May 2, 2003

Dear Mr. Chretien, or whatever lower-level screener is reading this,
I suppose on the surface the decision to assist the US in their missile defense system makes reasonable political sense. If they're so hell-bent on blowing hundreds of billions of dollars on a completely pointless defense system, we might as well get in line for some of that money. And of course it can't hurt to mend some fences with the crazed, grudge-holding Bush Administration, and they really do want their NMD.
So I know there's little chance of Canada taking a stand and telling them no. I'm just writing to ask you to consider how this will look to history.
In the saner pre-911 world, the idiocy of National Missile Defense was obvious. Spending billions to protect against an overt missile strike completely ignored the fact that if somebody wanted to hurt America, it would be billions of times easier and cheaper to sneak a nuke into L.A. or, as we were all stunned to discover, hijack some planes and fly them into buildings. 9-11 should have proved the uselessness of NMD once and for all, but America skipped that debate as it has so many others, and here we see the returned corpse of NMD once again ready to consume untold billions of dollars of American tax money.
Unfortunately, we've also seen a few more of America's moves on the game board. And the scariest thing is that where before there was no rationale for NMD, now the Bushites are creating that rationale by their actions. Before, it was inconceivable that anyone would dare launch a traceable, nukeable attack on America. But now, if America is going to go around starting war after war, it's eventually going to take some fire. NMD is being sold as a defense against a pre-emptive strike, but the real dream is to prevent any possible retaliatory action against US attack.
The double tragedy is that they think it will work so they'll act like they're protected, and then when push comes to shove, it won't work.
So where does Canada stand in all this? As I say, I can hardly imagine Canadian politicians turning down loads of free money in return for the anger and spiteful retribution of the superpower; it looks pretty much like a lose-lose proposition. And as a Canadian who travels frequently to the US, I can't say I would be eager to endure the increased hassle that would surely result if we were to dare challenge our southern overlords.
But as I say, when they're writing the history books, this decision will be one small piece of the huge, ugly thing that's being built for us in these early years of the 21st Century. It'll be one place where Canada didn't say "no". But eventually, we are going to have to say "no" if the US turns into the beast it appears to ache to become. Saying no to NMD is hard, but the "no"s up ahead will be way, way harder. Canada, attached to America, of it yet apart from it, will have a strange and special place in history if the Americans take their conflict with the rest of the world to its ultimate conclusion. We have little power, and we know we can't change their minds about anything. But what can we do but try? 
So I know we'll go along with this one. I just hope that at some point we'll hit another piece of the monstrosity and decide to make our stand. It will take true courage for Canda, and we will suffer hardship for it, but history is ours to make. And if not today, when?