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Stevie, George, and talk of playing "guns"

It might well be that the meeting between “Steve” and George this week marks the beginning of a real change in Canada-US relations. Depending on your geo-political view, the change might be for the good or bad, but there seems little doubt that there will be greater cooperation between the two countries than there has been in years. That is not to say that the two nations have not cooperated, but things on the surface have been decidedly not smooth since Bush’s first electoral “victory” in 2000.

I’m proud to have allies like Steve who understand the stakes of the 21st century

Ally or not, I personally find it problematic that Stephen Harper might actually understand the geo-political situation in the same way that George Bush does. Certainly his policies more closely parallel the US on important international issues than did his Liberal predecessors, but then again there really was no clear foreign policy while the Liberals were in power, so comparisons really are difficult. For now, it remains to be seen whether Harper is auditioning for the “clever side-kick” role that seems to have been relinquished by Tony Blair. Improved dialog between the countries is welcomed, but I am sure that Harper is aware of how tolerant Canadians are of openly kissing American ass.

The lucky timing of the meeting on the heels of Kim Jong-Il’s missile tests let Bush sneak in a jab about the need for a ballistic missile shield (“We’re trying to make sure, by the way, that the missile that he fired wasn’t headed for Canada” – a thought that kept me up late at night all week), which Harper dodged, while leaving opening the option for future Canadian participation (“Canada is not prepared to open a missile-defence issue at this time“. Note the signature wink to his right-wing, big-military special friends).

Canadian participation means two things to the Americans – international acceptance and money. Since Harper aknowledged the importance of the missile shield and we’ve just decided to donate $15 large to the American defense industry in recently-announced defense expenditures, Bush basically has what he wants for the time being. Further Canadian involvement in missile defense can quietly be arranged through NORAD, as the Liberals likely planned to do it, or through further defense integration in the Fortress North America plan that the US has promoted.

Where exactly this goes is anyone’s guess – it depends on whether Harper does understand the stakes of the 21st century in the same way George Bush does. Harper has proven to be a good political tactitian so far, so I expect that he will avoid too many gestures to the Americans before he has secured his majority government (amid the wreckage of the Liberal party, a sad near-certainty in my view). However, at that point I expect to see a distinctive shift toward a US approach to government; small-government when it comes to social programs and taxes and big-government on issues like defense and policing.

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

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5 thoughts on “Stevie, George, and talk of playing "guns"

  1. Why don’t we just send you to N Korea, Afganistan, Iraq or maybe Iran . . . you could calm the masses with your Liberal touchey-feeley stuff and and all the worlds problems would be solved . . . you are sooooo naieve.
    The world is a dangerous place . . . things are blowing up in many western democracies, so far we in Canada have been lucky. So get a brain, when did security and military ability become a non issue . . . . why under the LPC of course.

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  2. NDIP,
    You think I’m naive? In some ways maybe I am, but it’s a damn sight better than being a brainless Party prat.

    The world is indeed a dangerous place – and all the more dangerous because countries like the US play the victim card to justify fucking over other countries for suspect reasons. We are never going to crush terrorism through military means, the only way to defeat it is politically. By politically showing the world a better system – and by demonstrating real leadership, not the “leadership” of the bully stealing lunch money at recess.

    Spending tens of billions or more on a missile defense system will do nothing but enrich artificial industries and give politicians a protected feeling. Protected enough to do something stupid, most likely. There is a reason that the superpowers bilaterally chose to not develop such systems during the Cold War.

    I know your type NDIP, the kind that confuses “security” and “military”. Here’s news – having the biggest fucking military in the world does nothing to guarantee security. You don’t have to dig too deeply into the news (but you’re not too good at that, are you?) to get the sense that despite their increased military, Americans feel less secure now than they did two or three years ago.

    Security comes from having sane foreign and domestic policies and good relations with other nations. Sometimes a military is required to help out in a pinch, but it is the last place to go for security, not the first.

    So get a brain.

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  3. That was fairly restrained for you, Kev. There’s not much more to add in the vain attempt to educate Ex-Ndip…. Just that at the time september 11th occurred (the alleged justification for the “war” on terror) the US already possessed the biggest budget military in the world, with the fanciest gear, estimated at 3 TRILLION dollars ($US) and it all was incapable of stopping a dozen or so guys with carpet knives. Money well spent? Hmmmmm…..

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  4. So if I understand right, you’re criticzing Harper for wanting to return the role of the federal gov’t to it’s constitutional mandate under section 91 of the constitution. the feds should get outta social policy & beef up its role on security or in other words obey the constitution

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  5. mcG,
    I presume you are referring to my comment on “small government”.

    If the federal government has no role in guiding social policy, who does? Social policy is more than motherhood statements from politicians and bloggers – it takes money to implement. And who is better placed to collect the dollars and initiate and maintain the programs? These social programs make the wealth of the country possible – without good tax-payer subsidized hospitals and schools we have a less effective and capable work force. And it also helps create a larger pool of consumers in the middle and lower end of the economic spectrum so that we can actually sell goods and services.

    I will not deny that we need to update the military – and by and large I agree with the expenditures announced this round, though I have a problem with what amounts to essentially sole-sourcing billions of dollars of our tax dollars. What I have a problem with is these expenditures are going to come at the expense of social programs and infrastructure. Specifically, if we are announcing billions of dollars in new expenses we should not be announcing tax cuts while we are still carrying a huge debt. It’s the same problem I have with the MacDonald budget in Nova Scotia (and the NDP suggestions for that matter) – when interest rates are low is the time to pay down the damned debt so that in the future you can reduce taxes without having to cut programs.

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