Thursday, June 02, 2011

Pocket power

Reading Buckdog this morning (as everyone should) I contracted yet another case of the WTFs. There's an item in Le Devoir that suggests the Harper government is seeking to create a global network of military logistics bases in sunny places like Jamaica, Senegal, Kenya, Singapore and Kuwait.

There are a number of odd odours coming of this steaming pile of Harper.

1. The government is claiming the need for a global strategic logistics base network while it has not yet provided the Navy with roll-on roll-off vessels to move the army, which constitutes the bulk of forces deployed, with all its heavy kit across the seas. It still has to contract out to the private sector.

2.  Since when did Canada, with our pocket armed forces, think it was worthwhile to get the business of building a global network of military bases? Keeping 2000 or 3000 troops in Afghanistan on rotation uses up most of the army's capacity for deployment and training, and it is the major logistics focus for the air force. How many "unknown unknown" deployments does the Harper Regime think the armed forces can sustain at a time without a serious boost in budgets and numbers?

3. I wonder too if the Harper government decided to place Canada as a contender in the latest round of the Great Game. This often sees small intelligence and special forces units scattered around the world chasing radical Islamists and countering China, especially in Africa and Asia. If we are deeply involved we won't likely hear about it.

4. Is this proposal not meant so much for Canada, but for some of our more adventurous allies (e.g. Britain, France, and the US) who could use a little friendly logistics infrastructure as they cut back their armed forces? Given Harper's fanatical devotion to hard-right Israeli causes, he might seek to augment that country's strategic reach. 

5. The recent history of military expeditioneering is fraught with missteps. A decade in Afstan and we're declaring victory and sort-of-but-not-really going home. Libya might very well end in tears as the mix of rebels, air power and NATO advisers and probably a proper dose of special forces have not so far managed to neuter Gaddafi's armed forces. The end result may well be an East and West Libya with an hostile border.

It doesn't need to be mentioned that the history of privileging militarism in foreign policy is not good. It breeds local resentment, which can be lethal by empowering less Canada-friendly locals who can point to the foreign military personnel and accuse them and the host government as colonial patsies.

I mean, the Harper government was lucky it was the relatively peaceful Emirates that evicted the Canadian Forces. Put the CF in a place where popular sentiment turns anti-western or simply anti-Canada, and it could get ugly. All it takes is a couple of troops having the wrong sort of night on the town or petty Harper being petty Harper.

So why? At the end of the day, this idea is without a critical grounding in sober appraisal of the need for a global base infrastructure. It is formed by small-minded ideologues who see the world as a series of phenomena requiring a scale of military response from zero to total war, depending on their own moral and political socialisation. Most of these suited mostly men will have never seen a shot fired in anger, or spent any sort of time living with the people in the countries they will send troops to. Their lives will have been padded and gilded in soft chairs and soft beds, feeding their soft bodies soft food with their soft hands. All of which somehow calcifies their soft minds into hard attitudes.


Steve said...

I will take the cushy jobs in Jamaica and Singapore. What a load of stupidity, an aircraft carrier can not be far behind.

Edstock said...

"Libya might very well end in tears as the mix of rebels, air power and NATO advisers and probably a proper dose of special forces have not so far managed to neuter Gaddafi's armed forces."

You're entitled to your opinion. The news I get from next-door Algeria says different. Believe what you want, meanwhile the number of attack helicopter sorties grow along with the Daffy casualties and desertions. The wanker will be gone before year-end.

As to Stevie's desire for a world-wide collection of bases, it's so silly, it's so Stevie. Too bad for him, we do not have the cadre of people with the smarts, or the infrastructure to support them, and it will take until the next election to get anything meaningful happening.

Boris said...

Ed, all the Tigers and Apaches in the world can't repair torn social fabric. Sure, NATO and the rebels might end up destroying Gaddafi's army and forcing his demise one way or another, but this doesn't mean that what's left can form a viable state.

We've seen this before.

Libyan society is fractured along pro and anti-Gaddafi lines on top of tribal affiliations. The Libyans won't easily forget which side their neighbours were on during the civil war and violence may smoulder for years to come. Even with Gaddafi gone, Libya might still wind up split and poorer.

Niles said...

So, what part of the economy are these extra territorial bases again? Industrial Prison Military Expansion?

And under whose good grace are they building them, since these are not on Canadian soil? Is the Conservative 'answer' to not having a base in the UAE? Or are these more locales to insult and be defenestrated from?

Alison said...

I'm almost speechless with shock. What on earth is Harpie thinking? With his fascist tendancies, this is a very unnerving move.