The Anglosphere: A Genealogy of a Racialized Identity in International Relations

By Srdjan Vucetic | Go to book overview

4 SUEZ, VIETNAM, AND THE
“GREAT AND POWERFUL FRIENDS”

Britain is not always right and the United States is not always
wrong
.

Canberra Times, 18 March 1955

I do not believe that Canada is a variant of the United States.

—John Conway, “What Is Canada?” (1964)

IN THE GLOBAL SOCIETY, Australia and Canada have long been regarded as mirror images of each other.1 What explains their similarities is their common Anglosphere history. At the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century, Australian and Canadian elites defined themselves as members of a worldleading Anglo-Saxon race. Yet unlike their American counterparts at this time, they additionally defined themselves as specifically British peoples. By the middle of twentieth century, Australians and Canadians were still British in many contexts, but few among them self-identified as the instruments of racial supremacy. In lieu of Anglo-Saxonism, Greater Britonism, and its corollaries, the dominant discourses of identity now revolved around capitalism, liberal democracy, and anticommunism. Indeed, at the forefront stood the Cold War, in which Australia, Canada, and their “great and powerful friends” fought against the Eastern bloc.2

In the attempt to shed light on the constitution of the Anglosphere in the Cold War era, this genealogy will now examine Australian and Canadian choices in the Suez and Vietnam conflicts. Each war led to a split in the Englishspeaking alliance, in which Australia and Canada played different parts despite their many similarities. In the Suez crisis, Canberra went with London; Ottawa, with Washington. Here, the discourses of state/national identity in both Australia and Canada suggested that Britain and its allies were right to invade Egypt, even during the contemporaneous Soviet invasion of Hungary. Canberra “blindly” supported the British-led war, but the “liberal internationalist” government in Ottawa called for a U.N. cease-fire, together with the Americans and the Soviets. Tellingly, Canadians framed their policy as a reasonable disagreement between two friendly Commonwealth governments, rather than

-74-

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