OpenCanada.org

Canada's Hub for International Affairs

The Weekly Dispatch (20 April)

Taylor Owen & Anouk Dey | April 20, 2012
WeeklyDispatch

We are delighted that OpenCanada.org is expanding rapidly. Our community is growing internationally, our content moving into new in-depth series and live events, and we have embarked on a series of partnerships, beginning with The Globe and Mail and Maclean’s. Last week, we launched our Weekly Dispatch, which will replace our monthly newsletter, and include notes from the editors, highlights from the site, as well as selected international affairs readings from around the web. In the inaugural Weekly Dispatch, launched the week NATO met to discuss the future of Afghanistan and Australia announced it was prematurely withdrawing its troops, the focus was… Afghanistan. Highlights include five expert takes on what Canada got wrong in Afghanistan and an excerpt from Noah Richler’s new book on Canadians and war.

 

This Week on OpenCanada

What went wrong in Afghanistan?
Blame Canada? Blame Karzai? Blame Pakistan? We ask Bill Graham, Margaret MacMillan, Roland Paris, Eugene Lang, and Bob Bothwell to identify the culprit behind Canada’s longest ever military commitment.

The Three Bad Decisions Made in Afghanistan
Counter-insurgency is like baseball. Steve Saideman examines the three strikes that doomed the Afghanistan mission.

What Went Wrong in Canada?
Canadian troops withdrew from Afghanistan exactly 50 years after Dwight Eisenhower gave his famous military-industrial complex speech. Anouk Dey thinks it’s more than just coincidence.

A Brief History of Canada and the International Criminal Court
On the 10th birthday of the ICC, we celebrate Canada’s involvement – and wonder why it has waned in recent years.

 

Rapid Response Question of the Week

Was the first decade of the ICC a more just one?
On the International Criminal Court’s 10th birthday, War Child founder Samantha Nutt, Brookings’ Bruce Jones, Concordia University’s Kyle Matthews, former ambassador Jeremy Kinsman, and author Erna Paris face off on whether the world is a more or less violent place. But are these experts even answering the right question: does justice necessarily mean less violence?

 

Weekly Readings from the World Wide Web

“Joseph Kony: Trouble in South Sudan,” by Alexis Okeowo for The New Yorker
Everything was supposed to be okay after the referendum. But, according to the New Yorker, all is not well in South Sudan.

“Cairo’s Candidate Shuffle,” by Jeff Martini for Foreign Affairs
Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même. A few reasons why the forthcoming Egyptian election is no different from those that came before the revolution.

“The G-20 Is Failing,” by Edwin M. Truman for Foreign Policy
Canada should be proud of being a G20 country right? Not so, according to Edwin Truman: the G20 simply isn’t what it used to be.

“War Games,” by Noah Richler for The Walrus
In an excerpt from his forthcoming What We Talk About When We Talk About War, Noah Richler argues that, today, Canadian heroes are soldiers, not peacekeepers.

“Human Capital,” by Beth Haddon for The Literary Review of Canada
This year, three Canadians have published books about their kidnapping ordeals in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Maghrib. Which ones to read, and which ones not to read.

“Pictures at a Revolution,” by Luke Allnutt for Foreign Policy
Who needs international relations theorists, when you have data visualization? An overview of how data is being used to explain revolutions.

 

Events

Louise Arbour: Truth To Power
On Thursday, April 19, OpenCanada.org live streamed a dialogue between Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and UBC President Stephen Toope at UBC. Don’t worry if you missed it. You can still watch the conversation online, which touched on the ICC, the War on Terror, the rights of prisoners, and Canada’s diminished position in international affairs.

April 24
Corruption, Diplomacy and International Sport: Two Game Changers
The National Capital Branch is honoured to host two outstanding warriors for sports integrity, Declan Hill, author of The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime, and Dick Pound, former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

April 25
Inside Syria: A Conversation with Glenn V. Davidson
The Halifax Branch will be holding a roundtable discussion with Glenn V. Davidson, Canada’s ambassador to Syria between 2009 and 2012.

April 25
The Canadian Forces and OP Mobile: The Operation in Libya 2011
The Calgary Branch will be hosting Lieutenant-Colonel Normand Gagné, the Canadian Deputy Air Component Commander charged with helping enforce the No-Fly Zone as part of the mission in Libya.

 

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2011 Roundup

Taylor Owen & Anouk Dey | January 4, 2012
Screen Shot 2012-01-04 at 6.17.44 PM

Six months ago, Gadhafi was still alive, Canada was a member of Kyoto, the U.S. was still in Iraq, U.S. debt was on the brink of a precipitous downgrade, and we launched opencanada.org. Since then, we have produced a lot of content (for a full review, see our 2011 Content Glossary here (or below). But more importantly, from Day 1, it was clear that foreign-policy change was afoot and that we were jumping into a rapidly changing world.

In our inaugural Dispatch post, Taylor Owen suggested four ways to adapt the Canadian foreign-policy discussion to new global dynamics. OpenCanada is still in its infancy but, with the end of 2011, we reflect on the site’s progress in these four areas:

(i)            We desperately need innovation of ideas.

While Canada boasts a wealth of top thinkers on international relations, they rarely interact outside of the academic world. Instead, their ideas are presented publicly isolated in newspapers, with little room for commentary or discussion. The Roundtable blog seeks to give a group of Canada’s top foreign-policy innovators a place to share ideas, and to give the Canadian public a portal into their conversations.

Sixty-one blog posts later, Roundtable has delivered, producing OpenCanada’s two highest-traffic-generating pieces – Roland Paris’ “What is Stephen Harper Afraid of?” and John Hancock’s “Quitting Kyoto: Un-Canadian” – and prompting vigorous debate about the Responsibility to Protect in Libya and Canada’s China policy. All addressed ideology in the context of foreign affairs, challenging the widespread notion of an “ideal, centrist, moderate foreign policy.” 

This desire to confront ideology permeated other areas of the site as well, with the Think Tank inviting four prominent conservatives to answer the question “What Does Conservative Foreign Policy Look Like?”, and the Rapid Response asking, “Is Conservative foreign policy different from Liberal foreign policy?” Jennifer Welsh’s critique of David Cameron’s brand of British Exceptionalism caught the Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan’s attention, spurring an international discussion of transatlantic conservatism.

(ii)          We must reform, dismantle, or replace the institutions through which we conduct foreign policy.

The Arab Spring demonstrated the promise of new technology in pushing global governance away from hierarchy. OpenCanada embraced this trend, particularly through our Rapid Response feature. Each week, for 24 weeks, we asked a select group of high-profile Canadians a question via email. This has provided unique personal and direct insight from 25 of Canada’s top foreign-policy thinkers on 24 different issues. For the first time, Canadians were able to hear what Rob Prichard and Janice Stein really believe should be John Baird’s priority, what former UN ambassador Paul Heinbecker seriously thinks about Ethical Oil, and if Roméo Dallaire sees secession as the solution to African conflicts. The questions that solicited the greatest response were, “What issue should John Baird prioritize?” and “Are diplomats needed in the digital age?

(iii)         We must meaningfully engage and incentivize the new foreign-policy actors.

OpenCanada recognizes that it is not only the procedures of global governance that require updating; it is also the actors. The principal drivers of Canadian foreign policy are no longer the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency – they are the individuals, corporations, and groups working at the new intersections of domestic and international affairs.

Before we can incentivize these actors, we must identify them. To this end, OpenCanada has sought to broaden the definition of who qualifies as a foreign-affairs actor with series’ on Canada’s diaspora, Canada’s stake in intellectual property, and the Canadian manufacturing sector.

Two of OpenCanada’s most popular pieces were written by rising academics studying Africa. Erin Baines of the University of British Columbia wrote about U.S. President Barack Obama’s challenge to Uganda and Sudan’s Lord’s Resistance Army, spurring international Twitter debate about the implications. After the recent Congo elections, Oxford’s Emily Paddon’s “Beyond Elections in the Congo” drew large global readership, including thousands of views from within the Congo thanks to its mention by a prominent Congolese blog.

(iv)         We must base our foreign policy in the tools and tactics of a networked world.

OpenCanada recognizes that it is not only the actors of global governance that require updating; it is also their methods. We seek to actively innovate in this new and rapidly changing space. The #cdnfp Twitterati list, our active @TheCIC handle, and our Readings section have all sought to bring together the emerging online debate of Canadian foreign policy. More broadly, though, Canadians clearly agree that aggregation and “super-curation,” as Anne-Marie Slaughter puts it, are the editing practices of the future. Beyond Canada, the most meaningful and innovative international-affairs conversation is now almost exclusively online, with key content nodes around the world forming the core of a global network of audience, reader, and content creators. This media space is immensely exciting, and rapidly changing, and we intend to be a part of it.

There is no reason to think that the next six months will not bring as much change to Canadian foreign policy as the past six did. In preparation, we are experimenting with new ways of stimulating conversation and broadening our reach. In January, we will launch our Future of Aid series, creating a platform for discussion among five of the top thinkers on international development. As part of this, we will launch our video conversation technology, taking Facebook chat to a new level. Later in the year, we will delve into the future of Canada’s military and the complexity of contemporary supply webs.

For us, this will be a year of rapid expansion of both our content and staff. A year of constant platform and technological experimentation. A year of pushing Canadians and Canadian international affairs into the global conversation. We hope you will join us!

 

2011 OpenCanada Content Glossary

Think Tanks:

For each Think Tank, we ask a group of experts and practitioners to reflect on an international policy issue.  Here are the subjects we explored in 2011.

 

Essays: 

Stand alone essays are individual long-form contributions

 

Interviews

We have conducted a wide range of interviews, by phone, email, video recording and online chat.

 

Editorial Content

These stand alone pieces were developed in-house by our editorial staff.

 

Rapid Response Questions:

Each of the questions below, was sent to a group of Canadian international affairs experts.

 

The Roundtable:

Gregory Chin:

John Hancock:
Roland Paris:

André Pratte:

Jennifer Welsh:

Dispatch:
Anouk Dey:
Jennifer Jeffs:
Taylor Owen:

Photo courtesy Reuters.

 

2011 OpenCanada Content Glossary

Taylor Owen & Anouk Dey | January 4, 2012

We have only been live for 6 months, but we have been busy.  Below is a chronicle of the content we have produced since our launch in August.  Here’s to the next year of debate, innovation and progress in the international affairs conversation.

Think Tanks:

For each Think Tank, we ask a group of experts and practitioners to reflect on an international policy issue.  Here are the subjects we explored in 2011.

 

Essays: 

Stand alone essays are individual long-form contributions

 

Interviews

We have conducted a wide range of interviews, by phone, email, video recording and online chat.

 

Editorial Content

These stand alone pieces were developed in-house by our editorial staff.

 

Rapid Response Questions:

Each of the questions below, was sent to a group of Canadian international affairs experts.

 

The Roundtable:

Gregory Chin:

John Hancock:
Roland Paris:

André Pratte:

Jennifer Welsh:

Dispatch:
Anouk Dey:
Jennifer Jeffs:
Taylor Owen: