Monday, October 06, 2008

Time to Get Out of NATO?

When the Quebec Conference of 1942 started the process that eventuated in the NATO alliance the world, and Canada, were far different places than they are to-day.

In 1942 the Second World War was looking like it might be a very close run thing when Winston Churchill met with US President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Mackenzie King of Canada at Quebec City. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was months away and Britain was fighting Germany alone, and not doing too well at it. The subject was protection for Britain's vital convoys of food and materiel from the 'arsenal of democracy' in the US and the granary of the Empire in Canada. Defense of the North Atlantic was the topic, the alliance was in the future.

As the war progressed toward victory the notion that the relationship of the Allied powers should be cemented in a cross-ocean pact came more evident and NATO took shape. A mutual defense pact - geared first against the Axis took form and included the allied powers Great Britain, the US, the Dominion of Canada, Brazil, Dominican Republic, and the free forces of France, Norway and Holland. Liberation brought Denmark and Norway into the fold, Portugal became a member, too.

As the war turned into a Cold one - eventually former 'enemies' in West Germany, and Italy joined. The Korean War brought Turkey on side, Greece joined as NATO opposed a communist menace in Russia and its east European Warsaw Pact.

Canada as a Dominion, and then, in the seventies, as a fully-independent country maintained its ties with NATO. In the beginning Canada was oriented toward Britain in its trade and in its foreign policy. Both orientations changed over time until the USA was Canada's major partner in trade and in defense, particularly of North America.

Canada's closely-interlaced defense scheme cost her a notable lead in independence and research and development into advanced systems. The AVRO Arrow project was dropped in favor of US 'Bomarcs' and 'Voodoos' and a number of British high-tech industries closed up shop in Canada. In foreign relations Canada generally agreed with the USA but, at times, was annoyingly independent. Cooperation with US foreign policy activities has become more marked with the advent of the 'war on terror'. Canada has become involved in a war to reconstitute Afghanistan at NATO, and US, behest.

At the same time NATO has taken on a distinctive American cast. Perhaps this is due to GWB's notion of "With us, or against us." The black or white option has involved NATO in Kosovo, Afghanistan and to a lesser extent Iraq. Although the range of involvement varies from actual combat operations to civil affairs assistance. There are, now, with French rapprochement, no 'enemies' inside NATO.

Another recent trend is the expansion of NATO. Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Hungary and other elements of the former Russian sphere of influence have been welcomed into the North Atlantic defense pact. Ukraine, Georgia and Asiatic elements have applied as well under the US led all-pile-on-the rabbit scheme of uniting democratic countries wherever they may be. Nothing wrong if this were a cultural or trade group, but the recent bit of stupidity in Georgia indicates that some indigestible 'rump' of disputed territory there could have the potential of a new Balkans, as if the one we already have isn't enough.

Canada signed on to fight the Nazi blight and stayed to combat the Red Menace. It seems that after the demise of one enemy, our southern cousins have a habit of cultivating another. This year the enemy is around the other side of the globe. Where the next one will be could involve a NATO ally, one of the 'newbies' more than likely, and we'd be treaty-bound to 'defend' them. I'd say NATO has outgrown its usefulness for Canada and we'd best let the 'super-blocks' look after themselves.

Modern day NATO isn't what Canada signed up for.

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