OpenCanada.org

Canada's Hub for International Affairs

Dispatch

FROM THE EDITORS OF OPENCANADA

The Week: The Wars We Wage

Taylor Owen | April 12, 2013
The Wars We Wage

This week on OpenCanada, Jennifer Welsh considers the legacy of Margaret Thatcher’s wars – in the Falklands, in Kuwait, and in Ireland. Steve Saideman looks at the dangers involved with training militaries in less stable countries at a time when democracies are much less inclined to put their own troops in harm’s way. And David Robillard details the secret war being fought not by states, but by corporations. More …

 

The Business of Spying
Governments aren’t the only ones deploying spies these days. David Robillard explains.

Thatcher’s Wars
Jennifer Welsh on the great and costly legacy of Thatcher’s forceful, visionary leadership.

Proxy Proxies
Steve Saidemanargues that focusing only on national armies in conflict-ridden states promotes bias against foreign troop training.

Democracy in Retreat
Josh Kurlantzick talked to OpenCanada on the worldwide decline of democracy.

An Unequal Partnership
Fraser Reilly-King on why the post-2015 framework still misses the meaning of ‘partnership’ in ‘global partnership’.

Wanted: A Real Global Partnership
John Sinclair on why the most recent model for a Global Partnership on development is failing to reach its potential.

Canada-China Opportunities In Transition
Content from the conference organized by the CIC’s National Capital Branch.

This Week: Iraq, 10 Years On

Taylor Owen | March 22, 2013
Leaving Iraq

This week marked the ten-year anniversary of the war in Iraq. OpenCanada looks at the war’s legacy with a six-part series A Lost Decade?

Roland Paris considers the common view at the time that staying out of the war would damage Canada-U.S. relations and finds that nothing of the sort happened. And it’s a good thing we did stay out, says Michael Bell, because the invasion was doomed to failure from the beginning. Attempting to find a silver lining, Steve Saideman says the invasion was a bad idea, but not the “Single Worst Decision In The History of American Foreign Policy”. That honour instead goes to the decision to disband the Iraqi army in 2003. Bessma Momani thinks that the most important lesson can be drawn from the massive human cost of the war. Jennifer Welsh looks at how the war changed how we think about the connection human rights and armed conflict. And Paul Sedra sees a historical parallel between the American occupation of Iraq and the British occupation of Egypt in 1882. More …

 

A Lost Decade?: Debating the Lessons of the Iraq War Ten Years On
Ten years on, Baghdad and Washington are still feeling the ripple effects of the Iraq War, as insurgent attacks continue and sequestration kicks in. But should the period of the Iraq war be considered “a lost decade”? Have we learned anything from the deaths of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians and 6,630 U.S. soldiers? Is it still to early to tell? OpenCanada asked our experts to reflect on the lessons learned (and not) from ten years of conflict. We also selected essays and longform pieces that highlight changing perceptions of the war from 2003 to 2013. With contributions from Roland Paris, Michael Bell, Steve Saideman, Bessma Momani, Jennifer Welsh, Paul Sedra.

Untapped Value: Why We Don’t Appreciate the Value of Water and What Could Change If We Did
Human societies cannot survive, much less thrive, in the absence of reliable sources of fresh water. This reality makes water a resource of immense value. But rarely do we see water being used in a way that reflects that value, particularly in relatively water-rich countries like Canada. On this World Water Day, OpenCanada asked three experts whether the attitudes of Canadians  toward water are changing for the better; whether the way we think about water will affect our ability to adapt to climate change-related impacts on supply and demand; and whether Canada can be a global leader on water-related issues. With contributions from Tony Maas, Diane Dupont, Bernadette Connant, and Bob Sandford.

CIDA Merger Is Fine, But Fundamental Questions of Policy Remain Unresolved
Roland Paris on the Canadian International Development Agency being folded into the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Trade Has a Place in Canada’s Foreign Aid Policy
Danielle Goldfarb on why Canada’s aid policies need to better reflect the global economic reality.

Responding to China’s Military Buildup
Elinor Sloan on what China’s new military capability means for both the U.S. and Canada.

Kenyatta’s Challenge to the ICC
The International Criminal Court should give Kenya’s new president a chance say Laszlo Sarkany and Asim Ali.

Canada’s Food Fortune
Canada is well-positioned to profit from the growing market for food, but policymakers must enable Canadian food exports to seize this opportunity argue Michael Bloom and Michael Grant.

Maritime Security and the Canada-China Relationship
James Manicommakes the case for maritime security to be part of Canada’s China strategy.

The Spectre of Sinophobia
As Chinese investment in Canada grows, we should take care not to repeat the mistakes of the past says Hugh Stephens.

This Week: A New Pope and a New President

Taylor Owen | March 15, 2013
A New Pope

On Thursday, A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced a bill to approve TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline. While the bill’s passage is not guaranteed, the continued push to bring Keystone online would no doubt dismay Henry Shue, who wrote “we need the tar sands oil like we need a dagger in the back” in his essay for OpenCanada this week. In Shue’s estimation, the oil sands have transformed Canada from leader to threat in the fight against climate change.

In Rome, the conclave chose Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to be the new Pope. We talked to Andrew Preston, the award-winning author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith, about the role of the Vatican in international relations today.

In this week’s other ‘election’, Xi Jinping was appointed president of China. Jinping is a world leader Canadians will likely get to know a lot better as China becomes more and more of a global force argues David Dyment.

And I consider the psychological impact of living in drone-prone regions like Pakistan, Yemen, or Gaza, where the these flying robots have become omnipresent. More …

 

Canada and Climate: From Leader to Threat
Henry Shue on why burning through our limited carbon budget is going to cost us dearly.

Faith and Foreign Policy
Andrew Preston, author of the award-winning book, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith, on the role of religion in U.S. foreign policy.

Teeter-Tottering Between Contending Perceptions of China
David Dyment on why the country represents both a challenge and an opportunity for Canada.

Why NATO is the Worst Alliance (Except For All the Others)
Steve Saideman on why NATO is still a good deal for Canada, even if we don’t always need what we pay for.

Buzz Kill
What does being constantly watched sound like? Taylor Owen on the under-appreciated costs of living under drones.

This Week: Space Race

Taylor Owen | March 1, 2013
Space Racing

The Canadian military launched their first satellite into orbit this week. The dishwasher-sized Sapphire will improve “Canada’s space situational awareness” by tracking the roughly 20,000 objects larger than 10 centimetres across currently circling the earth to better prevent collisions between them.

Of course, preventing accidental collisions is one thing. Preventing a belligerent foreign country from targeting your satellites is something altogether different. That’s why the EU has proposed a new “code of conduct” to reinforce the rules keeping weapons out of space. Other international actors, however, seem cool to the idea, says Paul Meyer.

Back on earth, the Canadian Forces brass seem less interested in boldly exploring new frontiers. Steve Saideman writes that trimming the budget, not preparing for the next war, has become the focus for the military.

But many Egyptians are keen to see their leader join the space race. Bessma Momani notes that an online campaign has begun to send Morsi to space. The president’s critics hope he will gain some perspective on Egypt’s many earthly troubles there.

And OpenCanada’s series on the future of sustainable development in partnership with the North-South Institute continues with Derek Evans arguing that we need new goals that better reflect the changing nature of global poverty, while John Sinclair thinks that different countries need different goals. More …

Failure to Launch?
Paul Meyer on why the European Union’s proposed International Code of Conduct for Outer Space is running low on diplomatic fuel.

New Development Goals For a New World
Derek Evans on how the nature of global poverty has changed, and why the post-2015 MDGs need to reflect that change.

One Size Only, One Global Customer?
John Sinclair on why universality and tiering should be part of the post-2015 Millennium Development Goal conversation.

Keystone Uber Alles?
Steve Saideman on why neither Canadian domestic policy nor Canadian-U.S. relations begin and end with the Keystone pipeline.

The Weight of History in the Arctic
Shelagh Grant on why the history of the Arctic is relevant to today’s debates over the future of Arctic sovereignty.

The Budget Military
Steve Saideman on how spending decisions may dictate the makeup of the Canadian Forces.

Why Egypt Needs Space from Morsi
Bessma Momani discusses the growing disconnect between President Mohamed Morsi and the Egyptian people.

David Souter on the Development-Technology Disconnect
OpenCanada talked to the Managing Director of ICT Development Associates about how the spread of new communication technologies are challenging understandings of sustainability.

This Week: NATO in Africa and Abe in America

Taylor Owen | February 22, 2013
Abe and Obama

French and Malian troops have Islamist rebels on the run in Mali, or so it seemed until militants snuck back into the town of Gao and had to be driven out again by Malian soldiers with French support. Will this just be another case where extremists retreat only to resurge? Alexander Moens and Jimmy Peterson argue that Islamist networks are a growing threat in a number of African countries and that neither African nor United Nations forces alone can  solve the problem. They want NATO to step in and bridge the gap.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in Washington today to meet with President Obama. Gerald Wright speculates on each leader’s priorities and political handicaps. Obama doesn’t want to send the wrong message to Beijing, although as John Hancock argues, the recently proposed U.S.-EU trade agreement could be interpreted as a move against China.

Disputes over sovereignty claims in the South China Sea are heating up again, but higher temperatures in waters further north are of more direct concern to Canada. As sea-ice melts and Arctic waterways open up, OpenCanada’s series, Cold Calculations: The Politics of Arctic Development continues. We asked representatives of Arctic peoples and states whether Canada should push the economic development of Arctic when it takes the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. More …

For All Mankind
Michael Van Pelt on why Canada’s new Office of Religious Freedom is an opportunity to build on Canada’s vibrant pluralist heritage.

Africa Needs NATO More Than It Needs the UN
African countries will need more help than the UN can offer to stop the spread of Islamist extremism argue Alexander Moens and Jimmy Peterson.

Mr. Abe Goes to Washington
This week, the Japanese Prime Minister met with President Obama. Gerald Wright explains what they need from each other, and why they may not get it.

Should Canada Push Arctic Development?
OpenCanada asked representatives of both Arctic peoples and states whether economic development is the right priority for Canada to advance in the North.

The Mother of All Trade Blocs
John Hancock on why the proposed U.S.-EU trade deal could revitalize global trade co-operation. Or end it.

This Week: North Korea, the State of the Union, and Trade Dealing

Taylor Owen | February 15, 2013
Kim Jong-il, too big for death

North Korea once again moved to the forefront of the foreign policy debate when it conducted its third nuclear test. At this point, Pyongyang probably isn’t that fazed by condemnations from the United States or South Korea, but could they have finally pushed China too far? Jennifer Welsh considers the ever so slightly shifting rhetoric coming out of Beijing.

In Washington, Obama delivered the first State of the Union Address of his second term. The president made plenty of promises on the foreign policy front, but Steve Saideman isn’t holding his breath that he’ll keep many of them. While Obama didn’t specifically mention Canada by name during his speech, one of his policy announcements could have a big impact on us – the start of free-trade talks with the European Union. Canada and the EU are still in the process of hammering out a trade deal and Danielle Goldfarb wonders if a potential U.S.-EU deal could derail it.

And it’s not just Canada that should be worried. John Hancock thinks that a transatlantic agreement is clearly aimed at restoring the West’s dwindling leverage vis-à-vis China. And an escalating global trade war between rival regional blocs is definitely not what the global economy needs right now.

Meanwhile, the violence in Syria continues while the world does little – very unlike what happened in Libya and Mali. Kyle Matthews considers what this means for the future of R2P.  Of course, the West once made good use of the Assad regime’s brutality. Syria was one of many foreign governments complicit in the CIA’s secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations. We map out the full CIA torture network here.

And we sat down with Columbia University professor Saskia Sassen to talk about how to build a smarter city.

And finally, I look at the emerging surveillance arms race between technologies governments use to monitor communication and the tools citizens use to evade this tracking.

  More …

The Mother of All Trade Blocks
John Hancock on why the proposed U.S.-EU trade deal could revitalize global trade co-operation, or end it.

The Surveillance Arms Trade
Taylor Owen on how western technology companies are helping autocratic governments monitor and control their citizens.

Third Time’s An Alarm
North Korea’s most recent nuclear test is a serious provocation – to the West, but also to China. There’s a decent chance Kim Jong-un’s belligerency has cost him Xi Jinping’s support says Jennifer Welsh.

1930s Redux?
Sure, times are tough, but are they 1930s tough? John Hancock says that the parallels between the economy then and the economy today are becoming hard to ignore.

Did Obama Just Derail the Canada-EU Trade Deal?
Canada wasn’t mentioned during the State of the Union, but one policy announcement could jeopardize our trade negotiations with the EU says Danielle Goldfarb.

Promises Made
Steve Saideman on the many foreign policy promises Obama made this week in the State of the Union Address and the likelihood of him keeping those promises.

State of Disunion
Paul Quirk on what Obama’s State of the Union Address means for Canada – there’s both good news and bad news.

The End of Atrocity
With no end to the conflict in Syria in sight, do the promises of “never again” following the Rwandan genocide ring hollow? Yes and no says Kyle Matthews.

Open Systems, Smart Cities
OpenCanada talked to Columbia University Professor Saskia Sassen about building smarter cities out of smarter technology.

The CIA’s Torture Network
When the CIA began to torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, they did so with the help of numerous foreign governments.

This Week: Somali Refugees, Plumpy’Nut, and NATO

Taylor Owen | February 1, 2013
This Week

This week in the Think Tank, Nicholas Bishop explores rising pre-election tensions in Kenya, where there are over half a million Somali refugees, many of whom are being targeted for relocation and expulsion.  In another piece focusing on Africa, Heather Keachie tells the worrying, if fascinating, story of how Plumpy’Nut food aid ends up in markets being sold as candy bars.  We are also trying out new formats for our essays, adding full screen images and custom accompanying graphics.

In the Roundtable, Bessma Momani takes a hard look at the latest round of protests in Egypt, the impact of continuing upheaval on Egyptian society and the collective influences of politics and soccer throughout the conflict. Meanwhile, Steve Saideman examines NATO’s staying power and explains why America’s ‘pivot’ towards Asia is an indicator of U.S. faith in the institution’s continuing success. More …

 

Safe Haven No More
The Kenyan government is set to impose drastic measures aimed at Somali refugees. Nicholas Bishop considers the ramifications.

The Plumpy’Nut Story
Heather Keachie on how one person’s emergency food aid can become another person’s candy bar.

A Crisis of Confidence
The latest round of protests reveal the continuing fragility of post-Mubarak Egypt, and the increasing frustration of Egyptians with the current regime, writes Bessma Momani.

Reports of NATO’s Demise…
Steve Saideman on why NATO continues to endure, despite endless predictions of its imminent collapse.

This Week: Algeria, Clinton, and North Korea

The RCMP in Algeria, Hillary Clinton on Benghazi, more threats from North Korea, and David Cameron wants to reconsider the EU.
OpenCanada Staff | January 25, 2013
This Week- Algeria, Clinton, and North Korea

This week at OpenCanada.org, we’ve been tracking the fallout from reports that two Canadians were among the hostage takers at the Algerian gas field. The Algerian Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, made the claim at a press conference earlier this week. So far, the Canadian response has been cautiously ambiguous: “We have no substantial information at the present time on these particular individuals, but obviously we will continue to work with the government of Algeria to find out more about this particular matter,” the prime minister told reporters. RCMP officers were sent to Algeria to get to the bottom of things. More …

In America, soon-to-be-former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was grilled by two congressional committees in one day over just how much the U.S. government knew about the who was behind the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again,” Clinton told Senator Ron Johnson.

Meanwhile, North Korea was once again rattling their saber at the world. The country said it would conduct further rocket launches and a nuclear test that would specifically target the United States. The threats were denounced by the White House as “needlessly provocative.”

In other nuclear news, warnings of a nuclear attack were sounded in Kashmir. Officials in the Indian-controlled region were encouraging residents to prepare shelters, food, and water in case of nuclear war. A number of deadly clashes between India and Pakistan over the disputed region heightened tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.

In the U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron wants to renegotiate Britain’s EU membership, after which he promised to hold a referendum on said membership. “I’m not blackmailing anyone,” Cameron said.

And this week’s election in Israel left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a significantly weakened position, launching much speculation over what kind of coalition might emerge to run the country.

No Bragging Rights

President Obama's second inauguration brought out an unfortunate Canadian tendency: smugness.
Jennah Khaled | January 23, 2013
No Bragging Rights

In the aftermath of President Obama’s second inauguration, the Ottawa Citizen published a column entitled ‘Polite Canadians won’t brag at America’s party – but they could.’  The piece, by contributor Tim Mak, argued that this moment in American history provided Canada with an opportunity to draw attention to our relative successes on domestic affairs and foreign policy. Mak wrote that:

It is a critical point in American history: the country’s first African-American president was sworn in Monday for a second term in the midst of deep political dysfunction and a floundering economic recovery. A perfect occasion for some cheeky Canadians to brag a little… On the key issues that President Barack Obama pledged to dedicate his second term to in his inaugural address, Canada has already made substantive progress: on supporting democracy around the world; on providing equal rights to gays and lesbians; on creating an aspirational immigration system.

The editors of Foreign Policy’s Passport blog thought otherwise, saying:

 The president’s inaugural address was a chance for Canadians to pat themselves on the back, the Ottawa Citizen snarkily reports.

While other countries took the opportunity to comment on relevant policy areas and offer constructive dialogue on the state of affairs, the Citizen piece broadcasted an unfortunate Canadian tendency: smugness, particularly in relation to our American neighbours, on issues like gun control, immigration, and healthcare. Fortunately, not all Canadian pundits took the inauguration as an opportunity for self-congratulation.  John Ibbitson at the Globe and Mail contemplated the impact of Obama’s climate change rhetoric on the Keystone Pipeline project:

Simply put: Anyone who believes that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline will be a slam dunk should read the speech carefully. Because every flag it raises is red. If Mr. Obama meant what he said in his inaugural address about taking action on climate change and on renewable energy, then those initiatives will have major implications for the Conservative government.

 

In the aftermath of President Obama’s second inauguration, the Ottawa Citizen published a column entitled ‘Polite Canadians won’t brag at America’s party – but they could.’  The piece, by contributor Tim Mak, argued that this moment in American history provided Canada with an opportunity to draw attention to our relative successes on domestic affairs and foreign policy. Mak wrote that:

It is a critical point in American history: the country’s first African-American president was sworn in Monday for a second term in the midst of deep political dysfunction and a floundering economic recovery. A perfect occasion for some cheeky Canadians to brag a little… On the key issues that President Barack Obama pledged to dedicate his second term to in his inaugural address, Canada has already made substantive progress: on supporting democracy around the world; on providing equal rights to gays and lesbians; on creating an aspirational immigration system.

The editors of Foreign Policy’s Passport blog thought otherwise, saying:

 The president’s inaugural address was a chance for Canadians to pat themselves on the back, the Ottawa Citizen snarkily reports.

While other countries took the opportunity to comment on relevant policy areas and offer constructive dialogue on the state of affairs, the Citizen piece broadcasted an unfortunate Canadian tendency: smugness, particularly in relation to our American neighbours, on issues like gun control, immigration, and healthcare. Fortunately, not all Canadian pundits took the inauguration as an opportunity for self-congratulation.  John Ibbitson at the Globe and Mail contemplated the impact of Obama’s climate change rhetoric on the Keystone Pipeline project:

Simply put: Anyone who believes that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline will be a slam dunk should read the speech carefully. Because every flag it raises is red. If Mr. Obama meant what he said in his inaugural address about taking action on climate change and on renewable energy, then those initiatives will have major implications for the Conservative government.

 

Troubling Ties

Jennah Khaled | January 22, 2013
Troubling Ties

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal announced Monday that two Canadians were involved in the hostage-taking at an Algerian gas plant that ended earlier this week, and that a Canadian citizen may have been responsible for organizing the attack. CBC’s The Current brought together security experts to discuss this development. Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former CSIS senior manager and current CEO of the Northgate Group, commented:

Unfortunately, there is something that we must, as Canadians, recognize – that these sort of activities [go on], there [are] these kinds of cells operating out of Montreal… we have a long list of individuals [who have] operated out of Montreal for a long time, who have been suspected or linked to terrorist activities, terrorist groups.

Canadian involvement in the planning of the attack has not been confirmed by the Canadian government, nor has any other country backed Algeria’s statement. Regardless, the possible linkage will almost certainly have an impact on Canadian-American border security cooperation. The Fraser Institute has observed and tracked ‘border thickening’ in recent years, and indicators suggest this trend will continue.  According to The Globe and Mail,

[I]t is beyond dispute that Canada produces its share of violent fanatics. The director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service last year told Parliament that between 45 and 60 Canadian citizens had recently “travelled or attempted to travel from Canada to Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen to join al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations … Ottawa officials are scrambling to investigate these claims, amid ongoing worries that any perceptions of Canada being a haven for al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists could lead to added scrutiny – and ultimately might curb the flow of goods and people across the U.S. border.

In June 2012, the US Dept of Homeland Security, the US Dept. of Justice, Public Safety Canada, and Justice Canada announced a joint initiative entitled ‘Statement of Privacy Principles’ that aims to deepen intelligence and information sharing on common security goals. In the wake of the current crisis, the critical importance of this type of initiative is clear.

 

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal announced Monday that two Canadians were involved in the hostage-taking at an Algerian gas plant that ended earlier this week, and that a Canadian citizen may have been responsible for organizing the attack. CBC’s The Current brought together security experts to discuss this development. Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former CSIS senior manager and current CEO of the Northgate Group, commented:

Unfortunately, there is something that we must, as Canadians, recognize – that these sort of activities [go on], there [are] these kinds of cells operating out of Montreal… we have a long list of individuals [who have] operated out of Montreal for a long time, who have been suspected or linked to terrorist activities, terrorist groups.

Canadian involvement in the planning of the attack has not been confirmed by the Canadian government, nor has any other country backed Algeria’s statement. Regardless, the possible linkage will almost certainly have an impact on Canadian-American border security cooperation. The Fraser Institute has observed and tracked ‘border thickening’ in recent years, and indicators suggest this trend will continue.  According to The Globe and Mail,

[I]t is beyond dispute that Canada produces its share of violent fanatics. The director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service last year told Parliament that between 45 and 60 Canadian citizens had recently “travelled or attempted to travel from Canada to Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen to join al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations … Ottawa officials are scrambling to investigate these claims, amid ongoing worries that any perceptions of Canada being a haven for al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists could lead to added scrutiny – and ultimately might curb the flow of goods and people across the U.S. border.

In June 2012, the US Dept of Homeland Security, the US Dept. of Justice, Public Safety Canada, and Justice Canada announced a joint initiative entitled ‘Statement of Privacy Principles’ that aims to deepen intelligence and information sharing on common security goals. In the wake of the current crisis, the critical importance of this type of initiative is clear.

 

Older posts