The Heritage Foundation, Defense Spending and the Blame America Firsters

You’ve got to hand it to those Blame America Firsters — even in the most improbable circumstances, they can find a way to Blame America First.

Consider what this Canadian says in a story appearing in Britain’s Independent about the Canadian submarine that has been stranded in the North Atlantic for the last three days:

Steven Staples, a defense analyst at the independent Ottawa think-tank the Polaris Institute, said: “There is no clear reason why we needed these subs. One theory is that the Canadian Navy has come under severe pressure from the United States to have subs so that they could play ‘the enemy’ in exercises. It has been disastrous for us.”

Would this fellow have the world believe that Canada is so weak it can’t even handle the role of pretend enemy?

I seem to have a higher opinion of Canada than that fellow, but let’s face it, when it comes to self-defense, Canada sits complacent under our nuclear umbrella, not pulling its own weight. Canada spends 1.1 percent of its GDP on defense, compared to 3.4 percent for the United States (2002 figures; source: U.S. Defense Department). The U.S. in 2002 spent $350 billion on defense, Canada, $8.17 billion.

Even when it comes to multinational peacekeeping operations, something you’d think would be a little more to the pacifist taste, Canada still doesn’t outclass the U.S. The U.S. spent $669 million on this in 2001-2002, while Canada spent $47 million (as a percentage of GDP, the two nations’ contributions were roughly equivalent, at .75 and .76 percent respectively).

To put that $47 million figure in perspective, Canada spent less on international peacekeeping in 2002 than The Heritage Foundation, a conservative DC think-tank without a penchant for taking taxpayer dollars, took in in revenue that same year ($52 million). What’s more, can anyone doubt that Heritage staffers could kick %$#@ if necessary in a foreign land?

Canada can be a better steward of its own national security. And the Polaris Institute should stop whining. What goes on in the Canadian Navy is the Canadian Navy’s responsibility, and no loyal Canadian should want to have it any other way.

(P.S. For a quick guide to which nations have backbone and which would need help to take on even a think-tank, click here.)

Addendum: All in good fun, a Heritage staffer responds here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.