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Session Recaps


Friday, November 21

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Introductory Remarks

Opening words by Mr. Peter Van Praagh, President of the Halifax International Security Forum, and Minister Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defense of Canada, welcoming participants to Canada and to the 2014 Forum.

On the Panel

Peter Van Praagh
President, Halifax International Security Forum

Rob Nicholson
Minister of National Defence, Department of National Defence, Canada

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Plenary Videos


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OPENING PANEL: Fortress North America: How Glorious?  How Free?

For the first time at the Halifax International Security Forum, the Session Opener was broadcast nationally, moderated by Global News’ Chief Political Correspondent, Tom Clark. The panel included the pinnacle of North American military leadership and dug into the internal and external risks to shared continental security. A variety of security threats were raised, including homegrown and foreign terrorism, vulnerabilities in private and public agencies and infrastructure like energy networks, as well as domestic matters such as crime and immigration. Panelists agreed that collaboration between North American military partners is necessary for continental security and that the existing relationships between Canada, the US, and Mexico should remain robust.

On the Panel

Frank Grass
Chief, United States National Guard Bureau

Charles Jacoby
Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command

Thomas Lawson
Chief of Defence Staff, Canadian Forces, Canada

Rob Nicholson
Minister of National Defence, Department of National Defence, Canada

Tom Clark
Chief Political Correspondent, Global News and Host, The West Block with Tom Clark

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Plenary Videos


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PLENARY 1: The Next Last Great War: The Next Battle for Modernity

In the context of reviewing the historic and defining wars of the past century, panelists pursued a vibrant discussion on the current trajectory of modernity; what that means in terms of democracy, who wants it, and how to get it. Current political and ideological movements in the Middle East, Russia, and China were at the crux of the exchange between the panelists. Panelists also considered how political and theological ideologies transcend the borders of nation states and impact how democracy and modernity can develop within these borders.

On the Panel

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

Ehud Barak
Former Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Israel

Cecil Haney
Commander, United States Strategic Command

Toomas Hendrik Ilves
President, Republic of Estonia

Gideon Rose
Editor, Foreign Affairs

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Saturday, November 22

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PLENARY 2: 
Is Winning Possible?  The Laws and Lawlessness of Asymmetric War

In a lively and contested discussion, panelists and audience debated the definition as well as the ability to win asymmetric wars, such as with ISIL. Panelists and participants were divided on the ability to truly win a values-based conflict. In the shadow of international conventions governing the rule of law, panelists addressed the social and political forces at play that exacerbate conflict and the resolution to conflict.  Panelists also presented views on the relationship between coalition and international military forces, regional political stability and local community engagement in areas of asymmetric war.

On the Panel

Irakli Alasania
Former Minister of Defense, Ministry of Defense, Georgia

Falah Mustafa Bakir
Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Kurdistan Regional Government

Jean-Paul Paloméros
Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

David Perkins
Commanding General, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command

Lyse Doucet
Chief International Correspondent, BBC

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PLENARY 3: Who Controls the Map?  Lost Innocents, Persistent Criminals, Depraved Terrorists

Panelists and participants engaged in thorough debate on the globalization of criminal and terrorist activity, the inter- and transnational funding sources for destabilizing actions by non-state actors and the resultant impact on nation states as well as on local populations.  Panelists concluded that the battle would not be quick or simple; complex historic, ideological and operational challenges exist in the establishment of stability and the fight against international crime. Panelists asserted that like-minded countries must cooperate and collaborate in this effort and that domestic laws and efforts to curb demand must keep pace.

On the Panel

Shlomo Avineri
Professor of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

John Kelly
Commander, United States Southern Command; Representative, Commandant of the Marine Corps

Rob Nicholson
Minister of National Defence, Department of National Defence, Canada

Alexander Vershbow
Deputy Secretary General, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Kathleen Koch
Author, Journalist, and Founder of LeadersLink

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PLENARY 4:
 O Say, Can’t You See? The Indispensable Role of the Exceptional Superpower

In a unique and bi-partisan panel, the role of American power and influence was discussed and debated.  Democratic Senator Tim Kaine argued that the US should replace the ideal of being indispensible with being exemplary, while Republican Senator John McCain asserted that, with the fundamental principles of freedom and democracy, American power is still indispensible in today’s world. The panel topics and participant questions virtually toured American influence around the world, through North and South America, Eastern and Continental Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the South China Sea, among other areas. Panelists agreed that Congressional involvement would be crucial going forward, acknowledging that the United States is currently in violation of its own War Powers

On the Panel

Tim Kaine
Senator, United States

John McCain
Senator, United States

Jonathan Tepperman
Managing Editor, Foreign Affairs

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HALIFAX CHAT: Abdullah Gül

Continuing the Halifax International Security Forum tradition of a one-on-one, on-the-record conversation, the 2014 Halifax Chat featured a discussion between H.E. Abdullah Gül, the 11th President of Turkey, and Mr. Robin Shepherd, Publisher of the Commentator. 

On the Panel

Abdullah Gül
11th President of the Republic of Turkey

Robin Shepherd
Publisher, The Commentator

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PLENARY 5:
 
Get Smart:  Gaining Intelligence, Missing the Meaning

In the global race for intelligence, panelists explored the evolving conditions, within which state and non-state actors alike are collecting and sharing information. Panelists assessed the value and usefulness of traditional forms of often covert and costly intelligence gathering compared to the availability of open-source resources. Panelists discussed the use of social media platforms as a tool for extremist forces to propagate their messages and gain support.  It was agreed that free and democratic states have a more compelling message to deliver, but they have to improve on delivery to win the ideological war. ISIL’s use of the Forum’s hashtag (#HISF2014) was put forward as an example of their widespread use of social media.

On the Panel

Lyse Doucet
Chief International Correspondent, BBC

Jane Harman
Director, President, and CEO, Woodrow Wilson Center

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

Michael Rogers
Commander, United States Cyber Command; Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Agency

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

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PLENARY 6:
 Africa Breaking Out

The overarching theme put forward by panelists and participants in this plenary was the multiple diverse narratives simultaneously proceeding on the continent.  Panelists asserted that, while it is true that Africa is on the rise, the trajectory remains uneven and may be leaving behind large segments of the populous.  The strain that the recent Ebola outbreaks put on domestic and international resources was a central topic among the speakers. Panelists and participants also discussed the influence of non-state actors such as Boko Haram and their influence in areas of the continent.

On the Panel

Comfort Ero
Program Director, Africa, Crisis Group

Christopher Fomunyoh
Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa, National Democratic Institute

Karin Landgren
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia

Japheth Omojuwa
Editor, AfricanLiberty.org

Natalie Nougayrede
Foreign Affairs Columnist, Member of the Editorial Board, The Guardian

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Sunday, November 23

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PLENARY 7:
  Wanted:  Food, Energy, Water – A FEW Good Resources

Access to renewable and non-renewable resources including energy resources, food and water, are central to geopolitical relations and realities, and were explored by the panelists in this session.  Speakers discussed the trends and management of supply and demand – both real and perceived – of products on which people rely.  Participants also discussed the outcomes of resource scarcity at the individual, organizational, national and regional levels in terms of cost and security. Panelists concluded with their opinions about future dynamics around resource requirements and sources.

On the Panel

Michelle Howard
Vice Chief of Naval Operations, United States Navy

Vladimir Milov
President, Institute of Energy Policy

Peter Tertzakian
Chief Energy Economist and Managing Director at ARC Financial Corp.

Kevin Baron
Executive Editor, Defense One

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PLENARY 8:
 The New Propagandists:  The Battle for the Narrative

This panel’s discussion on propaganda was particularly timely given the use of the Forum’s social media hashtag #HISF2014 by ISIL promoters during the event.  Focusing largely on the current narrative battlefields in Russia and Eastern Europe as well as Afghanistan, and with ISIL, panelists discussed successful forms and methods of message delivery, as well as whether if the most effective source was private or public.  According to the panelists, winning the narrative battle is more than countering propaganda, it also means identifying and galvanizing the narrative of modernity and creating mechanisms to deliver information that counters terrorism and the promotion of violent, unlawful behavior.

On the Panel

Steven Blaney
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Canada

Mikhail Kasyanov
Former Prime Minister of Russia; Co-Leader, Republican Party of People's Freedom

Saad Mohseni
Chairman and CEO, Moby Group

Frances Townsend
Executive Vice President for Worldwide Government, Legal, and Business Affairs, MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings, Inc.

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

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