Oh, for the days when U.S. diplomatic intrigue meant drugs-for-arms-for-hostages. Today, apparently, it’s all logs-for-cows-for-Star Wars.

It’s all linked, says Frank McKenna. Canada rejected participation in missile defence as a cunning strategy to press our case on softwood lumber and mad cow disease.

Color me skeptical.

There’s an old logical principle called Occam’s Razor, which says that when you have several explanations for something, the simplest one is the best. Or, in Isaac Newton’s words, “We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.”

What seems more likely? That Canada rejected participation in missile defence because:

  1. Paul Martin decided to link two completely unrelated issues in the oblique hope that somehow Americans would draw the connection? … or …
  2. Paul Martin – possibly the most poll-driven Prime Minister in Canadian history – saw a slew of surveys that said Canadians think Star Wars is the dumbest idea to hit the arms race since thermonuclear throwing knives?

Maybe all of this was just Ambassador McKenna’s hamfisted attempt to spin the BMD decision in a way that would appeal to cattle farmers and loggers. Given the alternative, I hope it was. What would it say if Martin decided whether to support a weapons system that is either a. insanely destabilizing or b. our one hope for preventing nuclear terrorism based on how many trees and cows the U.S. is prepared to buy from us?