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About Turn! Time to Revise Canada’s Foreign Policy- Part 2


Given that NATO was the cornerstone of our foreign and defence policy and given that NATO has become a stumbling block as Canada tries to regain and reassert its traditional (for nearly half our national existence) role as a leading middle power then: what to do?


We must remember that our foreign policy is all about advancing Canada’s interests in the world by doing things about, with, for and, occasionally, to other countries. Foreign policy does not stand on its own – it flows from a ‘national policy’ which integrates social, economic, defence, fiscal, cultural and foreign polices into a single whole which aims to provide Canadians with two thing: Peace and Prosperity.

Peace is more than just the absence of war – it implies an ability of each and every Canadian to go about his lawful business, anywhere in the world, without undue fear or risk.

Prosperity is more than just a ‘chicken in every pot’ – it implies the capacity for Canadians, individually and collectively, to enjoy the blessings of our land and the fruits of our labours and to share them with others, too.

The world, according to US observer Thomas Friedman, is flat. He points out, in a recent book, that technology has fundamentally altered the global ‘playing field’ – flattening it. The important lesson is that change is the only constant. The global dynamics of 1946, when Canada was a leader in forming NATO are long gone. The situation which existed in 1966, when Canada broke with US policy in Asia is long gone. Ditto the situation which prevailed in 1988 when Canada sought to strengthen its military ties with the US and NATO – just as the Cold war was ending. There is no reason to assume that the ‘solutions’ to the problems of the ‘40s, ‘60s and ‘80s are still appropriate twenty, forty or sixty yeas on.

The current, unipolar interregnum in which America bestrides the globe with unchallenged military power cannot last. China and India, especially, are growing in economic and military power. As Friedman points out: China and India have not forced us to join a ‘race for the bottom,’ instead they challenge us to a race for the top – one on which they plan to achieve and surpass the sort of social, cultural and economic power which seems, in 2006, to be the nearly exclusive purview of the USA.

While there is, for the moment – and it may be a very, very long moment – a violent ‘clash of civilizations’ between radical, fundamentalists, medieval Islamists and the (broadly) secular, liberal, enlightened West, there is, on the horizon, another clash: a more peaceful but equally important clash between conservative Asian social, cultural, economic and political ambitions and those of the liberal West.

The latter ‘clash’ will be about who leads the 21st century’s global social and cultural changes. It is possible, indeed probable that the global ‘economic pie’ will continue to expand such that the West and Asia will both improve the standards of living for most of their peoples without ‘beggaring’ their neighbours or competitors. The issue is less likely to be about how the wealth is shared than about whose (Western (Anglo-American & Continental European) or Eastern (Chinese & Indian)) social and cultural values shape the 21st century markets. This clash can be and should be peaceful. Indeed ‘growing the pie’ so as to ensure peaceful competition will require all the main competitors to share the burden of making and keeping global peace – even in regions which, currently, appear doomed to chaos and violence for generations.


Canada needs to affirm it policy goals. Building upon the existing goals for the Afghanistan mission, Ruxted proposes:

• help create the conditions which will promote global peace and security;
• defend our national interests; and
• ensure Canadian leadership in world affairs.

NATO and Afghanistan are not the sole or even the primary reasons for a change in Canadian foreign policy direction, but they are a catalyst which should drive the change. Ruxted sees three key components to the required change.

First: Canada needs to reaffirm our 'charter membership' in the West – a membership we earned and maintained at a huge cost. We need to help, perhaps to lead our traditional allies to establish a loose, probably informal but effective alignment (not a formal alliance) based, initially, upon: Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. India will be a likely member in the first expansion.

Let us forswear the term Anglosphere because it is unnecessarily provocative – nationally and internationally. Additionally, it is possible that other proven reliable European and Asian partners might join when the initial group decides to expand or may form their own cooperative alignments – in the overarching goal of creating the conditions which will promote global peace and security.

Even after it expands the group should be kept small: restricted to well established democracies which have demonstrated a willingness and ability to carry a full and fair share of the burden of policing the dangerous world of the 21st century.

Second: Canada needs to turn about.

Canada needs to “look South” again – towards our good friend and neighbour and our most important trading partner: the USA. By turning about Canada will, also, extend its strong right arm to the Pacific: towards major trading partners like China, India, Japan, and South Korea; towards old friends like Fiji, Malaysia, and Singapore, and towards traditional allies like Australia and New Zealand. Ruxted says 'again' because this proposal is neither radical nor new – Canada cooperated closely with the USA in the not too distant past – within the living memory of Ruxted members, and it created the Colombo Plan (akin to the US Marshal Plan) to help our Commonwealth friends in the Asia/Pacific region. Canada will be 'welcomed back' by trading partners, old friends and traditional allies alike.

We need not, should not, indeed cannot, just abandon Europe. Nor should we abandon NATO, but we should lead the charge in revising NATO to serve a new, much more constrained, 'European area' (which might include parts of North Africa) security role. The emphasis, quoting again from the North Atlantic Treaty, should now be on “preserving peace and security” - the peace and security won in the cold war. NATO can shrivel in this new task while, perhaps, becoming a useful sub-contractor for planning and mounting operations on behalf of the UN.

This new, loose 'coalition of democracies' should also offer its services to the UN and NATO as a group which can plan and conduct peacemaking operations and turn them over, later, to peacekeepers – peacekeepers provided by nations less able to conduct and sustain modern, offensive combat operations.

Third: Canada also needs to affirm, at home and abroad, our status as one of the worlds most favoured nations – a nation which, relative to 90% of the UN's member states, is sophisticated, rich and powerful. Wealth and power ought to be accompanied by responsibility, including a responsibility to help and protect less fortunate nations. Canada has talked, a lot, about this; it is time to let actions speak louder than words. The candidate members of Ruxted's 'coalition of democracies' are, in the main, similarly favoured – the exception, India, is moving very quickly to join the favoured nations' club. These nations can and should work together to shoulder a full and fair share of the global security burden – as befits rich and powerful nations, and to share the undoubted benefits of democracy with those who are having difficulty with the progression thereto.


The current Canadian government has made much of its goal to “ensure Canadian leadership in world affairs.” That is commendable rhetoric. It is time to make actions speak louder than words. It is time to make an about turn and rejoin traditional allies in leading by word and deed. Ruxted believes that Canadians want to be leaders in bringing peace and prosperity to our troubled world. Reshaping our foreign policy would be good policy and good politics, too.


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Staff Captain on :

I think it is great that we have a site in which lovely turns of phrase like "current, unipolar interregnum" can be used without embarrassment, but wouldn't the comments of John Q. Ruxted bear more intellectual fruit were the disseminators of this information be brave enough to list their bonafides? To date the site resembles little more than verbal masturbation - and I think we as a society can all agree that masturbation is best done in private. Time to come out of the closet, I think. Perhaps others would be compelled to actually bother reading and responding? It's great to stand up and mouth off about how to improve the army. Hell, even Scott Taylor did it in paperback. It's no great intellectual feat. Or is this site intended as a parody so subtle and cutting that only the likes of Dennis Miller would understand it? If so, count me among those who don't get the joke.


Edward Campbell, Managing Editor on :

Thank you for your comment, Staff Captain.

As indicated in ‘About The Ruxted Group’ some members have experience in military matters, in fact some are still gaining that experience as they serve; we presume from your ‘nom de plume,’ Staff Captain, that you are still serving, too. Others have other professional responsibilities which they would rather keep separate from their contributions to Ruxted. The views of these serving military members and other knowledgeable professionals are essential to allow Ruxted to offer comments representing the broadest possible base of knowledge and experience. But, as you may understand, Staff Captain, there are rules and conventions about serving members, especially, commenting publicly on issues of the day. For this reason Ruxted, itself, chooses to remain anonymous.

Ruxted is a group effort, comments are created and then reviewed and edited by many individuals with many and varied qualifications and knowledge/experience sets. That being understood, the ‘managing editor’ of The Ruxted Group is Edward Campbell – a retired senior officer with 35+ years of service in the Canadian Forces.

Ruxted welcomes all comments, especially those related to the substance of its offerings.

Brad Sallows on :

Information and ideas don't need bona fides except their own content. If you're too shallow to evaluate an idea on its merits without the comfort of knowing what the author might have on his "I love me wall", just go back to your couch and watch the TV. Credentialism is a crutch for the weak-minded.

"Staff Captain" - are you a Kzin who has so far failed to demonstrate enough courage and competence to earn a name?

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