LOCATION: Elements Dining Room at the Westin Nova Scotian
The first discussion of Day Two focused on the critical problem of our adversaries refusing to play by the rules, and the advantage they gain while democratic societies and Western militaries are tied to traditional methods of engagement. The debate examined the evolving role of the multilateral organizations that have historically overseen global response to crises and conflict, as well as how the self-imposed principles Western nations often set upon ourselves can be a detriment to finding creative diplomatic solutions. Panelists agreed that despite evolving challenges and imperfect governing structures at home, Western nations and democracies around the world should not abandon their collective principles in the interest of a “quick win”, but rather focus on improving the tools and strategies available to confront rule-breakers.
“We will always defend ourselves unilaterally, but if we’re going to try and promote values, we’ve got to do it multilaterally.”
“Since Charlie Hebdo, political speech is stronger. For the first time in France, there is now a debate on things that would have been unbelievable one year ago.”
“If we want a quick win we will probably break the rules. We should stick to the rules because in the long run this is the right way to go.”
“Breaking Tradition: Modern Muslims Advance” tackled the image problem placed on Muslims around the globe as a result of the troubling views of some, and the high-profile radical acts of a small few. Panelists also debated what makes ISIS a different kind of modern threat when compared to other radical Islamic organizations that have emerged, such as Al-Qaeda. The ideas generated by the panel included the scope of ISIS’s reach, its self-sustaining revenue mechanisms, its ability to shift tactics rapidly in the face of Western opposition, and the sheer strength of the dangerous ideology they promote. The conversation moved on to the question of how well-equipped Arab nations are to address the threat of radical Islam in the long term. Panelists discussed the need for modern Muslims who reject that ideology – including Muslim women and black Muslims – to have a leadership role in that strategy.
“Women have been talking about the growth of extremism in the region for years, in Afghanistan in Syria, in Libya, and people have very much ignored the voices of women.”
“I think we should bring in the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians and whoever is interested in fighting this war. Bring them into the war and don’t let them sit outside and create problems for you.”
Admiral Harry Harris delivered a forward-looking speech on U.S. strategy for the Indo-Asia Pacific region. His remarks touched on the importance of the region for the global economy and security, as well as the complex nature of America’s relationship with China – a “nation in a hurry.”
“Let me be clear: we will not give China – or any nation – a free pass to fray the rules-based security architecture that has benefitted all of us, including China.”
From the high seas to cyberspace, China’s tendency to disrupt is creating tension around the globe. How do we deal with a China that is experiencing its own difficulties, including declining economic growth, a stormy shift into a maritime-based power, and continual territorial disputes with its neighbors? The panel discussed the issues that arise from a nation that is inextricably linked to every major economy but is itself starting to show serious cracks in its facade. Panelists closed with thoughtful advice for Chinese leadership as the nation settles into its role as an influence on the global order, and the responsibilities they bear towards its own citizens.
“The international community acknowledges and welcomes China’s rise to an active role in the international environment, but that it is alarmed by the way China is exercising its rising power.”
“Read again what Deng Xiaoping said: That if China becomes a bully to smaller nations, the world should unite together with the people of China to throw out the leaders.”
“Just as we as a nation are trying to work our way through this increasingly interconnected world, for my Chinese teammates, I would argue it will be no less a challenge for you, but it’s one you fundamentally have to come to grips with.”
“Part of the title for this session is ‘Handle China with Care.’ I would say it’s not us that has to handle China with care. It should be the Chinese leaders handling China with care.”
LOCATION: Atlantic Ballroom
“Daesh will not be dead as an entity until we have killed it in the information sphere, until we have killed the idea.”
The panel discussed whether the U.S. has the will to continue its self-appointed role of the international defender of freedom, and how much America the rest the world is ready to accept. The conversation also touched on the Obama administration’s perceived shift away from America’s interventionist tendency and the potential “pendulum swing” that could take place following the 2016 U.S. election. Panelists gave consideration to what a modern mix of military power and soft power diplomacy might look like for a new U.S. approach to foreign policy.
“I think if we’re waiting for the moment in which the world judges that there is the perfect amount of U.S. leadership and intervention, we’ll be waiting for a very long time. The porridge is likely never going to be just right.”
“People in this part of the world believe Americans are part of the problem and part of the solution because there’s always this sense that it’s America to blame – whether for the good or for the bad.”
“Since Bill Clinton, Russia has been treated as the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving Dinner. ‘Oh, just don’t mention democracy, don’t mention human rights’.”
With more refugees and displaced persons worldwide than at any time since World War II, this panel’s conversation asked a stark question: Where do we go from here? A lively exchange between panelists and the audience examined the challenge of what is now a highly emotional issue. To some, refugees are a burden, and to others a responsibility. Migrants can represent security threats, or a critical part of the labour force. The panel debated whether fears of refugees as security threats was in fact a capitulation to the desires of terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Some suggested a Syria-based solution must be reached first to stem the flow of displaced peoples from that region. Panelists agreed that solidarity and a sharing of responsibilities among the international community is required to address this challenge in a sustainable way.
“What we really need is a multilateral approach to this problem. We need to go beyond the Refugee Convention. The international community needs to step in and really offer substantial assistance to these countries.”
“If we discuss the issue in such a way that we do not accept people from Syria coming to Europe, and if we start to distinguish whether they are Christians or Muslims, we would indeed fall into the trap of the ISIL propaganda and we should not succumb to this temptation.”
LOCATION: VIA Rail Station
“On Oct. 10, 2015, two suicide bombers attacked civilians at the heart of Ankara that were gathered to rally for peace. This cowardly terrorist attack by the Islamic State (ISIL) claimed the lives of more than 100 innocent Turkish citizens, the worst terrorist attack in Turkish history…”
“A common lament is that our leaders neglect strategy, leaving policy uncertain and inchoate…”
“We live in disruptive times. Russia annexes Crimea and invades Ukraine. The Islamic State conquers a large swath of territory that crosses the old border between Iraq and Syria, and the rump government of Bashir Al-Assad bombs its own people…”