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Changing Strategies, Technologies and Organization: The Continuing Debate on NORAD and the Strategic Defense Initiative

  • Joel J. Sokolsky (a1)
Abstract

The renewal of the Canada-US North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) agreement in March 1986 will not end the debate on the relationship between NORAD and trends in American strategy, including the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). This article reviews and explains the various strains of that debate. It points out why some in Canada argue that participation in NORAD will inevitably lead to Canadian involvement in the ballistic missile defence objective of the SDI. It also notes, however, why the military and other observers are concerned that strategic and technological trends in the US may make it difficult for Canada to remain active in North American aerospace defence, and indeed, even to provide for its own air sovereignty.

En mars 1986, le Canada et les États-Unis renouvelaient l'accord de NORAD, mais cela ne mettra pas un terme aux débats sur les liens entre NORAD et la stratégie nucléaire américaine, y compris l'Initiative de défense stratégique (I.D.S.). Cet article se penche sur les enjeux: d'une part, la possibilité que la participation canadienne à NORAD entraîne inévitablement le pays à s'impliquer dans l'I.D.S. et d'autre part, le risque que la stratégie américaine n'empêche le Canada de demeurer actif en matière de défense de son propre territoire, voire d'exercer dans les airs sa souveraineté.

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1 Canada, House of Commons, Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Report on Canada-US Defence Cooperation and the 1986 Renewal of the NORAD Agreement (1986), xi.

2 On public opinion polls conducted by the Department of External Affairs, see Chapin, P. H., “The Canadian Public and Foreign Policy,” International Perspectives (January/February 1986), 1416.

3 On the roles and perception of lesser powers in alliance, see Rothstein, Robert, Alliances and Small Powers (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968);Keohane, Robert. “Lilliputians' Dilemmas: Small States in International Politics,” International Organization 23 (1969), 291310. Canadians have often referred to their country as a “middle power.” It is a characterization hard to define, especially because in some areas of international relations, such as economics, Canada may rightly be viewed as a great or “principal” power. In terms of its military contributions to its alliances. Canada comes closer to being a small power. However, unlike other small powers in NATO, such as Luxembourg and Iceland, Canada has traditionally been active in allied political councils. It regards itself, therefore, as being able to influence the actions of larger allies in a way that small powers do not. It is, perhaps, this perception of the need and capability for exercising diplomatic leverage within alliances which makes Canada a “middle power.” See Sokolsky, Joel J.. “Canada in NATO: The Perceptions of a Middle Power in Alliance,” The Fletcher Forum 4 (1980). 203–26.

4 For an analysis of the importance of alliances in Canadian defence policy, see English, John and Hilmer, Norman. “Canada's Alliances,” Revue Internationale d'Histoire Militaire (Edition canadienne) 51 (1981), 3151.

5 On this point see Holmes, John, The Shaping of Peace. Vol. 2: Canada and the Search for World Order, 1943–1957 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982), 13, 29. On Canada's role in the creation of NATO, see also Reid, Escott, Time of Fear and Hope: The Making of the North Atlantic Treaty 1947–1949 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. 1977).

6 Canadian ambivalence towards close strategic co-operation with the US on a strictly bilateral basis has long been a subject of some controversy. Some argue that political leaders were moved along by the activities of the Royal Canadian Air Force which, working closely with the United States Air Force, created a fully integrated North American air defence network even before NORAD's creation. See, for example, Swanson, Roger F., “NORAD: Origins and Operations of Canada's Ambivalent Symbol,” International Perspectives (November/December 1972), 38;Ignatieff, George, The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985):Granatstein, J. L., Canada 1957–1967.The Years of Uncertainty and Innovation (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1986). For an account of the origins of NORAD based upon declassified US documents, see Jockel, Joseph T., No Boundaries Upstairs: Canada, the United States and North American Air Defence, 1945–1958 (forthcoming. University of British Columbia Press).Jockel, takes issue with the view that Canada's political leaders were completely unaware of what the military was doing, although he shows that the two military establishments did work closely together. See also his article, “The Military Establishments and the Creation of NORAD,” American Review of Canadian Studies 12 (1982), 116.

7 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Report (1986), 17.

8 Minifie, James, Peacemaker or Powder-Monkey (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1960).

9 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Report (1986). 17.

10 Quoted from Holmes, John, appearing before the Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence (1st Session, 33d Parliament, 1984–85). 37:15, October 10, 1985.

11 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Report on NORAD. December 19, 1980, Recommendation 3).

12 On the 1968 ABM debate in the US see Anti-Ballistic Missile: Yes or No?, A Special Report from the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (New York: Hill and Wang. 1968).

13 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Proceedings, 52:15, December 6, 1985.

14 United States, Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. Ballistic Missile Defense Technologies Summary (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1985), 17.

15 Canada, Department of National Defence, Defence in the 70s (Ottawa: Information Canada, 1971), 6, 2930.

16 Canada, Senate, Special Committee on National Defence, Report on Canada's Territorial Air Defence (1985), 10.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid.

20 Collins, John M., U.S.-Soviet Military Balance 1980–1985 (New York: Pergamon-Brassey's, 1985). 54.

21 Ibid., 154.

22 Extracts from JUSCAD's Executive Summary, 5.

23 Hamre, John, “Continental Air Defence, United States Security Policy and Canada-United States Defence Relations,” in G. R. Lindsey et al.. Aerospace Defence: Canada's Future Role? (Wellesley Papers 9) (Toronto: Canadian Institute of International Affairs, 1985), 22.

24 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Report (1986), 3031.

25 Ibid., xi.

26 Canada, House of Commons, Debates, Feb. 4, 1985, 1, 961.

27 This explanation of the deletion of the ABM clause is offered by James Everard, A., “Canada and NORAD: The Eroding Agreement,” Journal of the Royal United Services Institute 127 (1984), 21.

28 As quoted from letter from DND to SCEAND, Nov. 20, 1985.

29 See, for example, Lt. Col. Cammarota, Richard S., USAF, “Defense Watch,” Air Force Magazine 68 (February 1985), 67.

30 Letter from the Minister of National Defence to the US Secretary of Defense; Prime Minister's Statement, September 7, 1985.

31 Ross, Douglas, American Nuclear Revisionism, Canadian Strategic Interests and the Renewal of NORAD (Behind the Headlines XXXIX, 6) (Toronto: Canadian Institute of International Affairs, 1982), 2930.

32 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Proceedings, 43:30, November 18, 1985.

33 United States, Department of Defense, Report to Congress on the Strategic Defense Initiative (Washington, 1985), C–21.

34 Brown, Harold, “The Strategic Defense Initiative: Defensive Systems and the Strategic Debate,” Survival (March/April 1985), 56.

35 See, for instance, General Herres, as quoted in Cammarota, “Defense Watch,” 64.

36 See,, for example, “Why Canada may Star in Star Wars,” Toronto Star, November 10, 1985.

37 For the position of the Liberal and New Democratic parties on this issue, see. Toronto Star, February 15, 1986. See also the NDP “Communiqué.” December 16, 1985, 2; and the Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament “Communiqué,” January 22, 1986, 2. Operation Dismantle was also in favour of re-insertion: see Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Proceedings, 48:7, November 21, 1985.

38 See testimony of the Toronto Disarmament Network, in Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Proceedings, 47:26, November 21, 1985: Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament, ibid., 39:9, October 15, 1985: and the NDP “Communiqué,” December 16, 1985.

39 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Proceedings, 43:6 and 43:36, November 18, 1985.

40 Ibid., 52:6. December 6, 1985.

41 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Report (1986), xi.

42 Hamre, “Continental Air Defence,” 25.

43 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Proceedings, 41: 107, October 31, 1985.

44 Carver, George A. Jr. (ed.), The View from the South: A US Perspective on Key Bilateral Issues Affecting US-Canadian Relations (Significant Issues Series VII, 41) (Washington: Georgetown University, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1985), 46.

45 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Proceedings, 52:11, December 6, 1985.

46 See, Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Report (1986), 79, and Senate Report (1985), 5657.

47 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Proceedings, 34:31. See also Dr. Schofield's testimony before the Senate Special Committee on National Defence. Senate, Minutes of Proceedings, 4:24. March 14, 1984.

48 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Proceedings. 52:11, December 6, 1985.

49 Ibid.

50 See, Boston Globe, March 5, 1986, 4.

51 Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, Proceedings, 52:11, December 6, 1985.

52 ibid., 44:8, November 19, 1985.

53 Legault, Albert, “Canada and the United States: The Defense Dimension.” in Doran, Charles F. and Sigler, John H. (eds.), Canada and the United States: Enduring Friendship, Persistent Stress (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1985), 198.

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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
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