Kinsman: What should Canada’s top foreign policy priority be in 2013?

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January 7, 2013
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Fast-breaking trivial info item: Canada’s Foreign Service Officers are to receive martial arts training for self-defence on their postings. The bad news here; it gets sillier and sillier. Maybe the good news is that they’re beginning to grasp that Canada’s self-righteous “me first” new brand isn’t playing so well out there. Priorities? To strategize is to choose. But choices are seldom “either/or.” You can do different things simultaneously without self-contradiction. Values and interests aren’t opposites. Pursuing national self-interest and being a protagonist in building a more functional liberal (sorry for that word) world order can be mutually reinforcing. The world community lacks countries able to lead with credibility to galvanize reformed global governance for the world’s economic and security challenges, environmental stewardship, and human rights. The U.S. is pulling back. Other democracies are handicapped and inward, reduced too often to free-riding. But there’s pay-off for us if we deliver leadership which supports their international agendas. That’s how you get influence in Washington, not from whining about being ignored. What’s the Canadian strategic framework? Consult the essay by David Deudrey and John Ikenberry on Democratic Internationalism <> – “An American Grand Strategy for a Post-Exceptionalist Era.” Simultaneously, Canada should be pushing for a Trans-Atlantic NAFTA/EU Free Trade area. That’s the Big Game, creating the biggest (and democratic) home base anywhere. It will come. But we do better if we are a first mover to make it happen.