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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

4/22/2004

A Canadian foreign policy

One suspects Currie would cheer if Bush shipped Martin to Guant?namo. Or even if he launched the 82nd Airborne against Ottawa. Tell me, Currie, is Canada allowed to have an independent foreign policy? If not, why not?
kevin michael grace
Independent of whom? The conduct of the Chretien gang and its Foreign Affairs minister in the run up to GWII was more an attempt to become Chirac's bitch than to set an independent course.

At the time it might well have been possible to a) have an independent foreign policy, b) avert the war. But it would have required Canada to use whatever influence she has toward the end of removing Saddam from office.

That influence could have been substantial. For example, Canada could have sought to create a genuine - rather than afraid that their bribes would show - coalition which set out a distinct timetable for Iraq to fully comply with all UN resolutions and for Saddam to resign. But to do this Canada would also have had to say that it was prepared to go to war to support the United Nations and its two allies the United States and England.

KMG goes on to quote an earlier piece he wrote for the CBC:
Canada remains a sovereign country. And every sovereign country has unique interests. Canadian interests will usually coincide with American interests. But not always. Liberal MP Bonnie Brown had it exactly right when she asked what the "payoff" was for Canada's involvement in the American-led war on terror. Canadian foreign policy is supposed to pay off for Canadians. We do not want to go so far in antagonizing the Americans as to invite reprisals, but we must always insist on our independence.
kmg
I would agree with him that Canada as a soverign nation has its own, unique, interests. Those interests include defending Canada and the West from the onslaught of Islamofascist terrorists and the states which, directly or indirectly, support them.

Canada also, I would hope, has an interest in helping to depose ruthless dictators who murder their own citizens and invade their neighbours. I would hope we would hold this interest whether or not it happened to co-incide with American interests.

The tragedy of the forty years from 1960 to 2000 was that successive Canadian governments removed the funding and, more importantly, the proud Canadian military traditions which had allowed us to fight above our weight in WWI and II. Regiments were disbanded, the forces "unified", the equipment allowed to rust. Canada's capacity to have an independent foreign policy was squandered by politicians eager to shovel money into the endless sink pits of regional development and national unity.

So now we are left with this choice - we can support our American friends, perhaps send a sniper or two - or we can rage from the sidelines. We don't even have the consolation of really big Saddam era bribes.

Soverignty, as KMG well knows, diminishes the instant a nation cannot defend itself. Pretending to have an "independent foreign policy" while militarily bankrupt is a luxury we can no longer afford. If we want the independence we have to make the investment to pay for it.

In the matter of the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq I believe that Canada has got the first about right and has been utterly mistaken on the second. And our mistake on Iraq, tragically, has been that we were so busy sucking up to the French that we failed to realize just how important for the West and for Canada removing Saddam actually was. Our national foreign policy was not a mistake because it did not support America (although that was remarkably dumb); rather it was a mistake because it was inconsistent with a commitment to the defence of the West and of human rights.