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John W. Holmes and the Reconciliation of Immoderate Views

Sjolander, Claire Turenne

International Journal, June 2010, Vol.65(2), pp.321-329 [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    John W. Holmes and the Reconciliation of Immoderate Views
  • Autor: Sjolander, Claire Turenne
  • Assuntos: History & Archaeology ; International Relations
  • É parte de: International Journal, June 2010, Vol.65(2), pp.321-329
  • Descrição: Despite Canada's declining commitment to, and participation in, peacekeeping missions since the 1990s, Canadians have continued to sustain this "peacekeeping myth" of their country as the foremost and most altruistic of peacekeeping nations, and official Ottawa has continued to promote it in part because "Canada's blue berets... [are] one of the few components of Canadians' self-identity that cut[s] across all linguistic and regional divides," also permitting it to assert its "sense of being distinct from its giant neighbour to the South." The middle power "label" in this sense is not a mere intellectual category. As [Evan H. Potter] has gone on to argue, "given its 'liberal internationalist' foreign policy heritage, [Canada] uses its role in the world, whether in peacekeeping/peace enforcement or aid-giving, to forge a national identity domestically.... [T]he reflection back to Canadians of foreigners' perceptions of them is an important element of Canadian nation building." Holmes had recognized this growing mythology surrounding Canadian foreign policy. As [Adam Chapnick] reports, Holmes had "started a war on the myths of Canadian foreign policy" by the spring of 1980. "The idea of the national middle power role was out of hand. Holmes had read and heard too much about Canada as the peaceable kingdom and bastion of unselfish idealism.... His country had never been a faultless, altruistic global player"10 The peacekeeping mythology, as Holmes had acknowledged, both overstated Canada's altruism and understated the extent to which no mission had been undertaken without a clear assessment of national interest and "without calculation of the political and economic cost."" Despite this, the peacekeeping mythology persists. Immoderation may lead to charges of hypocrisy abroad, but it can also sustain the national project at home. Despite, and perhaps because of, this euphoria of celebration and self-congratulation, however, the outlines of a "Canadian malaise" were simultaneously growing clearer. Charles de Gaulle's "Vive le Québec libre" speech in Montreal in late July 1967 had underscored fundamental anxieties about the longer-term viability of the Canadian political project, and had added public fuel (and international recognition) to the aspirations of Quebec's séparatistes. In other quarters, Canadians were beginning to express concern about their country's level of economic, cultural, and even political, dependence upon its southern neighbour, particularly as the neighbour's foreign policy and domestic strife seemed discordant with Canadian "values." The day after Holmes's remarks touching on Canada's immoderate views, North Vietnam and South Vietnamese communists launched the Têt offensive, escalating both the Vietnam War and the United States' engagement in it - as well as Canadian unease with US policy. While Holmes deplored the Canadian tendency to find "satisfaction in evidence of American sin and error" (as many Canadians did over the US intervention in Vietnam), he similarly expressed frustration with those who argued that Canada needed to "sacrifice all our private views to support our champion."3 Rumblings of discontent about the consequences of a too-close relationship were being heard. The Watkins report, recommending strict regulation of foreign investment into Canada, was soon to be released, precipitating the adoption of a number of short-lived economic nationalist policies designed to diversify Canada's economy away from its seemingly overwhelming dependence upon the United States. For Holmes, these concerns translated at times into equally immoderate views denigrating Canada's influence on world events, defining Canadians as "fools and cowards" incapable of expressing, much less projecting, a true sense of national purpose: a country for whom little seemed possible.
  • Idioma: Inglês

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