Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Interview: Cleo Paskal on John Batchelor Show with Gordon Chang on India-Iran-Afghanistan (+Japan)

Cleo spoke with John and Gordon about the new agreement for India to help build a port in Iran with assistance from Afghanistan, and possibly Japan. Click here. It starts at 11.35.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Interview: Cleo Paskal on Background Briefing with Ian Masters talking the potential upside of Brexit

Cleo was on Background Briefing with Ian Masters talking about how Brexit may actually turn out to be good for the EU and increase global security. You can hear it here

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Article: 5 ways Brexit could be good for the United States (Yahoo News)

To read it on Yahoo News, click here

We’ve all seen the short-term downsides of Brexit: the stock market nosedive, the crash of the pound to 30-year-lows and the political earthquakes in the United Kingdom — including the announced resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, the flaring up of civil war in the opposition Labour Party and the threats by the leader of the Scottish National Party to hold another referendum on Scottish independence.
This flux will wax and wane as the U.K. and the European Union soon launch into a two-year period of disengagement that is likely to feature window-rattling Sturm und Drang from both sides. But then the deal will be done, and life will go on. And life post-Brexit might be good, not just for the U.K. but for the United States. Five areas in particular could benefit — and open a path for a new geopolitical order that’s even friendlier to U.S. interests.
1. Intelligence sharing
The U.K. is part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, along with the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This global intelligence-sharing network has the highest penetration in the world. Traditionally, the U.K. and U.S. in particular cooperate very closely. That partnership contributes to the U.K. having the best intelligence capabilities in the EU (though the Germans and French are also very good, they don’t have the global network the U.K. has via Five Eyes).
The EU has been pushing hard for increased intelligence sharing among its 28 members, but at the same time other EU institutions are enacting policies under the rubric of human rights and immigration that undermine security and operations. According to former CIA Director General Michael Hayden: “Because of some of the positions the Euro institutions have taken on surveillance and privacy, the capitals are finding it more difficult to provide for their own citizens’ safety. So to a degree, Brussels, as a Euro institution, keeps pushing these activities at the expense of security.”
Had the U.K. been pulled closer into the EU, it is likely the U.S. would have had increasing concerns about sensitive intelligence cooperation and sharing with the U.K. in case of Brussels interference or leakage to less secure members of the EU. With Brexit, the U.K. and U.S. can continue to deepen their relationship, while the U.K. can continue to work with EU members on well-defined files of mutual interest, without risking compromising Five Eyes partners. Brexit reassures the U.S. that intelligence cooperation with one of its key allies, the U.K.  , can not only continue but also grow, securely.
2. Defense
Similarly, there has been a growing push by Brussels for an EU military. The goals of that military risk being very different from the goals of Washington. The cracks have already appeared. Recently, NATO held exercises in Poland and the Baltic states in order to reassure those countries that NATO took their concerns about Russia seriously. Germany’s foreign minister responded by accusing NATO of “warmongering,” thereby showing Russia a NATO-undermining lack of unity in the Western response and discounting the real concerns of EU partners. What would the situation be like if the EU already had a military? Would the NATO exercise have been allowed?
With Brexit, the U.S. can be assured that the U.K. — a permanent member of the UN Security Council — will remain an unconflicted partner in NATO, not subject to divergent EU policies.
3. Trade and finance
During the campaign, President Obama told the British that if they voted for Brexit, a post-EU U.K. would be “in the back of the queue” for negotiating a trade agreement with the U.S. First, the U.S. business sector is unlikely to want to wait to make a deal with the world’s fifth largest economy, especially at a time when it is most adaptable. Second, with the stalling of the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the precarious state of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that queue is getting rather short anyway.
Also, one of the main drivers of the U.K. economy is financial services. The current Conservative U.K. government has a strong relationship with the City, as the home financial sector in London is called, and is likely to work closely with it to ensure that a post-Brexit regulatory regime favors the sector.
The City has a long (if dubious) tradition of working with, and leveraging, political sovereignty to create market exploits, which is why so many of the world’s tax havens are in U.K. possessions, like the Cayman Islands. Stripped of EU oversight, and with a likely compliant national government, the City will actively look to use its new position to try to create adaptable, dynamic and attractive products and services. Wall Street is going to want in.
Overall, the chances of the U.S. being able to do a mutually beneficial, relatively fast, bilateral deal with a close defense partner that has a relatively friendly regulatory regime are much better than the chances of quickly completing a U.S.-EU deal.
4. Geopolitics: The Anglosphere opportunity
The possibility of a reinvigorated U.S.-U.K. relationship creates an opening for the development of a potentially beneficial new geopolitical construct: the Anglosphere. Latticed with English-speaking countries (for example the Five Eyes) and anchored by the U.S., U.K. and India (which has its own accomplished intelligence network), the idea is to facilitate trade, strategic partnerships and more between like-minded nations. It would also act, implicitly, as a competing center of gravity for Chinese influence.
Brexit could fast track the operationalization of an Anglosphere structure. The U.S. is already actively working on developing a strategic relationship with India, and Brexit campaigners have repeatedly said the goal is not to be locked into the anemic growth of Europe, but to go global and build ties with dynamic countries like India. There is a natural compatibility that goes beyond the English language. Already, the U.K. is a favorite destination for well-heeled Indian students, accomplished Indian professionals, Mumbai bankers and more. If the U.K. approaches India like the 21st century power it is, an Anglosphere might take shape, offering the U.S. another set of allies in a time of geopolitical flux.
5. A wake-up call for the EU
There is a (small) chance Brexit might actually help save the EU. The EU is becoming increasingly addicted to an out-of-touch bureaucracy. Brexit may be the intervention it needs to break its habit and become more alert to ground realities. Brexit showed very clearly that, in its current form, the EU is deeply unpopular. Ideally, the concern over exit contagion would spur Eurocrats to get back to the original goals of the union — a mutually beneficial trade zone — and to curb some of its political overreach, creating more popular support. A more stable EU would be a good thing not just for Europe, but for the U.S. and the world. But habits are hard to break.
There is a post-Brexit path for the U.K. to become more economically nimble and geopolitically relevant, both things that would benefit the U.S. It will take leadership and vision. And time. Ignore the sound and fury. It will take at least three years to discover the real meaning of Brexit.

Article: Post Brexit, UK will build partnerships of its choice (Sunday Guardian)

By Cleo Paskal
Sunday Guardian, 25 June 2016
Now, an obvious focal point for the UK would be India, and its high growth, English speaking population and abundant, young professionals. UK can prioritise the immigration of Indian doctors and engineers instead of favouring the EU.
On 23 June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union by a vote of around 52% to 48%. The front page of one major newspaper announced “Independence Day”.
There was an immediate seismic shift in the British political landscape. Prime Minister David Cameron declared he would be resigning in the next few months, a revolt was launched against the leader of the opposition Labour Party by members of his own party, the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party raised the spectre of a second Scottish independence referendum, some in Ireland said they would be pushing for a vote on Irish “reunification”, the pound dropped and global markets had palpitations. EU grandees wailed that Armageddon had arrived.
The short-term implications seem negative. Systems don’t like change and they will bray and flail as they try to adjust and position themselves in the new reality. The EU will be worried about exit contagion and spew heated rhetoric to try to neutralise it. Turkey may try to push for advantage in the confusion, potentially adding to the tensions so that it can be brought in as “part of the solution”.
But the medium and longer-term implications are much more promising. To understand why, it helps to think forward ten years, to where the EU might have been without a Brexit.
Looking forward, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the EU’s anaemic growth substantially revives, or its social challenges improve. With no domestic economic tools to adapt, countries like Greece remain captive to economic policies coming out of Brussels, or maybe Berlin, spurring more popular discontent and resentment. Infrastructure and social service planning becomes increasingly difficult as a mobile population tries to find work.
At the same time, there is a growing push for an EU army and increased intelligence sharing among the EU’s 28 or so members. What sort of a position might be backed by an EU military? Just a few days ago, Germany’s Foreign Minister publicly berated NATO for sending troops to the Baltic countries and Poland to reassure them in the face of concerns about a resurgent Russia (something the EU is now loath to do, especially given their mismanagement of the Ukraine situation). This means that, even without a military, one of the EU’s main voices was already undermining NATO, and sending conflicting messages about Western positioning. What would happen if an EU military and NATO were directing conflicting policies? And how would overlapping partners be expected to fully share intelligence under those circumstances?
Had the UK remained, it would have been one voice of over two dozen in shaping trade negotiations and foreign policy priorities in a zone of low growth and increasing social instability. At the same time partners like the US would have been increasingly concerned about its reliability as a military and intelligence ally.
Once the UK officially declares its intention to leave the EU, it has two years to finalise the terms of disengagement. However it is not as if there is no safety net. All countries involved are members of the WTO, and so there are baseline trade agreements in place. Similarly all are members of Interpol and raft of other international organisations. In spite of all the sound and fury, the UK is not going to end up with a worse deal than, say, Canada, which benefits from visa free travel to European countries and market access.
The UK has a large trade deficit with the EU, and the EU won’t want to lose access to UK markets for German cars, French wine, Danish cheese, Italian pasta, and whatever it is Portugal sells to the UK. Ignore the noise. And there will be a lot of noise. Traders and speculators love volatility as they can make money when the market moves, whichever way it moves. At the end of the day, though, a deal will be struck.
Once the initial flux of the next two or three years is over, the UK can become more adaptable and nimble in economic development and foreign policy engagement. Rather than being tied to the EU, it can look globally for partners. Instead of being one of 28 at the negotiating table for a trade agreement, for example, it can create targeted bilateral deals.
An obvious focal point would be India, and its high growth, English speaking population and abundant, young professionals. Instead of being forced to take Spanish bartenders and Bulgarian drivers, the UK can prioritise the immigration of Indian doctors and engineers. Geopolitically, it can also start focusing on an “Anglosphere”, in which India, the UK and US, anchor a global partnership of like-minded English-capable countries. This takes the UK from being one of several biggish players (along with Germany and France) in a regional partnership, to being a uniquely valuable node in a real global alliance.
Of course, this is not inevitable. It will take leadership and vision, and a real understanding of the drivers and realities of potential partners, like India. The Empire is long gone. And the tone of the engagement will need to acknowledge that. But at least it is now possible. Had the UK stayed with the EU, the UK would have been subsumed into an increasingly dysfunctional Europe. Now it can decide for itself which partnerships it wants to build.
The EU is not a static structure. A lot will depend on how it responds to Brexit. If it doubles down on its bureaucracy-based political and military integration, the Brexit virus is likely to spread. If it takes the lessons of Brexit to heart and retreats and retrenches along the lines of its core identity—an economic bloc—it might buy itself some time. However it will still have to find ways to handle Turkey, and possibly Russia. The EU is evolving, the question is, will it also be adapting.
Cleo Paskal is Associate Fellow, Chatham House, London and Trudeau Visiting Fellow, CÉRIUM, Montreal. Views are her own.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Article: Hard times ahead for European Union (Sunday Guardian)

EU will face its biggest test on Thursday, when UK votes on whether or not to leave the Union.
Imagine 29 states, each with their own languages and cultures, forged together in an economic and political union that transcends a history of war and division to create a single nation that shapes the world. Well, what you are imagining is India, not the European Union.
The European Union, made up of 28 states rather than 29, may wish it could accomplish what India did, but Brussels has yet to find its Sardar Patel. In the meantime, it is struggling to find its way. It will face its biggest test on 23 June, when the people of the United Kingdom will vote on whether to remain in the union, or leave. Regardless of the outcome, the tensions at the core of the EU will remain, and likely increase. So, it is worth looking at some of the issues that lie at the heart of the debate.
What is the goal of the EU?
The core of many of the disagreements between the UK “leave” and “remain” camps is philosophical.
A large section of “remainers” believe the world would be a better place without borders—there would be less discrimination, less war, more trade. Like some of the Marxists from JNU, they believe borders are a byproduct of a retrograde 19th century political philosophy.
A sample policy byproduct of this philosophy is that Spaniards working in the UK can get child benefits from the UK (at UK rates) that they send back to their children in Spain, where the rates are substantially lower. This is considered “right” in the context of a borderless union, since the UK and Spain are considered interchangeable.
“Leavers”, meanwhile, believe the voters and the people they elect should be “local” so that they can better understand and respond to changing conditions, and governments can be held directly accountable to the people they govern. One policy example they give is that, given most of the EU’s agricultural policy is decided and funded via Brussels, land use in the UK cannot adapt quickly to changing social and climate conditions and is out of touch with ground realities.
One specific event encapsulated the combination of lack of flexibility and abundance of bureaucracy leavers think is endemic in the EU. The EU fisheries policy sets strict limits on who can catch which fish. However, with climate change and overfishing, stocks are changing and moving. In this case, herring and mackerel moved north to find colder waters as the seas warmed.
Three years ago, the Faroe Islands suddenly found themselves with more fish in their seas. The Faroes are part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but are self-governing. While mainland Denmark is part of the EU, the Faroes have a looser relationship with Brussels. The EU told the Faroes the herring and mackerel were EU fish, and they couldn’t catch them. The Faroes unilaterally decided to catch more fish. The EU declared a boycott on the Faroes. This meant that, for a while, due to EU policy, one part of Denmark was boycotting another part of Denmark. The boycott rankled the Faroes, and contributed to its subsequent decision to open a trade office in Moscow.
Leavers are concerned that this sort of cascading unintended political consequence of inflexible bureaucratic positioning in a time flux is becoming more common. They say the EU’s handling of the Greek debt crisis, combined with Greece’s limited economic self-governance options, have not only weakened Greece, but the south-eastern border of the EU, making Greece less able to handle the refugee crisis. Far from making the zone more stable, they say, some EU policies make rapid response to changing conditions more difficult, leading to more instability.
Additionally, when one powerful country in the Union unilaterally enacts a policy that affects all, as Germany did when it threw open its borders to Syrian migrants, there is little smaller countries can do, even if their stability is affected. The EU, some leavers say, was designed to distribute bounty in the good times, not share the burden in the bad times.
Many disagreements between the UK ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ camps are philosophical. Some ‘remainers’ believe the world would be a better place without borders—there would be less discrimination, more trade. They believe borders are a byproduct of a retrograde 19th century political philosophy.
EU as a military force?
Remainers believe that the solution to this problem is to give the EU more powers, including an army, so that response can be quicker and more decisive. UK remainers think it is important for the UK to stay in the EU to have a voice in shaping this stated desire for increasing political integration.
UK leavers think that their primary concern should be the welfare of UK citizens, as opposed to EU citizens as a whole. Though they also think that, given what they believe are some of the core problems with the EU, a Brexit might trigger the course correction the EU needs to become more responsive to member concerns, and so ultimately more stable and resilient.
Pointing to the UK’s advantage of geography, leavers see the islands of the UK as being an intrinsic defence against some of the challenges faced by continental EU members. Some also voice concerns about how that EU military would work in the context of NATO, especially given one of the first tests of that sort of EU political engagement, they say, contributed to the situation in the Ukraine.
EU as an economic force?
The discussion about economics is also fundamentally philosophical. Remainers are opposed to change, and are Europe focused. Essentially, they think the global economy will, or should, stay balanced more or less the way it is now. They believe that it is important for the UK to stay part of the EU market, one of the largest in the world, and are concerned about the effects of leaving on the financial services sector.
Leavers say that the EU is a zone of exceptionally low growth, with little long-term hope for high growth. They see a UK that is primarily just a part of the EU economy as restrictive and regressive. They say the EU is not going to stay the way it is anyway, and the UK will have limited say in the new directions, so a vote to stay is not a vote for the status quo, it is a vote to ride along to an unknown destination in the backseat. They are not concerned about “losing” access to the EU market because they say the EU will need access to the UK market, and so there will be room to negotiate.
They are also not concerned about the financial services sector, saying that sector in particular thrives in the margins and, as the EU/UK rules are being rewritten, the sector will boom as it looks for, and helps to create, exploits. Also, as individuals, too many people from around the world are too comfortable in London to abandon it. Highfliers from Mumbai aren’t going to leave London for Lisbon, they say.
Building on that, they see the future with countries like India. They are more Commonwealth and Anglosphere focused, seeing the potential for a global market of English speaking allies, in which the UK will hold a unique position. 
Migration is a key component of the leavers’ strategy. Last year, the UK experienced 300,000 in net migration, with around half coming from the EU. This causes planning difficulties as physical and social infrastructure sees massive shifts. For example, aging water reservoirs can’t keep up with sudden new demand, or a primary school class with 30 children may suddenly get 10 more non-English speaking students, each speaking a different EU language. The next year, they may all leave as economies change, or another batch, with different languages, may come in. How is a city to plan and budget, say the leavers? Leavers prefer skills-based migration, something that would favour, for example, an educated English-speaking Indian over a unilingual Spanish barista.
When one powerful country in the Union unilaterally enacts a policy that affects all, as Germany did when it threw open its borders to Syrian migrants, there is little smaller countries can do, even if their stability is affected. The EU, some leavers say, was designed to distribute bounty in the good times, not share the burden in the bad times.
What now?
Whichever way the vote goes on 23 June, the EU debate is far from over. The EU is evolving politically and economically at a time when the world as a whole is changing geopolitically, geoeconomically and geophysically. The Brexit debate has uncovered some very deep differences in political philosophy at the heart of how to handle those changes. And, so far, there is no leadership at the level of Sardar Patel to guide the path ahead. The EU is in for some very tough times.
Cleo Paskal is Associate Fellow, Chatham House, London and Trudeau Visiting Fellow, CÉRIUM, Montreal. Views are her own.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Report about Cleo's presentation on strategic shifts in Oceania at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada's Trevor Fairlie wrote about the presentation Cleo made at the AFP on geopolitics in Oceania. You can read it here. It starts:

Making the Case for Canada’s Engagement 

with Oceania

When Canadians think of the Pacific Islands, or 'Oceania,' we think of beaches and family vacations. What we do not think of is the next sphere of great-power influence. In May 2016, Cleo Paskal [1] made the case to the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada for a change of mindset regarding Oceania. Far from being merely a honeymoon destination, Paskal argued that the region is increasingly critical in geopolitical relations. She argued that some countries, like China, understand the new dynamic in Oceania, while others do not—and Canada is among those countries that are out of the loop on this fast-changing frontier.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Video: Panel discussion on the future of the oil sands with Cleo Paskal, Jeff Rubin, Karel Mayrand, François Delorme (CPAC)

Cleo took part in a panel discussion on the future of Canada's oil sands in the context of today's economic environment with Jeff Rubin (Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governeance Innovation), Karel Mayrand (DG, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, David Suzuki Foundation), Frencois Delorme (Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Sherbroke), moderated by journalist and Laure Waridel. You can see it here.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Interview: Les îles qui disparaissent, un enjeu stratégique (Le Devoir)

Cleo was interviewed in Le Devoir on Pacific geopolitics. You can see the article here (and below).
Le Devoir
On apprenait début mai que cinq îles de l’archipel des Salomon, dans le Pacifique, ont disparu, immergées en raison de la montée des eaux, conséquence du réchauffement climatique. Ces îles étaient inhabitées. Mais de nombreuses autres, habitées celles-là, sont aussi menacées. Loin d’être un phénomène strictement physique, la disparition progressive des îles de l’Océanie, qui sont aussi des pays, soulève d’importants enjeux légaux et stratégiques, explique Cléo Paskal, chercheuse de la Fondation Trudeau invitée au CERIUM.
Sur le plan de la géographie physique, qu’est-il en train de se passer dans les îles du Pacifique ? Quels sont les risques ?
Il y a de nombreux pays vulnérables en Océanie. Le point le plus élevé dans l’ensemble des îles du pays de Tuvalu est à moins de cinq mètres au- dessus du niveau de la mer. L’altitude moyenne dans les atolls du Kiribati est sous la barre des deux mètres. Ce ne sont là que quelques exemples. Il est cependant très difficile de faire des scénarios précis et communs, car il y a différents facteurs qui entrent en jeu et qui interagissent de manière différente d’île en île.
En gros, deux phénomènes se produisent simultanément, l’un renforçant l’autre de façon exponentielle : la hausse du niveau de la mer, qui évolue lentement, a des effets majeurs sur les tempêtes et les hautes marées, entre autres. Ensuite, le problème n’est pas que l’immersion progressive d’une île, mais aussi l’eau de mer qui s’infiltre dans l’aquifère. Cette eau salée remplace l’eau douce propre à la consommation, mais elle tue aussi la flore, qui tient le sol en place. Résultat : l’érosion s’accélère, rendant ainsi une parcelle de terre encore plus vulnérable aux tempêtes. Un cyclone peut ainsi effacer une île de la carte.
Il faudra certainement déménager ces habitants, revoir le partage des zones économiques, etc. Quels sont au juste les enjeux légaux et politiques ?
Selon la Convention des Nations unies sur le droit de la mer, chaque île habitée peut réclamer autour d’elle au moins 200 miles nautiques de zone économique exclusive. Cela signifie que les îles de Kiribati, qui comptent 100 000 habitants, couvrent pratiquement l’équivalent de la superficie de l’Inde.
La Convention tient pour acquis que la géographie physique est immuable. Elle ne prévoit donc rien en cas de disparition d’une île, par exemple. C’est là que le phénomène a le potentiel d’entrer dans la sphère politique et légale.
Kiribati, par exemple, a jadis eu des relations diplomatiques avec la Chine, qui en avait profité pour y installer une base afin d’observer les activités militaires américaines dans les îles Marshall voisines. Kiribati a changé de camp diplomatique en nouant des relations avec Taïwan et ferma la base chinoise. Aujourd’hui, la population de Kiribati risque de devoir être déplacée en raison de la hausse du niveau de la mer. Pour cela, le gouvernement de l’île a acheté du terrain aux Fiji… qui ont de bonnes relations avec la Chine. Les Fiji insisteront-elles alors pour que Kiribati permette à Pékin d’y reprendre ses activités militaires ?
Sur le plan légal, les accords sur les droits de pêche seront aussi touchés. Encore une fois, ces accords présument que les types et la quantité de ressources halieutiques restent les mêmes partout. Idem pour le droit maritime et des ressources hydrauliques. Partout dans le monde, des îles du Pacifique à l’Europe, cette infrastructure légale craque.
Comment les grandes puissances telles que la Chine et les États-Unis, très présents dans cette région, se positionnent-elles ?
Comprendre les implications des changements qui s’opèrent dans cette région requiert une analyse qui tient compte de nombreuses variables qui se déploient à long terme. Jusqu’à présent, les décideurs chinois semblent le comprendre mieux que les Occidentaux. Ça se voit dans l’Arctique — où Pékin déploiera sous peu un deuxième brise-glace alors que Washington a laissé vieillir sa flotte —, en Afrique, et l’Océanie n’y échappe pas. La Chine s’y est imbriquée sur les plans politique, économique et militaire. Elle a lancé des programmes d’infrastructure, de prêts, de bourses, de coopération militaire, etc.
Les États-Unis commencent à le comprendre, mais leur réaction est essentiellement militaire, alors que l’activité économique apparaît comme la plus déterminante. Les partenaires « occidentaux » en Océanie, l’Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande, n’ont pas non plus réellement aidé à renforcer la stabilité et la prospérité dans la région. Alors, en raison des liens économiques qui se renforcent avec la Chine, les pays de la région — y compris l’Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande — sont de plus en plus aspirés dans son orbite stratégique.
Tous devront aussi composer avec l’Inde qui, sous Narendra Modi, le premier ministre actuel, s’engage de plus en plus en Océanie.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Video: Cleo Paskal on climate change and security at the Forum St-Laurent sur la sécurité internationale

Cleo was on the climate change and security panel at the 2nd, high level Forum St-Laurent sur la sécurité internationale organised by l'Université Laval, l’UQAM et l’Université de Montréal. She covered Indo-Pacific geopolitical implications. You can see it here.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Video: Cleo on TPP panel with Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister for International Trade, and more

Also in discussion: Frédéric Mérand (Directeur du CÉRIUM),  Vincent Arel-Bundock (UdeM), Krzysztof Pelc (McGill), Pierre Marc Johnson (Président du Conseil d'orientation du CÉRIUM)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Article: Energy East exposes fractures in 'New Canada' (Dialogue Magazine)

Cleo did an article for Dialogue Magazine on the political complexity around the proposed Energy East pipeline in Canada. You can see it here.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Article: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Foreign Policy (Swastik.net.in)

Date: 6th Dec 2015
By Cleo Paskal

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy has shown a remarkable deftness of action and cohesion of vision. As a result, the last eighteen months have marked one of the fastest changes in the international profile of a major state in recent years. Whatever the outcome, it is worth taking a closer look at some of the elements that have catapulted India back to the center of global affairs. These lessons learned have relevance for anyone in management.

Consolidate your base

Modi's inauguration was the first indication that there was going to be a major redesign of Indian foreign policy. By inviting SAARC leaders, Modi highlighted the neighbourhood's importance to India, and India's importance to the neighbourhood. The 'peer pressure' component ensured that anyone tempted to not attend would be put on the back foot; Modi would look magnanimous, and they would look out of step with the mood of the times. In the end, all SAARC nations sent top leaders. And so, from his first day in office, Modi not only signaled to the region that 'India is back', he signaled to the wider world India's centrality in the region.

Be clear about your goals

From the beginning, Modi made it clear that his top priority was inclusive growth, and to create that growth he wanted to attract investment, 'make in India' and encourage entrepreneurship. On the international front, that meant doing what anyone expanding their business would do, going forth and selling their product, in this case India. He was always clear, however, that the core goal wasn't just growth, it was inclusive growth, so potential partners would understand from the outset this wasn't about throwing open the doors to all comers. It was about looking for the right partners. In that way, the most unrealistic expectations would be avoided.

Additionally, it meant that at various negotiations, for example at the Paris COP, India's 'red lines' were clear. If the West wanted India to shift away from fossil fuels, it would have to make renewables more affordable because growth would not be sacrificed. Others might not like India's position, but at least it wasn't fuzzy, making negotiations more straightforward. White House spokesman Josh Earnest recently told reporters that Modi "is honest and direct. He is also somebody that has a clear vision for where he wants to take his country. And that makes him not just an effective politician but an effective Prime Minister."

Understand and leverage your partners' priorities

One of the most remarkable moments was Modi's September 2014 Madison Square Garden event. It was his first US trip since he took office, and some media were still roiling with stories about his past visas issues. The Madison Square Garden event steamrolled right through those issues, and set a completely new standard for foreign leaders visiting the US. 

Modi understood that the Indo-American community is one of the wealthiest, most engaged and best-educated groups in the US, making it a very desirable demographic for American politicians. As they are not strongly aligned to either political party, Indo-American votes and campaign funding could be seen as 'up for grabs'. That is the reason that over three dozen US congress members from both houses, and both parties, happily shared the stage with Modi at the Garden. They included Democratic Senator Bob Menendez (Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair) and the Republican Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley. In one deft move Modi showed US politicians that he held sway over a chunk of their own political system. 

Identify overlooked opportunities

Modi was the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Mongolia, and the first in over three decades to visit the UAE, Fiji, Seychelles and elsewhere. The visits, especially to smaller nations, garnered enormous positive local media coverage that often highlighted linkages with India, reawakening old bonds. By visiting often-overlooked areas so early in his tenure, he showed that India was interested in engaging in a much deeper and more complex way than previously seen. 

This dovetailed with a widespread desire, especially in smaller states, to have a 'third option' to supplement the West and China. Both the West and China carry a certain baggage with them that, in many sectors, India doesn't have. For example, Indian pharmaceuticals are often cheaper than Western products and more reliable than Chinese ones. Similarly, Indian education is seen as more affordable than Western education, but more linguistically and culturally compatible than Chinese education.

By spending the time to visit these less obvious parts of the world, Modi is signaling that India seriously wants to engage with all. 

Follow through

However good Modi's foreign policy may be, it will need effective implementation to sustain it and ensure that it accomplishes its goals. And that is something that Modi can't do alone. However sharp the tip of the spear, if the shaft and bow are weak, the target won't be reached. 

As of now, follow through on a wide range of foreign policy initiatives has been lackluster. While there are major efforts to reform the bureaucracy, there are still large cracks that can swallow up policies. At the same time, there are those inside and outside the system who would benefit from Modi's failure. 

So far, Modi's foreign policy has exhibited intelligence, focus and vision. Time will tell if that vision becomes a reality or stays a mirage.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Interview: Cleo on John Batchelor Show with Gordon Chang talking about India's position at Paris COP

Cleo discusses India's position at the Paris COP21 with John Batchelor and Gordon Chang. You can hear it by clicking here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Article: India Ideas conclave discusses Wahhabi threat (Sunday Guardian)

By CLEO PASKAL | GOA | 22 November, 2015
From 15 to 17 November, over 350 world leaders, academics and writers gathered in Goa for the 2nd India Ideas Conclave, hosted by the India Foundation. The Conclave, as one journalist put it, “shows a large intellectual ecosystem, in India and abroad, bound by a common concern for what is good for India”.
There were panels devoted to Indian digital innovations, new economics, Dalit entrepreneurships, and more.
But, given the timing, it was inevitable that the recent terrorist attack in Paris infused many presentations. The Valedictory session of the Conclave began with a minute of silence for the departed and many presenters warned that the Indian cultural underpinning of Islam in the subcontinent was at risk of being replaced by, as attendee Sultan Shahin put it, a Saudi-funded “desiccated Salafist/Wahhabi version of Islam”.
At the same time, presentations lauded India’s “unity without uniformity”. For example Dattatreya Hosabale, joint general secretary of the RSS said, “Unity is when all treat a person who comes to their door as a God. But that is not uniformity. How you do that might be different.” Ambassador Muhammad Zamir of Bangladesh said, “SAARC countries have a shared culture.” And Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, director of BJP’s Public Policy Research Centre, said, “Unity gives you the space for diverse manifestations. In India there is a spiritual democracy that is the cornerstone of our sustainable pluralism.”
However, there was widespread concern that Wahhabism was threatening that unity. Attendee Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister of Bhutan said, “The attacks on France were an attack on humanity.” While Sultan Shahin said, “The idea that life begins in the grave is a ticking time bomb that should be defused by all governments, Muslim and otherwise.”
Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum said, “There have been three earthshaking radicalism in 20th century: Fascism, Communism, and Islamism. The first two have been defeated, now we must defeat the third.”
It was acknowledged, however, that it wouldn’t be easy. M.J. Akbar noted, “You can’t scare a suicide bomber with the threat of death. When you think your stupidity is endorsed by your culture and your God, you can be proud of your stupidity. This is an existential challenge.”
However, Pipes also noted that Islamism has major flaws: adherents fight each other, as seen in Syria and elsewhere, and Muslims living under Islamist rule don’t like it, as seen in Egypt and elsewhere.
Tufail Ahmad, author of Jihadist Threat to India, made concrete suggestions on how to counter the threat in India. The core was to follow the Indian Constitution and ensure that the fundamental right to education.
Ahmad said: “Madrasas capture the Muslim child’s mind during the critical 6-14 years of age, an age when children are required to be protected by the Right to Education Act. All children must be in proper schools during the school hours of the day. A proper school means: students must achieve the same educational outcomes in mathematics and other material sciences which students from mainstream schools achieve. If a specific madrasa does not deliver these educational metrics, it must be banned as unconstitutional, in violation of the Right to Education Act.”
Ahmad said: “I don’t want quotas, I want my daughter to learn math and sciences,” adding, “the Muslim siege mentality and minority syndrome reside in Hindu-Muslim riots and quota politics. To remove siege mentality, India must ensure radical zero-tolerance police reforms and we must make quota politics redundant by developing a national policy of free books, free clothes and free schooling for children of all BPL card holders, irrespective of their religion and caste.”
“As a long-term strategy” Ahmad said, “the Indian government must introduce three textbooks from Grade 1 through 12: One on Indian classics such as Upanishads, Mahabharata, Gita and classical Indian thinkers; a second primer on the Constitution’s ideals; and a third primer containing good points from all religions. History gives us hopeful lessons: In India itself, Hindu youths abandoned castes and sati. Christianity and Judaism went through their internal conflicts; the Bible and the Torah are removed from public life. Since Islam is the youngest of the Middle Eastern religions, there is hope. The cause of Islamic Reformation in India must begin in the age group of 6-14 years.” The Conclave also explored vibrant Indian technology, literature, spirituality, and culture. It was a glittering kaleidoscope of hope and innovation — even brighter in comparison to the dark shadow of Wahhabism.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Article: Under Justin Trudeau, Canada’s global profile set for Major Rejig (Sunday Guardian)

By CLEO PASKAL | MONTREAL | 7 November, 2015
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the crowds outside Rideau Hall after the Cabinet’s swearing-in ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday. REUTERS
The new 30-member Cabinet includes a record four Indo-Canadians, making it 13% Indo-Canadian.
There is a very good reason you haven’t been thinking much about Canada for the last ten years. Inspite of being a G7 country, one of the world’s biggest energy exporters, having strategic installations on the Atlantic, Pacific and even Arctic coasts, and many of the other usual indicators of being a “major” country, Canada has seemed largely invisible for the last decade or so.
Under the Prime Ministership of Conservative Stephen Harper (2006-2015), Canada’s role on the international stage became increasingly focused. Some areas were of interest, for example strengthening important ties with India on counter-terrorism and nuclear power, others weren’t, for example the United Nations and the climate negotiations. Additionally, Canada’s diplomats, like its civil servants, scientists, and even government ministers, were constrained by PMO policy in their public interactions. 
So, unless you were interested in something the Canadian government was interested in, Canada probably didn’t appear on your radar. And, even if you were, its good work on things like strengthening security cooperation with India weren’t widely known outside the relevant institutions due to messaging constraints.
Canada’s new National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan gestures after being sworn-in during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Canada on Wednesday. REUTERS
Canada’s new National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan gestures after being sworn-in during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Canada on Wednesday. REUTERS
For better or for worse, all that is about to change. With the October election of a Liberal Party majority under Justin Trudeau (son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau), Canada’s international profile is set to undergo a major relaunch.
The difference in style was made clear with the announcement of the Trudeau Cabinet on 4 November. There are 30 Cabinet members plus the Prime Minister. In a deliberate move, half the Cabinet members are women. When asked why, newly minted Prime Minister Trudeau replied: “Because it’s 2015”.
Trudeau also said his Cabinet “looks like Canada”. It includes two Aboriginal Canadians, including the new Justice Minister/Attorney General. The new Minister of Veterans Affairs is paraplegic.
But the big demographic story is the enormous electoral success of Indo-Canadians. As of 2011, people of Indian ethnic origin comprise roughly 3.5% of all Canadians, but a record 19 of the 338 of members of the new Parliament are Indo-Canadians (approximately 5.6%). 
The Indo-Canadian parliamentarians were elected from a range of parties, though overwhelmingly for the Liberals, and from across Canada. This wasn’t just block voting by Indo-Canadians for Indo-Canadians. One new Member of Parliament, young lawyer Anju Dhillon, was elected in a largely French speaking Montreal riding with a negligible Indo-Canadian community.
Also, while overwhelmingly Punjabi, the elected Indo-Canadian Parliamentarians also included men and women with roots across India, and who are Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim. For example, in 2004, the Liberal Party’s Yasmin Ratansi became the first Muslim woman elected to the Canadian Parliament.
Even more striking, the new 30-member Cabinet includes a record four Indo-Canadians, making it 13% Indo-Canadian. That number includes the new Defence Minister, retired Canadian Armed Forces Lieutenant-Colonel Hon. Harjit Singh Sajjan. 
By comparison, Canadians of Chinese ethnic origin comprised about 4.5% of all Canadians and there are few in Parliament and none in Cabinet. So, while Chinese-Canadians (and African-Canadians, and others) may wonder if the new Cabinet looks like their Canada, it certainly looks like an Indo-Canadian Canada.
What does this all mean and, in particular, what does this mean for India?
It is very hard to tell so far. Once you start to dig beneath the seemingly clear message in the political optics, the picture gets very fuzzy, very quickly. For example, Sajjan unquestionably has a distinguished record of service to Canada. He served honourably in Afghanistan and Bosnia, was a special adviser on Afghanistan, and was the first Sikh to command a Canadian army regiment. However, the way in which he came by his seat caused controversy in his riding. 
Some in Sajjan’s riding, Vancouver South, saw him as a “star” candidate parachuted in by the Liberal Party, displacing a popular choice for the ticket, local businessman Barj Dhahan. The key issue was that while Dhahan was known as a moderate Sikh who stood up to Khalistani-supporters, Sajjan’s father, Kundan Sajjan, was on the board of the hardline World Sikh Organization. The younger Sajjan has repeatedly affirmed he is “not a member of the WSO”. Regardless, his selection triggered the resignation of many long-term Sikh Liberal Party supporters. Rajinder Singh Bhela, the former general secretary of Vancouver’s largest gurdwara, the Ross Street Temple, was quoted as saying “we think this Liberal Party’s been hijacked by the WSO”.
As per his track record, Canada’s new Defence Minister has served honestly, diligently and honourably. The controversy around his selection is an indicator not of his character, but that the new Liberal Party can still play the top-down hardball of the old Liberal Party. 
And that is where the key questions lie. Trudeau has said that his government will be more open and collaborative than those of the last ten years. His Cabinet, diplomats, and civil servants have all been told they will be given much more leeway to influence policy. From the “looks like Canada” Cabinet to the “unmuzzling” of government officials, the new government is being presented as far more democratic in governance style.
However, the parachuting in of opaquely chosen Party candidates (Sajjan was not the only one) indicates there are some deeper currents also at play. In the past, the Liberal Party was known as a cozy closed club, replete with special interests. Trudeau will have to prove that it is not just optics, that his Liberal Party is truly different. 
This has direct implications for India. Under Harper, the bilateral strategic relationship with India quietly grew substantially stronger, built around common security concerns.  Trudeau has stated that his foreign policy is going to be much more vocal and multilateral. So, for example, while Harper disengaged from the climate negotiation process, that meant that Canada was not criticising India for its emissions. If Canada reengages and becomes more vocal, it is possible it may revert to some of the old Liberal Party habits of castigating India on its policies, including domestic and strategic ones. 
Trudeau stated his foreign policy will harken back to a time when “everyone loved Canada”. Unfortunately, that is a fictional time, as those in the Indian strategic community know. Patronising statements about countries that face a very different reality to the one faced by wealthy, largely secure Canada are likely to produce a much stronger response than they did in 1998.
The role of the Indo-Canadians in Cabinet in helping their colleagues understand that times have changed is unclear. The India they or their parents (or grandparents, or great-grandparents) knew, doesn’t exist anymore. 
It is very difficult to know what Canada’s new foreign policy will actually be. Will it reinforce the positive bridges to India forged by the previous government or change course? Will it be more collaborative and, if so, who are the collaborators? Will the Canada it projects truly be the Canada of today, or a reimagined version of a mythical nostalgic Canada? 
One promising sign is that Canada’s new Foreign Minister, Stéphane Dion, is highly experienced. But we don’t yet know how much actual input he will have.
The only thing we know for sure is that Canada is about to make noise again. Whether it will be music to India’s ears is yet to be discovered.
Cleo Paskal is the Visiting Trudeau Fellow at the Center for International Studies at the Université de Montréal and Associate Fellow at Chatham House, London.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Expert Comment: Cleo's Chatham House analysis of Canada's new government

Trudeau Election Marks New Start for Canada by Cleo Paskal

"The Liberal Party likes to think of itself as ‘Canada’s natural governing party’. Though they have been out of power for 10 years, and newly elected prime minister Justin Trudeau is relatively inexperienced, the party has deep and old networks across the country. The backroom is full of experienced old hands, including former prime ministers who have known Trudeau since he was a toddler. With a number of bold shifts promised in Canadian foreign policy, and a willingness to be fiscally expansive (Trudeau has said he is willing to run deficits for three years to implement their policies), the change is likely to be dramatic, fast and unrelenting."

To read the full analysis, including possible changes to energy and climate policy, and the implications of the growing role of First Nations in resource management please click here

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Interview: Cleo on John Batchelor Show with Gordon Chang talking about Xi's visit to UK and more

Cleo Paskal joined John Batchelor and Gordon Chang to discuss the implications of Chinese President Xi's visit to the UK, as well as what Canada's new government might mean for Canada-China relations.

You can hear the interview by clicking here

Monday, October 19, 2015

Interview: Cleo Paskal on Background Briefing with Ian Masters talking about the background to Canada's election

"We begin with the elections today in Canada that will decide whether incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper will get a fourth term or whether Justin Trudeau, the son of a former prime minister will lead his Liberal Party to victory ending a ten year stretch of conservative rule in Canada."

To hear the interview, click here.