Will Ukraine Wind Up Making Territorial Concessions to Russia?
Foreign Affairs Asks the Experts
The most significant fact about the Canadian-American relationship may prove to be that the United States is growing less dependent on its allies- including Canada. That Canada is growing more dependent on the United States is a more frequent assumption, especially of Canadians, who make a political sport of accusing each other of abetting this deplorable trend. The United States cares less and less what Canada does because it has a declining interest in our territory for its defenses in a missile age. This trend is unlikely to strengthen our bargaining power in Washington, but it leaves us freer to follow our own course. American independence of Canada encourages Canadian independence of the United States. It tempts us to "neutralism"-if "neutralism" means much in a world shifting from alignment to duopoly, when the "neutralist" heretic General de Gaulle could be outflanked by President Johnson on the road to Moscow.
The term "neutralism" will be flung as a red herring in the debate shaping up on Canadian defense and foreign policy. For Americans, this debate is closer to home but not dissimilar from the reappraisal of the "unequal alliance" made in other allied countries of which the United States grows independent. The language of the fifties fits the United States-Canada relationship little better than it fits that between the United States and its European associates. An unspoken assumption behind the principle of joint continental defense was, for example, that whether we like it or not, if the United States was at war, Canada was bound to be at war. Now, the United States is, de facto, at war, and Canada is not. If the United States were to declare war formally on North Viet Nam, embarrassing questions would arise over joint military measures. What language will fit this curious relationship in a period of transition and exploration is uncertain.
It is Canada's good fortune that its behavior normally escapes notice by its benevolent and otherwise preoccupied neighbors, but the mood could turn sour. The attitude toward Canada as a haven for draft-dodgers is not serious but it may be symptomatic. The number seeking refuge from the draft is exaggerated; more Americans, however, are choosing to live in a country free of the draft and the commitment of Viet Nam, and these factors are reversing the brain drain. Will the fact that Canada in many respects is a more comfortable country than the United States disturb the charitable American view of its neighbor, whose whims could be tolerated as the understandable manifestations of envy? The Canadian standard of living is more than 20 percent below that of the United States, but standards of living are regional. The Canadian standard is exceedingly high and galloping. Figures are unreal even if reliable. And what is affluence? During the same week that we were perturbed over the disruptive performance of General de Gaulle, we were also staring in horror at the smoke rising over Detroit across the river and our troubles seemed minor. Canada is spared race riots not by our virtue but because there are less than fifty thousand negroes among twenty million Canadians, but we do not envy our neighbors across the Lakes. And while Washington calculates the terrible responsibilities of its unsought imperium, Canadian troops return from their most important overseas commitment, the United Nations Emergency Force in Gaza, chagrined by the frustration of a mission but safe at home.
Canadians are not noticeably gloating over their relative good fortune. There is too much genuine sympathy with Americans in their terrible dilemmas-and too much concern with our own divisions. Still, the advantages of not being a great power are obvious. Centennial nationalism in Canada is more positive and competitive than anti-American, but resistance to American pressure is implied. The unabashed sentimentality of the celebrations may seem perverse to the citizens of a great power indoctrinated now to regard nationalism-at least other people's-as an archaic vice. Canadians, conscious of the austerity with which they have always buttoned up their patriotic emotions, were surprised and pleased when they wept openly amid the flags and fireworks of their hundredth birthday as a confederation. (One is reminded of an American cartoon showing a family of beavers busy with dam-building. Junior Beaver, watching a tribe of frisky otters at the other end of the pond, says, "Father, why, just because I'm a beaver, can't I sometimes goof off like the other kids?")
The Centennial was restrained in Quebec, but the Canadian idea is older and deeper than the particular 1867 rules for Confederation. It is not a question of a "French-Canadian problem" to be solved but of exploring new formulas that allow Quebec the cultural fulfillment it needs for its health while maintaining the transcontinental association on which the standard of living of both communities depends. Canada could be weakened in the process, or seem to be weakened, if we are judged by traditional ideas of a "nation-state," but as a collectivity of human beings the strengthening of the parts strengthens the whole. The essential Canadian political ideal is not strength in unity but freedom in diversity. It is a revolutionary idea in an age dedicated to larger and tighter communities, but it may better fit a world oppressed by government. It is an ideal which should appeal to General de Gaulle, and yet he jeopardized it by provoking intolerance in both Canadian communities.
That they are the luckiest and probably the freest people on earth is dawning this year on Canadians, accustomed to regarding themselves as poor relations and culturally secondhand. French-Canadians are less sure of their luck but they sense their freedom to change it. The new self- confidence owes much to our successful showcase on the world, Expo '67. Expo is sui generis. It was called by L' Express of Paris "a first living image of the civilization that is spreading from one end of the globe to the other." It has drawn on European as well as American sources and reflects the new cultural vitality of French Canada and the power of the Canadian economy. It is a phenomenon which proves to all Canadians that cultural cross-fertilization is a blessing rather than a burden. As a young French-Canadian said at Expo to the correspondent of L'Express, "We are French, yes, but here, you see, we are above all Americans. That is to say, convinced that there is nothing impossible."
In our paradoxical continental partnership there are always forces driving the United States and Canada together and apart. The forces differentiating us may be more conducive to harmony than those which draw us too close for comfortable management. The virtue of a continent split in two is that it is more easily manageable that way. The increasing differentiation which may come of a greater sense of independence can be good for both of us if we do not fret over it. Even if our functions in world politics draw apart, the cultural, spiritual and economic bonds are indissoluble. It need not be assumed, however, that these bonds are going to make political independence impossible because Canada is, as we are so often told, becoming rapidly Americanized. Canada always has been part of a North American culture and a North American economy-a fact of life affirmed by leading French-Canadians in their response to General de Gaulle. It is doubtful if we are any more "American" now than we were 150 years ago. The trend can be to greater independence through richer Canadian resources.
In economics the Canadian mood has become bolder, less defensive. The argument still rages between the "nationalists" and the "continentalists," but it may be on the way to resolution with victory to neither. The case for an independent economy is long since lost, but the chance to exploit our share of a continental economy for Canadian national purposes looks brighter. The pressure on American-owned companies to be good corporate citizens is likely to grow, and certain fundamental institutions like banks will be guarded from take-over. (Nothing could be more fundamental for a Canadian than a bank.) If we cannot beat off American industry, we can join it and compete with it at its own game. (Canadian General Electric, for example, was the leading contender to build a nuclear reactor in Finland, with a product developed in Canada). Even the left-wing New Democratic Party, at its June meeting, gave indications of abandoning its traditional opposition to U.S. ownership in favor of exploiting the opportunities presented thereby.
Buoyed by rising exports, Canadians are no longer paralyzed by the view, which still mesmerizes the British, that a country is lost unless it can get itself into a large protected market. This attitude is based on the belief "that the Canadian market has now grown large enough that efficient specialized production facilities for a wide variety of manufactured goods can be located in Canada primarily on the basis of the market available in Canada."[i] In this state of mind we are less concerned with, and less impressed by, the Common Market, with or without Britain, than we were five years ago. It has even been suggested that Canadians may show the way to winning of self-government within the American economic empire just as they once used the British patrimony to establish independence within the British political empire of the last century. The American industrial and financial octopi are becoming more international, and the pressures for native control increase. The world, according to C. P. Kindleberger, is moving "toward international corporations that elude or evade national control."[ii] The analogy cannot be pressed far, but the point is that independence is achieved not by fighting the parent but by developing the heritage. Even with their larger resources, the Europeans, obsessed by visions of thoroughbred industry, may come to wonder whether defensive regionalism is more than a temporary palliative and a common market an anachronistic device.
The strategic relationship may prove harder to clarify. As Canada proceeds with a thorough reëxamination of its defense policy, this aspect of Canadian-American relations is likely to dominate discussion. At present the three Canadian services are being integrated into a single force. The move, unprecedented in Western countries, has been controversial but more for its timing than its aim. It has been accepted by the public which seems pleased with a reform that promises economy and is a Canadian experiment. It is certainly related to the central aim, set out in a White Paper several years ago, of emphasizing mobility, but the Government has strongly denied the charge of its critics that it is creating a force suitable only for U.N. peacekeeping. Canada already provides a battalion, stationed in Canada, to the Mobile Force for use on NATO's northern flank, and the Government foresees the possibility in due course, and in agreement with its allies as a good NATO member, of offering its entire contribution from home bases.
These internal changes do not in themselves determine our policy on peacekeeping, NATO or NORAD (the North American Defense Agreement), although they affect the nature of our contribution. What we do about all three of our commitments will be decided by political, strategic, economic and emotional reasons unrelated to the question of integration. There is a broad consensus on the desirability of the peacekeeping role. The withdrawal of UNEF has raised questions as to whether this is likely to be as significant an obligation in the future as in the recent past, and there is a stronger disposition to stipulate terms before we volunteer again; but that our forces should be capable of responding to a U.N. call in the right circumstances is not a major issue. It is participation in NATO and NORAD which is the subject of controversy. Détente, resurgence in Western Europe, the singularity of the American military role and capacity, technological escalation, fascination with our own economic growth, all of these raise questions about the raisons d'être of our military establishment. The belief that it is an essential factor of middle-power status is shaken, and even respectable citizens are asking whether we would not do the world and ourselves more good by scrapping most of it and making economic development our major mission.
Viet Nam is, of course, at the heart of the matter. Rightly or wrongly, no NATO ally has offered military help in Viet Nam, though most of them are officially sympathetic, even if dubious about American involvement. They know their fate is bound up in that war and they do not want the United States to be beaten. There are, of course, sizable and articulate groups in all NATO countries, including Canada, which denounce American "intervention," but they represent not so much national attitudes as an international civil resistance movement led by the opposition within the United States itself. In Canada, opinion ranges from staunch support of the United States to virulent opposition, but no political leader has suggested we join in the fighting. For one thing, none of them wants at this time to rouse the old division between French and English Canadians over sending troops abroad in "imperial wars," even though the division of opinion in Canada on Viet Nam is not on linguistic lines. The fact that Canada has had since 1954 an obligation to be objective by virtue of its membership in the International Control Commissions is for the Government a valid argument and a convenient excuse. It would not stand in the way of military participation if there was a strong national conviction.
Why is it that Canadians, who went to war in 1914 and 1939 without the Americans, and who, English-speaking and French-speaking alike, willingly went to Korea in support of Americans in 1950, will not go to Viet Nam? One reason is that they know the American military capacity to be such that their contribution would not affect the outcome. That is a consequence for the whole Alliance of having a superpower in the Club who does not need our help. The only reason for us to go would be as a gesture of moral support or out of fear of American displeasure. Neither motive is clear enough-at least not yet. The difference in Korea was that, whatever the military realities, it was a U.N. operation and we were asked to participate by the Security Council. We had in the United Nations our fair chance to share in the strategy. In Viet Nam the United States has acted unilaterally and pursued, in fact, a policy which veered away from that of the rest of us at the Geneva Conference of 1954. Hence the feeling that it is not our war, a feeling shared even by those sympathetic to the American quandary. It is a feeling perhaps similar to that of Americans toward the British predicament in 1941. The uniqueness of the American world position is such that a united Allied front in Viet Nam was probably never possible, but because the United States cannot share policy decisions it finds itself going it alone.
So the United States is isolated by its own super-power. To a dwindling extent the British, who share the American sense of global responsibility if not the power to do much about it, can collaborate in the Middle East and East Asia. Americans who for years encouraged the British to abandon their Commonwealth "illusions" and isolate themselves "sensibly" in Europe now complain of British abdication of their responsibilities east of Suez. The British, lectured by Washington on the folly of believing they have any "special relationship" with the United States, are tempted to buy their way into Europe by severing their defense association with the United States.
But what of Canada, tied to the United States not umbilically but like a Siamese twin? How could it sever its military ties with the giant of the continent? Most Canadians consider it unthinkable, but it is an age when the unthinkable is being doggedly thought about sex and religion and world politics, especially by young people-and half Canada's population is under twenty-five. The note has shifted from a canny "Why?" to a challenging "Why not?" As NATO completes its twenty years of compulsory membership in 1969 and NORAD comes up for renewal in 1968, many Canadians are asking for contemporary reasons why arrangements made for an earlier world situation still apply. The Government seems disposed to renewal in both cases but has ordered a thorough study and is encouraging debate.
These strategic questions are being faced when Canadians are in an impudent mood, feeling their oats but also feeling frustrated. They know they are not the factor in the world they were as one of the few consequential nations on their feet after the war. They had what has been called a "golden decade" of middle-power diplomacy in the fifties and are living on that reputation. At home the concept of Canada as the judicious and moderate fixer is under assault from a new generation impatient of what seems like moral neutrality. (Although they deplore the middle-power role, they often demand nevertheless that their Government be a bolder fixer than ever by stopping wars in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Central Africa firmly, instantly and according to independent Canadian specification.) In 1945 being a middle power had meant a promotion. Now, with all this land and all this future, conscious of our position as the fifth trading power, young Canadians are impatient of lesser-power status. They do not always realize how hard it is to achieve even middling power in rough competition. We had greatness thrust upon us because in the diplomacy of the postwar period if Canada, the middle power, had not existed, it would have had to be invented. Now, that influence seems to be waning as our ambitions grow. The Arabs have sent us home from the Middle East, and doubts are raised about our qualifications for our favorite role as a U.N. peacekeeper.
The familiar props with which we played our middle-power role are no longer fixed. The Commonwealth, which gives us influence among the leading powers of the Third World and a useful instrument of diplomacy, is threatened by African crises and British weariness. The West Europeans are disposed to shut us out of their preserve, although Claude Julien of Le Monde has written a persuasive book, "Canada, Dernière Chance de l'Europe," in which he pleads with Europeans to associate themselves with the development of Canada as the last area with the resources to counterbalance the hegemony of the United States. In Eastern Europe, Canada is taken more seriously. The Rumanians seek inspiration from Canada's experience as an ally with independent notions. In an article of May 28 in Scanteia, for example, much attention is paid to the Canadian notion of a middle-power role. The interest of the Rumanians in Canada is that, like them, it is aligned and yet able to pursue a relatively independent foreign policy. It would be ironic if the Rumanians were to adopt middle-powermanship at a time when Canadians may be turning away from it. As for the Western Hemisphere, there has been a Canadian initiative toward closer association with the Commonwealth West Indies, but public enthusiasm for joining the O.A.S. seems to have diminished since the Dominican affair, partly because the Left, French-Canadian nationalists and others most interested in Latin America have come to regard the O.A.S. as a "tool" of United States foreign policy.
A new element of Canadian foreign policy in recent years has been the calculated move toward closer relations with France in order to reflect our national life in a more balanced international association. Given the present relations of Paris with Washington, this trend has had in it the possibility of alienation from the United States, and it has been particularly welcomed by those French and English Canadians who would like Canada to adopt a more Gaullist style toward the United States. The Canadian Government has seen it more as bridge-building. The hardening of opinion in English-speaking and to some extent French-speaking Canada against de Gaulle after his visitation to his St. Lawrence parish is going to make the pursuit of this policy more difficult-although there remains the need for Canada, if it is not to be divided, to have something more than just friendly relations with France, as distinct from its present President.
The feeling that we have lost our touch and that the world is moving in its inexorable way regardless of what we do or say has caused a reaching for new modalities of foreign policy. The fact that frustration is the lot even of citizens of larger powers who want to shape the world rationally is not always recognized. Our inability to manipulate the situation in Viet Nam or Palestine is attributed by the critics to the acceptance of middle-power status by a pusillanimous government that clings to outmoded ideas of exerting influence by "quiet diplomacy." The debate on our foreign policy is too often a sterile argument over the extent to which it is dictated from Washington rather than whether it is wise. It is an obsession also of our British cousins, with whom we seem to have more and more in common as frustrated middle powers, unable and unwilling to detach ourselves from our super-kinfolk, and less and less capable of budging them. There is a widespread assumption that it is our too close ties to Washington that have ruined our reputation and spoiled our act.
There is some truth in the charge. It has always been essential for Canada to renew faith in its integrity by differing with the United States from time to time, as we have over Cuba and China or the law of the sea. These differences, however, are not considered fundamental or raucous enough for those critics who will not accept the restraints of an alliance relationship. The real question, of course, is whether the advantages of greater freedom of movement are worth the disadvantages of greater friction with the United States. The comfortable majority probably still does not want to risk the hostility of Congress, but there are many articulate voices arguing that the world has changed and we are too fearful. As one of them said, "Despite the U.S. perfection of an inconceivably destructive U.S. nuclear arsenal, middle powers like Canada enjoy an increasing range of independent international activity. Once we accept this new freedom we enjoy on the international scene, we can ask anew what Canada's aims should be and then see whether our foreign policy cannot be reformulated to achieve them."[iii]
The danger of the new impatience in the country is that we shall lose our sense of proportion and the good reputation we have acquired. Whether we like it or not, we are a middle-sized power and we cannot get our way by throwing our weight about like a great power or having tantrums acceptable only from an outraged small power. On the other hand, the reaction against Canada as "fixer" may be a healthy enough response to an over-concentration in our doctrine on means rather than ends, on diplomacy rather than foreign policy, and a protest against the illusion that all conflicts are adjustable. Our middle-power theory is still valid, but it has been suffering from overstatement and too literal definition. It was never a hard theory but an approach, a recognition that as conflict had to be contained in a nuclear world lesser powers could be helpful in their own way in this process. Canada always insisted that the containment of conflict must be accompanied by somewhat ruthless efforts to tackle the causes of dispute, recognizing that the major role in knocking heads together rested with the great powers. The revelation in the Middle East of how futile the former could be without the latter has encouraged skepticism, along with misunderstanding, of the function of the "peacekeeper." To get back to a view, in proportion, of the useful but supplementary function of the peacekeeper would be better than rejecting it all in frustration. We are not likely to be asked back to the Middle East, but the requirement of impartiality is ad hoc and trouble is brewing in many places.
Canadian defense policy is always confusing because the disposition of our forces is determined-and quite properly so-by political and diplomatic considerations rather than simply for the protection of our territory. We have a defense policy not because it is required but because we feel we should do something. Our soil is threatened by those who might attack "the West" in general and the United States in particular. Hence we have long since committed ourselves to the principle of coöperative defense within NATO and the sharing with the United States of continental defense. We know the United States is not the enemy, but our defense arrangements are determined more with Washington in mind than Moscow or Peking.
As for NATO, Canadians are affected by the general assumption that its value has been eroded by disunity and détente, even though the Government insists that it should be preserved as an element of stability. The particular Canadian reason for welcoming in 1949 an alliance which fortified our national unity by uniting us with the powerful neighbor and both mother countries is threatened by the rift between France and "the Anglo-Saxons." We are not encouraged, either, by the persistence of the "twin-pillar" concept of the Alliance which postulates against all evidence a united Europe and a united North America. The alliance of fifteen independent voices, the kind of alliance we joined, suits us better. It grows harder also to justify the maintenance of Canadian troops in Germany. The argument that we thereby gain a voice in European policy is hard to prove, although it is the negative effect of withdrawal on our close military and political relations with the major powers which concerns officials. The reason for keeping our forces in Europe is largely that their withdrawal would be regarded as a prelude to American disengagement, but as all the larger allies are reducing their forces that argument is weakened. Reducing the Canadian establishment in Europe is difficult, as smaller numbers would hardly justify the logistic base. The Government, however, knows that if it is to maintain versatile troops-even for peacekeeping-it has to keep them somewhere and there is much to be said for their staying where they are well installed. There seems little doubt, nevertheless, that unless there is some dramatic alteration of the international scene Canadian forces will be out of Europe in a few years. We are not likely, however, to forego the advantages of participation with the greater powers in NATO unless the country is converted by those who think the only way to cut a figure in the issues that really matter, North- South as distinct from East-West relations, is to rid ourselves of our entangling alliances.
The political argument for maintaining relations with the Old World to correct the imbalance of the New remains, but Canadians are less Europe- oriented than they used to be. Even the assertion of the French fact in Canada is directed to Francophonic at large and not merely France in Europe. Young Canadians are more interested in the Third World and its problems, race relations and the challenge of coexistence with China and Eastern Europe. The German problem bores them. There is discernible a new and quite unideological attitude to our Soviet neighbors, a land like ours and people with so much to learn from each other. In a recent Canadian study of our northern frontier a number of authors stress the concept of the Arctic as a Mediterranean Sea.[iv] Even on the right-wing prairies our profitable trade with the Soviet Union and China has conditioned attitudes to communist states. Some Canadians, like some Europeans, see themselves as arbiters between the Russians and the Americans, even though Messrs. Johnson and Kosygin do not seem to need introduction. Middle countries with mediatory aspirations have a strong nostalgia for the days of John Foster Dulles, for it was his black-and-white diplomacy that created a role for the grays.
Military detachment from Europe is one thing; detachment from the United States something quite different. Nevertheless, there is vigorous opposition in Canada to the renewal in 1968 of the NORAD agreement. Part of this is attributed to U.S. policy in Viet Nam. Those who want nothing to do with this crusade consider that through NORAD, and more particularly the Defense Production Sharing agreements from which the Canadian economy profits considerably, Canada is bound to the "American war machine," unable to obey its own will and its own conscience. Because of its requirements as a member of the I.C.C. to adhere to the provisions of the Geneva Agreements, Canada forbids direct export of war materials to Viet Nam, but we could prevent Canadian military matériel from reaching Viet Nam via the United States only by abandoning the Defense Production Sharing agreements entirely. The Government assumes that Canadian opposition to the Viet Nam war is neither certain nor general enough to support the severe setback to our industry which that would entail. Whatever one's convictions, the situation is uncomfortable. The Prime Minister stated it candidly in a recent interview:
This is not the over-riding consideration in determining our own policy, of course, but we can't ignore the fact that a first result of any open breach with the United States over Vietnam, which their Government considered to be unfair and unfriendly on our part, would be more critical examination by Washington of certain special aspects of our relationships from which we, as well as they, get benefit. . . . It is not a very comforting thought, but, in the economic sphere, when you have 60 percent or so of your trade with one country, you are in a position of considerable economic dependence.[v]
The opposition to NORAD has other grounds. Although NORAD is only a framework embodying the principle of joint defense and adjustable to changing requirements, there is a persistent belief that its function is defense against the bomber threat of the late fifties which is now out of date. Military experts insist, however, that the threat of manned bombers always remains as an alternative to missiles. It is argued also by the opponents of NORAD that, whatever may be necessary for the superpowers, Canada should, in the interest of nonproliferation, contract out of any activities involving nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, however, our case is looked upon as so privileged by other countries that our example is not persuasive. In the negotiations at Geneva, furthermore, it now seems as if the two-key arrangements which the United States has with countries such as Canada are no longer regarded by the Russians as an obstacle to an agreement. There is an assumption also that a renewal of NORAD would oblige us to join with the United States in an extravagant anti-ballistic missile program. It seems likely, however, that the United States will not care much whether or not Canada does collaborate in an A.B.M. program. Experts are uncertain, but they tend to regard Canadian soil as of marginal value in any of the programs the United States is likely to embark upon. More serious is the problem for Canadian politicians of leaving our cities unprotected if American cities have their A.B.M. defenses up. A.B.M. would probably not be a joint project like NORAD, with costs shared according to means. Each country would be responsible for its own citizenry-a new factor of differentiation.
A Canadian journalist who assessed opinion in Washington on the renewal of NORAD concluded that the State Department would be unhappy if it were not renewed because political relations would deteriorate if we abandoned the principle of mutual defense. The Pentagon, on the other hand, might be relieved as it has found the obligation to consult and to consider Canada a nuisance; and it has not forgotten the reluctance of the Canadian Government to go on full alert at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. The present Government may seem more coöperative than its predecessor, but even it is "nonbelligerent" in the present war.
Canadians' opposition to NORAD may be diminished if it is obvious that we would be renewing not under American pressure but because we still find it the cheapest and most logical way of protecting Canada. On the other hand, as suggested above, the more independent the United States can be of Canada, the more independent Canada can be of the United States. If the United States does not need our military collaboration and if it pursues its own policies in Viet Nam and elsewhere with only lip service to our will, then, some Canadians ask, why shouldn't we go our own way? What is the meaning of alliance with a country so powerful that it could not, even if it were so disposed, allow its defense and foreign policies to be determined in concert? Why would the Soviet Union or China waste their bombs on us? Must we in self-respect, as is always said, assist the country that protects us with its nuclear power? Are we not protected by the umbrella of Soviet-American nuclear deterrence, a fact of life in the world we live in rather than a "luxury" we enjoy at the expense of a kind friend? The defense of Canada is a by-product, not a gift. The United States is a great power which has to pay for the benefits which accrue to a great power. So long as we play our part as a responsible middle power in international causes and behave as a decent neighbor, what need is there for us to be tied militarily to the United States? The only distinction the United States makes between neutrals and allies is that it takes the latter for granted and pays off the former. Lesser powers, furthermore, are so completely outclassed in modern weaponry that we might as well give up the game altogether or just concentrate on what we can do best, U.N. peacekeeping. So runs the argument.
None of these questions is, of course, unanswerable. The point is that they are being asked, and they will not be answered with conventional warnings about what happened to Belgium in another age. Even the National President of the Conservative Party, Mr. Dalton Camp, has questioned the size of our commitment to NATO and suggested that we get out of NORAD as soon as possible. "I would hope," he said at a Party conference in August, "that ten years from now this nation would be without the encumbrance of any nuclear association; that our commitment to foreign aid would be maximum; and our obligations to military alliances and a military establishment would be minimal." Even those who abhor neutralism are forced to contemplate some kind of disengagement if the United States is to be whirled off in a new spiral of weapons-escalation. The basis on which the continental partnership has rested has become a subject for discussion. The two countries have been military allies during only about 25 out of 200 years of mostly peaceful coexistence, but a problem about alliances is that even if they have outlived their usefulness, the act of dissolving them seems hostile.
The significance of the new heresies is not so much that they are likely to determine Canadian defense policy but rather that they will affect it. The Canadian instinct has always favored gradual adjustment to circumstances rather than leaps in the dark. It has also had a canny awareness of the facts of life on this continent. We must never be-or even seem to be-a threat to the vital interests of the United States. We can be "independent" but we must not seem "unreliable." Whether we like it or not-and we do not- we are vulnerable to American displeasure. This displeasure is not likely to take the form of punitive action or crude reprisal; we would feel it rather in the drying up of the good will which restrains the United States from exploiting the economic and military power it has to do us damage. We have powerful economic weapons in our hands too-bountiful supplies of fresh water, for example-and we have had, and may have again, strategic advantages to exploit, but it is not in the interest of the weaker partner to provoke a raw matching of strength. The price we pay for the national independence we have is that we do not push it too far.
This is galling in the abstract, but in practice we are freer than most other countries of our size in the world. What we seem to lose from proximity to the great we gain in the sense of security necessary for a confident foreign policy. Some deference to American interests and even American prejudices is worth paying for the sovereignty which shelters us from the troubles and burdens of life as citizens of a great power. The enduring validity of the argument for the joint approach to continental problems, whether it be NORAD, the International Joint Commission or the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, is that we avoid being trampled by putting our relations with a superpower on a basis in which we claim formal equality. In spite of vigorous criticism of American pressures, Canadians know that we would not survive if the United States ceased behaving toward us like a civilized country. We need not feel obliged to a country for behaving as any civilized country should, but we recognize that such behavior is unusual in great powers, that we are fortunate and well advised not to rock the boat. These are the traditional Canadian responses which one could always count upon in the past to prevail-but Canadians are changing so rapidly that one is not sure.
And what is likely to be the reaction of the United States to a trend of its allies away from identification with the American mission civilisatrice? It has been patient over the failure to rally in Viet Nam. Is this because military help is not needed and Americans realize that it would impair their own freedom of action, that there is a connection between participation and decision-making? We cannot ignore, of course, the natural American response to the suggestion that we sit back and let the United States sustain its pax Americana: that the United States will go back to isolationism. There are many Europeans and Canadians-and Americans- who think that would be a good thing for the peace of the world, but most of us would be uneasy over such a prospect. Is it not, however, an empty threat? Just as empty, perhaps, as the threat of its allies to seek absolute neutrality. The old formulas of alliance, the rhetoric of free and equal partnership may not be applicable any more-if they ever were. We are all less likely to pay lip service to solidarity, but in practice it is doubtful if we can escape, or really want to escape, from the habits of consultation, the recognition of mutual interests, the restraint on our disputations which we work out in forms that defy neat definition but represent a basic need to hang together in a highly uncertain world.
[i] From a forthcoming book by H. Edward English in the Atlantic Economic Studies Programme of the Private Planning Association, Montreal.
[ii] "The Economics of Partnership," by C. P. Kindleberger. Interplay, June/July 1967.
[iii] Stephen Clarkson in The Globe and Mail, Toronto, July 12, 1967.
[iv] "The Arctic Frontier," edited by R. St. J. Macdonald for the Arctic Institute of North America and the Canadian Institute of International Affairs. University of Toronto Press, 1966.
[v] Maclean's Magazine, Toronto, July 1967.