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  • May 24th, 2016

Defence policy review misses big picture

Paul Meyer, a former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, is now a Senior Fellow in Space Security and Nuclear Disarmament at the Simons Foundation. In his recent article, Defence policy review too narrow on cyber, space (The Hill Times, 18 May 2016), he demonstrates how our defence review is being dangerously skewed by the lack of a broader foreign policy framework.

Security challenges and the possible responses to them should not be rendered exclusively from a military perspective.

This is the proverbial tail of defence waving the entire dog of global security policy.

There was reason for optimism as the government began its defence policy review last month. The process includes cross country roundtable meetings with non-governmental experts, engaging with Allies, as well as having the House and Senate Committees on National Defence study issues relevant to the review.

However, this optimism has turned to concern as scrutiny of the background discussion paper reveals a narrow focus on largely military responses to the national and international security challenges facing Canada. Says Paul Meyer:

The whole field of non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament, for example, is absent from the discussion paper.

Canada has an array of diplomatic, development, and other non-military tools at its disposal to address contemporary security challenges, and it is therefore essential to examine all options through a “whole of government” approach.

In the area of space security, Meyer notes that the discussion is essentially formulated around threats and military counter-measures:

Where is there an acknowledgement … of Canada’s long-standing support for the non-weaponization of outer space? Or the possibility to use new capacity, such as Canada’s Sapphire satellite, to support verification of envisaged co-operative security arrangements in the “global commons” of outer space?

For the full article, click Paul Meyer on Defence Review. (Because the Hill Times article is only available to subscribers, Paul Meyer has made it available in pdf. format.)

Photo credit: CAF, Egypt

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