Halifax International Security Forum
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Session Recaps


2011 Sessions

Introductory Remarks

On Friday, November 18, leaders from more than 40 countries gathered
at the Halifax International Security Forum to discuss what’s next in
“Arab Spring” nations, implications of the global financial crisis,
the future of NATO, and other top issues affecting international
security today.

The event was kicked off by Halifax International Security Forum
President Peter Van Praagh, who introduced Canadian National Defence
Minister Peter MacKay and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Read the excerpts from their speeches below, or watch the videos to hear their thoughts on how all democratic nations must work together in this age of austerity to overcome threats to peace, economic opportunity and global security.

On the Panel

Peter Van Praagh
President, Halifax International Security Forum

Peter MacKay
Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Department of Justice, Canada

Leon Panetta

Hot Topics

Peter Van Praagh, President of Halifax International Security Forum

“Now more than ever, democratic nations and people with democratic values must work together in new ways to promote international security. Greater cooperation and innovative ideas are needed—not only to make better use people yearn for freedom, create economic opportunity, and promote lasting peace that benefits people everywhere. That’s what we mean by international security. That is the mission of Halifax.”

Peter MacKay, Canadian Minister of National Defence

“This forum comes at a difficult time when we must define how we can do defence and security differently. That’s why we must find ways to be more productive, more agile and more nimble. Most of us struggle to decide the how and that is the raison d’être to this forum, to bring people together in an informative, intelligent and calm way to discuss these important and sensitive issues and to learn from each other.”

Leon Panetta, United States Secretary of Defense 

“The reality is that the United States military alone cannot be all things to all nations. We will sharpen the application of our resources, better deploy our forces in the world and share our burdens more and more effectively with our partners. And frankly, all our allies need to do the same.”

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What’s Changed Since 9/11? Our Enemies? Ourselves? The World?

In this “state of the world” discussion, participants weighed in on what we’ve learned since 9/11—and how we are using our knowledge to enhance security and increase global security strategies. From the conversation, it is clear one issue above all others remains unresolved: Have we won the “War on Terror,” or is the threat as real as ever?

Opening this year’s Forum, panelists discussed today’s post-9/11 world, how that day’s events have impacted strategic military and diplomatic decisions over the last decade—and how it will continue to affect decisions of countries around the world.

On the Panel

Zaffar Abbas
Editor, Dawn

Francis Delon

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Mark Udall


Hot Topics

Ten years past 9/11, one of the most remarkable shifts in defense strategies has been away from unilateralism, to more of a reliance on collaborative partnerships. As United Stated Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta commented, given the acute economic constraints that countries around the world are experiencing, militaries will need to be smaller, more agile and more reliant upon the strengths of their allies in order to respond to the security threats of the 21st Century.

Terrorism and Islamic extremism are real threats, but should they be the central issues guiding international security strategies? In today’s interconnected world, innumerable challenges face countries – extreme poverty, internal conflicts, climate change, debt crises, and the sometimes meteoric development of technology that exceeds our abilities to use it safely. Given these threats, panelists suggested, combating terrorism should remain a major consideration, but it can hardly be considered the mainstay issue for security planning.

Today’s security conversation must now include international development, alongside the use of hard power.When fragile states face unprecedented poverty and famine, or are unable to maintain rule of law, their internal threats quickly become global threats. We must then therefore work to provide military support in complement with a commitment to full-scale international development efforts around the world.

Quotes

“Our approach [to global security] has changed by the way we’ve elevated development. The biggest lesson is to recognize global responsibility.”                     – Anne-Marie Slaughter

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What is the Responsibility to Protect: When? Where? Whom?

This panel examined the decisions we make as an international community when deciding whether or not to intervene in conflicts. The panel began the conversation by answering the questions: Do we only select the easier situations, and can states really create moral foreign policy, grounded in pragmatism and principle?

On the Panel

Peter MacKay
Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Department of Justice, Canada

Charles Bouchard
Combined Joint Task Force Commander, Operation Unified Protector, NATO

Camille Grand
Director, Foundation for Strategic Research


Raghida Dergham

Hot Topics

There is no template to determine when it is appropriate to intervene in conflicts. Key questions to consider include: What is the potential harm facing the citizens of a country, and will a military effort eliminate that threat? In Libya’s case, the threat was real and imminent, with Gaddafi declaring that the streets of Benghazi would ‘run with blood.’ With such declarations, democratic countries around the world understood the best option for protecting Libya’s people was through a joint military effort.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to be in a position where we can say this is the template, this is the checklist, that must be met [for intervention].” – Minister of Defence Peter MacKay

Several principles guided Operation Unified Protector in Libya, which might also be applied to future interventions: The purpose of the intervention was to protect the Libyan people.  The operation was designed to avoid casualties to civilians and military personnel. Infrastructure destroyed during war would need to be rebuilt during peace.

“We set very specific directions helping civilians, enforcing a no-fly zone. This was an issue of restoring an environment where diplomacy and dialogue could take place to create an environment where Libyans could decide their own future.” – General Charles Bouchard

Post-war reconstruction efforts are as crucial as military victory in establishing a new society. While the death of Gaddafi paved the way for Libya’s nascent transitional government to take control, those who helped with liberation share the responsibility with the Libyan people for shaping the future of the country—while being careful not to dictate what kind of society will emerge.

“The responsibility is to help and advise what would work…It was the [Libyan] people that did most of the work.” – The Honorable Suat Kiniklioglu

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Spring Forward, Fall Back: Revolutions and their Remains

This discussion focused on the new and historic wave of democratization in the Middle East and North Africa this year, and what the Arab Spring could mean for the world. Also explored was how sympathetic democracies can accelerate progress in these countries.

As we heard, it is harder to escape one’s history than it might at first appear. Building a democratic government, culture and society is slow and laborious, with no guarantee of success.

On the Panel

Mohammed Abu Luhoum

David J. Kramer
Senior Director for Human Rights and Democracy, The McCain Institute for International Leadership

Paul Salem
Vice President for Policy and Research, Middle East Institute

Radwan Ziadeh

Kathleen Koch
Author, Journalist, and Founder of LeadersLink

Hot Topics

The Arab Spring is not a uniform phenomenon—it is more like Arab Springs. With dictatorial regimes falling across the Middle East, it is easy to perceive common ties among them. But it is important to note that no two revolutions are alike: Egypt faces challenges operating under a new sort of military government, while Tunisia is progressing quickly under a new civilian authority.

“There are huge challenges moving forward despite positive dynamics. Countries like Egypt and Tunisia have little chance of collapsing while transitioning, but it’s different in Syria.”  – Mr. Paul Salem

All the Arab Spring countries have a need for constructive engagement with the international community. Regardless of their differences, all of the Arab Spring countries need to remain engaged with democratic countries and people with democratic values. Much work remains to be done to ensure these countries keep moving in a positive direction.

“In the end, we have to complement each other—Yemen needs the [help of] supportive states.” – Sheik Mohammed Abu Luhoum

The Arab Spring has made clear that people from all countries have a strong desire for freedom. Democracy and freedom are not values unique to the West, as protests in the streets of many Middle Eastern countries have made clear—these are universal aspirations of people around the world, including those in countries like Cuba, Burma and North Korea.

“There is a moral responsibility from the international community to have faith [in their aspirations for freedom]. The Arab Spring will bridge the gaps in misunderstanding.”  – Sheik Mohammed Abu Luhoum

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问题是经济,笨蛋 (It’s the Economy, Dumb Eggs)

Sound familiar? Participants brought a new perspective to this urgent issue, discussing the financial meltdown in Europe, the debt crisis, and how these events are affecting global markets and our security. The timing of this discussion is especially relevant, occurring just days before the U.S. Congress’ “Super Committee” deadline for voting on $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions. A failure to meet the deadline could trigger massive spending cuts across the board.

On the Panel

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

James Hoge
Chairman, Human Rights Watch

Alan Mendoza
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Henry Jackson Society

Pamela Wallin
Senator, Canada

Hot Topics

No state is immune to the financial crisis. Two years ago, America’s real estate market bubble burst, creating a domino effect of financial consequences around the globe. Today, the Eurozone faces serious infrastructural questions that are bogging down a fledgling economic recovery. Given the interconnectedness of the global economy, it is important to have open dialogues between states that weigh the benefits and challenges of possible solutions—for all countries.

“You can see why there might be a notion of dangerous anger with the [Occupy] movement…there is a real danger beneath that, psychologically, where people’s mood toward the system has turned patriotic as opposed to just merely angry, and they may be prepared to embrace new solutions.” – Dr. Allen Mendoza

One of America’s biggest perceived opportunities is sorting out its divided politics. As Congress’ Super Committee approaches its looming deadline, and the country gears up for a Presidential election, members of the international community are concerned that fundamental disagreements between Republicans and Democrats will complicate the economic situation not only in America, but around the world.

“After the election in 2012, there will be a lot more leeway for consultation that involves more cuts on some new revenue…No matter what the subject is, there is a strong body that says ‘we’re not going to spend any more money.’”                                – Mr. James Hoge, Jr.

The European Union faces a similar governing challenge—a lack of an established political body capable of guiding the EU’s fiscal governing body. While the Eurozone Project has fared well during times of economic growth, the current recession has highlighted the need for a unified governing body that has both the responsibility and the capability to regulate the Euro.

“One thing we’ve seen is that the markets are thriving, or rather reacting to, the uncertainty in the Eurozone…there is no confidence in our ability to get out of [the economic recession].” – Dr. Allen Mendoza

Struggling economies and shrinking budgets mean more innovation is needed to ensure international security. As suggested in yesterday’s remarks made by Minister MacKay and Secretary Panetta, necessity breeds ingenuity—and democratic states will have to be more creative, more resourceful and more collaborative in order to ensure less money doesn’t mean less security.

“Cuts to defense budgets are already underway…there is now a lot of emphasis starting with the President that we have to build up our capabilities for development aid, resolutions, and getting allies to cooperate more on what needs to be done in the name of security.”  – Mr. James Hoge, Jr.

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Halifax Chat With Ehud Barak

Robin Shepherd, Director of the Henry Jackson Society, hosted a 30-minute discussion with Israel’s Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Barak on Saturday afternoon. The Minister shared his thoughts on a number of topics, including the Arab Spring, Iran, Syria and the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict. Click the video below to see his interview.

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The United States in 2012: Super Power, Super Enabler or Stay at Home Parent?

With the US election season well underway, this conversation focused on political dynamics in the country and potential implications for US foreign policy and security strategy.  Senators John McCain and Mark Udall spoke to a variety of issues, as shown by the selection of quotes below.

On the Panel

John McCain
Senator from Arizona, United States Senate

Mark Udall

Jonathan Tepperman
Managing Editor, Foreign Affairs

Hot Topics

On Iran

“The fact that we did not give the demonstrators in Iran our moral support when a young woman named Neda bled to death in the streets of Iran will go down as one of the great mistakes of the 21st Century.” – Senator John McCain

On NATO

“Our determination here is to maintain a strong NATO, and even expand NATO, but recognize that counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency are now the highest priorities as we address the challenges of the 21st Century.” – Senator John McCain

On China

“There are a lot of levels and elements to [China]. We have to stand our ground with China. We cannot let ourselves be pushed around whether it is helpful or not to other parts of the world.” – Senator Mark Udall

On the Arab Spring 

“Arab Spring is misnamed because it is not just Arab. The Arab Spring will spread throughout the world…a version of it has spread to the United States in the form of the Tea Partiers and Occupiers. I believe the Arab Spring will affect people in the Kremlin and Beijing, and in every country in the world where people don’t have freedom.”   – Senator John McCain

On Climate Change

“I believe in climate change. But the American people are not going to pay more taxes because of [it]…We can emphasize sustainability and not raise taxes and costs at the same time.” – Senator John McCain

“Historians and our grandchildren will excoriate us if we don’t get on top of climate change soon.”  – Senator Mark Udall

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But, Can We Afford It? Smart Security in the Age of Less

With countries around the world slashing defense budgets—panelists were asked for their perspectives on the meaning of “smart security.” Can democratic nations follow in the footsteps of NATO’s successfully coordinated campaign in Libya, avoid duplication in defense spending, and work together to meet common challenges?

Panelists spoke to military budget items most likely up for cutting, and whether or not a more concerted approach could help countries meet increasingly complex security challenges on a tighter budget.

On the Panel

Stéphane Abrial

Jeanne Shaheen
Senator from New Hampshire, United States Senate

Liam Fox

Ljubica Jelušič

Swanee Hunt

Jeanne Meserve
Senior Fellow, Homeland Security Policy Institute, George Washington University

Hot Topics

NATO’s role is only likely to increase in importance as countries tighten their belts. More innovative, collaborative and agile defense strategies are needed to help democratic nations weather their budget woes without compromising security.

“The [economic crisis] means that we have to address the challenges and the risks, and we need to take into account the level of resources. Doing better with less means doing it more together.” – General Stéphane Abrial

As NATO resources become more critical, member countries will have to get more involved. While most governments face serious economic constraints, they won’t be able to rely on NATO to address common challenges, while pulling back on support for military or humanitarian missions. The burden must be shared.

“The message has to go out to all the NATO allies: We cannot all have the same insurance without us all paying the same premiums.” – Dr. Liam Fox

Soft power is cheaper than military hardware. Investments in military equipment and technology are costly. “Soft power” tools and techniques can be equally effective—at a much lower the price.

“Development and aid need to be put together, and sent together, to make life better for other people. Even in a small country like ours we send development to one country while sending military to another.”                                                                         – Slovenia Minister of Defense Ljubica Jelušič

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My Kind of NATO?: Chicago 2012

Panelists engaged in a spirited discussion around the future of NATO, giving consideration to its leadership role in the Libyan mission, and paying attention to the issue of how non-contributing members view the alliance. They also spoke the organization’s value to the world.

Panelists also discussed some of the big questions and important issues that will need to be addressed at the 2012 summit in Chicago—especially around the cooperation of established and emerging democracies, and their dedication to the alliance.

On the Panel

James Appathurai
Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Gerald Howarth

Bruce Jackson
Founder and President, Project on Transitional Democracies

Mercedes Stephenson

Hot Topics

The quick and decisive operation in Libya has given the organization, and member countries, a boost in confidence. Acting under a tight timeframe, and with myriad considerations, NATO officials assembled a world-class military effort that devised and executed a carefully thought-out strategy. The minimization of civilian casualties combined with the swift capturing of Gaddafi has proven the usefulness and effectiveness of an international military alliance.

“What Libya showed us is that when it comes to commanding an operation of that size, there is no other door to knock on. [Libya has shown us] that the balance of leadership in the organization is evolving.” – Mr. James Appathurai

NATO faces budgetary and organizational challenges that need to be addressed. As more responsibility is shifted onto fewer member states, there is a need for an honest evaluation of the organization’s decision-making process, succession planning and budgetary restraints.

“It can’t be left to the ‘hard-core’ nations to bear the weight…It will be a major challenge, above all else, to get the commitment of all the members to play their part, and not rely disproportionately on other members.” – The Honorable Gerald Howarth

“In Chicago, we have to talk about succession planning—the next Secretary General must have huge budgetary confidence. We have to have an eventful and substantive summit.” – Mr. Bruce Jackson

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It’s That Time: Sharing Global Responsibility

Closing out this year’s Forum, panelists shared their thoughts on what the emergence of new and growing democracies means for the international community. Rising powers such as Brazil, India and Japan, among others, can be seen as new and exciting allies of Western leaders, but questions were raised about how much these countries would be willing to contribute to international security.

A dominating theme of the discussion was how emerging and established democracies might gain a better understanding of each other’s roles and abilities in creating a more secure world.

On the Panel

M.J. Akbar
National Spokesperson, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

Hakan Altinay

Masafumi Ishii

Joanisval Brito Gonçalves

Steve Clemons
Washington Editor-at-Large, The Atlantic and Editor-in-Chief AtlanticLIVE & QuartzLIVE

Hot Topics

On Japan
“We have started preparation for sending troops to South Sudan as part of peace keeping operations…and we will soon send about 300 construction units. That is what a country like Japan can do. Those missions need divisions of labor, and that is where I think rising powers can and do contribute.” – The Honorable Masafumi Ishii

On Brazil
“…Some numbers about Brazil: 80.5 million square kilometers, 190 million people, we’re the fifth largest country in the world, and we must now realize that we are in the world scenario, acting as an emergent power. Our areas and field of interest are South America and Africa, and we continue to consider what Brazil’s role in the world will be…We have spent $100 million in development both inside Brazil and outside of Brazil.” – Dr. Joanisval Brito Gonçalves

On India
“Strategic partnerships are not built on the basis of common friendships, it are build on the basis of common enemies…India just signed strategic partnerships with Japan, Vietnam—our relationship with Australia has taken a quantum leap—and a treaty partnership with Afghanistan—all within the last four months.  In terms of India playing actively in both the East and West regions, in harmony with America, it is an era that is just beginning.” – Mr. MJ Akbar

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