Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Islamic State, Not Russia, Is the Conflict That Keeps New Defence Chief Awake

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Islamic State, Not Russia, Is the Conflict That Keeps New Defence Chief Awake

Article excerpt

Islamic State biggest foreign threat, Vance


OTTAWA - The menace posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is the conflict that keeps Canada's new top military commander awake at night.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, who took over as the country's 19th chief of defence staff on Friday, says the rise of an extremist state in the Middle East is not something that can go unchallenged by the West.

"The most worrying one right now, the most threatening is the Islamic State," Vance said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Countries in the region that are trying to develop democratic institutions and the rule of law cannot do so with a caliphate, bent on exporting terror, smack in the middle of them, he said.

His geo-political take stands in contrast to recent comments by the incoming chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who described a resurgent Russia as the biggest threat.

Dunford told his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Congress last week that Vladimir Putin's regime is a nuclear power with the capability of violating the sovereignty of other nations.

"If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I'd have to point to Russia," Dunford told U.S. senators. "If you look at their behaviour, it's nothing short of alarming."

Asked to list the major security threat facing Washington, Dunford told lawmakers that Russia was on top, followed by China and North Korea. The Islamic State was in fourth place.

Vance did not stack the threats to Canada. He has said the country's contribution to checking Russian ambitions in eastern Europe is significant and will remain so, but the Islamic State has shown its willingness to create terror on Canadian soil.

The Harper government alternates between the Islamic State and Russia in terms of its political rhetoric; and Vance's comments provide an interesting glimpse into how the military sees the landscape ahead of this fall's election where issues of national security are expected to be front and centre. …

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