All entries for September 2006

September 28, 2006

Armies, Frontiers, and National Security: Supplemental

This is just a supplementary post to that last one because I’ve just found out that it gets better. The US coast guard has apparently for a few months been patrolling the great lakes (4 out of 5 of which are half Canadian/half American – that is, half are Canadian waters, half are American waters) are now armed with machine guns. What’s even better is that they’ve conducted live action exercises which have involved the firing of thousands of lead bullets into the lakes. I would also like to point out that that something like 40 million people use the water of the lakes as drinking water.

There’s another juicy tidbit. The US and Canada had signed a treaty following the cessation of hostilities in the War of 1812 which forbade the use of weapons in the Great Lakes. Well, I guess the concern was, and I quote (from a newspaper article), “That treaty, the argument goes, was drafted to ensure peace in the Great Lakes by forbidding weapons of war such as cannons on sailing ships”. So, it follows tha the Americans are therefore wary of ships with canons sailing across the great lakes. Or, something like that.

Now, I’m not sure what’s worse about all of this. The fact that it’s happening, or that most Canadians aren’t as shocked and alarmed about all of this as I am.


September 21, 2006

Armies, Frontiers, and National Security

Okay. So, most of my posts on this site have been related to my field/s of interest; that is, my current research. A quick glance at the title might suggest that I’m about to ramble on about the same old shit. Heck, I devoted about 90% of my 2 MA years back in Soviet Kanuckistan to the Roman Imperial army and its frontiers (there was some philology, mythology, and politics thrown in, but…not so much). But – and I urge you to brace yourself – this post is not about that.

For the last, well, let’s say, 150 years or so Canada and the US have had the longest undefended border in the world. There’s 1000’s of km’s of border with nary a border crossing in sight. I always took this as something to be proud of: granted, I’m naive about a lot of things, but most of the bad stuff that crossed the borders went through the major border crossings (south of Vancouver, Detroit, Port Huron, Niagara Falls, air- and seaports not included) anyway. In 3 years this incredible “oversight (if you’re a Republican)” will be no more as the US plans on spending billions on a virtual fence filled with un-manned drones, fences, and – cue references to the Rome World – towers.

So, is this where I say, “what is this world coming to”? No. This world came to that a while ago. But, as a fervently patriotic Canadian, I feel saddened that yet another piece of our ‘national sense of innocence’ has been chipped away. Are such steps by the US government necessary in an age of invisible enemies? Maybe, and certainly this could benefit Canada’s sovereignty too. Yet, – and here’s where the Romans come back into the picture – if any baddie really wants to get in, this won’t stop them; it’s more likely to keep the goodies out, then keep the baddies from coming in. Tis a sad day indeed.


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