Future Uncertainty, Strategic Defense, and North American Defense Cooperation: Rational Institutionalist Arguments Pragmatically Suggest NORAD’s Adaptation Over Replacement
Par Anessa Kimball
Uncertainty about the future strategic environment is a rational impetus for cooperation. Despite a joint reiteration, by the US and Canada, of cooperation’s importance in managing and responding to future threats, interrogations about NORAD’s potential for future contributions in the North American defense landscape are relevant as it marks six decades of operation in 2018. Is NORAD, in its present configuration, sufficient for managing future threats to North America as well as strategic defense? Should NORAD be adapted to meet expected defense challenges? Or, alternatively, should it be replaced with a different structure; and at what risks? This chapter examines those questions through a discussion the importance of cooperation for uncertainty management, the challenges to cooperation as well as the role and limits of NORAD. It continues with a presentation of the possibilities for adapting the command arrangement relative to replacement employing arguments drawn from rational institutionalism. Finally, an exploration of the centrality of NORAD for North American defense cooperation and strategic defense is provided based on a comparison of the risks of adaptation versus replacement. Should the partners decide to participate in strategic defense, a pragmatic adaptation of the NORAD command arrangement is recommended through a use of the institutional provisions denoting flexibility. The chances for a successful mandate adaptation of the existing command are increased if stakeholders manage information transparently and effectively to minimize the risks of politicization.