Mark Collins – No Mo’ “Foreign Affairs” Dept.–But Why Not “Intergalactic Affairs”?

After all the new Liberal government is striving to be nomenclaturally oh so progressive–for example the new “Cabinet Committee on Inclusive Growth, Opportunities and Innovation” (p. 5 PDF here).  I’m with Prof. Steve Saideman on this:

A Rose By Any Other Name is Just as, um, Global

So, they are changing the name of the department responsible for foreign affairs again.  When I started working on the Afghanistan stuff, it was DFAIT: the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.  When the Canadian International Development Agency was folded into it, it became DFATD–Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.   This was prounded DFAT-D or Defeated.  The new government is going to call it the Department of Global Affairs…

…Global is being used because it is the hip name of the moment.  The Canadian Foreign Affairs and Defence Institute, of which I am a Fellow [see here], changed its name earlier this year to CGAI–Canadian Global Affairs Institute.  Carleton has developed a BA program in Global and International Affairs or BGIns.  The urgency here to grab global is that international is too state-centric and perhaps Foreign is too other-ing [then why not “International” instead, or even good old “External“? that’s what the Indians still call it]?  But the department will be acting on behalf of Canada–a state–and will be engaging mostly but not entirely other states as well as international organizations (composed of states) and non-state organizations (which are relevant but not as imagine as they imagine themselves to be).  Yes, we have Al Qaeda, but ISIS is actually trying to be a state.

Anyhow, I am annoyed because I am stodgy and all that, but also because FA is a perfectly fine name, and everyone is going to have to change their business cards again in three or four years when Global is not hip enough or it needs additional modifiers…

Now if you really want hip (about half-way down under “Science Diplomacy Unpacked”):

… in the emerging heteropolis in which the sources and vectors of power and influence are characterized more by difference than by similarity, development – equitable, sustainable, long-term and human-centred – has in large part become the new security… 

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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