NATO’s Young Professionals Program – what we can do about it

NATO’s recruitment of youth for aggression and war

Demonstration in Toronto at the NATO Association of Canada on the occasion of the 60th anniversary summit of NATO held in London, UK.


On April 29, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced a new Young Professionals Program (YPP) aimed at recruiting “the brightest young minds in our Alliance” to join NATO to “respond to the security challenges of today and tomorrow.” Only youth from NATO’s 30 member nations, including Canada, will be eligible to apply, although its materials are published in English, French, Russian and Ukrainian.

According to the information provided by NATO, recruitment will be open to qualified graduate students with a year’s work experience, who are 21 years old or older. Successful candidates will be eligible to do three one-year placements in three different NATO settings in “12 different areas of work, including political affairs, cyber defence, innovation and emerging technologies, marketing, finance, law and engineering.”

Six civilian and military bodies in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United States are taking applicants. The aim is to groom future “leaders and influencers” for NATO’s war agenda.

“The YPP is part of the ongoing campaign by NATO to present itself to youth as some type of benign force that is promoting human rights, freedom and democracy,” writes TML Weekly which brought this to my attention in an article last week. [1]

“But youth are not buying it.”

The 2018 report of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on National Defence, entitled Canada and NATO: An Alliance Forged in Strength and Reliability, lamented that there was little support or understanding among young people for NATO or what it is doing.

It noted that 71 per cent of millennials are not aware of NATO’s important role, and that this lack of knowledge hinders the government’s support for NATO.

The armed forces of Canada and the United States also report trouble reaching their annual recruitment targets, especially during the global pandemic when youth see war exercises continuing without thought of human life. Both are issuing public appeals to former members to consider rejoining. What is not understood or appreciated by these warmongers is that youth of today in Canada and abroad have taken up social responsibility for the social and natural environment, and in their hundreds of millions oppose imperialist war and aggression.

To counter this spirit of the youth and disinform Canadians, the Canadian government and NATO have developed a wide and extensive network of closely linked agencies. These include the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association of some 83 members of the parliament and senate from the cartel parties, the NATO Association of Canada, the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect at the University of Toronto, to name some of the most prominent. In addition, it integrates specialized political NGOS such as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress or the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (agitational centre of the Jewish Federations of Canada) which are closely intertwined with the government and which place youth from home and abroad as unpaid interns with pro-NATO MPs.

Job offers, internships, training and networks with influential academic, corporate and government agencies and contacts, selfies with “outstanding leaders”and tours of NATO Headquarters in Brussels and installations, “global networking and social activities” are the “perks” offered. According to the NATO website, “Young Professionals will receive a competitive salary and other benefits, including excellent health insurance, reimbursement of travel expenses for taking up duty and leaving, training opportunities, and a generous annual leave of 30 days.”

The media is another weapon, in which selected journalists such as Mark Mackinnon, senior international correspondent of The Globe and Mail and Murray Brewster of the CBC shine. The Globe and Mail is a corporate sponsor of the NATO Association of Canada.


King’s College School of Journalism in Halifax embeds students on NATO war exercises in Europe as part of their courses. In a commentary exposing the program, Bruce Wark, former CBC correspondent and professor at King’s School, pointed out that “Canada’s military has already mastered in Afghanistan [the mechanism] where ‘embedded’ journalists report almost everything from the military’s point of view. (No wonder that, except for the occasional deaths of Canadian soldiers, brutal NATO war comes across on Canadian TV screens as bloodless and benign.”

Embedding, he says, was broadened to include student journalists. One of the placements from the program was Capt. Jennifer Casey, a public relations official with the Canadian Forces and NORAD who died tragically in the Snowbird crash near Kamloops, BC, on May 17. The King’s School had “a lucrative contract with the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, which gets about $2 million a year from DND.” Prof Wark wrote in conclusion that “it’s another example of a university selling its soul to the military.”

University of Calgary

The Military Journalism Course of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute “was started in 2002 as a nine-day course which introduces university students to military journalism and the Canadian Armed Forces. The course is run in partnership with the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary and includes a combination of media-military theory in a classroom setting, coupled with field visits to Armed Forces regular and reserve units. The stated goal of the program is to enhance the military education of future Canadian journalists who will report on Canadian military activities domestically and abroad. In 2007, the program introduced its first Francophone Military Journalism course held at the Université de Montréal and Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, near Québec City.

The persistent aim of these programs and agencies is to disinform youth about the true nature of NATO as an instrument of war and imperialism and promote its political-military themes to the public, demonizing opposition to NATO as “Russian disinformation.”

Simon Fraser University

In recent years, Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Burnaby, BC has developed an intensive NATO Field School and Simulation Program designed as a for credit summer program for senior undergraduate and graduate students. In 2019, it was opened up beyond SFU to university students from across Canada, 42 in all. The 2020 school will be open to students from all 30 NATO countries. [2]

The 2019 NATO Stakeholder’s Report informs that “The first segment of the program was in Canada and concentrated on the practice of international security relations, the making of foreign and defence policy, understanding the functions and structures of NATO, introduction to diplomacy, and simulation training. Students visited Canadian military bases in BC and Alberta and were taught by several visiting experts and officials. In the next phase, students spent consecutive weeks in Europe at NATO and EU headquarters in Belgium, the Canadian-led enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia, NATO facilities in Romania and at the NATO Defense College in Italy. In the final segment, which takes place online, students completed their written assignments, including journals and policy briefs.” The basic fee is in the range of $4,500 to $5,250 Canadian with bursaries available to SFU students.

In addition, NATO organizes an internship program for university students at NATO Headquarters, now in its 18th year.

NATO’s Public Diplomacy program provides grants to “Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), universities, think tanks, and other pertinent civil society organisations” to “foster awareness and understanding of NATO, its values, policies, and activities.”

Further, NATO employs a developed program of offering lucrative NATO Defence College fellowships paying $100,000 to selected academics with the aim of integrating them into this network as specialized ideologues and propagandists in the university and mass media. These are not aimed simply to produce agitational publications but voluminous works generalising vast material and designed not only for propaganda purposes but also for the propagandists themselves. But there is yet another objective of this research and it is to find vulnerable areas and vantage points in society for an ideological offensive as an instrument of the NATO bloc.

Two forces in combat

An important front in Canada where the ongoing battle between these two forces has unfolded is the port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The most heavily militarized city in Canada, it is a strategic NATO port, the headquarters of Maritime Command. It hosts five universities and a number of community colleges.

NATO considered the Halifax International Security Forum Forum (HISF) – funded by the Department of National Defence but headquartered in Washington and sponsored by NATO – an important bridgehead amongst other objectives for infiltrating Canadian society, the academy and spreading its influence amongst young people. Since its inauguration in 2009, it has branched out its own  subversive and ramified network; to give two examples, today the HISF in turn is a sponsor of the NATO Association of Canada along with Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and other arms monopolies and as well has organized its “Canada Club” of monopolies aiming to enrich themselves from the government and the war economy.

Right from the beginning, anti-war activists fought with valour and dedication against the US-NATO recruitment and propaganda schemes on the basis of unity in action. The rich experience and methods of their opposition to the NATO-sponsored HISF merits attention. Direct action had to be accompanied with investigation, organized discussion of the spurious theories being promoted to rationalize war and aggression, and the publication of exposés and resource material distributed amongst the people to activate the human factor/social consciousness as a component part of their protest movement.

The key thing about NATO, as they discovered, is that it is not necessarily and only directed at foreign states such as Germany, Russia or China, Syria or Libya nor is it exclusively military. Drawing on the examples of the colour revolutions and Arab Spring, in which HISF organizers had personally participated, NATO can also direct regime change within, in an effort to subvert the political organizations of the Canadian people, especially the working class —more precise terminology might call this a “pre-coup”. Montreal anthropologist Maximilian Forte notes that “once again, a similar pattern of force presents itself: moral arguments, identity politics, demonization, myth-making, media disinformation, rent-a-crowds, and then violence. The overall aim is to get everyone to side with the ruling financial oligarchs, to make us identify with them or their extensions, and to save them, from ourselves.” [3]

Since the HISF was launched in 2009, the DND-funded Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University (rebranded in 2015 as the Centre for the Study of Security and Development,) which students and some faculty have repeatedly condemned, has openly recruited students to “volunteer” at the HISF with ephemeral hopes of personal advancement. Tim Dunne is a military analyst and former major with the Canadian Forces involved in media operations and public relations who is part of this centre. He works directly with the HISF. He has zealously publicized it in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, the Dalhousie Gazette, and Globe and Mail etc. with the aim of embellishing the veneer of an openly war conference as a force for peace and security. 

With this view in mind, in 2012  the HISF initiated its “Agenda Working Group” of “experts.” Examination of their biographies show that they are intimately connected with the academy, military-political strategic centres and think tanks, and the U.S. state. The participation of Canadians is as marginal as it is colonial: two, both NATO- and DND-funded academics connected to the Liberal party, Janice Gross Stein of the Munk School and Roland Paris of the University of Ottawa, a former NATO Fellow, both promoted as independent academics and dispassionate experts. The efforts of the latter did not go unnoticed; he was advanced to be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy advisor after the 2015 federal election.

In 2018, several days before the opening of the US-led war conference, the American organizers began directly targeting Canadian students and faculty with their propaganda. They moved onto the university campuses itself.

On November 14, 2018 Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie universities officially sponsored a joint forum titled “Discord, Disruptions and Disorder: A World Without International Institutions?” It featured war criminals and their ideologues presented as “distinguished delegates” to the HISF.

Several activists from the No Harbour for War group went there to oppose the ideologues and intervened on the principle of Not a Single Youth for Imperialist War.

They explained to the students that the underlying thesis advertised was that of Breibart in disguised language: the United Nations is dominated by “autocratic” countries like China and Russia, so how can “democracy” be saved? Instead of discussing the actual reality, they want to herd the student youth into discussing how to “improve” the imperialist project and rescue 19th century liberal democracy, which is to be done outside and against the UN by a “league of democracies” – the NATO bloc. It is precisely this conception of security, which is used to justify invasion, occupation and all manner of heinous war crimes, that the peoples of the world are actively rejecting through every means at their disposal. They called on the student youth to embrace the vision of making Canada a factor for peace by participating in the organized political struggle for an anti-war government.

In 2019, a similar agitational forum was again held at Dalhousie. It featured a Hong Kong “democracy dissident” awarded a prize by Cindy McCain, newly recruited to the HISF board and president of the McCain Institute, named after the late U.S. Senator John McCain. The senator, a warmonger and advocate of American exceptionalism after whom the institute is named, had longstanding ties with the HISF. The McCain Institute is funded by many arms and energy monopolies as well as the government of the feudal kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Young women are another demographic of our people targeted by NATO for recruitment for aggression and war– a major theme HISF initiated in 2017. This  too was immediately exposed and opposed.

The genesis of this stand goes back to the resolute opposition by Haligonians to the despicable “Dial A Sailor” programs which were organized by the U.S. Navy in ports throughout the world, including Halifax, during the 1980s. The aim was  to entice women and young girls to prostitute themselves as “escorts” for foreign sailors from U.S. and NATO warships visiting the port. Subject to broad protests and indignation, this venal program was finally disbanded due to popular opposition.

The Agenda Working Group of the HISF  includes two members who specialize on this front. There were no women on its board of directors at the time. On November 18, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Canadian Clare Hutchinson would become NATO’s new Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security. TML Weekly warned at the time that this constituted thinly-veiled support to the Trudeau government’s own program. It “has given itself the dishonourable task to convince women – who are in the front ranks of the opposition to aggression and war – to consider the ‘equal opportunity’ offered for recruitment as soldiers, police or spies on behalf of NATO and its members.” This is what it calls empowering women and inclusion. 

The HISF further announced a “Halifax Peace with Women Fellowship” based on the “war is peace” and “peace through strength” concepts of NATO: “This 3-week program will initially be offered to between 6 and 10 women from allied militaries. It will give them the opportunity to visit Ottawa, Waterloo, Silicon Valley, and Washington, DC with the aim of studying how Canada and the United States approach strategic challenges.” This perfidy is an insult to all women of Halifax, Canada and other lands who have stood and fought for peace with dignity and principle.

Women are not buying this either.

This latest recruitment ploy by NATO to subvert our youth and the youth of the world in the name of learning skills and employment must be condemned and actively opposed whenever possible. NATO is an aggressive military organization, one of the greatest threats to the life and well-being of humanity and the environment of our planet.

Not a Single Youth for Imperialist War!

Get Canada Out of NATO!

Dismantle NATO!

Organize for an Anti-War Government!



1.TML Weekly, May 16, 2020 – No. 17 

2.Thanks to Tamara Lorincz of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace for bringing the SFU program to my attention.

3. Maximilian Forte. 

Further reading

Halifax International Security Forum: Attempts to recruit women for aggression and war will fail

By Tony Seed

Militarization of Halifax: King’s military school

By Bruce Wark


Filed under Canada

2 responses to “NATO’s Young Professionals Program – what we can do about it

  1. Pingback: Another university network seeks to embroil youth in war preparations | Tony Seed's Weblog

  2. Pingback: Not a Single Youth for Imperialist War | Tony Seed's Weblog

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