Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Canada and the World: Unanswered Questions

I just participated in a live chat at Canadian International Council.  Check it out as we got through a bunch of interesting issues.  But what a bit of chaos--responding to a bunch of different questions all at the same time!

I am going to hit some of the questions we got and didn't answer here.

Phil: A big part of the Canadian defence policy debate between 1995 and 2005 focused on Canada's lack of influence and importance. In redressing this problem, did the Canadian government go too far, as Roland suggests?

Me: I think there is a logical disconnect here: Having the military have more influence and importance does not mean that the civilian side has less.  The CF had a tough decade after Somalia, and played mostly at the kid's table not just in Ottawa but in Brussels, Sarajevo and elsewhere.  In and due to Kandahar, the CF had more influence and importance.  This did not require that DFAIT and CIDA had to take a back seat.  They could have stepped up.  Circumstances and their own limitations made this difficult.  The Harper government constrained these agencies from talking about what they were doing in the field.  These agencies, especially CIDA, had such top-down management styles that limited ability to adjust and adapt--which is what counter-insurgency and alliance warfare absolutely requires.

roberteisenberg: How successful has Canada been at changing our reputation in the world as war-fighters?

Me: Absolutely.  Canada was one of a minority of allies willing to fight hard in a difficult spot. Only British, Danes, Americans and a few others were comparably capable and willing.

Mahmud Naqi: Mark Collins argues that our ability to afford a blue water navy is may be coming to an end, what do to think?

Me: The shipbuilding exercise suggests otherwise. I do worry that the F-35 will crowd everything else out, but the Harper government seems committed to building more ships.  So, the question will be how much blue water navy, not if.

PostWarHist via twitter The OMLT concept took off in Afghanistan post-2006. Do you see this commitment as mission-specific or a trend?
Me:  Mostly mission specific, as it required a willingness to put soldiers into harm's way.  Not sure that willingness will come back anytime soon.

Cyber question: I punted.  I just don't know enough.

If you had questions that we didn't see, shoot them my way here or on twitter at @smsaideman.

Oh, and keep an eye on CIC's series.  There will be more interesting stuff by other folks.  And I will keep on posting there.  Thanks to today's experience, I have a theme for May--thinking about Canada's Grand Strategy.

No comments: