Since the mid-1950s, successive Canadian governments have grappled with the issue of Canada’s participation in US ballistic missile defence programs. Until Paul Martin’s Liberal government finally said no, policy-makers responded to US initiatives with fear and uncertainty as they endlessly debated the implications – at home and abroad – of participation. However, whether this is the end of the story remains to be seen.
Drawing on previously classified government documents and interviews with senior officials, James Fergusson assesses Canada’s policy deliberations and rationales for avoiding a definitive commitment in response to five major US initiatives. He reveals that a combination of factors resulted in indecision: weak leadership, wrangling between the Departments of External Affairs and National Defence, a belief that the United States would defend Canada without much Canadian participation, and a tendency to place uncertain and ill-defined notions of international security before national defence. Successive Canadian governments have failed to transform the debate over ballistic missile defence into an opportunity to define Canada’s strategic interests at home and on the world stage.
Balanced and engaging, Canada and Ballistic Missile Defense offers the first full account of Canada’s uncertain response to US ballistic missile defence initiatives and an exploration of the implications of this indecision.
This book is essential reading for policy-makers, students, and scholars of Canadian foreign and defence policy, as well as anyone who wants a fuller understanding of Canadian–American relations.
James Fergusson has followed ballistic missile defense and Canadian defense policy for decades, and his passion is reflected in this, the first history that treats these topics in a single volume.
This book should serve as a “lessons learned” reference for our political and military leadership with respect to development of coherent strategic policies. It is also a very useful historical source for students and scholars of politics and history.
This is important scholarship. It is the first history of Canada and ballistic missile defence, placing the most recent debates in the context of more than fifty years of developments and revealing recurring (and lamentable) patterns of Canadian decision making. Moreover, it also sheds needed light on Canadian involvement in NORAD, Canada-US relations more broadly, and how important defence decisions are made in Canada.
This is the first attempt to tell the full story of Canada’s policy regarding ballistic missile defence. Fergusson lives and breathes this topic and, in this book, he demonstrates an unsurpassed personal experience and knowledge of all the relevant government documents and academic literature, from Canada, the US, and elsewhere. He is ‘Mr. BMD’ in Canada, and few can approach his expertise. His book is a much-need corrective to the biased and often ideologically based accounts dealing with different aspects of Canadian policy-making in this area.
Prologue – What’s with Defence?
Act 1 – Anti-Ballistic Missiles: Don’t Worry, Be Happy (1954-71)
Act 2 – The Strategic Defence Initiative: Much Ado About Very Little (1972-85)
Act 3 – Global Protection Against Limited Strikes: Too Close for Comfort (1986-92)
Act 4 – National Missile Defense: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (1993-2000)
Act 5 – Ground-Based Mid-Course Defense: Is this the End? (2001-05)
Epilogue – Forward to the Past (2005 and Beyond)
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