California and Canada have some things in common, extending far beyond the trivial fact that each political entity sports in its name the same two first letters.  They are, for starters, similarly sized demographic entities, Canada’s 35 million or so people nearly matching California’s 39 million.  They are each considered, with reason, to be multicultural, meaning basically that within their boundaries live a multitude of folk of differing ethnicities, not infrequently speaking languages other than English. They both have been regarded, again with reason, as ‘outliers’ from mainstream tendencies, social as well as political: California is often heralded, by friends and foes alike, as the harbinger of trends yet to unfold elsewhere in America; Canada is taken, in this age of populism marching triumphantly through one political system after another in the Western world, to be one of the remaining unambiguous bastions of ‘liberal democracy.’ Finally, Canada tends, in American elections, to ‘vote’ very much the way California does.  Indeed, had Canadians possessed the right to cast a ballot in the most recent presidential election, their preference for Hillary Clinton would have been registered at least as strongly as was Californians’ own preference for the Democratic candidate.

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Tsuyoshi Kawasaki’s article contributes to a modest literature on Canada’s diplomatic, security, and defence relations with the Asia Pacific countries. It provides the reader with a succinct and useful review of emergent China in the larger international community with particular reference to U.S.-China relations.  Derivatively, Kawasaki explores his thesis concerning its implications for Canada.

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Given recent trends in American strategy, militarily relevant science and technology, and the global balance of power, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is in the process of gaining a new lease on life, regardless of whether Canadian and American politicians wish it to be so. The three analyses under review offer many specific insights and provide a very useful review of NORAD’s institutional history and strategic debates, but they fail to situate the discussion in the broader structural context of world politics, worsening great power military rivalries, and the rapidly developing compounded crisis of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD).

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Intelligence and National Security coverStuart Farson and Nancy Teeple identify an interesting puzzle in the history of Canadian public policy. Why, in spite of several periods of open reflection about the matter, does the federal government eschew the setting up of a foreign intelligence service? The idea of foreign intelligence gathering came in and out of Canadian dialogue at each of the following times: while still in the era of the British Empire, around 1905; in the immediate aftermath of World War II during 1945; as a by-product of the McDonald Commission in 1981; in relation to the Special Committee in 1989; and as part of the Tory election manifesto of 2006 (48, 49, 52, 54).

 

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The Office History of the Joint Intelligence Committee Volume 1 CoverThe publication of the first volume of Michael Goodman’s much anticipated official history of the British Joint Intelligence Committee is a major event for students of intelligence and international relations. For nearly eighty years the Joint Intelligence Committee [JIC] has been at the center of the British foreign and security policy machinery. The JIC system for coordinating the analysis and dissemination of incoming intelligence evolved gradually in response to the unprecedented requirements of preparing for and then waging a global war. This system has since served as a model for the organisation of many of the world’s intelligence establishments. The first volume of the official history takes the story from the creation of the JIC in 1936 through to the Suez Crisis of 1956. As the three reviews that follow all make clear, Goodman has done justice to this hugely important topic. Volume I of his official history is an example of official history at its very best.

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The International History Review coverLast year, Scott Sagan declared – on H-Diplo – that we are in the midst of a renaissance in nuclear studies, driven by first-rate work by younger scholars.[1] Two qualities in particular mark this scholarship. First, many of these young scholars combine both methodological innovation and rigor while engaging new archival sources. Second, these scholars are unafraid to challenge long-held conventional wisdoms about the nuclear age. The three commentators to this forum – a roundtable on Andreas Wenger and Roland Popp (eds.), “Special Issue: The Origins of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime,” in The International History Review — are exemplars of these trends. Eliza Gheorghe has mined new sources to explore the previously unknown and fascinating history of Romania’s nuclear program, in the process generating important insights into nuclear dynamics between superpowers and smaller states.[2] Nicholas Miller has identified the key moments in United States nuclear nonproliferation policy, helping us understand the motivations and tools driving these efforts.[3] Jane Vayman has built upon recent historical research to model the causal dynamics behind the surprising superpower collusion to stem the spread of nuclear weapons.[4] As their previous work and their reviews here reveal, all three are equally conversant in the most recent historical scholarship and the newest trends in international relations theory involving nuclear dynamics.

 

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Since the start of the twenty-first century, military contractors such as Blackwater (now named Academi), Kellogg, Brown & Root, and SNC Lavalin have become household names in many countries. The reasons for their prominence vary from case to case. One is notoriety. Particular firms hold contracts valued in the millions if not billions of dollars, and the conduct of some firms has not been beyond reproach in terms of military effectiveness or their observance of human rights. A second reason is reliance. Contractors are needed to keep state military personnel fed and supplied, to maintain their machines, and in some cases even to protect them. Developed world states especially require them for warring, training, and simply operating given the limited numbers of available national military personnel, the increasing sophistication of military technologies, and the political ramifications of applying state forces overseas. In many states, contractors have therefore become part of the total national force. Yet another reason pertains to dedication and sacrifice. Many firms suffffered significant levels of casualties during the long-term interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of contracted personnel have provided continuity over the long haul in often austere and intemperate conditions. All of this points to the considerable depth and scope of contractor involvement, which is arguably unprecedented in recent decades if not centuries. It also stands at odds with traditional conceptions of expensive state security sectors and their capabilities and responsibilities to manage and apply violence.

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A lively and vivid debate is ongoing over the extent, nature, and objectives of a possible shift in the ideological foundations that have governed Canadian foreign policy since the 1940s. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is said to have overseen, since coming into office in 2006, a rupture not only in style but in substance of Canada’s international orientations, goals, and behaviour. Some note an increasingly aggressive and militaristic foreign policy,[1] others highlight a neoconservative foreign policy agenda notably based upon asserting moral clarity and cultural superiority,[2] while still others emphasize the electoral clientelism and broader desire to brand a new Canadian international identity as the goals of this ideological shift.[3] One thing is certain: very few dispute the notion that Harper’s Conservative government rejected core elements of the liberal internationalist consensus that is said to have governed Canada’s foreign policy since the Second World War.

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Over the last few decades one of the hottest subjects of debate in the social sciences has been the emergence of ‘cyber’ and its effects on all manner of social relationships and human communities.[1] The term itself is chronically contested and the understanding of the nature of cyberspace in the literature (i.e., its delimitation, composition, and relations with other sorts of space) has a certain buffet quality to it, meaning one thing to some scholars and something else to others.[2] The most influential literature on the subject largely steers clear of the term in the search for the essence of the problem at hand. The sociologist Manuel Castells, for instance, has described the arrival of what he calls the “network society.” The basic idea, in a nutshell, is that the recent (or, perhaps better, ongoing) putative ‘revolution’ in information technology has, in turn, given rise to a paradigmatically new form of organization of human activities—political, economic, and cultural—that is structured around network flows of information, wealth, and, ultimately, power.[3]

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I was surprised to be asked to write a review article of “Still notable: Reassessing theoretical ‘exceptions’ in Canadian foreign policy literature” by David R. Black and Heather A. Smith. This article that introduces the 2014 annual John W. Holmes issue of the leading Canadian journal International Journal is itself a review article on the field of Canadian foreign policy. It is conceived as an update of a similar article written by the two authors in 1993 and published by the Canadian Journal of Political Science.[1] I was asked to write a review of a review article inspired by a review article. And yet, not only did I enjoy very much reading the piece – which is not surprising as it is written by two seasoned and prominent scholars in Canadian foreign policy – but writing that review proved itself to be a fascinating and exciting opportunity to discuss important issues facing the field.

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