Simon Fraser University professor Alexander Moens warns in a new paper published by the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute that Canada and its NATO allies face an “existentialist threat”.
But, no, the problem apparently is not that Jean-Paul Sartre or one of the other existentialists has risen from the grave. What Moens is actually referring to is what is more normally termed among the strategic studies types an existential threat, i.e., a threat to the very existence of a country or society.
In Don’t Overburden or Undervalue NATO: A Policy Update Paper, Moens contends that the “existentialist” threat facing NATO members comes from “a fanatical ideology that is willing to use all levels of armed violence to make its points.” This ideology endangers “the values of [NATO's] members, including the rule of law, individual freedom, freedom of religion, and respect for human rights.”
Now, we know what you’re probably thinking. Moens is out of date. The neo-cons no longer run Washington. George W. Bush is out of office. Torture is no longer official U.S. policy; detention without charge is, um, possibly on the way out; extrajudicial killing via Predator drone is, well, actually it’s on the increase; and as far as the use of “all levels of armed violence” goes, while it is technically true that all options, including the use of nuclear weapons, remain on the table when it comes to dealing with countries such as Iran and North Korea, the point is at least being made a little more subtly these days.
But actually Moens isn’t talking about the neo-cons. As is made clear here, what he actually means is what he calls the “emerging totalitarian ideology” of “fanatical and militant Islamism”.
He might try measuring the growing level of CO2 in the atmosphere if he wants a real existential threat.