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Canada's Armed Forces 'atrophied'
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Given that the New York City police department has more officers than there are soldiers in the Canadian army, Canada should consider scrapping its army, navy or air force, says the former U.S. counter-terrorism adviser to presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
"There's not a lot left to strengthen, to be perfectly frank," said Richard Clarke, who has made ripples south of the border for his outspoken criticism of Bush's decision to invade Iraq last year.
In an appearance in Ottawa, Clarke also took a few jabs at the Liberal government of Paul Martin for what he called the "atrophied" state of the Canadian Forces.
As the government conducts a major review of its military capabilities, Clarke suggested Canada might want to scrap one or all of its three branches.
"It's not necessarily the case that every member of NATO has to have a robust navy, a robust army and a robust air force," Clarke said Monday in Ottawa before giving a speech at a policing and anti-terrorism conference.
"But I think working through NATO, Canada needs to decide where it is going to make a contribution. For the last many years, Canada has not been making much of a contribution at all."
Martin travels to Washington on Friday for his first meeting on U.S. soil with Bush, whose administration has continuously chided Canada for low military spending. Martin recently announced that Canada would spend about $2 billion on new transport ships for the navy and reaffirmed previous commitments to buy new helicopters, a mobile gun system for the army and new search and rescue aircraft.
Clarke said those recent initiatives are not enough to bolster the relatively low percentage of gross domestic product that Canada devotes to military spending.
"To be frank with you, most people in the national security business in Washington think Canada is getting a free ride in terms of military contribution."
The lack of Canadian funding, Clarke said, has extended to policing and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the country's spy agency.
Clarke suggested Canada might want to concentrate on something more low-key, like military policing in failed states because that is something the U.S. is not particularly good at.
"New York City, which has a police force larger, I think, than the Canadian army, did contribute," said Clarke, in another dig at Canada.
The NYPD has 39,000 police officers. Canada has 55,000 full-time army, navy and air force personnel.
Clarke also said Canada might want to consider creating its own foreign intelligence service akin to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
"There are ways in which the United States could co-operate with Canada, if Canada had a more robust intelligence capability. That's an issue for Canada to really seriously think about."
The government has dismissed opposition calls for Canada to create a foreign intelligence gathering service, although CSIS director Ward Elcock last fall admitted Canadian spies are involved in covert operations abroad.
One of the few good things Clarke had to say about Canadian security policy was its decision to stay out of the war on Iraq. He restated his criticism of Bush's decision to invade Iraq last year, saying there was no evidence Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that he was planning to use.
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