An important distinction

From the very first post I ever made on this blog, I have argued, consistently,  for a suite of “practical (affordable), principled and even visionary foreign [(and defence) policies] that set goals for Canada in the world.”

A few days ago I saw a meme on social media that struck home. I have adapted it, slightly, to add a Canadian context (the pictures are from Ortona where Canadians fought and died in December 1943):


This also goes back to something about which I have been commenting for years: while we may wish to see ourselves as the “peaceable kingdom,” but it’s another (Liberalprogressive) myth crafted by a few public relations experts to give some ‘cover’ to Pierre Trudeau’s neo-isolationism of the 1970s.

Now, no one in their right mind, especially not me, wants Canada to be a warlike nation. We know where that leads … we’ve paid too high a price to defeat warlike nations.

I am not going to bore regular readers by repeating all or even a few of my posts arguing for better (both quantitatively and, more importantly qualitatively) military forces serving better national policies. New readers can just click on “defence policy” and/or “foreign policy” in the links just below the title of this post to get an idea of how important I think this is.

wall-stickers-si-vis-pacem-para-bellumTo the point at hand: IF we, Canadians, really want to be “peaceful,” which I hope we all do, then we must, always, ensure that we are well prepared for war. Amongst the very first and, indeed, the most important of the duties of the state is to preserve itself: to defend itself and its sovereignty and its liberty, in the broadest sense, and its freedom to act in pursuit of its own vital interests. A country that cannot or, worse, will not do that is not worthy of the name and, sooner rather than later, will become a colony of a greater power. I have argued in the past and continue to assert today that Canada was, for centuries a colony, it became a nation ~ a nation with real power, a leader, in fact, amongst the nations, and then, in the late 1960s, took a major step backwards and towards becoming a colony again … this time a US colony.

The solutions are simple and obvious but very expensive and, therefore, out of reach in the current political climate.

I am convinced, I am absolutely certain that Canada will go to war again in my lifetime (I hope I have 20+ years left). I expect a major war sometime in this century. At a WAG* the war will be instigated when the Russians miscalculate, probable in the Middle East, and push America too far or when North Korea miscalculates and ignites a nuclear exchange that turns into a major war. The other very real possibility is that Amerca miscalculates China’s response in East Asia. The why (casus belli) will not matter. The fact will be that Canada will be unprepared ~ on about a par with 1939 when the effects of the great depression left both Britain and Canada unprepared to face Germany and Italy, both of which used military preparations as “relief” (job-creating) measures. We will be very junior partners in a US-led Western alliance. That’s nothing new, despite our remarkably large contributions ~ especially in agricultural and industrial production ~ to the allied victory in World War II we were very junior partners; but that was by choice; Prime Minister Mackenzie-King could have been a major political ‘player’ but he chose the more comfortable sidelines where he could not be blamed for anything. As the poet FR Scott said, his policy was “Do nothing by halves which can be done by quarters.” That quip is very appropriate to Canada in 2019.

It will not be the same in the 21st century. In the 1950s and ’60s, Canada came to expect to play a leading role in world affairs … and we did. Starting in 1969 Pierre Trudeau quite explicitly renounced that role, but he never explained to Canada what his neo-isolationism really implied. But Canadians thought, incorrectly, that they could embrace Trudeau’s neo-isolationism (which freed up money (from defence and foreign aid) to pay for enhanced social programmes) and still have a respected voice in the world. They didn’t make the distinction between being peaceful and being harmless.

If Canadians want a voice in the world ~ and I think that a majority of us do, even though most will not want to pay the price ~ then they must understand that distinction. We, all of us, want to be a “peaceable kingdom,” but it comes at a price. Part of that price is being ready, able and willing to offer “great violence” to others. There is a fiscal, social and moral price to be paid.

If we choose to stand aside and let others make the decisions for us then we will, I am absolutely, 100% certain, be dragged into another great war for which we will be sadly unprepared. If we want to help keep the peace then we must prepare, well, for war … that will cost money which must come from the taxes that you and I pay.


* Know as a Wild Arsed Guess in the Army, as opposed to a SWAG which is a much more complicated Scientific Wild Arsed Guess.



Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

One thought on “An important distinction

  1. There are many potential future conflicts that could involve Canada. One of these potential conflicts may not even involve armed confrontation. Canadian participation, other than capitulation, may not even be for Canadians to decide. It may come sooner and be closer to home than most Canadians are willing to acknowledge. Canada may have few allies, if any, in this potential confrontation as currently some of our closest allies are on the other side of the equation.

    Canadians would like to believe that the Canadian Arctic is part of Canada and that the world accepts this position without question. Although, at this point in time, there is little international discussion on ownership of the land mass there is, however, considerable international discussion on the status of the ocean between the islands. Are these waters part of Canadian territory or potential international shipping routes. If the majority of our allies do not recognize our claim to sovereignty, over these waterways, what are we to expect from potential adversaries?

    Currently Canada has very few resources to seriously assert sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic. The previous Conservative Federal Government made a few moves to establish a credible Arctic military presence, but in the long run the Canadian taxpayer is unlikely to be willing to accept the cost to back up our posturing on the issue. As our current Federal Government relies on press releases and promises, to back up our sovereignty claims, our potential adversaries are busy mapping the Arctic waterways and showing the flag.

    According to international military publications the US, British, and French nuclear submarines regularly transit under the Arctic ice pack. It would be curious to know how often they ask Canadian permission or acknowledge their location. This past summer a Chinese heavy icebreaker spent some time in the Canadian Arctic. Was that with or without a Canadian escort? China will soon have three new/modern heavy icebreakers, but no ice pack. The only (40+ year old) Canadian heavy icebreaker spends most of its time in dry dock undergoing repairs.

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