Mark Collins – Canadian Defence Review: What’s the There There?

The conclusion of a CDA Institute Analysis that I think makes a lot of sense:

…according to one previous foreign policy statement, the objective of the Ottawa’s international policies should be to achieve (or restore) a place of “pride and influence,” as if pride and influence were the objectives and not the occasional result of successfully making wise decisions grounded in reality. No doubt many parts of the world would benefit from “more Canada” [oodles more on that here], especially when it means the assistance of the superb Canadian Armed Forces. But defence policy formulation should, in the first instance, be about deciding how much more of the world, and its problems, Canada needs to be involved with in order to maintain its security, prosperity, and stability. And the answer to that question may well be, not much more than the country is presently able or willing to provide. In order to make it possible to reach such a conclusion, the clichés have to be dispensed with.

Perhaps more importantly, these pleasantries are not about how the world actually sees Canada, but rather about Canadians feeling good about how they think the world see their country [what a justified dagger into our self-obsessed hearts! See end of this post: “…No surprise. It’s all about us, us, us…” (but poor Tom Mulcair)]. Repeating these clichés conveys false promises which are bound to be unfulfilled, thus engendering unnecessary cynicism and disappointment. The end result is Canadians then feeling bad, even ashamed, about their country’s global standing, when they have no reason to do so [see also: “Afghanistan, Canadians’ Self-Obsession and Blood“].

In sum, if a defence review and new policy statement now are unavoidably on the way, it would be well to recall another Showboat classic song; “Ol’ Man River.” Canadian defence policy just keeps ‘rollin’ along’-NATO, NORAD (Canada-U.S.), some UN peace operations, domestic roles-no matter how much, extensively or how often it is reviewed. Since a review and statement now appear to be inescapable, both could be at least of some value and even achieve a small measure of originality, if they can avoid in print and word the four decidedly unhelpful approaches of threatism, grand strategyism, laggardism, and clichéism. None are needed to explaining and justifying the need for a defence policy and military posture that serves Canadian national interests.

Just to twist that dagger:

The Mandela Memorial Ceremony and Canada: “…a little people, a silly people…”

…Grow up, eh?

Ol’ Man River“:

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


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