Urgent Ukraine lessons, defence spending cuts, tougher lobbying rules & Doug Roche’s new book
UKRAINE UPDATE: KEY LESSONS WE MUST LEARN
The Russia-Ukraine War Report Card, Sept. 26, 2023 Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force
September 26 update: No significant territorial change….Net territorial change in the past month: Russia +15 square miles.
Excerpts from 7 Things to Know
Ukraine intends to continue its counteroffensive through the autumn and into the winter, according to remarks made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley this week.
Excerpt from 4 Ideas to Explore
Washington and Kyiv need to start addressing the problems of a longer war in Ukraine, according to Hal Brands of Johns Hopkins’ SAIS. For one, they need to adapt military strategy as “Ukraine’s current offensive initially struggled because the country sought to mimic Western tactics without the advantages, such as air superiority, Western militaries have come to expect,” according to Brands. In addition, a “longer war may require accepting higher risks of escalation,” Brands warns in his Bloomberg column.
Ambassador Chas Freeman and lessons from the Ukraine conflict
For a complete change from the mind-numbing, “long war” justifications, we turn now to a brilliant, searing analysis by former US Ambassador Chas Freeman. Many readers may recall his no-holds-barred takedown of American foreign policy in the Middle East in the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy’s inaugural Middle East Strategy Forum 2021, available on YouTube HERE.
His Ukraine analysis is entitled The Many Lessons of the Ukraine War, Remarks to the East Bay Citizens for Peace (Chasfreeman.net, 26 September 2023). Freeman begins:
I want to speak to you tonight about Ukraine — what has happened to it and why, how it is likely to emerge from the ordeal to which great power rivalry has subjected it; and what we can learn from this.
My talk, like the conflict in Ukraine, is a long and complicated one. It contradicts propaganda that has been very convincing. My talk will offend anyone committed to the official narrative.
The Rideau Institute urges everyone who cares at all about the Ukraine conflict to read his article — a stark and compelling commentary — in its entirety. Perhaps part of his summary of the causes and effects of the war will help convince readers to do so!
Ukraine is being eviscerated on the altar of Russophobia.
The Ambassador writes:
If the purpose of war is to establish a better peace, this war is not doing that. Ukraine is being eviscerated on the altar of Russophobia.
At this point, no one can confidently predict how much of Ukraine or how many Ukrainians will be left when the fighting stops or when and how to stop it….
Combating Russia to the last Ukrainian was always an odious strategy. But when NATO is about to run out of Ukrainians, it is not just cynical; it is no longer a viable option.
In his final section, entitled Lessons to be Learned from the Ukraine War, Freeman asks:
What can we learn from this debacle? It has provided many unwelcome reminders of the basic principles of statecraft.
He then lists some of these “basic principles”:
- Wars do not decide who is right. They determine who is left.
- The best way to avoid war is to reduce or eliminate the apprehensions and grievances that cause it.
- When you refuse to hear, let alone address an aggrieved party’s case for adjustments in your policies toward it, you risk a violent reaction from it.
- No one should enter a war without realistic objectives, a strategy to achieve them, and a plan for war termination.
- Self-righteousness and bravery are no substitutes for military mass, firepower, and stamina.
- In the end, wars are won and lost on the battlefield, not with propaganda inspired by and directed at reinforcing wishful thinking.
- What has been lost on the battlefield can seldom, if ever, be recovered at the negotiating table.
- When wars cannot be won, it is usually better to seek terms by which to end them than to reinforce strategic failure.
It is time to prioritize saving as much as possible of Ukraine.
In Freeman’s view, and we strongly agree, the priority must be to “save as much as possible of Ukraine”. In turn, that means:
Ukraine needs diplomatic backing to craft a peace with Russia if its military sacrifices are not to have been in vain.
He elaborates further:
The key to preserving Ukraine is to empower and back Kyiv to end the war on the best terms it can obtain, to facilitate the return of its refugees, and to use the EU accession process to advance liberal reforms and institute clean government in a neutral Ukraine.
But that sane approach is nowhere on the horizon as the Ambassador explains:
Unfortunately, as things stand, both Moscow and Washington seem determined to persist in Ukraine’s ongoing destruction.
Freeman argues, however, that there is clearly a basis for changing Moscow’s view:
whatever the outcome of the war, Kyiv and Moscow will eventually have to find a basis for coexistence.
Washington needs to support Kyiv in challenging Russia to recognize both the wisdom and the necessity of respect for Ukrainian neutrality and territorial integrity.
Freeman urges some “sober rethinking” of the “consequences of diplomacy-free, militarized foreign policy,” referencing the negotiations that took place early in the conflict:
Had the West not intervened to prevent Ukraine from ratifying the treaty others helped it agree with Russia at the outset of the war, Ukraine would now be intact and at peace.
The Ambassador concludes:
This war did not need to take place. Every party to it has lost far more than it has gained. There’s a lot to be learned from what has happened in and to Ukraine. We should study and learn these lessons and take them to heart.
To read the article in its entirety, click The Many Lessons of the Ukraine War (chasfreeman.net, 26 September 2023).
A word about Ukrainian Nazis
Against the backdrop of Parliament’s embarrassing, but clearly inadvertent, recognition of a Ukrainian veteran of a Nazi unit, it is useful to consider some of what Ambassador Freeman, in the article discussed above, has to say about “ultranationalist militias” who conducted operations against Russian separatists in the Ukrainian eastern and southern regions:
Prior to the U.S. and NATO decision to aid Ukraine against its Russian-backed separatists, these militias were commonly identified as neo-Nazi in the Western media….
After the US/NATO proxy war broke out, despite their continuing display of Nazi regalia and symbols on their uniforms and their ties to neo-Nazi groups in other countries, Western media ceased to characterize these militias as neo-Nazis.
The Rideau Institute comments:
Surely the real story is this collective Western blindness to the inconvenient truths of right-wing ultranationalism in Ukraine.
For more on this issue, see The Russo-Ukrainian War Has Bolstered Ukraine’s Nonstate Alliance Network (Erik E. Mueller, rand.org/blog) 7 Aug 2023.
GOOD NEWS ON DEFENCE SPENDING
Treasury Board President Anita Anand, the former defence minister, told other federal cabinet ministers in August they will be required to cut $15.4 billion in government spending … [over 5 years].
Appearing before the House of Commons National Defence Committee on 28 September 2023, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre and Deputy Minister of Defence Bill Matthews confirmed that DND’s “share” would be a cut of almost $1 billion from the annual budget, commenting:
There’s no way that you can take almost a billion dollars out of the defence budget and not have an impact.
Contrast General Eyre’s statement with this finding of the Parliamentary Budget Office:
A [March 2022] report from the PBO found that, from 2017-18 to 2020-21, there was a cumulative shortfall of nearly $10 billion between the Defence Department’s planned capital spending and what was actually spent.
The Rideau Institute comments:
Bearing in mind that the DND budget rises annually under the massive 2017 increase of 70% over 10 years, and has received an additional $8 billion in the 2022-23 federal budget, even with a one-time billion-dollar budget cut, DND is still very unlikely to expend its full annual budgetary allocation for 2023-24, which is expected to be $26.5 billion.
GOOD NEWS ON CANADIAN POLICY AND ISRAEL/PALESTINE
This Globe and Mail headline spells out the good news on new lobbying rules that could ultimately positively impact Canadian policy on Israel/Palestine.
Changes to lobbying rules could spell end to 50 years of free trips to Israel for Canadian MPs, Senators (Steven Chase, 17 September 2023).
The article explains:
New rules for the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct went into effect on July 1 that restrict registered lobbyists in Ottawa from lobbying MPs or senators who accept free trips from them.
The revision means sponsored travel is now explicitly included in the definition of gifts from lobbyists that are subject to strict dollar limits of $40 apiece and $200 total per year.
The organization most affected by the new rules is the Ottawa-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) — formerly the Canada-Israel-Committee — which has sent about 800 members of Parliament and Senators to Israel over that period.
Chase goes on to note:
Eighteen staff at the CIJA are registered lobbyists in Ottawa….
In 2022 the CIJA was the biggest sponsor of MP travel. According to a report released by the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, CIJA
spent more than $92,000 on transport, accommodation and gifts for parliamentarians that year….
Many lobbying activities going unreported under current federal rules, watchdog says
The article contains a link to a 4 June 2023 Globe and Mail story by Marie Woolf where she writes:
The lobbying watchdog [Commissioner Nancy Bélanger] says lobbying of ministers, MPs and federal officials is going unchecked and unnoticed under the current rules, and a more robust regime is needed to impose “transparency by default.”
Commissioner Bélanger continued:
We need to have every oral communication disclosed, irrespective of whether it’s arranged and irrespective of who arranged it,” she said.
Another of the proposed changes the Commissioner would like, and with which the Rideau Institute fully concurs, is for
advocacy groups that register as lobbyists to disclose where most of their funding comes from.
New Book by Douglas Roche, O.C. Keep Hope Alive: Essays for a war-free world
Douglas Roche is a former Member of Parliament, Senator, Disarmament Ambassador and peace advocate extraordinaire who also happens to be the author of 26 books, spanning his 50-year public career in peace and human security issues.
Senator Roche has provided us, yet again, with an inspirational call to action and a practical handbook for hope. – General Roméo Dallaire
This book of uplifting, action-oriented essays is now published and available on Kobo, Apple and Amazon. For those in Edmonton, the official book launch will take place on 4 November 2023 at Audreys Bookstore.
Photo credit: DND (2023 Budget forecast)
We depend on your donations as we accept no funding from government or industry to protect our independence. If you have not yet responded to our fundraising appeal, please consider doing so now by clicking on the button below.