Canada-U.S. border review: you could see it coming


It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Janet Napolitano, in one of her first moves as Barack Obama’s homeland security secretary, has ordered a sweeping review of security along the Canada-U.S. border.

As we’ve reported in Maclean’s, the view of the border as a weak link in American anti-terror (and anti-drug) efforts is not eccentric, it’s the conventional thinking inside defence and security branches of the U.S. government.

Much of this American fear is stoked by Canadian “experts,” from obscure professors at the Royal Military College to the anonymous writers of CSIS reports. I wonder how often they exaggerate dangers simply because that’s the sort of stuff they find exciting.

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Canada-U.S. border review: you could see it coming

  1. Have you been able to find the name of the Royal Military College professor, and what it was he or she actually said? As someone who studied in the poli sci department at RMC, I’m curious. I might also be able to let you know if they’re the kind of person who would “exaggerate dangers simply because that’s the sort of stuff they find exciting.”

    • Never mind. I’m pretty sure I’ve found who it might be.

      If Dr. Sokolsky is the professor being cited, then I would argue that he is a very intelligent man, who definitely would not “exaggerate dangers” for fun.

      • If Sokolsky is the RMC prof in question, then I have no doubt that he isn’t exaggerating dangers. I’ve read everything he’s written and I can assure you he’s no alarmist.

        Of course, the SSI may have taken lines from his articles totally out of context…

  2. Not to tell Napolitano her job or anything but I think she should be far more concerned with the Southern border with Mexico. The drug cartels have corrupted many within the Mexican government and that is/should be a far bigger worry than anything that’s happening up here.

    • That’s for sure. I’ve heard what’s going on in Mexico these days as a low grade civil war. I’ve heard some say that the problems in Mexico should be a greater concern to American security officials than what’s happening in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

      However, the idea that the Canadian border is a major security threat is also no more new than it is correct. I seem to remember the current U.S. Secretary of State once making reference to several of the 9/11 hijackers crossing over into the States from Canada when, in actuality, none of them ever did.

  3. You may often wonder, but without any actual evidence or knowledge to back up what appears to be a gut feeling that the Canadian drug trade, for one, is being “exaggerated” by “experts”, that doesn’t mean much.

    • I for one am not so sure that the Canadian drug trade is being exaggerated by “experts”.

      However, I’m quite certain that the security threat posed by the Canadian drug trade is exaggerated.

  4. How do you know where the fear is stoked from? It seems like a fairly logical conclusion to me, from a security standpoint, even if I don’t like the implications. Because Canada and the US have historically been on such good terms, the border is not that secure. I would guess that a bigger threat would be the major shipping ports in the US, but the Canadian border would definitely be up there.

  5. Our border’s are obviously not that secure, and the Homeland Security Sec’y is right to be concerned. Too many weapons, needed to maintain an “well armed militia” are being smuggled out of the United States and into Canada.

  6. I fail to see the issue with simple things lie asking for Passports. It is objections to little items like that I am sure make the americans roll their eyes.

    That being said, yes Mexico is in danger of sliding into something ugly, and then if the US starts to step hard on the cartels then you will see an alliance like you get in Tom Clancy novels.


  7. They can exaggerate to their heart’s content. That wall can’t come up too soon, as far as i’m concerned.

  8. “I wonder how often they exaggerate dangers simply because that’s the sort of stuff they find exciting.”

    It isn’t a question of emotional gratification, but financial. When one has a national monopoly on the detection and interdiction of foreign bogeymen it is obviously in one’s interest to exaggerate the danger from such, and even to provoke and create such bogeymen as a job creation scheme.

    It would be quite a good little racket because the more that one “tightens security” the more it hinders peaceful commerce, and the more profits can be made those who would evade the security to transport prohibited goods and people. The more profitable the smuggling the more diligently the smugglers will try, and the more violently they will defend their operations. The constant smuggling and the threat of violence from smugglers make it easy to present a case for even stricter laws, and of course greater and greater budgets and headcounts for the interdiction agencies.

    In fact there is a motivation for the unscrupulous to not just benefit from the increased money and power allocated to interdiction agencies, but as a sideline to create entities which will profit from evading the interdiction. These smuggling organizations, if operated by security insiders, would of course find it easier to evade the interdiction than any freelance smuggling outfits. The tremendous profits could easily be laundered, given their ownership, and the laundered money could be spent on lobbyists in order to ensure that legislation is as conducive to profits as possible, that is, to be ever more restrictive and tyrannical. The end result would be the thorough corruption of the political and banking system, generating tremendous wealth for those at the top. Hypothetically of course.

  9. Well security is a impressively large business in the States, and ratcheting up fear is always good for business.

    Bigger the fear bigger the buck. It also makes it easier to trample rights, liberties and freedoms (see Partiot Act). Win-win.

    And the Minute Men can’t stop the 2,000 illegal aliens coming from Canada annually alone. Especially since a couple dozen of them could be armed with American guns and Canadian horticultural products. I don’t know which will kill more children!

    If America legalized just pot, it would be amazing how many of these problems would become more managable. So many billions of dollars that would not be allocated to defense and security… bad for business.

    I’d worry more about the millions of unemployed and idle, disenfranchised young America’s who aren’t benefiting from the bailout buffet…

  10. I wonder why the media are so willing to call every crank PhD and retired spook “experts”. More often than not their commentary is well outside any established area of “expertise”.

    • And your ‘expertise’ about the expertise of ‘experts’ is credible because…?

  11. “That wall can’t come up too soon, as far as i’m concerned.”

    This American citizen agrees. Oh, by the way, how’s tourism these days?…