Posts Tagged ‘war’

Perhaps it is time for a review and update of Canada’s role in nuclear weapons elimination.  It may be time to have a debate of such as:

A Canadian Declaration on the Control, Verification and Eventual Elimination of Nuclear weapons

Preamble.   The IPNDV consultation represents an opportunity for Canada to continue to deliver its government mandated “pivot to peace operations’ in regards to international peace and stability, specifically in the area of nuclear weapons control.

However, getting rid of all nuclear weapons does not un-invent the technology or the knowledge for reconstitution of a nuclear threat. Certainly getting rid of existing nuclear weapons is a necessary step but may be impractical in the near term. An overriding need is a new global ethic regarding nuclear weapons to deal with this reality.

This ethic must certainly deal with the treaties, prohibitions, control and verification regimes, safeguards and global pressure, but in parallel, we have to deal with the nature of conflict, the evolution of national and global identities, the responsible use of power, and the mimetic structures that pass on cultures and values of hate, violence, or conflict from generation to generation. Structures that often fuelled by poverty, corruption or extremist politics. We must transcend our identities, live beyond national interest, beyond differences, to the level of global citizen, to that of human being. We are one family.   We must change the language of conflict from “war and enemies and anger”, to a language of “peacemaking, humanitarian operations, reconciliation, of stopping violence and relieving suffering”.

We need to acknowledge the truth that under no interpretations of the laws of armed conflict is the use of nuclear weapons either legal or acceptable in any way.

We also need to consider a new global ethic regarding responses to conflict in the global community to reduce, such as the usage risk of nuclear weapons. We need to codify and consolidate a body of law and convention obligating robust peace operations as a precursor to military intervention, and make military intervention a truly last resort. We need to fund and resource such a capacity.

Whereas, we believe that nuclear weapons are unusable within the laws of armed conflict.

Whereas, we believe that the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons defines the best of human existence for all mankind.

Whereas, in the interim, we believe in the strongest verification regime possible for all nuclear weapons states.

It is therefore recommended that Canada formally adopts a principle of non indifference regarding nuclear weapons. Canada cannot remain indifferent to the threat that nuclear weapons represents to mankind.   Canada should not refuse to do what Canada can do.

  • Canada support and seek leadership of UN forums working towards the verification and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.
  • Canada lead a “renewal initiative” for nuclear weapons treaty verification, adherence and enforcement strengthening to all existing treaties and conventions regarding nuclear weapons, such as involving the NPT.
  • Canada leads a “renewal initiative” involving the development of relational meta environment approaches to address state security needs for nuclear weapons and to build integrity for the primacy of peaceful human values and global human security.
  • Canada create institutions capable of peace operations what can support field verification operations, ideally within a department of peace.
  • Canada lead an initiative to codify “laws for peace operations” in pre, during and post conflict phases, as a strict precursor to invoking “laws of armed conflict” and military intervention.
  • Canada may also consider mandating DND to develop training and expertise, and create deployable units to support verification requirements.
  • Canada consider declaring itself a nuclear weapons free zone.
  • Canada endorse and recognize cities joining Mayors for Peace (Mayors for Peace is a network of over 5500 cities.  The organization was founded in 1991 by the then Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It calls upon cities to stand together for nuclear abolition and world peace. The leadership provided by the Cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is an important reminder that these are not abstract threats, but a matter of life and death for cities.)



Paul Maillet  Colonel retired


The government has got itself in an interesting dilemma. If we procure the super hornet, this may be all we will get, and may only be a question of adding aircraft numbers as we go along. Is there a first step violation here?

To me, there has to be some critical strategic and historical thinking about all this. To fly the F35 to 2070 is 55 years. 55 years ago we were just seriously entering the jet age. If the evolution of drones or other advances do not overtake the F35 long before 2070, I would be very surprised.

Here is something to think about. Considering the argument of the age of competitors, we should consider that over half the cost, and increasing rapidly, is the avionics suite; all the computers, sensors, radar, countermeasures, communications, data links and weapons. Current aircraft are not flying with original 25 year old electronic suites, not by a long shot. This means that the airframe and engine are becoming more and more just a platform for the weapons and avionics, and not the critical path. So any competitor could theoretically be upgraded to near 5th generation capabilities, and retain the airframe and engines. I suggest that geometry will not remain a deciding factor for stealth much longer.   The question becomes; which platform is best suited for such evolution. Is this the Super Hornet, the Gripen, Typhoon, Rafale? The F35 is certainly not optimized for such as range, speed, manoeuvrability or weapons capacity.

A lot of money is at stake here and we would be prudent to be very cautious. There is no immediate fighter threat to Canada here, and we can always do our share and contribute to international military and peace operations in many other ways.

Again we find ourselves reaching for a response to war, this time a war waged by ISIS. Again we blindly “go along to get along” with those who prioritize a military response.

First, the reflex to use the language of violence; defining an enemy as intractably evil, and an imminent  threat to ourselves, whether true or significant or not.  Then to claim that there is no alternative; no matter that we have not put any serious thought or debate into finding any alternatives, or any effort to creating any alternatives, or to creating any institutions that can provide alternatives and capacities.

It is time that Canadians stand up to their values of peace making and rethink this slide into war fighting and confrontation as a bedrock of foreign policy and international affairs.

So what alternatives are possible? The first is setting aside the one track thinking we tend to engage in.  In this crisis we only need ask ourselves what is really important, what values are important to us, and do we have the courage to stand by our convictions and respond accordingly.   Simply put, is it more important to destroy ISIS (which may not be possible)  or is it more important to care for the victims  and people of Iraq and Syria, (to build security, to stop the violence, to build peace)?  How do we balance the ethic of justice with the ethic of care?

If the objective is war fighting, or destroying ISIS, this, militarily, means “search and destroy” and going on the offence.  In all likelihood causing a significant destruction of property, and the killing of more civilians than insurgents.  That is the nature of war when heavy weapons and bombs, are used against an insurgency embedded in the civilian population.  We have been there before.  Israel has been there before.

If the objective is peacemaking and the care for the people of Iraq, this means “serve and protect”, a defensive and constabulary operation supported b y military.   This means peacemaking.   This means an approach that seeks to establish safe havens, refugee routes, humanitarian aid, with a constabulary operation, only backed by military as needed.  This means impartiality, being present with these people, prioritizing human rights and non violence, and establishing lines of communication with all parties.  Perhaps the inevitable diplomatic solutions will come sooner than later, if we start now.  With a UN mandate, this we can make a contribution consistent with our values and in concert with the global community.

The war against ISIS should now be a counterinsurgency or constabulary operation and to be successful, will be long and dangerous. The UK would not tolerate the use of 1000 lb bombs in Belfast to fight the IRA; nor would we in our country if we identified a terrorist cell in an apartment building in Toronto.  If so, then how in the name of God can we do this to others?  Is this because they are not our children?

Counterinsurgency is what the UK did in Ireland and Burma, and they understood that risking troops and police is essential to protecting and winning over civilian populations.  The Iraq army or the UN must do this.  Soldiers are trained and equipped to accept risk, children are not.  We cannot prioritize the protection of Canadians by launching bombs 20 kms away, and at the expense of innocent civilians.  This not who we are.  We will bomb for 6 months, do a lot of damage, kill more civilians than insurgents, feel righteous, and come home.  ISIS will still be there when we come back.  Perhaps we will express regret for any harm we did.  We cannot whitewash our conscience by saying it was unintended, if it is totally foreseeable.  CF18s and bombs, in what is now a counterinsurgency operation in built up areas, is just plain irresponsible.

Search and destroy or serve and protect? Peacemaking or war fighting?  Which resonates with Canadian values? We have two Nobel peace prizes to reclaim.