A year-end thought on a vital issue

Murray Brewster, writing for CBC News, reports that “Canada’s new frigates are being designed with ballistic missile defence in mind, even though successive federal governments have avoided taking part in the U.S. program … [but, he ads] … When they slip into the water some time in the mid-to-late 2020s, the new warships probably won’t have the direct capability to shoot down incoming intercontinental rockets.

As I have explained, ballistic missile defence is a political hot potato, mainly because tens of millions of Canadians were spoon-fed Russian lies by a strategically and technologically illiterate Canadian media and the anti-American (especially anti-Reagan) Laurentian Elites back in the 1980s. It was pure propaganda, but it worked. Even though the USA does not plan to automatically extend its ballistic missile defence shield to cover Canada (and that US system does work) too many Canadians, led by the people who think for Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland and Harjit Sajjan …

… remain convinced that President Reagan and the entire US academic-military-industrial complex were wrong and Yuri Andropov’s and Konstantin Chernenko’s propagandists were right. But, in fact, strategic and even tactical ballistic missile defence does work, both work well enough in e.g. America, Israel (arguably a world leader in this field) and in NATO’s European theatre to be a mainstay of defence planning. But not in Canada because … well, see the numpties pictured ⇑ above.

As Murray Brewster explains, “The whole concept of ballistic missile defence (BMD) remains a politically touchy topic … [because] … BMD — “Star Wars” to its critics — lies at the centre of a policy debate the Liberal government has tried to avoid at all costs. In 2017, Canada chose not to join the BMD program. That reluctance to embrace BMD dates back to the political bruising Paul Martin’s Liberal government suffered in 2004-05, when the administration of then-U.S. president George W. Bush leaned heavily on Ottawa to join the program … [and] … In the years since, both the House of Commons and Senate defence committees have [very sensibly, in my opinion] recommended the federal government relent and sign on to BMD — mostly because of the emerging missile threat posed by rogue nations such as North Korea … [but] … Missile defence continues to be a highly fraught concept within the federal government. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan made a point of downplaying a CBC News story last summer that revealed how the Canadian and U.S. militaries had laid down markers for what the new NORAD could look like, pending sign-off by both Washington and Ottawa … [and] … Asked about Sajjan’s response, a former senior official in the minister’s office said it raised the spectre of “Star Wars” — not a topic the Liberal government was anxious to discuss ahead of last fall’s election.

But, Mr Brewster says, the Canadian Forces are deeply engaged in missile defence research and support, as I have explained before, and it goes as far as successfully testing existing (tactical) systems at sea and planning for (strategic) NORAD modernization.

The non-partisan Macdonald-Laurier Institute surveyed 49 experts on defence issues. Their report was published in July 2018. These were the results:

BMD_WebAssets-02-1

Those results are pretty conclusive. 60% of the experts say that Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland and Harjit Sajjan are wrong; 90% say that, threat or not, Canada should cooperate with the USA on ballistic missile defence and the same 90% say this will have no harmful impact on our foreign relations. I looked at the list of experts (Appendix A (pps. 21 and 22) to the Report). I recognize most of the names, a few are former colleagues, one or two more are friends or, at least, first-name basis acquaintances. They are, indeed, experts in strategic issues.

If you still wonder why ballistic missile defence matters, the Globe and Mail, just a couple of days ago, reported that “A new intercontinental weapon that can fly 27 times the speed of sound became operational Friday, Russia’s defence minister reported to President Vladimir Putin, bolstering the country’s nuclear strike capability … [and] … Putin has described the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle as a technological breakthrough comparable to the 1957 Soviet launch of the first satellite. The new Russian weapon and a similar system being developed by China have troubled the United States, which has pondered defence strategies … [because] … The Avangard is launched atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, but unlike a regular missile warhead that follows a predictable path after separation it can make sharp manoeuvres in the atmosphere en route to target, making it much harder to intercept.” But, of course, our national ‘leadership’ team is too busy fighting climate change to notice significant strategic threats to Canada.

President Trump and his team will, I am certain, in 2020, put considerable pressure on Canada re: defence spending in general and NORAD modernization in particular.

In my (considered) opinion:

  • Canada must work with the USA to make strategic ballistic missile defence an canadianf-35integral part of NORAD and, therefore, of Canada’s own defence of our homeland. That may even mean directing the sole-source purchase of the F-35 Lightning II fighter because, as I have explained before, its target acquisition and weapons systems can be integrated, seamlessly, into America’s ballistic missile defence system; and
  • aegisCanada must go beyond just selecting the right radars for our new combat ships, it must fit them with, not just fit them for, a ballistic missile defence capability which can work with both NORAD and NATO systems; and, further
  • Ballistic missile defence must be a significant, albeit not much publicized part of the Conservative Party‘s foreign and defence policy platform planks, because, at some point, principles and the nation’s vital interests must overtake partisan political calculations.

Oh, and have a Happy (and safe) New Year, too.

 

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: