Rice Cancels Visit As Canada Opts Out of Missile Defense ...OR... US Shrugs as Santa's Left to Patrol Canadian Skies Alone
The Word Unheard out of Canada is that US officials informed them in April, 2003, that Canadian non-participation in the US-led Ballistic Missile Defense program would result in a Lack of Protection for Canada and its citizens. Yet still, the Canadian government has opted out of the BMD program, thus leaving its citizens unprotected from nuclear inter-continental ballistic missile attack in an effort to save money.
In direct reaction to this surprise snub from Canada, Secretary of State Condolezza Rice has canceled her planned visit to Canada.
The Canadians may have been speculating that surely the US would not allow a nuclear missile to strike Canada, regardless of whether Canada helped shoulder some part of the burden of development.
They may have gambled wrong:
The Canadian government was informed in 2003 that a decision against participating in the U.S. missile defense system would mean that Washington would not protect the country in the event of a missile attack, the CanWest News Service reported Saturday.
A slide presentation to an April 10, 2003, Cabinet meeting said: “The U.S. will offer protection to Canada only on the basis of an explicit government of Canada request. This would require a formal government-to-government agreement.”
“BMD missile intercepts to protect Canada will not be automatic” even though the system would be able to “differentiate between missiles aimed at the U.S. and Canada,” said the presentation, which was provided to Canadian researcher Ken Rubin.
Yes, Virginia...there is a Santa Claus. He just doesn't live in the NORAD Command Center.
What Canada's Prime Minister Martin is likely gambling is a nuanced Clinton-esque play on words. He may figure that, with a Canadian in the NORAD Command Center, the Canadian government would be rapidly informed of an incoming missile and the 'official government request' could be made on an as-needed basis and thus avoid the price tag associated with such luxury. There is no honor in this approach - especially between friends. (But then, on a governmental level, are we?)
The Bush Administration likely (and rightly) chooses to focus on the sentence that follows, which states: "This would require a formal government-to-government agreement.” Formal. Translation: In advance, on paper and paid in full.
Speaking of Prime Minister Martin, it should be noted that the same man had this to say not even two years ago (unusual...The Word Unheard cites a New York Times article...but...):
"If a missile is going over Canadian airspace, I want to know, I want to be at the table," Paul Martin said while still running for the leadership of the Liberal Party in April 2003.
His support for a missile defense system was consistent with more than a half century of Canadian national security policy of sharing responsibility for continental defense with the United States, even in times when the two countries sharply disagreed on Cuba, Vietnam and most recently Iraq.
But on Thursday, Mr. Martin, now prime minister, reversed course and said that Canada would not take part with Washington in the development of a missile defense shield, essentially because he faced a rebellion on the issue at a Liberal Party conference next month.
Mr. Martin tried to frame the decision as a matter of priorities, preferring to emphasize increased cooperation with the United States on securing the borders against terrorists and building up the armed forces, even though the Bush administration had asked for little more than moral support for the new system.
Martin's decision had nothing (are you listening Canadians???), I repeat nothing to do with the security or safety of Canadian citizens. It had to do with his standing and popularity at a political conference. That is NOT leadership, my Canadian friends. That is political cowardice. In both instances he is playing for popularity among the Canadian Left. In the first instance, he says he wants to know, wants a voice. In the second more recent instance, he declines any obligation to pay for the program he wanted the benefits from back in 2003. Doesn't that define modern liberalism in a nutshell? Gimme, gimme, gimme and pay with someone else's money.
Martin sacrifices his own conscience (a generous assumption) and better judgement (again a generous assumption) for a friendly reception among the politically powerful Liberal Party leadership. Not for anything else. Just that. Does that not sicken you, Canada? Forget whether you agree with his decision or not. Look at his reasoning.
Sleep tight, O' Canada.
He tried to draw attention to Canada's increased Defense Budget. What, because his Navy sails on more floats and his Army goes on more deployments, Canada is excused from all other obligations? NEWSFLASH: The ENTIRE WESTERN WORLD has increased its defense budgets! So if that claim by Martin impresses you, pat yourself on the back on your way through the drive-thru to pick up your Happy Meal. I will not.
Apparently Prime Minister Martin is telling us, "No thanks. We gave at the office."
Have it your way.
The Times' article suggests (and quotes others suggesting) that the very future of NORAD itself is in jeopardy here. (Gasp!) Oh, what will we ever do? Lions and tigers and bears...Oh, my!!!
Correction: Canada's participation in NORAD is in jeopardy. The Operations will be just fine without them. (This is why The Word Unheard rarely cites the NYT Fishwrap.) Canada can indeed pack up their lunch and go home from beneath the Rocky Mountains. There is no urgency within NORAD. Get real.
The article also states that Martin now wants a tri-lateral meeting between himself, Bush and Mexico's Vicente Fox. When you are done laughing, please ask someone what the hell the Mexican Military is doing in (or for) NORAD? Making enchilladas for the Satellite Control Staff? Last I checked, the only thing of note the Mexican Military has done is run cover for drug smugglers and take shots at US Border Patrol agents.
You know what? Canada can keep their 'free' government health care and Mexico can keep their...well...Mexico can keep their own damned citizens in their own damned country. You know, why don't we just build a long causeway so the Mexican citizens can simply relocate directly to Canada with its 'free' health care.
We'll keep NORAD. How's that fit your budget? Won't even ask a nickel. As a matter of fact, we'll rename it appropriately.
Missile & Air Defense for Continental United States:
No hockey. No enchilladas. No free rides.
Mad CONUS, indeed.
For More on NORAD, see:
The Word Unheard>>> NORAD's New Role: Hunting bin Laden's al Qaida Armada