“Canada is Back” Cartoon of the Day

Well, sort of. And so many people thought their prince had come–at the Globe and Mail by Brian Gable:

Ouch. As for that participation, PM Trudeau ponies up a general but no boots on the ground (second tweet). One shudders to imagine what allies must think:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Germany, Ukraine and Russia: What Is To Be Done? The Habermas Factor

Extracts from an article, by a favourite historian and (to use a horrid term) public intellectual, with some complex argumentation and moral considerations–at the New Statesman:

After the Zeitenwende: Jürgen Habermas and Germany’s new identity crisis

The 92-year-old philosopher has warned Germans not to allow anger at Russia and admiration for Ukraine to displace their country’s hard-won focus on dialogue and peace.

By Adam Tooze [his webpage here]

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has upended world politics and nowhere more so than in Germany. Addressing an emergency session of the Bundestag on 27 February, German chancellor Olaf Scholz declared a Zeitenwende, a turning point in history. Russia’s attack on Ukraine meant Europe and Germany had entered a new age…

More than anywhere else in the West, the entire German intellectual class, and every TV talk show and newspaper has been mobilised to debate and criticise Germany’s performance. The situation has been aggravated after Volodymyr Zelensky’s attack on Germany’s long-running détente with Russia in a speech to the Bundestag in March and a stream of remarkably forthright comments from Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin. You can tell matters are becoming really serious because Jürgen Habermas, the 92-year old doyen of German philosophy and political commentary, has entered the ring, for once on the side of the government.

Russia’s aggression poses such fundamental questions for Germany because the nation in its current form owes its existence to the peaceful end of the Cold War that enabled reunification. The success of 1989-90 was prepared by almost two decades of Ostpolitik, in which trade and détente with the Soviet Union worked to draw back the Iron Curtain. Maintaining good relations with Moscow has always meant making a pact with the devil, first with the repressive Soviet regime in the 1970s and 1980s and then with Vladimir Putin since the 2000s. After Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and after the poisoning of Alexei Navalny in 2020, Berlin has repeatedly shrugged and carried on. But Putin’s assault on Ukraine and Ukraine’s remarkable resistance have made that approach impossible.

The question is particularly explosive because in the late 1960s it was Chancellor Scholz’s party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), then led by the charismatic Willy Brandt, that launched Ostpolitik. Détente runs deep in the SPD, as personified by Gerhard Schröder, ex-chancellor and unrepentant chairman of the board at Russian state oil firm Rosneft [a recent post: “Gorgeous Gerhard’s Embrace of Bad Vlad“]. But the attachment is not confined to the social democrats. Voices on the German right have long favoured a modus vivendi with Russia, whether under the Tsar, the Soviets or now under Putin. For them, Bismarck is the model in balancing between East and West…And, as has become embarrassingly clear in recent months, there is a general disregard on many sides in Berlin for the national rights of “smaller” east European states – notably Poland and Ukraine – that have the misfortune to find themselves wedged between Germany and Russia [emphasis added]. Meanwhile, German industrial firms such as Siemens look back on 150 years of doing profitable business in Russia, relations which they are unwilling to have disrupted by a bagatelle like the annexation of Crimea.

…In 2022, Habermas…again fears a recrudescence of the right under the mantle of enthusiasm for Ukraine’s resistance. And once again his long and thoughtful article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on 28 April has been met with a storm of disapproval. As has often been the case, this outrage has been given a platform in the pages of the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. This time Habermas stands accused of defending a battered and discredited tradition of West German politics, conniving with Putin, and clinging to old nostrums about nuclear war while patronising the Ukrainians and their supporters among younger generations of Germans.

…Every right-thinking person can clearly agree that Putin’s aggression must not be allowed to succeed. But we should also agree that a war with Russia is unthinkable. Russia is a nuclear power and escalation is an appalling risk. Any good-faith political intervention, Habermas insists, must squarely face this dilemma.

For the West, Habermas wrote, “having made the decision to not intervene in this conflict as a belligerent, there is a risk threshold that precludes an unrestrained commitment to the armament of Ukraine… Those who ignore this threshold and continue aggressively and self-assuredly to push the German chancellor towards it have either overlooked or not understood the dilemma into which this war has plunged the West… because the West, with its morally well-grounded decision to not become a party in this war, has tied its own hands.”

In light of this dilemma, the impatience of Scholz’s critics, who include not just Ukrainian spokespeople and right-wing hawks, but many former pacifists in the ranks of the Green party, is not innocent. What is being called into question, Habermas fears, is “the broad pro-dialogue, peace-keeping focus of German policy”, which should never be taken for granted. It was hard won and, as Habermas notes, has “repeatedly been denounced from the right”…

Ukraine is at the stage of making a nation state, Germany is well beyond that. In checking their spontaneous reactions of enthusiasm and solidarity with Ukraine, Germans and the rest of us in the West would be well advised to consider this gap and what it implies. We thrill to the heroism of the Ukrainians, which puts into stark relief the deflated state of our own politics. But our post-heroic culture cannot simply be cast off in disgust. It is a logical historical effect of the Nato umbrella that we continue to live under. Ukraine’s desperate courage, on the other hand, is a reflection of the fact that it does not. Under those circumstances, Habermas asks, “is it not a form of pious self-deception to bank on a Ukrainian victory against Russia’s murderous form of warfare without taking up arms yourself? The bellicose rhetoric is inconsistent with the bleachers from which it is delivered.”

…One might say that Habermas is urging us to figure out the politics of allyship on the international stage and under the shadow of the nuclear threat.

What is clear is that we must find a constructive way out of the dilemma posed by the war, a way out that must, as Habermas says in his final line, be defined by one basic aspiration: “Ukraine ‘must not lose’ this war.” Its project of building a nation state must continue.

For Europe itself the task is different. What the contrast with Ukraine ought to reveal is not so much the lack of a properly heroic national identity, but the lack of post-national capacities at the EU level. As Habermas remarks, there is a reason why those who have declared a historic turning point are those who have for a long time argued that Europe must be able to stand on its own feet militarily if it wants to ensure that its “social and political way of life” is not destabilised from without or hollowed out from within. That would not answer Ukraine’s heroism in kind but it would at least allow Europe to decide on its policy independently both of the US and Russia. Right now, American politicians are falling over themselves to provide tens of billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine in its fight with Russia. That they can agree on that and not on healthcare or climate change policy is a sign of America’s own dysfunction. But what US politics will bring in the near future is anyone’s guess. Soon Europe may be facing a disorientating clash of historical temporalities and political time not in eastern Europe but across the Atlantic. As Habermas reminds us, Macron’s re-election opens another window of opportunity. Will Europe seize it?

Has Putin unintentionally but effectively ended a particular German Sonderweg (the article at the link, by a German, is a very good companion to Adam Tooze’s piece)? Meanwhile, can the EU ever really get its defence/foreign policy act together?

UPDATE: Very relevant tweet:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Canadian Armed Forces Readying for Cyberwar

Further to these tweets last year,

now we get a look at our military’s “cyber playbook”. From a Global News story:

Canada directs military to take more ‘assertive’ stance in cyberspace

By Marc-André Cossette & Alex Boutilier

The Canadian government has directed its military to take a more “assertive” stance in cyberspace in anticipation of electronic warfare becoming a more central component in conflict, documents obtained by Global News suggest.

A “cyber playbook” prepared by the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence comes as Ottawa pushes for international rules and norms around cyber espionage and warfare.

The playbook, provided to Defence Minister Anita Anand earlier this year, noted that the threats facing Canada’s networks have “evolved significantly” since the government released its 2010 cyber strategy.

The document also makes clear that Canada is under increasing pressure from allies to be able to conduct joint cyber operations, either as standalone operations or as support for “conventional” military conflict [emphasis added].

Anand’s office “clearly recognizes” cyberspace as a domain for warfare and operations that Canada must grapple with, the document read.

Speaking at a conference of defence experts hosted by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute on Tuesday [May 10], Anand singled out cyberattacks as one of several pressing national security threats…

Since 2016, NATO has recognized cyberspace as a domain of operations in which the alliance must defend itself just as effectively as it does on land, at sea and in the air.

But Russia’s war in Ukraine has given new urgency to allied co-operation in cyberspace, with western governments having issued repeated warnings this year about the threat of Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks.

“It may not be as upfront as some of the other military operations, but absolutely, cyber is a part of this conflict and in fact, all conflicts,” said Stephanie Carvin, a former CSIS analyst who now teaches at Carleton University.

The department’s playbook notes that Canada’s allies are increasingly calling for operational co-operation, including as part of missions that would include “robust cyber responses [emphasis added].”

In particular, the playbook highlights the U.S. concept of “deterrence through resilience,” noting that it has seen “a major thrust within Canada” and could be reflected in Canada’s cyber priorities.

“Basically, it means being able to deny actors access because of good cybersecurity practices,” Carvin explained. “But also, if they are able to get in, to ensure that we have a quick response, that government systems or private sector systems can come back online quickly.”..

Carvin also noted that the Department of National Defence’s playbook mirrors another concept that has been promoted by Canada’s allies, particularly the U.S.

I’m thinking of the concept of ‘defending forward’: the idea that you need to take a more aggressive stance in cyberspace,” Carvin said. “Not necessarily for offensive purposes, but for defensive purposes — perhaps to preempt any kind of threat that may be coming to your country [emphasis added, see this post on “defending forward” in the bigger NORAD context: “NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat“].”

Just last month, western governments warned that Russia might ramp up its malicious cyber activity against critical infrastructure in response to sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

It wasn’t the first such warning. In January of this year, Canada’s cyber defence agency urged those tasked with defending the country’s critical infrastructure to be on guard against Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks.

According to the defence department’s playbook, the need to better gather, use and share intelligence extends beyond the federal government and should engage industry, internet service providers and academia. That’s been a priority for the Communications Security Establishment – Canada’s main cyber defence and espionage agency, which also reports to Anand – particularly during the global pandemic.

Similarly, industry representatives have recently called on the federal government to make it easier for businesses to report cyber incidents — possibly through so-called safe harbour legislation, which would shield businesses that report a cyber breach from legal liability provided certain conditions are met.

Read more: Cyber defence agency gets significant boost in Liberals’ Budget 2022

Last month, the Canadian government published the country’s position on cyber warfare and international law. The document hints at what Canada is willing to do in both cyber espionage and warfare, but also when the government would consider a cyberattack to violate Canadian sovereignty.

“The scope, scale, impact or severity of disruption caused, including the disruption of economic and societal activities, essential services, inherently governmental functions, public order or public safety must be assessed to determine whether a violation of the territorial sovereignty of the affected state has taken place,” the document read.

In plain language, Carvin said, “not every action that crosses or affects a state is a violation” of sovereignty.

“So probing a system may not constitute a violation of state sovereignty, even if the action might be considered illegal,” Carvin said.

“If, for example, another country sent a spy to collect the same information, only in person, Canada’s state sovereignty wouldn’t be violated, but the action would be illegal – something like breaking and entering.”..

[DND spokesperson Jessica Lamirande wrote in a statement to Global News that] “Though we cannot release any further information on actual or alleged cyber operations, our Cyber Force is well positioned to plan and conduct cyber operations to defend military systems and infrastructure, and deliver effects outside of Canada, as authorized, in support of Canadian interests abroad.”..

Now here’s what the CAF say about this newish “trade“:

Cyber Operator

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time


Cyber Operators conduct defensive cyber operations, and when required and where feasible, active cyber operations [emphasis added]. They liaise and work collaboratively with other government departments and agencies, as well as with Canada’s allies to enhance the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) ability to provide a secure cyber environment. They monitor CAF communication networks to detect and respond to unauthorized network access attempts and provide cyber support to meet the operational requirements of the Navy, Army, Air Force, and joint enablers.

A Cyber Operator has the following responsibilities:

*Collect, process and analyze network data

*Identify network vulnerabilities

*Manage a computer network environment

*Conduct defensive and active cyber operations [emphasis added]

*Apply security and communications knowledge in the field of information technology…

And a 2016 post–it seems progress is being made but I believe that comparatively we spend a lot less on cybersecurity etc. matters than the US, UK or Australia (typical, eh?):

Offensive Cyber Capability for Canadian Forces? Is the New Government Cyber Serious?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Chicoms Razing a Uyghur Treasure on the Silk Road

(Kashgar is in dark lettering just to right of middle at map above from 2020 NY Times photo feature.)

That’s the Grand Bazaar of Kashgar–Xinjiang’s major southwestern city, near Kashmir and on the road to Tashkent in Uzbekistan. From Radio Free Asia:

China razes Kashgar’s iconic Grand Bazaar

The vibrant marketplace’s destruction is seen is part of China’s plan to force Uyghurs to assimilate.

The travel guide Lonely Planet advises visitors to Kashgar, China, to fight the crowds that gather at its Sunday Grand Bazaar and let their senses loose to the smells of spices, the softness of silks and the beauty of carpets carefully woven by locals. The marketplace contains “everything of interest to foreign visitors,” the short blurb states.

Not anymore. Lonely Planet and other guidebooks that promote the bazaar will need to be revised. Chinese authorities are in the process of destroying the famous marketplace.

An RFA analysis of satellite images of the Grand Bazaar provided by PlanetLabs Inc. shows dramatic changes in the market, including the removal of buildings and the roofs of stalls, between photos taken on April 4 and May 4 [emphasis added, see first tweet after this quote].

According to one local official, a new tourist attraction will arise in its place.

Authorities are well known for taking the wrecking ball to historic streetscapes and buildings across China and replacing them with retro facsimiles to draw tourists. But Uyghur activists and foreign scholars say the destruction of the Grand Bazaar is really about the ongoing campaign by Chinese authorities to erase Uyghur traditions and customs in the region in a brutal campaign of forced assimilation [emphasis added].

The Kashgar Grand Bazaar was the largest international trade market in China’s Xinjiang region, with 4,000 shops that sell more than 9,000 products on 250-acres of land. Goods from the region sold there include spices, teas, silk, dried fruit, carpets, Uyghur musical instruments, Central Asia clothing and skullcaps called doppas.

Now the shops are being destroyed and their owners forced to move to a new location away from the city, according to local officials and videos posted by shop owners on social media.

Authorities are cracking down on the criticism too, detaining and interrogating vendors who voiced their displeasure with the government’s decision to tear down the marketplace, local sources said.

Kashgar has a 2,000-year history as a trading center on the famed historical caravan route known as the Silk Road [emphasis added]. The Venetian merchant, explorer and writer Marco Polo visited the city as he traveled through Asia along the trade route in the late 13th century.

Modern times

In modern times, the oasis city’s bazaar served as a wholesale hub for traders and businesspeople from neighboring countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and the former Soviet states in Central Asia, said Kasimjan Abdurehim, a Uyghur exile based in the U.S. who ran a shop at the bazaar from 1992 to 1998…

Through interviews with local police and other officials, RFA learned that the market demolition was developed and implemented by the Politics and Law Commission of Xinjiang.

The approximate boundaries of the Kashgar Bazaar are highlighted in this Google Earth image taken July 14, 2021. (CNES/Airbus, Maxar Technologies)
The approximate boundaries of the Kashgar Bazaar are highlighted in this Google Earth image taken July 14, 2021. (CNES/Airbus, Maxar Technologies)

Demolition completed

Officials at the Market Supervision Bureau in Kashgar told RFA in March that the Grand Bazaar was being torn down but declined to answer questions about why and how much of it had already been bulldozed.

Police — not officials at the Market Supervision Bureau — issued a notice of demolition to shop owners two or three months ago, and they stepped up their control of the market afterwards, local sources said.

“The Politics and Law Commission is working on dealing with the shop owners and the demolition,” said a police officer in Kashgar. “They are not fully done with it yet.

There’s been dissatisfaction, for sure,” the officer added. “We have already [demolished] two-thirds of the market. We are still working on the rest right now [emphasis added].”

An official from the Urumqi [capital of Xinjiang] Tourism Bureau told RFA that social media reports about the bazaar’s demolition were false and that foreign visitors were not being taken there because of the COVID-19 pandemic [emphasis added].

“This is not correct,” he said. “You cannot trust information on social media.”

But an employee at the Kashgar Hua’an International Travel Agency told RFA in April that the Grand Bazaar had been destroyed and that the vendors were going to be relocated.

“The Kashgar Grand Bazaar has already been demolished,” he said. “It has been moved to the east side of the city. It has been already a month since it was demolished. The whole market was demolished. Everything there had been moved to the east side of the city.”

A Chinese police officer in Kashgar said the marketplace had been partially torn down when he saw it a month or two earlier.

“Half of the Kashgar Grand Bazaar has already been demolished, and half is still there,” he said.

An official from the Kashgar Chamber of Commerce and Industry also said the Grand Bazaar had been demolished and that business there had stopped [emphasis added].

“We have demolished most of the market,” he said. “There are some shop owners who came from Hotan [Hetian] who are resisting. That’s why we have still not fully demolished all of it.”

The Kashgar market management bureau official also confirmed the same information.

“It has already been relocated,” he said. “It doesn’t exist now. Some are moving to the new location. Some have refused to move.”..

An officer at the Kashgar branch of national security police told RFA that news of the bazaar’s razing sparked outrage among shop owners, although they apparently received at least some compensation from the city government…

The demolition of the Grand Bazaar is part of the Chinese government’s process of dispossessing Uyghurs and destroying their culture, Uyghur activists and academics who have studied Uyghur culture say…

Translated by RFA’s Uyghur Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

And two tweets:

Earlier posts:

Chicoms say: “Uyghurs? What Uyghurs?”

PRC’s Ethnic Cleansing of Uyghurs and other Muslims, Cont’d

The PRC’s Vanishing Uyghurs

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Royal Canadian Navy Leads, and Schools, the Naval World on the Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) Tool

The Canadian government’s defence priorities on display at Proceedings, the magazine of the US Naval Institute:

1) From the “Editor’s Page“:

Against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine, this month is our annual focus on international navies. A record 32 international navy chiefs accepted our invitation to describe their nations’ maritime security challenges

2) The resulting responses:

The International Commanders Respond

This year, Proceedings asked the commanders of the world’s navies, “How is your nation’s maritime security environment changing? Have new regional threats, climate change, or the COVID-19 pandemic caused you to alter your future assumptions? How is the changing environment impacting operations, budget, and personnel policy for your Navy and/or Coast Guard?”

[The Canadian contribution deals broadly with operations (no countries are named as “competitors or adversaries”; odd with that war going on and Canada’s actively assisting Ukraine), fleet recapitalization and personnel–the final part of the contribution is excerpted below.]


Vice Admiral Craig Baines, Commander, Royal Canadian Navy

Personnel…Like the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole, the RCN is taking appropriate measures to affect culture change. The RCN is using the government’s Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) tool to assess systemic inequalities and how diverse groups of women, men, and gender-diverse people experience policies, programs, and initiatives. Using GBA+ also ensures that future ships and submarines are not designed on incorrect assumptions that could lead to unintended and unequal impacts on particular groups of people. This will help ensure that the future RCN is an inclusive workplace in which Canadians feel comfortable and willing to serve.

The only other of those 32 contributions that even remotely deals with such, er, cultural matters is the one from the Republic of Korea:

The third pillar is the transformation of our organizational culture; a spirit and lifestyle shared by its personnel. To meet the needs of the time, society, and our sailors, we must reform everything from the administrative system to the military and organizational culture. The ROK Navy will implement the naval culture reformation through a disciplined navy spirit; a fair, efficient, and transparent unit management; and the 21st-century advanced naval culture that fosters respect, compassion, sympathy, and communication among sailors.

Crickets however from such progressive stalwarts as Finland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. We certainly are showing international leadership on that tool.

Here’s a PM Trudeau government-directed agitprop tweet from the Canadian Armed Forces–how much otherwise productive time is spent throughout the federal government on virtue signalling as this government conceives things?

And another tweet:

Keeping the true north strong and free. Lenses at the ready.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

No Need for Hoo Hah over Under-Ice Dragons in the Arctic

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “A large Jin-class ballistic-missile submarine likely could transit the Bering Strait, but it would be a dangerous proposition for an important Chinese asset. Associated Press (Mark Schiefelbein)”.)

Further to this November 2020 post,

No, Virginia, the Arctic is not a Hotly-Contested Region like the South China Sea–and China is not a Big Deal up there at This Point

excerpts from a sensible piece by two Canadian academics in the US Naval Institute’s magazine, Proceedings:

Chinese Submarines Under Ice?

By Adam Lajeunesse and Timothy Choi [see end of this quote]

May 2022

Cold Realities

In principle, there are clear strategic opportunities for China in the Arctic, but a closer examination limits their appeal. The Arctic eventually may become the “Polar Mediterranean” Canadian explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson predicted; however, today it is unique among the world’s oceans in its isolation.9 The Northwest Passage carries negligible traffic and nothing of strategic importance. While climate change eventually will open the region to more traffic, geography makes the Arctic a poor candidate for Chinese sea control or denial.

As a sea route, the Arctic offers time and distance advantages to ships moving between Europe or the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Asia, but even in a future of heavy transpolar trade, much of this commerce would be to or from China. In times of conflict, trade between the West and China would be closed or limited regardless of what presence China maintained in the Arctic. China still could interdict shipping to its democratic neighbors, but it is hard to see how doing so would be easier than attacking South Korean, Taiwanese, or Japanese shipping closer to home, where ports lie within easy reach of Chinese missiles.

Interdicting U.S. military sealift also seems a questionable proposition. Deploying warships from Norfolk to the Sea of Japan is roughly 2,000 kilometers (km) shorter through the Northwest Passage than through Panama; however, the northern route is hampered by unpredictable ice conditions. Even in an ice-reduced future, the region will remain inaccessible to non-ice-strengthened ships during the winter, with hazardous sailing conditions persisting in the shoulder seasons. While sealift through the Northwest Passage or the Polar Basin to reinforce an Asian theater may make sense in some circumstances, it will remain a niche alternative confined to the summer—and perhaps not even then.

Likewise, Chinese SSBNs using the Arctic as a missile-launching position is probably exaggerated, given the serious operational problems inherent in sending large missile boats into the Arctic Ocean [emphasis added]. The first of these is simply entering the region. Access to the Arctic is through the Bering Strait, and that means traversing an 80 km–wide passage bordered by Russia and the United States. Sitting in the middle is St. Lawrence Island, U.S. territory that has hosted submarine detection systems since the 1960s.

In addition to the dangers in running directly over U.S. listening systems and within easy range of antisubmarine warfare assets, the Bering Strait offers a shallow seabed below keel and thick winter sea ice above the sail…

…Arctic submarine expert Richard Boyle suggested that any boat longer than 107 meters (length of the Seawolf [SSN-21]) is probably incapable of meeting the maneuverability requirements under ice in shallow water.13 At 135 meters, aJin-class SSBN and its successors would struggle to move safely through the region during much of the year [emphasis added]. A transit would not be impossible, but it would be a very dangerous and uncertain proposition for an important strategic asset whose safety and stealth the PLAN prioritizes at all times.

There would seem to be better options. The range of China’s current and planned submarine-launched ballistic missiles would place most of the United States in jeopardy from anywhere in the Pacific. From the Aleutians to French Polynesia there are tens of millions of square kilometers of deep water in which to hide, all a safer bet than the Arctic [emphasis added].

Possible, Not Probable

While China certainly possesses the technical capacity—and perhaps even the political will—to deploy a submarine to the Arctic, the operational advantages of a regular Arctic presence likely are overstated.

This is not to say a Chinese Arctic presence would be of no concern. PLAN boats in the Polar Basin would create new dangers and add layers of complexity to continental defense planning, requiring a U.S. and allied response. Yet, such deployments also would impose costs on China, leading to dangerous and probably inefficient diversions of some of its most valuable naval assets [emphasis added–no kidding, the PLA navy has other fish to fry].

Adam Lajeunesse [tweets here]

Dr. Lajeunesse is the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security Policy and an assistant professor at the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government, St. Francis Xavier University. He works on questions of Arctic sovereignty and security policy and has written extensively on Arctic history and operations.

Timothy Choi [tweets here]

Mr. Choi is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies, where his dissertation is entitled, “Controlling the Northern Seas: The Influence of Exclusive Economic Zones on the Development of Norwegian, Danish, and Canadian Maritime Forces.” He also serves on the editorial board of the Canadian Naval Review.

Some relevant posts:

US Maritime Strategy and the High North–No Mention of Western Arctic, Alaska or Canada (or Northwest Passage)

US Navy doesn’t seem all that Concerned about the North American Arctic

No Need to go Bananas over the Bear in the Arctic

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Democrats Forgot Their Donkeys

Far too many of them live in, and appeal to, an increasing restricted American political space–excerpts from a major opinion piece at the NY Times:

What Democrats Don’t Understand About Rural America

By Chloe Maxmin and Canyon Woodward

Ms. Maxmin, now 29, was the youngest woman to become a state senator in Maine’s history. Mr. Woodward ran her two campaigns. They are the authors of the forthcoming book “Dirt Road Revival,” from which this essay is adapted.

NOBLEBORO, Maine — We say this with love to our fellow Democrats: Over the past decade, you willfully abandoned rural communities. As the party turned its focus to the cities and suburbs, its outreach became out of touch and impersonal. To rural voters, the message was clear: You don’t matter.

Now, Republicans control dozens of state legislatures, and Democrats have only tenuous majorities in Congress at a time in history when we simply can’t afford to cede an inch. The party can’t wait to start correcting course. It may be too late to prevent a blowout in the fall, but the future of progressive politics — and indeed our democracy — demands that we revive our relationship with rural communities.

…Over the past decade, many Democrats seem to have stopped trying to persuade people who disagreed with them, counting instead on demographic shifts they believed would carry them to victory — if only they could turn out their core supporters. The choice to prioritize turnout in Democratic strongholds over persuasion of moderate voters has cost the party election after election…

…It’s about a nationwide pattern of neglect that goes back years…

…When Democrats talk only to their own supporters, they see but a small fraction of the changes roiling this country. Since 2008, residents of small towns have fallen behind cities on many major economic benchmarks, and they watched helplessly as more and more power and wealth were consolidated in cities. We saw up close the loss, hopelessness and frustration that reality has instilled.

The current Democratic strategy leads not just to bad policy but also to bad politics. Our democracy rewards the party that can win support over large areas. Ceding rural America leaves a narrow path to victory even in the best circumstances. When the landscape is more difficult, Democrats set themselves up for catastrophic defeat…

Something has to change. The Democrats need a profoundly different strategy if they are to restore their reputation as champions of working people, committed to improving their lives, undaunted by wealth and power…

…it’s not too late to make amends, to rebuild our relationship with the quiet roads of rural America. We have to hit the ground running, today, this cycle, and recommit ourselves to the kind of politics that reaches every corner of our country.

One really cannot see today’s Democrats actually doing much to follow the advice above. And, even if they made a try one, wonders whether much of rural and small town/city America would take them seriously these days.

Related posts:

The United States? Or, The Growing Grand Canyon between Republicans and Democrats

“Democrats are not so different from Republicans in the slovenly attitudes they’ve lately taken on towards political violence”

How Woke Can the Democrats Go?

The Biden Presidency, or, Democrats Going over the Cliff?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

No Exit, or, the Absurdities of Northern Ireland’s Existential Realities

From an article in The Atlantic by a northern Englishman (County Durham):

The Truth About Irish Unity

The knottiness of Northern Ireland is by design. Remaining stuck is the only way the place works.

By Tom McTague

Three seismic events have occurred in one go in Northern Ireland. One, for the first time in Northern Ireland’s 100-year existence, an Irish nationalist party placed first in an election—and not just any nationalist party, but Sinn Fein, the longtime political wing of the Irish Republican Army. Two, the Alliance Party, which challenges the traditional Protestant-Catholic division that has defined Northern Ireland since its inception, scored its best-ever result and has now established itself as a genuine third force in Northern Irish politics [more on the elections here]. And three, the great political row that has dominated Northern Irish politics since Brexit—over the so-called protocol establishing new border controls—was tested with the public, and while those that oppose it have hardened in their opposition, a majority voted for parties that are fine with it.

The truth of Thursday’s [May 5] elections, then, is surely that the reunification of the island of Ireland is now more likely, and that Northern Ireland will finally be able to put to bed the divisions over Brexit and move on. Right? Wrong [emphasis added].

…The knottiness of Northern Ireland is by design. Remaining stuck is the only way the place works.

Two inescapable truths continue to govern Northern Ireland. The first is that while Sinn Fein emerged ahead of all other parties in Thursday’s election, a sizable majority of the electorate is still in favor of remaining part of the United Kingdom rather than joining the Republic of Ireland [emphasis added]. The second is that the Northern Ireland that exists is a strange, unfair, and largely dysfunctional place that works only when both its nationalist and unionist communities consent to the system governing it. While more people are now voting for the third-way Alliance Party, which argues that other bread-and-butter issues matter more than unionism or nationalism, for now, Northern Ireland’s political and constitutional reality remains unchanged.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, power must be shared between the two largest designations elected to the Northern Irish Assembly, which has thus far been made up of blocs identifying as unionist and nationalist. Until those that declare themselves “other”—such as the Alliance Party—finish in the top two, it doesn’t matter whether a nationalist or union party finishes first or second, because they must share power with the other.

This reality most directly affects the future of the Northern Irish protocol agreed upon by the United Kingdom and the European Union in 2019 as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit divorce deal. Under the terms of this agreement, a trade-and-customs border was erected between Northern Ireland and mainland Great Britain (that is, within the same country), in order to avoid one being imposed between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (that is, between two different states that share the same island). Ever since, Northern Ireland’s unionist parties have fiercely resisted this protocol, arguing that it is unfair because it prioritizes the wishes of one community in Northern Ireland (nationalists) over the other (unionists). In Thursday’s elections two things happened, each pulling in the opposite direction. First, parties that supported the protocol won more votes than parties that opposed it. But second, among the unionist parties that oppose it, it was the most hardline of the parties that increased its share of the vote at the expense of the others [emphasis added–on the unionists: “Many of the DUP’s votes were lost to Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionists Voice (TUV). This hard-line unionist party increased their share of the vote by 5.1% to reach a total of 7.6%].

And so we are back to where we have always been when it comes to Northern Ireland, with everything upended in theory but nothing changing in practice. Once again, we have fallen down the rabbit hole of the Northern Irish border problem into a world of the absurd…

One side, led by the EU, holds up the protocol as an almost sanctified document that must be adhered to in order to keep the peace in Northern Ireland. Without it, this side argues, checks on goods moving between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland would have to take place on the land border, stirring up the resentment of Irish nationalists, and therefore undermining support for the political settlement established by the Good Friday Agreement. Yet the protocol has never been implemented in full, because to do so would cause such disruption that it would further stir up the resentment of unionists, therefore undermining support for the political settlement established by the Good Friday Agreement.

In essence, then, the protocol is held up by one side as an agreement necessary to keep the peace, but has never been implemented in full because to do so would undermine the peace [emphasis added]. (The truth is, neither the U.K. nor the EU has ever fully implemented the protocol: The British government has unilaterally extended “grace periods” for businesses to avoid disruption, while the EU has agreed not to implement parts of the protocol that would restrict the flow of medical supplies from Britain to Northern Ireland.) Yet because it has not been implemented in full, the situation has never become so intolerable that anyone has actually changed it. This is a look-the-other-way solution where everyone acknowledges that the agreement cannot be enforced or scrapped.

The fear, though, is that the situation cannot last much longer. As of today, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party, the most successful unionist bloc in Thursday’s election, have six months to set up a new power-sharing executive (a Northern Irish government, essentially) before the British government imposes direct rule from London and sets a date for another round of elections to break the deadlock. Again: The British government would call elections to break a deadlock over a deal that is essential to security but that cannot be implemented because it would undermine security [emphasis added].

To find a way through the crisis, Johnson is flirting with the idea of passing a law giving the British government the power to bypass bits of the protocol it considers intolerable. Such a move, critics argue, would be a breach of international law. Proponents counter that the British government has obligations to two international agreements that are now in conflict: the Good Friday Agreement and the protocol. To maintain the former, the latter will have to change. To balance such a move, some experts believe the British government will offer concessions to Irish nationalists that have, so far, been blocked by unionists. By granting concessions to both sides, officials hope that a route through the crisis might be found. If you’re confused, that is because the whole issue is so fiendishly complicated that nobody has managed to solve it in the six years since Britain voted to leave the EU.

The truth, as has always been the case in Northern Ireland, is that the choice is between compromise and chaos…The final compromise itself matters less than the fact that everybody—the EU, Britain, the Republic of Ireland, and the two (or three) sides in Northern Ireland—must be equally unhappy with it. Only once everyone is somewhat aggrieved will the solution be somewhat tenable.

Northern Ireland can feel like a land where raw power and violence still matter in a way that should not be the case in a modern state. Yet in many ways, it is also a deeply unreal place, where the politics of make-believe is the only thing that works: where democracy is real, but not really; where peace settlements rule, but do not settle anything; and where sectarian division is lamented, but entrenched by the system lauded by all. It is a place where Irish nationalists win but are no closer to Irish unity; where unionists lose but are no less powerful; and where clean, rational solutions that look good on paper need to become dirty, irrational compromises that look terrible on inspection if they are to stand a chance of working.

Another way to sum up Northern Ireland (following a theme in the title of the post): “Brexit but no Brexit”. Simultaneously. Nationalists and Unionists trapped together. Crazy, man. Good luck squaring all those circles without violence at some point.

UPDATE: Latest on results at the BBC, note Sinn Fein did not actually gain seats:

NI election results 2022: What does Sinn Féin’s vote success mean?

Plus aJuly 2021post based on a piece by the superb Fintan O’Toole:

Northern Ireland, or, BoJo is Making a right Mash of Brexit, Links to Bangers Section

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Theme song, with “the echo of the Thompson gun”:

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

Further to this 2020 post,

US Air Force Trying to Shake, Rattle…(and note NORAD)

the USAF is in a touchy position, forced to make retirements from an increasingly aging fleet while awaiting in particular the new sixth-generation super-fighter (with its accompanying drones) and the new B-21 stealth bomber (which should be in service much sooner). All while facing seemingly ever-growing and more capable PRC forces. The frankness and depth of public discussion about US defence matters can only make a poor Canadian green (with spring!) envy.

1) First from an article at The Drive’s “War Zone”:

The Air Force Has Abandoned Its 386 Squadron Goal

The Air Force Secretary has poured cold water on the previous goal of a 386 squadron USAF and wants a posture based on the Chinese threat.

by Thomas Newdick, Tyler Rogoway May 4

The U.S. Air Force’s long-standing aspiration to increase the number of its squadrons to 386 by 2030 appears to have been dropped. The goal of an enlarged force, which was announced as long ago as 2018, is now deemed less important than fielding more capable platforms, with a particular eye on potential future conflicts with an increasingly advanced Chinese military. That, at least, is the view of the Air Force Secretary, the senior leader overseeing the Department of the Air Force, comprised of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force.

The development was announced by Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, speaking on a Brookings Institution webcast, under the title The future of American air power, on May 2nd, 2022. Among the highlights of a wide-ranging discussion were Kendall’s comments on Air Force size and structure and how these should be balanced, in the future, against capability levels which, in turn, will need to be optimized to meet the potential threat from the Chinese military.

“I’m not focused on counting end-strength or squadrons or airplanes,” Kendall said, but rather “I’m focused on the capability to carry out the operations we might have to support [toward] … defeating aggression. If you can’t deter or defeat the initial act of aggression, then you’re in a situation like we’re seeing in Ukraine: a protracted conflict.”

…the kind of Air Force structure that Kendall is proposing would be tailored very much for the kind of threat posed by China, not Russia [emphasis added], and which would involve fighting “several thousand miles away” from many established bases against an opponent that combines high-end weapons with innovative ways of employing them [see post on “Distributed Operations” noted at bottom of this one]

To…dissuade — and potentially defeat — a fast-expanding and increasingly sophisticated Chinese military, the U.S. Air Force needs to focus less on its size and more on fielding more capable and modern assets.

“An awful lot of equipment that we have is old,” Kendall said, pointing out that the average age of one of the service’s aircraft is 30 years, and that this number is growing every year.

Playing a fundamental part in modernizing the Air Force will be the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, or NGAD, one of Kendall’s key priorities, or operational imperatives. He described NGAD as a family of systems [emphasis added] that will include not just a new manned platform, but also uncrewed combat aircraft, new weapons, connectivity architecture, and relationships to outside support.

…With NGAD, as well as the B-21 Raider stealth bomber and nuclear modernization efforts all ongoing, there are some seriously expensive programs that all require funds. Development of the B-21 alone accounts for $381 million in the latest Air Force budget request, plus another $1.7 billion to actually begin purchasing the aircraft…

The idea of rapidly fielding a new platform and then working to improve it incrementally once it enters the inventory is espoused by Kendall and it’s one that we’ve heard before. Broadly, it parallels the so-called ‘Digital Century Series’ approach that was the brainchild of Will Roper, the former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics…

The biggest concern that is likely to come from Kendall’s emerging strategy is near-term risk, by retiring far more operational aircraft than the already ‘too small for demand’ Air Force is buying, and especially the idea long-term that quality will far supersede quantity in the aerial battlefield of the future [emphasis added]. No matter how capable a fighter or bomber may be, it can only be in one place at one time, and that is usually on the ground, with a substantial part of that time being torn apart for maintenance. In an expeditionary fight, where the U.S. is fighting thousands of miles from home, or even from secured airfields, quantity becomes a real issue in order to sustain the fight over the long haul. China will be fighting on its own turf without these strangling issues and its force is growing in both quantity and quality…

2) And from Aviation Week and Space Technology on the fighter force:

New Leadership Reimagines U.S. Air Force Fighter Fleet Structure

Steve Trimble Brian Everstine April 29, 2022

A new, long-term vision for the U.S. Air Force fighter fleet has gradually come into focus, and, if Congress approves, the changes for the tactical aviation portfolio could be stark.

A sixth-generation fighter to be acquired in the next decade by the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program will cost in the “hundreds of millions” each and enter service in the 2030s alongside a phalanx of uncrewed Collaborative Combat Aircraft with autonomous control systems, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told a House Armed Services Committee (HASC) panel on April 26.

Until then, the Air Force plans to nearly halve a Trump administration plan to buy at least 144 Boeing F-15EX fighters as a short-term replacement for more than 200 F-15C/Ds, cutting the procurement program off after ordering only 80 of the Eagle II fighters in fiscal 2024.

Although the Lockheed Martin F-35A is the only feasible alternative as an F-15C/D replacement in the near term, the Air Force instead aims to slash planned orders for the stealthy, single-engine fighter over the next two years by as many as 34 jets, then ramp up orders after F-15EX procurement is completed in fiscal 2024. The 33-year-old F-15E fleet, meanwhile, emerges from the fighter reshuffling unscathed.

Finally, the Air Force wants to offset cuts to other fighter fleets with major upgrades to the remaining aircraft.

Controversially, the Air Force plans to retire all Fairchild Republic A-10s over the next five years, along with the 33 Lockheed F-22s that are not equipped to fight in combat.

In exchange, the Air Force would like to invest money in major upgrades. More than 600 Lockheed F-16s would be upgraded to the Block 70/72 standard, including Northrop Grumman APG-83 active, electronically scanned array radars and the Northrop Grumman Next-Generation Electronic Warfare suite.

Meanwhile, the surviving fleet of nearly 150 F-22s also is in line for new equipment. Gen. Mark Kelly, the head of Air Combat Command, may have previewed some of the options in an April 27 tweet that celebrated the anniversary of the first F-22 public demonstration routine in 2007.

Kelly’s tweet included a concept image of an F-22 equipped with pods mounted on outboard wing pylons carrying apparent infrared search-and-track sensors, low-radar-cross-section fuel tanks and a next–generation air-to-air missile. The F-22 supposedly receives the first operational Lockheed AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile this year, but Air Force officials said during the April 27 hearing that the long-range weapon remained in development.

All of this fleet reshuffling would result in a 16% reduction in fighter fleet capacity through fiscal 2027, cutting a 2,138-strong fleet now down to 1,792 jets over the next five years [emphasis added].

Air Force officials are seeking to finance new fighter capabilities such as NGAD and F-35 Block 4 by retiring aircraft in the short term. The strategy has usually been met with resistance by Congress…

Kendall has proposed reengining the F-35. The Pratt & Whitney F135 is meeting specifications, but Block 4 electronic upgrades risk overwhelming the power and thermal management system. Pratt designed the 43,000-lb.-thrust engine to provide bleed air from the compressor to cool the onboard electronics [see this story at Breaking Defense: “How to save $40B on the F-35 Program: Cost, risk, and alliances are key considerations for F-35 propulsion modernization”].

…In written testimony submitted to the HASC, a joint statement from Kendall and current Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., is explicit: “This [NGAD] family of systems will include a sixth-generation crewed platform as well as uncrewed combat aircraft and a cost-effective mix of sensors, weapons and communications systems.”

Kendall said he expects to be fielding the NGAD in the 2030s, but two lawmakers, Reps. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) and Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), said they understood the program is delayed [emphasis added]

The sixth-generation fighter at the heart of the NGAD program is already expected to become the most expensive tactical aircraft ever developed. The price of “hundreds of millions” each cited by Kendall aligns with a 2018 projection by the Congressional Budget Office, which estimated a unit cost of about $300 million each for a future penetrating counter-air platform.

With such a high price per copy, the Air Force is trying to shift to a different approach for its fighter fleet.

…Air Force planners are internally debating how future fighter squadrons will be composed with crewed and uncrewed elements [emphasis added]. The newly branded Collaborative Combat Aircraft—formerly described as “Loyal Wingman”—builds on autonomous technology developed as part of programs such as Skyborg and Boeing’s MQ-28 Ghost Bat platform in Australia. It is “quite a few ways out,” Brown says.

Kendall has said he expects these aircraft to cost about half the price of the crewed platform, or potentially $150 million or more. In the short term, that is why the service is focusing on its four-aircraft mix of F-15s, F-16s, F-35s and the NGAD.

Challenges, challenges, challenges. But the RCAF can only wonder at how seriously the American administration and Congress take them. But they are a great power and we most certainly are not. Whether Canada even remains a middle power is open to real question.

And, boy!, does the US have vibrant, intelligent and well-informed defence media. A Canadian sighs.

Related posts;

US Air Force Planning for “Distributed Operations” in Pacific

US Air Force Planning vs PLA in Indo-Pacific

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Biden’s “Buy American” Bad for Bigger US Defence Picture

From a piece at Breaking Defence, see end of post for the current situation regarding Canada:

How Biden’s ‘Buy American’ is undermining the arsenal of democracy

Responding to America’s protectionist policies, allies write new letter to White House pushing for waivers, according to a new op-ed from AEI’s Bill Greenwalt and Dustin Walker.

By   Bill Greenwalt and Dustin Walker on May 03, 2022 at 9:44 AM

In an effort to boost the US economy, President Joe Biden has pushed a broad “Buy American” agenda. But AEI’s Bill Greenwalt and Dustin Walker argue in the op-ed below that the White House is pushing away the defense industrial base of friendly nations, threatening to harm not only America’s relationships abroad at a crucial time, but its own military readiness.

The arsenal of democracy is making a comeback. As it did in past moments of global crisis, the United States is arming a sovereign nation in its struggle for survival against the depredations of a dictator. But it is not doing so alone.

In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US is coordinating with its allies and partners on the urgent production, modification, donation and delivery of military equipment from across the world to Ukraine. It is working to rapidly replace equipment donated from its own inventory as well as those of its allies and partners. As many European nations consider increasing defense spending in future years, the US is helping lead discussions on how best to bolster capabilities needed to deter and defend against Russian aggression. And it is attempting to glean lessons from the war in Ukraine to prepare itself, as well as allies and partners such as Taiwan, for the possibility of Chinese aggression. This new arsenal of democracy is a multinational effort.

Yet at a decisive moment in the war in Ukraine when defense industrial cooperation with America’s allies and partners has never been more vital, the Biden administration is moving in the opposite direction. The so-called “Buy American” regulations will harm relationships with America’s friends, risk American jobs and leave America’s military less prepared for the challenges posed by Russia and China [emphasis added].

With certain exceptions, the Buy American Act requires the federal government to buy domestic “articles, materials, and supplies,” when they are acquired for public use. In March, one week after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Biden administration finalized a new regulation requiring that 75% of the cost of products procured by the US government be made up of domestic components by 2029. That’s up from the 55% today.

In other words, despite its rhetoric, the Biden administration is cutting back defense industrial cooperation with allies and partners in the middle of a war in Europe. The concern is so great that allied nations have written a new letter [PDF] to the White House, pleading for more critical exemptions [emphasis added, as noted at start of the post see below for Canada].

The primary impact of this new regulation will be on defense. While the Buy American Act theoretically applies to all federal government purchases, in practice it most directly affects defense purchases, which do not receive the same broad exemptions as commercial goods do under World Trade Organization agreements and US free trade agreements such as the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA).

The Biden administration and proponents of so-called “Buy American” regulations claim they will help grow America’s defense industrial base and create more defense jobs. They will do neither. The Biden administration’s new regulation will aggravate relations with allies and partners and, over the long term, shrink the global market for US defense products [emphasis added].

Allies Call For Help

Last year, a group of military attaches representing 25 nations including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany wrote to lawmakers opposing an increased domestic content threshold under the Buy American Act. The Biden administration didn’t listen. As a result, just as many European nations are pledging significant annual increases in defense spending, Europe’s protectionists will need only parrot the Biden administration to argue that new resources should be spent to buy European products — not American products.

If Washington doesn’t “buy allied,” why should London, Paris, or Berlin “buy American”? For that matter, why should Seoul or Tokyo [emphasis added]?

Supporters of so-called “Buy American” regulations point out that some allies and partners have negotiated Reciprocal Defense Procurement (RDP) agreements [Canada below], which provide some exemption from the Buy American Act. However, 10 NATO states do not have these agreements. Nor do key Indo-Pacific allies and partners such as South Korea, Taiwan, India and Singapore. For those that do, the impact of these agreements is limited. RDP agreements do not guarantee allied participation in US defense programs. The opportunity to do so is often stymied by an intricate web of laws and regulations, as well as by a cultural hubris that finds it hard to admit that allied technology could ever be any good.

Still, even what constrained value these agreements do provide is at risk. Congressional supporters of so-called “Buy American” policies have passed multiple bills, including the recent bipartisan infrastructure law, pushing the last two administrations to limit the application of RDP agreements and reduce waivers and exemptions [emphasis added]. In an April 25 letter to OMB, the same group of allies that opposed the higher domestic content threshold in the first place are now pleading with the administration to preserve an “allied” exemption.

Will the Biden administration ignore allies and partners yet again?

‘Buy American’ Makes It Harder To Do Business

Beyond the risk to American jobs, so-called “Buy American” regulations will endanger national security by making it harder for the US military to access the capability and capacity it needs to stay ahead of Russia and China.

These regulations will shrink the number of defense suppliers willing to do business with the Pentagon, both at home and abroad, potentially choking off the US military’s access to critical technology. In order to prove they are meeting the Biden administration’s higher domestic content threshold, companies will be required to produce complex and expensive compliance documentation to the government [emphasis added. For those US companies that sell exclusively or primarily to the government, they will have no choice but to shoulder this enormous paperwork burden while passing the cost of compliance on to taxpayers.

But many other companies have a choice of whether to do business with the government, which is not their only or even primary customer. That’s especially true of innovative companies leading the way in emerging technologies in the commercial sector—technologies our warfighters need to stay ahead of Russia and China. These American companies may very well conclude that complying with so-called “Buy American regulations—not only through administrivia, but potentially by changing the content of their products—just isn’t worth the hassle [emphasis added].

… the Biden administration’s protectionist regulations will increase costs for taxpayers by reducing incentives for US allies and partners to buy US defense equipment, particularly countries with substantial defense industries of their own…

The US defense industrial base is currently too small to produce enough military equipment to meet the US military’s needs, particularly when it comes to ships and critical munitions. For example, it will take years to replace US Javelins and Stingers supplied to Ukraine. Allies and partners can help plug this gap, which is especially dangerous in light of China’s vast and growing defense production capacity.

How Biden Can Help The US Defense Industrial Base [here comes some special pleading]

…it’s time to invest in growing the defense industrial base to meet the needs of the US military as well as those of its allies and partners. Legislation proposed by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., to provide $25 billion to modernize and expand America’s public and private shipyards is a good start. Similar legislation will likely be needed for munitions production not only to replace munitions sent to Ukraine but to ensure sufficient munitions stocks for the Indo-Pacific.

Finally, instead of making it harder to work with allies, the Biden administration could focus on eliminating our adversaries from our defense supply chain. China, for example, sells commercial dual use component parts that often find their way into US military systems and will not be restricted under the new Biden “Buy American” thresholds. These Chinese semiconductors, electronics, IT services and telecommunications—even in small amounts—are rightful targets of regulatory scrutiny and should be replaced through a targeted “buy allied” strategy [emphasis added]

China and Russia are no match for the combined technological and industrial might of the United States and its allies and partners. But we cannot marshal that collective power by indulging saccharine, populist schemes. Only in concert with allies and partners can America realize aspirations for a 21st century arsenal of democracy.

Bill Greenwalt, long the top Republican acquisition policy expert on the SASC, rose to become deputy defense undersecretary for industrial policy. A member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, he’s now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Dustin Walker is a non-Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

As for Canada, this is from the federal government’s government-to-government contracting organization, the Canadian Commercial Corporation:

About Buy American and Exemptions for Canadian Businesses

Written by The CCC Team | February 21, 2022 at 8:00 AM

The Canada-U.S. Defence Production Sharing Agreement (DPSA [from 1963!]) gives Canadian companies access to U.S. DoD procurement opportunities.

Currently, the US government waives Buy American requirements for long-standing DoD bilateral reciprocal defence procurement agreements, such as the DPSA, as well as duty and fees on Canadian exports to the U.S. DoD…

Under the Canada-U.S. Defence Production Sharing Agreement (DPSA), Canadian companies have almost full access to the world’s largest military procurement market.

CCC is embedded in the U.S. Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement 225.870 (DFARS) to act as the prime contractor for Canadian exporters awarded U.S. DoD contracts over USD $250,000.The CCC has spent the last 65 years working closely with the U.S. DoD to connect American military needs with Canadian solutions.

If you’re a Canadian defence company looking to sell to the U.S., check out our step-by-step Guide to U.S DoD Market Entry and take the first steps toward doing business with the U.S. DoD.   

One hopes all that will continue. On verra. But note that the CCC only deals with the US government; what may be happening with company-to-company business? More here on the DPSA.

Meanwhile our Chief of the Defence Staff says this:

Canada’s top soldier says defence industry needs to ramp up production to ‘wartime footing

Problem is our industry doesn’t produce much in the way of finished defence equipment to “ramp up”, rather mainly components for foreign-made equipment (Pratt and Whitney Canada aeroengines are a top-end example of that–here’s an interesting story from 2012). Sometime in the early 2030s (see “4. Implementation” here) Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax will start producing new frigates for the Royal Canadian Navy; our perishingly slow shipbuilding industry is the least likely one able to “ramp up” anything.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds