Implications for Canada (II)

Brian Wentzell has carefully researched his post and correctly identified that for all the soft power implied in it the strategy will, at the end of the day, be used to advance American interests. However, I also think he may then have conjured additional dangers without providing strong evidence of them.

I will address these in point form:

  • UNCLOS. From my reading of this file, those Americans against signing are isolated to a few powerful Senators. Some hate any UN restrictions. Others are rightly concerned about the collectivist thrust of the original UNCLOS deep sea mining regime. However, the current Bush administration, the last administration, and the USN all want the United States to sign the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and have repeatedly asked the Senate, in vain, to ratify it. So the U.S. Senate's non-ratification of UNCLOS (and the other arms treaties mentioned) should not be a factor in assessing the current administration's US Maritime Strategy. See: http/
  • Northwest Passage. I can not find any direct linkage or reference in the Maritime Strategy that suggests a challenge to our sovereignty in the North West Passage. There is the briefest of mentions of "freedom of navigation" and of increasing restrictions by coastal states. There is, however, no suggestion of challenging states in these matters via the Maritime Strategy. Rather, remarks by the last US Ambassador to Canada suggested that the US should consider recognizing our sovereignty here.

I also find much to welcome in the strategy:

  • This document is the first signal that the Rumsfeld era of unilateral American coalition management may have passed.
  • There is occasional pleasant recognition that kinetic operations are not the total solution and that humanitarian operations are now also core military activities. Tsunami's and the future effects of global warming will make this change very welcome. In fact, I read a report that suggested the military helicopters from amphibious ships were responsible for saving the majority of lives in post-Tsunami Indonesia. Nothing competes with those forces' ability to move goods and equipment in harsh conditions.
  • It ties into the extremely well thought out parallel document for US-only domestic maritime operations - US National Maritime Strategy. One only wishes we could produce as coherent a national document.
  • It builds on and reinforces the largely maritime-based Proliferation Security Initiative. The PSI framework underlay the intelligence effort behind the Italian Coast Guard's interception of the vessel BBC China. This vessel was surreptitiously carrying parts for 1,000 nuclear centrifuges to Libya in Oct 2003. The very public seizure of that cargo has been credited with causing Colonel Mohamar Khadafi to renounce his nuclear weaponization plans two months later and forcing the Pakistan government to arrest its nuclear pioneer - Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. He subsequently confessed to proliferating nuclear weapon technology to Iran, North Korea, and Libya. See

I have, as a result, relatively little difficulty endorsing the US Maritime Strategy.