[Canadopers] Martin to U.S. on missile defence: Yeah, okay, su--wait! No, stfu!

That’s a series of rather strange arguments.

The space station is a stupid waste of money kept aloft because anything else would involve losing a lot of political face. Not a very compelling argument for wasting a lot of money on another stupid project.

Where is the harm? Well, so far as Martin is concerned, the harm is in the 2/3 of Canadians who oppose the missile defense program, particularly in key areas like Quebec. Handing missile defense to the Bloc to use as a wedge issue is not something he’s keen to do so long as his government teeters on the brink waiting for a non-confidence motion. If he had a majority, I expect he’d downplay the issue and cooperate with the US and just ignore the outrage of the NDP and the Bloc, but political reality dictates otherwise.

And I’d like to see some actual evidence regarding a linkage between protectionism and the US not getting it’s way on foreign/defense policy issues. It seems to me that American protectionism is driven primarily by Congress, with various senators and congressmen beholden to major industries in their state/district pushing for various trade measures as sops for their constituents. Hence, I predict with supreme confidence and very little information that senators from Wyoming and Montana are opposed to lifting the ban on imports of live Canadian beef, that the senators from Kansas and Iowa push for more extensive ag subsidies, and that the senators from whichever states have strong lumber industries are the key backers of the interminable softwood lumber tariffs. The Whitehouse isn’t a leader in any of those cases.

So, could you provide something other than your say-so? Or at least some more substantial commentary, detailing some instances.

Gorsnak: No, I can’t cite examples of one dispute affecting another, but it seems rather commonsensical to me, at least in areas where the executive branch has some pull. Perhaps not in low-level trade disputes, but other areas - border control, etc. More specifically, the U.S. has been letting Canada get away with shirking its military commitments for quite some time - Canada spends less money on its military than any other member of NATO, and probably can’t meet its written commitments. And now NORAD, which has always been a joint U.S./Canadian program, is going to be fractured by our refusal to take part in missile defence. The U.S. could put the heat on Canada in any number of ways.

You’re all ignoring the primary value of missile defense. I’ll agree that it’s very unlikely that another country will just lob a nuke at the U.S. But what I think is highly likely is that a country like North Korea or Iran will use nuclear blackmail against the U.S. If there is no missile shield, then the minute Kim Jong Il has a nuclear missile that can hit a major U.S. population center he can begin making outrageous demands. The U.S. will not be able to call his bluff, because ultimately he knows that there is no way the U.S. will allow a city to be destroyed. A maniac like that may then walk a fine line between brinksmanship and actual war, and not only is that very dangerous, it forces the U.S. to constantly bargain from a position of weakness.

But with a credible missile defense, the equation changes. If the U.S. can claim that their shield is, say, 90% effective against a single missile, then threats from a rogue state can be countered. Kim may know that the U.S. ultimately will bargain rather than let a city be destroyed, but willl the U.S. bargain if it has a 90% chance of stopping it even if Kim launches? That uncertainty moves the U.S. into a position of strength.

Plus, I don’t think the chance of a missile launch is as unlikely as you all think. What if Pakistan were to fall into the hands of al-Qaida types. Still think they wouldn’t launch a missile? The former Soviet Union is littered with missile silos, and some of those are in rather unstable areas. Again, having a credible missile defense changes the entire equation. An Osama-type nutbar with his hands on a missile may decide that it’s worth nuking New York simply because it would economically cripple the Great Satan, and be willing to bet that the U.S. wouldn’t indiscriminately nuke the country in retaliation (and probably be right). Or he may be willing to accept hundreds of thousands of Muslim casualties for the ‘greater good’. Nutbars think that way. But if he thinks his missile only has a 10% chance of getting through, everything changes.

And since missile defense is going to take years and maybe decades before it’s fully implemented, if you wait until the threat arises it will be too late to decide to go back to the program. The U.S. military is not fighting the last war with missile defense - they’re fighting the one that could be coming in 20 years.

None of the above suggests a reason why Canada should get involved, though. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that neither Kim Jong Il nor any other “rogue state” leader is going to be blackmailing Canada any time soon.

And if Canada isn’t meeting its military commitments, let’s fix that by focusing on our actual military. Let’s increase our ability to defend ourselves, against the threats we can actual reasonably expect to face, instead of signing on to play lickschpittle to the U.S. in a program designed to meet U.S. interests. Taking more responsibility for dealing with terrorist threats within our own borders should make the U.S. happy enough to offset any hurt feelings caused by our not playing with their shiny new toys.

I’m not sure I agree. By your argument, the trip to the moon was a huge waste of time and money as well. I mean, everybody knew well in advance that any green cheese that may be found there would be well past it’s due date. But we still went. Gave our space program a big boost too.

If your argument is that a trip to the moon wasn’t a military exercise, I’ll agree but would submit that many applied technological advances start out as military successes (and failures).

But as somebody has already noted, we (Canada) are still active participants of NORAD. How is this program such a departure? The Bloc is making political hay of this and Martin is giving their arguments creedence by capitulating. And once again, 2/3 of Canadians (in fact almost 100% of Canadians) have no actual say on the US missile defense program. They don’t support it financially, nor do they vote for the American politicians who endorse it. This is public opinion gone astray because of some perceived American Imperialistic threat on Canadian sovereignty. So I ask again, where is the actual harm in Canadian participation?

So, if the question is: Does supporting the missile defense program harm Martin politically? Then I suppose the answer is: yes. If only because of popular political opinion which is not (IMHO) well considered and can ultimately be changed.

But the OP asks: What do you think of Martin’s stance?
In answer to that I must say that I disagree with his stance and the herein presented arguments for his lack of co-operation with the US in this matter.

You know, I hesitated as I made my argument because I really don’t have any evidence to substantiate by claim. All I have is anecdotal examples from my conversations with various Dept of Commerce civil servants who serve as active memebers of the International Trade Association legal and economic teams. But as this is all I have and with respect for GD rules, I gladly capitulate this line of my argument. :slight_smile:

Our military commitments don’t involve just defending ourselves, but doing our part to share in the common defense of NATO. We’re not doing that. It’s not just the U.S. that’s pissed at us, it’s NATO itself. We don’t even have airlift capability to move our own forces around any more. When we sent our troops to Afghanistan, we sent them in jungle camo because our military couldn’t afford uniforms. Our soldiers had to borrow uniforms from the Brits for their own safety. Pathetic.

So I say again: let’s deal with that by focusing on the Canadian military. Signing on to the U.S. missile defense program won’t result in one new uniform, one new troop transport, or one new cargo aircraft. The Canadian military has far more pressing needs than playing with the U.S.'s new missiles, and dealing with those needs will generate more than enough goodwill to offset our non-participation in BMD.

Not sure why it has to be one and not the other. We could improve our military’s preparedness and participate in the BMD. No?

Probably, yes. But if

(a) there’s no compelling need to participate in BMD that wouldn’t be equally well served by improving the overall state of Canada’s military,
(b) Canada’s military is in desperate need of improving anyway, and
(c) 2/3 of Canadians want nothing to do with BMD,

then I’m not going to shed a tear just because Canada has opted out of U.S. missile defense.

Now, we’ll just have to see if Martin can follow through on the pledges he’s made to improve the state of the military.

New uniforms do not improve NORAD defense capabilities.

It has been my extensive experience (IT) that bleeding edge technologies tend to bring along and improve the older, lagging technologies. In short, innovation is good.

Public opinion polls can be made to serve more than one master. Everything depends on who’s asking the question and how it is posed. Let’s leave opinion polls and how questions are phrased for another debate.

So we maintain our NORAD commitment to tracking ballistic missiles. Which Martin has said we’ll do even without our participation in BMD.

Forgive me for questioning your extensive IT experience on this matter, but innovation in missile technology is not going to help Canada meet it’s NATO commitments, nor will it help Canada meets its most pressing domestic security needs. An innovative new missile will not send troops or equipment to peacekeeping missions or to the defense of a NATO ally. An innovative new missile will not increase port security. An innovative new missile will not help Canadian troops respond to domestic emergencies like the infamous ice storm.

Our problems our more basic than that. If your server room has a hole in the roof and the routers are getting rained on, the solution is not better routers.

Believe it or not, public opinion is actually relevant to the functioning of a democracy. If you have alternate data which suggests that a majority of Canadians actually support participation in the U.S. missile defense program, by all means please share. But don’t try to pretend that the will of the Canadian people is irrelevant to a debate about the actions of the Canadian government.

There’s nothing “commonsensical” about it. The United States will do whatever it feels is it its best interests, period, end of story. (Just like any other country.) If it’s in their best interests to raise trade barrier X, they’ll do it; it makes not a whit of difference if we kowtow to them on an unrelated issue. If we simply give them what they want, they’ll take it. They have no reason to then give us back something that they otherwise wouldn’t.

The United States does not “let us get away” with anything. We’re a sovereign nation; the appropriate level of Canadian military spending is whatever Canada chooses to spend. Get off your knees, for Christ’s sake.

Ironically, I actually think we SHOULD have joined BMD, but for purely security-related reasons. This “they’ll punish us” nonsense is not supported by evidence and is kind of pathetic.

Quite right. And if you have nothing to offer the U.S. in return for their good faith, they will have no incentive to make it. For example, if Canada were to be part of the missile defense system, it might be able to use it as leverage in other disputes. Likewise, if we had had enough of a military to actually make a difference to the U.S., we could have used it as a bargaining chip. “We’ll send 3,000 troops to Iraq, if you can put some pressure on the dept. of the Interior over this softwood lumber thing…” In short, acting like a good friend gives you leverage. Acting like a spoiled child who takes his toys and goes home can wind up leaving you shut out.

Oh, please. I’m not ‘on my knees’, I’m talking about realpolitik. Of course the U.S. has been letting us get away with shirking our responsibilities. There are any number of ways the U.S. could put pressure on Canada. both within the frameworks of NATO and NORAD, and outside of those frameworks. We made commitments, and we haven’t had our feet held to the fire to honor them.


*Mission Statement: “Deter, Detect, Defend.” That is the motto of the men and women who serve in the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Since 1958, Canadians and Americans have been partners in protecting the airspace of Alaska, Canada and the contiguous 48 United States. The mission has evolved over the years. *

Hence, Tacking, is not the sole criterium for being an active participant in NORAD.

My IT expertise comment was simply a push off point for my argument that new technology tends to promote evolution from older, less effective methodologies on a wider scale. Helpful if we are to keep from “fighting the last war”.

Innovation in missile technology will certainly be an effective tool in helping Canada meet it’s NATO commitments. Being that NATO’s function is being reconsidered as we speak (i.e. not simply as a peace keeping police force), modern military technology will be very helpful.

What is the sense of insisting that this BMD tracking technology (if/when it is working) can and will only be applicable in defense of North America and USA in particular? Might this not be the kind of technology that can be extended in the defense of our NATO allies?

I’m not questioning whether public opinion is relevant. I’m just questioning to what extent and under what circumstances. I believe public opinion supported lots of incorrect assertions in the past: slavery, apartheid, women’s lack of right to vote, etc… We can’t always be guided by public opinion. Sometimes public opinion must be lead by what’s right. It’s risky, but that too is relevant to the function of democracy.

Unfortunately Sam, the U.S. just doesn’t operate like that. The local boys, and local interests always come first.

Take softwood lumber-- this is an issue that Canada has been fighting for decades, and in that time we’ve made many concessions, including introducing free trade and NAFTA-- but every time some pipsqueak lumber baron from Georgia gets his lobbyist to raise a stink, the U.S. imposes some of the worst protectionist tariffs known, despite repeated losses at NAFTA tribunals or WTO tribunals.

Nevermind the fact that Canadians produce softwood better, faster, and cheaper than the Americans, and that imposing tariffs results in direct harm to U.S. consumers-- the U.S. still slaps on tariffs at the behest of industry.

But the notion that if Canada kowtowed to the U.S. on military defence, and suddenly we’d have better trade-- well, that’s not the way it works. What’s more likely is that the powers-that-be will look north, snicker that they suckered the frozen idiots again, and move on.

I still maintain that the billions to be spent on a missile defence system could be better spent on improving the navy, coast guard, and securing our ports, since it’s terribly easy for any mad dictator to pay a couple of Hells Angels to smuggle a nuke into the country under the guise of importing narcotics.


From Global Security - Worldwide Miltary Expenditures (Granted, the figures are not all from the same year)

Clearly, Canada is nowhere near the bottom of the list of military expenditures by NATO countries.

Sorry, I should have said that Canada spends less as a percentage of GDP as any other NATO country. in 2003/2004 Canada spent only 1.1% of GDP on defense.

According to the FAS, of the top 60 militaries in the world, only Japan spends less on its military as a % of GDP, and it’s at 1.0% instead of 1.1% for Canada. I believe the NATO average is closer to 2.5% or so.

Canada should have close to twice the military budget as it has now.

You might want to tone down the hyperbole, Sam. According to your own cite, Canada isn’t the lowest spender by GDP in NATO (though I grant it’s low on the list…but we’re going to have a really hard time falling behind Iceland), and moreover your cite only lists 19 of 26 member countries. Not to knock FAS, but haven’t they heard that NATO’s been expanding? And how do you get a NATO average of 2.5% when your own cite shows the average of the 19 listed to be 2.0%?

Incidentally, Nationmaster shows very different numbers drawn from the CIA World Factbook. Lower across the board (NATO average, 1.25% including all 26), and Canada relatively higher on the list. Some of the discrepancies are dramatic - Portugal, for example, is 2.4% according to FAS and .65% according to the CIA World Factbook. What are we to make of this? I know Nationmaster isn’t a great cite, but when they’re just quoting the CIA they’re usually pretty good. handy link

I’ll also note that the 25% (or thereabouts) increase in military spending just announced in the budget ain’t exactly small potatos. Anyways, this is all largely irrelevant to the question of missile defense.

Hmm. Some cursory examination suggests that (1)Nationmaster isn’t accurately quoting the CIA World Factbook, and (2) it may have something to do with military budgets being cited in the Factbook in real dollars, and GDP in Purchasing Power Parity. Feel free to ignore the link in my last post, as I have little inclination to take its figures seriously.

There never was supposed to be any basing of missiles in Canada, I think it was supposed to be a way of easing Canada off the fence in the world eyes.

We never had any say , if the Americans started to lob sluggers at the old soviet union either , it was essentially incineration without representation.

I think they knew before hand , what way parliament was gonna go, Carlucci was mainly sanquine about the whole thing

The easiest time to destroy a missile in flight , is when its at its most venerable, which is the boost phase , as you have noted , the hardest is at its terminal phase , when its coming down and the cure might be worse than the disease.

This was never meant to be a single point program , in conjuction with the missile shield , the navy is deploying aegis destroyers with the theater defense system, designed to be able to get a snapshot off at a missile boosting for low orbit, now there is at least one fixed sam site in Washington at the moment , controlled by cheyenne mountain in Colorado.

What your talking about is Penaids, or pentetration aids and are usually mylar balloons or dummy warheads. Fine if your talking about an SS-20 coming in from the soviet union , but those devices add weight and were deleted from US programs because it was found that the weight of the system , meant that you could add another warhead and simply trust in luck that it would make it through.

The two threats that the system is meant to defend against are old or crude missiles , and the more interesting threat of a foreign version of burt rutans orbiter, in the first threat , the foreign power that has gone insane , would have to reduce the size of the warhead , just to be able to make it trans-continental , rather than hitting somewhere in the pacific or atlantic ocean , and no one notices.

The second , will be the more potent threat and on board jammers , plus a pilot and EW officer , that any airforce will have, will reduce the probability of a kill , with the new system , to just about zero , but by that time , the program will evolve to manned orbital interceptor and space superiority fighters anyways.