National Security Case for Border Adjustment Taxes

Free riding on defense by NATO and other allies is not the Trump Administration’s biggest problem.

The largest exploiter of the US and allies are not only not paying anything at all toward the common defense, but, like the Beijing PRC or North Korean regime, are actively undermining and destroying the international system while taking full advantage of it.

During the cold war, diametrically opposite visions of political and economic order created two poles with very little trade or interaction between them beside military and political rivalry. Today, that dimension is replaced with a rivalry closer to geopolitical competition prior to WWI except trade is front and center of every relationship.

Today’s relationship with PRC is very similar to Germany before WWI.  

Recall that pre War Germany had the second largest merchant marine fleet after England, colonies around the world, Germans were the largest ethnic minority in the US and many other countries, and Germans dominated many fields like chemicals and heavy industry and was one of the largest trading nations in the world.

World War I resulted in not only the loss of colonies, the ending of trade, but also the seizure of most German owned assets abroad.

Post cold-war, even sanctioned regimes like Russia, North Korea and formerly Iran are partially (never completely) barred from the international trading system.

The PRC is at once the largest trading partner of the US, and at the same time, making full use of the wealth generated from trade, technologies, knowhow, and access to the US led global system to forward their cause.

Minimal sanctions (e.g. ban on arms sales dating from Tiananmen) on the People’s Republic of China do not begin to do justice to the large scale damage and disruption caused by the Beijing regime — or even cause anything but a minor blip in the massive benefits PRC derive from trade.

Meanwhile, PRC is actively undermining the international system with their “sea grab” and expansive claims from “unequal treaties”; and particularly, actively creating expensive to counter security problems like military aid (including transfers of WMDs) and assistance to North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, etc. that is creating existential threats to US and allies and costing substantial resources to counter.

The Beijing regime, in particular, is the largest beneficiary of North Korea’s rapidly advancement in nuclear and missile capabilities — giving Beijing exceptional leverage to demand substantial concessions from the US and allies in other policy areas like trade to pretend to “solve” a problem Beijing created.

Presently, policy instrument “sticks” like sanctions, either narrowly targeted at particular individuals, firms, or broadly targeted at regimes e.g. by barring them from the world financial system, are too blunt an instrument and have little or no positive impact on Bejing’s behavior.

Sanctions either do not offer enough (or too much) of a disincentive.

To regimes like North Korea, used to hardships, the inducements of sanctions is nowhere near enough.   Likewise, it did not substantially change the behavior of Cuba’s regime, and (e.g. arms sanctions) had the perverse impact of facilitating the PRC regime developing their own indigenous capabilities that is rapidly catching up with the best western technologies.

Border adjustment taxes, however, offer the chance for a much more finely calibrated instrument that can be more closely tailored to the problem at hand.

Moreover, if properly administered it can be rapidly changed as circumstances dictate.

It may, in fact, be just the tool that US policy makers have been looking for to solve a wide range of issues ranging from predatory and unfair trade practices of the PRC to the regime’s willful support of North Korea’s WMD programs.

The PRC and “Free Trade:” Playing the Game Their Own Way

Historically going back to the origins of agriculture, a recognized authority to protect economic activity have been an indispensable part and parcel with the rise of civilization.  Economic activity from hunter gatherers onwards all have to have security, stability, predictability, and certainty.

Thus, trade beyond a minimum level have always been between “friends”, or at least, primarily between those who are not active enemies.

When the world economy transitioned from mercantilism to capitalism in the late 19th early 20th Century, empires sought to provide preferential treatments to their “own” through mechanisms like “imperial preferences”.

The notion that “free trade” is good came about during the Great Depression when protectionism ultimately deepened economic woes, which may or may not be responsible for WWII.

Post War economic institutions like the European Economic Community have been crafted to undermine autarky: economic independence or self-sufficiency with the express aim to prevent war.  The argument is that interdependent countries cannot go to war against each other.

Trade was thought of as a pacification tool. It was the express aspiration of the Europeanists to see economic integration “bleed” into political integration and in the process, banish the evil of European wars forever.

Likewise, the GATT, predecessor to the World Trade Organization, was conceived of as an institution not just to capture the benefits from trade predicted by liberal economic theory, but implicitly, to dampen conflict and support a broader group of like minded nations beyond allies.

At first, it was the US that supported European and Japanese recovery and reconstruction with aid and trade – defined as preferential access to the US market. As Europe and Japan recovered, and East Asian wars ended, economies that are US allies like Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, etc. jumped on the bandwagon and became very successful.   There are exceptions, like the Philippines and Indonesia that had the opportunity but failed to make much of it.

The peak of this policy was the opening to China by President Nixon that initially, did little, but by the 1990s after the exhaustion of the first round of Deng reforms, ignited economic growth first along the southern Chinese coast, then throughout China that created the China we know today.

Along the way, the People’s Republic of China, a communist regime that is officially dedicated to the destruction of capitalism and western powers, was admitted to the World Trade Organization in 2001 after negotiations that began in 1986 under GATT after the initial gambit that “they never left” failed.

There were many considerations for this glaring exception to admit a major communist regime.

Leaving out a major economy and trading power (assuming no trade embargo by the west) would undermine the world trading system.

It would also prevent Taiwan (another major trading power) from being admitted.

Thus, geopolitical considerations were pushed aside and for the first time in the modern history of “free trade” institutions, an exception was made to allow the PRC – a sworn enemy with an incompatible non-market economy – to accede to a club for rules based market economies.

The belief by liberal internationalist is that trade will eventually undermine Beijing’s communism, and increased prosperity and openness to the world will ultimately lead to political reforms and ultimately, democracy and a stable team player with substantial stakes in the international system.

Certainly part of this can be seen to be true, but there are more than one pathway that the PRC can follow. One of whom is to have the PRC substantially remain enemies of the west, and yet taking full advantage of the openness.   The PRC is in effect, undertaking Lenin who reputedly said: “Capitalist will sell you the rope you hang them with”.

The critical issue facing the international community is that the PRC is at once, the world’s largest trading economy, and at the same time, actively undermining the Western dominated institutions for international security, stability and peace necessary for commerce.

It can no longer be taken for granted that the PRC is “becoming more like us” or “on the path to economic or political reform.”

The PRC is actively reshaping international norms and institutions, not just as a major player and benign (non military) partner asserting their interests with the aim to support and sustain international order, but as a heavily armed peer competitor that have geopolitical goals no different from Germany, France, Russia, Britain, Japan, and the US in the 19th Century to upend international order and replace it.

What is more, the Beijing regime is at once, throwing their weight around and at the same time, powerless to control their powerful local governments and military theater commands who, with or without Beijing, are pursuing policies or acquiescing to behavior that are destabilizing the entire international system in a range of issue areas from arms trade, predatory trading practices, intellectual property piracy, to narcotics trafficking.

To name a few, PRC’s longstanding relationship with Pakistan and North Korea that transformed them into nuclear armed powers with a dangerous “hair trigger” arsenal.  Pakistan, in turn, became one of the world’s most vigorous proliferators of nuclear weapons knowhow until the Khan network was shutdown.

Similarly, the “sea grab” of South China Sea and the massive military buildup is undermining the freedom of navigation in one of the most intensely travelled trade routes of the world.

The Beijing regime of China, pay next to nothing toward maintenance of the international order. That may have been acceptable when the PRC was deep in poverty and emerging from Mao’s disaster.

But today, the PRC boast the first or second largest economy in the world and still contribute virtually nothing beyond a very modest UN assessments and recently, peace keeping missions abroad.

Had the PRC made progress toward becoming a team player in the international system and receive appropriate and due recognition for their interest based on their present economic, military and political standing, that is one thing.

But the PRC’s leverage is increasingly being used to for undermining the international system such as propping up and sustaining North Korea, proliferation of weapons technologies to Iran, Pakistan, etc. that are deeply destabilizing to the US and allies.

As of 2017, the Beijing regime is sparking a massive round of rearmament and causing major new military expenditures by the US and allies to counter the threats created by Beijing and their allies. The last time this happened was with the Soviets under the cold war when a major bloc actively undermined the international system.

Treating the PRC regime with “most favored nation” status and privileges from a multilateral trading regime that is structured to deal with trade between friendly governments make no sense when what is emerging is cold war era competition between Beijing and the US.



What if NATO and other US Allies Fail to Deliver?

Secretary Mattis delivered an impassioned plea for increased defense spending by NATO allies at the Brussels summit.

“If your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense,” Mattis made clear.

NATO, including the US, cut defense spending from 2010 onwards in the aftermath of the Great recession. As recently as 2009, America spent 5.3% GDP on defense, and NATO Europe spent 1.7%.  As of 2015, US expenditures fell to 3.6% GDP, while NATO Europe averages 1.43%.   Critically, in 2015, large, major, healthy economies like Germany (1.2%) and Canada (1%) are spending well below their capacity.   How will allies respond to the end of year (2017) deadline set by the Trump Administration?

Exhortations by the Trump Administration to increase spending have fallen on deaf ears.   Chancellor Merkel will only raise spending gradually to 2% GDP by 2024.   Jean-Claude Junker advocated resisting American demands on the grounds that development and humanitarian aid is also spending for “security”.

Canada’s Trudeau regime is leading the pack with fictitious and fraudulent accounting and hallucinations of Canada doing “heavy lifting” in NATO.   Defense Minister Sajjan’s Enron grade accounting moved defense spending up to 1.3 – 1.5% GDP – well short of the 2% NATO standard even before deductions for wasteful spending like Canada’s infamous CAD $4,800 a copy Bolt Action Canadian Ranger Rifles – Comparable weapons available at retailers like Cabelas for about CAD$300.

Europe, likewise, waste an estimated €20.6 billion annually that result in “a cost of more than half of that of the US, Europeans obtain only a tenth of the [military] capacity.”

Staggering wastage like this was acceptable in peacetime, but not when Canada and EU are unwilling to raise defense budgets while facing real, serious existential security threats like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Since no NATO countries had any difficulty financing abrupt rises in social spending on things like refugee programs (e.g. Germany spent .35% GDP in 2016 according to IMF), during the past few years, or running deficits, it is hard to believe that fiscally sound NATO allies like Canada are unable to raise defense spending by year end if their regime wanted to.

The Trump Administration’s demands for increased expenditures will more likely than not, result in recalcitrant allies engaging in a round of whining and creative accounting for the May NATO Summit.  

Any improvement in burden sharing will have to be sharply discounted even if the 2% goal is reached.   Though there are a few symbolic moves.  Realistically, the 2% target must be accompanied with major reforms to ensure the efficacy of spending as well as increased spending — neither is likely forthcoming anytime soon in any serious way from NATO allies.

Spending is no longer an effective and useful gauge of capabilities for gauging a NATO member’s treaty obligations under Article 3 “by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid… maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.”

For example, NATO in Europe, at present, consist of mostly light formations that have been conclusively demonstrated to be unsuitable against Russian New Generation Warfare used in the Crimea and Ukraine.   Except for Norway and a few other NATO members, there is no serious move to urgently field counters by key players like Germany beyond symbolic deployments to show “resolve”.

Canada, historically the biggest whiner of NATO, is presently going through the motions of “major procurement” for fighters and surface combatants that do not meet the self-evident requirement for Ballistic Missile Defense against North Korean threats. That, plus the failure to join the Missile Defense Program or aid allies with not so much as a protest against North Korea’s latest missile test, disqualify Canada under NATO Treaty Article 3 for aid under Article 5.  None of these facts matter to the Trudeau regime, who insisted they are doing more than enough for their allies. With Canadians, there is not even a consensus about existential threats to Canada or allies.

The question is, what levers and inducements do the Trump Administration have to enforce the demand for fairer burden sharing among allies?  

There is the blunt instrument of withdrawing support, reducing commitments to allies like NATO but not much else. After all, these are sovereign states and there is no mechanism for enforcing commitments in the NATO treaty except for chiding them for failing to meet Article 3 obligations — which up until now, is ambiguous.

As it stands, details of commitments to allies by the US are shrouded in secrecy.   Treaties like NATO and other bilateral pacts like US-Japan, Taiwan Relations Act, NORAD, are worded in the most general terms.

Thus, NATO Article 5 calls for “armed attack against one or more … shall be considered an attack against them all” triggering “such action as [individual NATO ally] deems necessary”.

The lesson from World War I is that detailed agreements that publically committed nations to go to war can result in seemingly minor events cascading into war.  Treaty obligations trigger war plans that once set in motion, was difficult to unwind.

Thus, the US have a longstanding policy of keeping details of commitments known to very few and secret.

The specifics and details of security guarantees given by the US are only known to a handful of allied senior officials in each country. Thus, such details can be amended and alter or changed as needed.   Whether the threat or actual implementation of such action to water down commitments, which by its nature must remain secret, will be enough to change the behavior of politicians like the Trudeau or Merkel regime is an open question.

Regimes like those of Merkel and Trudeau are committed to their course of undermining the Trump Administration’s demands for better burden sharing.

And why not?

Delay, ignore, whine worked against GW Bush and Obama Administrations.

Why shouldn’t it work again?

Just wait Trump out – he be gone at most in 7 years.

Liberal Internationalists will be back in charge in Washington.

Under the existing US system, the worse that can happen is that Trump water down security guarantees, withdraw troops and pre-positioned equipment, close bases, cut joint training and exercise, and other symbolic moves, the most dramatic being withdraw from NATO under Article 13.

But at the end of the day, if there is a real threat to Europe, the US will be compelled to intervene anyways.

If the US did withdraw from NATO, it is not obvious that Europe will break out in war, or the enfeebled Russia will have designs on Europe in the near future.

Though it is very obvious that terrorism and Russia will remain as issues.

What can the Trump Administration do about fair weather allies?

There is a way ahead if the Administration makes this a serious priority rather than simply a campaign tweet or bumper sticker.


Will Canada Help Deter North Korea?

Canada’s Liberal regime see no need to defend against DPRK nuclear ballistic missile threats that can strike Canadian cities like Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, or Toronto causing millions of Canadian casualties by 2020.

A nuclear attack on Canadian cities will impair the Trudeau regime’s quest to support and create opportunities for the middle class and Canada’s ability to offer asylum to refugees, not to mention create non tariff barriers to free trade with the United States.

North Korea was not mentioned or regarded as relevant in the Trudeau regime’s strident defense of Canada’s pitiful spending on defense in Berlin.

Canadian defense spending is lower than the level that embarrassed German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The refusal to admit to the North Korean threat included failure to join the US, South Korea, and Japan in a joint statement (Feb. 16) condemning DPRK’s missile test and violations of UN resolutions.

Exclusion from the joint statement against DPRK while the Trudeau regime campaign for election to a seat on the UN Security Council is rather puzzling unless Canada is seeking a US veto along with nays from every US ally.

But it might help secure the DPRK and PRC votes for Prime Minister Trudeau.

Global Affairs Canada’s spokesperson Jocelyn Sweet belatedly issued a statement late on Feb. 17 demanding: “North Korea to cease these destabilizing and provocative actions and verifiably abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs”.

These overt acts ipso facto suggest Canada is at best, indifferent and nearly sitting idly by in the face of DPRK threats to annihilate Canadians.

Contrary to the Trudeau regime’s allegations about Canada’s “strong” commitment to NATO, Canada is in violation of self-defense obligations under Article 3 of the NATO treaty and thus, disqualify Canada from assistance under Article 5.

Likewise, Canada is disqualified from receiving aid from US allies like Japan and South Korea by failure to minimally contribute to their collective security with a joint statement.

Canada cannot expect any aid and assistance from US and allies like South Korea and Japan in shooting down ballistic missiles aimed at Canada without being a full, credible partner for their defense.

Access to sensor data, targeting information from sensors deployed by allies in Northeast Asia, let alone their willingness to use scarce interceptors, is conditional on Canada reciprocating in supporting allies defense and having the expeditionary force capability on hand when called upon to defend allies in Northeast Asia.

Suppose the Trudeau regime took the threat from North Korea seriously and decided to participate in a credible defense against DPRK?

To start, Canada will have to be a full member of the Missile Defense program like Japan or Israel.  That will require participation in the sensor network, interceptors, R&D and also being ready and able to join and play a major role in an expedition to the Korean peninsula.

An agenda that easily cost tens of billions USD annually starting 2017.

Given the short timeframe, there is no time for traditional / conventional procurement. The fastest way Canada can field a missile defense is to request from the US transfer of at least 2, preferably 3 existing Arliegh Burke Destroyers that can be upgraded for missile defense and anti-submarine patrols and delivered by 2018.

That, together with possibly some Aegis Ashore batteries, selective deployment of Patriots, would greatly enhance the likelihood of Canadians deterring, and failing that, surviving a nuclear attack by North Korea by 2020.

Acquisition of a substantial expeditionary air strike capability on short notice will be difficult.  That may be done by acquiring used aircraft potentially from allies like F-16s from Norway, F/A-18s from Finland, Australia or US surplus inventory.

Beyond immediately upgrading the existing CF-18 fleet, there is little available that can be delivered by early 2019 even if the order was placed today.

Increased demand anticipated for F-35s will mean little spare capacity and a long wait unless allies like Japan or UK ramped up production.  Not being able to field F-35s will effectively exclude Canada from the opening of any air campaign when stealth and network warfare capabilities are critical, and also from using F-35s as part of missile defense of CONUS.

The Trudeau regime needs to act now and do whatever it takes to defend Canada.

The 2017 Federal Budget is expected to be unveiled shortly for Canada. The budget will not have what is required to finance a major increase in defense expenditures required just to deal with the DPRK nuclear missile threat – let alone NATO or other commitments. Doing so will likely require tens of billions in 2017, and much more annually going forward.

Thus, the budget will likely be obsolete on presentation if Canada intend to put forward a credible plan for the May NATO Summit.

When will the Trudeau regime reveal to Canadians that a Goods and Services (GST/HST) tax increase of 5 to 8 cents (10-13% total) with half of the increase for defense, can be expected in their near future?



Can Allies Deter North Korea by 2020? Updating OPLAN 5015

OPLAN 5015 was intended to deal with a very limited nuclear & ballistic missile threat. It is now obsolete and urgently need updating by the Trump Administration.

At the current rate, within a few years, it will no longer be an asymmetric war by a conventionally well armed South against North Korea armed with a sizable nuclear arsenal.   The world balance of power will tilt greatly in favor of DPRK after 2020.

There is still time to prevent this.

A credible conventional deterrence against North Korea assume that the PRC and Russia can be compelled to sit out any conflict on the Korean peninsula.

This is not far fetched as Russia is severely strained and with the right inducements, have much to lose and nothing to gain from intervention.

The PRC, on the other hand, will require substantial disincentives up to and including risking nuclear attack to sit idly by.

An arrangement for the neutralization of the Korean peninsula post bellum on the cold war Austrian model is not an unreasonable solution that can be acceptable to Japan, Korea, Russia and the US. Alternatively, the PRC will be compelled to have the Republic of Korea (ROK) allied with the US emerge victorious on their border potentially as a nuclear armed state along with Japan.

The US and allies must make clear to Russia and the PRC that (e.g.) if the DPRK attempted to fire a missile whose trajectory is aimed at CONUS or allies, that will be crossing the red line without confirmation that it is a nuclear tipped missile.

The Beijing regime, and particularly the Northern and Central theater commands must understand what the US and allies regard as neutrality, and breaches including cyber and electronic warfare will have consequences.

Particularly, offering safe haven to Kim Jong Un and his minions on PRC soil in bunkers will make it installations in PRC a legitimate military target.

In the interim period before the US and allies are ready, enablers of the North Korean ballistic missile program, whether it is Chinese, Iranian, Pakistani, or otherwise must be compelled to halt or risk becoming belligerents.  Rather than rely on nearly useless tools like diplomacy or sanctions, the US and allies will have to put on the table credible threats of counter-proliferation of both conventional and nuclear weapons against each and every enabler of North Korea.

Once these diplomatic solutions are imposed, it paves the way for executing a conventional military option led by the US and allies to permanently eliminate the DPRK threat.

The plan will have two components: defensive moves aimed at preventing a successful North Korean attack on South Korean, Japanese, Canadian, Australian, etc. allies primarily through a ballistic missile defense system.

The offensive option will require, initially, a campaign to eliminate ready stockpiles of nuclear weapons, launchers, warheads, and facilities, etc. in a lighting campaign, and elimination of North Korean threats against Seoul and South Korea, followed by occupation and unification of Korea.

The urgency of this plan cannot be understated.

North Korean progress on ballistic missiles is progressing at a pace that will overwhelm any conceivable / affordable missile defense presently deployed by about 2025 or sooner.

Missile defense is costly, fraught with uncertainty and risks, with unfavorable math for the defender.   While progress is being made on options to sharply lower ballistic missile intercept costs, they are nowhere ready even if the Trump Administration made it a top priority.

A purely defensive missile defense strategy is out of the question without a plan to eliminate the launchers.

In order to achieve this rapid buildup of conventional military capabilities before DPRK becomes too strong and risky to dislodge, a conventional arms buildup need to start now and be ready by 2020.

Dithering and whining allies petulantly inching up defense budgets or defrauding their peers with Enron style defense accounting is not what a defense buildup to credibly take on DPRK is about.   Imagine the consequences if Germany or Canada that now spend 1% GDP restricted defense spending in 1937 to an aspirational goal of 2% GDP in a decade or longer.   This is about doing what it takes to win.

Meanwhile, allies like Canada at present is fielding no credible defense against the North Korean threat in violation of NATO treaty obligations.  Occasional diplomatic protests and campaigning for a seat on the UN Security Council do not stop the arrival of a nuclear warhead delivered by ICBM.  After Secretary Mattis’s ultimatum, intransient allies like Canada is likely to be targeted for US sanctions after the NATO summit in May.

But suppose US allies stepped up to their treaty obligations?

South Korea is the most critical piece of any conventional military option.   South Korea, rather than the impoverished nation it was in 1950, is now a modern industrial economy with well trained, equipped, and led troops maintained at a high level of readiness.

South Koreans have to understand that a DPRK attempt (whether successful or not) to deliver a nuclear warhead on CONUS will do what Pearl Harbor did to US resolve.

Nothing is off the table.

Koreans stand to lose the most and cannot sit out the conflict. Having the ROK lead the ground war is essential for many reasons.  It avoids the problem of deploying ground troops from Japan and limit the need for casualty adverse US and allied troops.

But, presently, South Korea is not equipped, trained or postured to deal with invasion and occupation of a nuclear armed DPRK.

South Korea and the US will need to expand their insertion force capacity to seize, occupy or destroy usable nuclear devices, missiles and facilities at the outset of a conflict.   The large number of DPRK nuclear sites, breadth and depth of defense and dispersal, calls for a five to ten-fold expansion of South Korean special forces capability.  Their regular forces must be expanded and augmented with reserves modelled on nations like Israel, Norway, or Switzerland.

Transfers of long lead time items like heavy armor, vertical and sea lift capabilities to South Korea can rapidly bulk up their capability and transform South Korean forces from primarily being defensive in posture to an offensive ground maneuver force well equipped to invade, secure and occupy DPRK.

Likewise, existing and planned South Korean Aegis destroyers can be upgraded and armed for BMD and perhaps augmented by Aegis Ashore systems at the most vulnerable points.

During the 2003 Iraq War, the US made the mistake of underestimating the number of troops required to maintain order after the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — which only require a modest force.   South Korea must accept the cost of doing whatever it takes for a successful invasion and occupation of DPRK even if it means having the ROK economy ground to a halt for a period of time.   Allies must be prepared to support ROK.

The US, Japan, and allies like Australia, Canada, and Europeans will have to shoulder the burden of an intense air campaign as well as missile defense.  Japan can substantially increase their BMD capability by acquisition of more interceptors, accelerating the deployment of Aegis destroyers and more tightly integrating THAAD, Patriots, and Aegis systems — particularly with South Korea.   Japanese industry must be prepared and willing to support South Korea rivals should industrial production be disrupted by a war.

At present, Japan ASDF, like South Korea, have little ground attack capability and no capability for delivery of bunker busters like GBU-57(A/B) MOP. Though Hard and Deeply Buried Target Defeat System (HDBTDS) can be adapted for the existing Japanese fleet with time and money since JASF are primarily tasked for air defense.

Transfer of much of the existing B-52 fleet to Japan and South Korea will enable them to utilize both MOPs and HDBTDS weapons in a non-threatening posture to the PRC and Russia. Since both nations are more than capable of shooting down B-52s, they pose little threat unless the air defense system is destroyed.     Providing that PRC and Russia remain neutral, B-52s can operate effectively over North Korea once Air dominance is achieved.

A key issue is what to do about fair weather allies like Canada and Germany. While Germany can plausibly be “let off” with substantial financial and in kind contributions to allies, Canadians are directly threatened with nuclear missile attacks cannot if the Trudeau regime do not field an adequate defense. This issue will be addressed separately.

What about the US?

Nearly two decades of war against insurgencies rather than peer competitors have weakened the US.   Sequestration wrecked havoc on readiness that cannot be solved without sizable infusions of cash and manpower for maintenance and repair.

While the issue or readiness differs case by case, is it not a better idea to think hard about wholesale transfer of large quantities of old equipment to allies so as to free up resources, particularly manpower and maintenance expenses, to buy new equipment?

This applies to aircraft, ships, and combat vehicles that allies who are increasing their defense budgets can use now to plug gaps before new equipment can be delivered.

The B-52 is an excellent example of a platform that while still good, is well past its “best before” date.   Compared to the projected maintenance requirements of a modern aircraft like the B-21 Raider or the F-35 Lighting II, the B-52 is extremely labor and maintenance intensive by any commonly used metric.   Lack of concern for availability and the use of military personnel tends to obscure the high cost of maintenance and repair labor, which if billed at commercial equivalent rates, would skew the calculus further in favor of new equipment.   That is before consideration of the order of magnitude improvements in cost per desired effect with new platforms like the B-21.

Similarly, advances in stealth technology have greatly improved the maintenance requirements of the F-35 vs. legacy stealth platforms like the F-22 and B-2 bomber.   Measured by cost per desired effect rather than cost per flight hour, the improvements are dramatic. The F-35 recently demonstrated a 15:1 kill ratio, far outstripping the performance of legacy fighters.

With declining costs that place F-35s at roughly the same range as, e.g., F/A-18 Super Hornets, it is by far the least cost option per desired effect.  This argues for accelerated introduction of new F-35s into the USAF and retirement of legacy platforms.  That is particularly an attractive option to free up equipment for allies that need to inexpensively and rapidly rebuild their capabilities.

Arleigh Burke destroyers is another platform in which acceleration of the present construction program for Flight III vessels will free up the older ones to be refurbished, updated, and sold to allies like Canada that need to field a missile defense stat.  These moves, and others, are doable to substantially broaden allied capabilities within 2 to 3 years — rather than decade long procurement cycles.

The Trump Administration is confronting a situation similar to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937.   War is on the horizon and recognized to be only a matter of time before it breaks out. War weary allies are rearming as fast as they are able to financially.

The US, just emerging from the Great Depression, is in no mood to spend money or become entangled in European wars. FDR did what he could to aid allies limited by the Neutrality Acts. His impassionate appeal for rearmament in May, 1940 and subsequent events culminated in the United States entry into World War II — with Pearl Harbor erasing any doubt of the right thing to do.

Waiting for a nuclear attack from DPRK to respond is not an option when we have the opportunity and means to prevent it.

But to do so, we need to act now.

End the Kowtow to Beijing and the North Korean Nuclear Threat

North Korea’s rapid progress in fielding a credible land and undersea nuclear arsenal capable of reaching CONUS calls for a prompt, clear and unambiguous response.

Multilateral diplomacy and sanctions to date have not slowed or hindered the progress of under a youthful Kim Jong Un looking to make his mark and secure his claim to the Kim dynasty.

Likewise, existing and planned upgrades of defenses fielded by South Korean and Japanese allies have failed to deter aggressive moves toward a capability to threaten the US and allies like, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Time is of the essence for urgent defense upgrades with the goal of deterring DPRK and defending against potential nuclear attacks. Procurement cycles and logistical issues like training and deployment for new weapons systems (absent imminent or actual war) are too slow to match the pace at which DPRK is advancing and becoming existential threats.

Under Kim Jong Un, the pace of progress accelerated. The third nuclear test in 2013 moved in parallel with the moves to fielding a credible nuclear arsenal.  Crude liquid fueled ICBMs have been supplanted by solid fueled, cold launch ballistic missiles tested in February 2017 ideal for a nuclear first strike.

Such rapid technical progress since 2013 suggest deployment of considerable resources from a supposedly impoverished regime.

Iran, Pakistan, China (whether official or not) and others are known to have aided the DPRK nuclear and missile program.   Resources, be it financing, access to critical materials, basic technology, skills, etc. are not a major problem for the DPRK nuclear program.

It is a matter of time before they succeed.

Sanctions have not only not hindered the DPRK regime, but reports from visitors to DPRK show they have not hindered recent improvement in North Korean living standards.  As recently as 2011, Pyonyang roads are notable for their silence and the lack of vehicular traffic. Satellite images show a “blacked out” state too poverty stricken to afford street lights.

Fast forward to 2016, and credible observers report “there is a lot of traffic—a lot of cars, a lot of trucks, and a lot of taxis”. Unless all of this is a Potemkin village, one must surmise that sanctions, especially since 2013, have failed.

This is not a regime that is being harmed by existing sanctions. If anything, the evidence indicate that the regime is rapidly raising the living standard of their people, providing North Koreans (at least in Pyonyang) with luxury goods that could not be imagined a few years ago.

All of this is happening despite Beijing’s grudging “co-operation” in “tightening” sanctions.

Incredulously, the Beijing regime proudly noted after the last round that sanctions are not meant to harm “normal” trade or affect civilians.  As if it is possible to clearly delineate civilian from military in DPRK or to prevent diversions even if the sanctions are actually implemented.

The US and allies have virtually expended all their diplomatic capital with Beijing over the past decade dealing with the North Korean issue.

Other issues, like Beijing’s massive arms buildup and armed forces transition to an offensive posture, tantalizing hints of PRC plans for launching a surprise nuclear first strike on Japan, repeated threats to US and allies of nuclear war, invasion and occupation of the South China Sea and other moves in the military sphere have met with little US response.

Nor is there any call for the PRC to join existing US-Russia arms control regimes if they want their security concerns like the opposition to South Korean THAAD to be taken seriously.

Recently, PLAN openly engaged in piracy, announced their intention to ban and/or regulate foreign submersibles and military vessels from “Chinese waters” by 2020 which presumably include areas claimed by the PRC as “sovereign territory” to solidify their sea grab.

Likewise, non military issues like the PRC’s beggar thy neighbor currency devaluation, mercantilism, hostile campaigns against foreign firms, widespread theft and pillage of technology, cyber warfare, or even mundane issues like PRC becoming the center for synthetic narcotics manufacture and distribution around the world, etc. have largely fallen by the wayside because of DPRK.

The Beijing regime is the greatest beneficiary from the fear created by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. By going through the motions of “co-operation” with the US and allies to “restrain” DPRK, the regime have essentially forced the US and allies to take almost all other issues off the table.

Had the PRC regime delivered results with DPRK similar to the denuclearization of South Africa or the dismantlement of Libya’s program, this might have been arguably a worthwhile sacrifice.

But the fact is not only did Beijing not deliver, but DPRK have become a larger, not smaller, threat with Beijing’s helpful “cooperation”.

The PRC regime cannot be counted on to cooperate on more sanctions, and even if they did, sanctions are unlikely to work.

Yet, “China experts” continue to extoll the benefits of concessions to Beijing.

The US and allies have to come to terms with the PRC that will not take action that will reliably and credibly roll back the DPRK nuclear and ballistic missile threat.

In other words, multilateral diplomacy have failed.   Beijing, happen to prefer the status quo and DPRK’s growing capabilities as the tip of Beijing’s spear.

If the Beijing regime cannot be relied on to do whatever it takes to proactively remove the DPRK threat, perhaps it is time to compel the PRC and Russia to sit out a conventional war to avoid an all out war with the US and allies.

At present, there is not a credible conventional capability in place to proactively (or upon provocation) eliminate the NORK nuclear threat. Such a campaign cannot be a limited, ad hoc move, but will require invasion and occupation of North Korea. The US and allies are ill prepared and not equipped for such a campaign.

In the absence of this capability, the only deterrent the US and allies have is the threat of using nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsular, which is a blunt instrument that cannot be used without serious considerations of collateral damage and the risk of escalation to war with PRC and Russia.

A conventional military option is preferable as an alternative.

Having a conventional military option in place as quickly as possible to deter the Kim regime will require substantial changes in the financing, posture, equipment and training of allies like South Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, etc. Ideally, this option must be in place no later than 1H2018 in order to head off the growing threat.   Such a timeline leaves no room and option for dithering or delays.

Relying on the PRC’s best efforts to constrain DPRK, if they are willing, will not deliver “Peace for our time.”

But the threat of a credible conventional military option, might.

Let’s end this Kabuki theater of kowtowing to Beijing as is it was an aspect of deterrence with regard to North Korea.



Trump, NATO and Shaping a Way Ahead

Norway is in an especially interesting and perhaps precarious situation or put another way is at the crossroads of 21st century history.

It is a small country with a very large territory bordering on one of the most active military powers, led by a skillful strategist.

Their allies are Brexit Britain, Trump America and various non-NATO allies, such as Finland and Sweden.

There is much uncertainty as well about the future of the European Union and the Euro zone and significant uncertainties hang over France as it will elect a new President and Germany is led by a beleaguered Chancellor whose handling of the immigration issue has triggered a European wide crisis.

There is a growing body of intellectual selfies about what the Trump Administration will do.

Remarks made by the President during the campaign have turned into a cottage industry of interpreting his statements with almost church-like dogma by his critics.

Global dynamics of change were there before the President and will be there after his Presidency.

What remains to determine is how his Administration will scope out its way ahead and shape its responses.

Norwegian Minister of Defense, Ine Eriksen Søreide. Credit: Second Line of Defense

While that may be uncertain, it is clear that the President is committed to rebuilding the U.S. military and its role in the world. It is also clear that he intends to reshape the American role in the world.

Again, although this generates uncertainty in terms of continuity of policy, it is likely that the United States will be a pillar of support to liberal democracies world wide. And if Putin is foolish enough to expect a close friendship with Donald Trump, I would be surprised at the naivete of a man as clever as Putin.

At the recent conference which I attended in Norway on airpower, there were three foreign policy speakers all of whom expressed deep concern with developments in the UK and the US.

One even made the amazing statement that the election of President Trump and Brexit where the most dramatic changes in the past thirty years! Even worse, another speaker quoted this as a brilliant insight. 

One of the speakers provided an indictment of the President that was truly amazing to listen to, notably because his country would have remained divided if it were not for American leadership exercised against many critics in Europe.

I felt like I was back in Europe fighting the Euro-missile battle once again and being both personally insulted and defending the “anti-detente and war-mongering” President Reagan.

I feel like I just lost thirty years and am back to the future so to speak, and the speakers who presented here had the same sense of moral authority as the critics of the Euromissile deployment as well.

It is useful to remind folks that Administration to date has just started, is not fully staffed and has several solid beginnings under its belt, notably the close working relationship with Japan, the Abe visit to New York, the Pacific and then to DC to meet the President.

General Mattis has visited the Pacific and reaffirmed the core commitments of the US in the region.

And the Vice President and Mattis are meeting this week at the talking heads European security conference at Munich.

One can suspect that there are those abroad who are using the Trump effect for their domestic advantages and creating a threat which is simply not there.

I did talk to many Norwegians at the Conference and in Oslo, and while there is concern, more about the various strategic uncertainties than anything else, my message was pretty simple – it is early days and the track record in terms of actual policy has been to reaffirm U.S. commitments and not to run from them.

The President was elected to change U.S. policy and he will.

He will not be President Obama who I might remind folks was given a Nobel Peace Prize in the first year of his presidency for having accomplishing absolutely nothing.

But as the Norwegian Defense Minister has indicated it is early days.

My observations of her at the Conference and in my discussion with her, it is clear that she is a tough minded individual who will clearly argue the Norwegian case to her allies, and certainly to her counterpart, General Mattis.

With this kind of trans-Atlantic leadership, although we face significant challenges, a solid path forward can almost certainly be found.

That happened in the early 1980s and that will happen now.

The Minister provided her perspective earlier this week in a conference on security policy held in Norway and these remarks were published on the Norwegian Ministry of Defence website and follow. Together they provide a sensible statement of concern but also of how best to proceed.

As the famous Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson once insisted: “Never take counsel of your fears.”

Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide’s opening remarks: Leangkollenseminaret 2017

February 13, 2017

By Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide

Norwegian Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide held these remarks at the Security Seminar at Leangkollen February 13th 2017.

Distinguished collegues, former ministers, guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It’s good to be back here at the annual Leangkollen seminar. I want to thank the Norwegian Atlantic Committee, Kate and her good associates for pulling it off – in style – once again. This has become an important venue for addressing key security issues, and I’m happy to see such a great turnout.

This year’s topic is “Security in Northern Europe after Crimea, Brexit and the U.S. election”. Let us dwell for a moment on this extraordinary combination of words in one sentence: “Security in Northern Europe. After Crimea. Brexit. And the U.S. election”…

Imagine you just woke up from a three-year hibernation and were told that Russia has taken a part of Ukraine, the UK has decided to leave the European Union and Donald Trump is now the new president of the United States.

Would you believe it?

In these days of winter sports, it’s like being told that Sweden has beaten Norway in the Cross-Country World Cup.

It just wouldn’t seem very likely.

Ok, perhaps this is too grave to joke about.

After all, we take skiing very seriously up here.

But making fun of each other has been the social glue of Nordic cooperation for centuries, and I see no reason to stop now.

Dear friends,

We meet in challenging times.

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the following and continuing destabilization of Eastern Ukraine changed the European security landscape almost overnight.

Our increasingly assertive neighbor has demonstrated their will and ability to use military force and other more covert means in order to achieve their objectives.

Covert means that are specifically designed to cast doubt in decision making processes.

And, by doing so, they violated international law and shook the very foundation of the framework for peace and stability that we all built together on the ruins of two devastating world wars.

The Nordic and the Baltic countries had to think about security in a new way.

The Eastern European countries had to think about security in a new way.

And NATO as well as the EU had to think about security in a new way.

We all had to adapt quickly and united to a new, uncertain and unpredictable security environment. The EU and the US imposed restrictive measures, which Norway and other non-EU countries adopted in solidarity.

And as an alliance, NATO demonstrated its ability to rapidly adjust as well as provide reassurance to our Eastern allies.

I won’t take up your time by telling you a story you all know. But I want to point out that this was a dramatic change by way of external developments. Something that happened outside of our countries, but with great implications for our countries.

And by “our countries” I mean the transatlantic alliance and the Nordics.

Brexit and the US election, however, happened at home. Inside our own house, so to speak. The British people voted. The American people voted. And the results took many of us by surprise.

Brexit and the US election were two very different things, and I think we should be careful to compare them as such. But one thing they had in common is that they revealed a significant level of frustration and discontent amongst a lot of people. And that is something we’re seeing not only in the UK and the US, but in many European countries.

If I am to suggest common denominators between Crimea, Brexit and the US elections concerning security in Northern Europe, it must be this:

They were all major wake-up calls, albeit for different reasons.

They have all introduced uncertainty at some level.

And they have all set in motion change and developments that we do not know the extent of.

Ladies and gentlemen, we find ourselves in a time of political, economic and social disruption.

The world, as we have known it for decades, is changing. And it’s changing rapidly…..

Perhaps the liberal democracy, with all its dilemmas and compromises, is the best form of government we are capable of designing. After all, it has enabled economic growth, prosperity, peace and stability between nations for decades.

But it seems we may have arrived at a time in history where the liberal democracy, as we know it, is facing one of its most serious challenges to date.

The very framework of a stable Europe and transatlantic relationship is under pressure.

Right-wing populism is on the rise in many countries, paving the way for different forms of nationalism.

Liberal, democratic ideals of freedom, equality and inclusion are losing terrain to ideals of the opposite.

We are witnessing more distrust between people and a deteriorating belief in democratic institutions, politicians and the media.

Public discourse and political debates in many countries are increasingly characterized by fear, xenophobia, disinformation and conflict.

Social media echo and reinforce whatever reality people subscribe to, no matter where you are on the political, cultural and social spectrum.

Facts, scientific knowledge and objective truth – the very building blocks of human development – are becoming devalued currencies in a post-factual world.

It’s a sort of convergence of discontent we’re witnessing. I have for some time expressed my concerns for the health condition of European politics.

The reasons for these developments are many and complex, and I will in no way pretend I have all the answers. I don’t think anybody does. But I do think that many of us, both in Europe and in the US, failed for a long time to realize the extent and significance of the growing discontent amongst large groups of people. And by doing so, we have contributed to creating fertile ground for populism and the polarized political climate we are seeing today.

We also know that this development is actively fueled by Russia through intelligence and information operations, hacking, trolling and a range of other means in order influence elections and undermine European and transatlantic cohesion.

Ironically, the strengths of our liberal democracies – trust, transparency, free speech, independent media and rule of law – is also what make us vulnerable to Russia’s actions in the non-kinetic domain.

It’s too early to say what the implications will be of Brexit and the transnational anti-establishment movements. France, Germany and the Netherlands – as well as Norway – are having elections this year, and I would lie if I said I wasn’t concerned given the current political climate and the examples we have seen of Russian subversive influence.

I am pleased that recent dialogue with, and statements from, the new US administration emphasize US commitment to NATO and transatlantic security. But at the same time, there is still much we do not know about President Trump’s foreign and security policy.

While I don’t think we should exaggerate the significance of Russian influence, we shouldn’t underestimate it either. In any case, we need to pay close attention to what is going on in our own countries now. Because these underlying currents in many countries may also undermine international defense and security cooperation at a time when the need for cooperation is greater than in a very long time. The security challenges that we are all facing from violent extremism, a more assertive and destabilizing Russia and the consequences of conflict and instability in North Africa and the Middle East, requires more trust and closer collaboration, not the opposite. And given the current situation, one of my greatest concerns is that our ability to make decisions in NATO or the EU will be challenged.

Dear friends,

Over the next two days you will cover a range of perspectives with regards to security in Northern Europe. And as we all know, the challenges to Northern European security are many and complex. I think the greatest challenge right now is not one single threat, but the combined uncertainty and unpredictability of the multitude of developments that are happening at the same time both within and outside our countries.

Very few, if any, of our challenges can be solved by military means alone. But the last three years have showed us that military power remains an indispensable part of our security policy toolbox. The fight against ISIL and violent extremism requires a military response as part of a broad, comprehensive approach. And Russia’s actions have caused a need to bolster European defense capabilities and cooperation, both through NATO, between the Nordic countries and bilaterally between friends and allies.

Norway’s top priorities in NATO for the past two years have been a renewed maritime focus with increased attention to the North Atlantic and the High North, and a functional assessment of NATO’s command structure. Both represent a clear response to the uncertainty introduced by Russia in this region.

Now, we do not consider Russia a military threat against Norway today. I want to be clear on that. However, Norway is NATO in the North, and we share a border with an increasingly assertive neighbor with superpower aspirations. A neighbor who has modernized its Armed Forces, significantly increased its military presence in the High North, reintroduced the old East versus West schismatic thinking, engaged in subversive actions against Western democracies, violated international law and undermined European stability.

While we expect Russia to remain true to our longstanding and common interest in keeping the High North stable and peaceful, we must acknowledge that tension and conflict in other places may develop into a more serious security situation in the North. And that has implications for Norwegian defense planning.

Parliament approved the government’s new long-term plan in November last year. It represents an historic prioritization of our Armed Forces. Over the next 20 years, we are increasing our defense budget by 180 billion Norwegian kroner, or approximately 22 billion US dollars. After years of insufficient funding and a gradual decline in our defense capabilities, we are now making sure that our Armed Forces have the combat power, flexibility and sustainability needed in a changing and unpredictable security environment.

We are strengthening our military presence and our intelligence capacities.

Our new fleet of F-35 combat aircraft is on its way.

In addition, we are investing heavily in new maritime patrol aircraft, submarines, air defense, land power capabilities and intelligence.

NATO and American security guarantees remain the cornerstone of our security policy, and as a NATO member, Norway has an obligation to contribute to the collective security framework that we are a part of – and depend upon. We take our obligations seriously.

In addition, defence cooperation between the Nordic countries, and between the Nordic and the Baltic countries, has picked up over the last years, not least as a result of Russia’s assertiveness and unpredictability.

The Baltic Sea region has become a center of gravity in the region. Increased Russian activity, including a more aggressive posture, has made the Nordic countries concerned. A crisis or conflict in the Baltic Sea region may also spread to the High North.

The Nordic countries have a responsibility to promote stability and security in our region. While Norway and Denmark are members of NATO, Sweden and Finland are not. But as close friends and neighbors, we are facing the same challenges. That has sparked us to strengthen our dialogue and step up our military cooperation.

We have established secure communication lines between our countries. And we continue to develop our cooperation with regards to air surveillance, international operations and joint training and exercises. Last year we signed an agreement with the aim of allowing easier access to each other’s sea-, air-, and land domain for common training and defence purposes in peacetime. Almost every week, Nordic combat aircraft are conducting Cross-Border Training in the North.

And with NATO’s partnership with Sweden and Finland, both countries’ participation in annual winter exercises in Norway, and their planned participation in next year’s NATO exercise Trident Juncture, we are taking Nordic and NATO cooperation to a new level.

Firmly rooted in our NATO membership, Norway sees Nordic cooperation as a pragmatic and sensible approach to increasing predictability, ensuring stability and promoting peaceful cooperation without confrontation or conflict in our part of the world. We have a shared understanding of the security challenges we are facing, and we are all adapting our defence capabilities. The value of close consultations has increased in a changing security security environment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This year’s topic is “security in Northern Europe”. It’s difficult to navigate in this new and complex security environment, and you will have plenty of time to dive deeper into these and other issues over the next two days.

I don’t have all the solutions. But if there is one thing I am sure of, it’s that the challenges we are facing are so big, interlinked and complicated that we must face them together. And right now, I am concerned that the European and American political climate change may get in the way of that. Let’s not make that our biggest challenge on top of all the others.

I hope you have a good seminar, and remember – whatever you do in this Nordic setting – don’t start any discussions about cross-country skiing.

Thank you.

Canada and Article III of the NATO Treaty: The Importance of National Defense

Canadians have long enjoyed the security and comfort of belonging to NATO: a robust military alliance that won the cold war.   Today, Canada, a founding member of NATO, is in default of our treaty obligations under Article 3 of the NATO treaty.

Article 3 of the NATO treaty states:

“In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.”

Failure to meet our obligations under Article 3 calls into question any (or all) obligations NATO members have to Canada under Article 5.   This issue is coming to a head with the emergence of North Korea as a belligerent, unstable, and nuclear armed regime.

North Korea’s latest test of a solid fueled cold launched Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile demonstrate how far and fast the regime progressed from testing a nuclear device to fielding a credible nuclear arsenal.

While DPRK have not demonstrated conclusively their ICBM’s capability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental USA, this latest development adds a new twist to the problem.   Pukguksong-2 is a solid fueled missile mounted on a tracked transporter-erector-launcher (TEL), it is capable of being rapidly launched from anywhere in North Korea.   But there is more.

North Korea purchased 12 Foxtrot and Golf (Project 641 & 628) submarines from Russia as “scrap” in the 1990s.   It is plausible that parts and subsystems cannibalized from these vessels are being used to build a North Korean ballistic missile submarine.     When North Korea acquire a capability to launch ballistic missiles from a submarine, which they have been working on, it greatly complicates allied abilities to detect and counter missile launches.

Experts in the United States believe that North Korea’s ICBMs are either already capable of reaching CONUS with a nuclear warhead or will be able to reliably do so within as little as 5 years.   Within this timeframe, a submarine launched ballistic missile with sufficient range to reach CONUS is achievable.

The severity of the threat is demonstrated by Secretary Mattis publically warning North Korea of “effective and overwhelming” (Feb. 3) response to their use of nuclear weapons.

Contrast this with the Liberal regime of Canada who have not taken the North Korean nuclear ballistic missile threat seriously.   Anti-missile capability is not specified for the Canadian replacement fighter, the “One Class” surface combatants, nor is the exiting NORAD system tasked for ballistic missile defense.

Frank and candid comments about the North Korean nuclear threat by President Trump and Secretary Mattis to Canadians officials during the Trudeau-Trump visit failed to result in any noticeable change in the Liberal regime’s defense policy.   Notably, there has been no effort to update the Statement of Requirements (SOR) for major defense procurements after being clearly and publically warned by the US and allies about the North Korean threat.

Vice President Pence and Secretary Mattis reiterated at the NATO meeting in Brussels that the Trump Administration cannot be indifferent and sit idly by while allies free ride like Canada is doing on the US ballistic missile defense program.

Canada is not a participant in the US Ballistic Missile Defense Program and show no inclination to join.   Thus, Canada do not contribute to the present limited defense against NORK ballistic missiles that involved an extensive, layered system of sensors, sea and shore based interceptors from Japan to Alaska to CONUS.

While Canada do have modest anti-submarine resources on the west coast, it is nowhere near sufficient to credibly patrol the large expanse of ocean from which a North Korean submarine can launch nuclear ballistic missiles once they slip past the chokepoints guarded by allies.

This raises questions as to what obligations Canadian allies like South Korea, Japan, and the US have to defend Canada, either by intercepting ballistic missiles aimed at Canadian targets early on or by preventing NORK ballistic missile submarines from breaking out.

By not participating in the Ballistic Missile Defense Program in the face of a clear, indisputable, obvious threat from North Korea, Canada is in effect, presuming that allies will defend Canada.

Canadians are naïve as to how little capability there is for ballistic missile defense in South Korea (who is getting their first THAAD battery this year) and Japan.   Their capabilities must be reserved for the much more numerous threats from NORK short and medium range missiles and potentially, a Chinese nuclear first strike.     Defense of CONUS will not be a priority even if they are willing.

What about the US?   There is only a handful (fewer than 30) of land based anti-ballistic missiles in Alaska.   That doesn’t go far with a probability of kill of .5 requiring two interceptors per target if the attack used multiple missiles with decoys.

Finally, that leaves sea based ABMs launched from US Aegis destroyers or cruisers since Canada has none.   This option is possible only if the vessels are in the right place at the right time and have sufficient missiles available.   But with the potential for ballistic missile submarines prowling about, anti-submarine resources (both surface and air) will be stretched thin.

Canada, by not having Aegis capable vessels equipped for missile defense or having significant anti-submarine assets, is in effect counting on the US to stretch their minimal anti-missile resources to include Canada.

What obligates the US to do so when Canada is in violation of our treaty obligation to “maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.” (Article 3)?

Canadians, and the Trudeau regime, need to recognize that Canada is in breach of our NATO treaty obligations, and as such, can expect no aid from allies under Article 5 until such a time as when Canada meets our obligations under Article 3.

Danny Lam is an independent analyst who lives in Calgary, Canada.

This article was first published by our partner Front Line Defence and is reprinted with their permission.



Elizabeth Warren on the Warpath Against Jeff Sessions: But Actually You are Not an Indian Warrior!

One of the many bizarre moments in the purported rollback of the threat posed by Donald Trump becoming President has been Senator Warren’s attack on Jeff Sessions.

You may or may not like Sessions politics, but there has hardly been a more decent man in the Senate in recent years.

A man who fought an uphill battle for what should have been the acquisition of the Airbus tanker rather than waiting for the political motivated choice of the Boeing tanker is clearly one of his many sins!

During the Boeing assault on the selection of the Airbus tanker, the state of Alabama became a target of intense criticism, largely around the purported fact that the workers of Alabama were incapable of building such a complex platform.

Fake news as coin of the realm.

Sessions defended his state and its workers.

“Fake news” became a common currency in the battle over the tanker.

But also seems that Warren must never have visited Alabama.

It would be impossible to be elected to the Senate without black votes for nearly 30% of the population is black and if one visits plants in Alabama (why would a White liberal do that!) one would find women, blacks and others in the workforce not just the purported white worker six pack who are in the mindset of Northeastern Liberals inherently racist).

Let us look at Warren’s own record briefly with regard to one of the most amazing fraudulent assertions for any politician, namely, that she is a Native American.

The hunger for academia to court “minorities” to pump up their federal funding support is a scandal in and of itself, but Warren combined with the practices of Harvard University to create a good example of “false news” before Trump existed even to claim such an entity.

Kenneth Maxwell who taught at Columbia University as well as Harvard had this to say about Elizabeth Warren’s claims in a column he wrote in 2012.

Quotas Harvard Style

Elizabeth Warren is the Democratic candidate for the US Senate in Massachusetts. She is challenging the incumbent republican Senator Scott Brown. The contest has considerable political resonance since the senate seat was held for decades by the late Ted Kennedy.

In the special election following Kennedy’s death in 2009, the contest was won by a local politician, best known for posing nude as “America’s sexiest man” for a “Cosmopolitan Magazine” centerfold in 1982, and for driving a pickup truck. He became the first republican elected to a senate seat in Massachusetts since Edward Brooke in 1972.

Elizabeth Warren is a distinguished Harvard Law School professor. She served as chair of the congressional oversight panel after the financial crisis of 2008, and later was an assistant to President Barack Obama, and special adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury.

She comes from Oklahoma. Her father was a janitor. Like Scott Brown she did not have an easy childhood. The problem for Elizabeth Warren is that she claimed to be a Native American. There is no sound evidence that she is. Harvard Law School called her “the one tenured minority women” on their faculty.

She said she was part Cherokee. There are Cherokees in Oklahoma. They are the remnants of the Cherokees from Georgia, forced on the infamous “trail of tears” of 1838-1839, after they were dispossessed under the 1830 Indian Removal Act by President Andrew Jackson. Over one third died on the arduous trek from Georgia to Oklahoma.

There were Native Americans at Harvard. Founded in 1636, Harvard had encountered financial problems, so that in 1650, when its charter was granted, the English “Society for Propagation of the Gospel in New England,” gathered funds for the education of Indian students. Five were admitted. One was awarded a degree, a Wampanoag from Martha’s Vineyard. But all the Native Americans met untimely deaths, and in the1690s, Harvard petitioned to have the buildings torn down. It was not until 1997, that Harvard installed a plaque commemorating the existence of the “Indian College.”

A commitment to diversity is admirable. Elizabeth Warren could have claimed she was a poor white girl who became a Harvard Law School professor. Instead she claimed what she was not, and Harvard used that claim to justify a quota which was fraudulent.

For a look at Alabama as seen by then Governor Riley, see the following:



The Upcoming Visit of Prime Minister Trudeau with President Trump: What to Expect?

Political leaders of major nations prefer encounters with their peers to be shrouded in ceremony, pleasantries, and to the extent possible, as little disagreements as possible.

Diplomats are trained, conditioned to deliver the most unpleasant of messages in the most plateable manner as possible to their counterparts and have their counterparts accept it. In the process, messages may get obscured, obfuscated, or just plain ignored until the issues that could have been resolved with frank and candid conversations early on become major issues.

Relations with the US and Canada illustrate these flaws inherent in classical diplomacy that to date, obscured the brewing anger and frustration with Canada under successive US Administrations.

Canadians are fond of bragging about their relationship with the US: “Canada has no closer friend, partner, & ally than the U.S.”, as the Trudeau regime recently tweeted.

From the US perspective, things are quite different. Historically, Canadians are regarded by the US Government as difficult people that are the biggest whiners whose only thing in common that they speak the same language as Americans. Canadians are insufferable: “people [American officials] roll their eyes when you talk about the Canadians”. (p.75).

True to form, the Trudeau regime have demonstrated a flagrant disregard for commitments made by the Harper government to increase defense spending at the Wales NATO meeting in 2014.  Put that in the context of the Harper government’s withdraw from Kyoto Protocol in 2011, and it is self evident that commitments made by Canadian regimes have a problem with credibility and enforceability.

History will weigh heavily on any dealings between Canada and the Trump Administration.  

President Trump will likely insist on legally binding, iron clad guarantees with substantial penalties for failure to meet hard targets with business like regular (e.g. quarterly and annually tracked) verification in any deal with the Trudeau regime.

Intense pressure applied by Secretary of Defense Mattis on Defense Minister Sajjan at a recent meeting before the first Trudeau-Trump summit had negligible impact except for more whining and resort to creative accounting.

Canada’s Foreign Minister, meanwhile, openly threatened the US with a trade war after touting the “mutually beneficial”, “balanced” trade relationship.

Just how “mutual” or “balanced”?

The foremost issue that will be raised by the Trump Administration will be Canada’s status as a longstanding defense free rider. This was tolerated in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet bloc, but no longer given the rapidly deteriorating security environment in Asia and the Arctic.

Canada is not meeting their treaty obligations to NATO, NORAD, Five Eyes and failing in border security despite firm, clear, unequable, public messages from the GW Bush and Obama Administration and allies like Norway and the UK.

Synthetic narcotics trafficking from China via Canada is an example of an issue of growing concern as the Mexican smuggler route tightens as Canada loosens visa restrictions on Mexicans.

Canadian federal and provincial leaders’ blissful ignorance of real, near term threats like terrorism, North Korean nuclear ballistic missiles; or wholesale theft of IP and secrets by foreign intelligence services and agents; or leveraging “free trade” and “immigration” to undermine security is stressing collective security arrangements with the US to the breaking point.

The US must choose whether to defend threats to the US or Canada and where to “build the firewall” for each class of threats.

Being a defense free rider is one thing, but to have Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, an ethnic Ukrainian, brazenly pester the US and allies to increase pressure on Russia while neglecting Canada’s obligation for the defense of the Canadian-Russian frontier and Canadian sovereignty is unconsciousable.

Perhaps the Trudeau regime expect the US to pay all the bills for countering Russian and Chinese moves against the Canadian Arctic because of their NATO obligations?

While the previous Harper government pleaded poverty, money is no object for the Liberal regime’s favored pet projects.

Defense cutbacks disguised as stretchouts in Canada did not prevent the Trudeau regime from turning a “balanced” budget under Harper to running CA$30 billion annual deficits (2016-18) after sharp rises in social spending.

These antics, tolerated but not unnoticed by traditional statesman like President Obama and his predecessors, will not go unnoticed and be tolerated by the Trump Administration with a business like focus on near term results and quantifiable deliverables from Canada within at most a few years. (e.g. Q3 2019)

What is different about the Trump Administration is the willingness to ignore traditional “issue compartmentalization” between areas like trade, defense, etc.

President Trump made it clear that issues like (e.g. US-Mexico) border security that result in expensive US remedies like the proposed border wall will be paid for, one way or another, by Mexico.

President Trump’s moves are calculated to deliver results, perhaps not instantly, but not beyond the first 3 years of his term: A business, rather than politician’s pace.

Thus, the Mexican wall and options that are openly discussed included border taxes, taxes on remittance from the US to Mexico, or fees on trade and movement of people that can and will be implemented quickly with a supportive Congress.

With this precedent, Canada should expect to be treated no differently than Mexico except that Canada’s problem is being a persistent, long term defense free rider.

President Trump will get Canada to pay for security or their fair share of defense, one way or another.   Fees or sanctions on cross border trade and movements of people are logical targets given the sheer volume of US-Canada interactions.

Canada’s long standing strategy of delay, delay, shadow boxing, make it look good, multilaterally tying the US Administration in knots (e.g. at NATO, UN, WTO) so it becomes the next Administration / Congress’s problem is a defunct strategy in the face of President Trump’s business like approach and timeframe.

Moreover, aggressive lobbying by Canadian interests of Administration officials and Congress against the Trump Administration is likely to increase hostility rather than produce positive outcomes for Canada.   Canadian “Oh poor me” whining will be treated as just that and risk relegating Canadian influence to the level of Thailand.

The Trudeau regime love to brag about the benefits of trade with the US. Trudeau and his surrogates relish their self appointed role to educate the Trump Administration, Congress, State representatives, etc. about “free trade”.

Meanwhile, behind the rhetoric, Canada is not only just a free rider in defense, but what little pittance is spent on defense is poorly spent. Canadian lobbying in the US will raise Canada’s profile, in the process, expose Canadian hypocrisy, defense free riding.

Canadian lobbying is just as likely to increase American demands for fair trade and access to closed Canadian markets; and raise issues like reimbursement for US defense spending expected and commonly received from allies like Japan, South Korea, etc.

Americans will discover that Canada is operating one of the most protectionist trade regimes in defense and government procurement comparable to trade regimes of the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North) under Juche.

Bilateral trade that is roughly in balance with the US touted by Canadian lobbyists obscures the fact that had Canada met collective security spending obligations, the trade balance will tilt substantially in the US favor.   “Free trader” Canada played the depression era competitive devaluation game to the hilt with CAD falling from par in 2011 to the 65 cents range US expected in 2017.

The Trump Administration, rather than focus on the overall trade balance with Canada, will instead, look at the foregone opportunities (or lost business) cause by Canadian protectionism and free riding particularly in government and defense procurement.

Typically, an OECD nation would spend a quarter of their defense procurement on equipment.   Canada is spending less than 1% of GDP on defense, amounting to CAD $20 billion a year devaluation notwithstanding.

That suggests a market size of $5 billion a year. But if Canada spent 2% or more, that market for arms doubles to $10 billion annually before any consideration of the severely depleted capital stock of Canadian armed forces and the Canadian dollar.

If Canada spent according to NATO and other obligations, and provided a level playing field for US defense firms, it is reasonable to expect the US will receive at least 50% share of Canadian arms procurement business, or spend at least CAD $5 billion a year for US made defense equipment.     The US is receiving nowhere near this level of business from Canadian defense procurement averaged over the past decade.

President Trump will see this as Canadian free riding and protectionism costing Americans tens of thousands of jobs with at least CAD $5 billion or more of US arms sales foregone annually.   He will likely order the USTR to make Canadian protectionism in defense and government procurement a high priority for NAFTA renegotiation once the Commerce Department and USTR gears up.

Canadian defense procurement is rife with protectionist rules like requirements that bidders provide 100% of the value of the contract in Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB): equivalent procurement from Canadian firms.

This Canadian requirement has no equivalent for the vast majority of Canadian exports to the US.   Should countertrade requirements be imposed on imports from Canada to the US (e.g. on Canadian origin autos and parts, or petroleum), it would cause a collapse of Canada-US trade overnight faster than a border tax.

In the context of being a defense free rider, the Trump Administration could well take a dim view of Canadian protectionism in defense procurement where the US have a clear competitive advantage such as the Liberal regime’s pledge to not buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in favor of higher cost, poorer performing “interim” solutions despite receiving about $1 billion (with a lifetime $10 billion) in JSF contracts to date on the understanding that Canada will buy the F-35.   Meanwhile, Liberal negotiators are demanding Boeing provide 100% offsets for the “interim” F/A-18.

The Trump Administration will see it as only fair if the F/A-18 deal is approved that Boeing be granted 100% credit plus interest (repaid to Lockheed Martin) for any offset obligations stipulated by Canada to Boeing.

Canadians that are fond of lecturing Americans on “free trade” should perhaps begin by asking why Ottawa spent nearly CA$5,000/rifle to buy single shot bolt action rifles for the Canadian Rangers, and is presently planning to procure combat pistols at a price of about CA$2-$3,000 each when US firms can supply the items “off-the-shelf” for a fraction of the cost.

Canadian protectionism and the ridiculous extent to which Canada will go to is illustrated by the Canadian Surface Combatant program, a program allegedly worth (if not cancelled) at least CA $26 billion or more for a fleet of up to 15 warships.   This program was structured so that no US shipbuilder can fairly compete and have little or no prospect of winning a rigged competition for a “proven” design that suddenly included an unproven BAE Type 26 paper ship projected to begin construction in Scotland this Summer 2017.

Competing bidders for the CSC program have to hand over all their intellectual property (initially including foreground and background data but later limited), supplier networks, plans, specs, drawings, tooling and details to a commercial firm (Irving Shipbuilding) just to submit a proposal.  Fincantieri estimated that compliance with the RFP terms require will cost CA$10-20 million.

The project was described by Fincantieri, a reputable ship builder and potential bidder as follows:

“Current structure of the procurement limits the role of the warship designers to simply providing engineering and design services to Irving, which will then build the vessels. In return for that small role, the companies are being asked to provide valuable intellectual property to their designs, access to their established supply chains and transfer technology to Irving and Canada.   In addition, the warship designers have to provide a warranty on the integration of technology into their designs, even though they are not responsible for buying that equipment.”

(National Post, Feb. 5, 2017)

These are not normal commercial terms.  These are in effect, terms for complete technology transfer and worldwide license to be included in the price of the contract.  That may be fine if there is a stipulated minimum order quantity / volume — but there is none for a bidder a priori to handing over their knowhow and detailed proposal at their expense (estimated to be upwards of CA$20 million).

The “winner” has no assurance of minimum order quantity, nor what happen to their expertise and data handed over if the project do not proceed.

This is not a RFP.  This is wholesale theft and pillage to set up a competitor in the guise of a “competition”.

This is the kind of requirements commonly seen in trade with the People’s Republic of China and tactics routinely used to steal technology.  The Canadian subsidiary of Pratt and Whitney participated in such a theft by the Chinese military’s Z10 attack helicopter program and was fined US$75 million in 2012.

With this track record and the subsequent clamp down on Canadian subsidiaries access to US technologies and secrets, it is astonishing that the Trudeau regime is acquiescing to their outsourced contract evaluator Irving Shipbuilding to do the same.

The “competition” administered by a Canadian commercial firm (Irving Shipbuilding) have a partnership with BAE systems and is also a bidder with the Type 26 — a direct conflict of interest that favor the unproven BAE entry to win.  Neither the Canadian government nor Irving have provided potential bidders and their governments iron clad guarantees with penalties that persons with knowledge of the details will not pilfer ideas wholesale from the best competing proposals.

The Trudeau regime is not even trying to erect firewalls.

In effect, the CSC procurement is a de facto exercise in state (and / or Irving Shipbuilding the program administrator and bidder) sponsored theft of knowhow, intellectual property, and expertise in the guise of a “competition” that no US firm is likely to be allowed by DoD to participate, let alone win.

Such behavior is normally expected from the People’s Republic of China, but Canada?  Coming from a strident advocate of “rules based international order” and “free trade” Canada profess to be?

Then there are garden variety industry subsidies.

Favored Canadian firms receive CAD billions in subsidies from Federal and Provincial governments.   Bombardier, tightly controlled by the Beaudoin family in Quebec, just received about USD 280 million in Family Allowance Payments from Ottawa after the Province of Quebec “invested” USD 1.5 billion in 2015 in the rail subsidiary in addition to US$1 billion “investment” for a 49% stake in the C-Series.

This is to ensure survival of a firm building competing aircraft to Boeing.

Likewise, the probable award of a de facto no bid, no compete contract valued at CAD 26 billion to Irving Shipbuilding for the CSC program is a family allowance payment for the Irvings to develop a direct competitor in the world frigate market.

Protectionism in Canadian government procurement would be somewhat less obvious had the Trudeau regime not went further to institute a “gag order” to prevent bidders and competitors from discussing the merits of their proposals in public, including advertising.

Similarly, lifetime gag orders on Canadian military personnel and officials were imposed on 235 persons involved in the replacing Canada’s fleet of fighter aircraft.  Fortunately for Trudeau protectionists, Canada do not have a “First Amendment” and to date, no Canadian Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks have emerged.

The contrast between Canada and other US allies that are large, profitable customers of US defense equipment is sharp, clear, and distinct.  Many US allies make little (or no) demands for “offsets” and pay handsomely for equipment procured from the US. Canada is using the leverage from defense procurement to unfairly and unreasonably pilfer technology, knowhow, and injuring US firms and costing US jobs.

Schemes like the CSC bidding requirements is not about seeking an equitable share of work from procurement of defense equipment from abroad.   It is seeking to build a competitor no different than what the PRC did in steel, autos, and trying to do in semiconductors.

To sum up, Canada under the best of circumstances spends a pittance on defense, and what little Canada spends is wasted on their intricate networks of domestic subsidies and regulations that would do North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un proud. The military capabilities Canada have represent poor value for the Canadian taxpayer’s dollar.

The US spends almost four times as much as Canada (.9%g GDP) on defense (US: 3.6%) with the Trump Administration committed to raising spending to rebuild the US military.

The Trump Administration will be asking why these scarce defense resources be deployed to defend Canada?

President Trump will wonder loudly why a free rider like Canada have privileged access to the US market?

The question is, will the Trump Administration allow this to continue?  

Will President Trump allow Canada to have a one sided “free trade” deal that vastly favors Canada when Canada has a long history of being a free rider and exploiting their “close” relationship with the US?

What if President Trump reciprocated with Canadian style protectionist measures?  Or demand a minimum annual purchase of US defense equipment without offsets?

Canadians have no credibility preaching “free trade” to the Trump Administration until such a time as Canada end free riding and begin to practice free trade themselves.

President Trump may elect to make a point by sitting down with Prime Minister Trudeau over a McDonald’s hamburger.

Danny Lam is an independent analyst who lives in Calgary, Canada.

Editor’s Note: Second Line of Defense recently attended this year’s Norwegian Airpower Conference which focused on building a fifth generation combat force.  

During the public discussions the focus was upon how Norway was building new national capabilities to ensure that there was a high deterrent threshold for Norwegian defense, including the evolving Arctic challenges.  

The US and the UK were often mentioned.  Not once was Canada mentioned as part of the way ahead for Northern defense.  

The only representation of Canada was a painting on the wall showing Norwegians training in Canada in World War II.  

Talking privately with Norwegians at the Conference and in Oslo, there is clearly real respect for the quality of Canadian military personnel; and equally real concern about the cratering of Canadian defense capabilities, 

Oh by the way, the UK and Norway are both flying P-8s and F-35s as part of their defense transformation.