On Thursday, September 12th, the NATO Council was honoured to host United States Consul General Jim Dickmeyer for a Round Table at the National Club. In what proved to be an exciting and enlightening evening for all involved. The stated topic was the Future of North American Security, of which Mr Dickmeyer spoke of at length. Naturally, the Consul General also took time to comment on the current issue of Syria during the question period afterwards.
After a short introduction, Mr Dickmeyer delved into his background as a university professor, in which he taught national security studies at the National Defense University in Washington DC. This experience for him, he said, carried much resonance both in how the defense of North America is organized, and the evolving nature of the threats facing the continent.
One of the Consul General’s prevailing messages throughout his speech was that the War on Terror had changed the dynamic of looking at enemies across the world. Unlike during the Cold War, the West is no longer facing a clearly identifiable foe with a clear sense of opposite ideology. The rise of non-state actors has complicated the issue even further.
The second major point that Mr Dickmeyer touched upon was the degree to which the world has become interconnected. We are more interconnected then ever, and while this offers a number of tangible benefits, it also exposes us to a number of vulnerabilities as well. Security breaches, both by employees and cyber attacks, has revealed the extent of the data that has been accumulated
Finally, related more closely to North American security, the Consul General spoke very enthusiastically of the Beyond the Border Action Plan, which was introduced by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama in 2011. This most recent iteration of a bilateral border arrangement between Canada and the United States has a number of crucial advantages, the largest of which being its visibility, directly from the heads of state, and its emphasis on collaboration and information sharing between the two governments.
In general, it was an excellent and worthwhile event for everyone in attendance. The opportunity to speak with someone of such prominence as Mr Dickmeyer, a high level representative of the United States, allowed everyone to ask pertinent questions related to United States foreign policy that were answered in a highly cordial and professional manner by one of the country’s top diplomats.