Russian Cyberthreats

European countries sound the alarm over threat of Russian cyberattacks

WATCH ABOVE: American intelligence officials say they are convinced that Russian hacking of the U.S. presidential election was approved by President Vladimir Putin.

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Amid growing outrage in the United States over reports that Russian hackers interfered in the election to help Donald Trump, countries in Europe are warning that cyberattacks and disinformation from Moscow could damage upcoming elections.

Intelligence agencies and high-level officials in Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and elsewhere have all voiced concerns over the threat of cyber sabotage by Russia.

WATCH: Donald Trump and the alleged Russian influence over the U.S. Election

 

The concerns come as the Kremlin denied a report Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed how information obtained from hackers was used during the election against U.S. democrats and Hillary Clinton.

Germany’s domestic intelligence service (BfV) warned that Russia has been cyber-targeting German seeking to create “uncertainty in German society” and to destabilize the country ahead of the country’s federal elections in October 2017.

“In the political arena we see increasing and aggressive cyber espionage,” said Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of BfV, in a statement last week. “We see a potential hazard to members of the German government, the Bundestag and employees of democratic parties through cyber operations.”

The head of Britain’s internal intelligence agency MI5 said in November that while Russia had been a covert threat for decades, there are currently more methods available for it to pursue its anti-Western agenda.

READ MORE: Did Russia hack the U.S. presidential election? Here’s what we know

Spy agencies in Sweden and France and the Netherlands — both of which have federal elections in the spring of 2017 — also issued similar statements about the increasing Russian cyber threat.

What is Russia’s goal?

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat, said there is not only growing apprehension in Europe but also among the Five Eyes — an intelligence alliance between Canada, U.S., U.K.,  Australia and New Zealand.

“This is remarkable,” said Robertson, vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. “Countries in Europe with forthcoming elections are very conscious [of the Russia threat].”

WATCH: Russia intervened to help Trump win White House, CIA says

Robertson said Putin’s goal is to expand Russia’s influence on former Soviet countries while undermining members of NATO.

“Russia’s goal is to destabilize the western alliance and to reassert Russia as a great power,” he said. “Putin sees his only means of survival is to continue to expand Russian influence … and cyber espionage is one of his main tools.”

Russia using false news

The spread of fake news and disinformation during the presidential election had many pointing fingers at Russia and now EU countries are worried the troubling trend could affect their democratic processes.

WATCH: Did fake news influence the outcome of the U.S. election?

William Courtney, an adjunct senior fellow at the RAND think tank in Washington and a former U.S. diplomat, told Global News that the spread of false news stories have been a powerful weapon for Russia.

“[Russia] thinks they helped tip the balance in electing Donald Trump and this is only going to encourage them to do more,” Courtney said.

Courtney pointed to a story earlier this year in Germany that stoked immigration fears after a 13-year-old Russian-German teen said she had been raped by migrants. The story was sensationalized by Russian state television but then debunked after the girl admitted to making up the story.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see [political influence campaigns] stepped up in Europe — certainly in Europe — but also in America,” he said.

READ MORE: Hillary Clinton slams ‘epidemic’ of fake news online: ‘Lives are at risk’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her party, the Christian Democratic Union, had been targeted by Russian hackers earlier this year and warned that false information disseminated by Russia could help shift the federal elections toward the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which has received a boost in popularity over the migrant crisis.

“We are already, even now, having to deal with information out of Russia or with internet attacks that are of Russian origin or with news which sows false information,” Merkel said at a press conference in in November, according to The Guardian.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the U.S. or Europe. Trump has also dismissed the reports from intelligence agencies and said in a statement the CIA “are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

*With files from Reuters

 

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Justin Trudeau’s internationalism after six months

What Trudeau needs to do to sustain international momentum

In most countries, a shift from the right to a centre-left government would mean significant policy change.

But this is Canada, a place where the political spectrum runs from F to M as opposed to A to Z, as a former U.S. ambassador once observed.

This is especially true in the broad arena of international policy, where the biggest change wrought by the Liberal majority victory has largely been in style and personality – from the dour and secretive Stephen Harper to the optimistic and open Justin Trudeau.

Actual policy – whether foreign, defence, trade or immigration – is mostly unchanged. The shifts, especially on climate and in the embrace of the 25,000 Syrian refugees, represent more of a restoration of traditional Canadian policies than real policy change, including a return to cabinet government and first ministers’ meetings.

There is also the promise of re-engagement with China – and the likelihood of a free trade agreement there – as well as re-establishing relations with Russia – beginning with our shared interests in the Arctic. It is clear that this government is progressive but pragmatic – as witnessed by its willingness to forge ahead with the $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Mr. Trudeau, more so than Mr. Harper, will be constantly gauging the public mood and appetite for change.

More than most nations, the Canadian sense of self depends on what we do and how we are seen to do internationally. About to mark six months since its election, the Trudeau government and its “sunny ways” enjoys broad support partly because of its visibly activist multilateralism.

But sustaining this momentum will require three things: care, commitment and cash.

The “bromance” with U.S. President Barack Obama should yield dividends on climate, border access and regulatory collaboration and, hopefully, a resolution on softwood lumber. But the Trudeau team’s outreach to congressional leadership must continue if we are to deflect the rising voices of protectionism.

Restoring a dialogue with Canada’s premiers should help advance our trade and climate goals. But deepening North American integration increasingly depends on initiative from state and provincial governments. Mr. Trudeau should invite premiers and governors to the upcoming North American leaders’ summit to showcase his commitment to both trade and climate change.

Before the summit can take place, the government has to deliver on its promise to lift visa requirements for Mexicans or President Enrique Peña Nieto will not come.

Similarly, international agenda overload is also a significant risk. Recognizing that what brings accolades internationally does not necessarily serve Canadian interests requires tough-minded decision-making. And then there is the ambitious domestic agenda: electoral reform, reconciliation with our indigenous peoples and, eventually, balancing the budget.

Getting this done will require considerable discipline and a senior civil service that is innovative and results-oriented. While there was no love lost between the Harper government and senior officials (mutual contempt best describes the relationship with the foreign service) there was comfort in compliance. Mr. Trudeau should not hesitate to make changes if he is to deliver on his agenda.

Finally, the Pearsonian internationalist reputation Mr. Trudeau aspires to restore depends on investments in hard power as well as soft power. We have yet to live down the reputation, as former foreign minister John Manley observed, of excusing ourselves to go to the washroom when the bill arrives.

For a new government, things have gone very well on the international circuit.

As a public relations device, Mr. Trudeau’s post-election message to the world that Canada is back as a “compassionate and constructive voice in the world” was catchy and clever. It clearly differentiated him from Mr. Harper’s mantra, that Canada would no longer “go along and get along with everyone else’s agenda.”

Mr. Trudeau’s multilateral meetings – G20, APEC, the Commonwealth, and then COP21 – went well, and the reviews from foreign chanceries were good, particularly for Canada’s “helpful fixing” during the Paris climate negotiations. At Davos, Mr. Trudeau impressed the plutocrats with his energy and his artful remarks about wanting Canadians to be known as much for our “resourcefulness” as our resources, although it is our resources that pay the bills.

From flattering profiles in Vogue and on 60 Minutes to the accolade of APEC “hottie,” no Canadian leader has enjoyed this kind of attention since Pierre Trudeau.

Justin Trudeau’s celebrity status will fade. If he wants to leave a legacy, he needs creative initiatives buttressed by solid investments in defence, development and diplomacy. As his friend Barack Obama will tell him, the sands of time run quickly.

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Central Asia

Central Asia ripe for some Canadian know-how

Set high on the northern steppes, Astana owes its inspiration and creation to Kazakhstan’s first (and only) President, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Bayterek Tower, Astana’s crowning glory, looks like a champagne flute topped by a golden cherry. It was supposedly sketched by Mr. Nazarbayev on a cocktail napkin. The profits from energy resources underwrite Kazakhstan and the headquarters of KazMunaiGaz, the national oil and gas company, is big and bold. Mr. Nazarbayev’s personal library, designed by Norman Foster, resembles a half cantaloupe.

Mr. Nazarbayev, 75, successfully transited from apparatchik to Kazakhstan’s founding father after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In April, he resoundingly won another five-year term.

When Mr. Nazarbayev moved the Kazakh capital in 1997 from Almaty to Astana, formerly the site of a notorious Soviet gulag, it supplanted Ottawa as the second coldest capital in the world. (Mongolia’s Ulan Bator is even colder.)

The President’s multivector foreign policy balances between competing spheres of influence – Russia, China, the European Union, the United States – while pursuing an independent course. Kazakhstan was the first former Soviet state to chair the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and last month it joined the World Trade Organization.

Kazakhstan is linked to Russia through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (1992) and the Eurasian Economic Union (2015).

China’s Xi Jingping announced his One Road, One Belt strategy (2013) in Astana and Chinese goods travel by rail through Kazakhstan to Europe. Kazakh oil flows by pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Xinjiang.

The European Union accounts for half of Kazak trade and foreign investment, bolstered Monday with the signature of an enhanced trade and security partnership agreement.

Since 2003, annual Steppe Eagle military exercises are held with the U.S. and other NATO nations and last month, in describing the American New Silk Road Initiative, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told students at Nazarbayev University that America’s stake in Central Asia “extends far beyond security.”

Central Asian border issues hamper closer regional co-operation. The Kazakh-Russian border is longer than the Canada-U.S. 49th parallel. Kazakhstan, the biggest of the ‘stans,’ is roughly the size of Ontario and Quebec.

Canada could work with Kazakhstan and the other Central Asian republics – Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan – focusing on trade, governance, water management and nuclear safety.

Kazakhstan is a priority market for Canada and, with major investments in mining and oil and gas, an investment agreement is under negotiation.

The Transparency International index and Amnesty International’s reporting consider that corruption is a problem in Central Asia. Canada could usefully share its experience and expertise on accountability, transparency and good governance.

Transboundary water problems, notably the rapidly diminishing Aral Sea, date back to Soviet times and diversions around construction of hydro dams and irrigation of cotton plantations. Lessons can be shared from the Canadian-American boundary waters’ experience and our century-old International Joint Commission.

Kazakhstan is the biggest supplier of uranium, with Canada’s Cameco actively engaged in Kazak operations. Together, Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia provide two-thirds of the world supply. Building on our recent nuclear co-operation agreement, could we not work together in the development of a nuclear fuel bank for peaceful uses and in the management of nuclear waste?

For forty years, northern Kazakhstan was the site of 456 Soviet nuclear weapons tests, polluting an area the size of Germany. An estimated 1.5 million Kazakhs suffer radiation-related illness.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan voluntarily rid itself of nuclear weapons and signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation and the Comprehensive Test Ban treaties. Mr. Nazarbeyev launched Project ATOM (Abolish Testing is our Mission) to promote nuclear disarmament and end nuclear testing. Kazakhstan led the effort that earlier this month led to the passing of the Declaration on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World at the UN General Assembly. These are goals shared by the Canadian-inspired Pugwash conferences.

As the gateway for invaders east and west since the time of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, the 61 million people who live in Central Asia are a remarkable mixture of ethnicities, tribes, religions and languages.

Once again, there is renewed great-power jockeying for influence within Central Asia. The history, climate and geography of the region are harsh and unforgiving. Their governments are authoritarian and characterized by eccentricity. Their peoples might want more freedom and liberty but peace, security and order are their first priorities.

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A Foreign Policy Review?

Canada, we need to talk about our place in the world

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail

The new Trudeau government’s international agenda is already crowded: planning for the Paris climate talks, processing 25,000 Syrian refugees, shifting our Iraq commitment from CF-18s to trainers and humanitarian help. Then there is the promised defence review, revamp of security legislation and examination of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There’s a lot on the plate.

A review of Canada’s international policies is no easy assignment. Lester Pearson, our greatest diplomat, thought it was better to do foreign policy than review it because events beyond our control make grand plans irrelevant.

Foreign policy reviews come in three broad types.

Most are internal affairs, conducted by the civil service for cabinet consideration. Pierre Trudeau’s Foreign Policy for Canadians (1970) and the subsequent Canada-U.S. Relations: Options for the Future (1972) took this approach. So did Paul Martin’s much rewritten A Role of Pride and Influence (2005).

Then there are the more focused reviews, again conducted internally, as with Stephen Harper’s Global Commerce Strategy (2008) and Canada First Defence Strategy (2008).

There were other efforts by other governments that came to naught – dying from either bureaucratic nibbling, political indecision or the sense that events had passed them by.

Given the mixed record of reviews, Mr. Pearson’s skepticism may be right. But Mr. Pearson also recognized the dangers of complacency and acknowledged that foreign policy is too often reactive, rather than creative.

In terms of efficiency of process, broad public outreach and ultimate implementation, the most successful review was Jean Chrétien’s Canada in the World (1995).

The Chrétien exercise owed much to the work of two special joint parliamentary committees, looking at defence and foreign policy. They conducted national hearings and commissioned studies, including a still valuable essay by John Ralston Saul on culture and foreign policy.

The new Trudeau government could look to the Chrétien model with its emphasis on parliamentary involvement. Cross-Canada parliamentary hearings can be complemented through public dialogue, applying the Trudeau government’s apt facility with social media like Google Hangout.

It would benefit both parliamentarians and the public service if departmental staff were assigned to help the committee. Give the committee a sufficient budget to commission studies and for international travel. And have the committee report before the end of 2016 so that its recommendations can be acted on during this Parliament.

Deepening parliamentarians’ knowledge of international relations will help them and enhance the various interparliamentary committees and country friendship associations.

As our diplomat-in-chief, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in the midst of a whirlwind tour of summits. These well-tweeted travels inform but do not give depth or context. Mr. Trudeau should revive the practice of prime ministers, from Louis St. Laurent through Pierre Trudeau, of reporting to Parliament on major travels abroad.

A global policy review should focus on three questions:

  • Where do we want to play a role in the world and why?
  • What do we want to achieve?
  • How much will we spend?

Our international interests are vital. Trade generates 60 per cent of our GDP. Immigration and refugee resettlement provides us with new talent and new ideas.

Our sovereignty and well-being depends on the international rules-based system – the UN, the World Bank, IMF and WTO – and our NATO collective security alliance. Their value endures, but reforms are necessary.

Relations with China and Russia deserve particular focus. China wants and deserves more clout. Russia wants more respect. Both have the capacity to cause disruption, as we witness in Ukraine and the South China Sea.

It is in everyone’s interest to have rising powers integrate into the international system. Accommodations must be made. But with accommodation must go recognition by China and Russia of their responsibilities to established norms and the rule of law.

A review of Canada’s global policies is no easy assignment. Where can we find our niche and lead? Can we be deliberate and focused?

With growing public apprehension that times are out of joint and concern about the future, we need a national dialogue on Canada’s place and priorities in the world. Achieving greater understanding, if not consensus, on our global objectives will also help define the Canadian brand in the 21st century.

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Canada and the World

Note to Canada’s next government: Diplomacy is not a sign of weakness

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail  Tuesday, Sep. 29, 2015

Allies are usually friends but adversaries are not always enemies. Our next government needs to recognize this distinction to give Canada better leverage in the changing international order.

At the end of the Second World War, Canadians helped construct a new international order.

Idealism guided our efforts in designing the United Nations. Realpolitik drove the creation of NATO. The West’s collective security alliance contained Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, an erstwhile ally but no friend. NATO now constrains Vladimir Putin’s Russia, an erstwhile friend but no ally.

The United States is Canada’s enduring, if occasionally frustrating, friend and closest ally. Strengthened daily by deepening economic integration, this relationship now includes Mexico.

Geographic propinquity gives Canada a special place in Washington and our interpretive role leverages our standing. Canadians have roots in every corner of the globe. When we are on our diplomatic game, Washington welcomes our global perspective.

We are well placed to interpret the United States. Foreign nations, confused by the White House and Congress, look to us for explanation.

Our ability to arbitrage this interpretive capacity requires a global diplomatic service constantly gathering insights. Even when we don’t like the incumbent government we need to be there. Keeping our ambassador in Havana throughout the Castro era allowed us to be a useful fixer in the recent re-establishment of U.S.-Cuba relations.

The University of Southern California’s Geoffrey Wiseman has edited the book Isolate or Engage which concludes that when it comes to dealing with adversarial states, engagement works better than isolation. Policy makers must distinguish between efforts at regime change (for example, Islamic State) and regime behavioural change (such as Russia in Ukraine, China in the South China Sea).

The U.S. withheld relations at various times with the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Libya, Iran and North Korea. “More often than not,” writes Prof. Wiseman, “this policy has frustrated U.S. foreign policy goals.” With Vietnam, for example, it hampered U.S. efforts to recover the remains of fallen servicemen. Isolation of Cuba damaged U.S. relations with the rest of Latin America.

To isolate or to engage increasingly breaks down on party lines in the United States. In his first inaugural address, President Barack Obama pledged to foreign adversaries to “extend a hand if you unclench your fist.” It’s not easy. President Obama’s ambiguous Syrian red-line left him looking weak but his patience and perseverance with Iran achieved a nuclear agreement. By contrast, many of the Republican contenders for 2016 would isolate China and put U.S. boots on the ground in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. Nor do they like the Iran deal or the Cuban accord.

Conservative foreign policy under Stephen Harper is too often binary. Mr. Harper has shunned the United Nations, telling a Montreal audience in May: “Gone are the days when Canadian foreign policy was about nothing more than trying to be liked by every dictator with a vote at the UN.” This attitude explains why Canada speaks 190th, ahead of only San Marino and Palau, at this week’s General Assembly.

In recent years, we broke relations with Iran, recalled our ambassador to Russia and circumscribed contact with North Korea, moves that created headlines and puffery about “toughness.” They also removed our ability to influence and provide insight.

Avoiding high-level contact with China for nearly five years earned a reprimand from the Chinese premier. It also reduced our economic opportunities with the second-largest global economy. Giving Russia’s Foreign Minister the cold shoulder in Iqaluit – so he didn’t attend – was an ungracious finale to our Arctic Council chairmanship.

Diplomatic relations are not an endorsement of good housekeeping. Rather they give us vital communications, in-country observation and consular protection for Canadians.

Why not engage China, as agreed, on closer economic collaboration and maritime energy corridors? Why not engage Russia in the Arctic? Why not work with China and Russia on containing jihad and managing climate change and cyberspace?

Trying to shape the behaviour of friends, adversaries and enemies is a constant effort requiring hard and soft power.

A recent study assessing Canadian international engagement concluded that our spending on defence and development assistance, key indicators of engagement, has fallen by half since 1990. We have become, argued authors Robert Greenhill and Meg McQuillan, international “free riders.”

International engagement requires a robust foreign service, Canadian Forces ready for action and generous development assistance. For the next government, this means political will and multiyear budgeting commitments.

“To jaw-jaw” said Winston Churchill, no appeaser, “is always better than to war-war.” In an era of protracted conflict and asymmetrical warfare, the international order needs constant attention and strategic patience. To engage is not a sign of weakness.

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Canada and NATO

Collective security comes at a cost. Canada should pay its way

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2015

NATO defence ministers meet tomorrow in Brussels to confront continuing conflicts on their eastern and southern flanks. Complicating their deliberations is the knowledge that big chunks of their populations oppose using military force if Russia attacks a fellow NATO member. For NATO leaders, making the case for why we fight is as important as having the capacity to fight.

From fir trees to palm trees, NATO forces are engaged. Simulated conflict exercises on NATO’s eastern frontier respond to what Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg describes as President Vladmir Putin’s “unjustified nuclear sabre-rattling”. The U.S.-led coalition in Syria and Iraq engages in daily, deadly sorties against ISIS.

The takeaways from Afghanistan and Libya for NATO are that while armed force can bring temporary stability, enduring peace and security requires continuing diplomacy, development assistance and some means of preserving order. Call it peacekeeping for the 21st century.

NATO forces also play a key role as the first responders to humanitarian crises, such as rescuing migrants crossing the Mediterranean and helping to contain Ebola in West Africa.

Despite the NATO leaders agreeing in Wales last September to “reverse the trend of declining defence budgets” only five – U.S., U.K., Estonia, Poland and Greece – meet the NATO guideline to spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence.

Canada has committed whole-heartedly to NATO missions. It took a disproportionate number of casualties in Afghanistan and were at the sharp end of the campaign in Libya. Canadian forces are actively engaged in Syria and Iraq. Canada is training Ukrainian troops and during a visit to Warsaw earlier this month Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada will station troops at NATO’s new command centre at Szczecin, Poland.

Canada’s defence spending, however, falls short of NATO’s benchmark. Despite the Canada First Defence Strategy and a refined procurement policy, former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page observes that with the Harper government “spending in real terms is even lower than when they came into office in 2006.” April’s federal budget will lift Canada’s contribution to slightly more than 1 per cent of GDP.

As the country prepares to enter its election campaign in earnest, it needs a healthy debate over its defence capacity and capability, especially around the made-in-Canada naval procurement policy.

Canada accepts the rationale of supply-chain economics for almost everything else it manufactures. Auto and aviation industries, civilian and defence, are specialized and integrated. Canada buys tanks from Germany and fighter planes from the U.S., with significant offsets creating jobs for Canadians. Why is shipbuilding different?

At the Wales summit, leaders reaffirmed that the “greatest responsibility” of the Alliance is to “protect and defend our territories and our populations against attack.” But when the Pew Foundation recently asked major NATO nations if they would use military force if Russia “got into a serious military conflict” with another NATO member, the findings revealed troubling divisions.

Most Americans (56 per cent) and Canadians (53 per cent) would support intervention. So would a plurality in the U.K. (49 per cent) and Poland (48 per cent). But, more than half in Germany (58 per cent), France (53 per cent) and Italy (51 per cent) would oppose intervention. The Spanish divided 48-47 per cent for intervention. Together these nations collectively account for 88 per cent of NATO’s GDP and 78 per cent of its population.

NATO leaders reaffirmed at Wales their willingness to “act together” and “decisively to defend” freedom, liberty, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. They have work to do in persuading their citizens that the collective defence of our shared values obliges a willingness to use armed force.

Equally troubling for the Alliance was that only 49 per cent of Americans view NATO favourably. The U.S. pays 74 per cent of NATO’s costs. President Barack Obama says the U.S. “can’t do it alone” and this plea is repeated by successive U.S. defence secretaries.

Communiques at the end of summit meetings are usually mind-numbing bromides and aspirations of good intentions. What really counts is each nation’s interpretation of the collective commitments. Success in this week’s meeting depends on each NATO defence minister saying some variation of the following:

  • First, we commit to meeting NATO’s 2-per-cent defence spending target by 2017, recognizing that, when your neighbourhood is combustible, investing in defence is smart insurance. Only when our armed forces have sufficient capability and the readiness to react, can we be confident in their deterrent capacity. The trendline is moving in the right direction with 18 allies expected to increase their defence spending.
  • Second, we commit to a national public education campaign on the meaning and responsibilities of collective security. To its credit, Germany’s leadership has begun their debate on the need for greater engagement.

Attitudinal shifts take time and constant reinforcement.

Courage, resolution and endurance are qualities not always associated with democracies or their leaders. But they are essential.

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NATO Wales Summit

What NATO members must do to empower the alliance

The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Sep. 02 2014

“Keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down” was how Lord Ismay, NATO’s first Secretary General (1952 to 1957), described the Alliance that has since become both the sword and shield of our liberal international order.

Recent events revalidate Lord Ismay’s trope except that Germany now needs to take on responsibilities within NATO commensurate with its leadership within Europe. The rest of the Alliance, including Canada, also need to step up their commitments.

NATO leaders and their foreign and defence ministers meet this week in Wales to focus on a readiness action plan.

Leaders face immediate challenges on NATO’s eastern and southern flanks.

Their priority is addressing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea.

Sanctions are biting but they have not deterred continuing, blatant Russian incursions. Tit-for-tat sanctions mean that industry – including Canadian pork producers – are taking a hit. Yet Russian actions oblige more sanctions requiring more discipline and sacrifice.

Then there is jihadism. For British Prime Minister David Cameron, it is a “clear and present danger” and U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a coalition “to extract this cancer so that it does not spread.”

NATO’s longer-term challenges are twofold.

Firstly, a war-weary United States is tired of picking up the tab and having its call for burden-sharing ignored. American taxpayers cover three-quarters of NATO spending. At NATO headquarters in June, Mr. Obama said the U.S. “can’t do it alone.” Pointing to the “steady decline” in European defence spending, he expects every member “to do its fair share.”

Secondly, there is the challenge of persuading the rest of the Alliance to develop a credible rapid expeditionary capacity.

Only a handful of NATO’s 28 members meet the defence budget spending target of 2 per cent of GDP (Canada currently spends 1 per cent).

All members voted for the 2011 operation to stop genocide in Libya. Less than half participated. Fewer than a third (including Canada) engaged in combat. Quality of contribution – rapid deployment without strings attached – matters more than the GDP target. But, argues defence analyst Julian Lindley-French, 2 per cent well-spent on defence is better than 1 per cent.

The annual reports of successive NATO Secretary Generals’ chronicle the increasing asymmetries in members’ capability. NATO renewal requires boosting combat capability through joint procurement, training and logistics. It means modernizing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, and adapting to hybrid warfare.

NATO renewal starts with Germany, Europe’s dominant power.

Germany still has stabilization forces in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan; it contributed in Mali, but not in Libya. Even before the Ukraine crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand coalition began reassessing German foreign policy. At the Munich Security conference this spring, German President Joachim Gauck argued it is invalid to use “Germany’s guilt for its past as a shield for laziness or a desire to disengage from the world.”

German leadership will have to persuade a public wary of activism. But recent events, says German-born Henry Kissinger, mean that “Germany is doomed in some way, to play an increasingly important role.”

Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Stephen Harper should make three points in Wales:

First, that Canada supports NATO readiness.

Our reinvigorated Canada First defence strategy must include a robust expeditionary capacity. We need a fresh perspective on military procurement, with immediate attention to our navy and its maritime responsibilities.

Second, a closer transatlantic economic partnership is of paramount importance.

The Canadian-inspired Article 2 of the NATO Treaty calls for closer economic ties. The now negotiated Canada-EU agreement (CETA) opens the door for business-to-business matchmaking through smart initiatives like the EnterpriseCanadaNetwork.

Third, a transatlantic energy-security partnership is valuable.

The EU depends on Russia and the Middle East for its energy. Russia has shut off the tap to serve its ambitions. We should market the Energy East and Line 9 pipelines, new refineries and Atlantic terminals as strategic investments providing energy security to the EU.

The paradox of the liberal international order is that its reciprocal benefits and privileges depend on collective responsibility to uphold the rule of law and respect for norms – like not invading neighbours. But in making it inclusive, it tolerates scofflaws, like Russia (and Iran, Syria, North Korea). Free riders – China, Brazil, India, even Switzerland – not only refuse sanctions but use the opportunity to increase their commerce with Russia.

According to Dr. Kissinger, the international order depends on a “sense of legitimacy” and an equilibrium of power “that makes overthrowing the system difficult and costly.”

This week, NATO leaders must demonstrate collective political will and commit the necessary resources to sustain the security equilibrium. Canada can help show the way.

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Keeping weapons out of the wrong hands

Air travel is difficult enough without worrying about missiles

Colin Robertson  The Globe and Mail  Tuesday, Jul. 22 2014

The tragic fate of those aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, apparently downed by a surface-to-air missile, has sparked global public sympathy for the victims and condemnation for those responsible.

Our best hope of containing this threat to air travel is to act quickly by tightening international covenants on access to weaponry that takes down aircraft.

The source of the missile and launcher that downed Flight 17 appears to be Russian but there are other potential sources for would-be copycats. The sources for the Hamas rockets against Israel likely include Iran, Pakistan and China. The arsenal of the new caliphate, declared by the Sunni-led rebellion against the Iraqi government, now includes captured weapons made in the United States.

Since Cain and Abel too many still subscribe to the quip by the amoral arms merchant, Undershaft, in George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara, that “Nothing is ever done in this world until men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done.”

The arms industry is big business. Given human nature, it’s also a necessary business.

The Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI) estimates the global arms trade to be worth at least $43-billion (U.S.) and likely much higher because many states, notably China, do not release data on arms exports.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department reports that our exports of military goods and technology are worth $635-million (Canadian). Most of it goes to fellow NATO allies, but also to countries including Afghanistan, Egypt, Ukraine and Yemen.

Like most countries, we have in place elaborate export controls and safeguard agreements to ensure our weapons are “not prejudicial to peace, security or stability.” We don’t export to nations on the UN sanctions list or those with “a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights.” All goods destined for North Korea or Belarus require a permit.

Even then, no system is fail-safe.

India developed their nuclear weapons capacity in 1974, sourcing from CANDU reactors. It chilled Indo-Canadian relations for decades until Prime Minister Stephen Harper concluded a nuclear co-operation agreement in 2013 under safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In the arms bazaar, nuclear proliferation is the greatest danger.

Like his predecessors, President Barack Obama, is working to contain proliferation through negotiation, sanctions and international law. Slow and frustrating, there is discernible progress.

Notwithstanding current tensions, Russia and the United States completed a new nuclear arms treaty (START) in 2011, setting out new limits on intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads.

Sanctions have brought Iran to the bargaining table in Geneva. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has concluded there is sufficient “tangible progress” to extend discussions beyond the July 20 deadline.

North Korea remains a problem, still firing missiles and rockets, despite continuing condemnation from the UN Security Council.

A series of international nuclear security summits – Washington, Seoul, the Hague – were initiated by Mr. Obama in 2010.

They have resulted in minimizing the use of highly enriched uranium, higher security standards at nuclear facilities and measures to detect and prevent the illicit trade in nuclear materials.

Canada has pledged funds to help non-proliferation efforts, ratified international covenants on suppression of nuclear terrorism and protection of nuclear materials.

There are similar efforts to curb and control conventional weapons, like that which brought down Flight 17.

The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, to which Canada was a founding contributor, obliges governments to voluntarily supply data on their imports and exports. Seventy nations, including Canada, have done so consistently.

The Wassenaar arrangement of 41 states, including Canada, aims at preventing transfers of conventional weapons or dual-use goods to illegitimate end-users.

As with nuclear non-proliferation, containing conventional weapons remains a work-in-progress.

Given previous Canadian leadership to curb land mines and small arms, the Harper government’s refusal to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty is perplexing. It deserves a rethink.

Concerted international action, abetted by technology that improves detection and attribution, can work “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” the UN Charter says.

Chemical weapons killed and blinded tens of thousands during the First World War. Popular revulsion led to the Geneva Protocols proclaiming that “the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases … has been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilized world.”

The prohibition against chemical weapons endures. When breached – most recently by the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria – there has been sanction and remedial action.

Every day, an estimated 5.4 million people board airplanes. By midday, air traffic over Canada and the United States alone reaches an estimated peak of 5,300 flights.

Confidence in global aviation safety obliges action by the international community. Air travel is difficult enough without worrying about missiles.

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US Government Shutdown International Implications

When the U.S. shut down, the world’s economy felt the effects

Globe and Mail Wednesday, Oct. 23 2013

The ability of United States to project influence in the world rests on its economy. This past month, with congressional gridlock turning into government shutdown, has hurt the economy and undermined belief in the American way.

The self-inflicted damage to the USA – Standard and Poor’s reckons this latest episode cost the U.S. economy $24-billion – will stunt growth for this year with the inevitable trickle-down effect on global trade and finances.

Then there is the international effect.

Where normally President Barack Obama is front and centre of the family portraits at international gatherings, this time around, spotting Secretary John Kerry, who stood in for the President at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, is a ‘Where’s Waldo’ moment. Center stage at the summit in Indonesia went to the Chinese and Russian presidents: XI Jingping and Vladimir Putin. Mr. Kerry was barely visible in a rear corner.

Mr. Obama’s absence from the APEC summit is a lost opportunity to push forward the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trade Representative Michael Froman hoped, optimistically, to conclude the negotiations by Christmas. Like everything else, it gets pushed back.

In the Sino-American competition for influence in Asia, bilateral relationships are also affected. One Indonesian business leader joked that the U.S. is “playing checkers while the Chinese play chess.”

Previous generations of Chinese leaders believed the United States could right itself from bouts of irrationality and that common sense would prevail. But will it?

With an estimated $1.3-trillion in U.S. treasury bonds (the Japanese hold $1.1-billion), the Chinese have reason for consternation. An American financial crisis will hurt China economically, bringing with it the risk of social disruption. Chinese leadership puts a premium on domestic stability.

Some Chinese are calling for a “de-Americanized” world, arguing that while the United States claims the high moral ground it is covertly “torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders.”

Those in China who implicitly favour greater pluralism and active participation in global institutions designed by the West are also put at a disadvantage by Capitol Hill misbehaviour.

For the West there is a bigger problem.

Since the creation of the western alliance in the wake of the Second World War, the Allies have put their faith in the United States. In recent years successive secretaries of defence have warned the Alliance that the United States could no longer carry the load and that they had to shoulder more of the burden. The “dim future” that then-Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned about may be closer than expected.

Let us hope not.

A power vacuum would be disorderly. The world would look more like that of the 1930s – what the poet W. H. Auden called a “low, dishonest decade.”

If the United States pulls back, who will step forward?

The Chinese? What is their vision of the world? Their ability to project global leadership is doubtful. China doesn’t have allies. Its nationalistic system is not exportable.

Having the United States bear the burden of global primacy has served global peace and financial security. With some notable and costly aberrations – Vietnam and Iraq – American military might has preserved the peace and U.S. naval power has guaranteed the maritime order that makes globalization possible.

There have been complaints about the U.S. Federal Reserve since the birth of the Bretton Woods system in 1944, but its central bankers have done a good job in managing the dollar. Neither the euro, the yen, or the yuan are yet ready for prime time as an alternate reserve currency.

In recent years the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has had a ‘JOBS’ banner hanging from its facade. It should replace it with one reading “Unity.”

When the U.S. Congress behaves recklessly the ramifications are serious. Former treasury secretary Tim Geithner was right when he said that the U.S. problem was not economics but politics and the requirement for it to get beyond the “paralysis” in the U.S. political system.

To repeatedly bring your country to the brink of default is new. It deeply damages a nation that takes pride in the claim that the business of America is business.

Politics aside, the American economy is today in better shape and more stable than Europe, Japan or the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

The United States remains the land of innovation – outclassing all others in Nobel prizes in the sciences, medicine and economics. It is also the place to which the Chinese elite send their children for higher education.

Now if only the United Sstates would get its political act together.

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Visitors are led on an official tour, which had been suspended during the 16-day government shutdown, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 17, 2013. The U.S. Congress on Wednesday approved an 11th-hour deal to end a partial government shutdown and pull the world's biggest economy back from the brink of a historic debt default that could have threatened financial calamity.

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