Friday, March 11, 2005

Hat Tip To Canada

I was not one impressed by Paul Martin, Canada's Liberal Party PM since last year's national elections there[*].

A social conservative, who was finance minister, who publicly questioned his predecessor's commitment to the Kyoto protocol, who avoided criticism of US foreign policy even at the height of the Iraq war protests - I saw him as a Bliarite type.

I sounded similar opinions at Left I On The News when it quoted from Martin's impressive speech on things changing including himself, in his opening speech of the parliamentary debate on introducing same-sex marriage - it looked like the Bliarite trick of making much fuss over a relatively minor progressive issue, while ramming through crazy conservative policies in serious matters.

But I really had to accept that Martin can change when he made Canada the first significant country (a participant in ECHELON, after all...) to opt out of the missile defense system[+] pushed by the Bush government. Tough his argument was only that the system would mean Canada paying for something unreliable while not having control over it (which, as usual in all the important things in NATO too, the USA wants to keep for itself), he toughed up after the US ambassador's predictably frothing-at-the-mouth response. The guy had the audacity to claim Canada just gave up its sovereignity - to which the Canadian government responded with an explicit warning that Canadian aerospace is Canadian aerospace and the US can't fire its missiles into it at whim.

However, even better was Canadian ex-foreign minister (1995-2000) Lloyd Axworthy's quite explicit reply, in the form of an op-ed addressing Condi Rice (via Left I via DailyKos). I quote the first five paragraphs only:

Dear Condi,
I'm glad you've decided to get over your fit of pique and venture north to visit your closest neighbour. It's a chance to learn a thing or two. Maybe more.

I know it seems improbable to your divinely guided master in the White House that mere mortals might disagree with participating in a missile-defence system that has failed in its last three tests, even though the tests themselves were carefully rigged to show results.

But, gosh, we folks above the 49th parallel are somewhat cautious types who can't quite see laying down billions of dollars in a three-dud poker game.

As our erstwhile Prairie-born and bred (and therefore prudent) finance minister pointed out in presenting his recent budget, we've had eight years of balanced or surplus financial accounts. If we're going to spend money, Mr. Goodale added, it will be on day-care and health programs, and even on more foreign aid and improved defence.

Sure, that doesn't match the gargantuan, multi-billion-dollar deficits that your government blithely runs up fighting a "liberation war" in Iraq, laying out more than half of all weapons expenditures in the world, and giving massive tax breaks to the top one per cent of your population while cutting food programs for poor children.

[*] Which, BTW, were remarkable for the fact that while leftist parties increased their share of the votes almost everywhere, it was the conservatives who significantly increased the number of their seats, just because the two main con parties united. Which reminds me of my frequent grumblings regarding the majority vote system - Canada should beware of a slide into a two-party system.

[+] Brief summary of why missile defense is a dangerous idiocy:
(1) It won't ever approach anything like a 99% hit rate, even if technology can give the precision to hit a chosen target at that rate: there are too many ways to fool the system with decoys.
(2) No rogue state would be crazy enough to attack a major nuclear power with a missile: a missile would immediately give the address for a return strike.
(3) What missile defense is really suited for is not limiting first strike capacity of an attacker but to limit return strike capacity of an attacked.
(4) Would rogue states really be the aim, it would be more practical to install the system nearby - so that large, still accelerating (hence slower) missiles can be intercepted rather than warheads.
(5) The real target of missile defense, major competitors like China, would/will/do not just respond to this attempt at their strategic weakening with decoys, but with the production of even more nukes, too.
(6) The system, by way of a comparatively simple upgrade, would enable Rumsfeld's dream of not just using it defensively to intercept incoming missiles, but also offensively, as global-reach (cruise) missiles that can strike any target within hours (rather than having to wait for days and weeks while equipment or airplanes are deployed).


At 2:03 PM, Blogger josh narins said...

For political reasons the Democrats in America pretend to be against missile defense. Usually it boils down to the Republicans supporting 8 billion dollars for it, while the Democrats only support 7.

At 6:13 PM, Blogger DoDo said...

Yep. In the 2000 elections campaign, Gore wasn't exactly against...


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