Friday, June 18, 2010

If We Only Had a Brain

Iggy likes it. Harper likes it and knows his Senior Partner likes it. At least some of us like it or think we do. Yet nobody much wants to talk about it or what it means.

It is the militarization of Canada's foreign policy. That, in turn, means shooting and shelling and bombing the hell out of some place well removed (we hope) from home. Sure it sounds great, in theory, but how does it translate into reality?

Earlier this week we learned that the Canadian Forces are going to have to wait until 2015 for delivery of their first, Predator-style, armed aerial drones. The story, the only one I've read, focused on the delay and skipped over the important part, the intent.

What in hell does Canada need with missile-firing aerial drones? Where do we expect to need them and when? I'd like to think we're not going to be turning those missiles on anyone at home and I doubt we're planning on using them on anyone within drone range of Canada either because that would pretty much be the United States and, after all, the hillbillies have all the guns. So that must mean we're planning on deploying them abroad and that must mean we foresee a reasonable need for these expensive, high-tech toys in a combat scenario overseas in the reasonably near future. Which then begs the questions - where are we fixing to wage war, against whom and roughly when?

There are all sort of collateral ramifications to militarizing Canada's foreign policy. It's not enough to have the toys. You have to have the means and the ways to get those toys where you need them when you need them there and that means a lot of resources, a lot of personnel, and an awful lot of dineros. You have to invest heavily in that supporting infrastructure well before you decide to flex those muscles and you have to keep that infrastructure in a relatively high state of readiness if you want to get your toys to the blood-soaked sandbox on the other side of some ocean while they can still find somebody to whack. Sure we bought a few C-10 military transports but they're just the tip of the iceberg on this sort of warfighting capability.

Now unless you're a theocratic nutjob or an Igophile, you'll realize that if there's one sort of foreign policy where Canada cannot chart its own course, it's the guns'n ammo stuff. We're just too small a player. That means we can only use those drones in support of a senior partner, a major player. Think "coalition of the willing." Think America. Think Foreign Legion. For a country the size of Canada, armed drones are something you buy so that you can fight in support of somebody else's war.

Every nation's military war games and comes up with contingency plans for warfighting. We even have one for what we'll do when the Americans come pouring across our border... just in case. What are the contingencies in which we foresee the use of these drones? In conjunction with what other weaponry and forces? In association with what other nations? Under the command of what foreign power? Against what possible nation or group of nations? For how long? At what cost?

Aren't you just a bit curious about all these questions? I sure am and I'd like to think they're being asked and discussed - and they're not. After all, we're talking about the future of Canada and our posture toward the rest of the world during what promises to be a highly unstable and dangerous century. Maybe to ask and answer those questions would bring up a lot of issues we simply don't want raised in the public's mind.

This is the time we could sure use an opposition to force these things to be debated in Parliament. Nah, forget I even mentioned it.


Mark said...

What, you mean that the author of "The Lesser Evil," and "American Exceptionalism and Human Rights" is pro-US military imperialism?

Colour me shocked.

You expect this kind of shit from the Conservatives, especially from a guy like Harper; but the Liberals?

Not the party of Trudeau and Pearson anymore, not by a long shot.

Okie said...

Let's not forget the intended untendered purchase of 65 - F35's. Only $9 Billion for those.

Anonymous said...

And you have the nerve to think that the Liberals would never think of keeping a hand in Afghanistan due to the wealth found there?

The Mound of Sound said...

No argument here Mark. It is definitely not the party of Laurier, Pearson and Trudeau. It has become the party of a guy who doesn't get liberalism and doesn't care.

Okie don't take that 9-billion figure too seriously. F-35 project costs are still spiralling out of control. No one knows what or when the final price tag will come in at. What's also unknown is whether other prospective customers will drop out and go for much cheaper alternatives. Europe, after all, is about to plunge into an abyss of austerity.

And Anon, what makes you think Canada is going to get in on any of Afghanistan's resource wealth? Like we're going to muscle our way in on the Russia/China/US rivallry? Please, come back to earth.