In the National Interest: Canadian Foreign Policy and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1909-2009

In the National Interest: Canadian Foreign Policy and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1909-2009

In the National Interest: Canadian Foreign Policy and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1909-2009

In the National Interest: Canadian Foreign Policy and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1909-2009

Excerpt

Over the last two decades, Canadian foreign policy has benefited from an exceptionally rich and vigorous, as well as polarized, discussion of Canada’s national interest. The contours of that debate emerged sharply in the mid-1990s, when the end of the Cold War still seemed likely to liberate global politics in general, and Canadian foreign policy in particular, from the traditional constraints of empire, alliance, and power. Canada’s Liberal foreign minister at the time, Lloyd Axworthy, certainly thought so, and he embraced an ambitious “human security” agenda that placed individual not state – welfare at the centre of the global agenda. His high-profile campaigns against landmines and for an international criminal court inspired a generation of progressive Canadians, convinced that their country’s national interest lay in pursuit of a new world order.

His critics were legion and vocal. They denounced Axworthy and his allies for engaging in a cheap “pulpit diplomacy” and attacked the minister for his “intrusive internationalism.” In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, his critics wielded realist notions of the national interest with considerable effect. In his unlikely bestseller, While Canada Slept: How We Lost Our Place in the World, Andrew Cohen fretted about Ottawa’s declining foreign policy assets and its fading influence . . .

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