Sunday, February 20, 2005

Star Wars: A New Hope

According to Question Period today, it looks like the Liberals will back out of missile defense. This will mark a sharp contrast (notice the avoidance of the term flip-flop) to Martin's position during the leadership race when Sheila Copps shouted about missile defense and Paul said we "had to be at the table". This was significant since Paul's time during the leadership "race" consisted of grandiose statements such as "I support puppies, sunshine, and lollipops...except without the skin cancer, rabies, and tooth decay." In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the only two concrete promises made by Martin during the leadership race was that he'd say "yes" to Star Wars, and "no" to Bob Nault's very good Native governance bill.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very glad we'll be backing out of missile defense - it's a stupid idea that will never work. But for a guy who promised better relations with the provinces and better relations with the States, Paulie's not exactly coming through.

36 Comments:

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger CharLeBois, at 10:36 PM  

  • "it's a stupid idea that will never work." C'mon. Let's break this down.

    1. "It's a stupid idea." A system that could stop a nuclear missle from killing millions? To each his own I guess. Note the millions who also believe harvesting stem cells from embryos is a stupid idea. The rhetorical strength of dismissing something as “stupid” is just lost on simple old me I guess.

    2. "It will never work." Are you an aerospace engineer? Do you work for Boeing? Whatever, bottom line, neither of these things should concern Canadians.

    This is why the Canadian position is so god damn frustrating. If I was an American, I'd probably agree that there are other areas where the money could be far better spent. I'd probably oppose money on missile defence. BUT THE AMERICANS HAVE NOT ASKED FOR ONE RED CENT!!!!!! So your two stated objections aren't all that relevant. Our neighbours have chosen to pursue this objective, it's their money, all they're asking for is a little logistical cooperation (which, like NORAD, has the potential to benefit us greatly), and all we can do is turn our backs like immature babies?!

    Heh I'd love to see Layton in 1909.. "We oppose the weaponization of airspace!" Great... meanwhile the real world moves on. If we at least sat down with them maybe we could actually influence the direction of this research and implementation. Now we guarantee Canada will have no say whatsoever.

    There's so much that makes me proud to be Canadian but this is one instance where I can't understand the opposition - "A free missile defence system no why would we want that?" - and I am ashamed for it. Usually I can see both sides to an issue but not on this one.

    By Blogger CharLeBois, at 10:37 PM  

  • "it's a stupid idea that will never work." C'mon. Let's break this down.

    1. "It's a stupid idea." A system that could stop a nuclear missle from killing millions? To each his own I guess. Note the millions who also believe harvesting stem cells from embryos is a stupid idea. The rhetorical strength of dismissing something as “stupid” I guess is just lost on simple old me.

    2. "It will never work." Are you an aerospace engineer? Do you work for Boeing? Whatever, bottom line, neither of these things should concern Canadians.

    This is why the Canadian position is so god damn frustrating. If I was an American, I'd probably agree that there are other areas where the money could be far better spent. I'd probably oppose money on missile defence. BUT THE AMERICANS HAVE NOT ASKED FOR ONE RED CENT!!!!!! So your two stated objections aren't all that relevant. Our neighbours have chosen to pursue this objective, it's their money, all they're asking for is a little logistical cooperation (which, like NORAD, has the potential to benefit us greatly), and all we can do is turn our backs like immature babies?!

    Heh I'd love to see Layton in 1909.. "We oppose the weaponization of airspace!" Great... meanwhile the real world moves on. If we at least sat down with them maybe we could actually influence the direction of this research and implementation. Now we guarantee Canada will have no say whatsoever.

    There's so much that makes me proud to be Canadian but this is one instance where I can't understand the opposition - "A free missile defence system no why would we want that?" - and I am ashamed for it. Usually I can see both sides to an issue but not on this one.

    By Blogger CharLeBois, at 10:40 PM  

  • "it's a stupid idea that will never work." C'mon. Let's break this down.

    1. "It's a stupid idea." A system that could stop a nuclear missle from killing millions? To each his own I guess. Note the millions who also believe harvesting stem cells from embryos is a stupid idea. The rhetorical strength of dismissing something as “stupid” I guess is just lost on simple old me.

    2. "It will never work." Are you an aerospace engineer? Do you work for Boeing? Whatever, bottom line, neither of these things should concern Canadians.

    This is why the Canadian position is so god damn frustrating. If I was an American, I'd probably agree that there are other areas where the money could be far better spent. I'd probably oppose money on missile defence. BUT THE AMERICANS HAVE NOT ASKED FOR ONE RED CENT!!!!!! So your two stated objections aren't all that relevant. Our neighbours have chosen to pursue this objective, it's their money, all they're asking for is a little logistical cooperation (which, like NORAD, has the potential to benefit us greatly), and all we can do is turn our backs like immature babies?!

    Heh I'd love to see Layton in 1909.. "We oppose the weaponization of airspace!" Great... meanwhile the real world moves on. If we at least sat down with them maybe we could actually influence the direction of this research and implementation. Now we guarantee Canada will have no say whatsoever.

    There's so much that makes me proud to be Canadian but this is one instance where I can't understand the opposition - "A free missile defence system no why would we want that?" - and I am ashamed for it. Usually I can see both sides to an issue but not on this one.

    By Blogger CharLeBois, at 10:45 PM  

  • "it's a stupid idea that will never work." C'mon. Let's break this down.

    1. "It's a stupid idea." A system that could stop a nuclear missle from killing millions? To each his own I guess. Note the millions who also believe harvesting stem cells from embryos is a stupid idea. The rhetorical strength of dismissing something as “stupid” I guess is just lost on simple old me.

    2. "It will never work." Are you an aerospace engineer? Do you work for Boeing? Whatever, bottom line, neither of these things should concern Canadians.

    This is why the Canadian position is so god damn frustrating. If I was an American, I'd probably agree that there are other areas where the money could be far better spent. I'd probably oppose money on missile defence. BUT THE AMERICANS HAVE NOT ASKED FOR ONE RED CENT!!!!!! So your two stated objections aren't all that relevant. Our neighbours have chosen to pursue this objective, it's their money, all they're asking for is a little logistical cooperation (which, like NORAD, has the potential to benefit us greatly), and all we can do is turn our backs like immature babies?!

    Heh I'd love to see Layton in 1909.. "We oppose the weaponization of airspace!" Great... meanwhile the real world moves on. If we at least sat down with them maybe we could actually influence the direction of this research and implementation. Now we guarantee Canada will have no say whatsoever.

    There's so much that makes me proud to be Canadian but this is one instance where I can't understand the opposition - "A free missile defence system no why would we want that?" - and I am ashamed for it. Usually I can see both sides to an issue but not on this one.

    By Blogger CharLeBois, at 10:46 PM  

  • 1. Sure if the system had even the slightest chance of being successful and didn't cost billions of dollars, requires the breaking of international treaties, and the primary security threat was ballistic missiles then maybe an ABM system wouldn't be stupid. However, every single test has demonstrated that the current technology isn't up to the task of a skin on skin hit, which is required for the destruction of a re-entering warhead (given that they travel at a greater rate than the propagation of an explosion). Also, there really isn't a risk of nuclear war in the modern era. The money that's going to Star Wars would be better spent on ferreting out and dealing with terrorist organizations (if your primary concern was security) or a ton of other things.

    2. I'm not an aerospace engineers but I know a couple and I've asked them about their opinions. None of them thought that an ABM system would be effective. As for whether this is the business of Canadians, how is it not? The US are asking to build weapon facilities on our sovereign territory. We shouldn't just give them carte blanche, we should consider what they're proposing before we acquiesce.

    Also the issue isn't about money, it's about whether Canada wants to join the US in breaking the anti-proliferation treaties and the international ban on ABMs. An analogy is would you accept free heroin? Sure it doesn't cost us anything and it might be kind of fun. Sure it might be illegal but who cares about that anyways. Stop asking so many pesky questions.

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 3:57 AM  

  • Ok, I have no idea why my comment posted so many times. Sorry!

    CPSS:

    Again, I agree with you that the money could be better spent elsewhere. But again, this is irrelevant to the Canadian perspective. You still haven't given me any convincing arguments as to why Canada should act like an ostrich and just stick our head in the dirt.

    The United States withdrew from the ABM treaty according to that treaty’s own provisions, and with the agreement of the (successor of the) other signatory, the government of Russia. What is this illegal activity you accuse the US of? Show me the treaty they are violating.

    Moreover, The United Nations Charter, chapter seven, article 51 reads “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations”. The US is pursuing an objective to further their ability to defend themselves. The UN Charter guarantees them this right.

    Please don't bring up money again. Tell me why Canada shouldn't cooperate logistically with the United States when such a minimal contribution has been asked, our potential benefit is so great, the potential negative effects are non-existent, and that seeing as how they are our greatest trading partner and ally our default position probably shouldn't be to just flip them the bird.

    By Blogger CharLeBois, at 11:20 AM  

  • Tell me, Charlebois.. how is the ABM system (even if it IS successful in shooting down stuff.. which certainly isnt proven yet) going to stop another airplane attack a la 9/11.. or a terrorist slipping thru a border or thru a port with a suitcase bomb...

    Answer: It wont.

    Why should Canada endorse a pie-in-the-sky system that is a waste of resources?

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 12:17 PM  

  • "Why should Canada endorse a pie-in-the-sky system that is a waste of resources?"

    Because it's no skin off our teeth if they want to waste their money on the program, BUT saying no, along with many other foreign affairs "slights" toward the US are adding up. Sometimes you have to take a position that you may not agree with wholeheartedly, simply because your friend asks you to take the position.

    Besides, what's the harm to Canada for taking part? If the costs of supporting the program are cheaper than the costs it would take to defend Canadian airspace properly (which we may just have to shoulder if NORAD changes due to us staying out of BMD), then why shouldn't we take advantage of all opportunities to protect Canada?

    By Blogger The Hack, at 12:41 PM  

  • I dont agree: If my friend tells me the right thing to do is jump off a cliff with him.. I'm going to tell him he's doing it on his own, no matter how much of a friend he is and no matter how many times he asks me, and no matter how angry he gets that I wont follow him.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 2:53 PM  

  • But this isn't jumping on the cliff, something that harms Canada. If anything, if this eventually works, we're actually making Canada safer by using the most up to date technology.

    I just don't understand the logic.

    Saying "No" further hurts the ties as "allies" that we are supposed to have.

    Saying "No" quite possibly threatens the existance of NORAD. And you know as well as I do that Canada doesn't bear the full burden of those costs now.

    Saying "No" means that if it DOES work in the future (and really, there's no scientific evidence to suggest that it will always fail), that we don't wish to protect the country using the best technology availible.

    What does saying "No" really earn us as a country? I just haven't heard one good argument. Even if it never works, what are we being asked to contribute by signing on? Saying "yes" to BMD eases the sting of saying "no" to troops in Iraq.

    We are too dependent on the USA to continually piss on their requests. As allies, we've got to step up eventually. Otherwise, let's be honest about our relationship and accept the consequences.

    By Blogger The Hack, at 4:52 PM  

  • for crying out loud. this whole debate is ridiculous.

    the US system has little chance of defending either country against a nuclear attack, insofar as mutually assured destruction takes care of that, and suitcase, dirty, or ship-smuggled attacks are more likely.

    but hey - republicans think it'll work. and want us to give them a bit of moral authority, insofar as the actual logisics (read: NORAD integration, etc.) are a foregone conclusion.

    so, what should motivate us giving or withholding said moral authority?

    Canada's interests? It's only the relationship with the US that'll change substantively. It's a non-issue elsewhere, as the rest of the world sees us as coasting in their slipstream anyways (Iraq non-participation - thus far - is irrelevant; does anyone think that France treats Denmark all that different these days?).

    And what are our interests with the US? They can screw us on so many levels, mostly re. border crossing and trade. And, re. softwood and mad cow, are presently doing just that.

    So, we have three options:
    a. do we give it up to 'em 'cuz we think we have to, sort of prom-night-esque?
    b. Or try to juice them as much as possible, in a bit of surf-n-turf foreplay?
    c. Or, feel good about ourselves, say yanks be damned, vive de gaulle et tout ca, and spit in the eye of the superpower shibboleth?

    (mystery option d, that we think they have a good idea, doesn't count here, 'cuz the idea is crap on its own merits).

    I say b. It's better for us.

    By Blogger matt, at 5:09 PM  

  • CharLeBois,

    I never said that Canada shouldn't get involved. I just said that Canada should question the United States on their plan. I think economic issues are still live if your friend was going to waste his money doing something utterly stupid wouldn't you question him about it. However that wasn't my main point. If you read my original reply to your comment I made a much bigger deal about the illegality of an ABM system. It contravenes anti-proliferation and anti-ABM treaties that both Canada and the US have signed. As such if we want to remain internationally credible we should have very good reason to get involved with Star Wars before we jump to do it. I don't think there is such reason. Money isn't the major issue and I never said it was. The issues are legal and practical. Moreover, the legal and practical issues should lead Canada to question the American position quite vigorously. Which is why I think even if the missile system is free, as you suggest, that we shouldn't just wholeheartedly accept it, as you suggest.

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 5:43 PM  

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    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 5:46 PM  

  • Canada already gave the US permission to use NORAD to track incoming missiles for the so-called ABM if it ever managed to work... and they dont seem to particularly want much else from us other then "moral approval".. something I and a lot of other Canadians are not prepared to give to that Administration.. they've earned none of that.. and because of that, I'm willing to sit out 3 1/2 more years of Bush and hope the next guy and administration is more reasonable.

    I'm not telling the Americans they cant research this stuff.. .. it certainly has merit..and maybe one day the technology will have the capability to be useful... but as far as I'm concerned, it isnt right now.. Bush is rushing this ABM technology without proper testing, and he's got a 45% failure rate so far with even the most scripted of conditions.

    Plus.. this Adninistration is likely to do what Paul Martin claims he doesnt want - the weaponization of space. I see this Admnistration having no bones about doing that.. I'm not prepared to give them a blank cheque to do that.

    As for the so-called threat of ending NORAD or not being able to be "at the table" in decision making if a missile does come up.. get real... does anyone here think that even if Canada was at the table and involved... that the US would listen to any of our objections over say an incoming missile that the US deemed needed to be shot down over Canada?

    Of course they wouldnt.. they'd be coming over our airspace and trying to take it out whether we were at the table or not.. their interests (and their cities) would come first... and they view Canada as nothing but a big empty space for the missile to fall into.

    This is a plan that needs to be not touched with a 39 1/2 foot pole.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 5:50 PM  

  • Tell me, Charlebois.. how is the ABM system (even if it IS successful in shooting down stuff.. which certainly isnt proven yet) going to stop another airplane attack a la 9/11.. or a terrorist slipping thru a border or thru a port with a suitcase bomb...

    Answer: It wont.

    Nope, it won't. And it is not designed to stop that happening.
    It is designed to stop missles.
    By your reasoning, looking for suitcase devices won't stop missles, either. Gawd you are so astute.

    "Americans only want to protect their own cities"

    Really? Now why would we want to protect our cities? Could it be that Americans live in those cities?

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