Well-known Canadian military historian, commentator, and fan of the Rideau Institute (OK, we made that last bit up) Jack Granatstein is taking issue with the Harper government’s plan to cut Department of National Defence funding for the Security and Defence Forum (SDF), a program that supports academics working in the field of defence and security studies (J.L. Granatstein, “Fort Fumble on the Rideau: Just say to military academics,” Globe and Mail, 22 August 2011).
The SDF “is mandated to develop a domestic competence and national interest in defence issues of current and future relevance to Canadian security.” The program funds twelve “centres of expertise” and one Chair of Defence Management Studies at universities from coast to coast.
According to Granatstein, the program has resulted in an increase in informed commentary and scholarly writing on defence issues since its inception in 1967.
Another view is that the program has served to nurture and expand the community of pro-military academics, whose commentaries rarely venture beyond advocacy for more of the same old approaches — more troops for Afghanistan, more integration with the U.S. military, more reliance on weapons for security, more money for DND.
Meanwhile, no government money is made available to support the development of academics researching and advocating for non-military approaches to national and global security.
Granatstein warns in his op-ed that the SDF program is now at risk of going into oblivion:
The SDF program has had its funding guaranteed for 2011-12, but DND has said the program will be cut to $500,000 on the way to future extinction. Most of the university SDF programs -– except for a few that have developed private support –- will disappear or, at a minimum, shrink into insignificance. And the money saved will be swallowed by the paper-clip budget at DND headquarters, producing yet another triumph for the bean-counters at Fort Fumble on the Rideau.