My friend Brigadier General (retired) Jim Cox asks the right question in a new article in the Vimy Report, a journal that I really hope everyone follows for its insights into national and global security matters, entitled: No fight in this dog. The key question is: Why wont Justin fight?
Jim Cox suggests that he, Justin Trudeau, and his Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, are “content merely to treat symptoms of conflict, rather than excise the cause,” and “neither Mr. Trudeau nor any of his ministers seem capable of engaging in a meaningful discussion of international strategy in the region.” Justin Trudeau’s government, General Cox suggests, “is taking Canada “back” to the powder-monkey role we left behind in 1931.”
There are, Jim Cox, opines three reasons for Canada to engage in combat against Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS:
“First, if government intends to conform to norms of liberal internationalism, we must necessarily contribute to international action against ISIS;”
“Second, if Canada intends as Mr. Trudeau has declared, to re-engage in constructive multilateralism, we should act in concert with allied or other like-minded nations;” and
“Third, and probably most important, it is in our own interest to act in concert with the US and other major allies (e.g. Australia, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands), but to do so with an eye to protecting Canadian interests. If the Americans and other close allies are fighting, we should fight too – to the extent our capabilities and capacities allow. The inconvenient truth is that, as it has throughout history, strategic combat effectiveness is the currency of influence and power. Getting to the table is easy. Getting a chance to speak comes at the price of achieving meaningful effects. The attention and respect of others comes only with decisive achievement.“
That third reason needs to be driven home: “strategic combat effectiveness is the currency of influence and power.” Canada is not a great power, but we are a G7 nation … a charter member of the rich, modern, liberal, West and we are, routinely now, left out of the councils of the mighty.
Brigadier General Cox quips that, “Maybe the Prime Minister is “just not ready” for a real fight.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that. Prime Minister Trudeau is, I think, a product of his age and social background; he’s a poster child for the Laurentian Consensus which is, in my opinion, essentially isolationist as long as it can feel safe hiding behind America’s skirts. The Laurentian Elites are, also, very comfortable, even in the 21st century, with Pierre Trudeau’s “little Canada” vision which was enunciate in the 1970 White paper “A Foreign Policy for Canadians.” Finally, that weak “consensus” is, broadly, anti-American even as it is filled with greed and envy for American culture, know how and money.
I’m going to repeat something I have said several times before: the campaign promise to pull the CF-18s out of the fight was very, very good partisan politics. Justin Trudeau, in a quite juvenile quip of his own, had attacked Prime Minister Harper, in a TV interview, because of his decision to “whip out our CF-18s and show how big they are.” He, Justin Trudeau, was, rightly, pilloried for both the immature tenor of the remark and its substance. His campaign team ~ now his PMO ~ decided to make a metaphorical silk purse out of that particular sow’s ear and promised to withdraw from combat because we, Canada, could, somehow, do “something” better. It worked. Actually it worked extraordinarily well: it neutralized his silly remark and it brought a whole bunch of left leaning, normally NDP supporting, “undecideds” into the Liberal camp.
It was good politics, hell’s bells it was great politics … but it is bad policy. It is depriving Canada of power and influence. prime Minister Trudeau promised to restore Canada to a position of leadership in the world. But he is failing. Canada is not leading, it is hiding.
Canada deserves better … but, maybe, Jim Cox’s quip is right, maybe 40% of those who voted elected a prime minister who is just not ready.