Kinsman: How has Canada's experience in Afghanistan changed Canadian foreign policy?
Former Ambassador to the European Union and High Commissioner to Britain
Upside in capacity but downside in international behaviour.
Our Afghan experience built a well-kitted and combat-savvy military and civilian hands-on know-how. They can support humanitarian interventions in what will remain a violent world.
Downside? The Afghan operation shifted foreign policy calculations to the PMO/PCO, where there is zero interest in international opportunities without domestic political payback. Our press bubble on Canada’s Afghan engagement (foreign outlets hardly noticed us, covering only their own soldiers), pumped-up political patriotism that now deludes Canada even to oppose solo international health warnings on chrysotile asbestos, completing a picture of protecting dairy farmers, lauding a throwback seal hunt, and ducking answering for oil sands carbon emissions. These positions aimed at pleasing disparate fragments of Canada’s voting public form for the international professional community a composite national official personality that seems self-congratulatory and politically selfish. Can we recover positive internationalist energy and our place at the table?