Science for Peace Speaks to the Standing Committee on National Defense and Veterans Affairs

On Tuesday, April 4, 2000, I made a presentation on behalf of Science for Peace to a hearing of the Standing Committee on National Defense and Veterans Affairs. This hearing, entitled “Revolution in Military Affairs – National Missile Defense” is meant to consider the opinions of Canadians concerning Canada’s possible participation in the development and deployment of the National Missile Defense System currently being tested and assessed in the U.S. In collaboration with Terry Gardner and John Valleau, I submitted a written brief followed by an oral presentation by myself in Ottawa (this brief can be read or downloaded from the Science for Peace Web Site; transcript of the oral presentation is posted on the committee web site: http ://www.parl.gc.ca/36/1/p arlbus/commbus/house/CommitteeMinute.asp?Language=E&CommitteelD=72 and is also posted on this site).

The three fundamental points in the brief sent to this committee were:

  1. Deployment of a National Missile Defense (NMD) System is illegal under the terms of the Anti-ballistic missile treaty, a treaty which Canada has stated must be maintained.
  2. Development and deployment of a NMD System, in combination with the First Strike capability and stance of the U.S., represents a significant offensive military posture.
  3. As proposed, the NMD system is incapable of protecting the U.S. and, as such, is predicted to be the initial deployment of a far more robust system. Indeed, as I responded to the committee’s questions, the proposed NMD system, rather than being considered the “Son of Star Wars”, this system would more accurately be called the “embryo of Star Wars”.

After presentation of the paper to this parliamentary committee, the aggressive questioning by all members of the committee revealed that they have decoupled the NMD system from the U.S. first strike capability in order to justify the NMD as a purely defensive system. By this elementary and erroneous train of logic, this committee refused to consider seriously that the NMD system represents a serious offensive military threat. Furthermore, as was articulated during the final remarks of Pat O’Brien (committee chair), this committee is very concerned that failure of Canada to agree to join in the NMD program will atrophy Canada’s role in NORAD, potentially precipitating an end to this alliance. My view at the time of writing this summary is that unless very substantial public pressure is applied to this committee, they will recommend that Canada participate in the development of a military system which will further contribute to the aggressive military posture of the U.S., NORAD and NATO, leading to an inevitable arms race.