2016 Iran Sanctions Relief. Open for business? Open for Peace?

The sanctions relief regime has begun. According to the Transparency International 2014 corruption perceptions index, Iran ranks: 136 /175. This is worse than most other countries, and worse than such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Rwanda, Tanzania, or Pakistan. This is not a standing in the global community conducive to good international business and trust; and not how Iran wishes to be regarded by the global business sector.

Like many other countries in the mid east, the words of Clausewitz, “ war is simply an extension of politics by other means”, is a constant barrier to peace. Given the size and education of its people, its wealth, its influence, this is both an opportunity and question for Iran. Does Iran wish to be a force for peace, stability and human rights in the Mid East? This is a tough question for them, and a long road in which actions will ultimately judge Iran, and all of us for that matter.

So what about tomorrow? An Iran, if willing to act in good faith, may elect to seek to explore issues with allies and prospective business partners regarding the peaceful honest economic development and global economic participation of Iran following sanctions relief.

Tomorrow Canada can choose to exercise leadership. We, with Iran and the global community can explore and encourage principled non-military economic trade and development that can contribute to international peace, stability and reconciliation.

We, with Iran, can explore current business and government best practices that enhance ethics and the reduce corruption.

Canada can lift sanctions accordingly and promote trade. We can contribute to peace through a view that “civilized people talk”. We can re-establish consular relations and engage in peace oriented diplomacy.

There are always possibilities for peace and better relations. It is hard work, but always worth the risks. Talk to your elected MP and let them know your views. Good luck to us all.


Time to reclaim our secret ballot during elections

You have a legal and fundamental right to a secret ballot, enshrined in the elections act.  There is a good reason for a secret ballot, to prevent everything from reprisals, to intimidation, to the use of your vote to manipulate politics.  Perhaps it is high time the parties and pollsters respect your right to a secret ballot, to cease attempting to circumvent your right to a secret ballot.  This should be unlawful.  Parties use your vote before  elections, to attack opponents, to manipulate your attitudes, to making you a fundraising target, a directed advertising target,  or to even attempt to suppress voter turnout. Perhaps it is high time that WE REFUSE TO DIVULGE OUR VOTE to pollsters or parties, and tell them they are attempting to infringe on our legal right to a secret ballot by even asking.  Tell them you find the question offensive and undermining of basic democratic rights,  and refuse to answer their question.  REFUSE TO DIVULGE YOUR VOTE! PROTECT YOUR VOTE!

2015 Elections, Peace building and the art of questions

During elections voices are heard.  Questions teach. Questions open doors to learning and discovery for both the one who asks and those to whom the question is directed.  Ask your candidates when they come around, speak up at debates, send them an email or letter. Be informed. Vote for honest politicians.

This is how I see the issues and questions. Use what you wish. Good luck to us all.

I have an interest in international foreign policy and peace. I believe we need a country and a government of honest ethical MPs that understand national wellbeing, namely:

  • Good honest governance (Ethical, respectful, and not corrupt)
  • Meets security needs (Domestic and for international peace and stability)
  • Meets social needs (Health, education, housing, human rights)
  • Meets economic needs (Jobs and livelihood)

Governance questions:

  • Q. Foreign policy: Canada is an export nation and does not have the population or GDP to defend itself. (We depend on oceans, neighbors and alliances)   The security and prosperity of the world is the security and prosperity of Canada. Canada had a strong peacemaking tradition, now has a militant foreign policy with a military intervention predisposition   How best do you think we can contribute to international peace security and stability?  What would you do?
  • Q. Canadian history shares in two Nobel peace prizes. Now Canada shockingly  lost a security council seat, cannot be trusted to be impartial by the global community, and is more often than not is an outlier on international issues.  Would you support a department of peace, as a precursor to military intervention and DND?
  • Q. The government has a Federal Accountability Act for elected members and a PSDPA Public disclosure protection ac for public servants, and yet suffers ethical lapses.  Decorum in parliament and between parties in public is disgraceful.  The people want honest government not bickering, insults and power obsessions.   Decorum can be seen as courtesy, compromise, collaboration and cooperation”.  Canadians deserve no less.  What are your views on this and how will you conduct yourself if elected?

Security questions:

  • Q. The true cost of war.  In the Iraq Afghan wars.  US 5800 dead/51000 wounded/ over a thousand suicides/20% PTSD.  Canada 158 dead/1859 Wounded/28% PTSD/160 suicides serving members (2004-2014).  What about veteran suicides?  Why are only serving member suicides being reported?   The causalities of this war are far from over.  What would you do about this? About the truth and honoring and reporting PTSD and all suicide names as the true cost of this war.
  • Q.  P5+1 and Iran nuclear agreement.  Canada refuses to support the agreement and has adopted a wait and see approach, preferring to be on the sidelines.  What would you propose Canada do?
  • Q. Civilized people talk.  As a result of the p5+1 agreement, the UK recently reopened its embassy in Iran.  Canada refuses to do so or relax sanctions.  What would you to?
  • Q.  Russia and the Ukraine. The Canadian response is to promote sanctions and a confrontative approach, and fuels risks of another version of the cold war.  Who speaks for peace and diplomacy with Russia? How do you think Canada can best contribute to a peaceful resolution of this crisis other than confrontation and violent language?
  • Q. Electoral reform.  We live with an electoral system where 30% to 40% of the vote can result in 100% of the power.  How can we achieve a system where the country is governed by a true majority of people  and representative of the demographics of Canada and our first nations.  What are your views on this?

Social needs questions:

  • Q. Youth radicalization. At a series of interfaith meetings on this subject the message about youth was loud and clear –  “pay attention to youth”.  It became apparent that the problems of radicalization are not best solved by policing but by meaningful jobs, hope, a supportive family and community social environment, and the creation of a positive identity and future.  What are your views?
  • Q. We are a nation of a rule of law.  We expect Canadians to obey the law.  We expect Canada to honor agreements and treaties. This includes treaties with our first nations.  What are your views regarding FN treaties, their land and right to respecting their consent?
  • Q. We are a nation of growing ethnic and religious diversity. We have a government trafficking in the politics of fear regarding terrorism and risking creating undercurrents of intolerance.    Two terrorism fatalities in Canada in recent years  pales in comparison with 172 gun homicides in 2012.  Death by terrorism in Canada is less by far than most other risks of death by violence.  What are your views on this?

Economic needs questions:

  • Q.  As the price of oil falls, the consequences of becoming a petro economy is becoming apparent, namely as we are in a recession or heading into one.  What would you propose?
  • Q. Canadian aid and development policy in Africa has become highly connected with the interests of Canadian mining companies and protecting mineral and mining profits when prices rise. Some reports put well over twice as much wealth is extracted than our foreign aid given. This is hospitals, education, and much of the future of these countries taken by this industry.  What are your views on this?  Do you agree or disagree?

P5+1 plus Iran Comprehensive Nuclear Program Agreement. Time to re-establish Canada as a global citizen for peace.

We, the undersigned Canadians, would like to commend the P5+1 (U.S., China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom) and Germany (+1) and Iran for their work in advancing peace in the region through their 2015 Iran comprehensive agreement regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program.

We believe that this agreement demonstrates an extraordinary choice of peace over growing calls for military intervention or conflict. We believe this accomplishment needs to be celebrated widely, and that all involved feel they are worthy to be called peacemakers regarding this issue.  We believe that they have demonstrated a long overdue commitment to peace a first response to yet another cause for conflict in the Mideast, and the very serious problem of nuclear weapons in the region.  They are worthy of the gratitude of the global community.  They have set an example of diplomacy over armed confrontation that is sorely needed in the Mideast.

Although a first step, we believe that the P5+1 and Iran have all contributed, and agreed, and are united in the desire for successful outcomes and accountability regarding this agreement.  Ownership of this agreement must now belong to the world to ensure compliance, and to build on this agreement for the advancement of peace in this region.

The opportunity for such an advancement of peace in the world, and for the unity of the global community, is a rare occurrence.  The lives that depend on the success of this agreement are beyond calculation.  We must take all the care and do all that we can to nurture this opportunity.

We call on the government and Canadians to endorse and fully support the implementation of the comprehensive Nuclear program Control Agreement of the P5+1 plus Iran.

We call on the government of Canada to re-establish diplomatic relations and consulates with Iran and engage in constructive and peaceful diplomacy with a view to impartial and non-violent peacemaking in the Middle East. Civilized people talk.

We call on the government and Canadians to take this achievement as an opportunity for dialogue and awareness among Canadians; to awaken our consciousness about who we are, and what we need to do to regain our voice and leadership role for peace in the global community.

We call on Canadians to vote for candidates who support this P5+1 plus Iran Nuclear Program Control Agreement and support a change in Canada’s current approach to international peace and stability to one of leadership for the non violent and peaceful resolution of conflict.  We call on Canadians to ask your candidates and MPs for their positions on this, and vote for peace.

In the cause of peace;

Paul Maillet Colonel Retired (Canadian Department of National Defence) ;  Principal Paul Maillet Center for Ethics. Accredited Peace Professional (Civilian Peace Services Canada)  pmaillet@magma.ca

Akbar Manoussi Professor of Business and Management, Carleton University;  Ottawa Director, Canadian International Council;   Executive Director Ottawa-Vanier. Liberal Party of Canada,  manoussi@magma.ca

Dr Qais Ghanem.  Clinical Professor of Medicine, U of O, (retired); Order of Ottawa Medal 2014;   Martin Luther King Award 2014.  ghanems@rogers.com

If you wish to have your name or organization on the endorsement list, please provide your name or your organization, and a few words about who you are, and email to pmaillet@magma.ca

2015 Canada and assumptions about being in the fight with ISIS

I listened to CBC “power and politics” yesterday about Canada and ISIS and am somewhat concerned about the underlying consensus and untouchable assumptions, by all parties and the moderator Terry, that Canada should and must be in the fight in the first place, and that Canada must not have diplomatic relations with Iran.    There were some mild caveats that this be subject to avoiding collateral damage and killing civilians.  Otherwise, it seemed that parties were only determined to criticize each other’s articulation of this to appeal to what they think voters want.

To me, the debate was ill informed and shamelessly political.  This region has been in conflict before the birth of Christ. The Mideast has over two million men under arms, and trillions of dollars of weapons surrounding ISIS, and we think six Canadian jets are important here and makes a difference.  The mid east is on a somewhat chaotic road to  sorting ISIS out and will probably lay the seeds for further Sunni Shiite conflict in the process. Whatever the outcome, this will remain a problem for the world.   Perhaps the question for us is not about fighting wars here, but how can we contribute to peace making in the region.  We have to remember that military action under international law must have a reasonable prospect of success, which is just not there in this case, and well acknowledged by the US president and military professionals.    Yes, we need boots, but peacekeeper boots that protect people and protect aid.  Also boots that talk to all sides and prepare for peace talks.    So I throw my lot into protecting people, caring for victims, humanitarian aid, non-violence and sponsoring peace talks when the readiness and willingness is there.  There is the  notion that “when they hurt enough, or love their children enough”, we will have peace.

Regarding the reinstatement of diplomatic relations with Iran, I find the debate incredulous.  It has to be more important to talk to those with which we have differences than just our friends.  Miscommunication and misunderstanding is how wars start, and no communication leads to missed opportunities to end wars or advance chances for peace.  The more we know each other the better the chances for change and peace,   Iran will do what Iran will do with regard to nuclear weapons and we better think about plan B if they choose to do go down the road to such weapons.  This is a debate we must also have.  How do we live in peace with another nuclear state for which we have differences?

So whither Canada in all this?  How can Canada assert what we claim are our true and cherished values for peace, in the face of a world always bent on military intervention as a response  to conflict?  It takes courage.  We can do much much better.

In peace.

Paul Maillet
Colonel (retired)
Former DND Director of Defence Ethics
Web: http://paulmailletethics.wordpress.com
Web: http://paulmailletpeacemaker.wordpress.com

Expansion of ISIS mission March 2015

Why do we find it so difficult to debate the use of military intervention as Canada’s contribution to international peace and stability?  Now the mission creep begins.  Did we not learn anything from the mess we left in Libya?  Is killing our only response?

The expansion of attacks into Syria begs a few questions.  Are we willing to accept casualties?  We are now flying in another country with possible sophisticated Russian surface to air missile capabilities and a Russian equipped air force. We cannot be certain what missiles or air defence capacities ISIS has captured and operates  in this regard.  We may or may not have air superiority as in Iraq.  We will need allied help to suppress enemy air defences, and fighter cover support.  I assume we will operate as part of allied strike packages.  However, we may run into, or clash with, hostile Syrian air force fighters or air defence systems. All this begs the question of what 6 CF18s are doing in a theatre of some 20,000 ISIS fighters facing surrounding national armies  with over 2 million  men under arms and massive modern air forces that makes 6 CF18s absolutely  insignificant to any possible outcome.  All we can do is kill a few people.  We are better than this. Maybe the real contribution of Canada is to look to the two Nobel peace prizes we have shared for peacekeeping, and look to a role of impartiality, diplomacy,  peace operations and humanitarian activities.  Eventually the readiness and willingness to sit down and talk, and  need for political negotiation will arise, and we can be prepared for that day, and maybe such readiness may be in time to save lives.   The number of lives we could save with the money we are spending is surely the best of who we think we are.  Why are we not a nation of peace vice a nation of war?  When did we lose our way?

2015 Time to truly honor and bring closure to our veterans

If you want true closure for veterans of Canadian military intervention in the since 911, it begins with honoring all who served or suffered, and continue to die and suffer.

Closure begins with the truth, the good we did, the sacrifice we made, and the harm we did.   Both soldiers and innocent people died as a result of Canadian intervention, and our soldiers continue to die through taking their own lives.  True closure begins with speaking and accepting the truth, the mistakes we made, the collateral damage, accepting responsibility for the truth, making restitution and all being satisfied with the outcome.  This means the soldiers, the government, Canadian society, and those innocent civilians and families we harmed in the countries we conducted combat operations.

The truth in honoring veterans means not only listing war dead, but also naming those who subsequently took their lives from PTSD, those physically wounded and those currently suffering from PTSD.  If not names, then numbers.  This is a call to our Prime Minister and DND to do so!

It is beyond unacceptable that the government does not track veteran suicides.

That the department or government does not track veteran suicides is an affront to all veterans and serving members.  Every veteran taking his or her own life is a cause for national awareness and mourning.

Apologies do not suffice.  Words are hollow.  To truly honor veterans is to care for veterans.   We are directly responsible for what happened to them and need to show that we owe them and their families a “duty of loyalty and care” for the rest of their lives.

To honor veterans is also to make a good faith effort to make restitution for the harm we have done in our wars abroad.   To truly honor veterans is to build strong institutions for peace.   It is to give us better options to make war a truly last resort.  We should be a nation of peace, not a nation of war, in the global community!

Paul Maillet

Colonel retired

Former Director of Defence Ethics