. Canadian Forces need to be able to operate with Allies, for their security as well as ours. This is what NATO was set up for, to cooperate on security and to keep the Soviets from using Salami tactics to move across Europe. Divide your enemies is a classic strategy straight from Sun Tzu and is even older.

We see throughout the world a rise in anti liberal-democracy movements, how are any liberal democracies to survive if they don’t work together? Canada can not expect NATO allies to defend us if we dismiss other nations concerns re Russia. The economic centre of gravity is shifting back to the east and away from twentieth-century manufacturing and the Atlantic. The economic upheaval this will cause will make Canada, NATO, and NATO partners even more vulnerable. Throw in the costly effects of climate change on the security environment and we should soon see that Canada abandoning allies is Canada betraying itself.

NATO, like all institutions, is in need of reform, and so are the militaries that are NATO members. More needs to be done in readying NATO forces for any eventuality, every nation could be doing more. By more I don’t mean the arbitrary 2% of GDP spending target set by iron mongers, I mean seeing diplomacy as worth investing in for something other than trade deals. Diplomats and spies are the first and second line of defence, military personnel are the last line. It is time to take the domestic politics out of diplomacy and stop letting petty interests get in the way of global security.

Another comment on my FaceBook after sharing the article was about reducing Canada’s defence policy to petty partisan jabs. No political movement in Canada has a monopoly on wanting to secure Canada’s sovereignty, nor does any party have a glowing record when it comes to supporting the Forces or its membership. The Forces have been ground down over decades and lots of new toys or ‘lipstick on a pig’ policies such as going back to old uniforms and ranks are going to fix things.

If we are going to be an effective ally we need flexible, self contained, expeditionary forces that are capable of working in the air, sea, land, and cyberspace. I’ve written before on how I’d structure the Canadian Forces differently. Since I wrote that I would add greater assets for the electronic/cyber element to both defend and attack. It will take political courage to face the institutional push back, do we have politicians with that courage?

We need a government who stands up to iron mongers, and explore the possibility of nationalizing the defence industry, then placing the plants where it makes strategic sense and not political sense. At very least explore price and wage controls to keep costs manageable, along with higher taxes in the defence industry to get our money back from shareholders profiteering from security.

NATO isn’t perfect, no human institution can be, but it is the tool we have to protect from a world leader seemingly bent on having a greater empire than Stalin or Catherine the Great. It isn’t what some of western Europe’s or the USA’s leaders want, their views are irrelevant, it is about people living with the legacy of occupation by the Soviet Union not wanting to return to the status of mere satellite or a region ignored/belittled by Kremlin elites.

Canadian Forces are in Eastern Europe because democratically elected governments want them there. NATO’s move east has been through invitation, it has not gone as far east as some have invited, Ukraine and Georgia would have NATO extend further east. NATO has not accepted those invitations but citizens of NATO nations need to know why Ukraine and Georgia feel threatened. NATO’s strategy in the Cold War was to make the Soviet Union play Hnefatafl when it wanted to play chess, there is no reason to abandon this strategy but, as Sun Tzu recommends, leave them a way to escape.

Dropping bombs is the epitome of impotence #Cdnpoli #elxn42

Bombing is a tactic, not a strategy. In order for any tactic to work it must be part of a well thought out strategy, not merely a ever growing target list. Strategy, in a democracy, is not the job of general or admirals but of the democratically elected government of the day. Generals and admirals are there to implement one component of strategy, but any strategy that only focuses on the armed options is doomed to failure.

Despite what some borderline fascists wish us to believe, armed forces are not the first line of defence. The first line of defence for any nation is its diplomatic service. Extremists on either side of a conflict may not wish to negotiate, that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to be held hostage to them. It wasn’t armed victory that lead to the Good Friday Agreement, or created the Palestinian Authority, or insert hundreds of other examples dating back to the Egypt Hittite Treaty from the Bronze Age.

Canada needs to redevelop its once elite diplomatic service and start engaging the world, even some of the most distasteful elements. This is not to generate more jobs in region x, y, or z but for greater global security. We can start climbing out of our diplomatic hole by signing/ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty, imperfect as this treaty is it will start slowing the flow of weapons to the groups causing the genocides, chaos, and refugee crises we are experiencing in the world. The next step would be to use Canada’s resources to hunt those profiteering from these conflicts. If all else fails, use a JTF2 sniper bullet to stop them.

Diplomacy isn’t all black tie/gown cocktail parties and conferences in exotic places, it is also the horrible conditions of refugee and displaced people camps. Canadians should stop leaving it to overworked and underfunded NGOs to solve the refugee crises and demand an increase in federal funds. We could scale back some of the concrete industry subsidies, sorry infrastructure budget, and use the money saved to bring 125,000 Syrian Refugees from Lebanon. I’d rather use the money to save lives than fill potholes, and helping Lebanon may keep the conflict from consuming Lebanon creating another wave of refugees.

The second line of defence, and of strategy, is intelligence. For decades Canada has made policy in a vacuum or trusted allies without looking too closely at their agendas. Canada needs to create, under Parliamentary supervision, an independent spy agency that reports to the Chief Clerk and the Prime Minister. The mandate of this agency should be based in ethics, flexible in response to a changing world, and free from partisan politics or skewed world views.

The third line of defence is the Canadian Forces, but in a diplomatic and intelligence role. The Hollywood soldiers who are blindly obedient, unthinking, human drones are not needed for what is happening in the Middle East, or anywhere else. What is needed is intelligent people with ‘Mark One Eye Balls’ on the ground providing information, giving out aid, bringing fighters over from the other side, and helping with development. Dropping bombs hasn’t built anything for those in the conflict zones yet, nor will it.

Canada’s Forces are ill equipped for intervention in Syria or Iraq, sure we’re flying high and dropping bombs but that isn’t going to work. What Canada needs to intervene, apart from political will, is a ground attack plane that can fly low and slow enough to see who’s who. Having a pilot with a brain on scene is better than having someone in a computer kiosk watching through cameras. Canadian Forces would also need a more fluid structure to respond quicker to threats and force the other side to react.

The biggest thing the Canadian Forces needs is a massive increase to the training budget, which should be second only to pay and benefits. What use is the latest hardware if our people are not trained to use it effectively. Technology is there to assist, not replace, hard training.

For those prospective Canadian Prime Ministers here is some homework:

Security and Defence should be primary election issues this year #Cdnpoli

This weeks events in France and Nigeria are reminders that the world has changed since the last Federal election in Canada. The loss of life in France was horrible, yet it pales in comparison to the loss in Nigeria and other parts of the world. All lives matter regardless of where they are. While small attacks in rich countries get massive coverage, the massive attacks in poorer countries gets very little coverage. Yet, many of those besieged, failing, exploited countries are providing the inspiration for attacks in the rich countries.

Our Prime Minister recently said the extremists have declared war on us. If that is his view why are we not on a war footing, why has Stephen Harper’s government not brought in any war measures? On the contrary, this government still continues to provide aid and comfort to the enemy. Legislation that violates basic human rights, using scarce security/defence resources for corporate profits or vote buying schemes, and failure to support the Arms Trade Treaty all benefit the terrorists. This current government has done little to prevent the terrorists’ tactics of seeding division or of thwarting extremists of all kinds, after all it is their prefered method of winning votes.

It would be nice in the next election to actually see candidates speak and debate intelligently about what threatens Canada from within or abroad. Of the domestic threats are the increasing levels of ignorance about our politics, world, and ability to see other points of view. Combine ignorance with the pandering to prejudices, the corruption, the ideological tribalism, the extremism, or the arrogant holier than thou attitudes and I wonder how much longer Canada can be considered a Democracy.

Politics is supposed to be about debating policy that is the best for everyone, so here are some suggested policies. If we are in a war situation, then let us introduce war measures to ensure victory that doesn’t leave us ruined in the process. Start by signing the Arms Trade Treaty and implementing it within thirty days of the election with a budget to enforce it. Nationalize the arms industry in Canada and put every sale before Parliament for scrutiny, combine this with wage controls and keeping manufacturing locations from becoming partisan. Give domestic security legislation that respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our most potent weapon, and give security resources to defeat extremists.

Security and policing can not win alone, they need education, job prospects, an end to institutionalized prejudices, and most importantly reliable information. The networks of extremists do not see national boundaries and that is why we need a foreign intelligence service to provide our domestic security information outside its jurisdiction.

Being Canadian let’s use a hockey analogy; if a team stays in their end and blocks shots for sixty minutes will they win? It is unCanadian to sit back and let the other side control the game. We need to get actively engaged in destroying the extremists outside of Canada and no, dropping bombs from 10,000 meters or training Kurds to fight for us isn’t getting engaged, it is impotence. Canada needs to use intelligence assets to infiltrate, divide, and disrupt extremist groups. Cutting off their supplies, their sources of new recruits and communications will save lives.

Another policy option is to return Canadian Forces personnel to Nigeria but in larger numbers. The base that hosted members of Canada’s Special Operations Regiment is now in the hands of Boko Haram. Canada should start bringing Nigerian military units here for retraining, and re equipping. Just giving money to Nigeria isn’t working as the sharp end soldiers see nothing of it. Along with training Nigerians, and others from that region of Africa, Canada should send a reinforced heavy brigade group to Nigeria with a ground support wing. Of course this will mean cancelling the F-35 in favour of aircraft that might actually worry Boko Haram militants.

Many Canadians want us to return to Peacekeeping missions, yet most of the current missions require heavy weaponry than our army currently lacks or lacks quantity. In order to be effective in peacekeeping missions our forces will need to expand and increase the training budget, have a clear idea of what kind of missions to expect and how long to plan deployments for. A force sent should strike fear in the opposing factions, not be a speed bump on the way to slaughter enemy civilians. Or as in some cases over the last decade peacekeepers that commit more atrocities than the warring sides.

Much will happen before the fixed election date, possibly an earlier election, it would be easy to get distracted by trivia such as personality, shiny election promises, partisanship, and so on. However, those wishing to be our government should not be allowed to avoid discussing their security policies, it is one of the Federal government’s primary responsibility. Far too often buying toys and rhetorical nonsense has been substituted for a defence strategy or security policy. This election let’s demand better.

You shouldn’t be surprised about gas prices

For those of us who watch global events, sometimes obsessively, it is no surprise gas prices are the highest they’ve ever been in some places. For those who are shocked that gas prices are so high and think this is temporary greed by your local gas station cartel, let me burst your bubble. Over the next days, months, years your gas prices could go up because supplies could be cut off from the markets. Greed is merely an opportunist exploiting these supply fluctuations.

Let’s start where the pop news outlets are actually covering events, Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. Today one of Iraq’s major oil refineries was attacked by a group called ISIS and the Iraqi government is now asking for U.S. airstrikes. There is worry of Iraq breaking up if Baghdad falls, which could happen soon if worst case predictions are correct. The situation is to a point the UK and US are asking Iran for diplomatic assistance in solving the growing crises.

Okay, it won’t be one event that pushes oil prices sky high and causes a recession that makes 2008’s look like a wonderful golden age. The death will be from a thousand cuts, Iraq just one potentially deep cut. Take Saudi Arabia, actually the Islamic Extremists would like too and that would mean Saudi oil supplies removed from the global market place. Syria’s civil war is becoming Iraq’s civil war and it could become a regional, sectarian conflict that stops the flow of oil from the Middle East. Hey, just get oil from somewhere else, right? Yes, but everyone is scrambling for that oil too pushing demand/prices up.

On the African Continent there is oil, but where there is oil there is also growing insurgency and civil war. Libya could be heading towards civil war which would cut supplies to Europe and the eastern part of Canada. Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Nigeria all have various levels of insurgencies that threaten regional stability and the flow of oil from Western and Northern Africa. The oil producing region of Central Africa is already suffering civil war in South Sudan, which might have extended into the Central African Republic and parts of Uganda.

Not just the oil producing areas of Africa are threatening you oil supply but also threatening the shipping routes. Somalia’s al Shabab has taken to attacking Kenya’s coastal region. The British have already ordered their citizens evacuated from Kenya while al Shabab is vowing to punish Kenya further for its role in Somalia huntin al Shabab’s leaders. If Kenya and Ethiopia withdraw forces from Somalia it could give al Shaba the means to strike shipping lanes again. On the opposite coast of Africa, around Nigeria piracy has exploded in recent years which threatens the flow of Nigeria oil. Also Nigeria’s oil doesn’t always reach the ports from theft and corruption. Egypt too isn’t exactly stable and that could jeopardize pipelines, oil loading facilities and the Suez Canal.

Asia’s oil producing regions extend beyond the Middle East and they to have growing tensions and potential for conflict. The incidents between China and Vietnam, Japan, or the Philippines over potential oil producing areas all have the potential to spark a global conflict if mismanaged by anyone involved. Hopefully diplomacy wins over the Nationalism, greed and histories of past offences against each other. Central Asia also has potential for oil conflict with disruption of supplies and the corresponding price hikes. The Caspian Sea has huge oil reserves but is bordered by dictatorships, the Afghan conflict and a little further away the Pakistani insurgency. Difficult to pump oil to ships in the Indian Ocean when the pipelines have to pass through these conflicts.

On the European side of the Caspian Sea the oil would flow through the Caucuses and the Black Sea. With Russia using salami tactics to snatch Black Sea ports and regions where oil flows from or through to the sea. This brings me to another point, expect higher natural gas prices too, Moscow has cut pipelines through Ukraine to Europe. If the pipelines stay closed until winter Europe will be scrambling for alternative sources, which will affect everyone’s costs. One of these alternate sources for Europe is the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, with growing tension with Israel and Greece on one side and Turkey and Egypt on the other and the Syrian civil war caught in the middle.

Norway recently announced it is nearing the end of its oil reserves and may need to make massive cuts in the generous social welfare programs government has been spending oil royalties on. Searching the Arctic for more sources of oil to keep the inevitable away a little longer would put Norway in a tense situation with Russia. Russia hasn’t started heavily militarizing its claimed Arctic territories to protect polar bears. All Arctic bordering nations that make a claim on Arctic resources are being looked upon as threats by Moscow’s elite these days.

Venezuela is another oil producing country that is seeing waves of protests, instability and a regime crackdown on opponents. The oil that has been propping up the current government is no longer enough to satisfy a people who are not seeing prosperity and democracy as promised. Whereas previous situations in Venezuela might have been a few right wing nutters, now former supporters of the current regime are realizing the mistakes made.

Even in North America growing tensions over oil production or shipping could get out of control. If local concerns are ignored or government and industry bully people to get projects through a volatile situation could result and even explode into violence. Everywhere in the world where fossil fuels are abundant there seems to be tensions, violence, human rights abuses, and some form of extremism to go with them. Add to these the disruptions nature can cause with hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, et cetera and we shouldn’t be surprised gas prices are so high. In fact we should be wondering why they’re so low.

Even in conflict zones or disaster zones not directly affecting the price of gas there is an indirect influence on price. Those NATO air patrols in Eastern Europe don’t fly on diplomatic communiques, the armies fighting throughout Africa don’t run on solar cells, and the Coast Guards watching each other in the West Pacific aren’t running on whale blubber. The entire global economy runs on fossil fuels, as does every military, and relief effort.

Humanity has two choices as I see it:

The first is to stop complaining about prices and accept the costs in blood and treasure for the decadent lifestyle we live. Accept ten cents a litre more and the loss of jobs, prosperity and even lives that could go with it. It is a perfectly acceptable thing for foreigners to die in battle, terrorist attacks, and the neighbour down the street committing suicide after losing his job, so long as we never have to make the changes that could prevent those deaths. We can keep acting like the addict in denial with jobs and economy as the lies we tell ourselves to justify what is happening in the world.

or

We could take the second, more sustainable option and have a radical, cold turkey break from fossil fuels. The short term economic pain of this would be worth it for the long term health of humanity. All oil could be considered conflict oil, and are we so psychotic as a society to keep sacrificing human life for short term gain? This is an opportunity to create new cities, economies and technologies, because the current boom bust cycle tied to oil prices is holding us back.

*Note: It’s late and I didn’t edit this very well

Bring Back Our Girls #bringbackourgirls #Cdnpoli #idlenomore

I first saw the hashtag #bringbackourgirls in a tweet from talented actress Emma Watson, however I’ve been following the kidnapping of Nigerian girls since it happened. I follow the BBC Africa Today podcast and get a sampling of African news from across the continent, so I’m aware of the problems in Western Africa, the Central African Republic, South Sudan’s descent into civil war and many other events. I recommend the podcast to anyone who wants to get news while it’s happening and not wait until a celebrity tweets about it a month later. It is good that people are lending their popularity to good causes but it should be everyone’s responsibility to keep informed of current events. Remember, Nigeria is a major oil and chocolate producer and if it falls to the looneys prices of both go up. I’d mention the people suffering in this situation but pandering to people’s self interests is the fashion of our times and more likely to hit home.

Maybe if Emma, Madonna, the Obamas or other celebrities used a hashtag to call attention to Canada’s murdered or missing Aboriginal women and girls there would be more concern of about 1200 identified over the last thirty years. Instead of just tweeting these celebrities could call for a boycott on Canadian products until progress is made to improve safety and opportunities for Aboriginal people world wide. Barack Obama and David Cameron could show some real leadership and slap sanctions on all Canadian Federal politicians, business leaders and resources extracted from First Nations territories without agreement with the First Nation. A delegation of Aboriginal women should go to Nigeria and offer the supports developed to deal with decades of similar events happening here in Canada.

Pitifully Canada has no democratically elected forum to debate critical national and international issues. The assembly tasked with that job spends too much time pandering to local issues, interfering in other jurisdictions, campaigning to get re elected to the job they never perform or picking fights with people who actually perform their jobs. Canada is sending forces to Eastern Europe, close to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and expected annexation of Ukraine but Parliament debates abortion, yet again. The only time the Canadian government engages with the rest of the world is when there is a possibly for a photo op with Canadian Forces personnel or a resource company needs help selling or lobbying. Our once proud diplomatic service has gone from making a difference to being a lobbying service, really just another form of corporate welfare.

Funny isn’t it, while Canada’s strong, stable, majority government is pushing through the Fixed Elections Act the Parliament that is the basis of Canada’s has a coalition government tackling major issues and attempting ambitious projects like High Speed Rail 2. The situations in Ukraine and Nigeria have been debated in the UK’s Commons and Lords, yet here we have MPs saying they can only do their job by going on self indulgent publicity tours. It would be nice to have a few MPs that were less concerned with divide and rule partisanship or pandering to village idiots. Other countries are sacrificing sacred cows to improve people’s lives while in Canada the sacred cows are growing fatter, and more numerous. All out of political lethargy and fear of actually making a difference that leads to electoral defeat.

Canada has offered token support to help find these missing Nigerians, which is commendable. The problem Canada has is it is in an era of ignorance, real information is attacked in favour of made up numbers to score political points. How can Canada find either the Nigerians or the missing Aboriginal women, who may have been trafficked abroad, without intelligence on the people who have kidnapped them? There is no human intelligence service to go abroad and gather information on the whereabouts of these people. Meanwhile, Canada’s domestic intelligence services are to busy spying on the victim’s families and communities for fear of protests disrupting resource exploitation or staged political events.

The Canadian Forces are capable of helping Nigeria with training and expertise, all the hard earned knowledge from Afghanistan is an asset here. The rest of Canada could support the CF members by not allowing politicians to discard them like kleenex when they’ve served the purpose of scoring extra votes. Instead of cutting the CF budgets Parliament could increase them for training, benefits for serving and retired members, and transform the forces to be more flexible and responsive to a changing world. With the situation in Ukraine, Vietnam and Japan’s current dispute with China, and the rise of groups like Boko Haram all over the planet it would be foolish to keep Canada without claws or without having eyes in the shadowy places.

Every military theorist I’ve read makes a point of having good intelligence before operating, they almost always make a point of denying the enemy of needed resources. Canada can start throttling terrorists access to weapons by ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty, especially the provisions on small arms. As it stands now Canada is standing with groups like Boko Haram by refusing to ratify this treaty. Treaties alone won’t stop the flow of arms, which is why Canada should take the lead in hunting down and arresting or if necessary killing those who facilitate the arms sales to criminals, terrorists or anti-democratic groups. Like someone did with the engineer who was providing Saddam Hussein with superguns. The only safe haven for the arms dealers should be their graves and every arms plant should be watched carefully.

Canada, Nigeria and every other place suffering violence and missing people should take a serious look at the causes and put an end to the corruption that allows such activity to continue unchallenged. The problems are transnational and so should the solutions, instead of countries becoming isolationist, xenophobic or too cowardly to ask for help. Pride and arrogance that is causing a mishmash of methods to deal with global crime is benefitting the criminals. We can’t bring back the dead, but we should use every means possible to bring back the living and prevent more missing/kidnapped people around the world.

Canada is about to become Cold War Jr’s frontline #Cdnpoli

We live in a world that is ringing with the clangour of weapons.

Mankind is arming on all sides, and it will go ill with a state that is unable or unwilling to rely on its own strength.

~Heinz Guderian Achtung-Panzer!

The above quote is the first sentences in Achtung-Panzer! first published in 1937. The height of global economic troubles, the rise of extremisms, a mad rush to secure scarce resources, scapegoating others for every problem, persecution of minorities and a reshaping of the balance of power made Guderian’s time a scary one. Pity nobody was warning the world of what could happen if certain groups were left unchecked, appeased or supported. Of course Winston Churchill in Britain and Tommy Douglas warned of Hitler’s evil, but they were just war mongers and anti-German, right?

Imagine living in a world where idealism caved into predators in order to buy the appearance of peace. Imagine living in a world where Democracies looked weak and full of hot air. Sadly, we don’t need to imagine these things, we live in this world, the predators, extremists and idealists have changed names but they are still playing the old game. Russia, China, Iran, Islamists, Fascists and many other nations or groups are pushing for their aims regardless of public opinion, international law or Human Rights.

A potential new threat is Russia’s new Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command to cover the Arctic portions of Russia and to them that includes territory claimed by Russia’s neighbours. Canada, for those who skipped geography, is a neighbour of Russia and if we want sovereignty over our portion the Arctic, the North West Passage and Arctic resources we had better do more than make wishes. Canada was the first nation to recognize Ukraine’s independence and now we make a few pleas, slap some ignored and irrelevant sanctions on a few people on the fringes of Russian power, and go back to burying our heads in domestic side shows. We’ve allowed our once elite Diplomatic Service to become a subsidized sales arm of our extraction industries. It isn’t our soldiers, sailors and air force personnel who are the first line of Canada’s defence, it is our diplomats. It is past time to rebuild the diplomatic service and give its dedicated members the resources they need to represent Canada, make peace in the world and create opportunities for more than our oil and mining companies.

When diplomacy fails it is time for the spies to start listening at keyholes and infiltrating potentially hostile organizations. Canada has the domestic counter-intelligence and electronic eavesdropping components of national intelligence but is missing a dedicated human intelligence agency for foreign espionage. There have in the past been different foreign intelligence gathering activities but it has been a hodgepodge with little oversight, direction or lasting residual expertise. It is time for a Canadian foreign intelligence service that reports to the Chief Clerk and Prime Minister and is overseen by a committee of Parliament. We’ve long been a target for espionage perhaps we should start spying on foreign spy agencies to find out who they have in Canada.

For many Canadians the Canadian Forces are a joke, the little buddy of United States Forces or a political prop. Many think America will defend us or at least scare off the group/country targeting us. It is easy to be smug and superior about our universal health care when America can’t afford it because it has to provide defences for its allies. If Canada developed the forces to defend ourselves maybe our US neighbours could afford universal health care, disaster mitigation/preparedness, and many other things set aside for their huge defence budget.

We don’t just go shopping for new toys and definitely don’t go using the defence budget to support friends in industry or the unions. There has to be a strategic review, a capability assessment based on the review and what exists, analyses of everyones’ lessons learned over the past few decades and then creating the forces needed. Once finding the people needed for the forces the next step isn’t buying equipment but training people to be the best in the world. The next step is providing a coherent, combined services warfighting doctrine for our times and going forward. Then when everything else is taken care of buy the equipment that fits the needs, people, doctrine and budget. The current government’s buy first and make it fit their Napoleonic view of warfare is the example of how to defeat the military before the war.

A strategic review of Canada’s situation in the world will no doubt show that our southern border is secure, our Pacific border and Atlantic border are somewhat vulnerable and our Arctic border is undefended. To move military units closer to where they are needed is going to take some political courage to ignore the outcries of communities putting their economic health ahead of national security. Canada will want to reap the benefits that Climate Change is going to bring in the NorthWest Passage, having all of our security assets half a continent away will cede the NorthWest Passage to Moscow. Climate change will also reshape the world in ways that will lead to more conflict when farms become deserts, islands drown and other consequences of our pollution change haves to have nots.

It will cost Canada resources to restore our diplomatic service, create a human intelligence service and transform the Canadian Forces for the Twenty-First Century. Being stingy, or narrowly focusing on local interests maybe the preferred option for many Canadians but that happened in the Thirties and resulted in a greater expenditure of resources and worse cost nearly 150,000 Canadian lives. Achtung-Panzer! was the training manual for German tank forces that fought in World War II, Canada and its allies were not ready for that new way of warfare (Even though our army helped develop it). Warfare is again changing with the addition of cyber warfare to assist the conventional methods as an example. Better to spend money on diplomats, spies and defence than bury fellow citizens because of lack of readiness.

There are threats in this world that Canadians are ignoring, there are also opportunities that Canada is missing. The opening of the Arctic means quicker moving of Canadian goods to market, emerging economies provide new markets and new technologies are emerging to change our lives. Canadians need to be more aware of the world, relying on old markets, technologies and other people’s defence budgets leaves us a relic of dead era. We as a nation need to stop debating the minutia like potholes and start debating the important issues such as what is Canada’s global role in the next decades?