Monday, July 13, 2009

Canadian Project for a New American Century

In July 2005, Canada's Chief of Defence Rick Hillier explained our new relationship to the people of Afghanistan :
"These are detestable murderers and scumbags. They want to break our society. If Canada is attacked, it will be only because it is a free country.
They detest our freedoms. They detest our society. They detest our liberties."
By sending troops to Afghanistan, he argued, Canada is actually protecting itself : "We are the Canadian Forces and our job is to be able to kill people."
Our job is also, he might as well have added, to placate the US for having foolishly avoided public advocacy for its adventure in Iraq.

Four years and many platitudes about little girls going to school later, the Canadian military manual of counterinsurgency (COIN) operations doctrine begun in 2005 and spanning the Bush and Obama presidencies is now complete.
Authorized by the head of the Canadian army Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, it is, Anthony Fenton writes at The Dominion, "a synthesis of two recent US Army Field Manuals" and a model of US-Canada "synergy":

Obama's administration has sent clear signals, through political appointments and holdovers (such as Defense Secretary Robert Gates), that the US military and national security apparatus' transformation toward fighting smaller, "irregular wars" begun under Bush will continue apace.

Only a week before Bush left office, Gates, together with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Director of USAID, Henrietta Fore, co-signed the US Government Counterinsurgency Guide.

Neo-conservative historian Eliot Cohen, who oversaw the Guide's creation, wrote in its introduction:
"Insurgency will be a large and growing element of the security challenges faced by the United States in the 21st century...Whether the United States should engage in any particular counterinsurgency is a matter of political choice, but that it will engage in such conflicts during the decades to come is a near certainty. This Guide will help prepare decision-makers of many kinds for the tasks that result from this fact."

Thank you, Eliot Cohen, charter member of the Project for the New American Century, signatory to the 1998 white paper on "regime change" in Iraq, and all-round advocate of US military imperialism.
Although PNAC was disbanded in 2006 when its founding members decamped to the Foreign Policy Initiative, both its membership and its objectives of an imperial US COIN agenda continue through Obama and into a Canadian manual on military doctrine.
Suddenly this picture becomes less amusing.
Fenton :
"According to Lt. Gen. Leslie, the Canadian Army is "at the cutting edge" of Western armies readying themselves to fight 21st-century wars.
Since General Leslie signed off on the COIN manual last December, the COIN Center and Canada have collaborated on more than 20 exchanges, including "COIN Leader Workshops" and "COIN Integration" meetings.
Members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) met with the [US]COIN Center for discussions about "US-Canada COIN synergy" five days after Leslie wrote in his issuing order for the new COIN doctrine that it is "complementary to our allies."
In April, the US COIN Center "visited military installations and think-tanks in Canada to inculcate the Canadian military establishment with COIN doctrine and best practices."
Recent meetings have concentrated on how best to sell this idea to the Canadian public.
Maybe they could brand it as the Canadian Project for a New American Century.
Anthony Fenton at The Dominion. Go.
Edited to fix link - thanks, Chris


Oemissions said...

collusional damage

chris said...

Link to Dominion gives "page not found."
Here it is:

chris said...


Boris said...

Lots of assumptions behind that shiny new doctrine:

1. The sort of neolibcon interventionism that leads to hobby wars like Afghanistan and Iraq will last as an ideology. When Iraq and Afghanistan finally end, does anybody seriously think politicians of the day will willingly tread down that path again?

2. Modern armies reliant on oil and massive amounts of industrial, tech and financial capital will remain viable when the former goes well past peak, and the latters begins to rapidly shrink in scale and capacity (beginning now...). Is anyone planning for what an armed forces might look like when oil gets real expensive and scarce? The sort of interventionism they're planning for will seem a luxury.

3. Oil, climate change, economic upheaval = potential domestic insurgencies, not foreign ones. Domestic insurgencies = a form of civil war. COIN in that environment will be about keeping the masses down and protecting elites.

4. Armies can 'fix' societies. 'nuff said.

Also, seems there's a vicious circle in there: They wouldn't need a counterinsurgent doctrine if there were no occupying armies to insurge against. But yes, that's a political call. However, the army producing a COIN manual then telling the politicians will only encourage the bastards.

Good catch Alison.

Alison said...

does anybody seriously think politicians of the day will willingly tread down that path again?

Well they didn't seem to learn from Vietnam and the Russian experience in Afghanistan

#3 is what worries me, Boris, Because their boogieman is global, COIN would seem to suggest they may as well look for him here.

Boris said...

No, they didn't learn but they did lose taste for it for a while. Excluding UN stuff like the Balkans and very short wars like Grenada, and proxies like Iran-Iraq there was a generation's gap in large scale direct interventionism after Vietnam and before the neocons went for their redux.

Yeah, 3 scares me too. States being the clumsy things they are, will not only attempt to protect their elites but also attempt to keep themselves together - with the few tools they have on hand.

Hmm...COIN manuals are a bit like seatback emergency cards on airliners: if you find yourself having to use one, you're probably already screwed.

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