Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Another Episode of Star Wars

There's a good discussion going on in the comments section on BMD so I thought I'd elaborate a bit more on the topic. Paul Wells got a great cross-section of comments on the topic last month - feel free to check them out here.

This is an issue I can see both sides of. I can respect the "it's retarded, but who cares?" position. Basically, if it doesn't cost us a cent, why not go on board to help US relations, right? Mind you, I don't think this will have a huge impact in US relations. People keep pointing to softwood and mad cow, but I suspect that these trade tariffs are in place to please interests in the US. I can't imagine tariffs suddenly going up because of Canada's non-decision on Star Wars. You also have to look to Iraq. What if the US agreed to pay to send 200 Canadian troops there? It wouldn't cost us a cent. Yet many would still be against it if it's perceived as "wrong".

Is this as bad as Iraq? Well, no. But Martin has said that his government is against the "weaponization of space" and that's the road we're heading down. There have been numerous quotes from people in the Pentagon that the long-term goal of missile defense is to weaponize space. I know some people say we'll have a "seat at the table" but I can't imagine the US listening to Canada on this in a million years.

Even without the weaponization of space, it's a terrible idea. Every test done to date has failed miserably. It's like shooting down one bullet with another bullet. And it's costing billions. And for what? What nation in their right mind would send a missile to the United States, knowing they'd get obliterated 20 minutes later. No state is going to take the US on. The real threat comes from terrorist groups who will smuggle dirty bombs into the country or sail ships full of explosives into harbours.

All this program serves is a way to appease the neo-cons and weapons programs. It's an utterly stupid idea. If the US wants to do it, then fine. But I can't see any benefits to Canada joining.

UPDATE: Wow.

10 Comments:

  • Mckenna more or less just said what I said in your original comments... Canada already signed up to NORAD's amendments... and all they seem to want is our "moral approval" to show the rest of the world.

    Why this is apparently a "bombshell" I'm not sure.. other then it was the new Canadian ambassador to the US who said it and not some policy analyst or some silly blogger .. heh.

    That said.. if it stirs more people up (particularly in the Liberal Party) to ditch this thing.. some good will have come of it.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 3:14 PM  

  • The NORAD changes were made last August--nothing new there. Pratt sent a memo to Rumsfeld stating an intention to "sign on" well before that, in Jan of 2004.

    If McKenna didn't misspeak--and Graham maintained in QP that he hadn't--it remains hard to see how McKenna can say the NORAD changes make us part of the BMD system, while Graham claims tracking incoming missiles (NORAD) and shooting them down (BMD interceptor system) are two completely different things. The Americans don't view the system that way: integrated and layered are the key adjectives they use. (That's also why Graham's hiving off of the ground-based system from later, space-based developments is artificial.)

    So, why is McKenna trying to redefine "signing on" as something that's already largely happened, while Graham et. al. maintain nothing's been decided yet about "signing on"?

    I agree that the American government is largely looking for a political gesture from Canada. Is McKenna signalling to the US that limited practical "help" (such as it is) is all that can be expected for now?

    This system is not purely defensive, by the way. Those planning it and supporting it hope, ultimately, to be able to act pre-emptively against "rogues" without fear of being deterred by the threat of a missile launch--they hope the system will intercept it/them. It's an "enabler" of US pre-emptive action, then, as well as part of broader US plans to further militarize and eventually weaponize space.

    By Blogger Stephen, at 4:43 PM  

  • I can't imagine tariffs suddenly going up because of Canada's non-decision on Star Wars.” Why? The Americans, unlike Canadians, know how to treat a friend and show gratitude.

    It’s actually pretty ironic, as it was determination by Paul Martin Sr., in organizing a United Nations peacekeeping force to Cyprus (and Canada sending an entire infantry battalion), that demonstrated just how grateful the Americans can be. Jack Granatstein writes:

    President Lyndon Johnson, worried about NATO’s future if the Greeks and the Turks went to war, was grateful. As Pearson recalls in his memoirs, LBJ “was amazed and filled with admiration … and I think this may have changed his attitude toward Canada … ‘You’ll never know what this may have prevented.’” The President then asked, “Now what can I do for you?” Although Pearson replied “nothing at the moment,” I believe that Johnson’s willingness to agree to the Auto Pact the next year, an agreement that hugely benefited Canada’s Auto Sector, may well have been Pearson’s reward for Cyprus.

    By Blogger CharLeBois, at 5:59 PM  

  • "Why? The Americans, unlike Canadians, know how to treat a friend and show gratitude.Tell that to France. The reason that the US wouldn't screw around too much with Canada/US trade relations is that they need our resources. If they start playing dirty we can always take our ball and go home. Plus we also have WTO, NAFTA, and various other trade treaties/organizations on our side. If anything the US could learn a thing or two about playing nice from Canada.

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 6:26 PM  

  • Mr. Mulroney was buddy-buddy with Reagan.. but that didnt stop the US lumber industry back then complaining about the same thing they are doing 20 years later -- only difference is Mulroney caved into them by agreeing to voluntary limits.

    Likewise.. trade disagreements happenned before 9/11 during Bush's reign.. initiated by the US... so to say that unless we becoming the American's "yes-men" we will automatically be hit by every trade complaint possible is at best misguided.. at worse is fear-mongering... (the US Congress has more to do with trade irritants then the President does, in all fairness).

    Tell me.. what has Tony Blair gotten out of Bush other then smiling photo-ops and a Congressional Medal of Honour? A promise to get back on-board with Kyoto? Not going to happen.

    The only thing this Administration respects is strength.. and the only thing that will get Congress to take a second look at not doing is hitting back where it hurts... slap that 4.1 billion $ trade retaliation suit that we applied for with the WTO in every state where the Congress members are causing us the most trouble (Max Baucus of Montana being a chief example)... and show them this time.. Canada isnt backing down.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 7:08 PM  

  • What's the big deal with the weaponization of space? Why is it a bad thing? This question is only partly rhetorical; I'll concede it may well be a bad thing, but thus far if Martin said he was against polka-dotted ties to respond to the missle defence issue it would make about as much sense to me.

    By Blogger matt, at 9:48 PM  

  • Space weapons are a bad idea for a number of reasons.

    Orbital debris, for example, could make space hazardous for peaceful uses like weather and communication satellites.

    Though potentially powerful, space-based strike weapons are inherently fragile, subject to attack by crude anti-satellite weapons. Thus, a use-it-or-lose it "hair trigger mentality" might characterize their use.

    You can find some other reasons space weapons are bad here:

    http://www.stimson.org/pub.cfm?id=220

    By Blogger Stephen, at 12:01 PM  

  • Every test done to date has failed miserably.

    Perhaps, but does this mean it will never work? Every technological advance failed at some point. There is no doubt that with enough time and money they will eventually get it to work.

    What nation in their right mind would send a missile to the United States, knowing they'd get obliterated 20 minutes later.

    Do you really believe the US would have the will to nuke a state after they lost a major US city? The left in the US could barely get the balls to hit Afganistan after 9/11. Imagine if the plan was to use a US WMD instread of precision bombs. Imagine if Kerry was President when this happened. I doubt the US would have the guts to kill that many people with a nuke, especially when many of them would be seen as "innocent".

    No state is going to take the US on.

    Some already seem to be moving towards taking them on, and they do not even have nukes yet.

    The real threat comes from terrorist groups who will smuggle dirty bombs into the country or sail ships full of explosives into harbours.

    I would grant you this one. However, this does not necessarily negate the need for BMD.

    By Blogger MB, at 7:33 PM  

  • I would really like to hear a more convincing argument for ABMs. The only ones I've heard so far are:

    1) The US has always been there for us (which I'm not sure is entirely true, but whatever) so we should reciprocate.

    2) The US isn't asking for money, so why say no to a free ABM system?

    3) (And my favorite) North Korea might build ballistic missiles, might decide to lob one at either Detroit or Seattle and might miss and hit either Vancouver or Windsor.

    Are there any real solid reasons why we should be pursuing an ABM system in this epoch of human socio-political development?

    -Socialist Swine

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 1:59 AM  

  • Without missile defense, some alliance of nations might try to trigger a "mutual assured destruction" nuclear war between North America and another nation through the use of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM's).

    By Blogger David Wozney, at 11:46 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home