Unprepared

By Dan Middlemiss, 7 March 2022

From the pervasive silence in this Forum about the Russian attack on the people and state of Ukraine, I wonder how many, like myself, are dismayed, deeply saddened, and frustrated by the West’s complacency and willful neglect of our collective defences to deal with megalomaniac thugs like Putin?

Canadians have been assured that we ‘stand with’ the Ukrainians – yes, but only in the safety and comfort of our own dwellings. Now, I recognize that it is far too late for the United Nations or NATO to fashion some sort of real military response to Russia’s latest blatant power grab. Yet we have seen Putin and his ilk test the West’s resolve in Syria, the Crimea, and elsewhere in years gone by, and clearly he has found us wanting.

It is the unique responsibility of any state to provide adequate defences for its own security, this is a key mark of state sovereignty. In the past, we have taken pride in upholding the global rules-based order and in assisting in the collective defence of other states.

Yet, in Canada it is business as usual when it comes to preparing our defences, symbolic though they may inevitably prove to be. There is today no perceptible sense of urgency to provide modern fighters, warships, and army equipment even as the grim events in the Ukraine unfold. Canada has managed to dispatch some Special Forces and a near obsolescent frigate or two to the region, has earmarked two C-130J aircraft to transport supplies to Poland, and a single artillery battery to a neighbouring country. New fighter jets are still no closer to being procured, and it will be at least 15 years or so until Canada may have a few new, lightly armed frigates. Even the army’s new pistols have been delayed yet again.

Major defence procurement in Canada seems to be all about the promise of jobs – much ballyhooed by the so-called friendly-to-government ‘influencers’ – never about delivering affordable and effective weapons on time.

Liberal democracies have always faced agonizing choices when dealing with the reality of evil in the world. But constantly refusing to face facts has contributed to the sorry situation in which the people of Ukraine now find themselves. Canada, and the world standby providing all assistance short of actual help. We have learned nothing from the so-called lessons of history; we are never adequately prepared.

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