CANADA-US MILITARY INTEROPERABILITY: AT WHAT COST SOVEREIGNTY?
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This study examines whether Canada’s military’s interoperability with the United States affects Canadian sovereignty. The literature dealing with this subject is highly polarized arguing that such interoperability either significantly reduces our sovereignty or that it is necessary to maintain it. Successive Canadian governments, for example, have traditionally supported the military view that high levels of interoperability with our allies are needed for operations to proceed safely and effectively and that this poses no cost to Canadian sovereignty. The interoperability critics strongly disagree, arguing that increased interoperability, especially if it is with the United States, will diminish our foreign policy independence, our ability to refuse US military adventures, and our domestic sovereignty. In a limited sense this division in the literature allows one to comprehend the broad contours of the issue. Otherwise, recent works are marked by shifting definitions and unclear methodologies. These shortcomings have led to a reliance on conjecture, with the critics predicting damaging “future implications” as a result of Canada’s interoperability policies while governments promise outright gains. As a result, the Canadian public that underwrites the financial costs of such multi-billion dollar investments as the new F-35 fighter have little to guide them in assessing the widely claimed interoperability and sovereignty benefits or costs of the purchase. This thesis set about correcting these shortcomings by examining Canada’s interoperability history, defining the terms, developing clear hypotheses, and then testing them against recent issues and events. These included Canada's response to 9/11 and our decisions to participate, or not, in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. These produced six case studies within which events were assessed against the hypotheses that test for sovereignty gains or losses. The subsequent evaluation concluded that Canadian sovereignty was rarely at risk from Canada's military interoperability policy and Canada was normally able to enjoy an independent foreign policy. The only area where there were successive sovereignty costs was when Canada became overly dependent on US capabilities. This thesis also argued that the methodology would be useful in gauging the sovereignty implications of future cooperative projects.