Hope is not a valid course of action

I said, just a few days ago, that There.Is.No.Alternative, for Canada, other than, finally, after 50 years of having our heads in the sand, getting serious about our own defences and the world’s security.

There are major threats to global peace posed by e.g. Iran’s and North Korea’s fanatical strategic aims, by Russia’s continuing adventurous opportunism (or opportunistic adventurism, if you wish) and by China’s rise and current bullying tactics. To complicate matters, as the Globe and Mail‘s, Campbell Clark said, in the link above, America is tired of paying the price of global leadership. President-elect Biden is not going to be able to change that view: not amongst the American people and not amongst his top officials in the Defence and State Departments.

Now, I see in an interesting article in by Reuters that Britain’s Chief of the Defence Staff, General Nick Carter, says that “Current global uncertainty and anxiety amid the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic could risk another world war … [because] … an escalation in regional tensions and errors of judgement could ultimately lead to widespread conflict.

“We have to remember,” General Carter said, “that history might not repeat itself but it has a rhythm, and if you look back at the last century, before both world wars, I think it was unarguable that there was escalation which led to the miscalculation which ultimately led to war at a scale we would hopefully never see again.”” The operative word, and the one which seems to me to have guided Canadian defence policy ~ Conservative and Liberal ~ for 50 years, is “hopefully.”

A friend of mine always reminds us that “hope is not a valid course of action” when we soldiers appreciate (analyze) our situations, develop workable courses of action, make a plan and then give the orders that commit our troops to battle. One must pick the better course of action, the one most likely to succeed or, at last, the one least likely to fail. But, for 50+ years “hope,” rather than anything developed from a clear-eyed analysis of the global situation, has been the guiding principle of Canadian strategic policy:

  • Hope that the situation will not spiral out of control;
  • Hope that cooler heads will prevail; and, above all
  • Hope that the Americans will protect us because we have, consciously, decide NOT to protect ourselves.

In at least one case, one of our most senior military officers has told our political leaders that the US does NOT plan to defend us against a ballistic missile attack. Did that, three years ago, provoke any action? No. Did it provoke a debate about defence policy? No. Why not? Because there is no appetite in Canada for a much needed debate on defence policy and resources and not party, including the Conservatives, wants to bother the voter with something about which they don’t want to hear.

So we have General Carter warning about the dangers of a “widespread conflict” and General St-Amand telling us that United States does NOT plan to protect us just because we’re nice guys, and what does the Government of Canada do? It hopes.

Canada needs a new government, one that will do more than just hope that America will save us. But I believe that America will save us … IF we step up and take action to help save ourselves. I have described (link in the opening paragraph) some of the things we need to do. But, if we will not even try to do that then we are beyond hope and not worth saving.

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.

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