Sunday, March 20, 2005

It's Like, We're Gettin' Set Up, Eh?

Heard this on the CBC last week and it gave me the total willies:

Monday, March 14, 2005
Updated at 2:06 AM EST
From Monday's Globe and Mail
Washington - Canada, Mexico and the United States should collectively gird against
terrorism with a common security perimeter, protecting an increasingly integrated
continent where residents freely cross internal borders and the three countries share
a common energy strategy.

That's the sweeping and undoubtedly controversial vision for North America that
is to be unveiled in Washington today by a blue-ribbon tri-national task force chaired
by former Canadian deputy prime minister John Manley, former Mexican finance
minister Pedro Aspe and former Massachusetts governor William Weld [...]
The thing you need to understand is that I was born in the US. But for the last 20-plus years, I've had the privilige of living outside of it. Of having the chance to hear other points of view. Of actually getting to see the blatent disconnect between the words and the deeds of the US government. I didn't want to believe it at first, but with the wrangles over salmon , soft-wood lumber (here and here), and now mad cow disease (here and here), it became pretty obvious that the elite of the US are arrogant, rapacious and possess an unlimited sense of entitlement to whatever will benefit them, and the arest of the world can go hang. The illusion was hard to give up, but there it is.

The US may have the corner on this behaviour at this juncture in history, but that doesn't mean there isn't a matching dynamic here. From the same article:
Spurred by self-interest to prevent Washington from slamming shut the border in case
of another major terrorist attack against the United States, "Canada and Mexico have an
overriding commercial interest in increasing North American security, apart from any other considerations," according to a draft version of the co-chairs' statement, obtained by The Globe and Mail.
It includes these little gems:
  • Unified visa and refugee regulations, joint inspection of container traffic at ports and integrated terror "watch" lists;
  • Common biometric border passes that would allow seamless passage through customs, immigration and airports throughout North America;
  • Shared external tariffs "at the lowest rate consistent with multilateral obligations";
  • Joint energy and natural resource security strategies; (just wanna borrow a little oil and oh yeah, maybe some water?)
  • A development strategy to stimulate growth in Mexico.

Don'tcha just feel safer already? I had a stomach ache for two days. Small encouragement, but there's a sense there could be some problems here:

New vision for North America criticized
Canoe News Network
March 14, 2005

A prominent task force's elaborate vision of a common economy and security perimeter in North America by 2010 drew fire Monday from some Canadians who see it as a dangeroussurrender of sovereignty designed to benefit big business.

The panel, which includes former deputy prime minister John Manley and is backed by Canada's business elite, insists thatleaders from Canada, the United States and Mexico have a crucial chance at theirmeeting next week in Texas to start building "the architecture of the future."

But Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, slammed contentious recommendations released Monday, saying they shouldn't gain traction when President George W. Bush sits down with PrimeMinister Paul Martin and Mexico's Vicente Fox to talk about NAFTA and securityissues.

"My worry is that because we said 'No' to Iraq and missile defence, the prime minister has to offer something by way ofapology," said Barlow.

"This is how these things happen. You don'tstart with the big dramatic bang; it's incremental."

Barlow said the plan, which calls for muchcloser collaboration between the three countries, including a common biometricborder pass to speed travel and identical external tariffs on goods to easeregulatory differences that cost firms money, is a great idea for bigtransnational companies but few others.

"This is NAFTA plus, plus,plus. This is using the terrorist threat to promote a business agenda," said Barlow. "It won't make us safer. In fact it aligns us closer with the primetarget. This would be a George Bush North America, a kind of superpower againstthe rest of the world." [....]

Gee thanks Paul, why don't you just paint a big bullseye on the country and be done with it.

But this proposal can't be laid completely at the feet of the present players. It, like the Patriot Act seems to have been in the works for quite a while:

Is the Annexation of Canada part of Bush's Military Agenda?
by Michel

For nearly two years now, Ottawa has been quietly negotiating a far-reaching
military cooperation agreement, which allows the US Military to cross the border
and deploy troops anywhere in Canada, in our provinces, as well station American
warships in Canadian territorial waters. This redesign of Canada's defense
system is being discussed behind closed doors, not in Canada, but at the
Peterson Air Force base in Colorado, at the headquarters of US Northern Command

The creation of NORTHCOM announced in April 2002,
constitutes a blatant violation of both Canadian and Mexican territorial
sovereignty. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced unilaterally that US
Northern Command would have jurisdiction over the entire North American region.
Canada and Mexico were presented with a fait accompli. US Northern Command's
jurisdiction as outlined by the US DoD includes, in addition to the continental
US, all of Canada, Mexico, as well as portions of the Caribbean, contiguous
waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans up to 500 miles off the Mexican, US
and Canadian coastlines as well as the Canadian Arctic.

NorthCom's stated mandate is to "provide a
necessary focus for [continental] aerospace, land and sea defenses, and critical
support for [the] nation’s civil authorities in times of national need."

(Canada-US Relations - Defense Partnership – July 2003, Canadian
American Strategic Review (CASR),

Rumsfeld is said to have boasted that "the NORTHCOM – with all of North
America as its geographic command – 'is part of the greatest transformation of
the Unified Command Plan [UCP] since its inception in 1947.'" (Ibid)

Following Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien's refusal to join NORTHCOM, a
high-level so-called "consultative" Binational Planning Group (BPG), operating
out of the Peterson Air Force base, was set up in late 2002, with a mandate to
"prepare contingency plans to respond to [land and sea] threats and attacks, and
other major emergencies in Canada or the United States".

It's a bad enough to be embarrassed to be the citizen of one country. But governments going behind the bak of those it purports to represent is the way of this world. Check here for a cogent analysis of these articles. Maybe learning to see this for what it is can allow you to make a choice for another world. The Signs of the Times news service is a good resource if you're looking for a way out.

Blue Ibis

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