Foreign Policy

  • Not Ideology but Character: Long Live Maggie Thatcher

    I have my own memories of Maggie, having been such an infatuated Thatcherite for much of my adult life.

    If journalism is, as G.K. Chesterton so brilliantly said, saying "Lord Jones dead" to people who didn't know Lord Jones was alive, then the outpouring of commentary about Margaret Thatcher amounts to saying "Iron Lady dead" to people who have forgotten what...

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  • Welcoming the End of "Government Compassion"

    Those who know more about foreign aid and development than I do should debate the details regarding the dissolution of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) into the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). But the idea of structuring government involvement in foreign aid so that it coheres with foreign policy and trade objectives, while increasingly relying on non-governmental relief organizations to provide relief to those in need, is one that compels me. There are two ways to evaluate a change of this nature. Critics of the change suggest it is politically motivated by a government not as committed to poverty alleviation and human rights. The government argues the restructuring will allow for more focus, efficiency, and leveraging of funds for maximum impact. Interestingly, the government's position is supported by former Liberal Minister Lloyd Axworthy as "bold and admirable," suggesting that the motives may not be as sinister as the critics say. Whether this will lead to more coherence and efficiency is, of course, not yet knowable.

    It seems, in principle, a healthy refocusing of our social architecture.

    Those who know more about foreign aid and development than I do should debate the details regarding the dissolution of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) into ...

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  • Are Missionaries the Henchmen of Empire?

    In some sense, says Andrew Preston, it is. There were missionaries who were hardcore imperialists. But based on his research, and primary historical accounts, he argues that these missionaries were actually the exception, not the rule. He says, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    It's long been accepted that missionaries are the ideological henchman of empire—maybe not by the missionaries themselves, but by much of the public. Just last week the Globe splashed the Christian ministry Crossroads across its front page for its li...

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  • Religion and Realism in Canadian Foreign Policy

    That is not a quote about Stephen Harper. That is a quote from Denis Stairs referring to Canada's golden boy of foreign policy, Lester B. Pearson. Yes, that Lester Pearson; the same one that won a Nobel Peace prize back in '57. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair suggests that CIDA's partnering with religious organizations, specifically Christian ones, contributes to a Canadian foreign policy marked by "more religion, less nutrition." Today he went even further, suggesting that religious relief and development organizations were "completely against" Canadian values. He says: "We don't understand how the Conservatives can ... subsidize a group in Uganda whose views are identical to those of the Ugandan government."

    "The manse, it seems, was a formative force in External Affairs as powerful as academia."

    That is not a quote about Stephen Harper. That is a quote from Denis Stairs referring to Canada...

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  • The Peril of Christian Humanitarianism

    In many ways, it is neither wrong nor entirely mystifying why one religious group would draw attention to the abuses or suffering of their co-religionists. Christian groups draw attention to the suffering of other Christians in part because they are often more naturally familiar with these groups, as a result of global networks, but also because there is an implicit self-identification with the victimized.

    It is only just beginning to come to light that one of the most powerful forces for global good can be the formal and informal networks of faith-based and religious organizations. These are the people that are, in the words of CBC correspondent Brian Stewar...

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  • Needed for Rebooting Conservative Aid Policy: Less Fox, More Foxes

    During the Cold War, the party of Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Reagan was strongly anticommunist, but these presidents took foreign policy seriously and executed their grand strategies with a healthy degree of tactical flexibility. Since 9/11, however, Republicans have known only one big thing—the "global war on terror"—and have remained stubbornly committed to a narrow militarized approach.

    "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing" -Archilochus

    American foreign policy rock star Dan Drezner ...

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  • Pressing Upon the Imagination of the Cynical

    It's hard not to feel cheated at Christmas, a supposed revolution of rest and revitalization, which in truth is often characterized as frenetic and feverish.

    @igollert - viewing Earth is THE favourite astronaut hobby. I think the coolest things are lightning, the Bahamas, volcanoes and aurorae.— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) ...

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  • Bring on that Foreign Policy Review

    But if this renewed emphasis on partnerships is going to be carried out effectively, the typically closed-door conversations of the government are going to have to go public. You can't talk about public-private partnerships without inviting public-private dialogue. Something like a coherent picture needs to painted of the diversity of foreign policy considerations, and the often disparate departments and interests which are making them.

    Ottawa's foreign policy community has long been divided on the effectiveness of formal, often long-winded foreign policy reviews. At the Canada International Council, ...

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  • Stealth Fighter Fever

    First, it is a chance for Public Minister Rona Ambrose to showcase procurement done right. The fighter procurement process has been the responsibility of Minister Ambrose since last spring, following Ferguson's audit. Her handling, together with that of veteran senior bureaucrat Tom Ring, of the government's much-lauded ship-building contract process in the fall of 2011 has branded her as the key person to turn this procurement process around.

    Me thinks he doth protest too much. Pundits furiously tweeted at Andrew MacDougall in the Prime Minister's Office on Thursday night, as the government scrambled to ...

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  • Wishing for a Secret Agenda

    Have a closer look at what the leaked documents say. We see the Prime Minister's intended plan to diversity trade to emerging markets. This has been true since even before the collapse of Keystone, and what Fen Hampson at Carleton University called the Americans' "silly season", also known as an election.

    For Christmas this year, I'm wishing for a secret agenda—the kind everyone kept promising me was coming, only to disappoint me over and over. Now, we have "leaked" documents...

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  • Day-After Musings

    * * *

    It takes more than a day for partisan emotion to adjust to reality. For the 49% of Americans who voted Republican yesterday, today is a combination of disappointment, anger, and fear. The divide in America is real and stark. Gender, ethnicity, and urbanizat...

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  • Pseudo-Historic Patriotism

    Sweet relief will come from the cessation of hostility toward the Harper government's inexplicable, tax-paid publicity campaign to lionize the packet of fratricidal Sassenachs who jumped back and forth across an imaginary line firing muskets and waving swords at each other 200 years ago. Canadians will once again peaceably turn on their televisions or amble through the public prints without being affronted by some advertising copy writer's thimble-deep conceptualization of our history.

    I am approaching an age where it simply doesn't pay to wish the future here faster. Still, the looming end of 2012 is a moment devoutly to be wished if only because it will mean the War of 1812 is at long last over.

    Sweet relief will come from the ce...

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  • The Kung Fu Panda Problem: Gangnam Style goes Global

    Now none other than Fareed Zakaria has weighed in on Gangnam Style, arguing its success is culturally iconic for the pluralist South Korean society. In an interview with Evan Osnos, Osnos says that the reason that South Korea could produce something as off the mainstream, and frankly as bizarre, as Gangnam Style is because of the high prize of parody. Gangnam Style, as almost no one with the internet needs to be told anymore, pokes fun at a class of Korean pop and high society. It's the safe for work equivalent of America's Lonely Island. It's the evidence of a society that knows how to make fun of itself, of a culture at ease with its own idiosyncrasies.

    The global sensation gangnam style has swept the globe in recent months, and even the Cardus office, if in uneven waves of enthusiasm. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has ...

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  • Why Criticism of Religion is So Necessary

    Should criticism of religion be allowed, particularly when it can lead to such violent reactions?

    After two weeks of riots across the Muslim world, ostensibly due to an offensive amateur YouTube video which insults the Prophet Muhammad, many people across the non-Muslim world might agree that the reaction to the offense far exceeds the offense itself. T...

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  • A Smart Pre-Emptive Move

    It has been an interesting week, watching this drama unfold. Last Friday, I was copied on the press release from Minister Baird's office that Iranian Embassy staff were being expelled. "Canada's position on the regime in Iran is well known. Canada views the Government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today." At the same time, Canada closed its embassy in Iran, citing fears for safety and security. Canada thereby cut diplomatic relations. Groups came out supporting and denouncing Canada's unilateral action. The Raging Grannies protested the embassy closure on Monday. They are always up for a good protest. Meanwhile the Canadian Friends of a Diplomatic Iran held banners at the Lester B. Pearson Building in support of the move. In a subsequent press release, they basically said, "It's about time." They focused on Camps Asharaf and Liberty, and President Ahmadinejad's abysmal human rights record. The Canadian Friends also hinted that the Iranian Embassy in Canada threatened Iranian ex-pats in Canada. Having watched people in the embassy taking photos of protesters, this seems to me like a very real threat. There are about 120,000 people in Canada of Iranian origin.

    The flag is down at the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa. I know this because I work across the street.

    It has been an interesting week, watching this drama unfold. Last Friday, I was copied on the press release from Minister Baird's office t...

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  • The Caspian Sea Monster

    Iranian instability is one push factor, but so is the growing power of oil states around the Caspian, post-Soviet republics hung-over on the Kremlin's kool-aid: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Newfound petrodollars are funding more aggressive posturing on oil reserves, and ultimately setting the stage for a global first: a Caspian arms race.

    A sea monster is rising from the black, oil slick lagoon of the Caspian Sea. Discoveries of oil reserves are sparking an arms race between Russia, Iran, and several former Soviet Republics. Russia and Kaz...

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  • America Is Not The Greatest

    Aaron Sorkin is an Academy and Emmy award-winning American screenwriter, producer, and playwright, whose works include A Few Good Men, The American President, The West Wing, Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Charlie Wilson's War, The Social Network, and Moneyball. He has presided over some of the greatest moments in TV and he did it again recently in the opening episode of The Newsroom.

    "Why is America the greatest country in the world?" a coed asks the assembled media pundits on season opener of HBO's The Newsroom.

    Aaron Sorkin is an Academy and Emmy award-winning American screenwriter, producer, and playwright, whose works ...

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  • The Third Option

    As Canadians, it's important we dampen the fires of mean spirited panic at this shift in trade strategy. It is neither new nor radical. In 1972, Mitchell Sharp—Trudeau's Secretary of State for External Affairs—proposed what has famously been called his Third Option. The impulse at that time was to weaken Canadian cultural and economic dependence on the United States in the interest of safeguarding Canadian identity.

    Canada is nervous about depending on America. No surprise there, we live in a time when America is nervous about depending on America, so why shouldn't its foreign allies feel the same? The United States doesn't do itself any favours, mind you, when—as two ...

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  • Time to Think

    "How it Went Down" tells a different story, maybe even an encouraging one, about how large scale bureaucracies and enormously powerful personalities and institutions can collaborate to produce precise, calculated results. These are not the adjectives that jump to mind for the American government, but Allison's piece is a touchstone for those who believe, rightly it turns out, that provided enough motivation modern governments can function swiftly, deftly, and intelligently in a modern media environment.

    In Time's latest issue, Graham Allison chronicles the timing and decisions leading up to the raid and killing of Osama bin Laden. "How it Went Down" is a pop analysis by a...

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  • A little thin, isn't it?

    I've read the report, and its content is not what makes it noteworthy. I'm reasonably certain that you could find a bunch of similar-calibre papers from C-range students in first year political science courses in universities across the country. No, what makes it noteworthy, and the reason it made front page news, is that it was produced by something described as a Christian church.

    The United Church of Canada's recent report on Israeli and Palestinian policy made front-page news this week. But Shimon Fogel's ...

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  • The Race to the Top

    Take, for instance, the Canadian Auto Workers Union. Yesterday, the CAW launched a major paper entitled "Re-thinking Canada's Auto Industry: A Policy Vision to Escape the Race to the Bottom." The report outlines policy recommendations including "buy Canadian" measures, direct government investment in the auto industry, Central Bank tampering with monetary policy to lower the Canadian dollar and encourage exports, and a host of other measures intended to "protect Canada's share of this industry." The first community whose head gets stepped on is workers in developing economies.

    The race to the bottom is a full-contact sport full of cheap hits and thuggery. The thugs, however, are not always easy to spot.

    Take, for instance, the Canadian Auto Workers Union. Yesterday, the CAW launched a major paper entitled "...

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  • From the Personal to the Public to the Political

    I attended his lecture at the University of Calgary. He was in the city to collect this year's Calgary Peace Prize, awarded by the university's Consortium for Peace Studies. His name is Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, though he is more commonly known now as "the Gaza doctor", whose life was shattered when the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) shelled his home during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, killing four family members.

    For me, there was one bright light in last week's dismal omnipresent verbal trench warfare in the political sphere.

    I attended his lecture at the University of Calgary. He was in the city to collect this year's Calgary Peace Prize, awarded by the uni...

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