New Canadian submarines are ‘inevitable,’ says Blair. Acquiring them will be anything but – by John Ivison (National Post – May 15, 2024)

The question remains whether the prime minister and the cabinet are serious about defence and meeting their spending targets

Bill Blair, the federal defence minister, made a rare admission of Liberal fallibility in Washington on Monday when he said he regrets using the word “explore” when talking about renewing Canada’s submarine fleet. ttawa’s recent defence policy update said the government will “explore options for renewing and expanding the submarine fleet,” a form of words that was criticized for lacking urgency.

“It’s certainly not my intention to be wishy-washy. What I’ve tried to articulate very, very clearly and strongly in the document is, we know we have to replace our submarine fleet, and we’re going to do that,” Blair said.

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Europe’s Gathering Storm – by Diane Francis (Substack – May 6, 2024)

French President Emmanuel Macron shocked the world on February 26 by suggesting that Europeans may have to send troops to help Ukraine. Then on May 4, he doubled-down and said French troops would go to Ukraine if Kyiv requested their help. He also described Europe as “mortal” and said that “things can fall apart very quickly” because the US is no longer guarantor of Europe’s security.

“I have a clear strategic objective: Russia cannot win in Ukraine,” Macron said. “If Russia wins in Ukraine, there will be no security in Europe. Who can pretend that Russia will stop there? What security will there be for neighboring countries, Moldova, Romania, Poland, Lithuania and the others?” His clarion call was echoed by the leader of Europe’s other nuclear power, Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who said “if Putin is allowed to succeed in this war of aggression, he will not stop at the Polish border”.

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UK puts its defense industry on ‘war footing’ and gives Ukraine $620 million in new military aid – by Vanessa Gera and Sylvia Hui (Associate Press – April 2024)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The U.K. prime minister said Tuesday the country is putting its defense industry on a “war footing” by increasing defense spending to 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade, and pledged to send arms worth 500 million pounds ($620 million) to Ukraine.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the increase as the “biggest strengthening of our national defense for a generation.” “In a world that is the most dangerous it has been since the end of the Cold War, we cannot be complacent,” Sunak said at a news briefing alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a visit to Poland. “As our adversaries align, we must do more to defend our country, our interests and our values.”

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Poland ready to host US nuclear weapons, Duda says – by Brad Press (The Hill – April 22, 2024)

Polish President Andrzej Duda says Poland is ready to host U.S. nuclear weapons, saying the topic was one of frequent discussions between Warsaw and Washington.

Duda told Polish tabloid Fakt in an interview published Monday that Russia is increasingly militarizing the Kaliningrad province between Poland and Lithuania and has relocated tactical nuclear weapons to ally Belarus. “I must admit that when asked about it, I declared our readiness,” the Polish president said of talks with U.S. officials.

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Sham defence review shows Canada will never meet its commitments to NATO allies – by John Ibbitson (Globe and Mail – April 9, 2024)

The Liberal government’s defence policy update document, released Monday, confirms that Canada will remain NATO’s worst laggard, a national embarrassment.

The document, titled Our North, Strong and Free, calls for taking Canadian defence spending to 1.76 per cent of gross domestic product by 2029-30, well below the 2 per cent of GDP that all NATO countries, including Canada, have committed to. And that 1.76 figure is, to put it charitably, aspirational.

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Yellen warns China of ‘significant consequences’ if its companies support Russia’s war in Ukraine – by Henry Foy, Felicia Schwartz, Demetri Sevastopulo and Claire Jones (Financial Times – April 6, 2024)

US treasury secretary delivers message to vice minister He Lifeng during meetings in Guangzhou

The US has warned of “significant consequences” if Chinese companies provide support for Moscow’s war against Ukraine in one of the sharpest messages it has yet delivered to Beijing.

Following discussions in Guangzhou on Friday and Saturday, the US Treasury said: “Secretary Yellen emphasised that companies, including those in the PRC, must not provide material support for Russia’s war against Ukraine . . . and the significant consequences if they do so.”

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It’s Not Just Ukraine and Gaza: War Is on the Rise Everywhere – by Max Hastings (Bloomberg News – December 10, 2023)

An authoritative new study finds there are 183 regional and local conflicts underway in 2023, the highest number in three decades.

“It’ll all be over by Christmas” has become one of the most derided prophesies in history. It was made by wiseacres in London, Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg and elsewhere in Europe as the First World War exploded in August 1914. These misguided optimists founded their projection on recent experience: Europe had suffered no long, big conflicts since the fall of Napoleon a century earlier.

Yet as everybody knows today, far from being over before Santa Claus called, the terrible struggle that began with Austria’s invasion of Serbia lasted four years and killed around 20 million people before the 1918 armistice.

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Trudeau’s Liberals are full of promises on everything except Canada’s highest priority: defence – by John Ibbitson (Globe and Mail – April 4, 2024)

Esprit de Corps Canadian Military Magazine

The federal government has become strangely surreal. Each day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces new initiatives that are some combination of (a) unnecessary, (b) outside federal jurisdiction and (c) unlikely to be realized before the next federal election. Meanwhile, the government remains silent on the most pressing issue, and one for which it is 100 per cent responsible: shoring up Canada’s defences in a world growing more dangerous by the day.

Several recent announcements have been about housing. The Liberals are making large sums available to accelerate housing construction, provided provinces and municipalities meet federal requirements to loosen zoning restrictions, accelerate approvals and increase density.

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War a real threat and Europe not ready, warns Poland’s Tusk – by Paul Kirby (BBC News – March 2024)

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has delivered a blunt warning that Europe has entered a “pre-war era” and if Ukraine is defeated by Russia, nobody in Europe will be able to feel safe.

“I don’t want to scare anyone, but war is no longer a concept from the past,” he told European media. “It’s real and it started over two years ago.” His remarks came as a fresh barrage of Russian missiles targeted Ukraine. Russia has intensified its bombardment of Ukraine in recent weeks.

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Hitler’s Avatar – by Diane Francis (Sub-Stack – April 1, 2024)

The Czechs have never forgotten that allies handed over their Sudetenland Province to Hitler in 1938 after the German dictator promised it would be “the last territorial demand I have to make in Europe”. Months later, Nazis occupied their country and waged war in Europe and around the world for seven more years, killing tens of millions.

To many today, Ukraine is the next Sudetenland as it fends off another war criminal with imperial ambitions who promises he will stop once it is occupied. The synchronicity is obvious and is why one of the most hawkish and driven leaders in Europe is Czech President Petr Pavel, a retired general and former NATO advisor. He has been as outspoken and blunt about Putin’s ruthless intention to swallow Ukraine and Europe as was Winston Churchill in the 1930s.

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‘A 1939 moment’: Jim Sciutto on Russia, China and the threat of war – by David Smith (The Guardian – March 10, 2024)

At CNN in Washington, Jim Sciutto’s dimly lit office is both man cave and shrine to a foreign correspondent who has reported from more than 50 countries. A typewriter he bought on Portobello Road during a decade in London. Photos he took in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

A Vietnamese newspaper account of the time he rode over the South China Sea on a US spy plane. A corked bottle of water from his trip to the north pole in a US nuclear submarine. A fragment of the Black Hawk helicopter destroyed in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. “I’m not sure I should have that,” Sciutto confesses, “but I do.”

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As America falters, her foes are emboldened – by Derek H. Burney (National Post – March 26, 2024)

Profound consequences loom for the United States and the world

Some believe that today’s turbulent world is moving closer to conditions eerily like those of the late 1930s. Authoritarian states — Germany, Italy and Japan — had then seized the advantage over irresolute western democracies who had adopted appeasement in futile attempts to prevent war.

Today’s U.S. administration seems unable to muster support from a bitterly divided and increasingly dysfunctional Congress for military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Roosevelt had similar challenges from an isolationist-inclined Congress during his second term.

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How Silicon Valley learned to love America, drones and glory – by Nitasha Tiku and Elizabeth Dwoskin ( Post – March 2024)

Hundreds of bright young technologists have landed in California this weekend for a two-day hackathon — a quintessential start-up contest in which teams of coders race to build software. But rather than a posh, snack-laden San Francisco office, they’ll work in a cavernous 6,000 square-foot warehouse in El Segundo, a refinery town southwest of Los Angeles.

And instead of building mobile apps or AI chatbots, competitors will hack together surveillance tools, electronic warfare systems, or drone countermeasures for the front lines in Ukraine — battlefield technology driving a funding frenzy among tech investors.

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What the war in Ukraine means for Asia (The Economist – March 2024)

Peace in East Asia hangs to a worrying extent on the outcome of the conflict

When Russia invaded Ukraine it jolted the democracies of East Asia—Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, all allies of America. A trip to Japan suggests to Banyan that, as the conflict in Ukraine enters its third year, its implications for East Asian policymakers grow only starker.

In Europe the talk is of whether Ukraine can hold on despite dwindling American financial support and the spectre of a second Trump presidency. The consequences for peace in Asia would be devastating if Ukraine loses. A win for President Vladimir Putin might embolden China to reshape the regional order on its terms.

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Map reveals the US targets likely to be on Putin’s hit list in a nuclear war – by Steve Charnock ( – March 7, 2024)

Global nuclear tensions and the threat of World War Three seem to ratchet up by the day. While we’re yet to fully enter a cold war, the air is getting rather chilly. It may soon be time for the world to put its ‘big’ coat on.

For certain parts of the United States, however, it’s the other end of the thermometer that should concern them. Cold wars might be scary, but they’re a cool, blissful peace and a blessed relief to the much hotter alternative of a thermonuclear war.

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