Political leaders and security and defence officials and generals are in Halifax from November 5 to 7 for the second Halifax International Security Forum, presented by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and hosted by Airshow MacKay. Airshow is credited by GMFUS with having the idea for these annual security conferences.
Attending : Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security; Condoleezza Rice; Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Mark Udall ; Stephen Hadley; Ehud Barak, Minister of Defense, Israel; Amos Gilad, Political-Military Affairs, Israeli Ministry of Defense; Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute; Ron Covais, Lockheed Martin; John Manley, CEO Canadian Council of Chief Executives; Janice Gross Stein, Munk School of Global Affairs; Walter Natynczyk, Chief of Defence Staff; Mark Carney, Governor Bank of Canada; Vic Toews.
I just watched a panel with US Senators Mark Udall and Lindsey Graham, and Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute - introduced by John McCain and moderated by the CBC's Susan Bonner.
Here's Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Budget, Armed Forces, and Homeland Security committees, supporting pre-emptive bombing of Iran [at half-hour mark]:
"Republicans are looking for a way to support Obama on Iraq and Iran.
My big fear about the Iranians developing a nuclear weapon is not so much they'll put it on top of a missile and send it to Israel, is that those materials can work their way into the hands of people who would use them in a variety of fashion.
The one thing that changes the world as I know it is Iran with a nuclear weapon.
The consequences are enormous, the idea of containment to me is off the table, so that takes us back to the idea of being tough.
And if you use military force, if sanctions are not gonna work - and a year from now it's pretty clear they're not gonna work, [inaudible] what our friends in Israel are gonna do - so I would like the President to make it abundantly clear : all options are on the table. And we all know what that means. My advice to the President : If you take military action against Iran as the last effort to stop their nuclear ambitions, you do open up Pandora's box but if you let them acquire nuclear weapons, you empty Pandora's box.
So my view of military force would be not to just neutralize their nuclear program, which would probably disperse and harden, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force, and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard.
In other words - neuter that regime, destroy their ability to fight back, and hope the people within Iran would have the chance to take back their government and be good neighbours to the world in the future. So that's what I mean by being tough."
Democratic Senator Udall did not entirely disagree but remained hopeful that sanctions will work : "This may be Agenda Item #1 for every person in this room."
Later, Graham explained that NATO's place at the table is all about "values".
Unfortunately the panel ended before he could get around to discussing precious bodily fluids.