Hard v. soft - Macleans.ca

Hard v. soft


Glen Pearson responds to the Prime Minister’s assessment of Canadian power in Haiti and the perceived implication contained therein.

Canada’s investment in Haiti goes back to 1963, when the government of day moved in quickly to defend Canadian citizens trapped on the island in the face of political tensions.That was soft power. In 1993, under a Liberal government, Canada was part of a multinational force that was called to Haiti after then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown. Canada along with the U.S, Argentina, France and the Netherlands sent warships to enforce an embargo on Haiti’s oil, arms and foreign funds. That was hard power, and Stephen Harper knows it.


Hard v. soft

  1. "Warships from several nations, including Argentina, Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United States, went to the area to enforce the embargo in a Multinational Force under the leadership of the United States. The United States Navy provided the bulk of the forces, with six warships operating under the name Operation SUPPORT DEMOCRACY. These ships included: 2 Ticonderoga class cruisers, one Belknap class cruiser, one Spruance class destroyer, and two Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates."

    I did not remember Canada's involvement in UN/Haiti '93-'94 so I looked it up and that's what I found at http://www.forces.gc.ca.

    Does Pearson, or Harper for that matter, know what hard power is?

    It is being able to influence and/or pulverize your enemies. It is not sending a few small ships to help out the Americans or buying a few large planes to move a few hundred soldiers. Canada does not really have 'hard power' but Cons are finally doing something about somewhat restoring our military.

    Does Pearson really believe we have a military so that they can become "ndispensable assets in managing aid delivery."? They are Armed Services, they should not be considered just another ngo.

    And it is interesting that Pearson, and many others, assumed Harper was talking about Liberals. I think it would be nice if Liberals/liberals realized that it's not all about them, all the time.

    • Canada has too small of a population to support true hard power through the military, so I'm wondering what you consider the role of our Armed Forces to be? We're never going to be able to implicitly threaten anyone of importance, let alone pulverize them, so besides ensuring national sovereignty (chasing away illegal fishing boats, etc.), rough national security and being essentially a Canadian-controlled combat NGO, what exactly do you think our Armed Services' role should be?

      • I think Armed Services and NGO type activities should be entirely separate. If we are going to do more peace keeping duties, or nation building, than we should create a Colonial Office and get trained people in aid delivery or how to help developing societies or whatever.

        I would like it if we brought back the First Canadian Division and used the soldiers to fight real wars, when needed.

        • And what do the soldiers do when not fighting "real wars" (and let's face it, we haven't fought a real war since Korea)? We're a country that is relatively unpopulated, isolated and peaceful. Any standing army that does not engage in peacekeeping, emergency relief or other forms of nation building doesn't have anything to do, and hasn't for half a century.

          Our population is too small to make our military much of a threat, our country is too large to make it much of a deterrent, and we're too peaceful to give our forces any combat experience aside from nation building-type events. Having a standing army that stays out of any humanitarian events is going to be a waste of money. I guess I should have been more specific with my question – when not fighting wars, a situation that occurs far more often than not these days for Canada, what are our Armed Forces supposed to be doing?

          • When not fighting wars the armed forces are supposed to be preparing to fight the next war. That is so they can respons effectively, as they have in Afghanistan, when called upon to do so by their government. They are not an aid organization, police force or regional development agency, although they have been used as such as well historically.

            The fact they are trained to operate as a combat force gives them the skills to operate as a humanitarian force as well, of course. Which is a useful side-role to their fundamental purpose – to deter and defeat our nation's enemies.

          • Our military is not a deterrent to any potential enemies. Our national security is derived entirely from our allies and international relationships. Anyone who would be able to attack us in earnest either doesn't want to or would risk retaliation not from us, but those we're allied with. Other potential threats (terrorists, etc) don't care about whatever military might we posses – if they'll attack the US, why would they be afraid of whatever we can throw at them?

            I agree that the fundamental purpose of the Armed Forces should be national security, if only as a last line of defense. But we have to accept our position in the world. As jolyon says, we don't have real hard power. We never will – we have neither the people nor the incentives to develop a meaningful level of hard power. What our military can do is provide us with soft power, by particularly by aiding allies with hard power. Engaging in humanitarian efforts is a part of that – besides improving our reliability and reputation abroad, it provides valuable real-world experience for our military that they will not get if they are restricted to non-humanitarian efforts which come along once a decade at best.

            The nation-building and humanitarian efforts are not a side-role to their fundamental purpose of protecting the country, they're an integral part of it. Our military is not insurance, it's a tool, and like any tool it will not be worthwhile if it's not used, nor will it be effective if it's left on the shelf to rust.

          • Except we're not a European nation. All of our land borders are shared by friendly nations (hey wait.. isn't that soft power) and the bodies of water at the rest of our borders are massive.

            Soft-power, diplomacy, and fostering a good reputation in the eyes of the world has meant that we don't actually need a standing army (which is good, because lets be honest, any nation that had the ability to invade Canada in force has the ability to overrun what forces we have). And the new mode of warfare is terrorism. Well.. we don't really need a standing military to combat that either, we need an expert quality of policing.

            So perhaps the time has come to re-evaluate what the "fundamental" purpose of our soldiers should be.

    • Of course he was talking about the liberals…it's how he frames his speeches every single time he speaks to the military…i'm surprised he doesn't address them as my troops.

  2. Lackoffian sexual imagery.

    • Wry smile here (assuming you meant Lakoffian).

      • Quit la(c)king off!

  3. There is something very annoying about Pearson; it might be his preachy attitude, but there`s more. He wants to come across as the quiet unassuming type but he insists on letting you know what a great humanitarian he is. If he is a great man I`ll figure that out for myself; I don`t need his subtle reminders.

    Near the beginning of his speech Harper says the moral of the story is that in order for us to use soft power in today`s world, we need hard power. That is the key part of the speech Pearson should pay heed to.

    We want to be considered when the Global economy is discussed. We want respect when we praise or condemn other nations actions. And we want to be able to help the poor nations when disaster strikes. Well let`s make sure we don`t have to go ask the Russians for a lift the next time we want to fly supplies and manpower to a disaster. And let`s not listen to Pearson when he gets all sensitive when the PM says it`s time we become self-sufficient.

    • That Harper has the gall to imply moral ethic would be grounds for massive projective vomiting. Hard power? You mean the kind you still wish we'd have backed in Iraq, doncha Steve? As to the comment above, I dare say get off your ass and do 10% of what Pearson's done for the common good, man woman and child, and maybe you'd rise above the soccer hooligan hawking dollars4gold on TV.

      • I have no idea whether Pearson has done 90% more good for his fellow man than I or you or even Stephen Harper and I don`t care and he shouldn`t care. My point here was that our PM was making a statement that our ability to be useful in doing works that involve soft power is contingent in today`s world that we have the ability to have hard power if needed.

        The fact that Pearson chooses to self-righteously criticize Harper for reminding us that we must evolve with the needs of a changing world probably means he is unfit to be an international cooperation critic.

        • Let's not forget it was Pearson's namesake, Lester Pearson, who equipped Canada's armed forces with nuclear weapons. That is an example of "hard power". The Liberals of the 90's, in contrast, decided to rely on public relations press releases, while slashing the armed forces budgets.

          You are right to point out the PM hwas making sensible statements about the choices a government has to make if it wishes to do good. It must spend what is needed to ensure the armed forces have the equipment and personnel to do the jobs the nation asks of them. Pearson's party consistently touted our international obligations while taking away the armed forces ability to deliver on any of the government's promises. That not only put Canadian lives at risk, it diminished the ability of our nation to do good in the world. The current government has gone a long way in repairing tjhat damage.

  4. Harper has a real juvenile relationship with the military. He's like a kid in the school yard who acknowledges a truce/white flag because we all have to work together at a time like this. But he can't resist the urge at some point to remind the other kids that the toys are his really, he bought them, and everyone should remember that. Bi-partisan for this guy means you put down your weapons but watch out i might still punch you in the nose if i get the urge. I can well believe this guy doesn't have a shred of cross party support in the country. I'm curious what the top military brass thinks of the guy in private. Given they understand that you can blow your trumpet without mocking the contributions non military folks.

  5. I don't believe our system makes it possible for fools to be elected to high office.

    You had me there until this line. Thanks.

    On a serious note, he won the first time because of AdScam, and then, the Liberals put up Dion who promised to raise taxes. Through all of that, Harper has never managed to crack a certain voting threshold.

    Just because electors vote for one of the choices offered up doesn't preclude one of the choices being a moron or a fool. Just ask Rob Anders or Pierre Polievre, or on the Liberal side, Joe Volpe.

    • I think it's a mistake to consider any politicians public statements to be a reflection of their intelligence or education level or even their own true beliefs. They're all just saying what they think people will want to hear and what will get them the support to win the next election.

      • Okay. But why say it in the middle of a country ravaged by an earthquake?

      • Anders thought people wanted to hear him call Nelson Mandela a terrorist?

    • "On a serious note, he won the first time because of AdScam, and then, the Liberals put up Dion who promised to raise taxes."

      Actually, AdScam was his opening. Harper won because Martin was pumped up to be a great PM and then ended up being a horrible vascillator. The decisiveness Harper projected in 2006 and winning 10 seats in Quebec (no small feat at the time) on a vague open federalism concept had more to do with him "winning" than AdScam.

      Also, the Liberals would have lost the last election no matter what Dion would have proposed because Harper occupied an area of the spectrum where many former Liberal voters (as well as current Liberal voters if we believe the polls) were largely happy with his policies and the voters of other parties didn't hate him enough to rally around Dion. Of course, the perpetual sabre-rattling and backing down along with back-stabbing by anonymous Liberals didn't help Dion's chances either.

  6. Phallic, much?

  7. … and Stephen Harper knows it.

    See, that's it, right there. I don't think he "knows it." I don't think Harper cares about or has any understanding of history.

    Throw in his lack of tact, class and nuance, and you have a walking-talking disaster at home and abroad.

    • What does that say about us as a nation?

      This person (who I now know has a lack of tact, class and nuance because you say so) managed to become an MP, become the leader of his party, convince another party to merge with his party, become the leader of the newly created party, and then twice convince a plurality of voters to vote for his party and make him Prime Minister.

      You may not agree with his policies or actions but I think it's a bit of a stretch to suggest he's anything but an extremely smart and extremely capable person. I don't believe our system makes it possible for fools to be elected to high office.