Extent of damage by corporate/political alliance to this country’s international reputation is clear.
October 19, 2010 – This past Tuesday, Canada’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council was rejected by the countries of the UN on the first and second ballots overwhelmingly to the point that Canada withdrew its nomination to avoid further embarrassment from the third round of voting.
How could this have happened? Aren’t we the boy scouts of the world? Doesn’t everybody love Canada?
What Canada has failed to understand over the last five years, if we judge the entire country through the actions of our current government “representatives” (which the global community did last Tuesday), is realize what the countries of the world, who comprise the global community, are looking for and want in those who are entrusted with the security of the planet.
Quite simply, the world community has realized that the future of global security will depend on the mutual respect for international law and communication between nations to solve their problems. The countries that will be chosen to the rotating seats on the Security Council will be the countries that are role models of both these qualities.
Canada has missed the boat on this global trend all together. What this country has focused on instead has been an increased dependence on military spending overseas at the expense of the day-to-day security of its own citizens at home. The global community has seen the results of this tact within the United States, where all indicators show it has worsened the living conditions for the working members of the society. The world is moving away from that model and privately, many international diplomats are stunned and amazed that Canada –now– is adopting a method of public spending that is a proven failure.
In the eyes of the world, Canada’s international record has been nothing to warrant Canada more responsibility in tending to global security. Acting as America’s lackey and using a legal clause in the NATO alliance as the justification for going into Afghanistan in the first place – prioritizing the sending of soldiers instead of aid relief to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake disaster – maintaining an “Israel-first” attitude, despite the change in world opinion – this is what the world has seen from Canada internationally.
What the world has actually experienced with Canada internationally has not been much better. At the international climate conferences, in Nairobi, Copenhagen, and Bangkok – Canada was seen as more of a hindrance than a help to international action. The Canadian decision to openly disregard the signed Kyoto Accord left a lot of countries throughout the world questioning Canada’s commitment to global affairs. Even at the Commonwealth Summit Canada came under fire from member nations at the meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2009 and there was a call for Canada to be suspended from the Commonwealth.
There is no question that Canada’s old position regarding Israel cost it some votes. Canada’s cutting of funding to various African nations and even UN agencies cost it some votes. The actions of Canadian mining companies throughout the world, specifically Latin America, cost Canada some votes. But the underlying reason for the world’s refusal of Canada’s bid to the Security Council is because of Canada’s demonstrated (in Afghanistan) belief that the use of might and aggression is a proper and acceptable way to solve problems. The belief in the ability of aggression and physical force to solve problems is what the world community has realized is the problem.
As a thirtysomething who has grown up in Canada, I can speak for my generation which, whether all of those my age realize it or not, has witnessed guns, aggression and occupation being the very cause and enabler of global insecurity. The rest of the world has seen the same thing only to a much clearer extent because few countries in the world shelter their citizens to the level that Canada does (ask yourself if you were made aware,through Canadian news agencies or otherwise, that there was a 2009 call to kick Canada out of the Commonwealth).
So what will it take for Canada to get its international reputation back on track and put itself in a position where Canada’s peers at the UN will accept this country’s bids for additional global responsibilities?
First and foremost, Canada must adhere to International Law itself (this means curtailing its mining companies who abuse and exploit internationally, among others) and it must disassociate itself from all regimes which continue to ignore International Law, including apartheid Israel. The reality is that the rule of International Law has resolved most of the issues of dispute throughout the world today. The violence continues because one party or the other refuses to respect the judgements. Ending the violence is the priority of the world community and those entrusted with seats on the Security Council must have the same core values.
Second, Canada must provide the world with proven, demonstrated examples of this country using communication and negotiating as the means for resolving international disputes – whether it be disputes in which we, as Canadians, are involved ourselves or through successful mediation of disputes between other countries. A realization must be inserted here that supplementing or replacing negotiations and communication with military force is counter-productive to obtaining a sustainable resolution, and that is Canada’s current course in Afghanistan. That must change – for Canada’s good as well as the good of the world.
Third, there must be concrete examples of Canada’s repudiation of continuing to spend taxpayer money on military hardware at the expense of Canadian taxpayers’ own needs. It may seem backward to the old-school warriors to quantify a lesser percentage of national expenditure on weaponry as a prerequisite for a seat on the Security Council, yet the world community is moving toward seeing that security is most sustainable by not aggressing other countries. And before we start screaming about our addictive-compulsive neighbor to the south and the example that it sets for the world, it is possible that the very example the US has been setting, with its use of the “veto” et al., is the very reason that countries of the world are turning away from the use of force, manipulation and inbred exceptionalism and turning instead towards a true global democracy that, in some cases, must be a more representative democracy then in the individual countries.
It was February 2002 when Canadian ground soldiers entered Afghanistan. They are still there and have increased in number, casualties and cost to the Canadian taxpayer. We, as Canadian taxpayers, are paying 7 million dollars per day that the soldiers stay overseas and away from their own families. Today our government clings to the justification that we had to respect a clause in our NATO alliance and enter our armed forces into a conflict with a country that never had a problem with us and vice-versa (where was that morality on the Kyoto Accord?).
Ironically, unquestioning acceptance of military alliances was the very mistake among world nations that triggered WWI. It is possible that several of the voting countries at the UN last Tuesday were aware of this history and not intent on entrusting the world’s security to a country that was still making the blunders of a century ago. Any country that is seen as enabling, through action or ignorance, another world war will not have a place in a sustainable global community, let alone a seat on the UN Security Council.
Or maybe, it all is as simple as Michael Ignatieff put it: “This is a government that for four years has basically ignored the United Nations and now is suddenly showing up saying ‘Hey! Put us on the council.’”.