Transatlantic Relations and Canadian Foreign Policy

By Long, David | International Journal, October 1, 2003 | Go to article overview

Transatlantic Relations and Canadian Foreign Policy

Long, David, International Journal

IN A RECENT PAPER, ROBERT KAGAN(1) argued that the current transatlantic drift can be attributed to the fact that Americans and Europeans see the world in fundamentally different ways. Kagan suggests that Europeans are from Venus and Americans from Mars; the point being that Europeans tend to look for peaceful settlement, processes of accommodation and compromise, while Americans are goal oriented and much more likely to resort to the use of force in the pursuit of those goals.(2) He further claims that attitudinal differences between the US and Europe are not simply the product of cultural factors and states of mind, but rather are a response to the surfeit of power and influence in the US and the relative weakness of the states of the European Union. The point is, then, that the EU is accommodating because it has to be, and the US more assertive because it can be.

Kagan's paper has had the impact it has had because of the current context of transatlantic relations. While overdrawn and exaggerated, Kagan's caricature hit a nerve both in the US and, more importantly, in Europe, and seems to have gained extra points given the seriousness of the disputes within NATO regarding the Iraq War.(3) If there is agreement that there is a crisis in transatlantic relations, there is disagreement among IR scholars as to its cause. Kagan points to differences of world views regarding power and attitudes to its use. Meanwhile, Europeans are fond of blaming the current US administration, and there is a kernel of truth to this, at least insofar as American foreign policy has appeared quite (consistently) unilateralist of late. Not so long ago, however, John Mearsheimer(4) claimed that we would long for the days of the Cold War because of the certainties and the alignments that it gave us. Structural realist theory, starkly presented by Mearsheimer, predicts that alliances like NATO will disintegrate in the absence of their raison d'etre, the threat from the Soviet Union. Such predictions depend on an assumption regarding the key purpose of an organization like NATO. Canadians, in particular, might want to point to the transatlantic identity aspect of NATO. The territorial defence of western Europe was poured into the mould of this identity in the dire emergency of the growing chill in east-west relations after the end of the Second World War. Another theoretical framework suggests that NATO might persist because of the value of the functions it fulfills as an organization, rather than as a single purpose defensive alliance. This institutionalist view states that organizations are valued by their members for creating certainty in international relations and because organizations are harder and more costly to create than to maintain (politically, at any rate). As a result, this approach suggests we should expect that NATO will persist long past its sell-by date (that is, the end of the Cold War, the end of the Soviet Union or the end of a meaningful Russian military threat). So long as members find it useful, an organization will continue to survive.(5)

Unfortunately, every theoretical approach (even the reputedly optimistic constructivists) seems to indicate that transatlantic relations are in trouble. This is because the bond that has kept transatlantic relations has loosened. And this is true whether the bond was thought to be based on security, utility or identity. NATO is now useful rather than necessary. And the centrality of European security has been transcended by 9/11, which has set a new global security agenda, and by the (near) completion of the project of enlargement. What does this mean for Canada and what should Canadian foreign policy look like with respect to transatlantic relations? If we return briefly to Kagan's metaphors, Canadians might ask whether we are Martians or Venusians. Some observers appear to want us to be American and hope that Canada will adopt, in Kagan's terms, a Martian approach to international affairs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Transatlantic Relations and Canadian Foreign Policy


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.