There are several aspects to the Harper Governments approach to the militarization of Canada. First, it has become apparent that this government believes words speak louder than actions. The Action Plan ads are a good example. Call it communications, spin, re-branding, advertising, what have you, it is all a form of propaganda.
Gone is the vision of Canada the “peace keeper”. From the ham-fisted attempt at stirring up some kind of jingoistic martial spirit with the War of 1812 “celebration” to (more recently) the rewriting of our history, to the more subtle renaming of Canada’s forces to ensure that we are all aware that they are “armed” they appear to be beavering away to get us all into the right mindset. We can add to this what is, to date, a PR campaign with respect to Iran. Then there are the adventures in Libya and, of course Afghanistan. Maybe Harper, like Reagan, will find Canada’s Grenada (it turned out Mali wasn’t it) Maybe like Grenada it will result in lots of medals all around. They could repurpose the Jubilee medals. There must be a gross or two in the PMO somewhere.
Canadians dying for nothing in Afghanistan have their bodies paraded on the “Highway of Heroes” . Apparently Canada’s Valhalla is a piece of the 401 highway. And I mean dying for nothing because they are not defending Canada (the second D in DND) but some corporate vision of Canada. It may well give some closure to the loved ones left behind but it is theatre. It is propaganda.
And its not that the Harper government is a great fan of military personnel per se especially the injured and the vets (they, having lost their utility). It would not be at all surprising, in fact, that the Harper Government looks with a jaundiced eye at DND in general, having been gamed by them to some extent with respect to acquisitions. The F-35 comes to mind.
So why this social engineering? Why the militarization?
We have only to reference the hegemon to the south. I am sure Harper et al look with envy at the U.S. military industrial complex with its attendant (and bloated) security establishment. It is a capitalist’s wet dream, sucking in trillions (with a ‘t’) of dollars. All that is required is perpetual war, which appears not to be a problem. Social fabric and infrastructure be damned. Let them “pursue happiness” through the ruins of cities like Detroit and Buffalo.
Canada has devolved into a one trick pony resource center. Its manufacturing sector hollowed out and shipped overseas on the cheap. A homegrown military industrial complex would be another source of bucks, lots of bucks, for the Friends of Harper. This type of industry has two “advantages” in particular. Being part of National Security(TM) it is sacrosanct when it comes to trade deals and the restrictions pertaining thereto. It is a wonderful source of political pork (which we are told transforms itself into votes). In the U.S. It has even resulted in the manufacture of arms that the military does not need nor even WANT. Gone would be the days of mere gazebos and fake lakes. The opportunities to further control a population via a security establishment (have you seen the new CSIS HQ??) would also sit well with a control freak like Harper.
Let’s look at some of the weapons systems that the Harper Government proposes to buy.
Why would Canada require F-35s? Almost entirely in support of NATO war missions i.e. In support of the American Empire. Let’s not pretend that NATO is a “partnership”. Domestically, that is to say, in the actual defence of Canada they would not have much utility. Drones can fulfil just about any mission in the North that an F-35 could and at a fraction of the cost. Some say the F-35 is inappropriate for such a mission in the first place. One dimbulb in a blog somewhere suggested that they would be used in defence against the Russians. In that extremely unlikely event they should be good for most of a day, probably less.
The lifetime of an F-35 is said to be 25 to 30 years. It is not a huge leap to imagine that drone technology will render them into very expensive clay pigeons inside, say, 10 years. Drones will be like very smart SAMs … that will not miss. Able to outmaneuver anything containing a meat puppet.
IN WHICH MY PARANOIA SETS IN
The purchase of drones by DND and the RCMP is worrying because it has possible implications beyond defence and law enforcement. Even at the height of the Bush/Cheney years could anyone have imagined that today the President would take upon himself the power to kill Americans without charge or trial and perhaps even to do so on U.S. soil? Is it entirely ludicrous to imagine that something untoward could “happen here”? (I leave you with a mental image of Vic Toews).
Even more disturbing, to me at least, is the purchase of tanks. In an age of drones and “smart” missiles buying tanks is the military equivalent of buying horses for your cavalry in order to fight the Wehrmacht. The life of a tank on a modern battlefield will be measured in hours, if not minutes. Why would Canada ever need tanks?
One possibility presents itself. Tanks have another proven purpose. Look at Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Tiananmen Square in 1989. Look at the militarization of police forces in the U.S.
Tanks are effective in the repression of civilian populations.
Are we expecting trouble?