Part of a series providing background information on the Halifax International Security Forum which will be held November 19-21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Interview of Tony Seed by TML Weekly, November 7. 2018
TML Weekly: Tony, as an independent journalist and researcher who amongst other things specializes in NATO and war exercises and preparations around the world, you have done investigation into the sponsors and partners of the Halifax International Security Forum (HISF). Can you tell us about that?
Tony Seed: It is not for nothing that when it was launched in 2009 from Washington, DC the HISF immediately began to tout itself as the so-called “Davos of the defence industry.” The HISF is an instrument of giant arms and energy oligopolies and international finance capital involved in the business of war, the most profitable business of all. It is also an instrument of integrationism and nation-wrecking of Canada and other countries. The techniques of the U.S.-led Halifax war conference being used to sell war are familiar PR strategies, known to the peoples of the world from before and during the Anglo-U.S. invasion of Iraq. This is when the phrase “weapons of mass deception” – referring to the state-organized disinformation about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction — came into vogue. The HISF and the monopoly media go out of their way to camouflage this intimate connection through gushing descriptions of how these philanthropic monopolies support “collaborative efforts” “towards global prosperity” and a “firm commitment every day to building a more secure world,” and a “rules-based international order.” The self-serving aim of this disinformation is to make sure the Canadian people and especially the working class do not look into, analyze and discuss the actual forces involved, their connection to the economy and its reality and what is the way forward to secure their own interests and rights. Canada’s membership in NATO itself is decreed as a taboo, not to be discussed even in the parliament.
Information can be traced about the sponsors and partners but no explanation is available on what sponsorship entails while details of the “partnerships” are kept secret. Furthermore, two-thirds of the discussion at the HISF is held behind closed doors. That an agency claiming to represent “the world’s democracies” operates in virtual secrecy with its real agenda and wheeling and dealing concealed, is not something that can dismissed. But facts speak for themselves.
The HISF website lists 14 private monopolies as partners and sponsors; eight are U.S., three are Canadian, two are Turkish and one is French. In fact, they all have a supranational character; it is impossible to solely ascribe to them a country of origin. 
This does not constitute the actual total involved in the HISF, as many corporations and powerful financial corporations such as Hill+Knowlton, the notorious U.S. lobbyist and KKR, a global Wall Street financial oligarchy, have sent individual representatives. Other powerful actors are kept in the shade, for example, the U.S. state, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the McCain Institute, military and energy think tanks, etc.
The main speaker on November 17 is Joseph Dunford, Jr., Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff – the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S. and an adviser to President Donald Trump. This high-profile involvement is consistent with previous conferences. Senator John McCain, who delivered inaugural warmongering speeches from 2009 until his death in August, is revered as the patron saint of the HISF. Several high-ranking members of the McCain Institute and the International Republican Institute of the National Endowment for Democracy occupy leading positions in the HISF, several of whom are also CFR members. The CFR has long been a link between Wall Street, large corporations, academia, the media, and U.S. foreign and military policymakers. A close examination of the profiles of individual participants will show that every U.S. participant -– participants are misleadingly listed as individuals and not by institutions – is directly or indirectly connected to the U.S. state, the Pentagon, the National Endowment for Democracy or intelligence agencies in one way or another.
Furthermore, this list does not include previous sponsors, for example, Lockheed Martin (which has an office located right on Canadian Forces Base Stadacona in Halifaz), Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Irving Shipbuilding. Interestingly, none of these monopolies are represented at the 2018 HISF.
However, in a new arrangement made by the Washington, DC organizers, the giant aerospace monopoly Boeing has become a first-time sponsor; its president Marc Allen and six top executives are present at the HISF and carrying a full-court press as honoured guests this year. Lockheed Martin (a direct competitor to Boeing) and Irving have just made a big score in the Canadian warship program, but their collective overall absence in itself suggests 1) how influence-peddling works; 2) the deepening of the dogfight between these giants for markets and financing; and 3) a possible boomerang effect on the Trudeau Liberals and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan from Boeing’s sponsorship of a DND-funded conference. Sajjan publicly declared Boeing, DND’s fellow sponsor of the HISF, “could not be trusted.” On December 12, 2017 the government eliminated Boeing from consideration for a multi-billion dollar fighter jet contract after the combined attack of the Trump regime and Boeing against Bombardier, which has led to the layoff of 12,000 aerospace workers and counting in less than two years as part of nation-wrecking. Interestingly, the HISF and Boeing share the same PR company, Summa Strategies. Who brought whom to the table? What is taking place in the backrooms, where the organizers boast the real “discussions” take place? None of it bodes well for the peoples of Canada, the U.S. or the world.
The revolving door between major arms monopolies, the White House and the Pentagon is spinning ever more rapidly. Boeing vice-president Patrick Shanahan, who formerly led the company’s missile defence subsidiary, is Deputy Defense Secretary – the second highest position in the Pentagon. Benjamin Cassidy, installed by Trump as Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, previously worked as a senior executive at Boeing’s international business sector, marketing Boeing military products abroad. It has 100 full time lobbyists in Washington. Over 300 members of the U.S. Congress regularly take campaign cash from Boeing. In addition, John C. Rood, Senior Vice President for Lockheed Martin International is the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, the third highest position in the U.S. Defense Department.
These individual supranational oligopolies are also organized into supranational cartels. This feature of international finance capital is camouflaged. In this way working people in Canada become embroiled in the fights between contending supranational arms manufacturers and imperialist aggression around the world. For example, take United Technologies which owns Pratt & Whitney and was brought to the table at the last minute as a new sponsor of the HISF. This giant arms conglomerate participates in a cartel with Boeing rival Airbus, supplying it with aircraft engines. It is also involved with the Lockheed Martin F-15 for the forthcoming Canadian purchase of a fleet of fighter aircraft valued at $15 billion and rising. Pratt & Whitney Canada is one of the arms monopolies supplying Saudi Arabia but it is doing so surreptitiously via the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Agreement; the Ukrainian state enterprise Ukroboronprom is in a cartel arrangement with the Saudi Arabian Air Force.
The lethal operations against the peoples of Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen depend on an array of powerful arms contractors and suppliers, many of them involved in the Halifax war conference. TML Weekly itself has cogently made the point that “Civil society at one time considered such unbridled private power of the rich over sovereign countries and their economies as illegal trusts and merchants of death with too much social wealth and power concentrated in the hands of a few.“
Along with bringing about a new economy that serves the interests of the people, getting out of NATO and NORAD and blocking all foreign troops and warships from our country, Canada should ban the HISF along with all foreign think tanks, front groups and non-governmental organizations.
TML Weekly: Thank you, Tony. With the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO coming up next year, there is a lot of work required to establish these relations and who they serve. We are sure to call on you again.
TML Weekly, November 7. 2018. No. 40. Slightly edited for this publication.
The 13th Annual Halifax International Security Forum (HISF) will be held November 19-21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. According to the organizers, they plan to have all their participants in person at the Westin Hotel for the fully vaccinated Forum. For the 13th straight year, anti-war activists are once again holding events to oppose the NATO-sponsored conference.
– No Harbour for War –