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Fortress North America, Research Paper Example

Pages: 9

Words: 2387

Research Paper

As earth becomes an increasingly global society, human beings have the unique opportunity to redefine themselves as a single human race, a reality verified by science, and to see the world as a series of interconnected burrows and neighborhoods, upheld by the increasingly global economy and the technological communicative ease of the internet, rather than as a planet of closed societies. Unfortunately, governments also have the tendency to see change as the enemy, as a threat to their identity and their survival, and they rail against it.

The supposed risk of access by terrorists to the USA through Canada provoked the U.S. government to look for measures to make protected all of the North American Fortress, including Canada. The instant media belief was that the Canadian administration could not refuse to go along with American burden. Wrote the nationwideToronto Star: “What Prime Minister Chretien says when the U.S. begins a concentrated push for a continental defenseborder – a Fortress North America? The most widespread answer to this is that he definitely says “No” (Harper, 2001). But almost 54 percent of Canadians surveyed by EKOS Research after 9/11 established the proposal of a North American Fortress, ‘even if’ the investigation asked, ‘it means we have to accept American safety measures and migration policies” (Harper, 2001). Perhaps both the governments and public opinions were agreeing to the unavoidable. The idea of Fortress North America combinedwith provision for a “small border”, debates for which started on 12 December 2001.

To make sure that the flow of supplies across the joint border was of main significance to Canada. Of the nation’s exports 87 percent go directly to the USA, overpoweringly overland (Buckley & Fawn, 2003, p. 86). Consequently, due to these attacks, this supreme physical flow of supplies was stopped, with massiveholdups of cargo on roads and railways (p. 86). Particularly concernedwith the Canadian’spredicament, Michigan Governor confessed, “Thingsreally ground to a stop” after the attacks, and that U.S. trade with Canada was of moresignificance that that of both Europe and Latin America (U.S. Custom Plans to Clear Bottlenecks”, 2002). More recently, CBCNews also observed “The longest undefended border in the world is under siege” (“Are they Listening to our Message about Border Security”, 2009).

“Security” is the only word that characterizes the North American Fortress policy context. Those who support deep integration are well aware of this issue: the CCCE’s five-point Security and Prosperity Initiative, presented to senior members of the Bush administration in April of 2003, acknowledged and reflected the blending of trade and security measures, and appeared to be the blueprint for the Security and Prosperity of North America launched in 2005 by the two governments (Grinspurn, et al, 2007, p. 24). For the Canadian supporters, the plan is for Canada to increase armed forces spending and to harmonize its immigration and security policies with those of its neighbor in return for secure access to the US market. As several contributors suggest, the barely concealed intent of these proposals is to integrate Canadian and US defense policies. Steve Staples, in particular, chronicles a number of developments pointing to deeper defense and security integration (Staples, 2008).

  1. D. Howe Institute scholar Wendy Dobson (2002, p. 3) argues that “Canada’sworries about the financial security must be relatedto the U.S. nationwide priorities to attract U.S. notice. And national security is the single intervening U.S. goal. What is required is a strategic agenda that links security and defense with economic goals”. This comprehensive approach to transforming the Canada-U.S. relationship differs fundamentally from the strictly economic arrangements that defined CUFTA and NAFTA (Dobson, 2002, p. 4). Clearly, and perhaps necessarily, business leaders have abandoned past claims that free trade deals are sternly about economics and now confess that venerable Canadian positions on the variety of issues might have to be re-evaluatedin order to attain economic gains. They are promoting the need for Canada to discard or rethink its traditional positions on numerous issues where U.S. interests are concerned. In the words of trade scholars Bill Dymond and Michael Hart, Canada’s foreign policy should shed “outdated orthodoxies” and recognize “the central role of the United States in our future” (Dymond & Hart, 2003, abstract).

Due to intense public and political pressure, Paul Martin’s Liberal government decided to opt out of a controversial U.S.-led “missile defense” program in February 2005 (Fergusson, 2005). However, Ottawa quietly agreed to expand the mission of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) – a joint organization of the United States and Canada – in order to let the “transmission of satellite and radar data on incoming missiles to the U.S. Northern Command” (NORTHCOM), which will operate and manage the program (Fergusson, 2005). According to Steve Staples (2008), this change leaves a back door open for further Canadian involvement in missile defense and even space weapons. In May 2006 the Harper administrationsilentlyrehabilitatedthe NORAD agreement, albeit with significant changes. This revised agreement no longer needs to be renewedin every five years (but can be amended at any time upon agreement of both governments) (Staples, 2008). According to Ernie Regehr from Project Ploughshares, in a context of deepening military and security integration, the indefinite extension of NORAD without public consultation on current and proposed changes in North American security raises grave security and sovereignty concerns (Regehr, 2006).

Paul Martin’s missile defense decision ended a chapter of the Canadian missile defense issue but by no means closed the book on it. In fact, even prior to the 2006 federal election Stephen Harper indicated his intention to revisit the issue (Staple, 2008). With Washington continuing to deploy the system in stages over the next few decades, direct Canadian participation will remain a goal of the defense lobby and those seeking closer ties to the United States. In May 2006 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) opened a new front in this debate as it announced that it, too, was considering a missile defense shied to protect continental Europe from long-range missile threats (Blanchfield, 2006). Canada, as a member of the twenty-six-nation alliance, fully endorsed the decision.

Steve Staples (2008) also explores the political context within which military and security integration is proceeding – the so-called “U.S. Doctrine”, which is characterized by unilateralism, military build-up, preemptive warfare, the constraint and delay of basic civil rights, and the plain fusion of security, military, and economic objectives to advance US interests. Staples (2008)further observes, the linking of security, military, and economic goals has strongly influenced the strategy of Canada’s corporate leaders. Fear that foreign policy and security disputes between Ottawa and Washington could jeopardize hard-won economic gains during the 1980s and 1990s is at the root of their support for “big idea”. These business leaders now view the integration of foreign policy instruments as the inevitable price to be paid for Canada’s privileged access to the lucrative U.S. market, and they have fashioned an agenda that combines their desire for economic security with Washington’s demands for increased military security. This has led to the creation of a plannedand strategic alliance between corporate Canada and the country’s defense lobby that is cheering Ottawa to back up U.S. military, security, and foreign policy objectives. The Canadian government has responded positively to these demands, as is reflected in the words of Canada’s former ambassador to the United States, Frank McKenna: “Trade is our issue and security is theirs, which means our interest has become security and trade” (Campion-Smith, 2005).

One agenda item that has been affected by this new posture is immigration and refugees. Sharry Aiken (2011) details how Canadian security and immigration policy responses to September 11 have threatened to curtain the rights of many Canadians, particularly ethnic minorities and refugees.Aiken (2011) argues that much of the impetus behind policy reviews and legal and institutional changes has come from a perception that Canada is overly lax on security (i.e. a “haven for terrorists”) and, therefore, in need of tighter border restrictions, which could lead to reduced access to the U.S. market. Integrationist proposals have been explicit on this question: policy autonomy in the areas of security, privacy, immigration, and refugees have been identified as concessions to be offered in exchange for secure market access. Aiken (2011)further sketches the legal and institutional alterations that have occurred, which consist of an increase in the surveillance powers of the state, acknowledging an association between migration and crime, the raising of barriers to refugees, and the overlooking (and in some instances, encouragement) of racial profiling. She (2011) makes a compelling case that such changes signify a move towards a system of dualistic citizenship, where certain people and communities are singled out for arbitrary attention and differential treatment by state authorities.

Shantz (2010) made significant points in this regard. He said, when the legal state creates and perpetuates phony divisions between workers through immigration laws and the construction of “legals” and “illegals”, we must recognize this as part of the spatialized homeless people. Any legal mechanism which impedes the re-composition of the working class as a stronger force or which helps a decomposition of the working class to the benefit of capital must be understood as the criminalization of dissent (Shantz, 2010). This is why, Shantz (2010) stressed, one must always be clear that really opposing the criminalization of dissent must mean opposing all immigration laws, all vagrancy laws, all coercive treatment of psychiatric survivors and all laws which weaken the forces of the oppressed classes in their struggles against their oppressors. This means, of course, that national borders themselves are part of criminalization of dissent (Shantz, 2010).

The fear against this new enemy began with the paranoid and unfounded propaganda that the enemy would develop and use weapons of mass destruction against NATO countries —nuclear weapons, or more likely, radiological dispersion devices, also called “dirty bombs” (conventional bombs to which radioactive material has been added).  This war is defined as an open-ended war with the world as its battlefield and no end in sight.

While borderlands are classically defined as a zone or area of division characterized by cultural overlap where national identities become blurred, this does not preclude interaction among states at the institutional or formal level. This has clearly been the case in Canada, where new forms of indigenous governance mark the creation of new internal boundaries in areas such as Nunavut, and where the concept of an “indigenous North” has become a politically expedient tool in which to engage Northern dimension dialogue and cooperation. In this way the common connections among peoples of the North American circumpolar North are relevant (Grinspun et al, 2007, p. 25). But developing a common ground through the development of more sensitivity to the concerns of the Northern populations has been accompanied by the development of policieswhich see the primary purpose of Canada’s Northern Dimension Foreign Policy was a chance to build relations to an international scale, and these focus upon very traditional geopolitical or geostrategic concerns.

Yet there are a number of policy gaps or state-centered characteristics of both Canadian and American approaches to Northern policies which increase the propensity for northern solitudes to develop around national borders, stemming from different political, cultural, ideological and economic positions (Grinspun et al, 2007, p. 24). Today these clearly restrict the potential for a borderless North, and will probably to continue to do so in the future. Indeed, the U.S. consideration of the North American circumpolar North suffers from a lack of a more general, or even geographical, perspectives as well as a lack of focus on human security, which means that its awareness of, and involvement in cross-border initiatives is not always guaranteed in the northern borderlands (p. 25). U.S. state interests here are not multilateral, and are limited almost exclusively to “science” concerns, evidenced by the nature of U.S. participation in AEPS and the Arctic Council, and the structure of “science research” emanating from American foundations focusing on the north. Furthermore, these U.S. goals in the North tend to be strategic in geopolitical and geo-economic sense, making them less likely to be oriented toward cross-border cooperation and accommodation (Grinspun, et al, 2007, p. 25).

It is clear that there are very significant foreign policy grounds within the North American Fortress which will continue to reinforce national borders. For example, the U.S. interest in indigenous peoples is not particularly significant, and therefore a bone of contention when dealing with other states, such as Canada, where indigenous issues are the motor behind a northern dimensions foreign policy (Grinspun, et al, 2007, p. 26). This means that the biggest challenge for Canadians, with respect to the U.S. approach to a northern dimension, is perhaps that they ought to respond to two very different sets of policies which structure the U.S. relationship with the north.

References

Aiken, Sharry J. (2011, May 4). It’s not too late to change course on Immigration, Refugees. Embassy. Retrieved online from http://www.embassymag.ca/page/view/aiken-05-04-2011

“Are They Listening to Our Message about Border Security” (2009, April 22). CBCNEWS. Retrieved online from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2009/04/22/f-border-security.html

Blanchfield, Mike. (2006, June 3). “Tories Set to Sink Billions into Cargo Planes for Military”, Ottawa Citizen, A2.

Brunet-Jailly, Emmanuel. (2007). Borderlands: Comparing Border Security in North America and Europe. University of Ottawa Press.

Buckley, Mary E. A., & Fawn, Rick. (2003). Global Responses to Terrorism: 9/11, Afghanistan, and beyond. Routledge. ISBN: 0415314305

Campion-Smith, Bruce. (2005, February 12). “Missile Support Plummets”. The Toronto Star.

Dobson, Wendy (2002, April). “Shaping the Future of the North American Economic Space: A Framework for Action”. Commentary 162: 3.

Dymond, Hill., & Hart, Michael. (2003, March). “Canada and the Global Challenges: Finding a Place to Stand”. Commentary 180.

Fergusson, James. (2005, Sumemr). Shall We Dance? The Missile Defense Decision, NORAD Renewal, and the Future of Canada-U.S. Defense Relations. Canadian Military Journal. Retrieved online from http://www.journal.dnd.ca/vo6/no2/doc/inter-01-eng.pdf

Grinspun, Ricardo., & Shamsie, Yasmine., & Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. (2007). Whose Canada? Continental Integration, Fortress North America, and the Corporate Agenda. McGill-Queen’s Press – MQUP.

Harper, Tim. (2001, 8 October). “Tightening the Canada-U.S. Border”. Toronto Star.

Luiza, Ch. (2011, September 7). “Security Trumps Trade at the U.S. Border”. McCleans. CA. Retrieved online from http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/09/07/security-trumps-trade-at-the-border/

Regehr, Ernie. (2006, September 27). Canada-U.S. Security Arrangements: Still Defending Against Help? Centre for International Governance Innovation. Retrieved from http://cigionline.cigiprojects.org/blogs/2006/9/canada-us-security-arrangements-still-defending-against-help

Rhodes, Edward. “Rethinking the Nature of Security: The US North Europe Initiative”. COPRA, Working Papers. Retrieved online from http://www.copri.dk/publications/workingpapers.htm

Staples, Steve. (2008). Missile Defense: Round One. Toronto: Lorimer

Shantz, Jeff. (2010). Racism and Borders: Representation, Repression, Resistance. Algora Publishing.

U.S. Customs Plans to Clear Bottlenecks. (2002, April 17). Toronto Star.

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