The coronavirus pandemic is acting as an accelerant to what Pentagon war-planners have dubbed a new era of great-power “strategic conflict,” with the US, Canada and the European imperialist powers voicing fears that China could emerge economically and geopolitically strengthened from the pandemic. Trump’s incendiary and contrived allegations against Beijing, accusing it of causing mass death in the US, are aimed both at deflecting responsibility from the manifest failure of his own administration and US capitalism to protect the American people from the pandemic, and at legitimizing further US aggression, including military action, against China.
Canada’s ruling elite, which has enjoyed an intimate military-strategic partnership with Washington for over three-quarters of a century, endorses this reckless agenda of seizing on the pandemic to intensify pressure on its rivals. In March, Vance warned a defence conference that Canada and its allies are engaged in a “global fight over values” that could result in the upending of the post-World War II order. In a keynote address to a Conference of Defence Associations event, he called for upgrading the North American Aerospace Defence command (NORAD), which would involve tens of billions in additional military spending on top of the increases already announced by Trudeau. This upgrade would inevitably be used to press for Canada’s participation in Washington’s ballistic missile defence shield, whose purpose is to create conditions for the waging of a “winnable” nuclear war.
One week later, in an interview with the Canadian Press, Vance warned that adversaries like Russia or China could take advantage of the pandemic to strengthen their military position in the Arctic and other regions. “We continue to do our job, part of which is to deter and, if necessary, defeat attacks on Canada,” he added.
The ruling elite hopes that the military’s prominent role in the official Canadian response to the COVID-19 pandemic will help shift the public’s perception of the armed forces, creating a certain degree of acceptance of and even support for bigger Defence budgets and aggressive military operations around the world, including against nuclear-armed Russia and China. As Matt Gurney observed in the right-wing National Post, “When the pandemic is finally behind us and we have a chance to take stock of all the ways we should have been better prepared, military preparedness should be near the top of the list. And maybe this time, for a change, the public will be ready to listen, and pay up.”