Tag Archives: International Relations

Mark Collins – “The fall of Aleppo shows us exactly what we have become”

Terrible Terry Glavin roars his rage; amongst other things he excoriates feckless and irrelevant Canadian word-mongering at the UN General Assembly–an excerpt:

The truth of it is we’d just rather not take the trouble [see end of post]. We aren’t prepared to suffer the sacrifices demanded of the commitments to universal rights we profess, so we absolve ourselves by talking about “the Muslim world” as though it were a distant planet. We talk about Arabs as though they were a different species. It’s easier on the conscience that way.

Between the drooling bigotries of the isolationist Right and the clever platitudes of the “anti-imperialist” Left, the only place left to address the solemn obligations we owe one another as human beings is in negotiations over the codicils of international trade agreements, or in the rituals of deliberately unenforceable resolutions entertained by the United Nations General Assembly.

Just last Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and his diplomats conducted just such a ceremony in sponsoring a non-binding General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities in Syria, humanitarian aid access throughout the country, and an end to the siege of Aleppo. It passed, 122 to 13. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic coup [and heralded by our government–wowsers: “UN General Assembly calls for action on Syria in Canada-led resolution”].

Canadian Ambassador to the UN Marc-André Blanchard was pleased to claim that the resolution was already having an effect even before it was voted on, because the day before, Russia announced it was temporarily halting its bombing of Aleppo and had even offered to open corridors to allow civilians to flee. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic triumph.

The UN human rights office later announced that it had received credible reports that hundreds of men who crossed into Aleppo’s regime-controlled districts had gone missing…

Whilst Aleppo was falling our government issued this clarion call; one is sure it had Assad and Putin furiously reconsidering their course. Why do we bother with this worthless verbiage?

Canada demands that Assad regime and backers stop violence now and respect human rights in Syria

And if they don’t? Bah and humbug.

The start of a post from April:

The West and the Middle East: No Guts

I wrote earlier:

What to Do About the Bloody Middle East?

Poor bloody locals. If the West is truly willing to sort things out right now, are we then willing to rule–one way or another–for some decades or so to try to ensure things work out wellish? Triple double HAH! Given no willingness for, or today in the West intellectual acceptance of, such a prospect, then let us just face things honestly…

We don’t. Thank goodness we have Mr Glavin.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Big Dragon “Yikes!”–From 2010 to 2020 “China is set to nearly double its military spending…”

This should sure get the attention of PEOTUS Trump–the rest of the headline:

…as an arms race heats up in Asia.
China’s defense spending will balloon to $233 billion in 2020, up from $123 billion in 2010, according to a new report by IHS Jane’s.

Very relevant:

Can the US Cope With a Big War Against a Major Power? Part 2

USAF “Officers Give New Details for F-35 in War With China”

RAND on War Between the Dragon and the Eagle

US Navy: Carriers or Subs, with the Dragon in Mind

Rising Sun’s Yen for Defence Spending, Part 3

Take that Dragon! Indian PM Modi Embraces the Rising Sun (plus the Eagle and the Bear)

A real Asian military cockpit, what? Meanwhile quite a few Canadians want to embrace the Chicoms.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – World Defence Spending 2015/2016

A tweet–US$, Canada steady at no. 15 (what do we buy–only part of defence spending–for it?):

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – PM Justin Trudeau Makes Foreign Policy’s “leading global thinkers of 2016”

I guess the world does need more Canada; who’d a thunk him, eh?  The prime minister is in “the decision-makers“.  I didn’t notice any Canadians in the other categories.
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – The Foreign Office in 1985 (and the Trans-Siberian)

The start of a piece by Simon Winchester in the NY Times Book Review:

Thirty-one years ago, while on a railway journey between London and Hong Kong, I stopped off in Mongolia and to a briefly illustrative encounter.

At the time the British had the sole Western embassy in Ulan Bator — at 30 Peace Street, if I remember — and I thought I might interview the ambassador and present him, as it was early December and he was said to cut a lonesome and homesick figure, with a Christmas plum pudding. I rang the mission’s doorbell and must have looked faintly taken aback when it was opened by a young man of evidently Caribbean origin.

“Don’t be startled,” he said cheerfully, in a broad Welsh accent. “I’m Trevor Jones, first secretary. From Cardiff. I think I’m the only black man in the diplomatic service, and look see, they pack me off to bloody Ulan Bator!”..

The FCO more recently here and here.

By the way in 1972 I took the Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Beijing via the Ghobi Desert. I travelled hard-class, no bed just a roll-up mattress of sorts–the only white amongst Asians (Chinese, Vietnamese, a few others); soft-class was exclusively white Commie Euros. Talk about a racial divide. The divide was in fact in fact the restaurant car with us at the back end and them at the front.

My compartment mate was a North Vietnamese Army major with whom I got along swimmingly in some French. We ate breakfast togther in the dining car, ham and eggs being the only decent food served until we got a Chinese dining car after Mongolia. Otherwise we shared the food each had brought along.

My Asian compatriots generally, including the Chinese, were most friendly and I played a fair amount of cards with them. On the last day before leaving the USSR all the young Vietnamese–many had been doing vocational training in Czechoslovakia–got hammered with dining car booze, spending their last roubles as they could not be taken out of the country. They then proceeded to snake dance and sing through our section of the train. Their favourite tune was “Yellow River” by Christie:

Ah, the joys of youth.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – The Russian Way of–Hybrid–Warfare

A very interesting analysis of how the Bear works–both at home and abroad–at War on the Rocks:

Russia’s Hybrid War as a Byproduct of a Hybrid State

Whether or not “hybrid war” is the right term — a battle probably lost for the moment —Russia is indeed waging an essentially political struggle against the West through political subversion, economic penetration, espionage, and disinformation. To a degree, this reflects the parsimonious opportunism of a weak but ruthless Russia trying to play a great power game without a great power’s resources. It also owes much to Moscow’s inheritance from Bolshevik and even tsarist practices. But a third key factor behind it is the very nature of the modern Russian state, as I discuss in my new report, Hybrid War or Gibridnaya Voina: Getting Russia’s Non-Linear Military Challenge Right.

One distinctive aspect of recent Russian campaigns, from political operations against the West to military operations in Ukraine, has been a blurring of the borders between state, paramilitary, mercenary, and dupe. The Putin regime evidently believes that it is at war with the West — a geopolitical, even civilizational struggle — and is thus mobilizing every weaponizable asset at its disposal. This extends to mining society as a whole for semi-autonomous assets, from eager internet trolls and “patriotic hackers” to transnational banks and businesses to Cossack volunteers and mercenary gangsters…

The “hybridity” of Russian operations…reflects a… hybridity of the Russian state. Through the 1990s and into Putinism, Russia either failed to institutionalize or actively deinstitutionalized — however you choose to define it.

Today, Russia is a patrimonial, hyper-presidential regime, one characterized by the permeability of boundaries between public and private, domestic and external. As oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky put it:

[W]hat distinguishes the current Russian government from the erstwhile Soviet leaders familiar to the West is its rejection of ideological constraints and the complete elimination of institutions.

Lacking meaningful rule of law or checks and balances, without drawing too heavy-handed a comparison with fascism, Putin’s Russia seems to embody, in its own chaotic and informal way, Mussolini’s dictum “tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato” — “everything inside the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.”..

In Russia, state institutions are often regarded as personal fiefdoms and piggy banks, officials and even officers freely engage in commercial activity, and the Russian Orthodox Church is practically an arm of the Kremlin. Given all that, the infusion of non-military instruments into military affairs was almost inevitable. Beyond that, though, Putin’s Russia has been characterized — in the past, at least — by multiple, overlapping agencies, a “bureaucratic pluralism” intended as much to permit the Kremlin to divide and rule as for any practical advantages. This is clearly visible within the intelligence and security realm, from the intrusion of the Federal Security Service (FSB) — originally intended as a purely domestic agency — into foreign operations, as well as in the competition over responsibility for information operations…

Moscow must also be considered the master of “hybrid business,” of developing illegal and legal commercial enterprises that ideally make money, but at the same time can be used for the state’s purposes, whether technically private concerns or not. Russian commercial institutions not only provide covers for intelligence agents and spread disinformation, but acting notionally on their own initiative, they are also used to provide financial support to political and social movements Moscow deems convenient. For instance, Marine Le Pen’s anti-European Union Front Nationale in France received a €9 million loan from a bank run by a close Putin ally. Similarly, the election of the Czech Republic’s Russophile President Miloš Zeman was partially bankrolled by the local head of the Russian oil company Lukoil — allegedly as a personal donation…

So, it is not simply that Moscow chooses to ignore those boundaries we are used to in the West between state and private, military and civilian, legal and illegal. It is that those boundaries are much less meaningful in Russian terms, and they are additionally straddled by a range of duplicative and even competitive agencies…

Dr. Mark Galeotti is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of International Affairs Prague, and Principal Director of the consultancy Mayak Intelligence. He has been Professor of Global Affairs at New York University, a special advisor to the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office and head of History at Keele University in the United Kingdom, as well as a visiting professor at Rutgers—Newark, Charles University (Prague), and MGIMO (Moscow). Read his new report, Hybrid War or Gibridnaya Voina: getting Russia’s non-linear military challenge right.

Working towards Bad Vlad? Related:

Julian Lindley-French – Closing NATO’s Deterrence Gaps

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – International Arms Trade: Look Ma! No Canada

A tweet:

Brits rather punching above their weight.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Winter 2016/17 Edition of CDA Institute’s “ON TRACK” Magazine

Contents via a message from the CDAI:


Ottawa, 1 December 2016 – The CDA Institute is pleased to release the latest issue of ON TRACK which features thoughtful and informative articles by experts from Canada and abroad on security and defence issues.

See full issue at:
http://www.cdainstitute.ca/images/on_track/On_Track_Winter_2017/On_Track_21.2.pdf

CONTENTS:

tn.jsp.jpg

  • “Editorial – Canada is Back – The Defence Budget Must Grow…Significantly” by Tony Battista and Dr. David McDonough

  • “Defending Canada in the 2020s?” by Vice-Admiral Drew Robertson (Ret’d)

  • “Vérité, Devoir, Vaillance : Le CMR Saint-Jean retrouve son statut universitaire” par Oksana Drozdova

  • “Les stratégies arméniennes pour garder le contrôle du Haut-Karabakh” par Michael Lambert

  • “Paranoid or Pragmatic? What Pakistan’s policy in Afghanistan can tell us about international rivalry” by John Mitton

  • “L’hiver Yéménite” par Alexandra Dufour

  • “Chemical Weapons use in Syria and Iraq: implications” by Dr. Jez Littlewood

  • “2016 Vimy Award – Acceptance Speech by recipient Dr. James Boutilier”

  • “Evaluating China as a Great Power: The Paradox of the ‘Responsible Power’ Narrative” by Adam MacDonald

  • “Supporting an Informed Public Debate: Seven Important Facts to Know about Military Requirements Planning” by Colonel Chuck Davies (Ret’d)

  • “Australia and Canada – different boats for different folks” by Dr. Andrew Davies and Christopher Cowan

  • “Space and the Third Offset in the post-post-Cold War period – Lessons for Canada and Australia” by Dr. Malcolm Davis…

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Trump vs Trade: CPP Instead of TPP?

That’s the China-Pacific Partnership–a NY Times story on important talks with little public profile:

China’s Influence Grows in Ashes of Trans-Pacific Trade Pact

A toxic political war over money, jobs and globalization killed the vast and complex trade deal that was supposed to be a signature legacy of President Obama. But the deal, between the United States and 11 Asian and Pacific nations, was never just about trade.

The agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was conceived as a vital move in the increasingly tense chess match between China and the United States for economic and military influence in the fastest-growing and most strategically uncertain part of the world. The deal, which excluded China, was intended to give those 11 nations more leverage in that strained match by providing them with a viable economic alternative. And its defeat is an unalloyed triumph for China, the country that President-elect Donald J. Trump castigated repeatedly over trade

Much of Asia has for decades quietly accepted American security guarantees while also running large trade surpluses with the United States, turning them into prosperous manufacturing powerhouses. But China is now the largest trading partner for most of the region, while at the same time making territorial claims against many of its neighbors [see e.g. the South China Sea].

The neighbors fear they could soon face a stark choice among money, pride and place: Accede to China’s security demands, or lose access to China’s vast market…

Just three days before Mr. Obama’s arrival here, Peru’s foreign minister, Eduardo Ferreyros, said the country still hoped the Pacific pact would someday become a reality. But given the changing dynamics, his government also opened talks this autumn with Beijing to join the rival, Chinese-led trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

“Since Mr. Trump is not so interested in requiring economic integration and trade liberalization, why not have other countries follow this free-trade proposal?” asked Song Guoyou, a longtime trade specialist who is the deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Since the election, Australia’s government has also called for rapid progress in concluding that rival trade pact. Even Japan, despite facing territorial demands from China and close, but peaceful, confrontations between the two countries’ military jets and coast guard vessels, is paying more attention to China’s vision for global trade [note also Japan’s military build-up].

Australia and Japan have been bargaining for years with China on the deal. But they wanted it as a complement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to balance their economic relationship with the United States instead of replacing it with ties to China.

“If T.P.P. doesn’t move forward, there’s no doubt that the focus will shift” to the China-led deal, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan told his country’s Parliament on Tuesday [Nov. 15, emphasis added] . Mr. Abe met with Mr. Trump on Thursday.

Since 2011, trade negotiators from China, Japan, Australia, India and 12 other Asian nations have been meeting several times a year to stitch together the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [more here]. And with Mr. Trump’s victory, those efforts are almost certain to accelerate. The next round of talks is to be held in Indonesia early next month [emphasis added].

Trade officials across Asia met to negotiate details in Cebu, the Philippines, the week before Mr. Trump won the election. Almost no one noticed outside of Cebu. The next meeting, scheduled for early December, could attract far more attention, including some at this weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Lima…

Will Canada try to get involved or just negotiate bilaterally with the Dragon?

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Oh, that cuddly panda. But consider:

The Dragon and the Beaver: Ottawa in Cloud Cuckoo Land

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – “The Cyber Challenge: Final Summary Highlights from the CASIS 2016 Annual Symposium” Sept. 26

Further to this post, the document is here, “Table of Contents” at p. 5 PDF. The symposium is noted by the Globe and Mail at the latter half of this post:

Can Canada Reach a Real Cyber Deal With China?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds