Halifax International Security Forum

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Halifax International Security Forum
Halifax International Security Forum logo.jpg
Founded November 18, 2011; 6 years ago (2011-11-18)
Focus International security
Location
Area served
worldwide
Services forum and network for decision-makers
Key people
Peter Van Praagh, President[1]
Joseph Hall, Vice President
Jonathan Weisstub, Chairman[2]
Jonathan Tepperman, Vice Chairman
David J. Kramer, Treasurer
Website halifaxtheforum.org

Halifax International Security Forum (also Halifax Forum or HISF) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.[4][5] It is a forum and network[6] for international government and military officials, academic experts, authors and entrepreneurs.[7] Halifax Forum addresses global security issues.[8] The Forum is best known for its annual security summit in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The meeting brings together more than 300 delegates[9] from over 70 countries[10] and has been referred to by media as "The Davos of international security".[11][12] This summit is the only event of its kind in North America.[13] The 10th Halifax Forum will be held from 16 to 18 November 2018.[14]

History[edit]

Halifax International Security Forum was founded in 2009 as a program within the German Marshall Fund of the United States,[15] with financial support from the Canadian government.[16][17] Its annual meeting is held in Halifax in mid-November, usually the weekend before U.S. Thanksgiving.[16] In 2011 the forum became an independent organization and was joined by Foreign Affairs as media partner.[18]

Organization[edit]

Halifax Forum is an independent, nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. The nonpartisan forum has an American-Canadian board of directors as its highest governance body. The President of the forum is Peter Van Praagh.[19] HISF cooperates with institutional partners. The forum’s founding partners are the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).[15][20] In 2011, after the forum’s independence, the Canadian government continued its funding,[21][22][23][24] and Foreign Affairs joined the forum as media partner.[18] In August 2012, HISF launched the Halifax Canada Club (HCC), a public-private partnership created in cooperation with the Canadian government and Calgary-based MEG Energy.[25] HCC serves as a permanent body to engage the private sector in support of the Forum.

Annual Forum[edit]

Key themes[edit]

2017 forum[edit]

The 2017 Halifax International Security Forum was attended by delegates from more than 80 countries.[26][27] The forum celebrated 150 years of Canadian Confederation and the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion. Along with Dalhousie University and Saint Mary's University, the Forum hosted a public event on the future of global leadership with Tawakkol Karman, Bessma Momani, General Petr Pavel, and Jonathan Tepperman. The event was held prior to the official conference launch and was moderated by Tom Clark, former Global News host.[28]

The Forum was opened by Harjit Sajjan, Canadian Minister of National Defence, who gave the opening speech,[29][30] followed by remarks from Michèle Coninsx, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, and Scott Brison, president of the Treasury Board of Canada.[31][32] The opening was followed by the first out of a total of three Halifax Chats that were scheduled throughout the Forum. The first Halifax Chat with Minister Sajjan and Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenbergwas moderated by Robin Shepherd and centered on Canada's role in European peacekeeping missions,[33] the need for increased incorporation of women into the military, and the importance of ongoing American leadership in NATO.[32]

The Forum's opening panel, titled "Peace? Prosperity? Principle? Securing What Purpose?"," was hosted by Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs. The panelists Jane Harman, CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Kay Bailey Hutchison, United States Permanent Representative to NATO, Margaret MacMillan, historian and professor at the University of Toronto, and Constanze Stelzenmüller, fellow at Brookings Institution, discussed how people's faith in democracy and international institutions was under threat, and what could be done to strengthen these institutions and address people's frustrations.[32][34]

During a gala dinner at Pier 21, the 2017 Halifax Builder Award was presented to NATO[32] and accepted by its Secretary General Stoltenberg. Remarks were made by Senator Jeanne Shaheen.[35] The 2017 Forum also marked the announcement of the annual "John McCain Prize for Courage in Public Service", which will be awarded for the first time at the 2018 Forum.[36][37]

Against the backdrop of an incident during a NATO military exercise in Norway,[38] General Hulusi Akar, Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces,[39] stressed Ankara's commitment to NATO: "Turkey's alliance with NATO should not be undermined, and NATO is the most successful and most effective military organization that has existed throughout history."[40][41]

A key topic at the Forum was nuclear deterrence and diplomacy. In the second panel discussion entitled "Nukes: The Fire and the Fury" Steven Clemons, Editor-at-Large of The Atlantic, moderated the conversation between General John E. Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), Bonnie Jenkins, the U.S. State Department's Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, Sung-han Kim, Dean and Professor of International Relations at the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS), and Moshe Ya'alon, Former Israeli Minister of Defence. The conversation centered around the future of North Korea, Iranian nuclear capabilities and the role and politics of the United States in global nuclear deterrence. Hyten, in light of recent escalations of nuclear rhetoric, said: "The way the process works is this simple: I provide advice to the President. He'll tell me what to do and if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen? I'm going to say, Mr. President, it's illegal." The statement was quickly picked up by national and international media.[28][42]

In a panel discussion entitled "Weaponizing Capital: One Belt, One Road, One Way", the panelists General Bryan Fenton, deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), Edward Luce, Washington columnist and commentator for the Financial Times, Ong Keng Yong, chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and U.S. Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer[43] discussed China's aim to take a larger role in world affairs and global trade through their One Belt One Road Initiative and examined what military and economic impact the initiative will have as Beijing expands its influence.[28][43]

"Making Peace With Women" was the fourth panel discussion[44] between Fauizya Ali, founder and president of Women In International Security (WIIS) in Kenya, Pastor Esther Ibanga, Jos Christian Missions International in Nigeria, human rights activist Tawakkol Karman from Yemen, who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, Nancy Lindborg, president of the United States Institute of Peace, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the first woman in U.S. history to be elected both a Governor and a United States Senator, and General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces.[45] The talk was moderated by Nahlah Ayed from CBC News. The panelists discussed how women play vital roles in creating lasting peace from conflict, and the future of peacebuilding and where progress can be made for women throughout the world.[44] At the beginning of the panel session the establishment of the "Halifax Peace With Women Fellowship" was announced for the fall of 2018.[46]

During the second Halifax Chat, Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, spoke with Robin Shepherd about the current state of Afghanistan and what the future holds, including continued improvements in the economy, security, and human rights.[47]

"Open war is what we see in the Ukraine, and it breaks all rules of a civilized world," said Poland's Minister of National Defence, Antoni Macierewicz, in a panel titled "Rapprochement with Russia: Post-Putin Prep".[48] The panel examined Putin's interferences in global affairs, including cyberwarfare and militaristic intervention in neighboring states, and cooperative solutions for addressing the threats Russia possesses to its neighbors and the world.[49] Other panelists were Pavlo Klimkin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Vladimir Milov, founder and president of the Institute of Energy Policy, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen.[48] The conversation was moderated by POLITICO's columnist Susan Glasser.[49]

In the panel "Satellite Armies: The Race in Space", panelists discussed the complexities and unknown potentials of satellites space weaponry, and how this final frontier needs new laws and regulations to address these potential unknowns. Jeanne Meserve moderated the conversation between Theresa Hitchens,sSenior research associate at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), General Hyten, Commander of US STRATCOM,[50] Julie Perkins, chief engineer of In-space vehicle propulsion systems for Boeing, and Rajeswari Rajagopalan, senior fellow and head of the nuclear and space policy initiative at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).[51]

The second day of the Forum concluded wit the third Halifax Chat featuring Eric Schmidt on the future of the digital world. Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc.,[52] talked about Alphabet's efforts to curb the spread of false information on the internet, the increasing importance of artificial intelligence in global affairs, and future technological capabilities to address military needs.[53]

A wide range of topics – from Afghanistan politics and the evolution of terrorism to the geopolitics of energy – were discussed during off-the-record dinner and late-night sessions.[54]

The 2017 Forum was closed by two Sunday morning panels. The first panel, titled "Rebuilding the Middle East: From Civil War to Civil Society", was moderated by Abderrahim Foukara, DC bureau chief of Al Jazeera. "We are at risk of another civil war if the international community does not get Iraq engaged", said Falah Mustafa Bakir, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Department of Foreign Relations (DFR),[55][56] commenting the panel's discussion on Western interventions in the Middle East in recent years and the ongoing attempts to build democratic institutions in the region. Along with specific interventions and requirements like education, investments, and planning, the two panel participants also discussed global trends. Tzipi Livni, Israel's former Foreign Minister, commented: "All over the world we see the erosion of democracy. We need to be united to address this."[57]

The panelists of the final panel were Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Sweden, Masashi Nishihara, president of the Research Institute for Peace and Security, Mayor Dale Ross, City of Georgetown, Texas, and Nicolas Tenzer, editor and director of Le Banquet as well as the founding president of the Center for the Study and Reflection of Political Action. The panel "Climate Change: Houston, We Have a Solution" addressed the importance of moving beyond the politics of climate change to find practical solutions. The participants discussed the technological advances necessary for these solutions. The panel was moderated by Tom Clark.[28][58]

2016 forum[edit]

The 2016 Halifax International Security Forum was the first major international gathering after the United States presidential election ten days earlier.[59][60] It was attended by delegates from 70 countries. The Forum started with a ministerial meeting on peacekeeping hosted by Canada’s Department of National Defence and Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan with Hervé Ladsous, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Atul Khare, Head of the Department of Field Support.[61]

The Canadian Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, held the Forum's opening speech.[62]

A key topic at the Forum was democracy. In a panel discussion entitled "Make Democracy Great Again" the UK Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Michael Fallon, the Professor of Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shlomo Avineri and the Turkish Minister for EU Affairs, Ömer Çelik discussed the western democratic model[63] in the panel which was moderated by Jonathan Tepperman, Managing Editor of Foreign Affairs Magazine.[64] Fallon, against the backdrop of Brexit, said: "Although Britain is leaving the European Union we still have a role to pay in defending our European continent... and to continue to make democracy great again." Referring to the United States presidential election, he added: "...He (Donald Trump) knows from his election that we cannot take democracy for granted... This is no time for any of us to turn inwards".[65]

"The West Block", the Forum's opening panel discussion on democracy, peace and conflict, was hosted by Tom Clark of Global News.[66] Clark interviewed Minister Harjit Sajjan, General Jonathan Vance and Paula Dobriansky.[67] In light of statements made by Trump during the campaign suggesting a review of NATO, Dobriansky told the audience: "There's a lack of importance attached to not only the values but the alliances and also the institutions that preserved peace, stability and security post-World War II, no less the Cold War".[67] Dobriansky mentioned pressure on NATO members to fulfill the agreed contributions would have increased no matter which candidate won. "It's not a new issue," Dobriansky said. Rose Gottemoeller, NATO's Deputy Secretary General, during a separate panel discussion entitled "NATO: Necessary", reported that Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg had a conversation with the US President regarding the issue. "The two men agreed about the enduring importance of the NATO alliance and the enduring importance of increased defense spending," Gottemoeller said. New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, also took part in the panel. Shaheen spoke about the role of the U.S. Congress emphasizing: "There is strong support for NATO and I don't see that changing under President Trump."

The President elect Donald Trump dominated most of the panel discussions. The panel "The Superpower's Enduring Priorities: Trade, Justice and the American Way" was an example for that. The panelists Rosa Brooks, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Georgetown University Law Center, Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., Commander of the United States Pacific Command, Josef Joffe, Publisher and Editor of Die Zeit and moderator Gideon Rose, Editor of Foreign Affairs, discussed the uncertainty occurring within the international community as to how the new U.S. President would govern and execute his presidency as well as the international implications.[68]

A key topic under discussion during the conference was a statement made by Trump in previous debates about him favoring a torture method called waterboarding. Gideon Rose, Editor of the magazine Foreign Affairs, commented on the discussed topic. "Let me say how appalling and heartbreaking it is that we have to have a discussion about the possibility ... about whether the United States policy really will be not to engage in war crimes," he said. In this regard US Senator John McCain in a chat with US Senator John Barrasso emphasized that US congress had already banned the torture method.[69] He went on to ad: "I don’t give a damn what the president of United States wants to do or anybody else wants to do, we will not waterboard. We will not torture people … It doesn’t work."[70]

Other panel discussions sought to address the war in Syria and growing global terrorism,[71] climate change as both an environmental and economic threat,[72] and the intersection of cyber security and national security and the shared responsibility between the government and private sector to develop policies that protect from existing and new cyber threats.[73]

Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, who served as 2016 Vice-Presidential Candidate, received the 2016 Halifax Builder Award.[74]

2015 forum[edit]

The 2015 Halifax International Security Forum took place against the backdrop of the ISIS terror attacks in Paris[75] and was attended by 300 delegates from 60 countries. The terror attack was the main topic of the Forum discussions.[76]

Harjit Sajjan, Canadian Minister of National Defence, gave the opening keynote.[75] For Sajjan it was the first major public event he attended after his inauguration earlier that month.[77] In his speech, Sajjan also addressed the situation of Syrian refugees and defended the government’s plan to resettle 25,000 refugees in Canada.[78] The minister described democratic societies welcoming Syrian refugees as a major strike against the ideology of Islamic terrorists. This sent a "great message to ISIS", Sajjan told the audience.[79] The Forum's opening session addressed the new objectives in Canada's foreign policy. During the US/Canadian panel discussion[80] Sajjan agreed with air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq as a preparation for ground troops. But the Afghanistan War veteran also warned about the "second and third effects" of indiscriminate bombings, a point with which all panelists agreed.

William E. Gortney, commander of US Northern Command, told the audience that "carpet bombing" was not the answer to terrorism. Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces, said that "You can’t carpet bomb your way to victory".[81] Panelist John R. Allen, former Special Presidential Envoy for Defeating ISIS, who attended the panel and later had an additional appearance at the Halifax Chat, emphasized the necessity to fight ISIS also financially and in the sphere of information warfare.[82] Allen told the audience that for the US a massive ground operation was not on the agenda. He instead favored operations by combined special forces.[83]

Speaking at a panel on global security threats,[84] General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, stressed the need for "a much broader approach" to fight ISIS[85] and called for a greater involvement of NATO[83] without making it to a "NATO-led anti-ISIS operation".[85]

Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., Commander of the United States Pacific Command, made the opening remarks for a panel discussion on China's ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region. Addressing the territorial disputes between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea, Harris emphasized that "the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows and that the South China Sea is not, and will not be, an exception".[86] He criticized Chinese efforts to develop man-made islands within disputed territories and called them a "Great Wall of Sand"[87] and "Sandcastles in the Sea".[88] Harris described China as a country which had abandoned Deng Xiaoping's philosophy of patience. "In fact, China has transitioned from a patient nation to a nation in a hurry", Harris told the audience.[89] The Admiral expressed his belief that a conflict between China and the US was not inevitable but emphasized the need to develop the bilateral relationship with a long-term perspective.[87]

During the following panel discussion, Admiral Michael S. Rogers, Commander of the United States Cyber Command, Director of the National Security Agency and Chief of the Central Security Service, blamed China for its cyber-attacks against the United States.[87] Rogers described China as a nation which would hack private companies and afterwards share stolen intellectual property with Chinese companies.[90] The Admiral warned Beijing that it also could be the target of cyber intrusions and described the country as being "as vulnerable as any other major industrialized nation state". Rogers expressed his hope that China would refrain from future cyber-attacks against the US.[87]

Further topics of the 2015 Forum were current developments in the Muslim world, the European migrant crisis, and ways to cut off the financing for international terror networks.[91]

2014 forum[edit]

Senator John McCain speaks during a press conference held by the US congressional delegation at HISF 2014

The armed conflict in Ukraine was a key issue at the 2014 Halifax International Security Forum. Canadian Minister of National Defence Rob Nicholson, who also held the Forum’s opening speech, in a panel discussion called on Russia to get out of Ukraine[92] describing the situation there as "completely unacceptable".[93] He emphasized the Canadian commitment to oppose the conflict and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ignorance. "It’s certainly my hope and the hope of everyone that he does get the message", Nicholson declared. "We are not going to let up on this… Whether it takes five years or 50, the people of Ukraine deserve the freedom that they deserve, that they fought for", the minister promised.[94] Nicholson’s cabinet colleague, Justice Minister Peter MacKay, called it "telling" that none of the delegates from Russia were representing their government.[95] In view of the Ukrainian conflict Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves opposed Russian propaganda and warned that "many things that Europe often takes for granted are under threat today".[96] Ilves also described the conflict’s negative consequences for global nuclear disarmament as Ukraine in 1994 gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange of international security promises and "when it comes to guaranteeing their territorial integrity, nothing is done".[95]

Less than a month after the terror attacks of Quebec and Ottawa, the Forum’s opening session addressed North American security. The session, moderated by Tom Clark, was recorded and was broadcast on The West Block, a Canadian Sunday political show.[97] Minister Nicholson stated that Canada was willing to enter a more integrated common defense strategy with the US.[9] This would not affect Canadian sovereignty, Nicholson emphasized.[98]

From the US, nine members of Congress attended the Forum. This largest congressional delegation ever to visit Canada[99] was led by the Senators John McCain and Tim Kaine.[100] At a Forum panel examining America’s role as a "indispensable superpower"[101] McCain and Kaine confirmed their optimism about the future of the US. Both senators agreed that US President Barack Obama should have sought congressional authorization to conduct operations against ISIL. "You can't ask people to risk their lives, risk getting killed, seeing other folks getting killed or injured if Congress isn't willing to do the job to put their thumbprint on this and say, this is a national mission and worth it", Kaine said during the panel. "I totally agree with Tim, and I do think it's very important for the president to come over with the authorization that he wants", McCain added.[100] Regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, Senator Kaine at the Forum also explained why in the previous week he had voted against a Senate bill to approve the project due to environmental reasons.[102]

Senator McCain, against the backdrop of the failing negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program in Vienna and its repeated extension,[103] criticized the US diplomacy and drew parallels to North Korea. McCain told the audience that North Korea was in command of nuclear weapons and delivery systems and called this a "wake up call". The senator’s statement was confirmed by General Charles H. Jacoby, outgoing commander of NORAD and US Northern Command, who referred to North Korea as a "practical threat" due to its nuclear and ballistic capabilities.[104]

Abdullah Gül, the former Turkish president, at the Forum spoke[105] about the persistent instability in the Middle East. "The key term to express the gravity of the situation in the region at present can be ‘frustration’", Gül told the audience.[106] He also responded to concerns related to interior developments in Turkey.[107] It was Gül’s first public appearance since departing the presidency.[108]

On Saturday afternoon, the Forum’s president, Peter Van Praagh, issued a statement that the ISIL terror group was sending messages to the Forum’s staff and participants and also using #HISF2014, the Forum’s hashtag, to spread a propaganda video.[109] The ISIL terror in the Middle East was debated in several Forum panels. Further topics of the 2014 Forum were African security issues and the situation of Hong Kong.[110]

2013 forum[edit]

US-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at HISF 2013

Global climate change and its impact on the Arctic were key issues at the 2013 Halifax International Security Forum. In his keynote address,[111] US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel illustrated the rapid shift of the polar landscape and its consequences for international security.[112] Hagel then announced the Pentagon’s new Arctic strategy, which for the first time outlined how the US responds to the repercussions of climate change for the Arctic.[113]

As the shrinking of Arctic ice opens up new waterways[114] and potential energy resources,[115] countries' increased interest in the region could potentially lead to rising international tensions,[116] the Defense Secretary warned. Hagel called for more international cooperation in the Arctic[117] to protect its environment[118] and to keep it "peaceful, stable and free of conflict".[112] He also emphasized his country’s commitment "to detect, deter, prevent and defeat threats to the United States, and continue to exercise US sovereignty in and around Alaska".[116] Speaking at a Forum’s panel, Rob Nicholson, Canadian Minister of National Defence, welcomed the Pentagon’s new Arctic strategy and called it "entirely consistent" with Canada’s approach.[119] Nicholson described the Arctic as a "low-tension area" and emphasized Canada’s efforts to foster more international cooperation in the region.[120] Just prior to the launch of the 2013 Halifax Forum, Hagel and Nicholson signed the US-Canada Asia-Pacific Framework to increase their security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.[121][122]

Minister of Defense Rob Nicholson at HISF 2013

Regarding the forthcoming withdrawal of the last Canadian forces from Afghanistan in March 2014, Minister Nicholson declared that "Canada has made a difference in Afghanistan".[123] The minister also expressed his concerns about Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US.[124] Secretary Hagel emphasized the necessity of a signed and ratified BSA as a precondition for a US military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.[125]

The 2013 Forum’s Saturday night reception was interrupted by breaking news of the Geneva interim agreement on Iranian nuclear program and the broadcasting of US President Barack Obama's White House statement.[126] The agreement was also the focus of a Halifax Forum meeting between Secretary Hagel and his Israeli counterpart Moshe Ya'alon.[127][128]

During a panel discussion on the responsibility of Western nations to engage globally on political and humanitarian grounds, Liam Fox, former British Secretary of State for Defence, called for a "re-emphasizing" of NATO’s political mission instead of staying focused only on the military side. He recalled that the Cold War was won by the Western allies. "And it was won — not just because we had military superiority or economic superiority — (but because) we had political and moral superiority and we were willing to say, not that we were different, but that we were better. That freedom would be better than oppression. Capitalism would be better than state control", Fox declared. In view of declining international engagement due to economic pressures, he called it an "absurdity" that NATO states were spending more of their GDP on debt interest repayments than on defense.[129]

Alexander Vershbow, NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, stressed the alliance’s role as a force for global peace.[130] In order to solve international issues, NATO needs to cooperate with other international organizations, Vershbow declared, also urging more assistance to the Syrian opposition. US Senator John McCain emphasized the importance of establishing humanitarian zones in war-torn countries such as Syria.

Speaking about international military interventions, Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General Peter MacKay described a kind of fatigue currently present in democratic societies, due to the losses in recent years. As for Canada, MacKay declared the country’s willingness to maintain its high international presence moving forward.[129]

2012 forum[edit]

United States Senators Mark Udall, John McCain, John Barrasso, and Barbara Mikulski speak to members of the media at the Halifax International Security Forum 2012

The Halifax International Security Forum in November 2012 took place against the backdrop of the open military conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.[11][131] This conflict and the civil war in Syria were major topics of Forum debates. Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay stated that Israel had the right to defend itself against Hamas,[132] but urged restraint in the conflict.[133] Regarding Syria, MacKay called on Russia to help end the civil war.[134] US Senators John McCain and Mark Udall called for a no-fly zone in Syria.[135] McCain dismissed any talk of a potential US ground intervention given the lack of popular support for such s step by the American people. "Americans are war-weary", the Senator declared.[11] During a panel discussion on the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Afghan politicians and business leaders described the situation in their country as "very, very vulnerable". According to Abdul Rahim Wardak, advisor to Afghan President Hamid Kazai and former defence minister, Afghanistan needed "a lot of resources and patience on the part of the international community".[136] At a panel on technology and modern warfare, Vic Toews, Canadian Minister of Public Safety, declared that Canada was "as prepared as anyone else" to defend itself against cyberattacks.[137] During the same panel, Minister MacKay announced plans to procure drones for the surveillance of Canada’s Arctic territories.[137]

2011 forum[edit]

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at the Halifax International Security Forum 2011

Leon Panetta, United States Secretary of Defense, gave the keynote speech[138] at the Halifax Forum 2011. Panetta described the US as confronting "the fiscal realities of limited resources" and outlined the future of the US military "that, while smaller, is agile, flexible, deployable and technologically equipped to confront the threats of the future".[139] Secretary Panetta also urged other countries to share in the burden of maintaining global security.[140] In spite of budget pressures Panetta expressed his confidence in the funding of the multinational Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) program. Together with his US counterpart, Peter MacKay, Canadian Minister of National Defense, confirmed Ottawa's plan to buy 65 F-35 aircraft.[141][142] Regarding the situation in Syria and Iran, two key issues for the Forum, MacKay declared, that the NATO mission in Libya was no blueprint for similar interventions. "There's a danger in creating a scenario that says there is 'world police' that are going to start singling out countries and enforcing what those governments — legitimate or not — should be doing", MacKay told the Forum’s participants.[143] Any international actions in Syria would need a UN Security Council resolution similar to the one on Libya, the Canadian defence minister added. He also expressed his hope that Russia and China would agree on economic sanctions towards Syria.[144] Speaking in Halifax, Senator John McCain expressed his conviction that the "Arab Spring is a virus that will attack Moscow and Beijing".[145]

2010 forum[edit]

At the 2010 Halifax International Security Forum[146] the US Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham asked for Canadian troops staying in Afghanistan after 2011, the date of withdrawal, changing from a combat to a training role.[147] Canadian Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, declared at the forum, that Canada was considering staying in Afghanistan with a training mission.[148] At a forum panel on the Iranian nuclear conflict US Senator Graham called for a military strike on Iran to "neuter" the regime.[149][150][151][152] Michèle Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, confirmed a new approach of the US Administration towards Iran, from an attempt to engage the Iranian government "toward a pressure track with the imposition of sanctions".[152] Canadian Minister MacKay favored collective international sanctions against Iran and its nuclear program.[149] Speaking at Halifax that same year, Janet Napolitano, United States Secretary of Homeland Security, emphasized the prominent role of regular citizens in thwarting terrorist attacks.[153]

2009 forum[edit]

Minister of Defense Peter MacKay of Canada at the Halifax International Security Forum 2011

The situation in Afghanistan was a key issue of the inaugural Halifax Forum 2009. In his opening speech United States Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates,[154] acknowledged the military engagement of Canada in Afghanistan, with over 2,800 deployed troops and more than 130 soldiers killed. Gates emphasized the key role of the Canadian military for the success in Afghanistan.[155][156] The secretary warned the Afghan government of a reduction of financial assistance because of corruption.[157] Gates urged the nations of the western hemisphere to increase their cooperation and collaboration to bolster security in the country.[158] For the NATO troops in Afghanistan, US Senator John McCain opposed fixed exit dates before a military success. "The exit strategy is success", McCain declared, "It’s when you succeed and start to draw down."[159] On the conflict about the nuclear program of Iran, Ellen Tauscher, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, urged the country to "engage" with the West and warned, "If persuasion doesn’t work, pressure is going to have to be the next line of action."[160] The future of the Arctic was also an issue of the 2009 forum.[161]

Venue[edit]

The annual Forum is held in Halifax,[162] capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Halifax is the largest population center in Atlantic Canada and serves as business hub of the region. Halifax Harbour is also one of the largest natural harbors in the world. The Canadian Forces Base Halifax is home port to the Atlantic Fleet of the Royal Canadian Navy and Canada’s largest military installation. Halifax is a center of Canadian shipbuilding and of the aerospace and defense industry in Atlantic Canada.

Participants[edit]

Canadian Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay, US Senator John McCain and Colombian Minister of National Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno at the Halifax International Security Forum 2012

The Halifax Forum is attended by international government and military officials, academic experts, authors and entrepreneurs.[163][164][165][166] Prominent political participants include Ministers, Senators and Members of Parliament. The ministers included John Baird, Steven Blaney, Scott Brison, Kent Hehr, Peter MacKay, Rob Nicholson, Harjit Sajjan, and Vic Toews from Canada, as well as Chuck Hagel, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, and Janet Napolitano from the United States. From Europe the ministers Michael Fallon from the United Kingdom, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg from Germany, Pieter De Crem from Belgium, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert from the Netherlands, Jean-Yves Le Drian from France,[167] Pedro Morenés from Spain, Guy Parmelin from Switzerland,[26] Milica Pejanović Đurišić from Montenegro, Hannes Hanso,[168] Nikola Poposki and Zoran Jolevski from Macedonia, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson from Iceland, Nicolai Wammen from Denmark, Haki Demolli from Kosovo, Tina Khidasheli from Georgia, Mimi Kodheli from Albania, Juozas Olekas from Lithuania, and Jüri Luik from Estonia[169] are among previous Halifax Forum participants. Also, ministers Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya'alon from Israel, Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno and Luis Carlos Villegas from Colombia, Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda from Mexico,[26] Rodrigo Hinzpeter from Chile, Wayne Mapp from New Zealand, Abdul Rahim Wardak from Afghanistan and Delfin Lorenzana from Philippines[26] attended the forum.

In addition, United States Senators John Barrasso, Susan Collins, Chris Coons, Ted Cruz, Deb Fisher, Lindsey Graham, Tim Kaine, John McCain, Barbara Mikulski, Chris Murphy, Ben Sasse, Jeff Sessions, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Udall together with Representatives Tom Cotton, Tulsi Gabbard, Adam Kinzinger, Mike Pompeo, Adam Schiff, Dan Sullivan, and Robert Wexler were also among the participants, as were Alison Redford, Pamela Wallin, Bernard Valcourt from Canada, and Liam Fox from the United Kingdom.

Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov of Russia, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović of Croatia, former President Abdullah Gül of Turkey, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia, and Hashim Thaçi from Kosovo[26] have also attended the Forum.

Pauline Neville-Jones and Ahmed Rashid at the Halifax International Security Forum 2012

Other government officials who came to the Halifax Forum include Stephen Breyer, Mark Carney, Greg Craig, Gary Doer, Michèle Flournoy, Rose Gottemoeller, Stephen Hadley, David Jacobson, Pauline Neville-Jones, Bob Paulson, Amrullah Saleh,[133] Ellen Tauscher, Alexander Vershbow, and Robert O. Work.

Participating international military officials include Stéphane Abrial, John R. Allen Charles Bouchard, Haakon Bruun-Hanssen, Peter Devlin, Mark P. Fitzgerald, William E. Gortney, Frank J. Grass, Cecil Haney, Harry B. Harris Jr., Michelle Howard, Charles H. Jacoby Jr., John F. Kelly, Thomas J. Lawson, Joseph L. Lengyel,[170] Jarmo Lindberg from Finland,[171] Paul Maddison, Tom Middendorp, Neil Morisetti, Walter Natynczyk, Jean-Paul Paloméros, Petr Pavel, Stuart Peach, David G. Perkins, Victor E. Renuart, Michael S. Rogers, James G. Stavridis, Riho Terras from Estonia,[169] Jonathan Vance, Ricardo Visaya, and James A. Winnefeld, Jr.[172][173]

International think tank experts, journalists, and entrepreneurs participating in the Halifax Forum include Geneive Abdo,[11] M. J. Akbar,[174] Michael Auslin,[175] David Bercuson, Rosa Brooks, Tom Clark,[176] Steve Clemons,[177] Roger Cohen,[178] Raghida Dergham,[179] Paula Dobriansky,[180] Lyse Doucet, Jane Harman, Wolfgang Ischinger,[180] Josef Joffe,[11] Suat Kınıklıoğlu,[181] Kathleen Koch,[182] David J. Kramer,[183] Kevin Newman,[176] Natalie Nougayrède, Ahmed Rashid,[11] Condoleezza Rice,[184] Gideon Rose,[180] David E. Sanger,[180] Robin Shepherd,[185] Janice Gross Stein,[186] Frances Townsend, and Kurt Volker.[183]

Format[edit]

The annual forum starts Friday afternoon with introduction and a first plenary. Friday evening there is a gala dinner followed by off-the-record "night-owl-sessions". After the plenaries on Saturday there are more than 20 dinner discussions on a variety of topics. Sunday morning starts with a 5-K run followed by off-the-record breakfast sessions. The forum ends after the plenaries and closing remarks with a press conference Sunday afternoon.[187]

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External links[edit]