Concerning Militarization of the Canadian Arctic
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made a visit to Canada August 24-25 where he toured military installations in Edmonton, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, and Cold Lake, Alberta. The tour was used as an opportunity to promote $42 billion of public funds the federal government is spending to strengthen U.S. control over Canadian territory and further integrate the Canadian armed forces into those of the U.S. in the name of strengthening NORAD and even European security.
NORAD, which stands for North American Aerospace Defense Command, is always headed by a U.S. general and comes under U.S. Northern Command. This means the U.S. Commander-in-Chief, the president of the United States, decides what becomes of Canadian territory and armed forces.
To hide this arrangement, Prime Minister Trudeau repeated the disinformation that NORAD is about the “joint” defence of North America, and under “bi-national command.” The argument given by Stoltenberg and Trudeau for investments in NORAD and a greater NATO presence in the Arctic was that investments to militarize the Arctic through NORAD will benefit the military alliance and its “1 billion citizens.”
Stoltenberg’s visit was used to whip up hysteria that Russia and China are threats to Canada and, therefore, Canada should further entrench NATO and NORAD in the Arctic. With the likely accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO, seven of the eight Arctic nations will be NATO members, Russia excluded, and thus NATO, by extension, should be able to further militarize the Arctic in the name of protecting its “1 billion citizens.”
Ironically, claims by Stoltenberg that the shortest path for a Russian rocket to the U.S. is over the Arctic, present Canada as a threat to the security of the U.S. He also said China’s plans for a “Polar Silk Road,” a trade route linking it to Europe via the Arctic, as well as its plans to build the world’s biggest icebreaker and its investments in energy infrastructure in the Arctic are a threat “that challenges our values and interests.”
In other words, even China’s international trade that involves travel through Arctic waters is a threat which must be countered with militarization. This begs the question as to whether China’s mere existence is now to be considered a threat to NATO and its members. How many of the 1 billion citizens NATO claims to represent could accept this irrational argument, not to mention the almost 1.5 billion citizens of China? The fact is that the Canadian people and the Indigenous peoples of the north have always opposed NATO and the U.S. striving to expand their presence and control over the Arctic.
For his part, Trudeau joined the hysteria, repeatedly referring to the Arctic, not as a land occupied by the Inuit since time immemorial, but as the “northern and western approaches to Europe.” In other words, Arctic militarization is linked with European militarization.
NATO’s presence was also justified in the name of responding to climate change, which it calls a “threat multiplier” and considers it first and foremost a security and military threat, rather than a threat to the peoples of the world and their well-being. The visit was used to suggest NATO’s expansion into the Arctic is related to science and even protecting the environment, with the promotion of the new “Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence” Canada hosts in the Canadian Arctic. All told, every irrational and spurious reason was floated to try and justify something which cannot be justified: militarizing the already fragile Arctic in the name of peace and security.