Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Canada Needs a Nuclear Weapons Programme
Walk Softly and Carry a Big Nuke

Over the past several decades, the Canadian gubmnt has made a number of empty pronouncements to assert its identity and its sovereignty in a world in which it, de facto, has little or no power.

Two recent notable incidents include Canada's refusal to support the United States' invasion of Iraq and Canada's pronouncement that it would not support the U.S. missile defense system. Clearly neither of these positions had any influence on anything anywhere in the universe other than to make many Canadians feel a bit less dependent on, or under the influence of, the United States and make some of them feel morally superior to the war-mongering gringos.

At the same time, U.S. protectionism and barriers to trade have been problematic for Canadian producers in some industries. Old conflicts over hogs and logs and the negotiation of the autopact led many Canadians to hope that continued negotiations and better treaties would reduce some of the erratic protectionism from the U.S. Reducing U.S. non-tariff barriers to trade, especially its "guilty-until-proven-innocent" anti-dumping tribunal and the multitude of local content restrictions, was a major reason so many Canadians were hopeful that recent trade treaties would be even more beneficial to both countries than they turned out to be.

Unfortunately, despite the general movement toward considerably freer trade between the U.S. and Canada, the continuing softwood lumber disputes and the continued U.S. ban on imports of Canadian beef are clearly protectionist motivated. [see here for a clear statement of the growth of U.S. protectionism]. The problem for Canada is that we have no way of threatening anything to the U.S. in order to obtain speedier and fuller compliance by the U.S. with the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, with the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA], and the decisions made by the WTO. The best we can come up with is, "If you don't stop hurting our beef industry, we'll just have to.... we'll just have to .... well, we'll think of something."

My proposal is that Canada should develop a nuclear weapons programme.

The U.S. has shown with both Iran and North Korea, especially when pressured by other gubmnts, that it is willing to try to buy off the gubmnts of other countries that appear to be well along the way toward development of nuclear weapons.

For this strategy to work, the Canadian gubmnt would have to get the project well underway, lest the U.S. treat us like Iraq: invade us and demolish it, or hire the Israelis to do it for them [or just nuke us 'til we glow]. But once Canada has a few nukes pointed at New York City, Washington DC, or Burbank California, it would be difficult for the U.S. to threaten pre-emptive strikes. And then we could talk about maybe, possibly dismantling our programme depending on the U.S. position on softwood lumber, beef, and many other trade issues.

I am not a political insider. For all I know, the Canadian gubmnt is already on this path. Let's face it, we have plenty of uranium and a well-developed nuclear power industry, and so movements in this direction would not be out of the question.

It's not a new idea. Not only have North Korea and Iran exploited it; see The Mouse That Roared.
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