The United States seized on an opportunity co-host with Canada a meeting of the United Nations Command Sending States plus the Republic of Korea and Japan after the last DPRK missile test. The stated purpose of the meeting for the US was to “discuss how the global community can counter North Korea’s threat to international peace.”
But there is no consensus between the co-hosts as to how this is to be achieved.
The US wants to Canada to host the “Tehran Conference (1943)” while Canada is trying for the “Paris Peace Conference (Versailles 1919)”, with the same predictable outcomes.
UN Command Sending States with ROK and Japan is a brilliant term of art that reminded all those who signed the Armistice Agreement with the Korean People’s Army and Chinese People’s Volunteers that they are all technically still at war and bound to uphold the Armistice agreement.
That is supposed to include Canada.
The 16 sending states that committed military forces that are legally bound to “their national commitment to the UNC in the defense of ROK should the armistice agreement fail” are: US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Greece, Colombia, Ethiopia, Turkey, Thailand and the Philippines.
Convening a meeting of “sending states” explicitly reminded all the participants that they were, and are, and remain belligerents as no peace treaty was ever concluded.
All of them (including Japan and ROK) have a military stake in the outcome and a treaty obligation to defend the Armistice.
Canada interpreted the mission quite differently from the US.
Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian foreign minister and her staff, did not know about or disregarded the angle of sending state’s legal obligations to uphold the Armistice and took the proposed meeting as a multilateral effort to bring “key players” together for a non-military solution.
Chrystia Freeland, discussed “in great detail” the proposed meeting with PRC’s foreign minister Wang Yi at the APEC meeting in Vietnam (Nov 6-11) and then went ahead to invited the PRC to the meeting in December.
This was almost certainly done without consulting with and obtaining the consent of the US or key allies like Japan.
It is hard to imagine how bringing PRC to this meeting can contribute to forming a consensus on under what circumstances will military options be the necessary.
Japan took exception to Canada’s stratagem.
No sooner had Canada issued an invitation to Japan in December, it was rejected by Foreign Minister Kono because “the pursuit of dialogue may take the emphasis away from pressure [on Pyongyang].”
Then in the classic Japanese diplomatic style, the timing of the meeting initially proposed by Canada in December was termed “inconvenient” as it conflicted with Minister Kono’s commitment in New York.
Finally, Japan objected to inviting all the “Sending States” and by insinuation PRC, because it is “out of step with Japan’s direction”.
For all practical purposes, Japan declined to participate in this Canadian led venture despite the risk of making the US uncomfortable and embarrassing Secretary Tillerson.
Canada basically sabotaged the meeting before it began by inviting PRC.
Just what did Canada do that so offended Japan and ensured the failure of this joint initiative with the US?
During the APEC/ASEAN meetings, Canada deliberately sabotaged the TPP11 free trade deal that was co-chaired by Australia and Japan.
Canadian Minister for International Trade François-Philippe Champagne deliberately mislead Japan and Australia that Canada agreed to sign TPP11, then issued a tweet stating otherwise at 9:30pm Danang Time the night before without immediately informing the co-chairs.
This resulted in an ambush where PM Abe was only told by PM Trudeau of his refusal to sign 20 minutes before the signing ceremony, ensuring the failure of the entire agreement.
Canada then followed the sabotage of TPP11 with an attempt to parlay an invitation to be an observer at the East Asia Forum into membership when Canada is viewed as “not adding substance to the Group”.
Left unspoken and unsaid is Canada have taken stances that turn a blind eye to the most pressing security interests in the region, namely, the PRC’s “sea grab” of the South China Sea as “territorial waters” in violation of UNCLOS, and similar moves in the East China Sea and dismissing the DPRK and PRC threat to North America and the liberal international order.
The sabotage (rather than graceful withdraw by Canada) of TPP11 and vociferous demands for Canada to join EAS and campaign to become a UNSC member under the Liberal regime makes sense if the intent of Canada is to align with the PRC and serve as their comprador on these forums.
Not surprisingly, right after these two events, Canada’s Liberal regime gleefully tried to get PRC to reward Canada for their efforts by formally starting negotiations for a Canada-PRC free trade deal which the liberals wanted to conclude in time for the 2019 Canadian Federal Election: Only to be disappointed because Canada failed to deliver Bombardier to PRC, and; will likely require a national security review of the PRC takeover of Aecon (Canada’s largest public A&E firm).
Furthermore, the Liberals was unable to guarantee existing NAFTA access for PRC enterprises via Canada despite the best efforts of Canadian officials to sabotage the NAFTA renegotiations to protect the status quo by default.
Canadian politicians and officials had no illusions as to how beneficial negotiating a free trade deal with PRC can be when the Australian Trade Minister and PRC-Australia FTA negotiator Andrew Robb got a A$880,000/year “confidential” contract with a CCP aligned Chinese firm for doing very little after concluding the deal and resigning from Parliament.
Such rewards are just not available from the US for Canadian officials re-negotiating NAFTA or from parties to TPP11.
Canada’s Liberals have expressed no concern or intention to review and strengthen national security, investment, and transparency laws to limit foreign influence and CCP subversion as Australia and other allies are presently doing.
Let us now turn to Canada’s stance on North Korea and consider this as a key part of the formula being generated by the current Canadian government.
Canada’s top defense official Chief of the General Staff General Jonathan Vance publically stated on December 1 that “I would say it’s [North Korea nuclear ballistic missiles] an emerging threat. It’s not yet developed to be an extant threat, a proven threat.”
He did not believe North Korea has demonstrated that capability and “It’s [the threat] theoretical at this juncture”.
Vance specifically and categorically rejected the idea that Canada should discuss with the US joining the American Ballistic Missile Defense system.
Likewise, the idea that Canada might be asked to contribute forces for a war on the Korean peninsula that require specific preparations now was summarily dismissed even as other close allies began mobilizing and making those preparations.
This is in line with Canada’s official position is that North Korea do not pose a credible existential threat to North America in terms of capabilities.
What about North Korea’s intent?
Global Affairs Canada have alleged that “There has been no direct threat to Canada” and “Pyongyang does not consider Canada as an enemy, but rather as a friendly and peaceful country”. Global Affairs official Mark Gwozdecky believe, “We must convince Pyongyang that it can achieve its goals through peaceful diplomatic means.”
And that DPRK’s only concern is with regime survival.
To sum up: Canada, categorically, do not see a threat from North Korea either in terms of their nuclear ballistic missiles capabilities, or hostile intentions toward Canada.
Nor do Canada see treaty obligations (UN, UNC, NATO, etc.) that will almost certainly drag Canada into any conflict on the Korean peninsula as binding on Canada.
Contrast this with the US Government consensus on the threat from North Korea: “North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons has aggressive and offensive objectives. Pyongyang, they believe, will use its nuclear weapons to push U.S. forces out of South Korea and then force reunification of the Korean Peninsula on its terms.”
Canada’s official position on DPRK is similar to the PRC’s stance that seeks dialog.
All that remain is for Canada to openly advocate “freeze for freeze” together with PRC and Russia and talk the other participants into accepting it.
With this perception, is it a surprise that Canada took the initiative with Secretary Tillerson to mean that a military solution is off the table and only diplomatic means are viable when Canada’s top defense and security officials have a clear consensus that they do not see a threat (capability and intent) from DPRK toward Canada in the near term?
Indeed, some in Canada have advocated for Canada to be neutral in the conflict (disregarding treaty obligations), or in some cases, to seek protection from the PRC.
Moreover, PM Trudeau specifically suggested using Cuba as a channel to DPRK just because they have diplomatic relations with North Korea. (Singapore has diplomatic relations with DPRK.) Apparently ignorant of, or dismissing the risk of Cuba might leverage that into acquiring nuclear weapons from North Korea like what happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis before Justin Trudeau was conceived.
What about Canada as the champion of “rules based international order”?
Based on recent behavior, Canada do not appear to regard the legally binding obligations to defend the Armistice to be legally binding, nor do Canada see a binding treaty obligation under NATO Article 5 to defend allies like the USA if attacked, or NATO Article 3 obligations to provide for an adequate self-defense capability that include both mutual defense and mutual offense in general, and defense against DPRK ballistic missiles in particular.
Canadians have a belief that the US will come to Canada’s defense and take such American protection as an entitlement even as Canada is acting in violation of NATO Article 3 and 5 treaty obligations, and routinely sabotaging allied initiatives like the UNC conference often with PRC the prime beneficiary.
David Pugliese, a well-known Canadian defense correspondent and contributor to Defense News explicitly asked, “whether it is worth having an ally that has an official policy to sit back and let a catastrophic attack proceed on its neighbour and one of its closest partners even though it believes it has the means and technology to stop it.”
And called for Canada to find a new ally. PRC, perhaps?
Secretary Tillerson will have the nearly impossible task of fundamentally changing core Canadian beliefs and hallucinations on a brief visit: including rectifying Canadian dismissal of the near term nuclear ballistic missile threat from DPRK to Canada; the medium term threat from PRC that if not checked soon will irrevocably alter the liberal international order. Critically, the problem of subversion of Canada’s political, government, academic and economic elites by CCP United Front organizations that have so far, been largely ignored by the Canadian Federal, Provincial and local governments.
If he can accomplish that on a brief visit, it be a miracle.
If not, perhaps it is time for a policy review.
Editor’s Note: To gain a sense of the significant gap between Canada and many allies, please compare the current Canadian government’s position to that of Australia.