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Why the U.S. could lose the next big war – and what that means for Canada

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It was more than the usual sky-is-falling rhetoric we’re used to seeing in national security reports out of Washington.

It came from some pretty sober, respected voices in the defence community.

A special commission report, presented to the U.S. Congress this week, delivered one of the most stark — even startling — assessments in the last two decades of the limits of American military power.

The independent, nonpartisan review of the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defence Strategy said the U.S. could lose future wars with Russia or China.

« This Commission believes that America has reached the point of a full-blown national security crisis, » reads the 116-page document written by 12 leading defence and security experts and released Wednesday.

« If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency, or China in a war over Taiwan, Americans could face a decisive military defeat. »

Those are sobering words for Canada, in light of this country’s contribution of over 450 troops to the NATO-led deterrence mission in Latvia.

Time for a defence policy rewrite?

And it has prompted a call from at least one Canadian defence expert for a re-assessment — perhaps even a full-blown rewrite — of the Liberal government’s own defence policy.

More than simply another rote, boilerplate plea for fatter U.S. defence budgets, the commission’s report lays out in precise detail the kind of geopolitical threats Washington — and, by extension, other Western capitals — are facing from rivals and enemies at many levels and in multiple spheres.

« The security and wellbeing of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades. America’s military superiority — the hard-power backbone of its global influence and national security — has eroded to a dangerous degree, » says the report.

« America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt. If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting. »

The report acknowledges that the U.S. and its allies may be forced to fight a localized nuclear war in the future, given how Russia has restored the once-unthinkable concept to its military planning and training exercises.

The commission also paints various grim scenarios that could confront western allies between now and 2022, including an invasion of the Baltics under the guise of a « peacekeeping » mission to protect Russian minorities:

« As U.S. and NATO forces prepare to respond, Russia declares that strikes against Russian forces in those states will be treated as attacks on Russia itself — implying a potential nuclear response.

« Meanwhile, to keep America off balance, Russia escalates in disruptive ways. Russian submarines attack transatlantic fiber optic cables. Russian hackers shut down power grids and compromise the security of U.S. banks. »

The consequences, said the report, would be severe: « Major cities are paralyzed; use of the internet and smartphones is disrupted. Financial markets plummet as commerce seizes up and online financial transactions slow to a crawl. The banking system is thrown into chaos. »

While the report doesn’t mention U.S. President Donald Trump by name, it notes the effect of his bruising rhetorical fights with world leaders and criticism of international institutions, such as NATO.

« Doubts about America’s ability to deter and, if necessary, defeat opponents and honor its global commitments have proliferated, » said the report.

Cautious optimism

At this weekend’s Halifax International Security Forum, Canada’s marquee defence conference, some leading experts struck a less pessimistic note and suggested that the West still has a major technological lead on Moscow.

« Russia is a great country. It is a great country, historically. But Russia is also a failing country, » said Peter Van Praagh, president of the Halifax Security Forum, at the opening of the event on Friday.

« Russia does not have the same advanced tools that NATO has, that Canada and NATO and the American alliance (have). »

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan also expressed cautious optimism about the threat.

« In NATO we’re taking this extremely seriously. We’re learning from the various missions that are ongoing, » he said.

The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, sails into Hong Kong for a port call on July 7, 2017. (Kin Cheung/The Associated Press)

A former military adviser to one of Sajjan’s predecessors said Canada could learn from the commission exercise, which was meant to challenge the Trump administration’s defence plans.

« It’s certainly something we don’t we have, » said Richard Cohen, an ex-army officer who served as former defence minister Peter MacKay’s adviser. « Our government would never dream of inviting anyone to come and criticize its defence policy. »

The current government sought extensive input before the new Canadian policy was presented 18 months ago.

The U.S. commission report calls on NATO and its allies to »rebuild » substantial military forces in Europe, among things.

Cohen said that, if anything, should trigger a fresh look at the Liberal government’s own defence policy.

« Our defence policy is predicated on the kind of asymmetric warfare we have faced since the end of the Cold War and it really ignores the looming strategic threats that Russia, China and maybe some others pose as well, » he said.

« At least the United States realizes this growing strategic threat, » Cohen added, noting that the current Liberal defence policy makes only passing mention of China « in very gentle terms » and limited references to Russia.

« If the United States is in a national security crisis, then we’re in a national security crisis. »



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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