Anti-Ballistic Missiles and the Liberal-Conservative Internationalist Divide in Cold War Canada, 1966-70

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Shortly following Canada's controversial adoption of nuclear weapon roles in NORAD and NATO in 1963, the focus of nuclear debates shifted to the potential impact on Canadian and international security of the construction of US anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems. This article expands the focus of scholarship on the ABM issue from the political and policy-making settings to include members of the attentive elite and the news media, and finds these groups deeply divided between liberal and conservative internationalists. On the one hand, supporters of liberal internationalism believed that AMB systems would destabilise the international security environment and ultimately increase the likelihood of nuclear war. Conservative internationalists took the opposite position, arguing that the systems represented a necessary addition to the Western nuclear deterrent and would make nuclear war less likely. In other words, the ABM debate exposed deep divisions in Canadian society between those who preferred diplomatic and multilateral versus military means of achieving middle power goals in the international system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International History Review
Pages (from-to)58-82
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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