Pakistan Sale – Is This A Good Idea?

It is difficult to imagine that a politician, political party or government would arrive at a decision to sell military products to a place as chaotic as Pakistan without considerable pressure from industry lobbyists.

Those lobbyists and their owners being the same folks who later provide seats at boardroom tables to said politicians once they end their public service.

I’ve read several accounts of the proposed deals from various MSM sources and not one of them – as yet – has mentioned the industry role (Stratfor’s quote of approval aside) or really asked any obvious questions such as:

– Is it a good idea for Canada to be brokering military products deals in extremely volatile parts of the world? (Amnesty International quote of disapproval aside)

–  Whose idea is this?

– Are there any safeguards against this becoming a slippery slope into wholesale arms dealing?

– What lobbying has been done on this issue?

 and most importantly:

– Is there any evidence or suggestion that policy is being driven by the industry and their lobbyists?

In other words, who benefits on this end and how cozy are they with our government?

I’m sorry, this is just too big an issue to leave to right-wing business and a bunch of politicians who are likely already sizing up opportunities for their own main chance after the Harper government falls.

I hope to dig up a little more information on the Lobbyist issue, but til then, here are a few links to news articles where they ask few questions and provide little in the way of pertinent background.

http://news.therecord.com/article/539517

http://www.arcamax.com/newsheadlines/s-549964-749997

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/636699

As usual, it looks like the MSM are not reporting the entire story.

 

Updated – Stratfor is an Austin, Texas based private firm specializing in world intelligence  analysis. It’s not clear why Stratfor and not a Canadian equivalent would surface in this story. It also seems that Stratfor has – at best – a rather questionable reputation with those not enamoured with a Neo Con world view.

Apparently the reporter also considers Stratfor as a right wing viewpoint given the juxtaposition with AI, so at least I’m not imagining that.

I know, I know, Amnesty International on the left, Stratfor on the right. Fair and balanced, right? 

The question is – why should we believe anything a spokesman for Stratfor has to say about this.

Perhaps Stratfor has only what is best for Canada at heart.

    

UpdatedThe Canadian military have recently begun using the weaponized CU-170 Heron UAV in Afghanistan. The Heron seems to be a joint Canada/Israel effort based on the original Israeli design. McDonald Dettwiler is the Canadian company involved.

In TheRecord.com article the writer states:

Pakistan would like the chance to purchase Canadian products such as flight simulators, night-vision goggles and unmanned drones in its fight against the militants.

Seems the writer is asserting the relative innocuousness – the harmlessness – of the military products in question. It all sort of sounds like War Game stuff –  just safe, clean military hardware. Nothing dangerous here at all.

Maybe they aren’t referring to the weaponized Heron but rather the pinpoint cargo delivery systems built by MMIST – Mist Mobility Integrated System Technology Inc. located in Ottawa.

You’ve got to admit – the technology is awesome cool.

But then Minister of National Defense Peter McKay also said this:

“Doing military business in the future and trade in particular is something that is under consideration,” MacKay said after meeting with president Asif Zardari. He added, however, “we’re not there yet.”

If it’s the weaponized CU-170 Heron UVA that Canada would be “trading” then yeah, I’d say we’re pretty much there already.

But even if its something like the MMIST systems, comments like this in therecord.com piece make you stop and think :

As Pakistan’s military continues pounding Taliban fighters, MacKay said Canada would consider requests from Pakistan to buy Canadian military products.

I’d say the Harper government is prepared to barrel down that slippery slope with no more than a Neo Con’s consideration for possible consequences.

 

Updated 05.22.09 – Defense Minister McKay’s musings on military products sale to Pakistan have now been contradicted by an aide from the office of Foreigm Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon:

An aide to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said the ban will not be lifted.

“Canada’s policy regarding military exports to Pakistan remains unchanged,” said Catherine Loubier, Mr. Cannon’s communications director.

She added: “Was it considered? No. There are no plans to lift restrictions on the arms sales ban with Pakistan.”

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