A New World
Jeffrey Simpson, in Saturday's Globe, writes a letter to America's Ambassador to Canada. Here is a draft reply:
Dear Mr. Simpson,
We were terribly disappointed that Canada chose not to participate in the Liberation of Iraq. As a trusted ally and great friend you have been missed on the Road to Baghdad.
More to the point, your government's decision to allow the outmoded and ineffective process of the United Nations stand in the way of the destruction of a barbarous regime has place Canada firmly in the Old World. To quote your letter's last paragraph:
But to friends of the United States, the "disappointment" comes from the shattering of that consensus by an ideologically driven foreign policy that insisted upon war in Iraq and has paid scant heed to institutions, arrangements, laws and assumptions that kept friends bound together in good times and in bad. link globe and mail
You are right. We have paid "scant heed to institutions, arrangements, so called laws and assumptions" which no longer work.
The multilateralism which Canada seems to prize above the actual removal of a tyrant is a relic of the bi-polar world of the 50's and 60's. The consensus building and international institutions which we used to contain the threat of the Soviet Union have simply lost their relevance in a world in which there is no militarily significant "other party". So now we are adapting to the new world. We wish you would come with us.
The traditional approach to the Middle East with its endless meetings, the pretense of treating Arab fascist dictatorships as some sort of ally, the passage of unenforced UN resolutions and all the rest of the multi-lateral baggage has not worked. In Iraq there is increasing evidence of WMDs. There is also evidence of the sheer viciousness of the regime and the utter unwillingness of the Arab world to clean up the mess.
So, instead of going for several more turns around the mulbury bush, America and her allies have decided to act.
Characterizing the choice to act as ideological is weak. Deciding to change a strategy of stasis for one of action is a political choice; but it could have been made just as easily by a Democratic president as a Republican one. And it is hardly fair to characterize Tony Blair as having acted according to some neo-conservative view of the world regardless of how you might try to fit my own President into that category.
In fact, what we have done is serve notice on the tyrants of the world that we will use the power we have created to achieve outcomes which break the iron grip of dictatorship. We will no longer stand by waiting for a direct strike on America; instead we will act in our own interests and the interests of the people of tyrannies.
Frankly, had the United Nations backed up its Resolutions in the face of the Iraqi refusal to disarm, we would have been happy to work with that body to achieve the end of disarming Iraq. But the United Nations was unwilling to act. The French promised to veto any action. The United Nations made itself irrelevant to the solution of the Iraqi conundrum.
We were disappointed that Canada could not see how disfunctional the United Nations has become. We are disappointed that your government was unable to accept the need for real change in the Middle East. And we were disappointed that the bonds of friendship were trumped by the fantasy that the Old World Order would somehow be preserved by inaction.
For Canada the political debate is just beginning. As a nation you will have to decide whether you wish to remain on the sidelines or to work with us to create a genuine, secure and lasting world peace. A peace which includes not only peace as between nations but also peace and dignity within nations. That will, of course, be your decision.
It is a decision which pits the Old World against the New. A decision which requires that Canada embrace its role and responsibilities as a western, liberal, democracy. The alternative is decline.