Free trade, protecting individual liberty, promoting democratic governance and alleviating suffering are all components of a conservative foreign policy. However, the achievement of these objectives is being hamstrung by the traditional (and increasingly antiquated) theory of realism.
The C2C Ideas Archive
In the self-hating narrative all too popular and which serves as a substitute for thoughtful historical analysis, the West deserves recent Islamic-based terrorism – or at least – should expect nothing less. We bring such atrocities upon our own heads given our collective history of imposed colonialism, insensitivity to other cultures and willingness to sacrifice all others and our own principles. We do this for black gold to heat our gargantuan homes and fuel our obscene SUVs. This is the bleating apologia from everyone from Michael Moore to the late Edward Said, from New Democrats to the ever-pacifist Bloc Quebecois, from critics at home and abroad.
Twenty-one years ago, Bob Geldoff and a litany of well-intentioned celebrities gathered in London to raise awareness and money to end world hunger. At the time, connections between poverty in the developing world, and dinner in Canada seemed tenuous at best. It was rare to get fresh artichokes out of season; phone calls to Hong Kong were well over $1 a minute, and long-weekend flights to Florida, for all but a few jet-set-millionaires, were completely out of the question. Today, thanks to global supply chains and communication networks, vine-ripened tomatoes sit in corner stores across the country, and South African apples are part of most Canadian diets.
What do the daughter of a Grantham grocer, the daughter of a Prussian pastor, and the son of a Hungarian heir have in common? According to the received wisdom proffered by the Fourth Estate, potentially quite a bit. In the wake of the installation of Angela Merkel as the Chancellor of Germany, and the recent election of Nicolas Sarkozy to the Presidency in France, gallons of ink have been spilt on the subject of whether either of these conservatives possess the political skills and determination required to achieve Thatcheresque reform of their moribund economies. There is considerable optimism that the national economies critical to the continental European economy, boasting unemployment rates of 12.6% and 10.2% respectively, will shortly benefit from some revolutionary restructuring.
Of all the world’s major religions, none is at the center of as much controversy today as Islam. Wherever it comes in contact with other religions, a political storm arises. From Paris to the Balkans, Chechnya to Xinjiang, Kashmir to the Sudan, and most notably, in the heart of the Middle East itself, Islam seems unable to make peace with its neighbours. Various explanations, excuses and accusations have been made in response to this phenomenon. None, however, seem as prescient or as penetrating as that presented by Efraim Karsh in his latest work, Islamic Imperialism: A History .
Absolutist conservatism is currently represented in Canada by Max Bernier’s new People’s Party, Wild Rose loyalists scornful of Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party, and faux-Viking elements in the yellow vest movement. A decade ago it was the Fraser Institute, Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Reform Party nostalgists – all unsatisfied with Stephen Harper’s then-young Conservative government. Tom Flanagan’s advice on the virtue of “incrementalism” rings as true now as it did then.
Canadians are fortunate beyond measure. Given that underneath we’re the same creatures that the world has ever seen, the liberty, civility, prosperity and opportunity that we enjoy is astounding. Little wonder that people the world over want to move here, while relatively few seek to flee. An awareness of our good fortune must supplement our appreciation for the enormous effort that goes into making Canada such a pleasant place to live. We should be more grateful and less smug.
How often do you get a blast from the present while reading history books? It certainly happens when the subject is Canadian unity. For instance, if you heard a Quebec politician complain about a supposed fiscal imbalance within our federation because “the share of income tax collected by the province . . . is still clearly inadequate” and claim that “by so often giving short shrift to Quebec’s pleas up to now, the federal government has acted as though it meant to put a brake on our province’s social and economic development”, you could be forgiven for believing that former Parti Québécois premier Bernard Landry had made a comeback. In fact, a Liberal Premier, Jean Lesage, uttered these criticisms in 1963. [i]
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s life and works are a testimony to moral, political and literary courage. His short stories, novels, speeches and his own experiences convey, perhaps more than any other author, the drama, terror and heroism that manifested themselves throughout one of humanity’s most violent and decisive periods. By collecting excerpts from these works together in one volume, the editors have performed a valuable service for English readers seeking to understand the forces and ideas that gave birth to and continued to support totalitarianism long after its bankruptcy was realized.
There are those in my gown town who believe that every political idea expressed in the Anglosphere originates in the United Kingdom. This belief draws indignation from the city’s colonial contingent, which champions the contributions of non-Britons from Rand to Kymlicka. However, we colonials are forced to admit that, particularly over the past thirty years, it has typically been in Britain where global shifts in political attitudes have first been fully expressed in political platforms.
“The facts of life are conservative” said Margaret Thatcher. Perhaps, but the facts never speak for themselves, which is especially problematic for any Canadian mildly interested in ideas. Too many newspapers have hollowed out their editorial, analysis and comment sections; the number and length of book reviews have been slashed; in both newspapers and on television, investigative reporting is often absent (there is no Canadian television equivalent of John Stossel for example); and the Canadian media is more monolithic than the American media, in part because our smaller population makes diversity in staffing and the sheer number of outlets less possible.
In a strange twist of a double coincidence, Luis M. Garcia was born in 1959, the year of Cuba’s revolution, and in the town of Banes, the birthplace of deposed dictator Fulgencio Batista (born there in 1901). Garcia’s shopkeeper parents, initially supportive of the 1959 revolution, later applied to leave Cuba after they lost their small business in one of Fidel Castro’s nationalization programs. The application to leave meant that from that moment on, the Garcia family were “gusanos” – “counter-revolutionaries” – in the view of the regime.
In an era of instant news headlines and empty libraries, a project that seeks to deepen our thinking on a sustained basis through the written word seems downright old-fashioned. To make the point clearer, do you think that many people would respond favourably today to this ad in your local paper?
Only one presidential trip in memory has resulted in the creation of a famous political saying. From Richard Nixon’s seminal visit to China in 1972 came the “Nixon Goes to China Rule” of politics, the crux of which is that the politician perceived to be least likely to do something will actually have the easiest time doing it.
The world needs more Canada. So How come Canada and “democracy assistance” are oxymoronic? In a blast-from-the-past from Canada's Journal of Ideas, relevant again because of Tunisia and Egypt's uprisings, Shuvaloy Majumdar and Christopher Sands argue Canada should imitate how Ronald Reagan and U.S. labour leader Lane Kirkland helped out Poland's Solidarity in the 1980s….