A doctrine for the Arctic

Doctrines by various United States presidents over the years have set out foreign policy stances for the sole protection of U.S. interests and security. The Monroe Doctrine of 1823, for example, took the stance that European colonization of land or interference with states in the Americas would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring intervention.

It was later followed by the Truman Doctrine of 1947 (containment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), the Eisenhower Doctrine of 1957 (use of U.S. forces to secure and protect other nations from the USSR) and most recently the Bush Doctrine of 2001 (the U.S. has the right to secure itself from countries harbouring or giving aid to terrorist groups: a doctrine of preventative war).

Shortly after the election of the Conservative Government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper in early January 2006, Canada committed itself to strengthening the military, as well as clearly establishing sovereignty over Canada’s Arctic. The intent of this national commitment was to enhance the ability to defend territory and security by establishing a clear presence in the Arctic through sovereignty patrols by land, air and sea.

In response to Harper’s commitment, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada issued a statement in January 2006 that the U.S. did not recognize Canada’s claim to sovereignty over the Northwest Passage. No presidential doctrine was quoted.

In response, the Prime Minister made it clear that Canada would defend its territory and its sovereignty. This Harper Doctrine is no different from the goals, attitudes or stances U.S. presidents have taken to protect their interests and security.

The Canadian Military Doctrine of April 2009 describes the relationship between the government, its policies and priorities and Canada’s military. While the three levels of the doctrine mentioned – strategic, operational and tactical – support the Harper Doctrine, they recognize U.S. interests and security. In fact, the Canadian military doctrine emphasizes that the three levels must be consistent with the doctrines of Canada’s allies and alliances. As well, Canada’s Counterinsurgency Operations Doctrine of 2005, formalized in 2009 following President Obama’s inauguration, facilitates a joint response against insurgencies.

As an Arctic nation, Denmark’s claim and flag raisings on Hans Island between 1984 and 1995, thereby ignoring Canada’s 1971 claim, could at face value be contrary to the Monroe Doctrine in its most simplistic interpretation. However, Russia’s recent Arctic incursions could be a matter for concern for Canada and the other Arctic nations. The symbolic planting of the Russian flag on the Arctic seabed close to the geographic North Pole on August 2, 2007 signifies Russia’s re-emergent assertive foreign policy.

Sharing a continent as they do, the U.S. and Canada have a long history of defending North America, including Cold War era radar installation of early warning detection systems in the Canadian Arctic, and the current North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Both countries are each other’s strongest ally and share command of NORAD.

So why did the United States Ambassador strongly speak out against Canada’s sovereignty, and indeed, Canada’s continental defence of the Northwest Passage? Can it be viewed simply as poor judgement and contrary to existing presidential and prime ministerial doctrines?

It was unnecessary. The issue of resource ownership under the Arctic Ocean will be resolved multilaterally based on ongoing scientific research. A joint military solution to security concerns is obvious and radar and communication sharing over Arctic access is already available.

In my view, political agreement can be reached at the most senior level and put forward in a mutually agreed Arctic Doctrine which is consistent with both Canada’s sovereignty claims and U.S. interests and security. The Harper Doctrine is the first step and requires only that the U.S. agree to this Canadian doctrine.

Recognition of Canada’s sovereignty over the Northwest Passage would be in the best interests of the U.S. and would be in keeping with long established military and security partnerships. Joint protection of Canada’s Northern frontier and the North American continent would be of benefit to both nations. To accept the Northwest Passage as international waters risks endangering that assurance of mutual security.

Chris F. Cameron
Edmonton, AB
Cameron recently retired after 40 years of military and federal public service. At the time of retirement, he was Special Advisor to a Director General at Natural Resources Canada.

Spy vs. Spy

Further to the article “Too many secrets” (Vanguard July/August 2009, p. 9) your readers may be interested in a book Who’s Watching the Spies (Potomac Books Inc., Dulles, Virginia, available from Hampstead House Books, Toronto, www.hhbooks.com, $7.99, plus tax and shipping, code 135728).

The book is edited by Hans Born, PhD, a fellow at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces; Loch K. Johnson, Ph.D., the Regents Professor of political science at the University of Georgia; and Ian Leigh, L.L.M., professor of law and the co-director of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Durham, England.

They examine the strengths and weaknesses of the intelligence systems of Argentina, Canada, Germany, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States and the intelligence oversight in each domain.

Ian D. Inrig
Wellington, ON