Canada's lack of an effective foreign policy vision (a geopolitical strategy)(beyond generalities) complicates its creation of an effective defence strategy & policy.
Canada is generally reckoned to have small but effective air forces, naval forces and land forces. It's space related, signint and cyber capabilities are similarly of high calibre.
The creation of an effective defence policy is made difficult by a rapidly evolving geopolitical situation and revolutionary new technologies that will impact the current structure and doctrines of Canada's defence forces and its allies.
Canada is 15th in the world in terms of its GDP and has a population of only 38 million. It must necessarily cut the coat
to fit the cloth financially, and use more brains than brawn in pursuit of its security and foreign policy goals. It cannot be a tiger, a bear, a lion or an elephant - but it can be a wasps nest - a deterrent force, a point force and a mobile force. Diplomacy it has been said is the "art of letting the other fellow have your way".
With some parties reason alone, while necessary, is not sufficient condition to alter outcomes. Canada has only 38 million people to Russia's 143 million but Canada's GDP has surpassed Russia's. We make a strong partner.
Canada has striking technological sophistication in some areas - for example machine learning and quantum physics, but it has consistently in recent decades failed to fund its military capabilities or develop effective policy - a neither brains nor brawn approach. It has however some
exceptional AI and cyber capabilities that could be built upon as AIification proceeds.
On the critical path to a more effective military capability is defence procurement. Absent reform of the procurement process Canada's defence capabilities will falter.
Absent improved funding Canada's defence capabilities will falter. Absent a more effective R&D strategy Canada's defence capabilities will falter.
Absent a more effective defence capability its foreign policy will falter.
There is a changing consensus among rank-and-file policymakers about what constitutes national security in the NATO alliance.
This expansive new conception of national security is sensitive to a broad array of potential threats, including to the economic livelihood of the alliance.
The insufficiency of the technological substrate of the nation state requires an alliance structure to build economies of scale and network effects
sufficient to deal with the China challenge.
Even the combined strength of Europe may not create any means of an independent course. Nor will the US prevail in time as China continues to grow and its S&T capacity continues to deepen.
Unfortunately while this is understood by US military leadership the current US President and his supporters fail to grasp this basic fact.
The creation of an effective Canadian defence strategy is complicated by the lack of informed public dialogue and a dependent mindset - on two stout allies the U.K. and the U.S. In the post-WWII period the heart of the strategy of the west has been
essentially an "offset strategy" designed to deal with the numberical superiority of potential advesaries.
Central to Canadian Defence is the Canada - US Defence relationship.
China is and will be for the decades to come Canada's and the world's primary geopolitical challenge. By 2035 China's GDP seems likely to exceed that of the US. To restate the obvious, it is a dictatorship - which calls at all times for "realpolitik" in dealings.
A longstanding problem with defence policy has been the lack of an Asia Pacific facing worldview in Central and Eastern Canada and an isolationist Quebec.
One of the more sobering charts that define and dimension Canada's geostrategic challenge can be found here.
China's leadership has a strong S&T background and is committing vast sums to R&D. This is a chart that should be widely shared with our North American and European cousins.
China has a tremendous capacity for good or ill. It is no longer a "sleeping" giant. More
There is the risk too of the Thucydides' Trap (TT) ( See also aTT critique)
“It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this inspired in Sparta that made war inevitable.”
The current Canadian government has been signally circumspect - almost secretive - with respect to China relations.
Others have noted this Canadian policy vacuum and the need for a Asia-Pacific security and defence "White Paper".
To this "rise of China challenge" must be added the seeming rise of "instability" in the U.S. political system, the disturbances in Europe and the potential
for a variety of socio-economic challenges that may give rise to Canada's geopolitical situation being altered. At least one observer has described the current upheaval as The Great Rebellion.
It appears that the new US President does not understand NATO along with a great many other things. The US global alliance network is manifestly in the US national interest.
Russia's recent clear drift back to historical authoritarian rule and successful use of a Hybrid Warfare tool for Limited War poses unique strategic challenges for Canada and the World.
The emergence of a proto - Sino-Russian Axis suggests that efforts should be made to keep such a relationship from deepening and to simultaneously keep Europe free from coercive Russian designs. China and Russia have little in common except the Asian landmass and authoritarianism. Russia has little or no commitment to raising up its poor.
To reiterate, Canada's lack of an overarching global strategy will hamper effective policy development and actions in crisises. Whatever may be said of the EU capabilities, it does appear to have a global strategy
to guide its actions in diplomacy and defence. More
The Standing Committee on National Defence studies the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as the domestic, continental and international security environment. On September 19, 2016, the Committee tabled in Parliament a report: Canada and the Defence of North America: NORAD and Aerial Readiness.
Canada conducted a Defence Policy Review in 2016.
Reinvesting in the Canadian Armed Forces: A Plan for the Future May 2017.
Canada issued its new Defence Policy on June 7, 2017.
Canada issued its new reportCanadian Sovereignty New Threats New Challenges 2019.
Before reading further I recommend this report: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Defense and this article on AI and the Five Links on the Digital Value Chain
Note: Much of this material was created before the aberation that is Donald Trump and the successful Russian attempts to alter election outcomes in the West. Canada and the West now face a geopolitical challenge requiring we all hit the "foreign policy vision / geopolitical strategy" reset button.