Is Canada too Close an Ally of the United States?
This paper looks at whether or not Canada may be properly considered as being far too close an ally of the United States – at least from a military and economic point of view. Although it is tempting to view Canada as being in a dangerously dependent position relative to the United States of America, the simple reality is that Canada needs those close ties with America. For one thing, although Canada is obviously a junior partner in NORAD and NATO, and although Canada appears to often engage in joint military exercises with US forces, the simple reality is that such military integration and alignment is necessary: at this paper is being written, Russia is making a move towards seizing arctic territories that Canada has a legitimate claim to; at the same time, Russia has recently engaged in “fly-bys” whereby Russian fighter jets ventured uncomfortably near Canadian airspace. Since Canada has under-spent on its military for decades, this nation is poorly-prepared to deal with a hostile assault from a well-armed and ambitious foreign nation; without US support, Canada would be very vulnerable, indeed. At the same time, although economic nationalists are frustrated at the degree of integration that has unfolded between Canada and the United States, the simple reality is that being part of a North American free trade zone has allowed Canada easy access to the richest market on earth; at the same time, the voracious American demand for Canadian natural resources has meant plenty of well-paying jobs in Canada (as well as other benefits that will be touched upon in due course). In general, it is fair to argue that Canada is too dependent militarily and economically upon the United States – but that close relationship also shelters Canada and gives this nation opportunities that other countries do not possess.
It is appropriate to begin first with a discussion of Canada’s close military ties with the world’s reigning superpower. Critics of Canadian foreign policy suggest that Canada is rapidly becoming a mere appendage of the United States in military affairs. For instance, the HMCS Vancouver – one of this nation’s most celebrated frigates – was part of a 2001 US armada that launched bombing raids against Afghanistan. As well, during 2003, Canadian frigates were escorting US warships up the Persian Gulf to Kuwait whilst military intelligence/surveillance collected by two Canadian Aurora surveillance planes was relaying information to the US Fifth fleet. As if that was not bad enough in the eyes of military nationalists, Canadian troops also served in US and UK military units (ostensibly under foreign command) during the height of the hugely unpopular Iraq War. Last of all, and maybe most egregious of all, various online sources have noted how Canadian troops facilitated American violations of Article 5 of the Geneva Convention when they handed Taliban prisoners over to US forces (Staples, 50).
There are other instances where Canada has been accused of forging too-close military linkages with the United States – the sort of linkages that can result in a country becoming a veritable extension of the larger, more powerful, partner. Most notably, a CanWest News Service report from late February, 2008, indicated that Canada and the United States had signed a new military agreement known as the Civil Assistance Plan. This initiative is one of the brain-childs of the Bi-National Planning Group which earned the enmity of some Canadians when it called for the establishment of a comprehensive defence and security agreement that would ensure the security of both Canada and the United States. Basically, what the new agreement does is that it permits the military of one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation in the case of a civil emergency. Consequently, Canadian nationalists are of the view that this approach will defeat Canadian sovereignty inasmuch as it will create...
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