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Canada Foreign Policy

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Autor:   •  March 9, 2011  •  2,154 Words (9 Pages)  •  835 Views

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After September 11th there was the reemergence of security as a top priority for policy makers: both U.S. and Canadian. In practice, the Bush administration has changed the way nations and international institutions do business. This Bush administration after 9/11 was not afraid to harshly criticize other nations if in their eyes that nation wasn't doing business they way the United States saw fit. The U.S. more or less "drew the line in the sand" and divided the world into two categories: "good" and "evil." This sharp stance held by the U.S. thus presented their allies with a dilemma and therefore nations needed to decide how closely they would ally themselves with the increasingly radical and aggressive United States.


A month after the attacks of September 11th (October 7th 2001) , the Bush administration began the "war on terror" and the initial battleground of this war was Afghanistan. Nations involved in the invasion and campaign against al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime were major NATO members: United Kingdom. Germany, Canada, Netherlands, Italy and France. Overall there was a total of 136 countries who offered some form of military assistance to Operation Enduring Freedom. By 2002, Canada had 750 soldiers deployed along U.S. troops as part of the U.S. Army task force. Like Bosnia and Kosovo, the U.S. forces and Canadian forces combined to form a multilateral fighting force, in Afghanistan "the Canadians were fully integrated under U.S. command." (Clarkson, Banda)

In Afghanistan not only was the Canadian response supportive of the U.S., the Canadian reaction was almost identical. Afghanistan was viewed as yet another example of Canada being subservient to the United States in areas concerning defense and foreign policy. One possible reason for this subservient behavior by Ottawa can be attributed to economic motives. "Despite its slow initial response, Canada's intervention in Afghanistan thus wrote another chapter in a long story of subservient defense cooperation with its neighbor in which Ottawa collaborates, spending as little as it can manage while still expecting economic favors from Washington in return." (Clarkson, Banda) It has been noted that Canada often backs the U.S. in military endeavors expecting economic favors from the United States. In the case of Afghanistan and the War on Terror, Canada was "met with higher U.S. duties on British Columbian lumber and prairie wheat." (Clarkson, Banda)

In other NATO endeavors, economics played a far smaller role, thus it should be noted the economic reasons are not the only reasons for Canada-U.S. cooperation. The historical relationship of Canada and the U.S. as NATO members is one of mutual defense concerns and participation in numerous multilateral military units. It may sound odd, but many times in history Canada has played the "little brother" role to the United States for defense reasons and in international peacekeeping.

Canada's reaction to the post 9/11 policies of the United States remained in essence, the same as always, generally supportive for the United States. Of course, the support for the U.S. by Canada is not ever present, certain U.S. policy would compel Canada to differ with U.S. military action. Post 9/11, the United States policy is characterized by pre-emptive military action, a doctrine Canada is far less comfortable in participating in. One notable and visible sign that Ottawa is not as committed to military action as Washington is Canada's military budget. Although Canada usually sides with the United States we are seeing and will no doubt continue to see a trend of Canada aligning themselves less and less with Washington policy, enter the war in Iraq.


In 2003, the U.S. was no longer in favor of using diplomacy when dealing with Iraq. The war in Afghanistan was the Bush administrations first application of their new preemptive military policy. The Wolfowitz doctrine and the neo-conservative ideology was finally in full swing in Washington D.C. After years of sitting back in U.S. politics, military hawks like (Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney) finally had the chance to enact their hard-line military policies. There was a new struggle in Washington between the old Reagan administration members and Washington moderates, with the neo-conservatives ultimately winning out. This struggle in Washington would also bring a military debate to Canada as well. Canada's foreign policy is far from the new neo-conservative policy enacted in Washington. Where Canada is still strongly committed to diplomacy, the United States under the Bush administration was straying farther and farther away from the model of diplomacy.

As the United States looked for support from the international community, they maintained a level of credibility by using the United Nations. The U.S. policy initially appeared legitimate and supported in the initial dealings with Iraq. It appeared to the international community that the U.S. would utilize the United Nations as a means to deal with the Iraq situation. "Once it became obvious that American diplomacy at the UN was merely aimed at securing cover for a war that Canadian diplomacy was trying to avert, the discrepancy between the U.S. and its unwilling partner's policy hierarchies became fully apparent." (Clarkson, Banda) When it was obvious that the U.S. was merely going through the motions and ultimately intended on attacking Iraq, no matter what the UN or international community had to say, Canada decided that the war was not one they would support.

The Canadian policy is one of non-intervention, respecting the sovereignty of other nations and proclaiming that these nations have a right to self-determination. Washington however was determined to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime, clearly a policy is at odds with the tenets of a policy of non-intervention. The invasion of Iraq and the post 9/11 interventionist stance held by the U.S. shows the clear and principal difference in the foreign policies of Canada and the United States.

The Iraq situation was handled by Canada with diplomacy, a tradition that Canada strongly values. "Multilateral diplomacy, respect for international organizations, primacy of international law, trade, and aid" (Clarkson, Banda) are the focal points for Canadian diplomats. Canada was desperately seeking a resolution in the UN concerning the Iraq situation.

Canada and Mexico, the United States' NAFTA partners, sought each other out in an effort to establish a diplomatic alternative to a looming war in Iraq. Prime Minister ChrÐ"©tien drafted a diplomatic proposal and presented it to Mexico's President


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