Canada Foreign Policy
Friday, July 29, 2005
  Well worth reading...a fascinating point of view...

Posted by Stan Markotich
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Wednesday, July 27, 2005
  “Still So September 10”?

Just over a year ago, writer Arthur Weinreb filed a piece titled “Canada—Still So September 10” [Canada Free Press, 29 March 2004. Article posted at]. The argument, simply, was that PM Paul Martin understood terrorism had impacted the world, but he remained content to merely acknowledge the fact and do little to change Canada’s policies in response. “What was missing [from Martin]… was any indication that Canada has the resolve to step up the fight against terrorism in the wake of the attacks in Spain. Unlike George W. Bush and Tony Blair, the former high school football player is content to play defense when he’s not simply watching from the sidelines, vigilantly of course,” said Weinreb. The author also argued that the PM had both public sentiment and support on his side: “Canada’s refusal to take the combating of terrorism seriously is perfectly okay with a vast number of Canadians. Many in this country are of the view that because we are so diverse, so tolerant, so nice, so multicultural, terrorist attacks cannot possibly happen here.”

But right about the time Weinreb wrote, Martin seemed to be changing his mind, stating, in no uncertain terms, that terrorism was a priority. But let’s not lose sight of the key issue: was that just rhetoric? Did the announcements about terror amount to little more than concerted efforts to distance the new Ottawa from Chretien’s legacy, and to curry favour with Washington? Martin in fact did go so far as to dub terror this generation’s Cold War. “I believe that terrorism will be, for our generation, what the Cold War was to generations that preceded us,” he insisted [for this and all citations in this paragraph see Stephanie Rubec, “Saddam’s Missing Weapons in Terrorists’ Hands: Martin,” Sun Media, 11 May 2004. Article posted at]. And in a move to distance himself even further from Chretien, the then new PM observed poverty and privation were not necessarily always the root causes giving way to this new era Cold War. Terrorism had its roots in ideology and hostile regimes, sophisticated enough to go past hate, right to acquiring, distributing, and concealing weapons of mass destruction. The PM even added he felt Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was behind a WMD trade: “Martin said the threat of terrorism is even greater now than it was following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, because terrorists have acquired nuclear, chemical and biological weapons from the toppled Iraqi leader.” This indeed was a bleak picture. But what was missing was any description of what Martin thought Canada ought to do counter terror.

Today Canada’s top military official, Rick Hillier, is watching as Canadian soldiers deploy in southern Afghanistan, a war zone. He says combat is almost a certainty, and unlike the Prime Minister, dispenses with diplomatic language when explaining what terror is. He argues failed states serve as a breeding ground for both organized crime and the terror networks they support. He describes Canadians as having endured a long slumber, and as a population only now beginning to wake up to the threats posed by the new international order. When Canadian forces arrive in Afghanistan, says Hillier, they will encounter enemies as repugnant as any notorious Canadian serial killer [See, for example, “Failed States Pose Grave Danger, Top General Warns,” by Daniel Leblanc, Globe and Mail, 23 July 2005. Story posted at]. But in the latest twist, independent Member of Parliament Carolyn Parrish has surfaced as a counterbalance to the pointed rhetoric.

Recent media reports suggest Parrish may be reconciling with the Liberal Party, a development that may not sit well with the PM. In any case, Parrish has been watching Hillier, and she says she finds repugnant many of the General’s opinions, especially perhaps his view that killing is in the job description Canadian soldiers have. In fact, according to at least one report, she “calls Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier ‘dangerous’ and ‘testosterone-fuelled’ for saying the job of Canadian soldiers is to be able to kill people” [cited in Josh Pringle’s “Parrish Calls Top Soldier ‘Dangerous’”, CFRA Talk Radio, 26 July 2005. Story posted at].

So what does this all mean? Are we “still so September 10”?

Stan Markotich
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Monday, July 25, 2005
  Terrorism is no longer an issue dealt with exclusively or primarily by the nation’s major media. I think it was back on 9 July 2005 that Mike Garrett, writing for the Kamloops Daily News in British Columbia filed an interesting editorial. It is with his permission that I repost his piece:

“Could Canada be a target?

A Daily News editorial by Mike Garrett

Could it happen here?

That’s the question on the minds of many western nations in the wake of the London bombings earlier this month.

Unlike the acts of terror unleashed on Sept. 11 and in Madrid — which were engineered by foreign nationals with ties to al-Qaida — the Underground attacks were carried out on British citizens by British-born citizens with no known al-Qaida links.

July 7 also marked the first time a suicide bomb attack had occurred in a western nation, marking a new and especially frightening chapter in the war on terror, as there is no defence against this type of attack.

This week, the chairman of the Senate committee on national security and defence warned that it is only a matter of time before terror comes to Canadian soil.

“Our intelligence communities have been warning us for some time that this is a certainty — not if, but when and how and where,” said Senator Colin Kenny.

Those sentiments were echoed by Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan, who said that Canadians must be “prepared psychologically” for a terrorist attack.

With dire predictions like this, it’s hard not to become despondent and fearful. But there are key differences between Britain and Canada that offer hope.

Canada is a nation that has worked hard to ensure that immigrants are integrated into our multicultural society and given all opportunities possible to succeed and feel a part of their new country.

By contrast, many British Muslims are poorly integrated into a society that is still rigidly class-bound. In fact, Europe as a whole has never adequately dealt with its Muslim minorities, who often find themselves cut off from their country, language and culture of origin, making them easy prey for peddlers of a new jihadist identity.

The younger second generation especially finds itself on the outside looking in. Their unemployment rates usually hover at two to three times higher than the national average and some find themselves drawn to more radicalized proponents of Islam.

This is not to suggest that extremism could not take root in Canada — the Air India bombings being a prime example — but the ground is certainly less fertile.

Canada has strict laws against hate and incitement to violence, as aboriginal leader David Ahenakew found out recently when he was convicted of wilfully promoting hatred after he called Jews “a disease.”

Whereas in England, Muslim extremists have been free to preach messages of hate and violence while the British government has, up to now, turned a blind eye.

Still, it takes very little to radicalize some Muslims these days with all the blood being shed in the Middle East. And Canada, while not in Iraq, still has troops on the ground in Afghanistan and could be perceived as a foe of Islam.

So Muslim leaders in Canada have a part to play, too. The greatest restraint on human behaviour is what a culture and a religion deem shameful. Too many young Muslims see suicide bombers as heroes, not murderers. They need new role models to replace bin Laden and his ilk. The world is waiting for a new type of Muslim leader to shatter this cycle of violence.

We know the danger, we’ve seen the horror — let’s start discussing solutions and avoid falling into a pit of despair and paranoia.” --Mike Garrett

Posted by Stan Markotich
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Saturday, July 23, 2005
  Emerging Home Front

PM Paul Martin was in Scotland attending the G8 meeting when, on 7 July 2005, bombers struck across London, claiming over fifty lives and injuring perhaps dozens more. Exactly two weeks later, the terrorists hit again; this time only a few Londoners were injured, and there were no deaths.

Egypt is now the target. On 23 July 2005 a series of car bombs went off in the tourist resort area of Sharm el-Sheik. So far 88 are reported dead, and fears are the toll may escalate in the coming hours. In addition, at least 120 have been wounded.

The terrorists appear to be intensifying their actions. But why, and why now? Are these terror attacks some sort of end-game, or do they foreshadow something much bigger, much more menacing, say perhaps a far wider conflict that is now simply in its earliest stages? Years ago media reported that Al-Qaeda masterminds sought to get their hands on nuclear devices. While “dirty bombs” are not likely to kill many, they may have the important effect of generating waves of mass panic and anxiety. As one report from 2001 noted, “At a meeting of senior al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan within the last year, a member of the terrorist network displayed a cylinder and said it contained radiological material that could be used in a so-called ‘dirty bomb,’ according to U.S. officials…A ‘dirty bomb’ is a conventional explosive laced with radioactive materials designed more to terrify people than to kill large numbers, experts said” [CNN 4 December 2001. Posted at]. Reports that terror networks have renewed their interest in nuclear materials are beginning to resurface.

Meanwhile, Ottawa has spent decades downgrading and degrading its security and military capacities. At the political and top bureaucratic levels, there is the ongoing preoccupation with portraying Canada as a peacekeeper, indeed ready to intervene, but in order to offer reconstruction and aid where failed states are in critical need of repair. But could things in the nation’s capital now be changing? Are members of Canada’s elite trading in their complacency, and starting to realize the terror threat may be real, even in and for this country? For a long time, it has been common knowledge that Canada is on a shadowy terror-network hit list along with 19 other states. That Canada and only one other nation have not been targeted may suggest this country is perhaps somehow immune. And is this what our officials are thinking and believing?

In recent days and weeks, Deputy PM and Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan has commented on “a new normal” developing across the West since the London bombings. While she says there is no specific threat to Canadians, she acknowledges much more has to be done to deal with any potential threat of terrorism. She reportedly notes “would-be terrorists walk among us” and has been quoted saying “I believe - I know - that there are those in this country who, either alone or with others, might at some point choose to do harm.” But Tory Leader Stephen Harper cautions all this may be little more than rhetoric. “I believe we're awfully complacent…This unfortunately tends to be the situation until people are actually faced with a terrorist incident. The basic co-ordination of our security agencies has not been done in this country,” he says [all citations in this paragraph appear in “McLellan Assures Canadians No Threat Here After Second London Bombing,” by Stephen Thorne and Alexander Panetta, National Post, 23 July 2005. Posted at].

Then there was a recent incident involving Canada’s top military official, General Rick Hillier. Our troops are now in southern Afghanistan, and what they are likely to encounter, Hillier publicly dubbed “detestable murderers and scumbags [Taliban]…They detest our freedoms, they detest our society, they detest our liberties.” Members of the Polaris Institute, a left-leaning foreign affairs think tank asked the General’s remarks be clarified. This was rejected. And PM Martin went farther, defending Hillier, saying “The point he [Hillier] is simply making is we are at war with terrorism and we're not going to let them win” [citations in this paragraph appear in “‘Murderous Scumbag’ Shot Par for the Course for New Defence Chief; No Reprimand,” by Stephen Thorne, CP, 15 July 2005. Posted at].

So, are recent events forcing real changes on how foreign affairs are done in Ottawa? This will have to be answered in time.

Stan Markotich
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Sunday, July 10, 2005
  Interesting news... 
Thursday, July 07, 2005
  Breaking news... 
Monday, July 04, 2005
  Live 8, already called the greatest concert ever by some, is now history. Canadians enjoyed the music, but do they really believe our government can or should give more to support foreign aid?

Stan Markotich
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A discussion of geopolitics and Canada's role in the world. A series of essays to examine the components of Canadian foreign policy making. Psychological, sociological, historical, and cultural variables impacting Canada's perceptions of the world.

03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 /

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