"Having missiles intercepted overhead is something Canadians will simply have to live with. Missile debris will hit Canada...it's Canadians who will have to deal with the debris from destroyed enemy rockets raining down on them. The Pentagon needs little from Canada for its proposed missile shield -- except the air space in which to blast apart incoming missiles... Canada might want to request extra funding for hardhats, but there's not much else that can be done about it." Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C., 2003
"Space soon will be the fourth medium of warfare, it will not only bind all war fighting forces together but will also become strategically critical to the survival of warfighters...For future coalition warfare, space superiority will be fundamental." Canadian Government Technology Investment Strategy 2000
While few would disagree that the administration of George W. Bush acts with little regard for the democratic hopes of people either inside or outside the United States, it seems callous disregard for national sovereignty finds no more blatant example than with the issue of space warfare.
Indeed, while Canadian airspace would play a critical factor in any testing, deployment and use of a ballistic missile defence system (BMD), the Canadian people have not been asked about, much less appeared to support, such a notion. According to a March, 2004 Ipsos Reid poll, 69% of Canadians disagree that "Canada should actively support the Bush administration's missile defence system even if it may require dedicating military spending to the program or allowing US missile launchers in Canada."
Nevertheless, while Canada has not formally endorsed the idea of participating in star wars, the actions and statements of government officials, military researchers, and the Canadian military itself indicate that this country has been involved, and will continue to play a role in the development of space warfare.
And while the government has not invested in millions of hard hats for average folks down here on Planet Earth, there does exist a string of proverbial beads which could comprise the noose with which we hang ourselves on U.S. policy.
Long before George W. Bush came to power, the 1994 Canadian Defence White Paper allowed for NMD research and development. In October, 1997, the U.S. and Canadian militaries signed a joint Statement of Intent for military space cooperation on the understanding that such an agreement to militarize the heavens "is in the mutual security and economic interests" of both countries.
The government's Technology Investment Strategy 2000 goes even further, declaring, "Space soon will be the fourth medium of warfare, it will not only bind all war fighting forces together but will also become strategically critical to the survival of warfighters...For future coalition warfare, space superiority will be fundamental."
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), "Canada and the U.S. also established a BMD bilateral information sharing working group that has met twice a year since 2000. In addition, Canada placed a Canadian Forces Liaison officer with the U.S. Missile Defence Agency in early 2001 for the purpose of supporting the ongoing consultation and information gathering process."
The U.S. is certainly behaving as if Canada is on board. During a July 2003 debate over a "Buy-U.S.-weapons-only" bill in Congress, a Pentagon spokesperson told Agence France Presse: "The passage of this proposed legislation ...would negatively impact cooperative programs with allies such as Canada and the UK on programs like the Joint Strike Fighter and missile defense cooperative issues."
But just to make sure, early in 2004, Canadian War Minister David Pratt wrote U.S. War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that "we should explore extending [our military] partnership to include co-operation in missile defence...A key focus of our co-operation in missile defence should be through NORAD."
Pratt is clear, hoping a memorandum of understanding between the two countries will "ensure the closest possible involvement and insight for Canada, both government and industry, in the US missile defence program."
While Pratt dances around the issue of whether or not missile defence is ultimately about space warfare, he repeats language used by the U.S. to skirt this issue, stating, "The technical extent of protection afforded by the US ballistic missile defence system will evolve over time." Notable by its absence is the caveat that the Canadian government, in 2002, was asked by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs to "continue to oppose the weaponization of outer space."
In response, Rumsfeld wrote "I am supportive of the approach to missile defense cooperation that you outlined in your letter."
In February, 2004, the Canadian War Dept. issued tentative contracts worth $700,000 to test Canadian radar technology during star wars tests slated for the summer. According to a Canadian Press report, "Defence Research and Development called for an upgraded portable version of the High Frequency Surface Wave Radar to be used in 'missile detection trials' run by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency in August."
On February 23, 2004, the Globe and Mail reported "Canada is talking to Washington about the use of Canadian soil for stationing interceptor rocket launchers and radar stations as part of a continental ballistic missile defence program." The article quotes War Minister David Pratt as saying some parts of northern Canada could be made available for launch sites of kill vehicles in lieu of a cash contribution to star wars.
Even the Canadian War Dept. acknowledges that the current "missile defense" project is a step towards the weaponization of space. According to a document obtained by the Ottawa Citizen in January, 2004, the War Dept. believes "A significant risk associated with BMD from the non-proliferation and disarmament perspective is its reinforcement of trends towards the weaponization of outer space."
Playing a key role in Canadian participation is Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), an umbrella grouping of five federally-funded research facilities that includes the DRDO (Defence Research and Development -- Ottawa). Committed to exploit the electromagnetic spectrum for military purposes, DRDO's website also boasts of its capacity to develop a diverse range of warfighting technologies, including "Electronic Warfare, Information Warfare, Space Systems and Technologies for Defence Applications, Detection and Identification of NBC [nuclear, biological, chemical] Agents."
The Ottawa Citizen reported in January, 2001 that DRDO is involved in a Star Wars research program called the Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector. "This project is a key contributor to the collaborative work with the (U.S.) Ballistic Missile Defence Organization" read military research reports obtained by the Citizen. The Canadian QWIP system has "significant implications for future exploitation to support U.S. Space-based Infrared Surveillance Systems, surveillance from space and missile defence applications."
As Star Wars is ultimately about control of space and, consequently, mastery of Earth, dominating the electromagnetic spectrum is paramount. As Emmett Paige Jr., Assistant Secretary of Defence for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (U.S.) points out, "the world is moving toward new warfighting paradigms, and the electromagnetic spectrum holds the key" to the military's successful use of new war technology, and "the [U.S.] Department of Defense is committed to ensuring that 'in the next conflict' it is we who will control the spectrum. We know its value."
Meanwhile, the ability to station in space light-weight platforms which have the capacity to launch directed energy or laser beam weapons against terrestrial targets is a key part of the U.S. Space Command document Vision 2020. DRDC has taken up this challenge, and its own annual report asks the burning question, "Will technology allow us to fit 70 tons of lethality and survivability into a 20 ton package?"
Towards that end, DRDC is engaged in research and development of miniaturization and nanotechnology, such as micro-satellites. According to the U.S.-based Centre for Defense Information, Canada's War Dept. "is researching the use of observational microsatellites in support of military operations. The high Earth orbit space surveillance project is planned to begin in April 2004, with a request for proposals going out in 2005 and a planned launch in 2006. The current plan is to use these microsats for space surveillance of other spacecraft and debris and then send the data recorded to the U.S. Space Surveillance Network which supports NORAD. The 2 70 kg microsatellites are planned to be launched on the same rocket and will cost just over $9 million. Project Leader Air Force Major. Frank Pinkney says, 'My goal is to show you can do real missions with smaller, cheaper satellites that will be affordable.'" Canada also plans to field a larger space observation satellite in 2007 (the $75 million Sapphire system)
The DRDC report also notes that one outcome of the Canadian Defence Industrial Research program has been the development of products useful for, among other things, the Star Wars "Exo-Atmosphere Kill Vehicle." Related technology being developed in Canada, including space-based radar and use of Canada's RADARSAT-2 satellite to produce "a ground moving target indication (GMTI) capability" will "provide an improved operational picture to the war fighter." The annual report that "there is a high level of US interest in the Space-Based Radar GMTI Project," as the employment of such sensor technology is key to any space warfare capacity.
DRDO is working on expanding X-bandwidths, another key part of the star wars technology.
DRDO also hosted a visit in November, 2000 from a leading U.S. NMD cheerleader, Dr. Hans Mark, who, according to a DRDO press release, "is the highest-ranking [Pentagon] science and technology director to visit Canada... In his presentation to DRDO researchers and staff, he used his own experience in the development of high energy lasers to illustrate the point that it can take several decades for technologies and processes to realize applications in military systems. Dr. Mark was a pioneer in the development of lasers in the 1960s and has championed the trials of missile defence technologies in which lasers successfully downed small missiles."
Never far behind in such matters, the Canadian military industry smells blood, and a potential profit windfall. The Canadian Defence Industries Association produced a paper called, "The National Missile Defense Program: An Assessment of Market Opportunities for Canadian Industry."
"Canada has the capability to support the industrial requirements of the National Missile Defense program," the report concludes. "Under the existing conditions, Canada can expect, at a minimum, about $270 million in NMD-related exports over the next 15 years. With appropriate levels of Government and industry action, there is a potential for that to increase to more than $1 billion in exports."
Cambridge, Ontario-based COMDEV, long a developer of space technology, was one of the corporate consultants to the Vision 2020 document that concludes "Space systems are crucial to this nation's ability to wage war." Given COMDEV's role in the development of military space systems, it stands to reap the benefits of potential contracts springing from a vision they helped create.
In the fall of 2002, Canadian company CAE Inc. announced a partnership with the US military giant Boeing Company to "collaboratively evaluate and develop opportunities in missile defense...[and] to evaluate and develop systems related to air and missile threats, sensors, interceptors, and battle management/command, control, and communications systems."
According to Project Ploughshares, other companies involved include Bristol Aerospace of Winnipeg (provision of missile targets for the Theater Ballistic Missile Defense component of BMD), and Panorama Business Views of Toronto (data processing support equipment).
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (the former Business Council on National Issues), a right-wing gathering of the corporate elite, are supporters of star wars and enhanced U.S.-Canada military cooperation. Derek Burney, CEO of CAE, foresees new levels of cooperation and new institutions "enabling stronger defence, intelligence and police cooperation...We should increase our defence spending...Procrastination on issues like missile defence does not help."
Even if Canada were not already involved in providing technical assistance to space warfare, its political role on the world stage is one which Vision 2020 views as inherently valuable.
"Peaceful nations must prudently guard against the threats described above but unilateral action may appear aggressive and hostile," the document states with respect to the types of actions which have isolated the Bush administration. "Strong coalitions and collective security arrangements... will provide strong political and economic support for a new generation of agreements and treaties that normalize space operations."
As with much of its foreign policy history, Canada may try and have it both ways. The government of Paul Martin says it is opposed to the weaponization of space, but is willing to nonetheless quietly participate in the National Missile Defense Program anyway. During the invasion of Iraq, the Canadian government insisted no Canadian troops would be involved, yet over three dozen were embedded on the ground with U.S. Forces. Rather than pull them out (which they could do under their rules of engagement), the federal government said that they might as well go along with the invasion since it had started.
It appears the Martin government is headed in the same direction on space warfare. Since it already has its foot in the door, the logic will run, there can be no turning back given our involvement in NATO, NORAD, NAFTA, and other agreements which bind Canada to the U.S.
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