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|Written by Kendall R. Giberson|
|Tuesday, 31 March 2009 19:00|
United States President Barack Obama’s visit to Ottawa in February dominated the Canadian news for days. However, just hours before Obama bit into his first Beaver Tail in the ByWard Market, the Canadian Air Force dealt with a potentially hairy situation in the far north. According to Canadian reports, a Russian bomber was intercepted by CF-18 fighter jets as it approached Canadian airspace, and promptly escorted back to international airspace. Whether the purpose of the bomber’s flight was to assert a Russian presence in the Arctic by testing Canadian defences (as Canadians claim) or to carry out routine high-latitude exercises (as the Russians claim), we don’t really know; but the whole episode does make one a bit nostalgic for the Cold War.
Today, one consequence of the global market is that there are very few powerful countries that are willing to go to war, largely because everyone is so interdependent upon each other. What we have now are international terrorist groups who pose the biggest threats to Canada. It is much more difficult to pin down who the enemy is if they operate in secret. It is much more difficult to collect intelligence on them when they communicate in secret, their identities are unknown, and one can only speculate as to the leadership structure beyond a few well-known leaders. It is more difficult to hunt them down when they have no central headquarters and their bases are ramshackle at best; destroying an Al-Qaeda training facility does nothing to weaken the organization. Mostly, all you have is the name of an organization and a vague idea of from where it operates. In the past, you knew which governments were hostile to your own. You knew the names and life stories of the main players. You knew where the military bases were located. You knew the military capabilities such as the number of personnel that could be mobilized, and more importantly, the size of the nuclear arsenals. And they knew yours.
The United States compiles lists of countries that it considers to be dangerous. They are referred to in speeches as the “Axis of Evil”, “Outposts of Tyranny”, “Rogue States” and “State Sponsors of Terrorism” and include such countries as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Belarus, Sudan, Myanmar and Zimbabwe. Truthfully, how much damage can each of these states do to the U.S. when they are either consumed with internal strife or lack the military capability to pose any real kind of threat? This brings to mind the question, what about Canada, the international good guys? Well, we do keep a list of outlawed terrorist organizations and there was a tense standoff with Denmark over an uninhabited rock in the Arctic ocean a couple of years ago, but the most hostile Canada gets towards a foreign country is to issue an unfavorable travel advisory for its citizens.
So, Canada, due to its military presence in Afghanistan and being an ally of the United States, is a target of terrorist organizations, members of which include some of its own citizens. Instead of having Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on a table in the United Nations headquarters, we now have Osama bin Laden issuing a videotape to the media from a cave in who-knows-where every so often. I slept better at night knowing that the Soviets had nuclear missiles pointed at me from silos in Siberia than now, not knowing where, when or how Al-Qaeda will strike next.
Recent Russian Show of Force Reminds us of Cold War Realpolitik
The article from BBC (see link at bottom) and yours kinda got me thinking. Yes, I agree that it is awful and the social consequences of the recession will be lingering in our society and around the world for the next decade or longer.