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The Canadian Strategic Debate of the Early 1960s

Trudgen, Matthew P ; Sokolsky, Joel J

International Journal, March 2012, Vol.67(1), pp.183-194 [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    The Canadian Strategic Debate of the Early 1960s
  • Autor: Trudgen, Matthew P ; Sokolsky, Joel J
  • Assuntos: History & Archaeology ; International Relations
  • É parte de: International Journal, March 2012, Vol.67(1), pp.183-194
  • Descrição: There were other weaknesses to [James Macdonald Minifie]'s argument, such as his claim that Canada's membership in NORAD made it more vulnerable to an attack using chemical or biological weapons. His reasoning was that it was the policy of the Soviet Union to use these weapons against a state that had not ratified the Geneva convention, such as the United States as well any allies of thatnation (162-63). Of course, the problem with this argument was thatif an attack using these weapons againstthe United States was really devastating, it would have a negative impact on Canada whether it was neutral or not. Some of Minifie's arguments about the value of neutrality were further invalidated by future events, including that neither de [Charles de Gaulle]'s actions nor France's later withdrawal from NATO's military command in 1966 destroyed the alliance. Despite the fact that NATO had become debased into a "straggling military consortium" (173), it remained strong throughout the Cold War. Indeed, notwithstanding de Gaulle's policies, France's "informal" ties to NATO and the US remained strong. Minifie's citing of India as a major beneficiary of this approach also proved false as neutrality did not save this country from Chinese aggression during the 1962 Sino-Indian war. Sutherland first argued that one of the important determinants of Canada's strategic position was its geography. The reality that Canada occupied the northern half of the North American continent meant that "the United States is bound to defend Canada from external aggression almost regardless of whether or not Canadians wish to be defended. We may call this the involuntary American guarantee" (202). He further emphasized that these bonds had been enhanced by the growing economic ties between the two countries, which had resulted in a community of interests (204). In addition, Sutherland stated that Canada should maintain its links with Europe and its connection with NATO. He justified this connection through the traditional "seat at the table" argument and explained that "to the extent that Canada plays a significant role in Western security, she can maintain real influence in Washington" (208). The article then restated the impact of geographical considerations on Canadian strategy, namely that the continuing need to defend against Soviet bombers flying over the North Pole meant that this factor would remain important. After outlining that the primary purpose of the North American air defence system in the mid1950s had been to give the bombers of the strategic air command sufficient warning that they would not be destroyed in a surprise attack, he argued that the Soviet bomber force remained a serious threat to North America. In his mind, bombers were more accurate then intercontinental ballistic missiles, could carry more megatons of explosives, and unlike missiles, could be recalled. For these reasons, "Canadian geography" thus remained "of direct and immediate concern to the United States" (217). The article includes an effective counter to the idea that Canada should be a neutral power. Sutherland allows that the idea that Canada can serve as "the link and the interpreter between Western civilization and the cultures of Africa, Asia and Latin America" was an "article of faith with many Canadians," but points out that the reality was quite different He argued that "so far as the Afro-Asians are concerned, Canadians are members of the well-fed white minority," and that "in the long run our relations with these nations will be governed by interests rather than sentiment; and their interests must figure as prominently as our own" (205). Furthermore, he asserted that "contrary to what often is said, Canada's influence vis-à-vis the neutrals depends precisely upon the fact that Canada is a paid-up member of the Western Club and is on terms of special intimacy with the United States" (218). In contrast to Minifie's alternatives of subservient ally or strong independent neutrality, Sutherland saw the choice facing Canada as a "powerful and effective ally or a weak and reluctant one., .whether our role in world affairs will be one of dependence upon the United States or whether we will be effective members of a larger community" (223).
  • Idioma: Inglês

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