Thursday, August 26, 2010

Space cadets

Over the past few days we've helplessly witnessed the Conservative government rattle its sabres over a supposed threat to Canadian airspace from the Russians--awaking memories in the older yokels of The Communist Threat. Minus, of course, the Communists and the threat, but what the hey.

The facts are as plain as the motives. The Russians have at no time violated Canadian airspace. Despite the popular use of misleading words like "incursion," there have been none. Ah, but what if we had not scrambled our creaky old CF-18s? What then? Why, we'd all be drinking vodka on the steps of the House of Commons, and eating caviar by now--like portly Senators in the Parliamentary dining room.

"Thanks to the rapid response of the Canadian Forces," sez PM Harper, at no time did the Russian aircraft enter Canadian sovereign air space." Which puts one in mind of the old joke about the man in the psychiatrist's office who wouldn't stop snapping his fingers. "Why are you doing that?" asks the shrink.

"To keep the elephants away."

"But there aren't any elephants within miles of here."

"Works pretty well, eh?"

Well, bigod, $16 billion worth of new F-35s by untendered contract with Lockheed Martin will make our response even rapider. (Lockheed Martin--the kindly American folks who helped us out with the 2006 census.) But the Russian menace makes it downright unpatriotic to question this corporate windfall. Their air exercises are the very definition of serendipity.

And that's not all--we're into all that space-age stuff too, like Radarsat v.3.0 for another half-billion. We have the technology. "The eyes on these satellites," our Leader avers, "will pick up a breaching whale through the fog in the utter blackness of an Arctic winter....From Afghanistan to the Arctic, from the coast of Somalia to the shores of Nootka Sound [on Vancouver Island], we will be able to see what the bad guys are up to."

"The bad guys." So our mindless domestic policy continues, while our plummet to the bottom of the well of international mediocrity accelerates.
The chief threat to our nation may turn out to be, in fact, the prospect of fatal mockery. Save the whales!

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