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Book Reviews

Campaigns For International Security: Canada’s Defence Policy at The Turn Of The Century

by Douglas L. Bland and Sean M. Maloney
Kingston, Ontario: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004
291 pages, Cloth: $70.00, Paperback: $34.95

Reviewed By Major J.C. Stone

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Book coverCampaigns for International Security sets out to present the reader with an analysis of the evolution of Canada’s defence policy and the government’s responses to international affairs during the 1990s. The authors indicate that the book “sets the actual policy of the 1990s and early twenty-first century in a framework of what is here defined as the world order era and concludes with recommendations for bringing future policies into line with this reality...” In a very general sense, the authors have succeeded in connecting the various fields (strategic studies, public administration, defence economics and government, to name just a few) associated with the study of defence policy. As well, they have introduced the term world order era as the language to describe the post-Cold War time period.

Structured thematically, the book begins by defining the context of the post-Cold War era and defence policymaking in Canada. The authors introduce the notion of stability campaigns to describe the context of Canada’s defence policy and the military operations that support that policy. Stability campaigns are assessed as being the result of international concerns and initiatives as opposed to national interests and strategies. The authors argue that the need to build a wide consensus is at odds with the need to restrict access to command and decision-making in the interests of military efficiency. More importantly, they highlight that stability operations are not policy-free, nor are they intended to be neutral or impartial. The purpose of the armed forces in these stability campaigns is to impose and maintain order by all necessary means. In the United Nations context, every stability campaign is a Chapter VII operation and violent confrontations are to be expected.

Next, the book reviews the defence policymaking context within Canada and the Canadian way of war. The authors highlight different models for the decision-making process, the actors involved in that process, and indicate that the actual process is much more random than any of the models would imply. In essence, officials in DND “muddle through [as they] attempt to solve problems in digestible bites...” In examining the Canadian ‘way’ with respect to warfare, the authors argue that Canada may have two ways of war, both of which end up in competition with one another. There is a domestic, politically preferred way, and an actual traditional and military way. This contradiction has been more obvious since the end of the Cold War.

Having established some historical basis for defence policymaking and Canada’s way in war, the book then examines defence policy in the 1990s and early 2000s. Here, the authors argue that the key failing of government policy in the 1990s was the “inability of politicians, senior officers, and officials to accept that by 1993 the Canadian Forces (CF), at least, was on a war footing.” This chapter is critical of the ‘quick fixes’ that the senior leadership within the Department tried to implement during the 1990s. Quick fixes in this context are solutions to overcome both budgetary challenges and the stresses associated with an increased number of operational missions. For example, in discussing the ‘early in – early out’ idea, the authors note that this idea was an attempt to deal with the burden of commitments, but it had foreign policy implications. Policy solutions normally work best for policy problems, and this was not the case here.

The book then provides a review of the budgeting for national defence in the 1990s. Specifically, the chapter reviews the federal budgeting system and defence funding from 1988 to 2003. In addition, this chapter discusses the trade-offs that must be made between the three major components of the defence budgets (Personnel, Operations and Maintenance, Capital), and concludes with a discussion on some possible funding solutions for resolving the capital funding problem that plagues the Department.

The final part of this book is a discussion by the authors on what kind of defence policy Canada should have in this new world order era. The authors argue that the first identifiable theme that one should find in a new defence policy would be a government definition of the strategic fundamentals, the objectives, and the costs of a defence policy within the context of this new world order. The difficulty is that this is highly unlikely to happen. No Canadian government, regardless of its political stripe, has committed to a long-term budget for defence in the past, and one should not expect this to occur in future. The authors then suggest that a second theme in a new defence policy should be an articulation of the ‘machinery of government’ needed to link CF capabilities and force development concepts effectively to foreign policy and an overarching national security policy. Although this is much more likely to occur than a long-term funding commitment, the lack of any such funding commitment will make the implementation of any defence policy difficult.

Bland and Maloney conclude their book with a compendium of CF stability missions and operations from 1990 to 2003. Although one might expect a simple list of operations, this is not the case. The authors have taken the time to review each of the missions, and then arranged them both geographically and by the type of deployment. The list includes 71 different operations, some of which consisted of a number of rotations. By way of example, Operation HARMONY, also known as UNPROFOR I (1992-95), consisted of seven rotations.

Campaigns for International Security is an excellent examination of Canada’s defence policy since the end of the Cold War. For those who have read earlier works by Doctor Bland, some of the content and arguments will be familiar. Nevertheless, when one recalls the intention expressed by the authors – to provide a type of primer for undergraduates and non-specialist graduate students who may require or may be interested in defence policy – they have clearly met their intention.

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Doctor Craig Stone is the Staff Officer National Security at Canadian Forces College Toronto.