By Scott Taylor
There was a bit of a media flap last week, ignited by the recent Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) report, which claimed that Vladimir Putin has begun preparing Russia’s economy for World War III. This well-timed bit of subjective analysis by CSIS served the NATO braintrust well, as the organization was presently pushing to send additional combat forces to the Russian border.
If Russia is mobilizing, as CSIS contends, then NATO needs to demonstrate force and will — right up in Putin’s face — in order to keep him in check. Or so their theory goes.
The current proposed plan will see a 4,000-strong NATO contingent permanently based, albeit on a rotational basis in the Baltic States. Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia became independent when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and they were wooed into the NATO club in 2004.
While NATO combat planes, including Canadian CF-18s, have patrolled the Baltic skies since then, pouring in 4,000 ground troops will no doubt be seen by the Russians as a provocative escalation.
Given that the Baltic States are full-fledged NATO members, any violation of their sovereignty by Russian aggression would result in the full alliance declaring war. Having non-indigenous NATO combat troops based on the territory will only ensure that those participating countries will have some skin in the game from the get-go.
Already the UK, Germany and the U.S. have agreed to send in 1,000 troops each, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has personally pleaded with Canada to be the fourth contributing nation. This singling out of Canada by the Grand Poobah himself was greeted with much thumping on their tubs by the usual Colonel Blimp Brigade. This is a mission that they can truly root for: Canada marching in step with the NATO big boys right up to Putin’s doorstep.
Of course this same gaggle of retired military officers and academic wannabes couldn’t wait to get our brave soldiers into battle in Afghanistan. They had never heard of the Taliban prior to 9/11, but all of a sudden there was a shooting war and they wanted Canada to do its bit. Once that conflict stagnated into an unwinnable civil war, with NATO propping up a hated regime in Kabul, the Colonel Blimps kept on selling that war to Canadians. In their misguided logic, Canada had to continue committing military resources to the Afghan mission, or else we could not justify the sacrifice in blood and gold that we had made to date.
Canada’s eventual decision to cut its losses and quit the doomed Afghan intervention drew howls of indignation from these hawks. Their argument was that after our soldiers had done so much of the heavy lifting, it was a shame for Canada to miss out on the victory parade. For the record, it has been more than five years since Canada ended its combat mission, and two years since the training mission concluded. There never was a victory parade. There never will be.
In 2011, when the uprising began in Libya, it was Canada that led the NATO intervention on behalf of the rebels. This was another mission that the usual military cheerleaders could fully support. Nobody bothered to examine who the Libyan rebels were; we were simply told that Moammar Gadhafi was evil and we needed to eliminate him. That time, however, a lot of triumphant tub-thumping accompanied a glorious victory parade on Parliament Hill after the NATO-assisted rebels killed Gadhafi.
Then it turned out that the rebels were a fractious collection of Islamic extremists, criminals and human traffickers. Libya quickly descended into a lawless failed state, and is still embroiled in a multi-faceted civil war. Whoops.
When Daesh overran a swath of Iraq in the spring of 2014, the Canadian government dispatched combat planes and special forces trainers to assist the Kurdish militia. That was yet another mission the Colonel Blimps could sink their teeth into. Predictably, they howled like stuck pigs when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discontinued the bombing mission. Instead, Canada increased the number of trainers deployed to Kurdistan.
However, while the NATO club cannot wait to confront Russia in the Baltic, the Kurds in Iraq cannot wait to embrace Russian oil companies and businesses. Russia is one of the strongest supporters for an independent Kurdistan as symbolized by the very same Kurdish flag currently worn proudly on the uniforms of our Canadian soldiers in Erbil.
That should prove a bit of a noodle scratcher for the warmongers. Russian bad … Kurds good … Kurds and Russians are friends … What to do? What to do?