A Sanity Overhaul

Question: What separates two multi-billion dollar follies?
Answer: About 23 years.

I’m beginning to question the sanity of our Canadian leaders. No, wait – “beginning” is the wrong word.  I mean “again”.

But before peering over our shoulders let’s peer forward into the fog created by all the news about Tunisia and Egypt and a common border around North America and a cabinet minister playing games with the the truth and, hey! — it’s still there! –the Harper government’s determination to spend multi-billions of our hard earned bucks on a pack of stealth fighter/bombers!  Remember them? I hope none of us had thought the idea of  us buying those little winged baubles had gone away.

Oh sure, I know, the aerospace CEO’s say the F35 will be great for business, and communities housing those factories say it will be marvellous for employment, and the Canadian Forces brass say the planes are state of the art and will be good for the Force’s morale and for recruitment, and the PM has said, “…we will ensure that our men and women in uniform … will always have what they need to do their jobs as well and as safely as possible”.

I actually have no quarrel with that quote from the PM – except that I don’t have a clue as to what he thinks our military’s job really is.  Never mind all the b.s. about the F35 and business and jobs and morale.  What are stealth fighter/bombers actually for? As far as I can tell they are perfectly adapted for sudden, clandestine, pre-emptive strikes against someone else’s territory. “Pre-emptive”, of course, is a euphemism for beginning a war without declaring it.  The philosophy is, “I think you might hit me so I’m going to whack you first.”  Until George W. Bush came along this was not only unsporting it was immoral, unethical, and illegal  — and still is.

Pre-emptive strikes, by their very nature, hammer civilian populations who haven’t been alerted to head for the hills. Is this part of what we see as the “job” of our Canadian Forces?  Is Canada planning on becoming as barbaric as our neighbour?  I’d like to know – wouldn’t you?

We certainly have a PM who sees himself as a gung-ho guy.  And in talking recently  to his own Party (same speech as above) he said, “No matter how some will downplay the need to equip the military, we know from experience that governments of all stripes will send them into a war theatre at the drop of a hat.”

If I interpret the English language correctly, the “of all stripes” must include himself.  So, by extension, I assume he’ll use stealth fighter/bombers, designed for clandestine pre-emptive strikes, “at the drop of a hat”?  And whose people, by the way, does he see as a potential target for a stealthy clobbering by our young men and women?

And so, as I said, I’m once again questioning the sanity of our Canadian leaders.

And, yes, we’ve been here before — in spades.

Way back in the 1980s the big “defence” expenditure was to be mega-bucks for nuclear powered “hunter/attack” submarines. They, too, were going to be good for business, good for employment, and good for morale.  And that proposal came along just at the height of the so-called Free Trade debate, with sovereignty on, or rather under, the table.

And then, too, back in June of ‘88, my fuse was smouldering.

A Sanity Overhaul

[…] The subs are billed as hunter-attack craft, which has a fine macho ring to it. They were originally said to be required to uphold our end of our NATO commitments.  Now they’re being billed as intended to uphold our Arctic sovereignty. The fact that the subs represent the biggest single peacetime military expenditure ever made by Canada surely gives even a layman like me the right to scratch his head with some puzzlement.

These multi-billion dollar leviathans are, so I gather, intended to patrol the Arctic passages and detect unauthorized intruders.  They will be capable of shadowing such intruders and, if necessary, of taking appropriate action.[…]

Does cabinet actually picture one of our subs shooting, ramming, or otherwise sinking an intruder under the polar cap? — an intruder carrying, like our own subs, a nuclear power plant?

Have we forgotten the panic a few years ago when a Russian satellite carrying a tiny  nuclear plant crashed in our north? (And it was already mostly burned up on re-entry.)  Is cabinet actually contemplating a scenario in which Canadians would blow up a reactor, anybody’s reactor, under the polar cap?

We are told the Arctic ecology is not only the most fragile in the world but affects the biological environment of the entire world.  Are we really intending to impoverish ourselves in order to have the capability of participating in global environmental destruction if our subs ever do what they’re designed to do — hunt and attack?

A few billion in underice research stations and we could both monitor traffic and participate in global environmental protection.    […]

Ottawa seems to be operating at such great levels of irrationality these days that I am moved to question my own sanity.  The sub program will impoverish us and risk ecological destruction in order to protect sovereignty.  The Free Trade program will give away sovereignty so we won’t be impoverished.  I think I’ll find a clinic and check the old brain in for an overhaul.

By the way, some sanity eventually prevailed and we never did buy those particular subs.  Instead, from the Brits we bought some less lethal used subs, one of which caught on fire while – well, shucks, let’s not go there.

Have a good day.

A Sanity Overhaul
From Down Paradox Lane
Lindsay This week, June 14th, 1988
Copyright © Munroe Scott

 

 

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About Munroe Scott

Munroe Scott is a veteran of the freelance writing world.
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