Translation: On Canada’s Arctic Militarization

This is a reprint of a post from Arctic Progress.

This is a TRANSLATION of an article by Jules Dufour published September 7th, 2010 at Mondialisation.ca (“Le Canada: un plan national pour la militarisation de l’Arctique et de ses ressources stratégiques“). In my opinion its a tad too alarmist over the scope of Canada’s military ambitions in the Arctic (IMO it’s mostly political grandstanding at this stage), but nonetheless it’s important to remember that Russia is hardly the only country militarizing the Arctic and saber-rattling in the High North. To be made available in PDF.

Canada’s National Plan For The Militarization Of The Arctic And Its Strategic Resources

The year 2010 was marked by a series of decisions by the Canadian government concerning rearmament. Predictably, as the defense plan “Canada First” was formally launched in 2008, involving the country in an unprecedented weapons acquisition and modernization program, such as the purchase of tanks, F-35 fighters, naval construction and F-18 fighter upgrades, pledged at the start of September. It was in July that most of these projects were unveiled, during the summer vacations when such news is far from the concerns of Canadians. Thus, tens of billions are committed to war or preparation for war, without it being possible to hold a parliamentary or public debate on the subject. At most, there have been some protests about the magnitude of the pledged sums and the concerns expressed here and on the regional economic fallout (Castonguay, A., 2010). A familiar scenario.

arctic-resources

[The Arctic and its coveted natural resources.]

These projects can no longer be justified by Canada’s participation in the war of occupation of Afghanistan. The soldiers of the Canadian army are going to be repatriated in 2011. It’s undeniable that the arena of corporate domination and NATO control over al the strategic resources of the world now includes, and above all, the increasingly accessible Arctic subsoil.

arctic-geopolitics

[Arctic geopolitics map. Click to enlarge.]

A Defense Policy Based on Force

In order to conform to this logic, Canada recently reaffirmed its commitment to Arctic territory which ensures it more effective control. In its foreign policy statement on the Arctic, made public last August, the Canadian government gives priority to reinforcing its military presence in this region of the world, but this time taking care to cloak it under a set of good intentions regarding economic and social development, as well as governance.

Its first objective is to supposedly “safeguard”, through an increased military presence, its sovereignty over an important portion of the Arctic continental shelf. In effect, “the defense strategy Canada First will give the Canadian Forces the necessary tools to increase their presence in the Arctic. Under this strategy, Canada will acquire new patrol vessels capable of sustained sea-ice operations to ensure close surveillance of our waters, so that they gradually open to the maritime industry. To support these ships and other vessels of the Canadian government that are active in the North, Canada is constructing a port at Nanisivik, with facilities for maritime docking and resupply.” In addition, the US and Canada are working together to better monitor and control the North American airspace under NORAD (read Michel Chossudovsky, “Canada’s sovereignty under thread: the militarization of of North America“, Mondialisation.ca, September 10th 2007), the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Moreover, the Canadian Forces will benefit from new technologies to improve their capacity to monitor their territory and its approaches.

Anti-Russian Maneuvers?

The military exercises held every year or more by NATO on the continental shelf of Norway are tailored to simulate the hunting of Russian naval forces seeking to take control of the hydrocarbon resources in this part of the plateau. The same objective is at the heart of the Operation Nanook military exercises conducted in 2010 by the Canadian Forces in conjunction with those of the US and Denmark.

According to several analysts, including Michael Byers, the Canadian government doesn’t cease to use this potential threat in order to justify its military spending pledges, in particular, the $16bn purchase of F-35’s. Therefore, from time to time it’s fair game, to keep alive the spirit of this Russian menace, to proclaim in the mass media that Russian bombers were successfully intercepted in NATO airspace, as was the case in August with the interception of a Tupolev TU-95 bomber some thirty nautical miles from the coast of the Canadian Arctic (Byers, M., 2010). In fact, it’s arguably by no means an act of provocation or aggression on the part of Russia.

Conclusion

It’s important to say the truth about the real issues surrounding the development of Arctic resources. The confrontation between America and Russia up there is in place for a number of years now, a kind of latent “cold war” which serves the two protagonists well. The monitoring of the Arctic is in fact defined as the vigil kept on the Russian operations conducted in this ocean. The quest for maintaining Canadian sovereignty over part of the continental shelf is just a pretext for its militarization. Don’t be fooled. NATO’s real intentions are to have absolute control over the hydrocarbon resources in this region of the world, just as it does by force and armed violence in the Middle East and Central Asia.

See also: The Arctic, a “precious diamond” for the global environment and humanity by Jules Dufour.

References

BYERS, Michael. 2010. Russian bombers a make-believe threat. THE STAR. Le 30 août 2010.

CASTONGUAY, Alec. 2010. Ottawa achètera le F-35. Le Conseil des ministres a approuvé l’acquisition d’un nouvel avion de chasse pour le Canada. Journal Le Devoir, les 10 et 11 juillet 2010, p. A3.

CASTONGUAY, Alec. 2010. Armée: la modernisation des VBL s’amorce. Journal le Devoir, les 10 et 11 juillet 2010, p. A2.

CASTONGUAY, Alec. 2010. Avions de chasse. La bagarre politique commence. Ottawa confirme l’achat d’au moins 60 F-35 sans appel d’offres. Un futur gouvernement libéral suspendra le contrat. Journal Le Devoir, les 16 juillet 2010, p. A1.

CASTONGUAY, Alec. 2010. Achat de 65 avions de chasse F-35. Les entreprises canadiennes se réjouissent. Près de 100 entreprises pourraient profiter des retombées économiques. Journal Le Devoir, les 17 et 18 juillet 2010, p. A3.

CASTONGUAY, Alec. 2010. Arctique, la nouvelle guerre froide. Journal Le Devoir, 21 et 22 août 2010, p. A1.

CASTONGUAY, Alec. 2010. Ottawa dévoile au monde ses ambitions pour l’Arctique. Journal Le Devoir, les 21 et 22 août 2010, p. A4.

CASTONGUAY, Alec. 2010. La ruée vers le Nord. La croissance des activités humaines dans l’Arctique pose des défis pour le Canada.. Journal Le Devoir, 21 et 22 août 2010, p. A7.

CASTONGUAY, Alec. 2010. Des ressources naturelles alléchantes. Journal Le Devoir, les 21 et 22 août 2010, p. A7.

CHOSSUDOVSKY, Michel, La souveraineté du Canada menacée: la militarisation de l’Amérique du Nord », Mondialisation.ca, le 10 septembre 2007.

DUFOUR, Jules. 2007. L’Arctique, un espace convoité : la militarisation du Nord canadien. Géopolitique et militarisation du grand Nord canadien (Première partie). Montréal, Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation. Le 26 juillet 2007.

DUFOUR, Jules. 2007. L’Arctique, militarisation ou coopération pour le développement. Géopolitique et militarisation du grand Nord canadien (Deuxième partie). Montréal, Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation. Le 31 juillet 2007.

FEDIACHINE, Andrei. 2010. L’or noir de la blanche Arctique : le pétrole est arrivé plus tôt que prévu. Ria Novosti. Montréal, Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation. Le 4 septembre 2010.

HUEBERT, Rob. 2010. Welcome to a new era of Arctic security. Globe and Mail. Le 24 août 2010.

LA PRESSE CANADIENNE. 2010. Navires : Ottawa relance un projet d’achat de 2,6 milliards. Journal le Devoir, le 15 juillet 2010, p. A3.

ROZOFF, Rick. 2010. Canada Opens Arctic To NATO, Plans Massive Weapons Buildup. Montréal, Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation (CRM). Le 29 août 2010.

Comments

  1. “The quest for maintaining Canadian sovereignty over part of the continental shelf is just a pretext for its militarization.”

    They say that as if the two goals can’t possibly be related. As if no country has ever actually needed to militarize in order to maintain its sovereignty.

    “A Defense Policy Based on Force” – the horror! How dare anyone imagine that he could ever use force to defend himself! Left-wingers always crack me up.

    OT: Anatoly, have you seen the paper summarizing various nations’ performance on school achievement tests that Steve Sailer has just blogged about?

    http://isteve.blogspot.com/2010/11/rindermans-smart-fraction-paper.html

    The authors have converted the data into an IQ-like scale for the means, the 5th and the 95th percentiles. They have data for countries for which I’ve never seen IQ estimates before, including Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan. It’s imperfect, but it’s something.

    • Thanks for pointing it out.

      It’s not the first such effort and doesn’t have anything substantially new. Some of the new data is suspect, e.g. Ukraine (93) and Kazakhstan (102) – in reality they should all be quite close to each other, and Russia (97). I’m also disappointed that there’s still nothing for India and China. They’re extremely important to know if we’re analyzing their future prospects.

      The theory that the highest percentile has a disproportionate influence on economic outcomes is not new, but this paper has probably gathered the biggest amount of data evidence in its favor to date. I agree with it – e.g. see Israel, whose IQ is fairly low, but a high variance allows for the presence of the many high IQ people who must play a big role in its hi-tech industry and MIC.

      • Yes, unless the engineers involved in the Soviet space and nuclear programs behaved like modern-day Genghis Khans out there on the open steppes, Kazakhstan’s figures look too high. And Kyrgyzstan’s are much too low to be believable (70 mean). There could be sampling and other problems there. I don’t know about Ukraine. For centuries Moscow and St. Petersburg have been skimming talent from Ukraine and from other parts of the Empire/USSR. If that’s repeated for enough generations, it could start to have an effect.

        India would be the toughest one to measure properly. Tens of thousands of groups that have been endogamous for many centuries – that’s myriads of separate, unrelated bell curves. Hard to extrapolate. I wish someone did something like that with the Chinese university entrance exams. I’ve read about the existence of province-specific data there.

    • It’s funny how the chihuahua known as Canada is talking trash at Russia over the Arctic. While the CBC bleats about the Duma being a rubber stamp, when Harper acts as a virtual dictator proroguing the Parliament and using his unelected Senate cronies to kill legislation instead of revising it and sending it back to the lower chamber, the fact remains that Canada has diddley squat in terms of Arctic gas and oil reserves. The USGS report, based on geology and not wishful thinking, identifies all the key potential gas and oil zones. Over 70% of them are in Russian economic zone waters, where most of the Arctic basin shelf resides The US has more potential reserves in the Arctic than Canada. There is basically nothing under the Canadian archipelago and there is not much shelf where there could be something that extends from Canadian territory.

      I see a nefarious motive for all the yapping about Russian aircraft and regular activity in the Arctic. A pretext needs to be made for future land grabs from Russia. Get the sheeple all riled up about evil Russians “stealing Canada’s resources” and do all the stealing yourself in the name of goodness.

  2. The goal of NATO is to make the entire world independent of Russian controlled resources which would deprive the Russian state of badly needed revenue to meet it’s obligations. Nuclear war with Putin is currently not an option although they’re spending billions of dollars working on that angle too.

    • Because the west hates paying a fair price for resources. If you want energy independence then invest is nuclear power instead of cold war theatrics pertaining to Russian fossil fuel reserves.

  3. off-topic but I thought y’all might be interested in this –

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_48/b4205021134076.htm
    “The BRIC Debate: Drop Russia, Add Indonesia?”

    • Typical collection of neocon talking points. I suppose there is no corruption in the third world country known as Indonesia. Don’t make me laugh. Any article that trots out Khodorkovsky as a dissident martyr is a not worthy of usage as toilet paper.

    • I read that article and on my Twitter feed I wrote: “Indonesia is basically India but four times smaller (in economic and power terms)” and “being an equatorial archipelago isn’t a good idea on a warming planet.”

      It’s entirely possible that for some periods of time the Indonesian stock market will grow faster than the RTS (which is important for the investors for international investors), and that its economy will grow faster than Russia’s (that’s to be expected considering that its GDP per capita is five times lower and hence has far more scope for quicker convergence). But Indonesia will almost certainly never be more powerful or influential than Russia, as it’s hugely lagging on practically every metric of development: human capital, industrial production, etc. In comparative terms it’s where Russia was in the 1950’s.

  4. You have to revise the 2011 Afghanistan withdrawal. Harper’s regime has reneged on its former commitments and is now claiming the 2014 as the year of pullback. We’ll see in 2014 if Canadian soldiers are going to keep dying and be mutilated for the neocon project.

  5. Anatoly, I would be curious to know your opinion of the recent NATO Lisbon summit. Plus or minus for Russia? I was thinking Russia should have boycotted. But for some reason I have not been able to find much analysis, except for the superficial stuff.

  6. Ha, ha!!! Alarmist?? I guess so. Jules Dufour makes Canada sound like some kind of bloodthirsty militaristic empire-builder, without any consideration that Canada’s sovereignty concerns focus on its southern neighbour every bit as much as any other suitor for Northern prizes. The USA would dearly love to have control over the Northwest Passage, which Canada claims as a national waterway. American icebreakers and submarines regularly use Arctic routes without the courtesy of asking permission, in a gambit to establish the region as international, even though permission would surely be granted if asked. In my opinion, Canada is far less concerned over Russia’s claims than it is for those of the U.S., Kirill’s insulting remarks notwithstanding.

    Canada’s CF-18 Hornet fleet was acquired starting in 1982, and the newest plane is 12 years old. Of the original purchase of 128, only about 80 remain operational, and the funny thing about military procurement is that the longer you wait to replace something, the more it costs to do so. Canada has been invested in the F-35 since the system development stage, and the tentative committment to the airframe as a CF-18 replacement goes back at least to 2006, if not further.

    The Canadian public has consistently stated a majority interest in a strong and proportional national defense to guard the nation’s sovereignty – those who would paint it an empire-builder would do well to review the list of coalition partners for the invasion of Iraq. Announcement of new military purchases does not have to be made on the down-low, to avoid a public outcry, because the public supports the government in this regard. The public has pushed successive governments for years to take some action on Arctic sovereignty before the U.S. just says, “I’ll take that, thank you” and leaves us wondering what the hell happened. It is only the accelerated viability of the Northwest passage, together with its shortening of trade routes by some 4000 miles, that has brought this to a head.

    Canada and Russia agreed last September to resolve the dispute over territorial limits according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which says that limits may be extended based on countries proving their continental shelf extends into presumed territorial limits. If that’s the way it shakes out and the Lomonosov Ridge makes more seabed Russian territory, fine. That’s the law. But be careful what you wish for, Kirill – you might want to take a look at whose seabeds might impact Russia in a manner you didn’t anticipate.

    • I agree it’s an unfair article to Canada. The main reason I translated it was (1) to get some practice with French and (2) because of its good maps.

      BTW. Your opinion, if you don’t mind, Mark. While it may seem far-fetched today, a time may come when much of the US west of the Mississippi becomes too dry and water-depleted to maintain its status as a grain-basket, and when its hydrocarbon resources dwindle while it no longer has the foreign currency or military power to import them from abroad. At the same time, Canada would probably be doing much better, per capita, thanks to the opening of its Arctic regions. Do you think the US would accept power and population gradually tilting to its northern neighbor peacefully, or will it try to somehow incorporate Canada beforehand?

      • I don’t think it’s far-fetched at all, and with a bushel-basketful of global warming deniers struggling for the reins of power, it might happen sooner than many think.

        Up until the time of MacKenzie King’s first kick at being Prime Minister (he had three shots at it in all, finishing up the last one in 1948), it appeared Canada was going to be the dominant North American power anyway, as its population growth was more rapid and its industrial base better developed. I don’t know what happened; perhaps that coincided with the invention of draft beer, or we became otherwise distracted, but the USA blew past us without so much as a “see ya!!” and never looked back. To answer your question with a qualification, it would depend largely on the political group in power in both countries at the hour of realization. There have been many tentative initiatives toward merging the two countries in some fashion and treating their assets as common to both, but all have died a miserable death thus far. Canadians are not interested in being Americans, many Americans don’t know there’s another country to the North, and those who do think, “Don’t flatter yourself”, as they believe there’s nobody on earth who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be an American. To be fair, there are a lot who would.

        The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE; as you’ve probably guessed, they are leading Canadian businessmen who would sell their mothers into prostitution if enough money was offered) is quite prepared to raffle off the entire country to the highest bidder in order to line their own pockets, and never tires of telling us how alike we are already. But most Canadians are not ready for it, and most Americans don’t see any need for it.

        The USA is a polite country, and I’m sure that even if the situation grew pressing, they’d exhaust every polite proposal before using force. But I don’t believe they’d shrink from anything if it was a matter of survival. We wouldn’t, either. The difference is that the USA has the military muscle to do it.

        I didn’t realize you could speak French. Well done!

    • Poor dear, I must have hit a nerve. Before spouting phony indignation, Mark, look at the economic zone map of the Arctic basin and tell me where there is any claim Canada has on Siberian shelf waters. The Lomonosov Ridge (I wonder why it’s not called Johnny Canuck Ridge) is an irrelevant side show. The waters around the north pole are deep and devoid of fossil fuel reserves.

      There is little shelf extension from the Canadian archipelago and Russia does not even claim anything in the Canadian sector of the basin (origin at the pole). It is only the Harper neocon kooks who see the north pole and the Russian Arctic basin sector as native Canadian territory. But facts are clearly of no interest to you, Mark.

      • I didn’t vote for Harper – well, of course you don’t vote for the Prime Minister, who is the head of his party, but I didn’t vote conservative and in general don’t support their policies. That said, Harper has provided Canada with good governance overall, and anything he says on the Arctic probably reflects what he thinks the majority want him to say rather than a personal opinion.

        No, you didn’t hit a nerve; I could care less what you think. I love my country, as I imagine you do yours, and simply thought you could express your opinions more politely. If you don’t know how to do that or feel no motivation to do so, by all means rock on.

        To the very best of my knowledge, nobody is pushing Harper to lay claim to waters or seabed that is clearly Russian. Where are you reading all this threatening talk? Canada accepts the decisions handed down by the UN using the Law of the Sea as a standard.

    • A good map of the Arctic Ocean bathymetry can be downloaded from:

      http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/bathymetry/arctic/maps/

      How is planting a flag at the north pole a “violation of Canada’s sovereignty”? The north pole is as far from Canadian shores as it is from Russian shores and outside the economic limits of both (in both cases nearest islands). Canada cannot possibly claim the whole of the Lomonosov Ridge. The best it can hope for under the treaty (“law”) is the portion that spans from the its shelf to the pole.

      Better to stop all the foaming at the mouth about “violations of Canadian sovereignty by Russians”. The north pole is not the North West Passage.

      • Hey, guys, let’s not fight! Better for Russia and Canada to form loose alliance against U.S. encroachments. Canadians and Russians are more civilized, in that they know how to bargain and compromise, taking others’ views and interests into account. Americans simply take what they want.

      • Again, I wouldn’t read too much into what politicians say. You know and I know that nobody is interested in colonizing the North Pole, which is unlikely to become a welcoming habitat even during the lives of our grandchildren regardless how the planet warms. Governments are interested in energy assets, and if there are no appreciable mineral or energy assets at the pole as you claim, they’ll lose interest quickly. Canada’s interest lies with the Northwest Passage, and the challenger there is the USA, not Russia.

        There is never a trace of foam on my mouth where Russia is concerned, and if you think every press piece reflects what the citizenry actually thinks or is saying, you are probably a big fan of Novaya Gazeta. Medvedev can pole-dance in the shower at the North Pole for all I care. Canadians are easily as sensible as a group as Russians are, and if there’s evidence that something doesn’t belong to us, you won’t hear us yelling, “who cares, let’s just take it anyway”. You’ve got us confused with someone else.

        • Ha ha! Medvedev pole-dancing at North Pole with Santa Claus? Is good one.

          • I was referring to a popular stripper (oops, I mean exotic dancer) routine which involves a small plexiglas shower stall, but if you want to involve Santa, it’s OK with me.