This is an analysis of the book written by noted military historian, J. L. Granatstein who wished to publish a book on the unwillingness of Canadian government to fortify the military power and capabilities of their armed forces.
Background of the writer
Granatstein is perhaps the ideal choice for academic writing of this genre since he possesses a military education – a graduate from the College Military Royal de Saint-Jean and also from the Royal Military College Canada with a distinguished career as a history professor at York University. His rendition of military events is well documented, and besides receiving numerous honors and accolades, he has also authored many well-known books on contemporary Canadian “military” warfare. (Granatstein). However, his book raises fundamental misgivings about his approach, and his views that belligerence is the key to a strong nation may not always be correct for reasons that are stated below.
Canada is a peace-seeking country
The first aspect is that Canada is fundamentally a peace-loving country and does not wish to harbor enmity with any country. Neither are the wars in which the Canadian armed forces have participated essentially its wars. They have just been part of coalition armies striving to seek peace in war-torn areas. There may be varying opinions on whether a country that is peace-loving and does not believe in military intervention to resolve conflicts, needs to invest heavily in acquiring military hardware, armaments, and firepower. For the US, the military buildup is necessary since it believes in warfare, but this may not be the case for a peace-loving nation like Canada.
Considering that it is fundamentally a peace-loving nation, whether it is in Canada’s long-term national interests to have a strong, well-organized, and well-maintained military force?
This book begins on a somber note, a catastrophe in the form of a massive earthquake that destroys the city of Vancouver. This calamity draws forth the stark reality of incompetence and inadequacies in the governance system in this country of North America, unable to deal with and overcome this horrendous occurrence. However, its ending is on a more positive note, in that by this time, Canada has woken up to the clarion call for strengthening its armed forces and military might tackle any kind of emergency, however critical. Its armed forces are now well equipped militarily and psychologically to deal with any kind of eventuality or national disaster of any kind.
This has been mainly due to generous budget allocations for defense spending and providing arms, equipment, and supplies to its fighting units and its fighting men are in their peaks. The realism is in terms of the fact that Canada should be militarily strong and not depend on any other military force, especially the United States, with whom, however, it is necessary to maintain good relations
Granatstein’s idea that the term ‘peace loving’ is synonymous with cowardly outlook and womanly attributes is not tenable. For one thing, there are other effective methods, besides armed conflict, in dealing with differences with other countries. For another, a nation may be strong and well-armed and yet may desist from flaunting its military strength through military conquests.
Canada may be one country that does not believe in arming itself militarily when it has other methods to resolve disputes and conflicts. Neither does it consider itself faint-hearted if it proposes not to settle for war when peaceful solutions are available.
However, it is necessary that Canada needs to stop fighting another country’s wars and needs to seek ways and means to protect Canadian national interests and allocate a larger measure of funds to improve its defense capabilities and military competencies.
Military inadequacy may rebound on governments in the form of grossly weakened and incapable administrative machinery that may fail to tackle, perhaps on a war footing, a national emergency, like the hypothetical kind of earthquake in Vancouver that destroyed the entire city without a short expanse of time. Moreover, even during normal times, it is necessary to project Canada as a strong country that does not need to depend upon allies like the United States to fight its battles. Perhaps, Canada would, at some point in time be required to fight American wars. As very rightly opined by General John de Chastelain, a former Canadian Chief of Defense Staff “It is in our national interest to have the cooperation of the US when we need it, and it behooves us to assure the United States that we will do everything in our power to maintain our end of bargains. In this sense, their wars may become our wars.” (Granatstein, para.6).
The main factor in favor of this book is that it has been a candid portrayal of what is ails Canada’s military strategies and suggests ways and means by which these areas could be better taken care of. “It is not in Canada’s national interest, Granatstein writes, to have a weak and undermanned military.” (Granatstein, para.4).
Its main drawback has been its oversimplification, especially the political angle for the non-provision of adequate funds to the military. This could be seen in terms of the fact that the political parties are accountable to the public and need to garner and win public support to stay in office. This is especially so in the case of governments like the one in Canada, which could find it in a crisis if it dared to offend public sentiments.
In the case of intentional conflict, he suggests that it would be more appropriate for Canada to equip itself better militarily and maintain the promotion of national interests as its paramount goal and objective. It is also necessary to consider the fact that the US as a military ally could be military dependent upon because alliances could also grossly undermine Canada’s own efforts at strengthening its military might.
That being said, Canada must maintain close and cordial relations with the United States, not only because the latter is one of its main trading partners and main neighboring ally, but also, the strategic location of Canada demands that international borders are safe, secure, and well protected, from both the American and Canadian sides. The fact that Canada is a peace-loving and moral superpower rather than a military one could justify its policies of weapons non-proliferation since it does not have enemies. However, the same could not be said of the US, whose policies have resulted in a large number of enemies. To defend itself, the US needs to bolster its military strength, but this cannot be said of Canada too.
Large scale immigration from Quebec
In the matter of another aspect of this book, which is concerning Quebec, it is evidenced that Quebecians have served to underrate the economy of this country, given their large influx into the country and their inability not to be able to contribute much in terms of national incomes. Besides the social-economic burdens that are implicit in these migrations, it is also seen that better resource allocation needs to be made.
Features of multiculturalism
Coming to aspects of multiculturalism, Canada has been a host to various emigrant movements that have caused hardships to this country, in terms of immigrants going back to their countries of origin after assuming Canadian status. Their dual citizenship could pose difficulties to Canada, in terms of unwillingness, or inability to create and sustain values. “Granatstein maintains that our policy of multiculturalism is failing miserably in transforming immigrants into Canadians.” (Granatstein, para.9).
Thus, as pointed out by Granatstein, the main issue of focus needs to be the preservation of national interests, which arguably forms the core of this book.
However, Granatstein has contradicted himself on several occasions. On the one hand, he avers that Canada needs to be independent and possess a distinct identity as a self-governing North American country. On the other, he also states that Canada needs to co-operate in war efforts, especially in the US context. The fact that Canada is a close neighbor of the US does not necessarily mean that American wars also include Canada in their scope and content.
Instead of directly involving Canada in American wars, Granatstein should have written that Canada needed to show compassion and sympathy for losses of lives and property on American soil. Perhaps, that would not only have addressed the security issues but also considered the suzerainty of the Canadian government and public on international issues, intrinsic to both American and Canadian interests.
Granatstein pointed out the need for Canadians everywhere to aim at strengthening and maintaining a better relationship with the United States. Though some can argue that, would we have no real need to do so for national security reasons, it is interesting that Granatstein noted that we must do so for economic reasons. Canada depends heavily upon the United States or economic standing and will continue to depend upon them in subsequent years.
Because of this it only makes sense that a relationship that went into his amicable on all levels. Granatstein is correct for stating that Canadians are truly in many regards anti-American and that that does not make good for the future relationship with the American. Perhaps one of the reasons for which Canadians are anti-American is not since they are incapable of tolerating other ethnic groups. It can be suggested that their setup being anti-American stems from the fact that they see Americans as being a tremendous threat to their freedom and national identity. However, despite this particular feeling Canadian must be reminded that the United States is one of the largest trading partners and that they are greatly in need of the neighbors are next door should they continue to be a strong and striving nation
Granatstein, J L. Whose War Is It?: How Canada Can Survive in the Post 9/11 World. Ed. Kim Krenz. Canadian Military Journal 8. 2 (2007). National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Web.