The defence hawk weirdos who sweated blood with each abandoned capability were right. History wasn't over. Putin understood that. We didn't.
I'm glad that you keep doing articles that highlight how the west has repeartedly chosen bargain-basement democracy. 40 years after Thatcher/Reagan we are now coasting on fumes in most of our public institutions. Think the military is in bad shape? Try using the health care system for any kind of chronic illness.
You were, and are, correct; alas that in this case there is little solace in being so. The gradual yet nearly total infantilization of our populace in the West has yielded infantilized leaders who ignore the realities of history and focus on short term electoral success and long-term socio-political legacy. I sincerely hope I'm mistaken, but it may be that the only way we can effectively grow up and realize the cost of freedom is to have it being snatched directly from us by the bayonet of a rifle, by the business end of the gun. I still have family alive today that lived as children under Nazi occupation...they have not forgotten what a Hot War means. They remember. We need to finally heed their warnings and gird our loins for what is coming; for what Ukraine is facing right now. History is now.
Now this is more like it. The other Line journalists ought to take more cues from Matt's work.
Was this article "opinionated"? Absolutely!
Was it also balanced in tone and measured in delivery? Certainly (and much more so than other recent articles).
Well - the current federal government was already stacking up record debt before Covid - and has broken all spending records since. The Canadian public seem to be in some ‘post reality’ phase and don’t seem to care. Canada has lead the charge in crippling our energy sector in the name of global warming - also IMO a post reality situation. One silver lining of this conflict may be that people wake up a bit and understand that there more important things in society than faculty lounge issues.
I retired in January 2022. Joined the Navy as a MARS officer in 2007. Since around 2010 the obsession from the federal government has been about internal issues within the forces, things like executive curls, gender friendly ranks and three (!!) service uniform changes in that period. So that is where our commanders are right now.
In some ways, it sort of feels like we went farther back than the cold war even. The crazy ass Putin speech about Novorossiya etc and how really Ukraine was created by them so they can destroy it as well blah blah blah and empires blah blah blah, kinda felt like going back to the early 1900s with empires and colonial powers. The other part that doesnt necessarily fit is that Russia is more of a declining power and they know it vs the USSR period I think had more denial about the reality. I had a good fortune of visiting Lenningrad in the summer of 1989 and even though it was just months before the Wall would crumble, it seemed absurd even to think that. And as a first time visitor, especially to Leningrad, it was obviously a place falling apart but nobody could see the forest through the trees.
On another note, I wonder how this will effect energy. If you really want to hamstring Russia, oil needs to come down in price. There are no short term fixes, but I can see huge pressure to re-energize fracking in the US as well as restart Keystone. Is Germany going to change their mind about nuclear power ? Jezus I thought 2022 would be a better year :(
For years now I have been dismayed at how little thought we have put into asserting our sovereignty in the Arctic. Maybe it didn't matter so much before the world started heating up, but now that the Arctic Ocean isn't ice-covered year round, it's starting to matter. A lot.
With a deranged Russia looking to relive the glory days of the Russian Empire, and a China that is taking a long hard look at the Northwest Passage and all the mineral wealth up there, things are starting to look a little precarious. If we can't at least put on a good show of asserting our power on our own territory, then our Arctic sovereignty is theoretical at best. I can only hope that the big brains in Ottawa are starting to realize that.
Yeah, I know. Fond hope.
Canada didn’t even really accept the need for military spending during the Cold War with troops deployed in Europe. The ‘80s saw an active debate between those who wanted a defensively-oriented force that would engage in peacekeeping vs. what they derided as the “junior Cold Warrior” approach of the Mulroney government. A couple of new capabilities had come online in the mid ‘80s because the Liberals had grudgingly acknowledged they had to spend money to replace obsolescent assets that often had literally worn out. These would be the 138 CF-18s that replaces a larger force of CF-104s and CF-101s, the Halifax-class frigates, and a force of Leopard I tanks (which represented the previous generation of technology.). This is all unsurprising, given Canada’s long-standing isolationist habit of mind. It would probably take Russian troops invading the far north to get Canadians’ attention, and maybe not even then.
Bingo. Sadly, yet another article on the lack of imagination and willpower from our “leaders” and bureaucrats, with no one on the horizon that would change this.
It's always surprising to me how people can readily accept the need for a password for their e-mail or bank account (because there are bad people in the world willing to fleece you), but then they can't wrap their head around the idea that we need a military to protect us from bad actors on the international stage. Canada has the third largest proven oil reserves in the world. Everyone else on the top ten list (other than the US) is a pretty nasty country. They have massive incentive to keep our oil in the ground. But try to suggest to a true believer that outside forces are what's trying to shut down our energy industry and they will call you a conspiracy theorist (right after they update their PIN).
This is the best comment thread I've ever read here. Reflects the seriousness of the Ukraine crisis I suppose.
Come for the articles.
Stay for the comments.
If some good could come of this crisis would be if Canadians rebuilt their the Canadian Army, RCN and RCAF. This must not descend into partizan finger pointing both the LPC and CPC share the blame for the current state of our armed forces. Putin Delenda Est!
The primary Canadian political response to pretty much every "hard" issue is to dither - shuffle the feet, mouth some platitudes and hope that with time the issue goes away without any actual decisions made or commitments followed up on. It is so discouraging. Defence is not the only victim (we still don't have potable water in all reserves, no electoral reform, etc.)
The disfunction in our military is rife. I have a son in training with one of the branches for what can be described as an elite unit. There is going to be a ton of money spent training him and his other unit members - but DND only gives these troops, once fully certified and trained, 6 month, renewable contracts. Why?, so that they don't have to provide full benefits! A completely illusory cost saving.
You DO need more Cold War thinking, instead of just the very cherry-picked Cold War thoughts you're thinking now. The Cuban Missile Crisis is a wisp of memory from 4-year-old me, but I had much older brothers, and my parents talked a lot, so I can add some Cold War Thoughts for you, first-person:
Cold War Thinking was to stand by with sad faces as the tanks rolled into Hungary, 1956. It wasn't a de-sized military then, fresh Korean War surplus, and of course we just stood idly by. Because it was behind the Iron Curtain, it was in Russia's Sphere of Influence, and we must not risk nuclear war. More, American CIA who'd encouraged revolt pulled out and cut dead the Hungarian partisans, no escapes assisted; they'd never been anything but tools. (Shia in Basra, 1991, could relate.)
Cold War Thinking was to not even imagine we could do anything about Ukraine, because they were Russia's back yard, WAY behind the Iron Curtain, Russia's Sphere of Influence, We Must Not Risk Nuclear War. Cold War Thinking was to completely respect Russia's Sphere of Influence, because Cuba was inside America's, and American had absolutely been willing to risk nuclear war to protect theirs, so of course we assumed the same of Russia.
Cold War Thinking, thus, was to spend endlessly on weapons and never, ever make a threatening move. Cold War Thinking was James Bond, who could fight in the shadows; and Mission:Impossible, who were explicitly told that their existence would be denied if caught (so that Russia could also back down).
The endless weapons expenditures were not to fight, since that was impossible now. They were just a virus that had overtaken both Russia and America. The chapter of Andrew Cockburn's "The Spoils of War" on that virus, can be found at Harpers:
Never thought this would happen with the world so integrated. But it did. We have an incompetent bureaucracy that can make a purchase without going over budget or create delays. That's on top of the lack of political will to arm ourselves properly. Very good summary and terribly worrisome.