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President's Corner

Since my return from my Christmas trip to Europe, I have been considering elements of a Defence Policy for Canada. I do not believe that the defence of Canada can be planned within reasonable economic and social limits without allies, and that we should not retreat into a Fortress America approach rather than an internationalist approach, especially when the Soviet side is offering a more cooperative international relationship for peace based upon an interdependent system of common security and defence.

I happen to believe that it is true that since nuclear war is unthinkable since it would mean the end of civilization, neither the USA nor the USSR can seek to dominate the world by force. We have to adjust our planning of security on the hypothesis that if war is not inevitable, then peace may be inevitable.

Should the opportunity arise for a more constructive and cooperative East-West security regime, as suggested by Gorbachev in his new book, Perestroika, NATO could evolve into the western half of such a system. Canada should become an ardent advocate of using NATO as an agency for the collective management of arms reduction and disarmament, as well as resolving by political means the division of Europe. The question of the conditions under which the two Germanies may be unified is being raised actively, especially on the part of West Germany.

We should commit ourselves to the transformation of NORAD into part of a cooperative East-West strategic cooperative regime for the Arctic.The deployment of nuclear submarines in the Arctic would be inconsistent with such a cooperative approach to security.

In accepting holus-bolus the Pentagon’s outdated cold war assumptions, the Government’s Defence White Paper fails to recognize the essential inter-relationship between defence spending and the state of the economy of both superpowers, not to mention the diversion of scarce resources from economic development of developing countries. Very heavy investments in armaments has eroded the commercial competitiveness of the USA and the country is out of balance with all its main trading partners in Asia, Europe, as well as with Canada.

In order to have any chance of having an international impact in this vital time of transition in strategical thinking, Canada needs a broad consensus on an innovative policy that looks to the future. In view of Canada’s strategic position geographically between the two powers we should surely be more responsive to the development of new thinking which provides new opportunities to move towards detente and be less dependent upon the traditional militarist balance of terror and the unpredictable destabilizing effects of innovations in weapons systems of mass destruction.

– George Ignatieff

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