A) I am not opposed to Canada joining the BMD program. There are good reasons to join--fear of North Korea attacking Calgary is not among them. Better situational awareness, some influence, less antagonizing of the US, and other reasons are better reasons than fear of NK nukes. The Defence Policy Review should have addressed this head on and did not do so (if I remember correctly).
B) I don't know much about the history of US-Canadian defence/defense commitments.
C) I am not an expert on nuclear weapons or defenses. I am just reasonably well read on that stuff, and have expertise on related stuff (see NATO stuff below). More importantly, I don't really have anything at stake, unlike various generals.... It maybe that the Canadian generals are not the ones playing us, but rather, it may be the American ones who are apparently saying strange things to the Canadians.
Ok, let's get to it:
- Who is going to attack Canada and not the US? Folks upset at the maple cartel?
- When ballistic missiles are in the air, those with fingers on the triggers of American defenses will not have hours to make the decision, but a few minutes (missiles from North Korea probably take less than thirty minutes, using the old Soviet ICBM flight time as an amateur guess). So, are the Americans going to say, hmm, we have missiles inbound from North Korea, but they look like they are headed towards the West Edmonton Mall, so let's not worry about it? Or will they say, missiles headed in our direction, let's launch our counter-missiles, just in case we are wrong about their final destination?
- I used West Edmonton deliberately because any missile headed towards most of Canada's population--within 100 miles of the US border--is going to get an American response. No American general is going to say, hey, Vancouver, not our problem when Seattle is not far away.
- On the other hand, what about NATO and Article V? What about it? There is no automatic invocation of A5 before an attack. If an attack occurs, NATO reps must meet and agree that an attack has occurred. This happened after 9/11 but not after a cyber attack on Estonia nor after Syrian artillery hit Turkey. And note, this is after, not during, not before. So, not helpful for responding to missiles in the air. Also, Article V says that once an attack has been recognized, each country responds as each deems necessary. Not hypothetical at all as we found out when writing our book.
- Whatever the legacy of US-Canadian defense agreements, the US will defend Canada. It is in its own interests to do so. Indeed, the usual Canadian concern is that the US would be too helpful and violate Canadian sovereignty as the US protects itself.
- Oh, one last thing: the idea that Canada is defenseless against nukes? That has been the case since the Soviet Union developed its own nuclear-tipped ICBMs because.... the US never had an effective system for shooting down missiles. And, guess what.... it still does not. The US system is unproven. Indeed, when North Korea launches its tests, the US does not try to shoot them down because it would really suck if the US tried and failed. Better to be uncertain.
The reality is that there is NOTHING Canada can do about North Korea. Canada does not trade with North Korea, so sanctions are not applicable. Canada is not able to bully China into doing anything. If the US can't get that to happen, Canada can't do it. Canada has no ability to stop missiles from North Korea. So, yeah, Canada is powerless and vulnerable. That sucks, but there it is. Canada can take some solace that North Korea does not give a rat's ass about Canada. North Korea does not have enough nuclear armed ICBMs to waste any on Canadian cities. It needs to have one or two so that the US is deterred from regime changing. Maybe North Korea is aiming to create a stability/instability paradox dynamic where the US and North Korea are deterred at the strategic level, which then allows NK to mess around with South Korea at the conventional level. That would not be good, but, again, not much Canada can do about that. Indeed, the story for the past twenty years or so is that there is precious little the US can do about North Korea. If the US can do little, Canada can do even less. Sorry, but let's be humble about Canadian capabilities (and US BMD capabilities).