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
PAUL MAILLET CENTER FOR ETHICS
Web: http://paulmailletethics.wordpress.com
ACCREDITED PEACE PROFESSIONAL CPSC
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

Time to talk about our disappointing approach to international peace and stability

Dear friends:

Perhaps it is time to rethink Canada’s approach to peace in the world, and think about reclaiming the two Nobel peace prizes we shared for peacekeeping.  Perhaps we need some dialogue on a set of principles such as:

We believe that all Canadians must have an ongoing  voice in Canada’s response to international peace and security.

We believe in a peace centered response that reflects the following:

  • Presence principle: The need for Canada to be present in international crisis is an overriding expression of our values and interests. We assert that Canada’s peace and security depends on international peace and security.
  • Impartiality principle:  Canada should responded to international crises with a posture of impartiality between conflicted  parties and in conflict zones, with a view to facilitating readiness for  dialogue and negotiation.
  • Bias for peace principle:  Canada’s presence in conflict zones be based on a strong predisposition for non violence, human rights, dialogue  and peace.
  • Dialogue principle:  Canada strongly support the UN as a  space for dialogue and voice as an precursor and alternative to  conflict.  Canada should advocate the principle  that  members are  accountable for their behavior to the  global community.
  • Engagement principle:  Canada rejects the  militarization of foreign policy, based  on demands  and hard expectations, and supports a response based on values of non-violence, conflict   resolution and peace support.       Canada as a middle power will not refuse to do what Canada can do in support of peace, conflict resolution and the relief of suffering.

In the cause of peace

The question of ending violence against women

“If you cannot do something, then say something; if you cannot say something, then feel something.  The least you can do is feel something.” anon

 In 2012, I attended a university session on violence against women and could not help but reflect on the tone of anger, confrontation, trauma and demands for justice as a response to the tragedies of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada. Certainly the response was very understandable given the magnitude of this tragedy. Individual stories were heart rending.

 I wondered if non-violent communication (NVC) and the ethic of care is possible as a larger part of the way forward. I even wondered about the readiness to think about such approaches given the high levels of emotion present. Perhaps there are other questions, dialogue or ideas to think about in quieter moments. For example:

  • Can we better balance language, the ethic of care and justice as a response to such an issue? To what extent does justice define sufficiency for those suffering the pain of having loved ones as victims, or of being a survivor? What does the ethics of care mean here, and is it worth a greater level of effort than the demands for justice? What is the best balance? Is healing better dealt with by the individual or the responsibility of others, or some balanced combination of both? Society as a whole also needs to heal from this tragedy? How can we do this?

What alternatives or additions are possible?  Perhaps:

  • In the cases of a heavy predisposition for confrontation, to consider reorienting the primacy of justice as a demand, to one of giving some balance to NVC and the ethic of care. I.e. to better entitle as “The Tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada”, vice “Justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women”.
  • This states the fact at hand and the feeling of suffering, and offers an invitation for everyone to reflect and respond how they can.
  • Perhaps another line below stating “The need for compassion, care, voice, reconciliation, healing and justice”. In this way everyone should be able to find themselves in one of these responses and offers broader possibilities for engagement, even if only of feeling deeply for these women and for those suffering today as a result. These possibilities are greater than the overwhelming emotions of confrontation and anger, however justified. There is always time for love and compassion as a first response.

 In addition, the living, who are survivors or continue to be victims of violence, deserve as much attention as those killed. For all of us, memories can continue to victimize, and never go away. The question of how to have a healthy response to the suffering attached to these memories when they arise, is important.  The heart level conversation for awareness and understanding is as important as the mind level conversation to debate and decide on social activism and engagement.

 In the cause of compassion and peace.

Surely Canada can do better for peace than shutting down embassies

It is not understandable how the recent decision to expel Iranian consular staff from Canada and withdraw Canadian consular staffs from Iran, will contribute to peace in the Mideast, and may in fact make prospects worse.      It is a shame how the current government has decided to approach foreign affairs with politics of confrontation, accusation, blame and militarization.  The war drums are growing louder and Canada does not have to have a hand in this insanity.

Where is the objective and international leadership of Canada for peace in this region?  What happened to the two Nobel peace prizes we shared for peacekeeping and that we were so proud of?

Now there is no doubt that serious issues of persecution, human rights, nuclear proliferation, participative democracy and fomenting violence and conflict, exist in Iran and many many other countries in the Mideast. This is tragic.  However, what we can control is our response to this suffering.

Perhaps the challenge is not to be pro-anybody, nor to take sides, but to be simply pro-peace and act in a manner that will reduce the anger and hate and the terrible risk for war that  the region is headed toward.  A regional war will make the existing conflicts seem tame in comparison.

Let us be Canadians, and act according to our former cherished values and reputation for peace.  Our response should be one of taking leadership in stopping the violence, caring for victims, being a neutral space for dialogue, negotiations and conflict resolution, being a source of aid and rebuilding, and providing assistance in reconciliation and justice.  To do this means consular avenues of communication.  It means being present in the crisis, exercising international leadership, being trusted for neutrality, being a place for dialogue, and above all, having a strong bias for human rights of all persons.  Surely Canada can do much better than a policy of shouting and accusation and such punitive measures as shutting down communication.  CIVILIZED PEOPLE TALK!

Canadian Leadership at the 2012 Arms Trade Treaty Diplomatic Conference is disappointing

Former Military Officer Urges Stronger Canadian Stance at the 2102 Arms Trade Treaty Diplomatic Conference

 Dear Mr Prime Minister;

In reading the opening  “STATEMENT BY CANADA AT THE OPENING OF THE ARMS TRADE TREATY DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE. JULY 2012”. I noted the Canadian delegation made the following statements:

Quote:  it is also important that the All recognize the legitimacy of the legal and responsible international trade in conventional weapons and that it respects the lawful ownership of firearms by responsible private citizens for personal and recreational uses, such as sport shooting, hunting and collecting.

 And

 Quote:  Canada stresses the importance of the principle of national discretion and that the ATT should recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their personal and recreational use, including sport shooting, hunting and collecting. We stress that this should in no way result in any new burdens being placed on lawful firearms owners.

As a former military professional with 33 years service, and the former Director of DND Ethics, I am extremely discouraged and disheartened  that we are attempting to water down this treaty, to the point that we will be directly complicit in the deaths of many people.  The people of Canada expect our government to exercise world leadership on conflict reduction and that such leadership be guided by an uncompromising stance on humanitarian values.  We should be at this treaty negotiation with a view to making it as strong as possible.

Surely, the legitimate arms manufacturers, gun owners and the NRA would be willing to put up with some inconvenience when people, human beings, are suffering and dying every minute somewhere in the world from small arms. To imply that gunshot victims have less priority than “no new burdens on lawful firearm owners” is absolutely unbelievable.    I am truly ashamed of what Canada has become as a global citizen, when we attempt to put the arms trade in any form before human lives.

As a military professional, I can tell you that the most lethal weapons in use today, which causes the most killing every day, are small arms.  There should be no measures we should not be prepared take to reduce the human carnage every day caused by small arms.

I am sure you know that almost every weapons seizure from criminal, terrorist, insurgent, or drug trafficking elements contain non-military pattern weapons.  They use whatever they can get, no exceptions.  In the photo below, you can see that the entire back row of weapons of non-military pattern weapons would be exempt from this treaty.  This is beyond irresponsible.  I can assure you that criminals and terrorists simply want weapons, any weapons, that kill, and especially those that can be obtained legally or are unregulated to any extent.  The Canadian proposal creates a huge loophole to do this.  This is beyond belief.  This will spawn a surge and unregulated traffic in non-military pattern weapons that we will not be able to control.

Mr Prime Minister, this is an issue of human lives and human values.  I implore you to issue direction to your delegation to withdraw and strongly oppose any but the strongest restrictions on the global arms trade.  This is for the sake of we are as Canadians and as responsible human beings in a global community.

In the cause of peace

Paul Maillet

Colonel (retired)

President PAUL MAILLET CENTER FOR ETHICS
Web: http://paulmailletethics.wordpress.com
Accredited Peace Professional, Civilian Peace Services Canada
Web: http://paulmailletpeacemaker.wordpress.com

http://civilianpeaceservice.ca

Email: pmaillet@magma.ca
Tel: 613.841.9216 Cell: 613.866.2503

Truckload Of Weapons Heading For Nigeria Seized In Ghana.  Posted by Information Nigeria in Home . Nigerian News

on January 11, 2012