I have to confess that when the editor asked me to provide my thoughts about the effect President Donald J. Trump has had upon Canadians and, by projection, upon the quality of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Canada, my memory flashed back to the early 1960s, when I first read Joseph Heller’s incredible antiwar satire, Catch-22. There are two reasons for the flashback. First is the strikingly bizarre impact (satirical were it not so sad) that the Trump presidency appears to have had upon what is usually considered to be the world’s platinum standard for sensible bilateral relationships. Just as Heller’s characters managed to make such a hash of warfighting, so too has Donald Trump seemingly accomplished the impossible – to lead a goodly number of Canadians actually to think of the United States as an “enemy”! For sure, this enemy image is far from reflecting a majoritarian perspective among Canadians – we are not yet a country populated by Russians or Iranians – but the mere fact that some 10 percent of those surveyed recently could have such a dismal view of their American neighbor speaks volumes about the depths to which the affective quality of the bilateral relationship has plunged since Trump became president.
Our planet is approaching an environmental cliff edge. Deforestation, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change put our future at risk. Nuclear power, once envisaged as a source of energy that would become ‘too cheap to meter,’ is now regarded by some as a ‘green’ alternative to fossil fuels. For advocates of nuclear power, developments in recent years have brought reasons for optimism. Approximately 30 countries are contemplating, negotiating, or already setting up nuclear power programs. Eighty percent of them are developing economies, which, given the financial repercussions of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, need access to affordable and clean energy in order to reduce the devastating effects of this economic tsunami. Among the countries aspiring to introduce nuclear power into their energy mix is Israel, whose government hopes that building nuclear power plants (NPPs) would help it reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030.
Canadian military export policies came to unusual public attention following Canada’s 2014 agreement to sell $15 billion worth of armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia. The deal was negotiated under the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and was subsequently given official approval, through the granting of export permits, by the Liberal Government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was elected in 2015. In the debate that ensued, the greater indignation was reserved for the Liberals, who had come to power on the promise of a return to multilateralism and re-engagement with the United Nations—a posture that raised expectations of a renewed exercise of Pearsonian internationalism  rather than of record-breaking arms sales to one of the world’s most egregious violators of global human rights standards.
The role of police institutions in transnational governance and economic development has become a site of intensive scholarly and policy debates, especially since the revitalization of counterinsurgency doctrine in the early twenty-first century as the crux of U.S.-led coalition actions in the so-called War on Terror. Some argue that public police ought to remain occupied solely with matters of ‘domestic’ law and order, sounding alarms about ‘mission creep’ and the inappropriate involvement of ‘civil’ institutions in ‘military’ interventions across ‘international’ boundaries, or the vice versa. But research that exhibits a critical historiography of policing as an already global practice, and that explicitly recognizes and foregrounds the rise of police institutions in the context of imperial expansionism, colonial administration, and the rise of (neo)liberal political economic ideologies, belies any assumed bright lines between domestic-international and civil-military spheres of police influence and praxis.
Jean-Christophe Boucher’s scholarly essay, “Yearning for a Progressive Research Program in Canadian Foreign Policy” and Brian Bow’s invited response, “Measuring Canadian Foreign Policy,” offer a timely discussion of the state of Canadian Foreign Policy (CFP) analysis. Boucher’s essay should be applauded for its boldness and its diagnosis of some problems encountered in the discipline. Whether or not one agrees with Boucher’s conclusions, his analysis has the merit of shaking up the field of CFP and providing the basis for a well overdue discussion of methods and scientific progress in the study of CFP. As for Bow’s response to Boucher, I believe it is relevant and provides a broad perspective for reflecting on the state of the discipline, although I take issue with his main argument.
As I noted the last time I took to this platform to express my views on the meaning of President Donald J. Trump for Canada’s relationship with the United States, there were at least a few reasons for optimism, amid the general sense of gloom and doom that descended upon Canadians in the immediate aftermath of the November 2016 election. Chief among those reasons was my expectation that, just as earlier Canadian forebodings about Ronald Reagan’s meaning for Canada and its relationship with its great neighbour to the south would turn out to be wildly misplaced in the years following the November 1980 American election, so too might the most recent bout of national neuralgia disappear, once Canadians got to know more about the new president, and grew, if not to like him more, then at least to dislike him a bit less.
On 6 June 2017, Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, addressed the Canadian House of Commons on foreign policy priorities in a speech that was widely interpreted as establishing a new direction in Canada’s international policies–a more independent course involving less reliance on the United States and more support for international forums. The speech was immediately followed by the release of two other government policy statements on defence and foreign aid. The first was a policy review by the Department of National Defence, and it called, among other things, for a $62 billion (CDN) boost in military spending over twenty years. In the second, International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced that Ottawa was remodeling its foreign aid policy in a “feminist” direction and that it would now be focused on the promotion of gender equality. Freeland’s speech and the defence and foreign aid pronouncements were quickly linked to the 2016 American election and, although he was not actually mentioned by name in Freeland’s speech, to President Donald Trump. One observer was prompted to announce that Canada was “now entering a post-American phase.”
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.
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.
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).