Great Powers and International Environmental Cooperation: Leading the Charge?

By Inger Weibust

The announcement that, as a result of bilateral talks, China and the United States have agreed to cap greenhouse gas emissions is the most consequential development in international environmental cooperation since the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997. The agreement is significant in its own right as well as representing the best hope for restarting the stalled official multilateral process. The agreement also serves as a test for the role of great powers in international cooperation. Without active US and Chinese participation, almost nothing has been accomplished in international cooperation on climate change. What can be accomplished with it?

Why is the agreement so significant? The US and China are #1 and 2 emitters of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), respectively. Together, they account for 40% of emissions. For the first time, China, the world’s single largest emitter of GHGs has committed to eventually capping those emissions. When the Kyoto Protocol was signed, China (and also India) was in the developing countries’ group, exempt from binding targets. Only Western countries and those in the former East bloc were required commit to binding targets for emissions.

Continue reading

Bombing Iraq 101: A primer on Canada’s action

By Steve Saideman

Now that Canada has dropped its first ordnance on Iraq since 1991, people have many questions, so let this post serve as a Frequently Asked Questions for what we know of the mission at the moment.

Q: What have Canadian CF-18s hit?

A: No official answer thus far although since Minister of National Defence Robert Nicholson mentioned Fallujah, although it appears that Monday’s Fallujah airstrikes hit equipment used to build defenses—bulldozers and trucks. Not exactly the normal targets of an air campaign, but it serves to prevent ISIL from preparing its defenses.

Q: Are Canada’s CF-18’s up to the task?

A: There was a report critical of the Canadian armaments, not so much the planes themselves. That is, Canada’s first bombs were laser-guided, which do not work well when it is cloudy. On the other hand, these kinds of bombs are better against moving targets. And many of the targets in Iraq will be moving. Indeed, the various officials have made clear this time that Canada is hitting both dynamic (moving) targets and deliberate (fixed) targets. In Libya, some countries would only attack fixed targets that could be vetted by lawyers and others before the pilots took off. There and here, Canadian pilots have more flexibility.

Q: Canada launched air strikes for several days but returned without dropping bombs.

Continue reading

Canada and Terrorism: quick reflections on information, speculation, and intelligence

By Jeremy Littlewood

We learnt quite a bit yesterday (October 23) about the attack in Ottawa on Wednesday. Noting as I did yesterday some positive aspects, the Press Conference mid-afternoon with the Chief of Ottawa Police and the Commissioner of the RCMP was quite enlightening: like others I’ll give a nod of appreciation to Commissioner Paulson for his remarks and information provided. That level of transparency – number of people now under investigation by RCMP as high risk travellers, dynamic nature of that ‘list’, the fact that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was not on that list, etc. – as well as the walk through, with video, of the arrival of Zehaf-Bibeau on Parliament Hill was a very welcome clarification of what is actually known at this time. Hopefully it will dampen the speculation that inevitably fills any vacuum. He, of course, left some details unclear and quite a few things unsaid, but I am not going to complain about that now.

Continue reading

Terrorism in Canada: how to respond

By Jeremy Littlewood

Events in Canada in the last few days will change our understanding of the security situation and how we all – Parliamentarians, officials, citizens – respond to and manage it. Statements such as those from testimony earlier this month – the threat of terrorism is diffuse, complex and able to change rapidly – now have salience and more prominent meaning. As the Prime Minister noted in his statement over the next few days and weeks much that is unknown will become clearer. There will, of course, be a reaction on numerous levels, and necessarily so. How we react will have important implications for managing the threat from terrorism in the coming months and years.

We should first reflect on some positive aspects of the response to the attack in Ottawa. Overall, the system worked: individuals, authorities, and the bureaucracy reacted with some skill and considerable flexibility in a very confusing situation. The numerous responses from professionals and people caught in the downtown core, from the Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers in Parliament and staff, passers-by who aided Corporal Cirillo, police and authorities who responded quickly, MPs and their staff who remained calm, and the media for doing a collective good job on reporting events on TV, in e-print, and via social media. Watching Canada from the safety of my office in Ottawa efficiency, effectiveness and calmness were evident and Ottawa got through the day without hyperbole and fear-mongering.

Continue reading

Message Mismanagement

By Steve Saideman

I have long argued that two key priorities have shaped Stephen Harper’s defence policies over the past several years: a balanced budget in 2015 and message management. Anyone interacting with government officials can tell stories about the climate of fear that exists there. That fear isn’t so much about policy being screwed up as it is about saying something aloud that the media might report.

Military missions pose significant risks to message management for two reasons. One, the mission itself can go awry. Two, larger missions mean more interactions with the media. It’s this second issue that this government seems more concerned with. Embedding reporters with thousands of soldiers is a nightmare for anyone seeking to control the messaging.[1] This is one reason why Canada’s deployments since Kandahar have been very restricted in size and scope.

Continue reading

The stakes in Brazil’s final election vote

By Jean Daudelin

Brazil’s election campaign, marked by a dramatic and unexpected turn, ended with one more surprise this past Sunday, as presidential candidate Aécio Neves finished with a solid 33.5 percent of the vote, 12 points ahead of Marina Silva — expected for much of the campaign to come in second — and only eight behind incumbent Dilma Rousseff. These results pave the way for what will likely be the most savagely disputed and hardest to predict election round since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985. The run-off vote takes place Oct. 26.

Vote distribution paints a divided country, with the poor North and Northeast coming out massively in support of Rousseff’s Worker’s Party (PT), while the West and Southeast, especially São Paulo, took a strong stand in favour of the opposition.

Two important anomalies are worth noting, especially as they happened in the richest and largest electoral colleges of the country. Rousseff prevailed in Minas Gerais (43.5 to 39.8 percent for Neves) and Fernando Pimentel, the PT candidate for governor, was elected in the first round, with 53 percent of the vote. Minas Gerais is an agricultural and industrial powerhouse but also the state where Neves was elected twice as governor, the state he represents in the Senate, and one where his overwhelming popularity was never in doubt before the campaign.

Continue reading

Job Posting: Tenure Track Appointment

Second job posting for NPSIA. To view the first, click here.

Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (Intelligence and National and International Security) – Assistant Professor (Applications Closing Date: November 10, 2014 or until position is filled)

The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) invites applications from qualified candidates for a Tenure Track appointment in Intelligence and national and international security at the rank of Assistant Professor beginning July 1, 2015.

The successful candidate will be expected to research, teach and supervise undergraduate and graduate students in fields broadly related to intelligence, terrorism and counter-terrorism, and national and international security. The position is linked to the development of a new undergraduate specialization in intelligence and national security, and will also support our current graduate programming in this and related fields. We are particularly interested in applicants with expertise in intelligence and security operations and who are focused on applied and practical policy issues.

Continue reading