I’m going to break my usual one-post-a-day rhythm because something mind-numbingly stupid just crossed my screen and I feel I need to respond to it. In the National Post, a newspaper already known for hosting columnists a few bricks short of a load, Conservative Party hack Keith Beardsley is actually claiming that the Libya crisis discredits those of us who believe Canada doesn’t need the F-35 jet fighter.
Before dissecting this pretzel logic, let me congratulate the Post for finally doing their job and giving a gloss that calls it like it is: Beardsley has decades of experience in the Conservative Party, most recently as an adviser to Stephen Harper. Now he’s a lobbyist for True North, incidentally. Thank you, National Post. Now, to the story.
Impolitical said yesterday than Rob Huebert at the University of Calgary bizarrely claimed recently that if we sent CF-18 fighters to Libya as part of an invasion (let’s not mince words, that’s what it would be), that would build the case for the F-35. Impolitical pointed out that Huebert’s research centre is funded by the Department of National Defence, which is also lobbying hard for the new plane, but I chocked it up to a little ill-advised exuberance. Now I’m not so sure. We already know that the American government (and Lockheed) brief advocates in host countries to develop strong, common talking points. Is that what’s going on here?
If so, I have to say I’m not impressed. Beardsley says I must feel “embarrassed” because it turns out we need the F-35s after all. Actually, Mr. Beardsley, I’m not embarrassed in the slightest. What the hell do you think Libya has to do with next-generation stealth fighters? Let’s be serious. If we do intervene in Libya, it will be an act of sheer and utter hypocrisy. Plus, by “we” I actually mean the Americans. With or without the F-35, or contribution would be a modest token effort. Beardsley believes that in order for Canada to be a “real” player on the world stage, we must have the capability to bomb Libya from the comfortable immunity of high-altitude stealth aircraft. I fail to see why Canada actually would need to do such a thing.
But since Beardsley does seem serious, let’s look at the “threat” posed by the Libyan military. Its air force is a mix of decrepit Soviet fighters, mostly the MiG-23 Flogger (NATO name), substantially older than our CF-18. It’s kind of a weird debate to be having. If we really needed the F-35 to knock out Libyan SAM sites (as Beardsley claims), then it doesn’t help us much — it’s still years away. Meanwhile the lack of the F-35 doesn’t seem to be concerning, say, the American neocons, who are ready for another war. I find it implausible that the Americans would have serious trouble knocking out 30-year-old missile sites with long-range cruise missiles launched from, say, strategic bombers or ships at sea. I find it equally implausible that we would intervene without the Americans, even if we did have shiny new jets. So this is not a discussion worth having.
All of which is BS, I’ll freely admit, because I wouldn’t support intervention in Libya anyways. It’s not our country. The dictatorship there is clearly on its way out now anyways. If we were really serious about punishing Gadhafi, we could start by threatening not to give back his billions of dollars of assets in Canada (or, better yet, seize them to pay for some of the new fighters), and by throwing his pals at SNC Lavalin in prison. They’re the ones building his $300 million prison, after all. If it’s worth bombing Libya, why are they getting a free pass in all this?Tweet