Disclaimer: I am not an expert on these topics, it is simply a run through of what was covered and some of my own thoughts on the matter.
Every once and a while Facebook’s creepy targeted ad actually shows me something useful. In this case, it was a talk to be given by former CSIS head Richard B. Fadden hosted by the CIC. And yes, it is CSIS, NOT ISIS. I say this because I know there are many Canadians or other individuals reading this who may have never heard of CSIS. For those of you who do not know CSIS stands for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or to give you a better idea, they are the Canadian CIA. This means one of two things, either Canadians know less about how their own country works than they think. Or CSIS is very good at what it does in protecting its citizens on the down low.
This was one of the points that Richard opened up and closed with. Canadians feel too safe and do not feel the need to fund things appropriately. Or as I am not paraphrasing, If you dont feel thretened you won’t give the governments permission to do what they need to do.
For me, if Canadians don’t feel threatened then they won’t sign up for Krav maga because they feel they do not need to learn self-defense. (The ability to defend yourself is something you should learn regardless of whether you live in a dangerous place or not, for it is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.) While not a perfect analogy I think it stands true. Whether you like it or not there is the saying. Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times.
Or more precisely if you have to face adversity you will be more resilient to adapt and do what needs to get done to survive.
A good example in Canada is that the Canadian military struggles to find the money for procurement of new equipment. However, in modern times even when we were at war, and yes Canada was in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria (Mr. Fadden confirmed this if you think otherwise…), Canadians don’t really feel it at home because we are safe. Just so you know, all parties in Canada struggle to justify military spending to the public who has no taste for it. To me, and my friends in the military this is a terrible strategy for any country in the long run.
At this point, you may be asking, what was the talk actually about. Well, good question.
The actual title of the talk was:
Threats to Canada’s National Security: Russia, China, and the Leaderless West.
Any guesses what he talked about most?
It’s all Russias fault!?, no I am just kidding. What he suggested was that when it comes to western global security China is a much bigger threat than Russia. To paraphrase. Russia is a rogue state, but it is still containable through sanctions and other diplomatic channels. They have a weak economy but still, have a nuclear arsenal which keeps them a global player.
I would also say at the moment at least their biggest asset is Putin as a statesman. And despite what westerners may think, and Mr.Fadden confirmed this, is that Putin is very popular in his own country.
Evidence suggests that yes, Russia does mess around in global affairs. While they did not “HACK” the 2016 US elections as was suggested by the media. This would mean they physically change the election results, which is not what they did. Instead, they used legal avenues and shenanigans on Facebook to manipulate some public opinion. A strategy that was first tested out on their own population regarding the Crimea annexation and possibly the semi-civil war in eastern Ukraine. Which by the way is the first time a state straight up annexed another state since WWII, yet without going to war there wasn’t much anyone could do about it.
I would think Russia has shifted to this strategy because as the cold war showed, from an economic standpoint they cannot realistically keep up in a traditional military sense. Nor would I suspect they would win that war. Mr.Fadden indicated that this is indeed true by the fact that the Russian military is shrinking, though it is improving and upgrading the skills and technology which means smaller groups can be more efficient and harder to deal with. Beyond the standard military operations, they seem to focus more on psi-ops for the dissemination of information that is misleading or incorrect. Something I should add that many western media are adopting, though I suspect it is more for the income generated by the click bate nature of their articles. As Mr. Fadden suggested, this kind of shenanigans would have occurred regardless of Trump running for president. Despite what the media and the public sphere seem to think, this is more Russia being Russia than anything.
He also briefly mentioned Russias role in Syria suggesting that they were more of an annoyance and slowed the progressed in the eventual defeat against ISIS, which according to the media has recently fallen. And that yes, Russia is Mucking about in Venezeuala which goes against the Monroe doctrine which is why the west (America) is so uncomfortable about it.
With regards to Russia, unless you are a former USSR state in eastern Europe then Russia is more of an annoyance trying to stay relevant in an increasingly crowded world. If we in the west really wanted to stick it to russia we would move faster away from fossil fuels and natural gas and more towards renewable energy as without the demand from the west, and China Russia’s economy would most likely collapse again. (FYI Nuclear Energy is the best for global climate change, but if you don’t trust me, ask a scientist…)
This brings back us back to China. As Mr. Fadden explained they are a true adversary at this point. They are incredibly economically strong and can affect the economies of the west through trade. Have a strong military power and the main power in Asia regardless of whether you like it or not. The issue with China is that in many ways they can play by their own rules.
For example, if a company in Canada or US is looking to do a deal with a company in China it is the resources of the western company vs the resources of the Chinese company + the resources of the state. As Mr. Fadden explains that in China, especially when it’s dealing with international deals, the moment the government of China wants to get involved it will and as a company in China you are obliged to let them. So a company in the west must stick to the rules and regulations of the land regarding their deals and the Chinese companies can essentially do what they want. It is my understanding that despite what you think of Trump on the topic of China and their trade practices he is most likely right.
Unfortunately, as China is a real threat to global security many politicians are perhaps too afraid to stir the already awakened yet crouching tiger in fears they release the hidden dragon.
Mr. Fadden also explained that when it comes to espionage, mostly digital, China is king. They do so with little regards to what the west thinks and the west has little power to stop them much of the time without going to war. Which, no one wants, including China and Russia. This means every time China, or Russia does something there is little the west can do to correct them. As mentioned sections have much more effect on Russia than China due to the differences in trading needs and the economy overall.
So what has China done that Mr.Fadden could openly talk about without us having full clearance?
Over the last few years, there has been over 1 Trillian USD, stolen from IP related attacks that are mostly from China. A Canadian fighter plane design was stolen then a replica or near identical version was produced (I didn’t even know Canadians did fighter planes anymore, which makes me think it was stolen from Bombardier). There is the noted case where a Saskatchewan Pot Ash company was looking to do a deal with a Chinese company and they had their servers hacked, their Lawyers servers hacked and government agencies hacked all regarding the company by China. This, of course, killed the deal.
China through both legal and illegal means is expanding its power mostly through economic means. They are the key power of influence in Asia and are a big financial sponsor of Africa loaning out money they know will never be repaid. Which asks the question, to what end are the doing this? Power, Control, or resources? Probably all of the above.
There is also the tension regarding the South China Sea between China and all its southern neighbors in which China basically says it’s theirs and other say not but if China really wanted to take it out right it could. Which makes everyone very uneasy.
And of course, if you pay attention to the news Canada is caught in between the spat of the US, China, and Huawei as we are currently detaining one of their executives on behalf of the Americas. In America, most major carriers dont carry their phones as they are worried about spying software. This according to Mr.Fadden is a legitimate concern and perhaps Huawei phones should not be allowed in Canada in a similar fashion. Yes, the phones look amazing though I suspect its mostly stolen tech and full of foreign spyware. Although Google and Apple basically do the same thing at least they still have to follow the laws.
The question you have to ask your self regarding China is if the intelligence and economic community think its a bigger threat because generally, they do what they want. Why is the media so silent on this matter. Why do most of the public, and media focus on Russia? This is a question I am not sure about though I am sure it has something to do with money and politics.
This is a topic that seems to have been quieted publically as the media seems to focus more on the idea of white supremacy as a problem rather than just a general terrorism as a problem. Mr. Fadden focused more on Islamic Terrorism and how it is less of a problem now but still a big problem.
He mentioned a magazine called Inspire, which is an Al Qaeda magazine in circulation. Remember Al Qaeda. You know, The perpetrators of 9/11 and who Osama Bin Laden was part of? Yes them. They are still around, in various forms globally and are still a problem. Unlike ISIS which was localized Al Qaeda is compartmentalized globally so still has not gone away and is still a problem.
One thing he mentioned that for a while the advice of such magazines was that if you want to help their global cause, dont go to Syria to help ISIS, Don’t go back “home” but stay in the country you are in and cause trouble. That means if you are a Canadian who wanted to fight for ISIS, rather than do that then stay home and cause havoc. This could be one of the reasons we saw the problems in many western countries where the attackers lived in these Countries, such as the US, France and to a lesser extent Canada.
He did say though, that the last Non-Muslim Country the west entered was Grenada in the 1980s. So he can understand why the Muslim global community is annoyed with the west as it seems that they are the only group being targeted at the moment. Which brings us to the last topic. Canada.
Canada’s roll in the world
In most countries, Canada is well respected and liked. In the 20th Century, we had major roles in both World wars and were involved in major global events.
He suggested that while Canada was once an upper tier Middle global power we are now a lower tier middle power. This is because Canada is very poor at building foreign relations and really is not doing much to help the world in an active way. An example was the poor decision recently to leave the Mali mission despite the complaints from the military and what I can imagine would be most sane advisors. An no I dont believe simply throwing money at other counties or problems (like is currently happening) is in any way strong or good leadership. Real leadership should always be something active not passive.
I think this issue is related to what was stated near the beginning in that, Canadians feel too safe and do not feel the need to fund things appropriately.
Canada may actually be at least for the time being one of the more functional democratic western nations. We are relatively physically isolated from other countries globally with the US to the south for some safety. Though Russia does regularly test our Sovernty with regular tests to our airspace scrambling Canadian fighter planes all the time to push the Russians back (An annoying and stupid global game of cat and mouse). Despite perhaps what some politicians might want you to think, Canada is a very safe place as compared to other countries. We have someone decent socialized health care (though I don’t know how much longer that will hold up with the way it’s being managed) and we have many other benefits that other countries would love to have. Because relatively Canada is a great place most Canadians find themselves in their selfish little bubbles caring little of the world other than to simply travel and post photos for the Gram.
I dont think we need to be some major global player like the US but I think that Canadians should care a little bit more about what their government’s foreign policy is or lack thereof. When I talk about these topics with most Canadians they seem woefully misinformed or woefully uninterested. Which for such an educated country is fairly sad.
Mr. Fadden said that when he traveled the world, as a representative of Canada, Foreign dignitaries always welcomed him politely but were dismayed that a Canadian PM never visits or at the very least high-level Cabinet ministers. From a foreign policy standpoint we generally dont bother, but I suspect it because the Canadian public really doesn’t like this kind of global spending so most politicians oblige by not bothering.
I know most of this doesn’t matter to you, although if you have read this far perhaps it does. But if you do not want Canada to fade into obscurity in the long game perhaps you should care a little bit more about the world around you. (DO remember, Much like the Dutch East India Trading company, for a time the Canadian based Hudsons Bay company was a major global economic hub in the western world, thus historically Canada at times played major rolls.)
So as always I do, I try to relate things back to Krav or self-defense. Most students roll their eyes or insult me in their heads when I go on a rant in class for the million times. I do this because I care. I understand that real self-defense is not just Kicking or punching. It is understanding the world around you and all its complicated intricacies. Canadians love to travel but often travel without the thought of what is going on the countries they are visiting. Didn’t know there were minor political problems going on in the country you are in? Oh well too bad now you are stuck in the middle of a civil war? Didn’t know the country you are in doesn’t care that what you just did is legal in your country, oh and by the way there no extradition treaty. Now you are stuck in a foreign jail for 20 years…FUN!. Or my favorite example (ROLLS EYES HEAVILY), someone I know said they felt unsafe traveling to the US because you know Trump and racism so instead decided to go to Jamaica, Which is so much safer…It is not. The same individual also mentioned their hostel had an 8pm curfew…hmm I wonder why…
I have often heard even from those close to me that they don’t care what is going on in the rest of the world, the country or over there because it doesn’t affect them directly. Unfortunately, this is a failure to understand how interconnected everything is. What China does and how it acts matters because it definitely affects trade. Remember, if everything is made in China which makes it cheap they could mess with it forcing our governments to act or vice versa thus things become more expensive. Or perhaps you are a citizen of both countries and now you are stuck in the one you least prefer because of some global shenanigans that you thought didn’t affect you.
Being good a defending your self is not just physical, it’s about being informed, educated and using appropriate critical thinking skills so you can navigate this complicated world and come out better than you were yesterday and in one peace.
I hope that this commentary has given you some food for thought and hope that today you may walk in peace.