Amidst all the fuss about the “hows” and “whys” and “wherefores” of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decisions on prosecuting the the war against Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS … or how to not fight, as the case may be, we may lose sight of an older, but even more serious threat: Vladimir Putin’s resurgent Russia which is operating against our, the US led West’s, vital interests wherever and whenever President Putin thinks he can get away with it.
We must remember that we still have military forces in Eastern Europe because Putin’s Russia has made a series of aggressive moves, including seizing the Crimea, against the only recently free (of Russian domination) states of Eastern Europe.
Some may, did, argue that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s initial reaction to Russian sponsored uprisings in Eastern Ukraine had more to do with holding the political support of the Ukrainian-Canadian diaspora in Canada than with countering Russian aggression, but even the most die-hard Harper Haters had to stop spreading those canards after Putin sent his army into Crimea in an act of naked aggression against a weak state ~ for many of us it was just too eerily reminiscent of what happened to Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and again in August 1968 …
… it is just too easy for liberals (and Liberals) to excuse aggression because we do not feel strong enough to stand up against it. (In 1981, for example, Pierre Trudeau famouslyexcused the Polish Communist regime’s overthrow of the Solidarity movement by saying, “If martial law is a way to avoid civil war and Soviet intervention, then I cannot say it is all bad … hopefully the military regime will be able to keep Solidarity from [making] excessive demands.” It was an understandable reaction given Pierre Trudeau’s firm belief that nationalism, in all its forms, was the root cause of Europe’s (and the world’s, including Quebec’s) problems and given the fact that he had reduced Canada’s armed forces to almost a corporal’s guard.)
Now, financier George Soros warns that Putin is a still a threat, and he goes even father and suggests that Putin wants to destroy the EU in order to rebuild a Russian empire in Eastern Europe. Some, many, will scoff at his notion that the Russians are provoking a refugee migration in furtherance of his aim, but none can doubt that the influx of refugees has exposed deep divisions in Europe that threaten the very fabric of the EU. No one should deny that Russia will be ready to pounce. Soros says that Putin is a master tactician but a weak strategist … it may be that any attempt to move against what is, now, “free Europe” would backfire but the price of countering it will be high and Putin may think it is worth the risk, and the price.
But it’s not just Putin. There are troubles in the Middle East beyond Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS and there are, of course, also tensions in the Pacific, too, and I have argued that we are giving China a strategic free ride out there. Canada is a Pacific power, like it or not, and we need a Navy that can project our power in that vast region.
Whatever your assessment, I hope you will agree that this is not a good time to cut the defence budget, as I believe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both wants and needs to do. In fact, in my opinion, it is a good time to consider spending the 2% of GDP that NATO wants. These are dangerous times, filled with threats beyond just Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS, and we need to be ready to punch above our weight.