The Line Between Military and University in Canada

Got this OpEd from the Wikileaks Twitter feed.  Crucial para:

Critics of the SDF, including Operation Objection, a not-for-profit anti-militarist organization, have highlighted a correlation in funding increases through the SDF and escalating and/or controversial Canadian military activity.

Author Laura Beach seems to be arguing that increases in research funding have facilitated the escalation in Canadian military activity. It’s not an unreasonable long-term assumption, but we’d need to see some lag between the increases in funding and military activity to reasonably conclude that the former was contributing to the latter.  Beach writes as if the two are concurrent, in which case it seems more likely that the increases in funding and military activity are both the result of some third independent variable like an increase in government spending generally.  If so, shutting down the research would actually free more money for military activity.

Beach on drones:

The most common weaponry developed in Canadian universities is that of UAVs, which…have been criticized for the physical removal of soldiers from the battlefield, making it psychologically easier to kill, and the indiscriminate nature of the bombs used that tend to incur a shocking amount of “collateral damage” – in other words, killing innocent civilians.

I find validity in the first claim but not the second.  It greatly disturbs me that Air Force UAV pilots run airstrikes from US soil.  It sends the message that we do not take the implications of war seriously.  The financial savings are not worth that cost.  But as collateral damage goes, drones are more or less symmetrical to the threats they target in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Their ordinance allows for some of the most exacting discretion possible in human history and does not carry nearly as much explosive as the typical suicide car bomb employed by some of their targets.  The only weapon that would be more discriminate is a small ground unit or a sniper team.  I support using those, under strict ROEs, instead of drones whenever possible.  Of course, regardless of which weapon we choose, we should never stop asking ourselves who we’re targeting, why, and what the consequences will be.

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