Canada needs to defend its own security interests in the Pacific, instead of relying on Americans – by Matthew Fisher (National Post – December 19, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The great ditherer, U.S. President Barack Obama, has finally begun his vaunted Asian pivot.

More top-of-the-line American fighter jets are to be based in the western Arctic, Hawaii and Asia. Submarines and surface warships, including an aircraft carrier, are being permanently repositioned right now from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Australia, Japan, South Korea and half a dozen other Australasian countries have been spooked by Beijing’s territorial claims to just about all of the South China Sea and much of the East China Sea, and by its determination to project power and national prestige into the Pacific by building a vast fleet of new warships, including an aircraft carrier and scores of diesel-electric and nuclear submarines that can be armed with long-range cruise missiles.

The Harper government has not been shy about telling Canadians that they are citizens of a Pacific nation. Yet its response to China’s military priorities, which much of the world considers to be the overriding security dilemma of the 21st century, has been virtually non-existent aside from slightly enhancing the country’s slim contribution to U.S.-led military games in the Pacific.

Security there is not being discussed at any level by the government or by the opposition, although it is a subject of considerable and growing concern to Canada’s admirals and generals. Nor has Canada purchased anything for the military because of security tensions over its western horizon.

In a couple of recent columns I explained that Australia now spends close to twice as much money per capita on defence as its larger and, arguably, slightly wealthier sister Dominion to the north. The main reasons are: the Australian psyche is still shaped by Japan’s attacks on Darwin during the Second World War, the island continent is closer to China than Canada (although not by much); and Australians are constantly mindful of the potential for them to intervene in squabbles in countries above its northern rim.

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