OUR AFGHANISTAN MISSION: CANADA CAN DO BETTER

A Brief to the
Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan
and to the Canadian Government

World Federalist Movement – Canada
Prepared by Warren Allmand and John Trent

Introduction: Canada cannot wait until 2009 to change its policies on Afghanistan. Thus our brief is addressed to the Independent Panel, political parties and the Government. Our position concerning the Canadian mission in Afghanistan is informed by recent developments in the context of global governance. By global governance we mean the capacity to take decisions and appropriate actions on behalf of humanity in a world without a global government but with an array of world institutions. Understanding changes in global governance helps Canadians see the context in which we must conduct our foreign policy. In this brief we focus on foreign policy principles conforming to the global context as well as an analysis of the existing situation in Afghanistan. Together these have lead to our policy proposals.

We recommend:

  1. The UN and NATO, with Canadian participation, have a responsibility to help the people of Afghanistan with their protection and reconstruction.
  2. A strict military solution is not possible in Afghanistan. A change of policy toward a comprehensive peace negotiation is the most viable solution.
  3. We should continue to renegotiate our military role with our NATO allies and ensure the operation is part of a multilateral, UN endeavour in the framework of global governance.
  4. The Independent Panel should state clearly that Canada should not intervene militarily in Pakistan.
  5. Our aim must be long-term peace and reconstruction for Afghans. This complex goal needs a multi-departmental (“whole-of-government”) plan.
  6. While decision-making may start with the Prime Minister and Cabinet, it is also essential they secure approval by Parliament.
  7. Our political parties and leaders must develop comprehensive strategic policies on foreign affairs, including Afghanistan.
  8. There is a desperate need for longer-term strategic and regional thinking in the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Defense and that they be listened to by the Prime Minister’s Office.
  9. Parties have a responsibility to strive for non-partisan policies to support our men and women overseas when they are in a combat situation.
  10. Canada must deploy all its diplomatic capacity behind demands for coherent strategies from the UN and NATO. The Afghanistan mission must be overseen by a NATO strategy and not just American tactics.
  11. There is an urgent need for a UN-led, broadly-based political dialogue in Afghanistan, inclusive of all parties that want peace including adequate Pashtun representation, the less strident elements of the Taliban, regional neighbours and the various components of the Afghan society.
  12. Canada should influence the UN Secretary General to name a new High-Level Representative to organize a peace dialogue.
  13. Sustainable peace includes disarmament, demobilization, reconciliation and re-integration, strengthening of the rule of law and human rights (police, judges, courts etc) and technical assistance for institution building, democratic development and economic infrastructure. Canada has contributions to make toward all these goals
  14. It is urgent to balance the two “Ds”, defense and development.
  15. Over the next years we should multiply substantially our aid to Afghanistan. Canada should also be reminding its partners in the Afghanistan Compact of 2004 of their financial obligations.
  16. The government should mobilize and directly support Canadian, Afghan and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to aid in Afghan development.
  17. Our aid should not simply be concentrated in Kandahar and Kabul. The rest of the country needs our help too.
  18. Canada should give serious analysis to the proposal of using the Afghan cash crop of poppies for the legitimate world market for medical narcotics
  19. The Canadian Government and media ought to be informing the Canadian people that Afghanistan is part of a broader Canadian responsibility to help with failed states and people in distress and that it does so as part of the process of global governance.
  20. We live in the context of an emerging global community in which national boundaries can no longer limit responsibility and compassion

1. Policy Proposals: Elaboration

Unlike media snapshots of the Canadian Mission, the situation in Afghanistan is neither black nor white. We believe there is a rational and moral case to be made that Canada has an international responsibility to support peacebuilding in Afghanistan and has indeed made significant contributions. There has been some progress in reconstruction and Canada’s role is appreciated. However, there are grave problems with the Canadian Mission. Our political parties and leaders have never developed a comprehensive strategic policy toward Afghanistan. Canada’s reconstruction and diplomatic efforts are falling far behind our aggressive military stance. We show little diplomatic leadership with our allies in NATO. As Senator Romeo Dallaire recently told the CBC program, The House, despite its considerable force in the world, Canada still thinks it is a 90-pound weakling. Hence the conclusion that Canada must do better.

But, there is an even deeper problem. A strict military solution is not possible in Afghanistan. A change of policy toward a comprehensive peace negotiation is the most viable solution. However, none of the elements of such a peace process are currently in existence. There are no peace negotiations (despite Karzai’s efforts) or dialogue with neighbours; there are no coordinated peace or development plans between a plethora of independent actors, each taking a lead role on specific issues such as the police, drugs, the judiciary, the military and humanitarian relief etc. What, then, should be Canada’s priorities? Our recommendations on improvements to Canada¹s mission in Afghanistan
follow below. However, it should first be noted, in the context of growing turmoil in neighbouring Pakistan, there is no sound basis in policy or in international law, for Canada intervening militarily in Pakistan. While some of Canada’s allies may have plans to increase their military presence in Pakistan, we believe that this Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan should state clearly that
Canada should not intervene militarily in Pakistan.

Doing Better: Stay Involved but Change the Course

In the light of current issues of global governance, we believe that the UN and NATO with Canadian participation have a continuing responsibility to help the people of Afghanistan with their protection and reconstruction. The world wars that almost destroyed the Western world only lasted half a dozen years. After three decades of war, we cannot expect Afghanistan to be rebuilt in a day. The international community should not cut and run when the going gets tough. We should continue to renegotiate our military role with our NATO allies and ensure the operation is part of a multilateral, UN endeavour in the framework of global governance. While their role may change, Canada should not withdraw its troops until the UN’s goals have been attained. But, doing the best we can to help Afghanistan requires much better policies and a clearer strategy.

Doing Better: Developing Foreign Policy Strategy

We would achieve only half our purpose if we were to concentrate on fixing the Afghanistan mission without trying to understand and remedy the incompetent decision-making which got us into our current problems in the first place. It is not sufficient for politicians to make last minute, ill-prepared, un-debated decisions on issues as fundamental as our Afghanistan Mission. It is not sufficient to continue the inherited U.S. policy of a war on terrorism in Afghanistan, quarter-backed by part-time decision-making in the Prime Minister’s Office (Liberal or Conservative). Nor can there be a quick fix to our policy deficits. The weaknesses are much more fundamental. Our aim must be long-term peace and reconstruction for Afghans. Security operations must serve that aim. Because this is a more complex goal it requires a comprehensive, multi-departmental (“whole of government”) approach, preferably backed by all parties. Our political parties must, themselves, make a practice of developing integrated foreign policies and debating them in public. Canadians have a right to know how their leaders intend to deal with issues of global governance – which was not the case with our Afghanistan Mission.

While decision-making may start with the Prime Minister and Cabinet, it is also essential they secure approval by Parliament. They are also responsible for making sure that mechanisms are in place to ensure they receive the best possible advice. This requires longer-term strategic and regional thinking in the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Defense. It also necessitates a means of communications and coordination between them and other departments participating in our foreign activities. All this is lamentably lacking. In particular, the Department of Foreign Affairs has been left to languish. Coordination is weak to non-existent. While Afghanistan is a current priority, our planners must balance it with forward thinking about our other present or potential commitments. Our democracy requires that foreign policy be given adequate (not just a day or two) debate in Parliament. Parties have an additional responsibility to strive for all-party, non-partisan policies to support our soldiers overseas when they are in combat.

Doing Better: A Multilateral Leader

Canada has long been an important member of the United Nations. Our increased military budget and contributions to NATO mean that we cannot be ignored. Canada must deploy all its diplomatic capacity behind demands for coherent strategies from the UN and NATO in Afghanistan aimed toward peace negotiations and not just punitive actions or piecemeal relief. Canada should be demanding more adequate, full-time strategic policy-making in NATO for both now and in the future. We cannot leave the impression that it is only the United States that makes decisions in NATO. In the field, there must be a separation of operational humanitarian and military missions, because one de-legitimizes the other in the minds of Afghans and puts relief workers in danger. Wherever security exists, the Provincial Reconstruction Teams must be dismantled and the work left to NGOs. Canada must work to change what has become known as American “over-kill” tactics. The Afghanistan mission must be overseen by a NATO strategy and not just American tactics. For instance, heavy air-strikes must be minimized and more money and effort must continue to be put into training and equipping the Afghan army and police. We must also influence the United States to return to its place at the table of democracies and to accept a collegial approach to global governance.

Doing Better: A Comprehensive Peace Strategy

Canada must now bend its efforts, with its Afghan, UN and NATO partners, toward comprehensive peace negotiations. It must be inclusive of all parties that want peace including adequate Pashtun representation, the less strident elements of the Taliban, regional neighbours and the various components of the Afghan government and society. Conflict resolution specialists tell us that peace treaties often reflect a convergence of preferences among factions. The government and the Taliban may be arriving at a “mutually hurting stalemate” where they recognize a simple military victory is not possible. However, there are three key elements here: the consent of the parties, a comprehensive framework and coherent international assistance. All this indicates there is an urgent need for a UN-led, broadly-based political dialogue in Afghanistan. Canada has a key role to play in securing support from its UN and NATO partners for this new, overarching strategy. As a start, Canada should influence the UN Secretary General to name a new High-Level Representative to take responsibility for organizing a peace dialogue and international aid as head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Sustainable peace includes disarmament, demobilization, reconciliation and re-integration, strengthening of the rule of law and human rights (police, judges, courts etc) and technical assistance for institution building, democratic development and economic infrastructure. Canada has contributions to make toward all these goals. It should be a leading player without pretending to do everything. Structures for collaboration among allies and their agencies must also be in place to provide an agreed multilateral framework. Eventually, peace must be implemented. This will require time, political skills, policing structures, and impartial third-party expertise. This is another reason for insisting Canada must mobilize pertinent departments (a whole-of-government approach) behind the Afghanistan Mission. The government should also be tapping the important capacities of the country’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Doing Better: Rebalancing Development and Defense

We have said little about Canada’s troops in Afghanistan. This is because we think they are doing all that is requested of them – and more. Canadian soldiers in Kandahar do their country honour. We also perceive the elements of an on-going, bi-partisan policy to re-equip and finance our forces. However, more effort should go into police training immediately. What is required now is balancing of the two “Ds” defense and development. It starts with money. Although Canada is one of the most generous donors to Afghanistan, we must do much more. Our few hundred million of aid pales in comparison to the $7 billion in military expenditures. Over the next years we should multiply substantially our aid to Afghanistan. Canada should also be reminding its partners in the Afghanistan Compact of 2004 of their financial obligations. More money will necessitate a more coordinated development strategy from the Afghan government, foreign interveners and the United Nations, because it is a UN not a Western initiative.

This, in turn, will require more Canadian expertise on the ground. The government should mobilize and directly support Canadian, Afghan and international NGOs. It is all well and wise for us to contribute to multilateral aid which is often the best coordinated and targeted. But, this should not be to the exclusion of Canadian aid projects so that Afghans see we have more to offer than tanks. Nor should it be to the exclusion of us continually analyzing where else in the world Canadian resources might make a difference. People are worried about the safety of our aid workers but most of the country is relatively safe. And as a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Flora MacDonald, has been stating after each of her trips to Afghanistan, our aid should not simply be concentrated in Kandahar and Kabul. Our aim should be to create “law and justice” areas outside Kabul that will have a multiplier effect. The rest of the country needs our help too. Canada also needs to use its numerous agencies – such as our International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development – and individual experts – to increase our aid for institution building and democratic development. Canadian scholars should be encouraged to take a long term interest in Afghan culture and society. Exchanges of Afghans and Canadians should become a regular practice. Corporate and agricultural mentoring and micro-finance aid should be fostered. Among contributions to economic growth, Canada should seriously analyze the use of the Afghan cash crop of poppies for the legitimate world market for medical narcotics.

Doing Better: Afghanistan as Part of a Bigger Picture

Some people suggest Canadian troops should be in Darfur or elsewhere. Nothing stops us from lending logistical or other support to the UN mission in Darfur. But, the point is that we are already in Afghanistan and we better see if we can make a success there – and learn from it. Besides, we live in the context of an emerging global community in which national boundaries can no longer limit responsibility and compassion. If a foreign policy is not embedded in its international context, it is likely to fail. Today that context is the steady movement toward improved global governance. The Canadian Government and media ought to be informing the Canadian people that Afghanistan is part of a broader Canadian responsibility to help with failed states and people in distress and that it does so as part of the process of global governance.

But if this is not to be an endless process, Canada must also show some leadership in reforming the United Nations. For instance, if a UN standing military force for emergency peace services had been available, it is much more likely that the Rwanda, Afghanistan and Darfur depredations could possibly have been contained. Ottawa has a duty to explain to our citizens that globalization has meant that global security for the planet and human security for the protection of peoples have come to join traditional concepts of national security. All three are responsibilities of advanced governments.

2. Perspectives and Principles: Among the most striking developments in the recent era is the interdependence of countries resulting from economic globalization (environmental disasters, health epidemics, proliferation of weapons, and global crime and terrorism) and the replacement of international wars by civil conflict. Mutual responsibility is a response to global interdependence. The United Nations has recently recognized the responsibility of the international community to protect citizens at risk in their own country and has created a new Peacebuilding Commission.

Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan challenged UN members to resolve the conflict between non-interference in state sovereignty and the responsibility of the international community to respond to massive human rights violations. The government of Canada responded by creating the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. Its report, The Responsibility to Protect, balanced the rights of individuals against state sovereignty. The world leaders’ summit at the UN in 2005 adopted the principle of international responsibility to protect local populations when states cannot or will not do so. The original intervention in Afghanistan was based on the war against terrorism and the self-defense principles of international law, not the more recent emerging norm of the Responsibility to Protect. But, it is the latter which will tend to direct intervention and underlie principles of global governance. Afghanistan’s decent into chaos is in part due to the lack of progress in building global governance institutions.

Comparative studies of peacebuilding following civil wars (129 of them between 1945 and 1999) show that effective peacekeeping provides security that allows peacebuilding operations to create reconstructed institutions and generate the consent and legitimacy that allows peacekeeping to work. Further, these studies demonstrate that impartial, multilateral, UN endorsed operations are necessary to provide the discrete force, economic development and sustained monitoring that makes peacemaking successful. Finally, peacebuilding is a long-term investment in which the international community can only assist countries to get to the point of inclusive, negotiated, power-sharing peace settlements which allow for lasting arrangements. Negotiated settlements are, in themselves, a democratic learning process for establishing acceptable limits to politics, addressing grievances, establishing viable institutions, and testing sincerity.

Recognizing these realities, the United Nations’ new Peacebuilding Commission has been created with the intention of extending the period when world leaders and media focus on regional crises and to advise on cooperative strategies, mobilizing resources and catalyzing broader efforts. This is in response to what is perceived to be an on-going global challenge requiring world cooperation and leadership from countries like Canada.

Indeed, these new challenges dovetail with Canada’s traditional foreign policy. Since 1945 multilateralism and internationalism have been the pillars of our foreign policy. Cooperation with other countries and international organizations allows us to maximize our national capacities to achieve the goals of world peace with justice. A fair and stable international environment is most favourable to a continent-sized middle power with exposure on three of the world’s oceans, living next to the world’s super power.

These perspectives, we think, indicate the principles that should direct the future of multilateral interventions and the present Canadian Mission in Afghanistan. Peacebuilding is the modern face of peacekeeping. It is intended to marry robust military capacity to the practices of nation building. For both humanitarian reasons and self interest, Canada has an internationally endorsed responsibility to cooperate with other countries to help stabilize Afghanistan. Successful peacebuilding must arise from the UN, and focus equally on security and development leading to comprehensive peace negotiations. Participation from Canada will require not only money and troops but also wise leadership and a competent foreign policy to contribute to global governance and overcome human rights abuses and civil conflict. Our goals are developmental, aiming to improve democratic capacities and human rights.

3. Analysis of the Situation in Afghanistan

At this point we should note that the preceding section is based not just on the beliefs and sentiments of the World Federalists but on rigorous international studies. The same is true of this next section examining the current situation in Afghanistan, resulting from on-the-ground reports of soldiers, diplomats and NGOs.

But, first, it is worth recalling that the Afghans have suffered nearly thirty years of the devastation of wars which were not of their making. Their reasonably stable and forward looking government in the context of the 1960s was upset by international communist maneuverings in the 1970s and the Soviet invasion and occupation in the 1980s. This was followed by the war of liberation by the Mujahidin with its U.S and other foreign support. The international community then forgot about Afghanistan, leaving it to its civil war among the warlords and then the takeover by the fundamentalist Taliban. Later, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was to say that the world would never again turn its back on Afghanistan – something that could well be remembered today. Enter the Saudi and Egyptian based Al-Qaeda, which took advantage of Afghan bases and hospitality to hatch international terrorist plots including the 9-11 attack on America. This, in turn, prompted the U.S. led overthrow of the Taliban government. In due course, it was endorsed by NATO and bolstered by UN resolutions.

Although the United States has dominated foreign action in Afghanistan since the attack on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in 2001, and while we might not endorse these operations, Canada has been involved almost continuously. Commandos from Canada’s JTF2 special-forces have been involved in the search for Al-Qaeda leaders. Regular Canadian forces were stationed in Kandahar in 2002. From 2003 to 2005 many Canadian soldiers participated in the UN-authorized, NATO-led “international security assistance force” (ISAF) located in and near Kabul. In late 2005 Canada took a more prominent role in “counter insurgency” work in the Kandahar region. It is this last operation that has been the most controversial and has led to almost all of the Canadian casualties. Intended to combine diplomacy, development and defense (the famous 3-Ds), it is clear the military operation has subverted the other two objectives. Although nominally a NATO operation, the US methodology and tactics have predominated to such a degree that the mission is perceived by many as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy and hegemony in the region.

Where do we stand today? Here is a summary of reports from 2007.

  • This summer, the International Committee of the Red Cross (in Afghanistan since 1987) gave a press briefing entitled, “Afghanistan: three decades of war and no end in sight”. It emphasized that the conflict has “significantly intensified” and was no longer confined to the south but is spreading throughout the country.
  • The September 2007 report of the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council states 2007 has been the worst year for security since 2001. There were an average of 548 incidents a month – a 20 per cent increase over last year.
  • According to respected analyst Paul Rogers of Bradford University, there is wide consensus among NATO commanders that no military solution is possible. A change of policy is necessary. Recently, NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told the media, “It is my strong opinion that the final answer in Afghanistan will not be a military one and cannot be a military one. The final answer in Afghanistan is called reconstruction, development and nation-building.”
  • A book published in October, 2007, The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar, demonstrates that, “Canada slipped into war in Afghanistan step by step, incrementally, without fully understanding that it was going to war.” There was never a medium- or long-term Afghanistan policy, the authors concluded. The study also shows that the Department of Foreign Affairs has been gutted since the 1990s and rarely coordinates with the Canadian International Development Agency. One of the book’s authors, Janice Stein, professor of conflict studies at the University of Toronto, recently called for a negotiated settlement between the Karzai government and the Taliban.
  • Despite all the confusion and difficulties with security, corruption and the drug trade, the World Bank director for Afghanistan reports dramatic improvements in economic and social conditions since the fall of the Taliban. He points to double-digit economic growth, an expanding road network, a surge in school attendance – particularly by girls – and a drop in infant mortality rates – although not necessarily in the war-torn south. The World Bank has committed $1.5 billion of its own money to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Fund which has also gathered $2.4 billion in pledges from countries. Canada is the largest donor with $211 million that, among other things goes to pay the salaries of health workers and teachers. The UN has also initiated a massive drive to immunize 1.1 million Afghan children against the ravages of polio.
  • According to the claims of one Ottawa think-tank, despite Canadian military expenditures of $7.2 billion on military missions in Afghanistan and many billions more by other countries, after five years the Afghan army is still in training and the police force is still under-paid, under-trained, under-equipped and corrupt.
  • Also released in October, an in-depth study by the development assistance committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says Canada’s foreign aid policy, with two governments and five ministers in six years, is unfocused, weakly mandated and lacking stable, clear direction.
  • Despite these set-backs, a broad public opinion survey for the CBC in the summer and autumn indicated that large majorities of Afghans support the Karzai government, appreciate the continuing need for NATO troops to maintain security, and believe the country is going in the right direction.
  • A November meeting of the Atlantic Treaty Association in Ottawa heard from field commanders that NATO members in Afghanistan have competing goals. Also, there is little likelihood of lasting progress with only 5,000 of NATO’s 41,000 troops dedicated to combat roles. And Canadian officials acknowledged there is an urgent need to rebalance military and nation-building objectives.
  • At the same meeting, the Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan said “there are more Afghans at work, more Afghans at school, more Afghan police forces on the streets, more Afghan army units working side by side with ours.” But the biggest challenge is the lack of progress in building a functioning police force.
  • On Nov. 20, an Oxfam report claimed the $15 billion in aid pumped into Afghanistan since 2001 has been largely wasted – soaked up in contractors’ profits, costly expatriate consultants, and uncoordinated, quick-fix projects. It called the development process top-heavy, insufficient and ineffective.

This analysis of the principles of governance and the present Afghan situation lead to our policy recommendations as stated above.

The World Federalists are an international movement promoting global governance that is democratically accountable and based on the rule of law.

Warren Allmand, President of the World Federalists — Canada, is a former federal Cabinet Minister and the previous President of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, (“Rights and Democracy”).
John Trent, a member of the World Federalists Executive, is a Fellow of the Centre of Governance of the University of Ottawa and author of the recently released book, Modernizing the United Nations System.

Nov. 20, 2007

Link : www.worldfederalistscanada.org

CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY

Canada’s Foreign Policy Deficits
John Trent

Senior Fellow, Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa

Inside and outside Parliament, Canadians are questioning the validity of our foreign policy – particularly our mission in Afghanistan – and whether the Canadian government is providing leadership on the issue. This debate is only the tip of the iceberg of Canada’s foreign policy deficit. Canada needs a new global vision for the 21st century.

To all appearances, the Government is not providing leadership. Rather than giving vision and direction it simply tells Canadians what to do. Instead of developing a strategy it simply picked up where the Americans left off. Canada’s ‘new’ government has not inspired Canadians with a sense of the meaning of Afghanistan in the broader picture of world politics or informed them through public debates. Canada always seems to be playing catch-up to changing events. Rather than a “whole-of-government” approach, foreign policy has been centralized in Harper’s office.

The meaning of leadership is a question that has bedeviled civilizations as far back as the Chinese and Greeks. It is still tied to situations and is very much in the eye of the beholder. Most studies of political leadership seem to boil down to a combination of three qualities: vision, inspiration and pragmatism. Strangely enough this comes out as V.I.P. – very important people – which leaders are meant to be. Perhaps more modern terms for vision, inspiration and pragmatism would be strategy, communications and operationalization.

Let’s start with the question of vision. Vision includes a strategic focus on goals, a sense of purpose focused on developing ideas, institutions and causes. It is not about blindly following preconceived ideas or a narrow concentration on short-term tactics and personal relationships. In his letters, Alexander the Great summarized vision in the statement, “When deliberating, think in terms of campaigns, not battles.”

This is precisely the problem with Harper’s foreign proclamations, in particular, and Canadian foreign policy, in general. It is structured to think in terms of “battles” rather than “campaigns”. Should the Conservative be blamed? Only in part. The Afghan mission was initiated by the Liberals under Chrétien and reengaged under Martin. The Conservatives have only been in government a short time and they came to power without foreign policy knowledge or experience.

In fact, lack of preparation and no vision of world affairs is a failure of all our political parties. It is our first foreign policy deficit. If Canada is going to be an effective, 21st century, international player, all political parties must create standing international (now global) affairs committees to study and debate foreign relations in an open manner. It takes a real effort to get local politicos to take an interest in international issues. Canadians should never be caught off guard again. No party should come to power without a world vision and foreign policy expertise.

Inside government, most of the policy on Afghanistan has been developed as though it were a single, discrete activity. We are missing the linkages. Most of what we call “policy” is simply incremental decision making. Policy deficit no. 2 is that there is little investment in coordinated, long term strategy. That is why politicians in general and the Conservatives in particular are having such a difficult time trying to explain our goals to the people.

There are, in fact, two problems. There is a lack of strategic thinking and planning and Harper is not making use of the planning that is available. The federal government did a good, work-a-day job of preparing policy plans at the time of the reestablishment of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. The Departments of Defense and Foreign Affairs prepared thorough Cabinet Memorandums. Furthermore, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFO) already had in place a Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) had prepared a complex policy document asking its minister to adopt DFO’s whole-of-government approach to a “total response” to prevention and reconstruction in fragile states.

But the decision-making still gives the impression of being in the incrementalist mode and departmental in nature. Also, one can find no evidence the Harper government made use of the resources and planning that were available to it. One wonders if there still isn’t an obsession of distrust with what the Conservatives consider to be the “Liberal” public service.

The Federal Cabinet’s Foreign Affairs Committee needs to be informed on a continuing basis by a Global Affairs Committee of officials from all appropriate departments (Foreign Affairs, Defense, Environment, CIDA, Trade, Justice, Immigration, Fisheries, Industry etc.) It should include or have a parallel committee from relevant government agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) including research centers with expertise on international peace and security, democracy and human rights, development and good governance. Canada has this competence but it is rarely consulted. The tasks of the strategic coordinating units will be to offer politicians and the public a vision of the scope and complexity of the world’s hot spots.

We cannot assume such policy development is going on in NATO or the U.S. There is little evidence of NATO strategic thinking – which Canada should be demanding. Recently, American policy comes mainly from the Pentagon and the White House, by-passing broader, established channels. New publications make it clear that the failure in Iraq is a failure of strategy flowing from misinformed “delusional ideologues”. The lesson is clear. Canadians must think for themselves. We must have strategic expertise, not just the latest notions from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Moreover, if Canadians are to accept the high costs of our mission in Afghanistan, Canada’s political parties, diplomats and generals must learn to think in global terms rather than simply about distinct programs (“campaigns not battles”). Already they should have been explaining to Canadians the new world politics in which we must operate. The change is so profound that in international studies we now talk not only about ‘national security’ but also about ‘human security’ (the responsibility to protect civilians) and ‘global security’ (the vital interests of the planet).

A global strategy for Canada’s role in the world has to marry a vision of the current international context to our traditional foreign policy goals. To simplify, the context of the early 21st century is characterized by turbulence, complexity and interdependence. In other words: there will continue to be conflicts and change; decisions will require solid global knowledge and experience; and we can’t opt out of world problems. “National” foreign policy must include the global challenges facing all countries as well as our own particular interests.

For example, the United Nations has created a Peacebuilding Commission to bring security and development to failed states. One of the UN’s few reforms, re-building failed states such as Afghanistan is a global problem requiring continuing efforts of multilateral consortiums.

Peacebuilding will be one of the crying needs of the world for the foreseeable future. It includes everything from pacification to institution building, protection of human rights, and socio-economic development. Peacebuilding is joining peacekeeping, not supplanting it and it is likely NATO will gradually take a leading role to bolster the UN in this task.

Peacebuilding has a three-D composition: defense, diplomacy and development. In Afghanistan, Ottawa, like the Americans, has concentrated too much on military tactics while under-resourcing ancillary activities like intelligence, making of friends in the population, economic development, preparing the Afghan security forces, and the evolution of internal and regional politics.

Canada’s traditional international policy has focused on stability through peace and justice. Justice is a codeword for greater equity and development. Our major means of delivery is through multilateral institutions, which are the only ones with the experience and knowledge to deliver complex, global policies. The White House, for instance, does not have the diversity and the competence to make international policy.

Canadians need to understand this context if they are to accept our costs in lives and money in this far off land. Our mission in Afghanistan can be improved, but it is part of an absolutely essential role Canadians must accept if we are to make a contribution to international stability, peace and justice – which, of course, is in our own interest as a continent sized country, continuously subjected to global trends. Afghanistan will not be our last such endeavor, so we must learn and learn well.

The second aspect of leadership is being able to inspire people. Inspiration means the capacity to mobilize, share and lead by example. It is developing loyalty by exercising authority rather than power. Its opposite is centralization, the cult of the personality and making deals to seduce, control or dominate. Alexander said, “It is as important to win morally as to win militarily.” Ethical communication is crucial to leadership.

The great problem with our Afghan mission is that no one took the time to communicate to Canadians that it was not one of our traditional ‘peacekeeping’ operations and that, in fact, we are now largely out of that role. No wonder pollsters are finding highly divided attitudes about our mission. Rather than explain our new ‘peacebuilding’ role,
the Conservative government simply copied the U.S. by playing the military, counter-terrorist card in Afghanistan. They parroted Bush by claiming it was a war of good over evil. And they followed the dangerous American error of throwing together humanitarian and military operations in the Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

Our Defense Minister wandered about repeating it is a UN/NATO mission as though this magically explains everything. It does not help Canadians who were expecting our troops to be ‘peacekeepers’ but saw them coming back in coffins instead. Communication was also stymied by being centralized in Harper’s office so that the full communications resources of the federal government do not appear to have been put to use. It would not take very much to inspire Canadians with the nobility and importance of our new ‘peacebuilding’ role that must mix security with negotiations and development – but it is still not being done!

Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to communicate. The public needs to be informed but also consulted. Global Policy Committees in the political parties (as suggested above) could help bridge this gap. They should invite specialists, hold consultations and sponsor public meetings.

Canada should also put all its brains to use. This is deficit no.3. The country has dozens of international institutes and chairs of foreign policy and defense studies in its universities. But the Department of Foreign Affairs has decapitated its Centre for Policy Development which supported public input and funded research. It’s like doing away with your eyes and ears. This short-sighted act must be rectified if Canada is to benefit from a wide range of foreign policy expertise.

At the same time, Canada rarely consults its civil society organized in hundreds of world class Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The same can probably be said of our ethnic populations, such as Canadian-Afghans. Outside Canada, it is common knowledge that civil society is an increasingly important international actor. It brings to the table international savvy, on-the-ground experience and organizational expertise.

For instance, the “Peace Operations Monitor” website (www.peacebuild.ca/powg/) to provide objective, up-to-date, comparative, information on complex peace operations like Afghanistan has been established by a group of NGOs in Canada, not the Government. Such contributions should not be ignored. Our government could have gotten valuable intelligence and advice from the on-the-ground Canadian and UN aid workers in Afghanistan. The day of secretive, top-down, follow-the-leader foreign relations are wildly out-of-date.

Pragmatism, the third element of leadership, is the continual testing of strategy against evolving realities. It is the practical testing of one’s vision so as to be able to communicate substantively. We learn from on-the-ground intelligence and reality checks in order to implement change. Pragmatic verification of facts helps provide perspective that allows us to see ourselves. The contrary is stultified, ideological repetition of past errors. Alexander crystallized pragmatism in the declaration, “Nothing so steadies a company facing great odds as a sober recitation of facts.”

In foreign affairs, a pragmatic approach depends on competent institutions, information and individuals. Institutions require not only good structures that evolve with the times but also adequate, long term investment. After a five year delay, it is good news indeed that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) established a 12-member Afghanistan Task Force in August. But it leaves open a number of questions. Should it not be an inter-departmental Task Force, led by DFA? Who is coordinating the 50 other people working on Afghanistan?

More fundamental questions bring us to our fourth foreign policy deficit. Has the Task Force been mandated to coordinate relations with NATO, the UN, the U.S., and our NGOs in the field? Is it supported by a regional policy group within the Department to keep an eye on the context of neighboring countries within which our Afghanistan Expeditionary Force is operating? Canada must have the institutional capacity to develop alternate policies for corruption, the drug trade, warlords, the Taliban and democracy building. This requires intermediary regional policy teams to coordinate all the varied aspects of our field operations in a particular theatre of activity.

Military deployments are dependent on effective information. This is even truer of new-style peacebuilding missions. Not only do they need to be imbedded in a strategic vision but they also require good, on-the-ground intelligence. Maybe it is so “secret” that none of us knows, but one has to wonder where our JTF2 commandos and the special forces of our NATO allies have been in recent months and why they have not been able to stop the Taliban from crossing the mountains from Pakistan. Why did not Canada and NATO start a crash program of training an Afghan army and police force several years ago instead of distributing berets and bullet proof vests? Why do some of their police still go into the field with as little as two weeks’ training?

Even more important from the point of view of adequate intelligence, why are we always behind the eight ball, reacting to the latest tactics of insurgents? Why are we not “swimming with the people” so that we know what is going on and what is likely to happen? We see here our fifth policy deficit: when the government knew we were getting into an up-front role in Afghanistan, why did it not change Section 16 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to allow it to collect foreign intelligence? Without our own sources of international information we are totally dependent on others. Or, as the NATO commander said recently, “We are like a blind boxer.”

More generally, if Canada is going to be in the game of ‘peacebuilding’ we are going to have to learn to identify individuals with experience in conflict-affected countries, attract people with a multidisciplinary perspective and find professionals with field experience. We need greater investments in country analysis, local information, and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

Knowledgeable individuals can be as important a source of informed public discourse as policy institutions and intelligence services. Every once in a while, individual reporters, country specialists, parliamentarians, public commentators and in-country aid workers can be of inestimable help in providing informed opinion and setting the public debate. The government should not ignore them. Nor should it let itself become a victim of such debilitating individual faults as obsession, blinkered perspectives, and distrust.

3 Jan. 2007

11 ch.Williamson, Chelsea, QC. J0X 1Z4, 819-827-1025, john.trent@uottawa.ca

First Published in the West Quebec Post, January 2007

With the heading “Afghanistan Mission: Canada’s Foreign Policy Deficits

Canada in Afghanistan

Exclusive to the Ottawa Citizen, Sept.12, 2006

Home Truths about Canada in Afghanistan

It was profoundly disturbing but not surprising to read in the Globe and Mail (31 Aug. 06) about a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan asking Canada’s Defence Minister, “Do we still have the public in general backing our mission?”

There are several answers. The brutally frank answer is probably no, at least according to opinion polls. But who knows what is in the hearts of Canadians? This Canadian has nothing but respect and admiration for the job our people are doing in Afghanistan — and sympathy for the hits they are taking.

But that is not enough. If Canadian support is declining it is mainly because the public is poorly informed. There are few foreign policy debates in this fabled land of democracy. We need to broaden our view of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan and our role in the world.

Four years of research for a book on the modernization of the United Nations have made abundantly clear a few home truths about the present nature of international affairs and Canada’s role in them.

First, if it ever was, nothing is any longer black and white in world affairs. Three years ago, President George W. Bush stated that the job of the United States was to win wars and leave peacekeeping to others. Today he is up to his neck in attempting to “keep the peace.”

Similarly, Canadians must be aware that any player in world affairs must now be prepared to handle missions that run the gamut from traditional peacekeeping to the more dangerous tasks of peacemaking. This has little to do with backing the U.S. It has everything to do with supporting the new Peacebuilding Commission of the United Nations.

Second, countries that want world stability based on improved peace with justice are going to have to give strong and competent help to peacebuilding missions throughout the world for the foreseeable future.

Third, peacebuilding missions will of necessity be long and complex. Rome was not built in a day and countries destroyed by years of fighting cannot be rebuilt overnight. Time and again, we have seen that the international community has to learn to maintain its assistance long after the TV cameras have left the scene. We have let Afghanistan down before. It will take deft political leadership to sustain public support in the face of losses and costs.

Complexity derives from the necessity to keep the peace in failed countries at the same time as reestablishing law and order, building corruption-free education and public service, reigniting the economy and all the while striving to reinforce public confidence. It’s a tall order that requires a competent United Nations supported by its member states.

What does all this mean for Canada? We are going to have to learn to keep the faith against great odds. This requires information, leadership and public debate. Fundamental Parliamentary debates must become the norm, not the exception. Political leaders, parties, policy institutes and academics must make it a duty to speak to the Canadian people and help them to keep up-to-date with evolving world affairs.

But, words are not enough. Canada must continually invest in international competence. We need a small but robust fighting force trained for battle, development and peace. To play a meaningful international role, Canada needs an air transportable brigade to contribute to UN missions.

Even this is not enough. Canada also needs to back up multilateral missions with police forces, administrators and democratic institution building. For this to be successful, we also need to send in administrative, economic and judicial trainers. This is not pie in the sky dreaming. As a country, we already have available the personnel and skills, the institutes and programs to make tis happen.

All it requires is political will, leadership and investment. It is encouraging to see our governnment is intent on providing more resources for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar over the next year. We will, of course, be investing in the world’s future, which is our own.

John Trent, Fellow, Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa.

John & Colette Trent, 11 Williamson Rd., Chelsea, Qué., Canada, J9B 1Z4, (819) 827-4407, jtrent@uottawa.ca

Canada’s Foreign Policy Deficits

Presentation to Forum Quebec, Liberal Party of Canada
Université du Québec en Outaouais, Gatineau, 10 août, 2007
John Trent

Senior Fellow, Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa

Canada needs a new global vision for the 21st century if we are to assume our adulthood and play a role in the world consonant with our values, population and resources and our position in such multilateral groups as the UN, the G-8, the Commonwealth and the Francophonie. We must set our goals and provide the means to attain them.

1. Lack of preparation and lack of vision of world affairs is a failure of all our political parties. If Canada is going to be an effective, 21st century, international player, all political parties must create standing global affairs committees to study and debate foreign relations. They should invite specialists, hold consultations, sponsor public meetings and publish their findings.

2. Political parties must explain to Canadians the new context of global politics. The change is so profound that international studies now talk not only about ‘national security’ but also about ‘human security’ (the responsibility to protect civilians) and ‘global security’ (the vital interests of the planet). The context of the early 21st century is characterized by turbulence, complexity and interdependence. In other words: there will continue to be conflicts and change; decisions will require solid global knowledge and experience; and we can’t opt out of world problems (Trent, 2007). “National” foreign policy must include the global challenges. Thanks to George W. Bush we know that a foreign policy based on nationalism, hegemony and unilateralism no longer works. The new key words are democracy, partnership and multilateralism. This suits Canada.

Canadians need to understand this context if they are to accept our costs in lives and money in far off lands like Afghanistan. Our mission can be improved, but it is part of an essential role Canadians must accept if we are to make a contribution to international stability, peace and justice – which, of course, is in our own interest as a vast country, continuously subjected to global trends. Afghanistan will not be our last such endeavor, so we must learn and learn well.

3. Foreign policy (or better, “Global Policy”) needs to find a fit with our traditional internationalism and the values of our citizens. Canada’s traditional international policy has focused on stability through peace and justice. Justice is a codeword for greater equity and development. Our major means of delivery is through multilateral institutions like the UN, which are the only ones with the knowledge and legitimacy to deliver complex, global policies. The White House, for instance, does not have the diversity or the competence to make international policy. But multilateral institutions must be up to the job. A first priority for Canada is to take the lead with NGOs to mobilize other countries to transform the UN into an institution capable of dealing with global challenges such as the environment, pollution, diseases, development and human rights. A second priority for Canada is to help promote democracy throughout the world so that, eventually, international organizations will become democratic too. Democracies also tend to be more prosperous, more stable, more cooperative and less prone to war. We must reinforce our democracy promoting institutions and our teaching and research on democracy.

As regards our citizens, Foreign Minister Bill Graham found that almost all participants in his consultation stated that Canada’s foreign policy should be grounded in a complementary basis of values and an internationalist vision (A Dialogue on Foreign Policy, Canada, Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 2003). More recently, pollster Frank Graves of Ekos Research concluded that “young Canada” (under 40) is more pluralistic, tolerant, globalist, enterprising and less paranoid about terrorism and ideology (Lawrence Martin in Globe and Mail, 6-08-07) than our American and European counterparts. Foreign policy should mirror these values.

4. Complexity in global affairs calls for a new form of decision-making based on team work and knowledge. The prime minister provides overall leadership, but must rely on a team of global affairs ministers and accumulated expertise within government, institutes and NGOs.

5. In government, most of what we call “policy” is simply incremental decision-making. There is little investment in coordinated, long term strategy. The Federal Cabinet’s Foreign Affairs Committee needs to be informed on a continuing basis by a Global Affairs Committee of officials from all appropriate departments (Foreign Affairs, Defense, Environment, CIDA, Trade, Justice, Immigration, Fisheries, Health, and Industry etc.) It should have a parallel Global Affairs Support Committee from relevant government agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and research centers. Their main task is to provide information on the world’s hot spots. We cannot assume such policy development is going on in NATO or the U.S. We must have strategic expertise, not just the latest notions from the Prime Minister’s Office.

For example, the United Nations has created a Peacebuilding Commission to give continuing focus to security and development in failed states such as Afghanistan because it is a global problem requiring long term efforts of multilateral consortiums. Peacebuilding includes everything from pacification to institution building, protection of human rights, and socio-economic development. In a complex and turbulent world Canada must balance its security and development responsibilities. Peacebuilding is joining peacekeeping, not supplanting it.

6. In looking to its global responsibilities, Canada cannot forget its own backyard. Northern sovereignty is complex and includes ports, heavy icebreakers, military surveillance and air-sea rescue. But more than anything it means cooperating with our northern peoples to attain mutual goals and cooperating with the world community to create an Arctic Protection Treaty similar to that in the Antarctic. Another home problem entails focusing on ownership of our economy. Without a competent economy we cannot attain our foreign policy goals. The government must encourage Canadian business to maintain ownership of leading corporations.

7. The public needs to be informed but also consulted. Canada should put all its brains to use. The country has dozens of international institutes and chairs of foreign policy studies. But the Department of Foreign Affairs has decapitated its Centre for Policy Development which supported DFAIT’s public input and funded research. This program must be reinstated.

Also, Canada rarely consults its civil society organized in hundreds of world class Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The same can probably be said of our ethnic populations, such as Canadian-Afghans. Outside Canada, it is common knowledge that civil society is an increasingly important international actor. It brings to the table international savvy, on-the-ground experience and organizational expertise. Canada must work with its NGOs.

8. Foreign deployments are dependent on effective information. We must put our JTF2 commandos and the special forces of our NATO allies to better use; change Section 16 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to allow it to collect foreign intelligence; and consult our multi-national population and all those with experience in conflict-affected countries, all to be overseen by new Regional Coordination Committees in DFAIT.

9. But, words are not enough. If Canada wants to reestablish multilateralism and the UN, rather than depending on the U.S., it must have the means. Paul Martin put $12.8 billion in his five-year budget plan toward an air transportable international intervention brigade and started to increase our aid budget. We must finish the job.

Aug. 10, 2007, 11 ch. Williamson, Chelsea, QC. J0X 1Z4, 819-827-1025, john.trent@uottawa.ca

Ideas first Published in the West Quebec Post, January 2007

Entitled “Afghanistan Mission: Canada’s Foreign Policy Deficits”. Theory supplemented by:

John E. Trent, Modernizing the United Nations System, Barbara Budrich, Upladen, 2007

Sommaire

Le Canada a besoin d’une nouvelle vision globale fondée sur la démocratie, le partenariat et le multilatéralisme.

  1. Chaque parti politique doit avoir un comité permanant sur Les affaires globales.
  2. Les partis politiques doivent démontrer du leadership en expliquant au public le contexte nouveau de la politique globale : turbulence, complexité, interdépendance.
  3. Prioritairement, la politique étrangère du Canada doit : a) travailler avec les Organisations internationales non-gouvernementales (OINGs) pour rallier les pays à la transformation de l’ONU en organisation apte à confronter les défis globaux tels l’environnement, les maladies contagieuses, le crime, le développement et les droits humains; b) aider à promouvoir la démocratie à travers le monde; et c) refléter nos valeurs d’internationalisme, tolérance, pluralisme et entrepreneurship.
  4. Les réalités d’un monde de plus en plus complexe exigent que la politique étrangère soit dirigée non par un chef omnipuissant mais par une équipe politique appuyée par des fonctionnaires qualifiées.
  5. Le Conseil des ministres doit être encadré par un nouveau Comité des affaires globales tiré des ministères pertinents, lui-même conseillé par un Comité d’appui d’affaires globales représentant des agences gouvernementales et des institutions non-gouvernementales et universitaires qui devraient (parmi d’autres choses) aider les ministres à équilibrer leurs efforts dans les domaines de la sécurité et du développement.
  6. Pour la protection de l’Arctique canadien, on doit d’abord coopérer avec les peuples sur place et ensuite élaborer un Traité de protection de l’Arctique similaire à celui qui existe dans l’Antarctique. Similairement, pour protéger et promouvoir le Canada dans un monde compétitif, le gouvernement doit encourager les entrepreneurs canadiens à rester propriétaires de leurs entreprises.
  7. Le Ministère des affaires étrangères et du commerce international doit immédiatement restaurer son programme de consultations publiques et de financement de la recherche et il doit en plus coopérer avec les organisations non-gouvernementales pour atteindre ses objectifs.
  8. Pour renforcer les Nations Unies et le multilatéralisme, le Canada doit fournir une brigade aéroportée pour des interventions internationales et doubler le montant de son aide internationale.

Voir : John E. Trent, The Modernization of the United Nations System, Barbara

Budrich Publishers, Upladen, Germany, 2007. and

“The Afghanistan Mission: Canada’s Foreign Policy Deficits”, West Quebec Post,

Jan. 12, 2007.