By Matthew Rothschild on November 17, 2008

The militaries of the United States and Canada are wrapping up a seven-day exercise called “Vigilant Shield” on Tuesday. This marks the continuation of an ever-closer relationship between the two.

For instance, did you know that the United States military could go into Canada in times of emergency? And the Canadian military could go into the United States?

This extraordinary fact appears in a joint document of the U.S. Northern Command and the Canada Command. (The Pentagon established NorthCom in October 2002, and the Canadian military established the Canada Command in June 2005.)

The document is entitled “Canada-US Civil Assistance Plan,” and it is dated February 14, 2008.

David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen broke the story about this plan at the time, but it received little attention in the United States.

“The purpose of the Canada-United States Civil Assistance Plan (CAP) is to provide a framework for the military of one nation to provide support to the military of the other nation in the performance of civil support operations (e.g., floods, forest fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and effects of a terrorist attack).” This framework is designed “to save lives, prevent human suffering, and mitigate damage to property,” the plan says.

The plan anticipates scenarios for using for using violence. “Opposing forces are not expected during the conduct of operations described in this plan,” it says. “However . . . commanders should consider the following Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection issues: (1) Terrorists organizations could conduct operations against the Canadian or US force, or in the civil support operations area; (2) State/provincial and local police capabilities could be severely degraded in the area of operations, allowing a corresponding rise in criminal activity that could affect the Canadian or US force; and (3) Environmental factors ranging from weather to contamination and disease could significantly affect the Canadian or US forces.”

Both the Canadian and U.S. forces have the right to use deadly force in self-defense, the plan says, though “there are no standing . . . rules of engagement or rules for the use of force,” the plan says. “Consequently, every mission will require unique guidance to deployed forces.”

“Support for law enforcement operations is not covered in this plan,” the document says. But it “will be included in the Canada-United States Combined Defense Plan.” That plan remains classified, a NorthCom spokesman says.

Cross-border support “will only be provided when agreed to by appropriate authorities in both the Government of Canada and the U.S. Government,” the document says. Canada Command and NorthCom “will develop potential options of the military forces of one nation to support the military forces of the other.” These options will then go to Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, which will seek the approval of the Canadian government. On the U.S. side, NorthCom “will present military options to the SecDef, who will subsequently seek the approval of the President to deploy military forces to Canada.”

“Execution authority,” the document says, rests with the Canada Command and with NorthCom.

Training for such eventualities has already been approved. “Cross-border movement of military resources is authorized for training and exercises in preparation for bilateral military-to-military civil support,” the document says.

The document was signed by Lieutenant-General M. J. Dumais, commander, Canada Command, and General Victor E. Renuart, commander, US Northern Command.

“It’s completely bizarre and it’s frightening,” says Kevin Best, a social justice activist in Canada who has long worried about the increasing U.S. military presence in Canada.

As far as Canada’s military presence in the U.S., Best said, jokingly, “That’s really scary for you guys, isn’t it?”

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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