The Liberals are intent on funneling ever more of our collective resources to bolster the US Empire, spending lavishly to "modernize" Canada’s chief bi-national military accord.
On Monday Defense Minister Anita Anand announced the government would spend $4.9 billion to upgrade the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The federal government said it will devote $40 billion to NORAD over 20 years, but it may be far more than that noted David Pugliese in a story headlined: "Cost to modernize NORAD set at $40 billion, but will final tally be higher?"
The media and government framed the announcement as strengthening Canada’s defenses. According to the Globe and Mail report, "the Canadian government has pledged $4.9 billion over six years to help upgrade North America’s air defenses, addressing the growing threat posed by hypersonic missiles and advanced cruise missile technology developed by Russia and China."
But it’s absurd to present NORAD as a defensive arrangement. Its lead actor has 1,000 international bases and special forces deployed in 149 countries. Rather than protect Canada and the US, NORAD supports violent missions led by other US commands. In 1965 NORAD’s mandate was expanded to include surveillance and assessment sharing for US commands stationed worldwide (United States European Command, United States Pacific Command, United States Africa Command, etc.).
The Pentagon has put satellites into space to enable first strike ballistic missile defense (BMD). While Paul Martin’s Liberals claimed to oppose BMD, they granted "full cooperation by NORAD in missile defense work," explained Richard Sanders in a Press for Conversion report on the subject. In 2004 Ottawa formally permitted the US BMD system to use data from NORAD’s "Integrated Tactical Warning/Attack Assessment."
It’s called "missile defense" because it’s designed to defend US missiles sites after they launch offensive operations. US-installed missile defense systems in Romania and Korea, for instance, are designed primarily to stop opponents’ missiles following a US first strike.
US space-based missile defense interceptors able to eliminate Russia’s early warning satellites without warning puts that country on edge. This ratchets up the arms race and the likelihood of nuclear war.
NORAD has also drawn Canada into US belligerence in other ways. During the July 1958 US invasion of Lebanon NORAD was placed on "increased readiness" while US troops checked secular Arab nationalism after Iraqis toppled a Western-backed king (at the same time British troops invaded Jordan to prop up the monarchy there).
In a higher profile incident, Canadian NORAD personnel were put on high alert when the US illegally blockaded Cuba in October 1962. This transpired even though Prime Minister John Diefenbaker hesitated in supporting US actions during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
During the 1973 Ramadan/Yom Kippur/Arab – Israeli War NORAD was placed on heightened alert. Washington wanted to deter the USSR from intervening on Egypt’s behalf.
NORAD systems offered surveillance and communications suppozsart to the 1991 war on Iraq. It monitored the region and provided information to launch US Patriot surface-to-air missiles. NORAD ballistic missile warnings were also sent to Ottawa and Canadian units in Bahrain.
NORAD also supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The same can be said for US bombing in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, etc.
Thousands of Canadian military personnel assist NORAD’s operations. One hundred and fifty Canadians are stationed at NORAD’s central collection and coordination facility near Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hundreds more work at regional NORAD outposts across the US and Canada and many pilots are devoted to the Command.
A Royal Canadian Air Force general is the vice commander of NORAD and runs the entire command when the US commander is absent. In discussing the two countries’ most significant bilateral military accord, Ann Griffiths explains, " NORAD brings the Canadian military more deeply within the US defense establishment than any other ally. The United States quite simply, would not entrust such responsibilities to the military of any other close ally, not even Britain."
NORAD makes Canada a junior partner to US militarism. If Canada was truly a force for good in the world, a peacekeeper and adherent of a rules based international order, Ottawa would withdraw from NORAD, rather than spend billions more strengthening it.
Yves Engler’s latest book is Stand on Guard for Whom?: A People’s History of the Canadian Military.