Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Taking Both Sides on Missile Defense

Canada is expected to officially refuse to participate in the U.S. missile defense system. The question remains, do we care?

Prime Minister Paul Martin will deliver a firm No to Canadian participation in the U.S. missile defence plan and break a lengthy silence that fomented confusion on both sides of the border.


The end of Martin's silence will come as an about-face for a prime minister who had repeatedly stated his support for missile defence when he was a Liberal leadership candidate barely a year ago.

And here's why it probably doesn't matter:

News of the announcement follows a day of confusion on Parliament Hill after Frank McKenna, Martin's choice to be the next ambassador to the U.S., sparked a political firestorm by saying participation in the controversial continental missile defence system is a done deal.


"We're part of it now and the question is what more do we need?" McKenna said of Canada's role in missile defence.

McKenna backed his argument by citing last summer's deal that allows Norad, the joint Canada-U.S. air defence command, to monitor for incoming missiles - a critical element of the missile shield program's operation.

"There's no doubt, in looking back, that the Norad amendment has given, has created part - in fact a great deal - of what the United States means in terms of being able to get the input for defensive weaponry," said McKenna.

So unless they're going to reverse the NORAD agreement, the only thing we stood to gain was another name on a list. The key here is participation of NORAD, not any other part of Canada. After all, geographical requirements are already met with Alaska and Greenland.

The Canadian viewpoint is understandable. Superficially, Canada (unlike Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Europe) doesn't really face a missile threat. Anyone that could hit Canada would probably opt for cities like L.A., New York, or Chicago first. The threat to Canada probably isn't any more significant than the threat to Kansas - and I can't imagine the system not being used to defend Canada.

The U.S. will continue to defend Canada and Canadian politicians will appease their Anti-American constituents.


April said...

If we are hit, we should blame Canada...kind of like the song...

Chris said...

The Canadiens know that we have to defend them, whether they help or not. My guess is that we will get minimal help from them, and continue to attempt full missile protection for all of North America, including Mexico. Security is the name of the game.