Friday, July 30, 2010

The return of the red menace

Oh look, the Russians are coming, again: "Canadian jets repel Russian bombers." There is word to Sun Media (QMI) from Peter "uniform" MacKay that two Canadian jets scrambled to meet Russian bombers on Wednesday. That sounds so familiar.

Now, apparently these Russian bombers did not enter Canadian airspace, on the one hand:
"The response as always was a rapid, effective deterrent," Defence Minister Peter MacKay told QMI Agency.

"They were in the buffer zone," said MacKay, stressing that although the planes did not enter Canada's sovereign airspace, the bombers did come inside the 300 nautical mile zone that Canada claims.
Yet on the other hand, just a bit later in the report it reads thusly:
After the CF-18s made contact with the Russians the pilots shadowed them until the bombers turned northeast and headed out of Canadian airspace.
So which is it, Sun Media? I'm confused. Were they in our airspace or in Peter's 300 mile "buffer zone?" Sounds like they're trying to have it both ways here and play up this incident as an incursion. Which we know they've tried before and have been debunked for so doing. The buffer zone doesn't seem to count to the big military types (see statement by U.S. General at preceding link - update: and here too). Here's a good overview of the most recent Canada-Russia fighter jet interaction and the hyping of it from April of 2009:
Last week the Standing Committee on Defence heard from Maj.-Gen. Marcel Duval, who is in charge of NORAD’s Canadian region. It was an interesting exchange that could leave some with more questions than answers about why the Harper government made such a big big deal recently about the two Russian aircraft that approached Canada and were intercepted by NORAD aircraft.

A few officers that I have talked to are still wondering why the Prime Minister, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and parliamentary defence secretary Laurie Hawn reacted --in the words of one --like “World War 3 just started.” That is an overstatement but I must admit the exchanges at the time were reminiscent of the Cold War. The Russians seem to be totally puzzled why such a big deal had been made by Mr. Harper, Mr. MacKay and Mr. Hawn.

During his appearance at the committee Maj.-Gen. Duval said the flights were no different than what has been going on since 2007….and he considered it good practice for his crews.

“It was in line with the level of activity and the type of activity that we have seen since August 07,” the general noted.
Back to today's report which rather mischievously also goes on to suggest these Russian craft this week possibly carried nuclear weapons on board, simply because the craft are capable of carrying them. Yet there is no evidence that this was the case, as the report admits. The great, fearful spectre of nuclear cargo on a Russian plane outside our airspace is dangled without any evidence whatsoever.

This news of the return of the red menace wouldn't have anything to do with the recent F-35 fighter jet purchase announcement now would it? The question is asked:
Asked if he was playing up this Russian incursion to boost support for the F-35 purchase, MacKay said no.

"Surely even the most cynical, partisan person would not suggest that we engineered the visit of a Russian bomber to boost support for our air force," said MacKay.
No, but it can very well be said that this government has exaggerated the proximity and significance of these encounters. For what purpose and to what degree, readers can judge for themselves.