Should Canada’s exclusion from anti-ISIS meeting be worrisome?

By Steve Saideman

Monday, we learned of a meeting in Paris this week about the future of the anti-ISIS effort by the significant contributors to the current effort, and that Canada is apparently not invited. The natural questions to ask are: why and so what? It is easier to answer the second than the first, but I will try my hand at both.

Before starting out, one thing needs to be clear: this is not the first time Canada has been left out of a major meeting aimed at figuring out the future of an allied effort. In 2002, there was a meeting of the “Quint” to set NATO’s agenda about the future of the various Balkan missions (Bosnia/Kosovo/Macedonia). The Quint included the five largest providers of troops — U.S., UK, France, Italy and Germany. During the military mission in Afghanistan, things had changed quite a bit as it was no longer about the size of the force but where the countries’ troops were and what they were doing. As a result of Canada’s key commitment, Canada was at the table and some of the bigger contributors were either not invited or simply not that relevant (Italy, Germany).

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#WelcomeToCanada: This is how to win a propaganda war

By Steve Saideman

Lots of folks criticize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about being more about style than substance (see his Vogue pics), but the style can be substance.  How Canada has welcomed the first batch of refugees could be seen as a photo opportunity. And 25,000 refugees can be seen as too little.

However, it can also be seen as a vital effort in the war against ISIS/ISL/IS/Daesch.

The videos and pictures counter the messaging by our adversary that the West will not welcome Muslims into their country, that the West is hostile, and all that.  And the images are going viral.

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Why invite Montenegro into NATO? It’s all about Russia

By Steve Saideman

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced this week that it is inviting Montenegro to join the alliance.  The essential meaning of this is that once it is a member, Montenegro will be committed to participate in the defense of NATO members if anyone is attacked AND the alliance will be committed to defend Montenegro if it is attacked (Article V of the NATO treaty).  To be clear, this commitment is not as ironclad as people believe, but still has much political weight.

To borrow from Bill Simmons, when considering membership in NATO, the question to ask is: How much does potential member X bring to the table versus take off of the table?  What kinds of contributions to NATO capabilities/geographic position/whatever does a country bring?  What kinds of problems, such as domestic conflicts, extending NATO credibility too far, risk of international adventures, does the potential member bring?

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Year Ahead Conference: A Summary

The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies held a conference on Friday to suggest what will be the challenges in the year ahead.  As a card carrying member of the CCISS, I got to help organize the conference and moderate the last panel.  Rob McRae and the grad students involved deserve most of the credit with the panelists getting the rest as it went really well.  Each panel was engaging, provocative and chockful of information.  Having spent this fall teaching a course on Contemporary International Security, I felt kind of schooled by these folks who had excellent perspectives on much of the stuff we had been talking about in class.

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NATO 101 Again

By Steve Saideman

Lots of folks are asking about NATO Article V in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.  So, let’s run through the basics, FAQ-style.

What is Article V?  The heart of the NATO treaty–that an attack upon one is equal to an attack upon all.
Is it automatic?  No.  NATO representatives have to meet and reach consensus.
What is consensus?  Does every member have a veto?  Yes/no.  While an individual country could block it, the more likely outcome is for less enthusiastic members to choose not to “break silence”, which is the NATO term for sticking one’s hand up and asking for modifications or refusing to go along.

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Introducing Canada Among Nations 2015 – Elusive Pursuits, Book Launch

By Steve Saideman

A week from today, on October 29th at noon, we are holding a book launch of the next edition of Canada Among Nations, Elusive Pursuits: Lessons from Canada’s Interventions Abroad.  The event will be in room 270, 2nd floor, Residence Commons, at Carleton University.

What is the book about?  Every year, NPSIA assesses Canada’s place in the world via a Canada Among Nations volume.  For the past few years, it has been in partnership with CIGI.  The theme of this issue is on learning the lessons from past interventions.  Why?  Because we have been profoundly frustrated by the mixed results and by the government’s refusal to learn lessons.

Afghanistan was supposed to be different, as the government did put together a serious lessons learning exercise.  At the end, it was buried–not only have I not been able to access it via Access to Information (my appeal is now more than two years old), but it was also not disseminated to the people making and implementing Canadian foreign and defence policy.

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Lancement du livre Canada Among Nations 2015: Elusive Pursuits

par Steve Saideman

Dans une semaine, le 29 octobre à midi, nous lancerons la prochaine édition de Canada Among Nations, Elusive Pursuits, Lessons from Canada’s Interventions Abroad. Le lancement aura lieu dans la salle 270, 2e étage, Residence Commons, à l’Université Carleton.

Quel est le sujet du livre? Chaque année, NPSIA évalue la place du Canada dans le monde dans un volume de Canada Among Nations. Depuis quelques années, cela se fait en partenariat avec le CIGI (Centre for International Governance Innovation). Cette édition a comme thème les leçons à tirer des interventions passées. Pourquoi? Parce que nous avons été profondément frustrés par les résultats mitigés et le refus du gouvernement de tirer des leçons.

L’Afghanistan devait être différent, le gouvernement ayant créé un exercice sérieux sur les leçons à tirer. Mais à la fin, celui-ci a été enterré. Non seulement j’ai été incapable d’y accéder via l’Accès à l’information (ma demande date déjà de plus de deux ans), mais aussi celui-ci n’a pas été disséminé à ceux qui élaborent et mettent en œuvre la politique étrangère et de défense du pays.

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