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Kris Kotarski

Columnist for the Calgary Herald

Krzysztof was born in Warsaw in 1981 and moved to Canada at age 11, where he was first exposed to citrus fruit, ice storms and Sonic the Hedgehog. After numerous attempts to get Anglophones to pronounce his name, Krzysztof became Kris, and eventually earned a Masters degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Calgary where he researched arms control programs in the former Soviet Union at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. Kris has written a column for the Calgary Herald since 2003 focusing on Canadian politics, human rights and international affairs, and helped launch the Herald's first blog, Q, in 2005, allowing young Calgarians to add their voice to the Herald's online community. During the past five years, Kris has lived in Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Geneva, Paris, Washington, Warsaw, and Berlin, has worked for a number of research organizations including the United Nations, and has written about the world as often as he could.

Most Recent Posts

Kotarski: What impact has Nelson Mandela had on your life?

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December 9, 2013

Nelson Mandela was an inspiration for me from the time when I first learned about his imprisonment as a little boy in Poland. It was through his case that I learned about the morally repugnant realities of colonialism and apartheid, which led me to reflect more seriously on the societies I have lived in. I […]

Kotarski: Are criticisms of the preliminary nuclear accord with Iran prescient or paranoid?

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November 26, 2013

The criticisms from Canada’s Conservative government are neither prescient nor paranoid, but they are revealing. Loud and noticeable statements like the one from Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird who noted that he is “deeply skeptical” of the newly-brokered accord look as if they are specifically designed to support the position of Israeli Prime Minister […]

Kotarski: Should the Canadian government spy on economic targets abroad and share that intelligence with Canadian corporations?

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October 11, 2013

It’s not the job of Canada’s government to gain intelligence for Canadian corporations, especially through actions that are illegal in the target countries. Canada’s government should not be involved in such actions unless it is comfortable setting legal and political precedents that will be applied when foreign governments do the same and target Canadian citizens […]

Kotarski: What can the West hope to achieve with a military strike on Syria?

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August 28, 2013

Western leaders hope that the collapse of Assad’s regime will lead to a more favourable strategic balance in the Middle East while Western allies including Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia acquiesce to or support military intervention against Assad for their own localized reasons ranging from a divide-and-conquer strategic posture to sectarian calculations. Regardless of Western […]

Kotarski: Does the pope still matter in international relations?

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March 4, 2013

“And how many divisions has the pope?” The Vatican is a major geopolitical actor. It may not look this way from secularized Canada where the words of the pontiff no longer carry much weight, but when the pope has a clear purpose, the Vatican is a soft-power superpower and the pope’s influence spreads far beyond […]

Kotarski: Are drones a viable alternative to the F-35?

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May 30, 2012

Absolutely. “How do you get a single-engine, low-range, low-payload, low-manoeuvrability aircraft that is being optimized for close air support . . . to operate effectively in the North?” asked retired colonel Paul Maillet, an aerospace engineer and former CF-18 fleet manager this April ( You don’t, or at least you don’t do so without sacrificing […]

Kotarski: How should Canada respond to the rising violence in Syria?

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February 27, 2012

The diplomatic situation is almost as ugly as the humanitarian crisis itself. Given that Russian arms continue to flow to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and that Russia and China have prevented the UN Security Council from authorizing additional sanctions or any direct intervention aimed at protecting civilians, a plausible solution to the humanitarian crisis probably […]