Trudeau Doctrine and New Defence Policy: Hollow Promises
Yesterday in a speech, Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced what is being called the Trudeau Doctrine. The guiding principles of the new Trudeau approach to Foreign Affairs were military strength and ‘hard power,’ the NATO alliance, and free trade agreements. The announced Trudeau Doctrine comes a day before the government’s new Defence policy is made public. If that is truly the Trudeau government’s approach to foreign policy, then it is a brilliant move that side-swipes the Conservative Party of Canada and its new leader, Scheer. But there is great reason to think that is not the case, and that this is a communications strategy or façade more about being set up as the anti-Trump and not a series change in direction for the Liberal government. The Global Affairs Minister’s speech was about taking swipes at US President Donald J. trump and his new direction in Foreign policy and was very short on detail.
Keep in mind this is a government elected on a move back to Canada’s traditional role as Pearsonian peacekeeping. The Trudeau governments first major foreign policy decision was to withdraw our CF-18 fighter bombers from the campaign in Syria and Iraq to stop the Islamic State (ISIS). When the Trudeau government announced the withdraw, they stated that they wanted to concentrate on ‘soft power’ and move away from warfighting. They preferred the dysfunctional UN over the robust military alliance of NATO. Not surprisingly Canada is in the bottom tier of Defence spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which sits at 1.19 percent FY16/17, while the NATO goal is 2 percent. The International Trade Minister at the time, Chrystia Freeland, was loathed to defend both the Canada Europe Union Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership. In fact, the Canada-European Union anniversary in Ottawa was shunned by Government Ministers, so too was the Canada US-Chamber of Commerce. Thus, there is great reason to believe that the Trudeau Doctrine is nothing more than ‘hot air.’ To say that the Trudeau Doctrine represents a major change in Foreign and Defence policy would be a massive understatement.
The key determining factor is today’s Defence policy announcement by Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, and Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau. The government’s Foreign policy hinges on military strength and the Western Alliance, and therefore Defence policy and spending is the proof of government intentions. Today’s announcement entitled, “Strong, Secure, Engaged,” comes with the same typical priorities of Canadian Defence Policy in the past, Canada, North America, NATO and the UN. In fact, it has the proven mission set of the previous Conservative government and appears to be a watered down, version of the Canada First Defence Strategy. It calls for 71,500 strong regular and a 30,000-member reserve force and an increase of over 1,150 civilian public servants. The 20-year plan like Canada First calls for a recapitalization of the Canadian Army, expanded special operations forces, 15 surface warships for the Royal Canadian Navy and 88 advanced fighter aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force 20 year It includes investments in space, cyber, and intelligence, but includes no mention of under the ice capability for the Royal Canadian Navy and no amphibious capability. The government has committed to a gradual increase in Defence spending from $18.9 billion (Cash) in FY 16/17 to $32.7 billion in FY26/27 over the next decade, with the bulk of the money committed in the middle of a possible second term for the Trudeau government, and the rest in the third mandate. The amount of money in the next few years is a slight increase and takes us up to the next election. After all the chest beating on NATO and the Western Alliance, it increases our GDP contribution from 1.19 percent of defence spending to 1.4 percent in FY24/25. The fact that both Trudeau government announcements come on the verge of the Parliamentary summer recess, means that the policies will come with great fanfare but no scrutiny until the fall. In real terms, it means that the Trudeau government is not serious about Foreign policy or Defense. If you look at the current Defence budget of $18.9 billion dollars, about $9 billion is personnel, $2 billion statutory requirements, $3-4 billion in capital, and about $4 billion in operations and maintenance. Then, it does not take long to realize that the money for readiness is not sufficient to maintain the current force let along grow it until the outer 20 years, and even then, with inflation it will be a huge challenge. The government’s capital acquisitions, if it succeeds in moving them to delivery, will see a hollowed out, low readiness, Canadian Forces. In the broader world security environment, ISIS has reportedly called on its supporters to carry out attacks on Westerners wherever their supporters find them, and to use whatever means necessary, including bombs, guns, edged weapons, and vehicles to push home their attacks during Ramadan.
Outside of Toronto, in Scarborough, a woman entered a Canadian Tire Store this weekend and pullout a knife and tried to stab people and strike them with a golf club. She was wearing a ISIS bandana on her head and said that she was doing this for ISIS. She later swore loyalty to the ISIS leader in court. Rehab Dughmosh, has been charged with assault with a weapon, assault, threaten death, and possession of a weapon.
A Nursery school in London is in lockdown after three Muslim women attacked and stabbed a nursery worker saying, “Allah will kill you.” A man was arrested on a London bus yesterday carrying three machetes and a man was arrested at Manchester airport on suspicion of terror offenses. Police in London have found the eighth victim, a missing French man knocked into the Thames River, from this past Saturday’s attack on London Bridge and the Borough Market. Police carried-out one controlled explosion on two unattended cars near US Embassy in London.
Yesterday, an Algerian student attack a French police officer with a hammer outside Notre Dame Cathedral before he was shot dead. The Attacker claimed he was doing it for Syria. As part of its continuing effort to have a civil war within Islam and to edge out Al Qaeda for market share, today the Islamic State (ISIS) struck the Iranian Parliament building in Tehran and the shrine of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Four ISIS gunmen raided the Parliament building and set off a suicide bomb, while another ISIS suicide bomb was set off at the shrine to Khomeini. A third ISIS attack was put down before it could begin. Twelve people were killed and 42 injured in the simultaneous attacks. ISIS has claimed responsibility but Iran is conveniently trying to blame Saudi Arabia as a way into the Qatar diplomatic spat. It was reported that Russia’s Defense Ministry plans to modernize four Oscar II Antey-class nuclear powered cruise missile submarines for the Pacific Fleet by 2025, installing the Kalibr (NATO reporting name: SS-N-27 Sizzler) missile systems on them in the Far East.
The annual Pentagon report on Chinese Military Power has warned that The Dongfeng-26 Intermediate- Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) could be used to target US bases in the Western Pacific and be used for conventional strikes against ships. The US report also confirmed that China’s Jin-class strategic ballistic missile submarines are now equipped with JL-2 Submarine -Launched Ballistic Missiles, increasing the survivability and lethality its sea-based nuclear deterrence. The Pentagon expects that China will continue to set up overseas military facilities including one in Pakistan.