‘Blog’

  • Blog
  • July 3rd, 2015

The Forgotten War: A year since Gaza

Writers from Haaretz, analyze relations between Israel and Gaza on the anniversary of Operation Protective Edge in ’The Forgotten War: A year since Gaza’ (Haaretz, 2 July 2015) .

“One year after Operation Protective Edge, Haaretz sends its top writers to examine what has changed since the 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas, and to ask whether – or when – the next war will erupt.

It’s been one year since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, the costly military campaign that claimed the lives of 73 people on the Israeli side and over 2,200 Palestinians.

Since those 50 terrible days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, there have been negligible strategic gains. Sporadic rocket fire from the Gaza Strip has resumed, as have retaliatory Israeli airstrikes. Billions of dollars in aid promised by the international community to rebuild Gaza remain just that – promises. Lessons have been ignored, victims largely forgotten.

On the anniversary of Operation Protective Edge, Haaretz takes an in-depth look at the past, present and future and asks: If we don’t learn from our wars, are we doomed to repeat them?”

To read the full articles, click here: The Forgotten War: A year since Gaza (Haaretz, 2 July 2015)

Image credit: Latuff cartoons

Read More

New study identifies more than $10 billion in savings on military equipment

A new report, entitled Smart Defence: A plan for rebuilding Canada’s military, has just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The study, by University of British Columbia Professor Michael Byers, identifies more than $10 billion in potential savings in spending on military equipment.

At the same time, the study identifies ways to increase capabilities in Arctic and coastal surveillance, search and rescue, disaster and humanitarian relief, and peacekeeping.

“There are two big problems with defence procurement in Canada,” says Byers. “One is mismanagement, including new layers of bureaucracy introduced by the Harper government. The other is overreach, which occurs when officials grasp at the latest, unproven technologies – such as the F-35 Strike Fighter – which carry huge cost risks and uncertainties.”

The study recommends cancelling the planned purchase of 65 F-35 Strike Fighters and acquiring 30-40 new F/A-18 Super Hornets – the latest version of the CF-18 – to extend Canada’s current fighter jet capability for another two decades.

“Piloted fighter jets could soon be rendered obsolete by unmanned drones capable of air-to-air combat,” says Byers. “Instead of blowing the defence budget on a fleet of unproven, hyper-expensive F-35s that could soon become outdated, we should be looking for a lower-risk, lower-cost alternative.”

The study calls for “Smart Defence”: a more objective and reasoned approach to defence procurement that is based on Canada’s actual needs, proven off-the-shelf technologies, and the elimination of cost risks and uncertainties.

“A full public review of defence and national security policy is urgently needed. This report provides essential analysis for that effort as well as guidance on immediate steps that need to be taken, in the meantime”, said Rideau Institute president, Peggy Mason.

Read the full report here: Rebuilding Canada’s Military

Watch the full press conference here: “Smart Defence” Press Conference

See Amanda Connolly’s article for iPolitics on the report here: Rideau Institute report: Harper allowing military to ‘rust out’, (iPolitics, 29 June 2015).

Read More
  • Blog
  • June 29th, 2015

Mother Canada: Who are you and where did you come from?


John Baker from The Guardian discusses the growing nationwide criticism of the proposed giant statue of “Mother Canada” (‘Offensively tasteless’ Mother Canada plan sparks outrage against PM, Guardian, 26 June 2015).

The statue of Mother Canada—a cloaked female figure with her arms outstretched towards the Atlantic Ocean—is intended to honour the country’s soldiers who died overseas.

But growing anger over the plan has made it a new focus of opposition to the increasingly unpopular government of Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.

The proposed monument is an awkwardly remodelled, vastly upscaled version of an earlier statue, known as Canada Bereft, which adorns the memorial to the country’s first world war dead near Vimy, France.

The design has been widely lambasted both for its design and its proposed location in Cape Breton Highlands national park….

“A significant majority of those who are engaged with the issue believe that the statue either shouldn’t be built anywhere or for sure shouldn’t be plopped down in a beautiful national park,” [said Sean Howard, spokesperson for a local group opposing the monument].

The Harper Conservatives seem to have a penchant for gaudy, hubristic projects that raise the ire of local citizens, like the proposed monument to the victims of Communism on land long slated for a new federal court building in Ottawa. When asked for his thoughts on the National Capital Commission decision to commence preparations despite widespread objections, NDP MP for Ottawa Centre Paul Dewar replied:

We’re talking about a monument to honour those who were victimized from totalitarian dictatorships and we have a government that is using their role and their power in a way that you would see [used] by governments that really don’t care what people think. The irony is pretty rich…”

Read the full Guardian article here: ‘Offensively tasteless’ Mother Canada plan sparks outrage against PM (Guardian, 26 June 2015).

For further commentary from residents of Cape Breton, see: Green Cove statue plan panned at C.B. rally (Chronicle Herald, 16 June 2015).

Image credit: Chronicle Herald

 

Read More
  • Blog
  • June 24th, 2015

Is the US-led military intervention against ISIS working?

Michael Enright of CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition speaks with Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney and retired U.S. Army colonel and Professor Emeritus of History and International Relations at Boston University Andrew Bacevich about the U.S.-led military intervention against ISIS (Is the West’s Strategy against ISIS working? The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright, CBC Radio, 21 June 2015).

Enright begins the interview by asking Kenney what we’ve gained in the fight against ISIS:

Jason Kenney:

“What we’ve gained first of all is not having ISIS dominate all of Iraq…. Since the international coalition began its operations against ISIS last October, through aerial strikes and ground training, ISIS’s progress or gains in Iraq were largely stopped, and they’ve lost about 25 to 30 percent of the territory they controlled last September.”

“Obviously, there have been recent setbacks in Ramadi and elsewhere, but in any military campaign, you are not going to expect one straight line to the objective. There are always going to be gains and losses, but fundamentally, we’ve at least contained this organization and degraded its capabilities.”

Andrew Bacevich:

“When we think about creating an army, there are two elements. The first element is inculcating the skills necessary to fight…. But the second requirement of an effective army is will – to have soldiers who are willing to fight, who are willing to die for a cause, for a country. And there, it seems to me, as people from outside the Islamic world, our ability to inculcate the will to fight is very, very limited.”

“But there are other countries in the region that are as eager as we are to bring about the demise of ISIS, and whether one likes it or not, one such country is Iran…. Whether we approve of their policies or not, they are once again a player in the politics of the Persian Gulf, and as a player, we have a common interest with Iran in trying to destroy ISIS.”

Bacevich argues that the current Western strategy is ineffective and “counterproductive.” He further states that “We can defeat ISIS militarily, but it doesn’t lie within the West’s power to impose our vision of what life is like on the Islamic world…. Western military intervention exacerbates the problem rather than providing a solution.”

Read the rest of the CBC blog post here: Is the West’s Strategy against ISIS working? (The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright, CBC Radio, 21 June, 2015).

Listen to the full CBC Radio interview here: Why is Canada in Iraq? (The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright, CBC Radio, 21 June 2015).

For a far-reaching critique of the government’s current approach, see State of Delusion: Why are we bombing ISIS? Our government has no idea (Patrick Graham, The Walrus Magazine, June 2015).

Image credit: A.F. Branco

 

Read More
  • Blog
  • June 22nd, 2015

Impact and longevity in the digital era

In an article entitled “Six social movements the world can learn from” (Canadian International Council, 18 June 2015), Nick Dagostino and Amanda Coletta discuss the significance and impact of digital tools utilized in social campaigns.

A group of researchers from the University of Toronto’s Munk School along with Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Roswell, studied 11 citizen or civil society-led social movements.

The group’s report examines

“what motivates citizens to act and participate in social campaigns and, perhaps most importantly, what encourages their continued participation. The report details a series of recommendations for campaign organizers and activists on how to best achieve impact and longevity, two aspects of social campaigns that are often at odds with one another.”

The following six campaigns are discussed:

1. I Paid a Bride, India
2. The Umbrella Movement, Hong Kong
3. The People’s Climate March, International
4. Movimiento 15, Spain
5. Idle No More, Canada
6. Anti-SOPA/PIPA, United States

Read the full article here: Six social movements the world can learn from (Canadian International Council, 18 June 2015).

The entire report can be found here: Citizen Campaigns: Impact & Longevity in the Digital Era (DirectDiplomacy.net, April 2015).

Image credit: Marcel Mason

Read More