Category Archives: China

That Stretched US Air Force–One Major War at a Time

Further to this post,

The incredible Shrinking US Air Force, or, Waiting for NGAD

the very realistic and capable air force secretary speaks very frankly (wish we had people like him in the spin-mad, all image all the time, Canadian government–see the secretary’s impressive bio here)–at Air Force Magazine:

Kendall: ‘Unrealistic’ for Air Force to Fight Two Wars While Modernizing

June 24, 2022 | By Abraham Mahshie

As Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall looks to modernize the force, he is calling for tough decisions that will shrink the size of the fleet [see post noted at start of this one] and make the waging of two simultaneous wars “unrealistic,” he said at an AFA [Air Force Association] Leaders in Action event June 24.

Kendall sat down with AFA’s president, retired Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, for an in-person discussion attended by a hundred air power professionals and enthusiasts at the Air and Space Forces Association’s headquarters in Arlington, Va. Kendall addressed topics ranging from threats posed by China and Russia to the ongoing congressional funding decisions that he said are necessary to keep pace with China’s heavy technological investments.

“I think it’s quite frankly unrealistic to think that we can have a force that will fight two major wars at the same time,” he said. He also said he did not believe any nation was capable of immediately ramping up from a peacetime force to engage in a prolonged, conventional war [emphasis added, note that “immediately”].

Kendall demurred when asked how many combat squadrons the Air Force should maintain, but he was clear in his commitment to take on the risk of a smaller Air Force flying fewer hours in order to make big investments in the short term.

“The critical thing is to get to the next-generation capabilities as quickly as we can [emphasis added, see this post yesterday: “USAF NGAD: Big Laser-Shooting Arsenal Fighter?],” he said. “Do we maintain current capability, keep the platforms that we have, or do we shrink down a little bit in order to get to the future? I think those are the trade-offs that we’re going to have to face.”

The Air Force currently has 55 operational combat squadrons, 32 in the Active duty and 23 in the Guard or Reserve, according to a Heritage Foundation study. And according to data provided to Air Force Magazine by the Air Force, fighter pilot hours declined 16 percent from 2020 to 2021, to an average of just 6.8 hours per month per pilot.

Kendall said it would be “hard” to get pilot hours back up, but he still called the force “healthy.”

“We’ve got to think carefully about the balance,” he said. “We’ve got to do it in a way which maintains a healthy force, while we’re doing this, as well as keeps pace with the technological competition.”

To continue to deter and defeat adversaries, Kendall called for leveraging “integrated deterrence,” or the flexing of allies’ and partners’ military and non-military capabilities, while the U.S. catches up to China’s decades of heavy military investment [e.g. various missile capabilities for attacking US bases in the Western Pacific].

Kendall has been pounding the pavement on Capitol Hill, he said, taking a classified threat briefing to the committees of Congress in order to help convince members of the importance of modernization over fleet size.

“Our average aircraft is 30 years old, and we have some aircraft that are not tailored to the high-end fight at all,” he said. “The people who manage and operate those aircraft do a fantastic job—I’m real proud of them. But we’re going to have to get to the next generation [emphasis added].”

And situation of the US Navy vs the PLA Navy is hardly encouraging either.

PREDATE: Kendall in 2012 under the Obama administration–imagine a senior Canadian official being so brutally frank:

F-35 Production Move Was ‘Acquisition Malpractice’: Top DoD Buyer

Given earlier comments by the F-35 program head, today’s [Feb. 6] remarks by the acting head of Pentagon acquisition that “putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice,” isn’t really news so much as confirmation that senior Pentagon leaders know mistakes were made.

Frank Kendall, who has been nominated to take the chair as undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told a Feb. 6 event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies here, that the decision “should not have been done” and that “now we’re paying the price for being wrong.” This was Kendall’s first public appearance since he was nominated to lead the Pentagon’s acquisition efforts.”..

Relevant post a year ago:

US Air Force Planning vs PLA in Indo-Pacific

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

What Monroe Doctrine? Dragon Spreading its Wings over Latin America and Caribbean

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Chinese President Xi Jinping, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, and their wives by a Chinese ship in the Panama Canal, December 3, 2018. LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images”.)

Further to this 2015 post,

China Buying Brazil, or, What Monroe Doctrine?

the pace of the PRC’s embrace just keeps accelerating–below from a major article at Business Insider June 6 ( via Canadian Military Intelligence Association). The US military does seem to be rather hyping the defence worry factor at this point; the huge Chinese economic influence is worrying enough it its own right:

The US military is watching China’s presence grow in Latin America, and it doesn’t like where things are going

*US officials and lawmakers have for years voiced concern about growing US influence in Latin America.

*For military and national-security leaders, that influence has security implications for the US.

*Despite US warnings about dealing with China, many leaders in the region see little on offer from the US.

As the US increases its focus on global competition with China, officials have singled out Beijing’s inroads into Latin America as a growing threat to countries there and to US interests in the region.

At recent congressional hearings and public events, those officials have cautioned that China is investing in digital and physical infrastructure, natural resources and extractive industries, and in political and military relationships across Latin America and the Caribbean in a multipronged effort to secure access and influence and gain leverage over countries there in order to advance its own commercial and strategic interests.

Although China’s engagement with the region has focused on economic ties and it has not established a military presence there [emphasis added], US military commanders, national-security officials, and lawmakers believe Beijing’s investments have implications for US security.

At an August 2021 hearing on her nomination to lead US Southern Command, which is responsible for Central and South America, Gen. Laura Richardson said China comes to the region “with very sophisticated plans in order to capture the interests of the countries, willing to loan billions of dollars.”

“I look at that from the military lens of projecting and sustaining military power for the [Chinese People’s Liberation Army] with this expansion,” Richardson said at the time.

Richardson’s remarks echoed those of her predecessor, Adm. Craig Faller, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2021, his final appearance as commander, that China was “rapidly advancing” toward its goal of “economic dominance” in Latin America within the next decade [emphasis added].

Beijing “is also seeking to establish global logistics and basing infrastructure in our hemisphere in order to project and sustain military power at greater distances,” Faller told lawmakers [evidence?].

At a hearing on China’s presence in the region in April, Sen. Marco Rubio, citing a report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said China is using its economic heft and political ties to convince countries there to make decisions that favor Beijing and “undermine democracy and free markets.”

The same report, Rubio added, said China’s military seeks “to deepen its engagement in the region by funding the construction of ports, space programs, and other dual-use infrastructure that frankly is pretty clear it appears to have a limited economic purpose but could serve as future operating bases, even of rotational bases, for a hostile navy close to our nation’s shores [note that “could”].”

Strategic concerns

China has become the top trading partner for many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and is second-biggest, behind the US, for the region as a whole. Its trade with the region has risen from $18 billion in 2002 to $180 billion in 2010 and to $450 billion last year [emphasis added].

The region’s largest countries have attracted Chinese investment in agricultural commodities as well as in ecommerce and other technology, including surveillance technology. Smaller, resource-rich countries in Latin America have attracted Chinese interest in mineral wealth and oil exploration.

Chinese firms have also pursued infrastructure projects across the region — many as part of Beijing’s sprawling Belt and Road Initiative — but especially in areas that facilitate access into or around the continent.

Richardson has said the Chinese presence around the Panama Canal and near the Strait of Magellan are her “two greatest concerns, strategically.”

The canal is one of the world’s most important trade corridors, particularly for goods flowing between the US and East Asia. It is “a strategic line of communication that we want to keep free and open for the global economy but also for our global war plans,” Richardson told senators in March.

China has invested billions of dollars in projects around the canal and Chinese state-owned enterprises are present “on either side [emphasis added],” Richardson said. “What I worry about Chinese state-owned enterprises that have capability and infrastructure there is that they can be used for dual use, which means civilian but also military.”

The Strait of Magellan sees less traffic but remains an important route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, including aircraft carriers too big for the canal, and is close to resource-rich Antarctica. China’s presence in ports and other projects “around the tip of the southern cone” of South America is worrisome [emphasis added], Richardson said…

Richardson’s counterpart at US Northern Command, which is responsible for North America and parts of the Caribbean, has expressed similar concerns. “China’s very aggressive in the Bahamas right now,” Gen. Glen VanHerck told the House Armed Services Committee in April 2021.

“They have the largest embassy in the Bahamas right now, and they continue to buy up [the] tourism industry to have access and influence,” VenHerck said at the time, adding that those Chinese projects “do have access right now to an overwatch, if you will, of our Navy test and training facilities, which is very, very concerning.”..

Chinese military basing in Latin America is still “rather hypothetical” [indeed!] [Margaret] Myers [director of the Asia and Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue] told Insider, “but there’s a sense that based on the sorts of investments that we see in areas of strategic interest to the US and some of the investments that we see in ports with potential dual-use capacity that things are headed in that direction.”..

China will likely “explore what it looks like to establish more significant military relationships in Africa or in the Pacific before they try something like that in the Western Hemisphere [emphasis added] because of how much more likely a strong US reaction would be,” the analyst said, requesting anonymity because of professional commitments.

[Many] Latin American leaders…fear the paternalism that has often characterized US policy toward the region. Many leaders want to avoid taking sides in the competition between Beijing and Washington but welcome Chinese engagement because they see it as offering what the US is unable or unwilling to provide, like expanded trade, coronavirus vaccines, or infrastructure investment.

Richardson often notes that 21 of the 31 countries in Southern Command’s area of responsibility have signed onto China’s Belt and Road Initiative [emphasis added] and told the House Armed Services Committee this spring that several of its multibillion-dollar projects were particularly worrying, among them a $5.6 billion highway in Jamaica and a $3.9 billion metro project in Colombia, a close US ally.

“This region is rich in resources, and the Chinese don’t go there to invest. They go there to extract,” Richardson said of those projects.

At an event in Washington, DC, in April, Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, said US concerns about Chinese projects there were “totally unwarranted” and that China has pursued investments in Jamaica for “a long time while the US has been looking all over the place.”

We would want to see more US investment in Jamaica, but Jamaica can’t postpone its development needs until the US decides to come in [emphasis added],” Holness said.

Sergio Guzmán, director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a political risk consultancy, said that when Colombia has issued tenders for infrastructure projects, “US companies are completely AWOL.”

“So how can the US blame Colombia for giving them over to Chinese bidders, who are, by the way, the lowest bidders?” Guzmán told Insider.

The Biden administration’s signature international development effort, Build Back Better World, has foundered, and US private-sector investment has been hard to attract to the region, either because of the overall environment or because the opportunities, particularly infrastructure projects, aren’t well suited for American firms.

“There are efforts to try to increase and incentivize US investment in Latin America and the Caribbean now. The problem is that a lot of these initiatives are private-sector-led,” Myers said, “and in a moment in time when the investment environments aren’t necessarily improving in Latin America, it’s very difficult to generate that interest [emphasis added].”..

Richardson and other officials say the US military’s best asset for engagement is security cooperation — military education, training, and other exchanges that build on the US’s already extensive partnerships in the region [those “partnerships” in the past have not always had happy results for local populations, something they remember]

China’s defense cooperation with Latin American countries “is far less” than that of the US, “but it does exist and the overall trend line has been going up,” Daniel Erikson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Western Hemisphere, said at a conference in May…

The PRC in this hemisphere, as in Africa and Asia, is able to take a much longer and coherent approach to executing policies than the US, especially economic ones in light of the Americans’ reliance on the private sector.

Relevant earlier posts:

China: First Africa, Now Latin America [2014]

PRC’s Neo-Colonialism in Africa, Notably Congo (DRC) Section [2021]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song of sorts, by Canadian band Joe Hall and the Continental Drift–“Nos Hablos Telefonos”:

Hong Kong a Year After Apple Daily Polished Off/ Canadian “Naive Narcissism” (note Xi UPDATE)

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “‘Something is missing. Hong Kong is still beautiful but it feels too quiet’: former Apple Daily journalist Norman Choi in Hong Kong, June 2022. Photograph: Chan Long-hei/The Guardian”.)

Further to this post a year ago,

The PRC is Rotting Hong Kong to the (Apple Daily) Core

now from one of its journalists, at the Guardian:

‘My career is finished, my friends are in prison and I’m an alien in my city’: life after Hong Kong’s Apple Daily

When the city’s largest pro-democracy newspaper was forced to close, Norman Choi got a new job in McDonald’s. Many of his colleagues were not so lucky

Read more: A year on from Apple Daily’s closure, what’s left of Hong Kong’s free press?

Ten weeks after the sudden end to my career as a journalist, I found myself standing behind a cash register in McDonald’s. My days as a newspaper editor at Apple Daily, which was forced to close in June 2021, were busy. Now, I take order after order for fast food.

In some senses my new job is much like my previous life as a news editor where I worked long hours to provide huge numbers of people from all walks of life their daily fix of breaking news. The difference now is that I now work with food instead of information.

I’m trying to embrace my new life but some of my old daily routines are hard to shake off. Every morning I still spend an hour in front of the computer, reading the latest news, but independent, quality news is getting harder to find.

You get the same breaking news notifications from various media, but they all toe the official line. The 4 June anniversary of Tiananmen Square appears to have been rubbed from history. In what people now call “the new normal”, there is no candlelight vigil to mourn the dead.

The Apple Daily’s website has been erased from the internet, leaving no trace. A tremendous amount of history has disappeared from the public view, clean and empty like a square after bloodshed [emphasis added].

Having spent half of my life in the media, journalistic instincts are etched deeply into my mind. Even after months away from a newsroom, I instinctively think about how I would handle a big story when it comes up in the news. After Russia invaded Ukraine, I had a dream of sleeping inside a tank in Kyiv with my photographer. I could hear bullets hitting the tank, before I woke up to heavy rain slamming on my bedroom window.

Sometimes I feel like a garden gnome, hunkered down and being comfortably ignored. Other times I feel anxious and helpless when I think about my former colleagues in custody [emphasis added].

I have known some of them for many years. In our old life, one joined me on a 100km charity walk in Japan, another often went trekking with me. Surrounded by nature we watched the sunrises and sunsets together. We shared hot dumplings on a chilly day after another exhausting hike. We laughed and cried together.

While they have been detained for almost a year., I still feel their presence.

Now, although Hong Kong is still beautiful, it is too quiet. Even though I have not left to start a new life elsewhere, I am an alien in a strange city. Lately, I have been training to become an electrician, taking classes with many others who have become unemployed. Even when I qualify there is no guarantee of a stable job.

It is a struggle to try and put my emotions at what has happened to us all into words, so instead I will share an excerpt from a letter I received from a fellow journalist, now in prison.

“Life will nevertheless push us forward, like a stream that brings both hungry and sleeping fishes downstream. Strong wind will lead us towards tomorrow, no matter if we are anxious or calm.”

*Norman Choi was Apple Daily’s features editor before the newspaper closed in June 2021.

Plus from David Mulroney:

Remind me why this former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada is still serving on a Hong Kong court:

As a the wife of a friend said, a lot of Canadians in high positions suffer from “naive narcissism”.

UPDATE: Oh dear:

A related post from December 2021:

Stand News Shut Down in Hong Kong–Canadian Cantopop Star Denise Ho Arrested, Released on Bail–Ottawa Bleats

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

India at BRICS Summit: Russia Hardly Isolated over Ukraine

As this blog has been pointing out–see posts noted at the bottom of this one–Bad Vlad is far from becoming an international pariah as a consequence of his invasion of Ukraine, despite what many in the West seem to believe. From Foreign Policy’s “Morning Brief”:

India’s BRICS Balancing Act

India has been pulled into the Quad (and now I2-U2), so can it continue playing nice with Russia and China, too?

By Colm Quinn, the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.

The BRICS Summit Begins

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa meet virtually today for a summit of BRICS nations. As well as a chance to discuss economic strategies outside a Western-dominated system, the meeting once again shows that, although Russia is isolated from the West, for the rest of the world it is still very much open for business [emphasis added].

Russian President Vladimir Putin joins the gathering today at a time when his country has become China’s largest crude oil supplier—a position usually enjoyed by Saudi Arabia. He will hold talks with a group of leaders who have so far tempered any criticism of the war in Ukraine.

Indeed Xi Jinping, in his address to the BRICS Business forum on Wednesday, appeared to lay the blame on Ukraine for Russia’s invasion, calling it a “wake up call” and a reminder that “attempts to expand military alliances and seek one’s own security at the expense of others will only land oneself in a security dilemma.”

Addressing the same forum, Putin was bullish on the economic opportunities presented by the group, touting negotiations on opening Indian chain stores in Russia, increasing Chinese industrial imports and “reorienting trade flows” to BRICS nations. According to Putin, trade with the group increased by 38 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

He added that the BRICS group could soon go a step further by challenging the U.S. dollar, creating its own international reserve currency based on the “basket of currencies of our countries.”

India’s options. For India, also a member of the Quad—along with Australia, Japan, and the United States—it faces a challenge to keep up its balancing act between East and West [emphasis added].

“India lives in a rough neighborhood and has been able to stick by its non-aligned policy to ensure its strategic autonomy by essentially engaging with everybody, and they’ve done a pretty good job of that,” Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, told Foreign Policy [see this post: “Russia vs Ukraine: India’s Strategic Autonomy (tous azimuts) in Action“]. “But as great power competition continues to heat up, not just between the U.S. and China, but now the U.S. and Russia, it’s going to be increasingly difficult and delicate to maintain that balance.”

Indian officials aren’t naïve about their position, and are reportedly working to block any attempts to insert anti-U.S. messaging into the BRICS joint statement as well as slow any attempts to expand the grouping.

That the BRICS grouping is not known as a particularly effective combination may work in India’s favor. “I think that India can make a gamble, which I think is pretty safe, and it can essentially, pledge full support for everything BRICS is doing to show that it’s a loyal member of the group, while at the same time betting on the strong likelihood that BRICS won’t be able to move the needle forward on a lot of the issues and plans that are discussed,” said Michael Kugelman, an Asia expert at the Wilson Center and author of FP’s South Asia Brief. “That would then spare India from having to make awkward decisions about how far to go and pursue policies within BRICS that could put it at odds with the West.”

India is in high demand in a busy few weeks for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He travels to Germany over the weekend to attend the G-7 summit and in July he joins another new grouping (and acronym) I2-U2, with the leaders of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States [emphasis added]

In its own way India still seems to be sitting fairly pretty.

A video on start of BRICS summit:

Those earlier posts:

Russia’s War on Ukraine, or, What Stinking “Free World”?

Russia Invading Ukraine: Countries Standing Aside, Africa Section

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds


Enough Already with the Canadian “Arctic Sovereignty” Hoo-Hah, Underpants Section

(Photo at top of the post is of Russian nuclear icebreaker “Yamal”.)

Further to this post,

NORAD, or, Enough Already with the Canadian “Arctic Sovereignty” Hoo-Hah

…In fact the major defence concern in the Arctic is that its airspace offers an avenue of approach to attack the rest of North America. Nothing to do with any threats to our sovereignty up there. And airspace over Labrador also offers an avenue of approach to attack the rest of North America . But nobody is wringing their hands over protecting Canada’s “Labrador sovereignty”. Go figure. One might almost think Canadians were neurotic about the Arctic…

now, via the estimable Andrea Charron, by Prof. Adam Lajeunesse (website here, tweets here) with the title of the year so far:

JUNE 18, 2022 [at the “Quick Impact” webpage of the North American and Arctic Defence and Security Network (NAADSN/RDSNAA, tweets here)]

The Underpants Gnomes of Arctic Sovereignty

Adam Lajeunesse
St. Francis Xavier University

This week the National Post published a sweeping editorial on Canadian Arctic sovereignty. Warning of the growing threats from great power competitors and the fragile state of our northern defences, the Post ’s editorial board painted a grim picture of Canada’s ability to keep the North both strong and free. Russia is building a powerful icebreaker fleet and renovating its Arctic bases; China, meanwhile, has labelled itself a ‘Near-Arctic State.’ From this, the Post extrapolates considerable danger. It is superficially threatening to be sure.

This may instill fits of polar peril in some, but to this scholar it brings to mind tiny cartoon characters: the Underpants Gnomes, from that irreverent cartoon South Park. Notorious thieves who steal underpants in the night, these creatures were asked why they do it. Step one is stealing underpants they declare. Step three: profit! When pressed to elaborate on step two, they draw a blank.

The National Post has offered us Underpants Gnome logic. Step one, they declare is an expanding Russian icebreaker fleet or growing Chinese Arctic interests; step three is a loss of Canadian sovereignty. Step one is more Canadian military capacity; step three is more sovereignty. Like their gnomish counterparts, there is a gaping hole in the argument. I would challenge the Post to fill in the blanks and answer the obvious question: what is step two?

The notion that growing Russian power in the Arctic naturally threatens to strip Canada of its “status as a northern power” or may lead to us “ceding great swaths of territory to hostile and autocratic regimes” is a big prediction not even remotely explained. Precisely which territories will Russia conquer? How and why would Russia invade a NATO power to steal Arctic territory thousands of kilometres from its own coast? The Post is correct that Russia has a growing icebreaker fleet, but how is this a threat to Canada? These ships are slow and unarmed. They are not designed nor suited for any offensive operations. If Russia would like to use them to deploy soldiers to Ellesmere Island, I suspect that Canada would be inconvenienced by – as former chief of the defence staff General WalterNatynczyk once quipped – having to go and rescue them [I fear that these days the federal government would in fact be very hard pressed doing that].

Russia has also expanded its military bases across northern Siberia. “In the past 16 years, Russia has refurbished 13 Soviet-era Arctic bases and numerous other smaller ports” warns the National Post.

Again, this is taken as a threat without question. Why? Across these bases, Russia has deployed an array of ant-shipping and air-defence missile like the high-end S-400 and Bastion systems. None of these can reach Canada and, even if they could, how does that invalidate Canadian sovereignty? NATO has weapons that can reach Russia, and yet Russia retains its sovereignty. Russia’s militarization of the Arctic is not a threat; it is evidence of Moscow’s own insecurity in the region. And, if the Russian military chooses to send critical weapons systems to Siberia, NATO should applaud that. Better there then in Kaliningrad or Ukraine [in any event the main Arctic military/naval action relates to Russia’s northwestern High North in Europe–see first post noted at bottom of this one].

China is, likewise, held up as a threat to Canadian sovereignty. That country certainly has shown a greater interest in the North over the past ten years and has been expanding its capabilities. Despite this, declaring China a threat requires elaborating on connections that the Post leaves implied. In recent years Chinese companies have been steadily losing favour across the circumpolar North. Confucius Institutes are closing, strategic investment reviews are being strengthened, and China’s soft power has been crumbling in the face of its human rights violations and “wolf warrior” diplomacy. Missing from the Post’s logic is that crucial step which explains where exactly that threat is going to come from.

The Post also laments that Canada has failed to “beef up its Arctic naval fleet in order to project power in the North.” We must buttress Arctic combat capability, says the editorial board, so that the Canadian Armed Forces have the “resources it needs to defend our sovereignty in the Far North.” Step one combat power, step three sovereignty.

The question of sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic relates to the legal status of the Northwest Passage and differing interpretations of international law; Canada calls the waters of the Arctic Archipelago internal while the US [along with quite a few other countries] believes that an international strait runs through the region. Canada’s diplomats and military leaders have known for generations that no amount of combat power will fundamentally shift that legal dispute. The notion that more defence capability magically translates into sovereignty cries out for elaboration.

Russia and China are obvious international security threats to Canada and its allies. Both authoritarian states pose an existential risk to the rules based international order and to Canadians’ safety and way of life. Meeting those threats, however, requires a nuanced understanding of where those risks are most acute, not an exaggerated or alarmist panic. A healthy debate on the many risks to Arctic security is important but unsupported implications and insinuation don’t help. I would love to ask the National Post’s editorial board what their ‘step two’ really is, to see if they can do better than the Underpants Gnomes.

Related posts:

Russia, The US, NATO and the High North–The Far West of the Bear’s own Arctic, that is [April 2021]

No Need for Hoo Hah over Under-Ice Dragons in the Arctic [May 2022, Prof. Lajeunesse a co-author]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

PM Trudeau’s Government Still Trying to Up-Suck to the Dragon, Ace of Compradors Dominic Barton Section (cont’d)

(Video of foreign minister Joly noted in image at top of the post here, for compradors see here and here.)

Further to this post with two extremely well-informed hard-nose views,

PM Trudeau’s Government Has Finally Banned Huawei. What now?

it would appear the Liberal government remains blinded by the Celestial Empire’s light–and the lure of the filthy yuan. From an excellent and clear-eyed Globe and Mail columnist:

Ottawa may want to go back to business as usual with Beijing. But that’s not possible

Konrad Yakabuski

Canadians hoping for a reset in how this country approaches an increasingly assertive China were likely disappointed to learn that Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly had tapped Dominic Barton to sit on a new committee to advise Ottawa on its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy.

Mr. Barton, who served as Canada’s ambassador to China until December, is a self-confessed “bull on China” who now chairs the board of directors for the British-Australian mining colossus Rio Tinto after overseeing the global operations of the consulting giant McKinsey & Co. Like McKinsey, Rio Tinto’s fortunes are deeply tied to the Chinese economy. China accounted for fully 57 per cent of the company’s US$64-billion in revenue in 2021 [see this post: “Dominic Barton, Canadian Prince of Cashing-in Compradors, and Conflict of Interest (note “UPDATE”)“].

The 17 members of the Indo-Pacific Advisory Committee will be required to divulge any conflicts of interest, and “will be expected to recuse themselves from participating in discussions or activities of the committee should any potential, perceived or real conflicts of interest arise,” Global Affairs Canada said in a June 9 press release announcing the committee’s creation.

Even so, Mr. Barton’s past and present business activities are impossible to ignore. He has long advocated for deeper economic relations between China and the West. His decision to accept the Rio Tinto gig even after witnessing firsthand China’s hostage diplomacy in the detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig suggests a willingness to look past Beijing’s increasing authoritarianism, militarism and human rights abuses in the name of business [emphasis added].

Mr. Barton’s seat on the new committee along with other notable China doves has left many observers wondering whether Ottawa’s much-vaunted Indo-Pacific strategy, originally pitched as a foreign-policy pivot away from China in the aftermath of the Meng Wanzhou affair, is shaping up to be a cover for a return to business as usual [emphasis added].

“We want to make sure we have a relationship with China,” Ms. Joly told Politico last month. “It is a difficult one – there were arbitrary detentions of the two Michaels … I’m glad that this issue is now over and we’re moving on … My goal is to make sure that we re-establish ties.”

This will no doubt delight many Canadian business leaders eager to seize on the opportunity to sell to a market of more than 1.4 billion people with a growing appetite for this country’s natural resources and agricultural products. But as Canada moves to reset its relations with Beijing, many of our biggest allies are teaming up to take on the greatest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century as China seeks to cement its world power status.

Western hopes that integrating China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 would lead to its democratization were perhaps always faint. But under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has moved in the opposite direction, and has become a threat to the very rules-based international order that enabled it to become the world’s second-largest economy…

“Beijing wants to put itself at the centre of global innovation and manufacturing, increase other countries’ technological dependence, and then use that dependence to impose its foreign policy preferences,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month in a major speech outlining U.S. President Joe Biden’s China policy. “And Beijing is going to great lengths to win this contest – for example, taking advantage of the openness of our economies to spy, to hack, to steal technology and know-how to advance its military innovation and entrench its surveillance state [see this post: “FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?“].”

The Trudeau government is surely not blind to China’s designs. It did – albeit belatedly – decide to ban telecommunications giant Huawei from participating in Canadian 5G networks last month [more here]. But its long delay in making that decision [OVER THREE FLIPPING YEARS] suggests that it did so only reluctantly. And it has not stopped Canadian universities from continuing to accept research funding from Huawei, raising questions about the potential transfer of intellectual property developed here to a company with deep ties to the Chinese military and state [note this post: “Wow! PM Trudeau’s Government Actually Acting vs PRC/PLA Infiltration of Canadian Universities–not so “Wow!” UPDATE (note Australian UPPERDATE)“].

This week, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson conceded that Ottawa may need to take a tougher stand on investments by Chinese entities in this country’s critical minerals. But again, you don’t get a sense that the move is being made with any gusto. Ottawa’s latest discussion paper on developing a critical minerals strategy does not even mention China, despite that country’s dominance in the global electric-battery supply chain [emphasis added].

No wonder Washington has largely left Canada out of the loop as it builds new security relationships with Australia, Britain, Japan, India and several Indo-Pacific countries with the express aim of containing and countering China’s geopolitical ambitions…

As much as Ottawa seems to wish otherwise, there will be no going back to business as usual with Beijing.

One certainly hopes so. And much as this government wishes otherwise.

A telling paragraph from Terrible Terry Glavin on the reach of our comprador rot:

There’s the intimate connections between the Liberal old guard and the China-trade lobby, notable in former prime minister Jean Chretien’s son-in-law, the Power Corporation’s Andre Desmarais, the Canada-China Business Council’s honorary chairman [the council is Comprador Central, website here]. And of course there’s the daughter of Jean (“I am not a Liberal!”) Charest, currently contending for the job of Conservative Party leader. Amelie Dionne-Charest is the chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong [another nest of compradors, website here].

Earlier on Mr Barton:

Canadian Ambassador to PRC Dominic Barton, an Ace of Compradors, still Up-Sucking to the Dragon [2020]

Ace of Compradors Ambassador Dominic Barton gives up Selling the PRC to Canada [Dec. 2021]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

PM Trudeau’s Government Has Finally Banned Huawei. What now?

Interviews with two serious Canadian experts on the PRC–text from an e-mail from the first-rate Macdonald-Laurier Institute:

1) Canada’s Huawei Ban Comes Amid Heightened Tensions with China

Charles Burton, MLI

The Canadian government punted its Huawei decision for three years to avoid potential retaliation from the Chinese government, and resultingly, argues Burton, Canada is now perceived as an unreliable partner by our allies regarding our engagement with China. QUAD, AUKUS, the IPEF—we haven’t been offered a seat at the table. The CCP will retaliate and its retaliation toolkit is broad-based. Whatever they employ, they will make sure we understand it is because we insulted the Chinese state by not accepting Huawei.

The invasion of Ukraine, which China seemingly supports, as well as sustained tensions, and the potential for conflict over Taiwan, means that Canada must act in concert with other like-minded allies to counter the rise of authoritarian states. There has been mounting pressure for Canada to define its stances on China and Russia. We cannot continue our policies under present circumstances, which amount to appeasement, Burton Says. Canada needs an Indo-Pacific strategy consistent with our allies, make up for decades of policies that are no longer viable, increase our defence allocation, and, most importantly, prepare for conflict.

The interview is here, with video and a synopsis. From the link:

Charles Burton is a Senior Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, European Values Center for Security Policy. Department of Political Science at Brock University specializing in Comparative Politics, Government and Politics of China, Canada-China Relations and Human Rights, 1989-2020. Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy to China between 1991-1993 and 1998-2000. Previously worked at the Communications Security Establishment of the Canadian Department of National Defence.

2) What to Expect Following Canada’s Huawei Ban

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston
ISSP, University of Ottawa

Last month, the federal government announced that Huawei and ZTE will be banned from Canada’s fifth-generation wireless network (5G), citing national security concerns. Despite encouragement from Canada’s Five Eyes partners, the decision to ban Huawei and ZTE still faced significant delays after the two Micheals were released. While the ban has been welcomed by many, there are still significant security concerns to consider in the near-term.

McCuiag-Johnston places particular emphasis on the challenges created by allowing companies and carriers until June 2024 to replace their 5G equipment. Telus has installed a large amount of Huawei software and hardware over the past two years, which means that Canada will have four years of exposure to the national security risk that we have been concerned about all along. Ultimately, de-installing Huawei will require constant updates and fixes to installed 5G equipment via backdoors. These are the very backdoors that could potentially be used for intelligence gathering purposes. Johnston applauds the Huawei decision but emphasizes that the government must not budge on removal deadline it has given to Canadian telecoms.

The interview is here, with video and a synopsis. From the link:

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston  is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, Senior Fellow with the University of Alberta’s China Institute and Distinguished Fellow with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Formerly, she was Executive Vice-President at NSERC where she was responsible for strategic operations, including research policy and international relations. She was also a member for seven years of the Steering Committee for the Canada-China Science and Technology (S&T) Initiative.

These two are hard-nosed types about the PRC’s realities and dealing with the CCP. Do have a look.

Related posts:

FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?

Will Anyone in PM Trudeau’s Cabinet Bother to Read Joanna Chiu’s Book on the PRC?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

India’s Strategic Autonomy and Various Realities, e.g. “Look East” but can it “Act East”? (note UPDATE)

An Indian Navy commodore (ret’d) gives a succinct review of the country’s regional positions at Rediff.com India (it is striking that Russia, up until now India’s largest supplier of arms, is not mentioned one):

How India Can Tackle Security Challenges

By Commodore VENUGOPAL MENON (retd) [tweets here]

India has the ability to be a great power and address our security challenges in the best national interests.
Our foreign policy has come of age and will stand the test of time in the days ahead.
It is best to keep out of geopolitical power games with due consideration to the foundations of our foreign policy…

Geopolitical Canvas

The geopolitical canvas in our immediate neighborhood is changing rapidly and this has put India in a dilemma on the efficacy of our stated policy of strategic autonomy.

There is a fundamental apprehension in policy circles as to whether our stand will enable us to face security challenges in the foreseeable future.

The combination of sub-conventional violence from Pakistan and land border tensions with China has triggered concerns within the political and military establishment.

Although I would not categorise South Asia as a volatile region in the current juncture, it has its share of uncertainties caused by the rise of China, instability in Pakistan, terrorism and asymmetric warfare, and the extent of engagement by China in the Indian Ocean region through their BRI projects and last but not the least the future of Afghanistan under the Taliban [given India’s perpetually strained relations with Pakistan, the troubles in Kashmir, and the two countries’ nuclear weapons, I would suggest that South Asia is inherently volatile].

These aspects are beyond our control and hence the need for a counter-strategy to meet the challenges.

China

The fact that China shares a long land border with India is a geographic factor that cannot be changed.

It is also important to note that China considers India as a challenger to its supremacy in the region.

An arms race to equal the Chinese juggernaut would only incur heavy costs and drain the coffers.

At the same time, we need to ensure and maintain credible deterrence levels at the border to thwart any border incursions by Chinese troops.

Alliances with other nations would at best provide diplomatic support to our stand on contentious issues [emphasis added, i.e. no direct military support likely], but it cannot provide a permanent solution to our bilateral issues.

Pakistan

The situation in Kashmir has improved considerably in the recent past, however, isolated incidents of terror do take place.

There is no reduction in the trust deficit between the two countries [emphasis added].

Pakistan continues to build up militarily with assistance from China.

Although our military modernisation programme is progressing albeit slowly, there are critical deficiencies in assets faced by the three services.

One such example and challenge for the Indian Navy is in our submarine force levels.

Currently, the Pakistan navy has three Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) conventional submarines which give them an advantage in undersea warfare.

The future induction of eight Yuan class boats (with AIP) from China would increase the number to 11 by 2035.

This is not a comfortable situation and can create an asymmetry in our maritime domain as we are way behind the starting blocks of our Project 75 I submarine construction programme [emphasis added, more here].

Afghanistan

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has created a vacuum in that country from a security perspective.

The waters look murky at the moment and it would be advisable to wait and watch as the situation evolves.

Big Power games in the Indo Pacific region

Security in the region cannot be viewed in isolation or exclusively from India’s prism.

It is important to factor in the influence of big powers and their competition to project power and gain influence in the region.

The question in this regard is what should be India’s stand in this power play? To maintain our policy of strategic autonomy or to team up with the Western alliance? There cannot be a third option [emphasis added].

Containment of China

The US had ignored the growth of China’s economic and military might during the last two decades which ironically was ignored by India too.

US foreign policy is desperately in need of a counter to China’s power potential lest it loses its unipolar status in the world.

Although then Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo floated the idea of Quad in 2007, the movement fizzled out till 2017 when then US president Donald J Trump revived the concept.

The reasons could be many, but the most important factor is that there was no convergence of strategic objectives between the member countries.

Regrettably even now, little or no work has been done towards achieving that aim.

Terms like the Rule-Based International Order, shared democratic values and free and open Indo Pacific etc do not have any essence or meaning in the absence of clearly defined strategic objectives [emphasis added].

China has not been named for its hostile actions in any of the joint statements following a Quad summit thus far (one exception being when then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo singled out China in October 2020).

Why is this hesitation? The answer is very simple — China is an important trading partner for all members of Quad.

Hence, it is important to realise that behind the shadows of Quad, member countries continue to maintain bilateral relations with China in accordance with their national interests.

Is there any point in sailing in a rudderless, coxswain-less boat towards an unknown destination [emphasis added]? Hence there is a need to deliberately analyze the advantages/disadvantages before taking a call.

One sincerely hopes that we do not fall into the trap of being a pawn and get Ukrained in the bargain.

Importance of Alliances in Our Context

As per the foundations of our foreign policy, acceding to any security alliance is not an option unless there is a paradigm shift in our grand strategy (if there is one). A counterargument could be that the Quad is not [in reality] a security grouping or a counter-China initiative [emphasis added, in any event the US has long had bilateral treaties with Australia and Japan].

Then, what is its objective? Why is it ambiguous and open-ended? There are no free lunches in international relations and it is very likely that Quad will insist member countries to contribute significantly towards infrastructure development and other initiatives in Indo Pacific region.

Do we have the economic clout to invest in the region at the cost of our development? Therefore at some stage, we will have to take a call in the foreseeable future on whether this arrangement suits us or not.

Hope the establishment at Delhi is not contemplating that piggy banking on a loosely formed group like Quad is the best solution to project India as a big power [emphasis added]? If that is so, it will be a big blunder in the long run.

US’ Indo Pacific Strategy: Where do we fit in?

Although the name changed from Asia Pacific to Indo Pacific, nothing much has changed in US policy of demarcation of the world to suit its area of influence, provide a security umbrella for their allies and for power projection.

The term Indo Pacific brought about a euphoria amongst India’s strategic community about India’s centrality in US strategy which in a way is a false assumption [emphasis added]. Strategically, the US interest is centered on the South China Sea, the Far East and Oceania which is the fulcrum of its Indo Pacific strategy in order to check or counter Chinese influence and challenge to the unipolar world order.

The region to the west of the Malacca Straits and South Indian Ocean till MENA (Middle East and North Africa) is of less strategic importance to the US as has been seen post World War II.

We cannot expect that India’s security concerns in South Asia will be addressed by the West and therefore it is pragmatic to avoid any false sense of security [emphasis added].

Our engagement in the SCS — Practicality

Chinese engagement with countries bordering the South China Sea is deep-rooted and currently, we do not have the economic clout or resources to make a dent in that arrangement.

Continuous military presence in the region is neither desired nor warranted and it is quite possible that some of the ASEAN countries may object to our permanent presence if all it happens in the future.

In effect, there is a big gap between our Look East policy and Act East policy [emphasis added].

It is well known that about 50% of our inbound and outbound trade transit through the South China Sea, but there have been no instances of any trade being hampered by the Chinese navy or coast guard.

China has objected to ‘Freedom of Navigation’ patrols by the US navy through contested waters which have only increased the volatility in the region and increased tensions. India has not participated in such patrols thus far and is unlikely in the future too which is a wise decision.

Moreover, it is very unlikely that our trade would be hampered by China in the South China Sea fearing a backlash towards their safe energy flow through the south Indian Ocean which is within close proximity to India [emphasis added].

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that India has the ability in all respects to be a great power [but still it will be slowly, slowly] and address our security challenges in the best national interests.

Our foreign policy has come of age and will stand the test of time in the days ahead.

There is no requirement of toeing the line of any country to suit their national interests or be a client State [emphasis added].

It is best to keep out of geopolitical power games with due consideration to the foundations of our foreign policy.

The need of the hour is to give an added impetus to our indigenisation efforts as our national policy and support it with a long-term vision and goals.

If South Korea which was in the same state as India two decades ago attained a high degree of indigenisation and self reliance, we too can achieve it.

YES, WE CAN!!

Commodore Venugopal Menon served in the Indian Navy for 29 years in operational roles, including commands at sea, and training and staff assignments at Naval HQ.
In addition to the staff and war courses in the Indian Navy, he underwent the executive course at the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Honolulu.

A very substantial round-up of the Indo-Pacific/South Asian strategic situation from a widely-held Indian point of view. The US in particular should bear in mind these words of Scots poet Robbie Burns:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion…

Note this tweet from a retired most senior Indian diplomat:

UPDATE: June 12 tweet from the retired commodore with a rather different tone:

Relevant posts:

India–Leaning even Closer to US to Balance PRC but at same time Keeping in with Russia (tous azimuts of a sort) [Dec. 2020, based on article by a ret’d Indian Air Force air marshal]

Russia vs Ukraine: India’s Strategic Autonomy (tous azimuts) in Action [March 2022]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Tienanmen Anniversary Time…But Not in Hong Kong

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Police officers setup a cordon as they disperse public out of the Victoria Park ahead of the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident on 3 June, 2022 in Hong Kong, China. Source: Getty / Anthony Kwan/Getty Images”.)

Some “Special Administrative Region” these days. From a story at the Globe and Mail:

As Hong Kong clamps down, ‘burden of remembering’ Tiananmen Massacre shifts overseas

James Griffiths Asia correspondent

Hong Kong

In the decades since the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing on June 4, 1989, one of the most indelible images associated with the event, alongside “Tank Man” and the Goddess of Democracy statue, has been a sea of candles, lighting up the night.

Every year, tens of thousands gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to commemorate the dead and echo their calls for democracy in China.

No more. The 30th anniversary of the massacre in 2019 was the last time it was marked by a mass gathering in Hong Kong. Memorials since then have been banned on coronavirus grounds, as is the case this year, with public gatherings still limited to four people.

Instead, the anniversary will be commemorated by smaller events, spread over the world, often organized by members of the Hong Kong and Chinese diasporas [emphasis added]. While many are longstanding memorials – in places like Toronto, London and San Francisco – they are taking on a new importance now that there is no centralized mass event on Chinese soil.

“With the last symbol of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in Hong Kong being taken away it is crucial for Hong Kongers and all persons of conscience around the world to pick up the torch and make sure that the flame of freedom and democracy remain burning,” said Mabel Tung, chair of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement (VSSDM [website here]), a group founded by Chinese Canadians in support of the 1989 protests.

“Ultimately, it will be up to all of us who live in a democratic nation to keep the memory of June 4th alive.”

Earlier this week, Hong Kong police warned that anyone gathering in Victoria Park, where public areas have been blocked off for June 4, would run the risk of prosecution, echoing comments by the city’s leader, Carrie Lam…

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which traditionally organized the annual candlelit vigil, was forced to disband last year after its assets were frozen and multiple leaders jailed under the national security law imposed on the city by Beijing in 2020.

Catholic churches that previously held memorial masses – including in the last two years when the main vigil was banned – have also said they would no longer do so given the growing legal risk…

Meanwhile, an online museum dedicated to the Tiananmen massacre appears to have been blocked by Hong Kong internet providers, joining a number of dissident and activist groups websites based overseas that are not accessible to users in the city.

Whether the Tiananmen vigils could continue was long seen as a key test for Hong Kong’s relative autonomy from China [emphasis added], said Sean Cha of Democracy for Hong Kong, which is organizing a vigil in London [they tweet here].

“The fact that it cannot happen anymore gives a new meaning to the June 4 vigils for Hong Kongers around the world,” he said…

For more than 30 years now, Toronto has hosted the largest memorial in the world outside Hong Kong [emphasis added], said organizer Cheuk Kwan, “so it’s even more significant that we keep it up [note this earlier post: “The Long Reach of the Dragon’s Claws, Hong Kongers in Canada Section“]

Amnesty International said it is arranging events in more than 20 cities this year [more at their website; the organization has closed its two Hong Kong offices], and will call on participants not only to remember those killed in Beijing, but also “stand in solidarity with those in Hong Kong whose peaceful acts of commemoration are now criminalized.”

In Asia, one of the largest memorials will be in Taipei, where organizers plan to unveil a replica of the “Pillar of Shame,” a statue commemorating the Tiananmen victims that was forcibly removed from Hong Kong last year

Follow James Griffiths on Twitter: @jgriffiths

Three tweets:

Not blooming now:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Major New Report by Real National Security Experts: Big Threats to Canada–PRC, Russia and…the US

Note 4 PM May 24 online event on the report mentioned in tweet by Thomas Juneau towards bottom of this post–registration here.

Further to this January 2022 post,

Globe and Mail to PM Justin Trudeau Gov’t: Time to Get Real about Foreign Interference, esp. by PRC (note UPDATE)

now that message, and several others–but how seriously if PM Trudeau’s government likely to take them, and then act on them. Fairly slim chance I would think unless our Five Eyes allies (that is the three save New Zealand) put some really heavy pressure on us. From a Globe and Mail Story:

Canada urged to conduct major national security review to deal with China, Russia and rise of right-wing extremism

Robert Fife Ottawa Bureau Chief

Canada has become complacent and neglectful of national security and urgently needs to revamp its thinking to counter Russia’s aggression, China’s growing influence and the rise of right-wing extremism in Canada and the United States, according to a major new report.“We are living in a time of intense global instability when the security of Canada and other liberal democracies is under growing threat,” says the report, A National Security Strategy for the 2020s, released Tuesday [May 24, available via this link]. “Canada is not ready to face this world. As a country, we need to urgently rethink national security.”

It was prepared by the University of Ottawa Graduate School of Public and International Affairs with input from four former national security advisers, two Canadian Security Intelligence Service directors, academics and retired ambassadors and deputy ministers [see list of members at end of the post].

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine underscores the direct threat to Western interests, while China is potentially an even more serious, long-term challenge, the report says.

China and Russia will continue to pose a significant threat to Canada through foreign interference, disinformation, espionage, hostage diplomacy and cyberattacks [emphasis added],” it says. “Our lack of a firm response, moreover presents a serious risk for our allies, and could affect security and intelligence relations with them.”

Canada needs to crack down on university research collaboration with China in areas such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology and quantum computing, the report urges [see this post: “Government Actually Acting vs PRC/PLA Infiltration of Canadian Universities–not so “Wow!” UPDATE (note Australian UPPERDATE)“]

A far-ranging national security review must also examine the rise of the far right in Canada and the U.S. The truck convoy protests that led to border blockades and the closure of much of downtown Ottawa had direct links to U.S. extremists but also support from conservative media outlet Fox News and some Republican politicians, the report notes.

“This may not have represented foreign interference in the conventional sense since it was not the result of a foreign government. But it did represent, arguably, a greater threat to Canadian democracy than actions of any state other than the United States,” it says. “It will be a significant challenge for our national security and intelligence agencies to monitor this threat since it emanates from the same country that is by far our great source of intelligence.”

The report was put together under the direction of Vincent Rigby, who was recently a national security adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Juneau, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affaiirs.

Both warned that Canada needs to figure out how it should respond to democratic backsliding in the U.S. and how it should deal with the possible re-election of Donald Trump.

“If Trump comes back or someone like Trump comes to power in 2024, which is not far-fetched,” Prof. Juneau said in an interview, “does the U.S. stay in NATO? Does it become more unilateral and unpredictable?”

Mr. Rigby said political polarization in the U.S. is “something Canada must watch extremely closely [emphasis added, see this October 2020 post– note my comments towards end and following tweets: ”US Presidential Election Unrest (if not more)–What might Happen to Canada? PM Trudeau says Government Preparing“]

The report calls for a thorough public review of national security policy, including the CSIS Act, Emergencies Act and Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. It says Canada needs to embrace modern spy tools being used by many of its Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partners, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

It calls for the creation of a standalone unit to collect and analyze open-source intelligence [emphasis added–how would its product be incorporated into national level all-source intelligence assessments? won’t current contributing organizations still want to do their own open-source analysis as part of their report drafting?], set up a national counter foreign interference co-ordinator, as Australia has done, and establish a financial crimes agency to handle sophisticated digital crimes and money laundering [see this post, note one on hapless RCMP listed at end: “PM Trudeau’s Government vs Financial Crime/Money Laundering: “Kid- Glove Treatment”].

Parliamentarians should be given more classified briefings on files such as foreign interference operations, and cabinet should set up a national security committee, chaired by the Prime Minister. The report also recommends that the intelligence assessment secretariat in the Privy Council Office be merged with CSIS’s Terrorism Assessment Centre under the Prime Minister’s national security and intelligence adviser…

Follow Robert Fife on Twitter: @RobertFife

Whole lot of sensible and serious things to consider. But such matters are just not the, er, bag of progressive PM Trudeau and his ministers (nor of our chattering class). But one can hope.

Tweet by a co-chair of the task force:

Quite the group:

Task Force Members

Thomas Juneau – Co-chair, Associate Professor, GSPIA

Vincent Rigby – Co-chair, former National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister; Senior Fellow, Norman Paterson School of Public and International Affairs, Carleton University

Margaret Bloodworth – Honorary Senior Fellow, GSPIA, former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister and former Deputy Minister of National Defence

Kerry Buck – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Ambassador to NATO

Madelaine Drohan – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Economist correspondent in Canada

Ward Elcock – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and former Deputy Minister of National Defence

Richard Fadden – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, former Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and former Deputy Minister of National Defence

Masud Husain – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

Daniel Jean – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister and former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Executive Vice-President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

John McNee – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Ambassador to the United Nations

Roland Paris –Director, GSPIA; former Senior Advisor on Global Affairs and Defence to the Prime Minister

Morris Rosenberg – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Nada Semaan – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Director and Chief Executive Officer of FINTRAC

Research Assistant: Fernando Aguilar

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds