Tag Archives: Media

Mark Collins – SNAFU, or, Canadian Defence Procurement

The start and end of a book review by Matthew Fisher, a rare Canadian journalist who is actually interested in matters military and has a real understanding of them–and note the deleterious role of our media generally:

New book pleads for fix to Canada’s dysfunctional military procurement system

The new book Charlie Foxtrot: Fixing Defence Procurement in Canada [see here] is a “cri de coeur” for political leaders to forge a bipartisan approach when deciding what to buy for the Canadian Armed Forces.

The author, Kim Nossal, is not delusional. The Queen’s University professor [more here] recognizes that for this to happen “involves a considerable leap of faith.” However, given how procurement blunders have “degraded the Canadian military,” he argues a better way must be found to replace them than the largely dysfunctional procurement system that exists at present.

Charlie Foxtrot — military shorthand for “clusterf—” — is particularly relevant today because the Liberal government is seemingly intent on equaling if not surpassing the their Conservative predecessors’ brutal mishandling of the multi-billion dollar programme to finally buy new fighter jets [see “What Stinking RCAF Fighter “Capability Gap” for NORAD and NATO?“]…

It has not only been the politicians who are to blame for Canada’s politicized procurement process. The media treat procurement as political theatre. There is little dispassionate analysis of the choices and the dilemmas involved in buying equipment that must last for decades in an environment where technological advances can render many acquisitions quickly obsolete [emphasis added, OH SO SADLY TRUE].

The government, for its part, has never hired enough procurement specialists, a problems that bogs down every purchasing process. Nossal argues that if Canada matched what its allies spend on a GNP basis, a lot of these problems would disappear. As it is, he writes, too many programs are always chasing too few dollars.

Nossal’s inevitable conclusion is that the “root cause” of Canada’s procurement failures has been an absence of political leadership. Governments have been able to get away with botching procurement for years because “the consequences of decisions made by one Parliament will not be felt until much later, usually well past the next general election.”

The only practical solution, Nossal says, is for Canada’s two leading political parties to create a bipartisan approach to defence procurement…There is zero chance that even an exceptionally brave Canadian politician would dare embrace such an obvious and honourable idea [OH SO SADLY TRUE]. Still, Charlie Foxtrot is worth reading to understand how much Canada would benefit if its leaders confounded voters and actually took the high road.

Lots more here on the constant Canadian procurement morass.

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 – With Serious Chicom Links: “Influential Chinese-Canadians paying to attend private fundraisers with Trudeau”

Further to the end of an earlier post,

Chinese business leaders laud ‘golden era’ for Canadian relations

Canada, China at dawn of golden decade [at Chicom mouthpiece, Global Times]

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Oh, that cuddly panda.

The Globe and Mail continues its excellent reporting on the Dragon’s influence activities in this country:

The Liberal Party is employing an under-the-radar strategy that taps into the power of Justin Trudeau to generate tens of thousands of dollars from cash-for-access events at the homes of wealthy Chinese-Canadians that provide intimate face-time with the Prime Minister that can be used as business currency at home and in China.

Attendance figures suggest the party collects a minimum of $50,000 per event from donors – and up to $120,000 – in a system that revolves around rich entrepreneurs in Vancouver and Toronto, home to large Chinese-Canadian business communities with people willing to shell out $1,500 per ticket to meet Mr. Trudeau in a private setting.

Some of the guests and hosts at the intimate fundraisers are well-connected to China’s ruling Communist Party…

Related: Trudeau defends fundraiser as effort to attract Chinese investment

Related: Trudeau attended cash-for-access fundraiser with Chinese billionaires

Former Liberal cabinet minister Raymond Chan, who was Mr. Trudeau’s British Columbia fundraiser in the 2015 election campaign, helps with fundraising activities on the West Coast, while Toronto business consultant Richard Zhou is a key organizer of these events in Ontario.

Mr. Chan was at the most recent Trudeau fundraiser, which was held on Nov. 7 at the West Vancouver mansion of B.C. developer Miaofei Pan, a multimillionaire from Wenzhou province who immigrated to Canada a decade ago. More than 80 guests got their pictures taken with Mr. Trudeau at the $1,500 per ticket event, including Mr. Chan.

Mr. Pan told The Globe and Mail he lobbied the Prime Minister to make it easier for well-heeled investors from China to come to Canada. He said he told Mr. Trudeau the program put in place by the former Conservative government was “too harsh.”

In exchange for permanent residency, rich immigrants must invest $2-million and are subject to strict audits…

A Chinese government agency in Mr. Pan’s hometown that builds ties with and keeps tabs on expatriate Chinese, supplied photos of the Trudeau-Pan event to media in China. The Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Wenzhou People’s Government promotes China’s interests abroad, according to former Canadian diplomat and China expert Charles Burton.

“That is an agency of the Chinese Communist Party,” Mr. Burton told The Globe and Mail. “The fact that the photos appeared in the [Wenzhou Metropolis Daily] in China suggests that the people who participated in that activity must have been tasked by the Chinese state to try and promote the Chinese position with influential people in Canada. In this case, our Prime Minister.”

Mr. Pan is honorary chair of a Chinese-Canadian organization that is an unabashed backer of Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea [emphasis added, see “Ethnic Chinese Abroad: Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon Says Beijing“]…

In Toronto, Mr. Zhou is the chief Liberal ambassador to deep-pocketed Chinese-Canadian business executives. His web biography says he is also a consultant to the state-supervised Beijing International Chamber of Commerce. He did not respond to phone calls or e-mails, but Mr. Caley confirmed that Mr. Zhou is a “volunteer fundraising co-chair in Ontario.”

Mr. Zhou helped arrange a May 19 fundraiser at the home of Chinese Business Chamber of Commerce chair Benson Wong at which Mr. Trudeau was the star attraction, an event attended by Chinese billionaire and Communist Party official Zhang Bin. A few weeks later, Mr. Zhang and his business partner donated $200,000 to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and $50,000 to erect a statue of Mr. Trudeau’s father…

But nothing to see here, folks. Just move on. Very relevant:

“China’s government is not Canada’s friend”

The Dragon’s Grasp on Canadian Chinese-Language Press…

The Dragon vs the Press: Covert (Canada); Overt (Hong Kong)

How Convenient: “Ontario minister Michael Chan defends China’s human-rights record”

Up-Sucking to the Dragon While Beijing Tries to Devour Canada

Top Dragon’s Anti-Corruption Drive, Chicom Spooks in Canada Section

The Dragon and the Beaver: Ottawa in Cloud Cuckoo Land

To sum it all up:

The Definitive Dragon Trying to Devour Canada Post

Smile!

selfie.jpg
(David Parkins/The Globe and Mail)

Selfie on.

The phrase “useful idiot” almost springs to mind.

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

Mark Collins – Spookery Today, Especially SIGINT and Cyber Stuff

The Economist focuses almost solely on the US and UK amongst Western countries (several graphics):

Special report: Espionage

Espionage

Shaken and stirred

Technology

Tinker, tailor, hacker, spy

Governance

Standard operating procedure

Edward Snowden

You’re US government property

China and Russia
[a few other countries mentioned]

Happenstance and enemy action

How to do better

The solace of the law

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

Mark Collins: Terry Glavin on Trump and Why: “God help us all” or…

…the decline of the old media, especially newspapers, and the arrogant self-content of the greatest and goodest–excerpts:

With Trump’s win, the Age of the Gargoyle has arrived

In reckoning with the implications of Tuesday night’s [Nov. 8] American presidential election result, it behooves all of us who have publicly dreaded this dark moment to admit a few things plainly and honestly, while we are still able – especially those of us whose privilege it has been to declaim this dread from the platform of a newspaper column.

The phenomenon of the newspaper evolved over the past three centuries in tandem with the rise of liberal democracy, and both are in eclipse the world round. A complex malaise associated with the stratospheric reach of digital technologies is withering newsrooms and shuttering newspapers everywhere. The old business model is broken.

Only two of the 100 largest-circulation newspapers in the United States – the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Florida Times Union – endorsed Donald Trump. The Democratic party matriarch Hillary Clinton won the endorsement of 57 newspapers, many of which were staunchly conservative and Republican. It didn’t matter.

Over the past 15 years, the number of proper journalists employed full-time in the United States has declined by half, to roughly 30,000. In the meantime, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google News and a plethora of “social media” platforms has accelerated the diffusion of fake news. The Kremlin propaganda arm RT News was as significant an influence in the shouting that produced Trump’s victory as any of the legacy media. Wikileaks, the Kremlin’s clearing house of disinformation and information warfare, was more relevant in directing the course of events than the editorial board of the New York Times. Facebook has tried and failed to keep fake news out of its newsfeed algorithm. Everything is broken.

It is not true that “the people are always right,” that saccharine piety politicians routinely utter upon losing elections. But neither is it true – as this election more than any other in the history of the American republic has proved – that it doesn’t matter who you vote for, because the government always gets back in. The American people voted against their system of government this week. While Clinton may have won a majority sliver of the popular vote, Americans have revolted against their own political culture, against the entire American political class.

…it can’t be denied that Clinton was far and away the best candidate available to persuade and cajole voters into sticking with the neoliberal global system overseen by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This brings us to the hardest thing of all for any of us to admit.

The system is rigged. It is rigged, and it is rigged particularly against American working people.

From Hollywood to the Upper West Side, Barack Obama’s legions of sycophants and acolytes swaggered and boasted, all for nought, that the Trumpist rallying cry to Drain the Swamp and to Make America Great Again was an occluded inducement to bigotry and white supremacy, and that America has never been so great.

But that is not how a great many Americans see things…

Read on.

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

Mark Collins – Canada and UN “Peace Operations”: Letter of Mine in Globe and Mail

November 8 in print edition–scroll down to the third letter at “War and peace” (links added):

Your editorial recommends that Senegal be the focus for renewed peace operations by the Canadian military (Start In Senegal, For The New Peacekeeping, Nov. 4). But the government has made it clear that the point of such missions is to support UN-led peacekeeping operations; unfortunately, there is no such UN operation in Senegal to support.

It seems much more probable that the government will commit some military personnel to the UN mission in Mali, with Senegal serving as a logistics hub to support both them and the UN mission more broadly.

The editorial also states that “a counterinsurgency in a chaotic, arid country such as Mali … would be outside the experience of most members of the Canadian Armed Forces.” That “arid country” sounds like Kandahar province in Afghanistan where thousands of Canadians fought a counterinsurgency against the Taliban from 2006 to 2011.

How soon we apparently forget.

Recently:

RCAF Chinook Helos for UN Peacekeeping Mali? Canadian Army?

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

Mark Collins – ‘The U.S. did not “invade” Afghanistan’

A letter sent to the NY Times and not published:

Paul Theroux [website here] writes (“Pardon the American Taliban“, Oct. 23) that “after Sept. 11, the United States invaded Afghanistan on a punitive mission.” That is repeating a myth unfortunately but firmly fixed in most people’s minds.

After Sept. 11 the Afghan Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban did receive American air support and assistance from special forces, both U.S. and British; that, however, is no invasion as the term is commonly understood (e.g. the Soviet attack on Hungary in 1956).

It was not until after the fall of Kabul to troops of the Northern Alliance in mid-November 2001, and the subsequent collapse of the Taliban regime, that there was any continuing regular U.S. combat presence in Afghanistan. That began with a force of over 1,000 Marines which arrived near Kandahar in late November with the agreement of the Northern Alliance (which was still the UN-recognized government of the country).

In fact the support given in October and November 2001 to the Northern Alliance is a very close analogy to NATO’s support of the anti-Gaddafi forces in Libya with air power. Yet no one refers to an invasion of Libya–while the myth of the invasion of Afghanistan lives on.

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

Mark Collins – “Ross Munro Media Award – Call for Nominations”

At the Conference of Defence Associations Institute:

The Conference of Defence Associations and CDA Institute 2016 Ross Munro Media Award
Call for Nominations

The Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) and the CDA Institute invite nominations for the 2016 Ross Munro Media Award (RMMA).

Initiated in 2002 to recognize Canadian journalists who have made a significant and extraordinary contribution to increasing public understanding of security and defence issues of importance to Canada and Canadians, the RMMA commemorates Ross Munro, the celebrated Canadian war correspondent who reported on the Second World War in Europe.

Recipients of the award will have produced outstanding work regarding security and defence and the role of the Canadian Armed Forces at home and abroad. The award consists of a statuette in the likeness of Ross Munro and $2,000. Previous recipients of the award are Stephen Thorne, Garth Pritchard, Sharon Hobson, Bruce Campion-Smith, Christie Blatchford, Matthew Fisher, Alec Castonguay, Brian Stewart, Murray Brewster, Rosie Di Manno, Adam Day, Louie Palu, and Chris MacLean.

The nominees’ body of work must be considered as having had an important role in educating Canadians on matters of national and/or international security and defence and on the role of the Canadian Armed Forces. The work will have been widely acclaimed as significant, be distinguished by its style and clarity, show clear evidence of research, and be considered noteworthy for its objective analysis. The entries may be selected from print and electronic media. Work produced collaboratively may be considered only if the individual who contributed the most to it is identified and merits individual credit and recognition for the work.

Past winners of the Ross Munro Media Award may be nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award, separate from the regular annual award. The nomination process is the same; however, the work and materials cited in the nomination must date from the time period following the previous award.

Only individuals may submit nominations, and can do so in either of Canada’s official languages. All nominations must consist of a clear summary of the reasons for the nomination, at least two letters of support, and examples of the nominee’s work. Electronic submissions are preferred.

Nominations must be received by 12 December 2016, and addressed to:

Ross Munro Media Award Selection Committee
Conference of Defence Associations and CDA Institute
151 Slater Street, Suite 412A
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5H3, Canada

or cybele.wilson@cdainstitute.ca

The Award will be presented on 16 February 2017, the first day of the CDA and CDA Institute Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence. Registration for this Conference will be up on the CDA Institute website shortly. One can also register by emailing Robert Legere at robert.legere@cdainstitute.ca.

Please direct any questions regarding the Ross Munro Media Award to Cybèle Wilson at
cybele.wilson@cdainstitute.ca

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

Mark Collins – China: Top Dragon Really Unfolding His Ascendant Wings

Further to these posts,

Top Dragon is now C-in-C

Top Dragon Now More Powerful than Mao?

President Xi continues his relentless consolidation of power (is our prime minister paying any attention?): two stories:

1) NY Times:

China’s Antigraft Enforcers Take On a New Role: Policing Loyalty

xi.jpg
President Xi Jinping of China at the Great Hall of the People in September. The Communist Party’s anticorruption commission has assumed a growing role as political inquisitor, investigating the commitment of cadres to Mr. Xi and his agenda. Credit Jason Lee/Reuters

The investigators descend on government agencies and corporate boardrooms. They interrogate powerful officials and frequently rebuke them for lacking zeal. Most of all, they demand unflinching loyalty to President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party.

They are the inspectors from the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and the humbling displays they have orchestrated recently in many of China’s most influential government agencies and largest corporations are the most prominent sign of their expanding authority…

2) Washington Post:

China’s plan to organize its society relies on ‘big data’ to rate everyone

BEHIND THE FIREWALL: How China tamed the Internet |This is part of a series examining the impact of China’s Great Firewall, a mechanism of Internet censorship and surveillance that affects nearly 700 million users.

Imagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how “trustworthy” you are.

In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticizing the ruling party, from running a red light to failing to care for your parents properly, could cause you to lose points.

And in this world, your score becomes the ultimate truth of who you are — determining whether you can borrow money, get your children into the best schools or travel abroad; whether you get a room in a fancy hotel, a seat in a top restaurant — or even just get a date.

This is not the dystopian superstate of Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report,” in which all-knowing police stop crime before it happens. But it could be China by 2020…

Sweet authoritarian–totalitarian?–dreams. On the other hand:

Xi’s China: Grumbling (and Rumbling?) in the PLA

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