Saturday, July 21, 2007

Militarizing a Continent

This is part of a much longer article on plans to integrate US, Mexico, and Canada with sections on the SPP etc. The article is by Stephen Lendman at Countercurrents. Certainly Harper is spending more money on the military and is anxious for Canada to play a role as a junior partner to the US. However, he does stress sovereignty in the Arctic. Maybe the sovereignty is only an issue when non-US ships use the northwest passage. The US does not recognise the passage as Canadian waters but as international.

Militarizing A Continent As A First Step

No nation is more militarized today than America. It spends more on national defense and homeland security than all other nations combined. Add to those budgets all others related to defense, still others for intelligence and covert actions, plus the net interest cost attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays and it totals over $1 trillion for FY 2007 according to one analyst's estimate and heading way above that in FY 2008 if current budget proposals pass and become law which is almost certain.

Canada and Mexico are expected to share the load as part of Washington's "war on terrorism" and are doing it. Supporting Washington is central for Canada's Stephen Harper conservative administration. It includes adhering to the 2002 Binational Planning Agreement allowing US military forces to enter Canada on its own discretion, set up shop, and exercise authority over Canadians in their own country. Harper's more hard line than his predecessors. He believes Canadian political and business interests depend on it, and he's committed to serving them no matter how ordinary Canadians feel about it. He's submissive to Washington and has been massively ramping up military spending with plans to increase it over 50% above 2005 levels to $21.5 billion annually by 2010.

That's chump change by US standards but a major commitment for a nation traditionally spending at far lower levels. Canada faces no outside threat so spending hugely on its military, unlike in the past, defies tradition and public consensus favoring social spending that's being cut to pay for it. It's also contrary to Canada's traditionally eschewing militarism and foreign wars unlike its southern neighbor's thriving on them since the nation's founding.

Business interests, not national security or the public welfare, drive Harper's agenda. America accounts for 87% of Canada's exports, and Canadian businesses are closely allied with US ones. In many instances, it's as subsidiaries with US corporations owning 20% of Canada's non-financial sector, 33% of its oil and gas industry, and many Canadian defense companies linked to US ones as subsidiaries or in a sub-contracting capacity. Canada's influential Department of National Defense (DND), its new Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier and defence minister Gordon O'Connor are on board with Harper as well. They're committed to ramping up the nation's military spending and linking with America's "war on terrorism." It gives them more power to lock in even more as SPP advances and outlines a plan for it across the continent.

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