- United States President Joe Biden is a foreign policy realist with a moderate, pragmatic, cautious but perhaps Jeffersonian point of view; and
- President Biden might want to retrench even further, to disentangle the USA from the Middle East and to avoid direct conflicts with China in East Asia.
I do not agree with much of what the authors suggest, but I do agree that American foreign policy is changing. It is:
- Changing away from the radicalism that characterized the Donald J Trump administration; and
- Moving away from the focus on the Middle East that characterized the Bush (41), Clinton, Bush (43) and Obama administrations; but
- NOT moving away from a great power confrontation with China.
Canada’s foreign policy MUST be tied, closely, to that of the United States. In 1970, Pierre Trudeau’s regime published his Foreign Policy for Canadians. It was a monumental disaster because:
- It almost totally ignored the USA and Canada’s dependence on it and the unique relationship Canada has with America in defending a continent;
- It followed Trudeau’s rash decision to unilaterally cut Canada’s commitment to NATO; and
- It aimed to make Canada less of a Western nation and move it towards the Non-Aligned Movement.
None of those initiatives served Canada’s interests but they were very reflective of Pierre Trudeau’s personal and idiosyncratic world-view.
No matter what is happening to the USA, it will remain, for another half century, at least, a major military power and it will remain committed to its own continental defence and it will expect Canada to do a fair share in that field, at least.
I expect that Europe will continue to be a priority for America as long as Vladimir Putin remains an adventurous opportunist or opportunistic adventurer, take your pick. I also expect that China will loom larger and larger as a factor in America’s strategic calculus.
America is finding new allies, especially in Asia. Australia, India, Japan (members, with the USA, of “The Quad’ ~ the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) and South Korea and even tiny Singapore are valued American allies in Asia. And Canada? Missing in action, as has become distressingly normal under the Trudeaus, père et fils.
I said, a few days ago, that I disagree with Erin O’Toole’s platform which says that NATO is “the cornerstone of Canada’s defence policy.” I believe that continental defence, in close cooperation with the United States, but with our own national sovereignty always top of mind, must be our #1 priority, but that doesn’t mean that Canada cannot be and should not be active elsewhere in support of allied (especially American) interests. Contrary to the views of many in the illiberal-progressive quadrant of Canadian politics, being a good, trusted ally of the USA and standing up for liberty and democracy around the world do not weaken Canada’s reputation or threaten our independence.
To be a good ally and to be able to stand up for liberty and democracy Canada needs to be able to project hard, military power. In addition to the naval and air forces needed to assert our own sovereignty and help the USA defend the continent, Canada needs a “blue water navy,” one able to deploy into a remain in far distant seas. That naval force should be built around a a major warship that can carry and, when required, our ashore (against a host force) a smallish amphibious (light infantry) battle group ~ say 750 to 1,500 soldier and 75 to 150 vehicles ~ which will be sent ashore in a mix of helicopters, air-cushion vehicles and conventional landing craft. The ship Canada needs probably displays 20,000 to 30,00 tons. It may even be a converted cargo ship.
That ship ( I think there should be two such ships in service, each with a dedicated amphibious (light) infantry battalion, plus a third ship always undergoing repair or refit) is the foundation of a Canadian (global) Expeditionary Force. Current economic realities may argue for only two or even just one) but they (it) are in addition to the 25 to 30 or so combat ships that I believe the Royal Canadian Navy needs.
That fleet needs first rate, modern, 5th generation fighters to fly CAP (combat air patrol) over it and new modern long range patrol aircraft raft to support it and many, many Navy helicopters as organic parts of the fleet: Royal Canadian Navy helicopters, flown by Royal Canadian Navy aircrew and maintained by Royal Canadian Navy technicians.
The army component needs to be a light, amphibious infantry force. That is similar to the army force needed for the specialized role of ‘Defence of Canada.’ It, too, will need to be light, but airborne and air mobile rather than amphibious. In fact the bulk of Canada’s regular, professional army should be light infantry and supporting arms and services. There needs to be some, limited, ‘heavy” (armoured and mechanized) forces but their primary role should be to maintain skills and, above all, teach and support reserve force training.
Canada’s defence policy should have, as its “cornerstone” the Defence of Canada. The secondary goal should be to support allies ~ the US led West ~ in efforts to prevent a major war by contributing to an effective deterrent force which is clearly capable and ready to fight. Canada may need to be something of a niche player ~ light forces rather than the full range of combat forces ~ but it should be credible (combat ready and combat effective) in that role and it should be a reliable ally, too.