Title: White paper on Defence of Canada - Chapter I: International environment
CHAPTER I: INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
The Cold War is over. The Warsaw Pact has been disbanded and the Soviet Union no longer exists. In a few short years, we have witnessed a fundamental realignment in the global balance of power, yielding significant advances in arms control, conflict resolution and democratization. We have also seen the outbreak of localized, violent disputes, arms proliferation, as well as the often fruitless struggles of collective security organizations to cope with the challenges of the new era.
Progress toward a safer world, most evident in the dramatically reduced threat of global war, is balanced by the persistence of conflict within and between states. It is impossible to predict what will emerge from the current period of transition, but it is clear that we can expect pockets of chaos and instability that will threaten international peace and security. In short, Canada faces an unpredictable and fragmented world, one in which conflict, repression and upheaval exist alongside peace, democracy and relative prosperity.
As a nation that throughout its history has done much within the context of international alliances to defend freedom and democracy, Canada continues to have a vital interest in doing its part to ensure global security, especially since Canada's economic future depends on its ability to trade freely with other nations.
The breakup of the Soviet Union significantly reduced the threat of nuclear annihilation that faced Canada and its allies for more than 40 years. The dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and German unification marked an end to the division of Europe into hostile blocs. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), with its broad membership and comprehensive approach to security, has become an important mechanism for upholding the principles - human rights, economic freedom and the peaceful resolution of disputes - enshrined in the November 1990 Charter of Paris. A new transatlantic and pan-Eurasian security framework is beginning to take shape, embodied in the CSCE and two of NATO's creations, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and Partnership for Peace. Despite some notable exceptions, democracy is taking hold in Central and South America, as well as in parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Significant progress has been achieved in the elimination, reduction and control of various categories of weapons. The Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe and follow-on agreements provide for stable, predictable and verifiable reductions of equipment andpersonnel on that continent. The Open Skies Treaty, the United Nations arms register, and confidence-buildi ng measures carried out through the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe have reinforced the tendency toward openness and transparency in military matters. The strategic arms reduction treaties (START I and II) and steps taken by Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus in support of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation hold the promise of deep reductions in strategic nuclear weapons. Likewise, the Chemical Weapons Convention, signed by 158 countries since January 1993, of which 16 have ratified, calls for the destruction of these arsenals, though much work remains before this goal can be achieved.
Other multilateral initiatives are underway to stem the production and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including:
- efforts to secure the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995 and conclude a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty;
- stronger International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards;
- work on establishing a verification compliance regime for the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention;
- the beginning, if a mandate is agreed, of negotiations on a "cut-off" convention on fissile material; and
- the expansion and strengthening of the Missile Technology Control Regime.
These efforts represent an ambitious arms control agenda that will see sustained and complex negotiations in the years ahead.
Regional Conflict Resolution
Notwithstanding frequent outbursts of violence the world over, progress has been made in resolving several protracted regional conflicts. The process of reconciliation in El Salvador culminated in the 1994 general election, mirroring the trend towards democracy and the rule of law across much of Latin America. South Africa held a country-wide election this year, ending apartheid and white minority rule. The Middle East peace process has also yielded progress, most notably Palestinian self-rule in Gaza and Jericho, an Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty, and the outline of an eventual peace agreement between Israel and Syria.
INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CONCERNS
The world's population is fast approaching 6 billion, with another 90 million added to the total every year. Projections vary, but most observers believe the world will have between 8 and 12 billion people by 2050. If future generations are to enjoy the same opportunities as the current one, agricultural and energy production will have to multiply several times over. This requirement will put enormous pressure on the world's political and financial resources, overand above the severe environmental damage and depletion of natural resources that are likely to result.
UN peacekeeping and humanitarian operations are playing a critical role in responding to the immediate consequences, both direct and indirect, of global population and resource pressures.
Armed forces are being called upon increasingly to ensure a safe environment for the protection of refugees, the delivery of food and medical supplies, and the provision of essential services in countries where civil society has collapsed.
At the same time, the complexity, escalating costs, and risks associated with peacekeeping in the 1990s, the financial difficulties facing the United Nations, and declining defence budgets in most industrialized countries mean that the international community cannot intervene every time these pressures reach the breaking point. Clearly, the world's ability to deal with the consequences ofoverpopulation, environmental degradation and resource depletion is already severely constrained and is likely to become more so in the years ahead.
The past decade has seen exponential growth in the number of refugees. According to UN estimates, some 20 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their countries in response to war, famine, deprivation, and ethnic, clan, tribal or religious strife, often of horrific proportions.
An equal number of people have been displaced within their own countries. Once uprooted, these populations risk causing further unrest in their new locations. They are often viewed as restive, even subversive, by host governments, particularly if they alter what is perceived as a favourable demographic balance within society. Large numbers of displaced persons put a heavy burden on existing infrastructure, resources and the environment, provoking resentment on the part of the local population.
The breakdown of authority in certain states is another source of instability. It is characterized by chaos, violence and the inability of political leaders to provide the population with the most basic of services. In recent years, this problem has not been confined to any specific region of the world or even to countries with particularly low standards of living. Examples as diverse as Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Afghanistan illustrate the extent of the problem. The international community remains heavily engaged in attempts to respond, but success in confronting challenges engendered by scarcity and war is not easily achieved.
Resurgence of Old Hatreds
Among the most difficult and immediate challenges to international security are the civil wars fuelled by ethnic, religious and political extremism that broke out in the Balkans and areas of the former Soviet Union following the collapse of communism. In recent years, rival groups have clashed in a number of these states. Other regions of the world, most notably parts of Africa and Asia, have seen the strength of fundamentalist groups grow considerably, with civil wars and other violent manifestations showing no signs of abating.
Many of these conflicts have proven relatively immune to regional or multilateral diplomacy and intervention. The task of maintaining ceasefires in the midst of civil wars is especially difficult, given the absence of coherent front lines, lack of discipline among the warring sides, civilian populations subject to horrible depredations and atrocities and, most important, a reluctance by combatants to respect such ceasefires.
Ongoing violence in the former Yugoslavia starkly underlines the dangers associated with attempts by national groups to redraw borders in an effort to create ethnically homogeneous states. The Bosnian civil war may portend similar conflicts elsewhere in the Eurasian landmass. In many regions, a patchwork of minorities live intermingled with no clear lines of demarcation between them. Competing territorial claims could raise tensions and eventually provoke hostilities. Most abhorrent is the practice of "ethnic cleansing", the ugly euphemism for outright massacres or expulsions carried out with the objective of achieving ethnic or religious purity in a given geographic area. Borders redrawn in the wake of ethnic cleansing are highly unstable, as uprooted people often seek the return of lost territory, usually through violent means.
However horrendous the impact for the local populations caught in the middle of civil wars, the absence today of adversarial relations among the world's great powers suggests that these conflicts are more likely to be contained. At the same time, Canada cannot escape the consequences of regional conflict, whether in the form of refugee flows, obstacles to trade, or damage to important principles such as the rule of law, respect for human rights and the peaceful settlement of conflicts. Even where Canada's interests are not directly engaged, the values of Canadian society lead Canadians to expect their government to respond when modern communication technologies make us real-time witnesses to violence, suffering and even genocide in many parts of the world. Thus, Canada continues to have an important stake in a peaceful and stable international system.
The spread of advanced weapon technologies to areas of potential conflict has emerged as another major security challenge of the 1990s. Whether sophisticated armaments are acquired abroad or produced indigenously, their introduction into volatile regions undermines stability, poses a threat to neighbouring states, defeats arms control initiatives, and complicates military planning and operations, as Canada and other members of the UN Coalition experienced first-hand during the Gulf War.
It will take nearly a decade to implement fully the strategic arms reduction treaties. Denuclearization is a demanding process, involving warhead storage and dismantlement, the removal, warehousing or elimination of dangerous substances, and silo destruction. Moreover, while Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine are implementing agreements governing the return of nuclear weapons to Russia, this consolidation has not yet been completed. Russia has a solid record of central control extending over half a century, but the sheer size of its nuclear stockpile- some 25,000 nuclear charges of all kinds scattered over more than 100 sites - makes this material vulnerable to loss or theft. It is critical that these weapons, and the fissile material from dismantled weapons, be stored under the strictest physical and inventory safeguards.
The arms trade remains lively even if the global market for weapons has shrunk. Significant overcapacity in world defence production exists despite efforts at conversion of military industries. Some states have not instituted the appropriate legislative or administrative mechanisms for controlling arms exports. For many, weapons sales constitute one of the few reliable sources of hard currency. Often, the incentive to sell outweighs concerns about the likely threat to regional or global stability. One consequence is the extensive trade in small arms, including hand-held automatic weapons, hand grenades and land mines. Indeed, men, women and children in 62 countries daily face the threat of being killed or maimed by some 85 million land mines sown at random. Another consequence is the risk that unemployed or under-employed scientists and technicians previously involved in the production of advanced systems will migrate to countries with clandestine weapons programs. Already, organized criminal elements have shown an interest in the lucrative trade in sophisticated weapons and materials.
The transfer of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile technologies to so-called "rogue" regimes is of particular concern. These transactions take place, albeit more slowly and with more difficulty, despite the export controls on materials and equipment put in place by countries such as Canada. This then leaves the international community little recourse other than condemnation or punishment after the fact. Similarly, the increasing prevalence of technologies with both civilian and military applications, and the globalization of production and marketing of weapon systems, makes proliferation that much harder to prevent or control, and makes it more likely that the transfer of resources, skills and technology will be irreversible.
Constraints on Policy Making
Advanced industrial states themselves face considerable uncertainty at home, which complicates their ability to cope with global security challenges. Many Western economies are still characterized by relatively high unemployment, volatile currencies, and large accumulated national debts. The trend toward globalization, exemplified by the conclusion of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, is balanced by an increasing preoccupation with domestic challenges. At a time of diminishing resources, little money is available to deal with the demands of post-industrial society - the need to repair obsolescent infrastructure, protect and foster a sustainable environment, care for an aging population, improve job training and reform entitlement programs - let alone military priorities in various regions of the world. Canada and most other NATO allies have seen their military budgets decline, acknowledging the fundamental changes on the world scene and the need to reduce overall government expenditures.
Under the best circumstances, predicting international trends is challenging. Given the unsettled nature of global affairs, it is impossible to foresee with any degree of certainty how international affairs will develop in the years to come. In light of the much reduced threat of global war, the world may not be as immediately dangerous today, at least for Canada, yet it is neither more peaceful nor more stable. It would, of course, be wrong to concentrate attention exclusively on extreme cases of disorder in some regions at the expense of real progress elsewhere. Yet, given recent trends, it seems prudent to plan for a world characterized in the long term by instability. Canada's defence policy must reflect the world as it is, rather than the world as we would like it to be. Under these conditions, the most appropriate response is a flexible, realistic and affordable defence policy, one that provides the means to apply military force when Canadians consider it necessary to uphold essential Canadian values and vital security interests, at home and abroad.