TAKE OFF, TO THE GREAT WHITE NORTH:
Pull troops from overseas, senators say
(ALLISON DUNFIELD, November 12, 2002, Globe and Mail)
A Senate committee on national security and defence released a bleak report Tuesday on the financial crisis facing Canada's military saying that in order to survive, troops should be pulled from overseas deployment to stave off further fatigue.
"Money alone will not solve the problem. We became convinced over the summer that in addition to significant infusion of cash that the military needed a pause from overseas deployments," Senator Colin Kenny, chairman of the committee, said at an Ottawa press conference.
"Normally troops go out for six months at a time. We're suggesting that as those tours come to an end, no more troops be sent overseas and that they remain here in Canada for 24 months — two years — in order to regroup and try to pull the structure back into shape." [...]
But Leon Benoit, the Opposition defence critic, told globeandmail.com that Canada can't renege on its international commitments overseas.
"It would be naive and irresponsible," he said. "You can't simply withdraw our troops from all overseas operations for two years ... it's unacceptable. When you make a commitment to allies you keep it."
With every passing day it becomes more and more obvious that the West is largely devoid of serious nations and that the urgency with which they--Canada, Germany, and France in particular--try to restrain the U.S. is not a function of any broader interest but merely an attempt to reign in their better, for their own selfish purposes.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 12, 2002 8:02 PM
Canada is caught in precisely the same bind as Europe: high welfare-state expenditures prevent any adequate spending on defense. Insufficient defense spending leads to military decline and collapse, and the resulting inevitable political irrelevance.
And I see no way out: our nanny-state is so firmly entrenched here that any attempt to rein it in will produce tremendous unrest. Even our Tory governments never seriously tried to cut social spending.
The intermediate step is to shift from a socialist, all-power-in-the-central-government, government monopoly structure to an institutional structure in which power has been distributed to the people. For instance, instead of $400 billion of annual welfare spending from Washington, give each of the 150 mn taxpayers a $3000 tax credit on donations to private charities who can only give out money on the same standards and for the same purposes as existing welfare programs. For instance, let people have their own property in "Personal Security" accounts instead of the annual Social Security grants from Congress. This way, no one loses money, we're only asking them to accept a different -- and clearly superior -- institutional structure. But once that comes about, they're no longer dependent on politicians and they no longer have an incentive to vote for politicians who support high taxes (which secure the assets that pay their income).
I think this is how we'll ultimately migrate from the welfare state to limited government.
No question that the Canadian military is a disaster. I don't think all the blame can be laid on the welfare-state though. Although social expenditures might keep us from having the same level of defense spending as the US, we certainly could afford more than we're spending now. I think the problem is the current Government's, and particularly the current Prime Minister's, complete lack of respect for the military. I'm hoping we'll see some sort of turnaround after Chretien leaves, although the hole is so deep by now it's hard to imagine Canada having any sort of effective fighting force for quite some time.