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Canada and Bush's Star Wars
25/02/2005

I think if I were Prime Minister, I would have signed on to the American's missle defense system... or at least I would have if it wasn't going to bring down my minority government.

It's not that I think BMD is a good idea. I actually expect that it will be fairly useless and a big waste of money. But Canada was actually given the choice to sign on without spending a dime, so if our neighbours want to waste their cash, why not?

During the build-up to the Iraq War, the one argument that disgusted me more than any other was the argument that we should set aside debate about whether the war was right or wrong and jump in there for the sake of our relationship -- particularly our trading relationship -- with the United States. What a crass, amoral abdication of our responsibilities that would have been. There was a very serious debate to be had about whether the war was, or was not, the right thing to do, and those that wanted to put trade ahead of any principles irked me incredibly.

In the case of Star Wars, however, I see it differently. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I see the whole proposal as being without consequence. We don't have to worry about wasting Canadian resources on a plan that won't work because we haven't been asked for any. Nor do I feel we need to worry about worsening the world by encouraging our neighbours in this endeavour.

So, why not sign on just to be friendly for a change? No, I don't think this will improve trade relations -- the Americans will continue to ignore any trade treaties that Congress decides they don't like part of. But I think it just doesn't hurt.

Even if you feel, like many, that American overseas policy is misguided, brutal or imperialistic, there is a difference here. Everyone has the right to defence.

I don't think it is going to cause a massive arms race that will put us in more danger than we are today. I feel this way in part because I don't think BMD will work and there are so many other ways to attack if you really want to.

As for the "weaponization of space", I did initially have some concerns that someday a future President Bush would tell a hapless country, "hand over your WMDs, or we will vapourize your cities from space with our W-Rays". But that's not practical either, in my view.

So, I probably would have said "sure". Although, saying no just because Paul Cellucci is a prick would have been tempting.


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