Tuesday, January 25, 2011

By Popular Will [updated]

Canadians seem to have bought the hype--that the arctic is the key foreign policy priority.  They want military resources shifted to the North.  Well, then, time for the Canadian politicians to downsize the army and heavily invest in the Navy and Air Force.  Oh, but what, there is no way that the Canadians will ever be able to amass a significant enough navy or air force to thwart the Russians or the Americans.  Oops.

What I love is the embracing of unilateralism that this represents.
“That traditional notion of what is a Canadian is kind of challenged by this. We sound more like what people would say Americans would sound like dealing with international issues. That’s quite an eye-opener,” said Neil Desai, director of programs and communications at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.
So wonderfully un-Canadian, but the rest of the world thinks of the northwest passage as an international waterway, and find the Canadian concern about arctic sovereignty to be laughable.  Indeed, in my day today in The Hague, I mentioned arctic sovereignty with a diplomat or two (not Dutch) and the instant response was a smile.

The good news is that a focus on the North would mean no casualties and no killing, so the Canadian Forces would not attract any controversy.  But the huge investment will certainly not lead to any more influence in the world (unlike participating in missions elsewhere) and the responsibility seems to be to protect only the arctic environment.

Update: good to see the Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. Natynzyck showed he has a good grip on reality even if the public does not.
 General Walter Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff, on Friday said that the North was logistically more difficult than Afghanistan. The patrolling by the Canadian Rangers of those vast territories rightly earns Canadians’ respect, but they are an under-resourced militia – 4,300 members – to control an area equal to Europe.

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