Winslow Wheeler: Canadian Honesty, US Dishonesty, on the F-35

Corruption, Economics/True Cost, Military
Winslow Wheeler

Parliamentary Lights

Canada’s politicians take on the F-35.

When Canada’s left-of-center New Democratic Party (NDP) invited me to testify before a mock hearing (on Parliament Hill with only NDP members present) addressing the country’s purchase of the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, I was confident I knew what to expect.

I expected the Canadian politicians, like members of the U.S. Congress, to give vaguely informed (sometimes stunningly misinformed) statements about the F-35, even when they agreed with my position. I expected their questions to be read off of staff memos in a manner so clumsy that it was clear the questioner had only the dimmest understanding, if any, of the words he or she was reading. Follow-up questions based on my responses would be a concept the questioner had never seen any use for. In other words, I didn’t expect much, but the opportunity to inform the debate in Canada about the high cost and low performance of the F-35 was important; so I accepted the invitation.

My expectations were completely wrong. The differences between Canadian politicians and members of Congress are utterly stunning. Unlike here, oversight in the Canadian Parliament is alive and well. In Canada, I found two political behaviors unheard of in the United States: Opposition politicians actually try to understand the issue they are talking about, and they take offense at being lied to.

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Phi Beta Iota:  “Intelligence” (decision-support) should not be limited to secret collection against a sub-set of foreign challenges.  Knowing oneself is just as important — perhaps even more important — than knowing the enemy.  This is especially true when public policy and acquisition and operations are completely disconnected from the public interest.  DoD acquisition today is divorced from reality, divorced from need, and divorced from ethics.  A “perfect storm” is brewing within the Pentagon.,