Conrad Black Replies [to Two Critiques of His Article in Winter 1997-1998 Issue Taking Canada Seriously]

Article excerpt

I wish to thank Andrew Cohen and Geoffrey Pearson for their generally favourable comments on my article in the winter 1997-8 issue. Both writers assert that it is too late for Britain to be attracted to NAFTA, and Cohen writes that I should have proposed closer trade relations between NAFTA and the EU as a whole. All polls indicate that the majority of Britons do not wish to go further into Europe and both major political parties are committed to a referendum on monetary union. If such an alternative as I proposed were on offer it would be extremely tempting to a very large number of Britons.

The idea of closer trade relations between NAFTA and the EU was proposed this year by Sir Leon Brittan but vetoed by the French. The issue now, as far as Britain is concerned, is not trade, but stripping Westminster jurisdictionally to clothe Brussels and Strasbourg, going backward toward pre-Thatcher industrial relations and tax levels, and slamming the door on any special relationship with the United States and Canada.

Both writers take issue with my comments on the Middle East. I do not agree with Cohen that the peace process has 'collapsed.' I think that there is a slowly dawning realization on the Palestinian side that public relations victories in the credulous Western media do not change the correlation of forces on the ground and that there is mounting impatience with the embezzlement of large amounts of aid given to the Palestinian Authority. My impression is that both sides are doing less posturing and more negotiating, and I think there will be a resumption of progress.

I can assure Cohen that I did not consider our withdrawal of forces from Europe 'a stain on the family honour,' only an unwise move that needlessly cost us considerable influence in NATO councils. There were only a few thousand people involved, who could just as well be stationed in Germany as in Canada, where they are not exactly over-employed now.

Cohen opposes NATO enlargement. Both sides of the argument cite numerous eminent foreign policy specialists and Cohen refers to George Kennan. …


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