What about Canada?

Canada is such an interesting case because it lies in North America but has so many characteristics that we think of as European: committed to the welfare state and social security, pacific, multilateralist, respectful of international law. Could Canada, like Britain, aspire to a bridging role between Europe and the US?  

Go to page 1 2 3 4 5

Anonymous, Canada

I am a Canadian living outside North America, and hope that Canada will aspire to a more prominent role in world affairs. We do have much to share, and as a member of the world's elite (G7, NATO, Anglo-saxon origin) have plenty of channels and forums with which to convey our message. Alas; insipid leaders, navelgazing, and a prevasive, tepid, blandness prevent us from influencing others, and taking a more active role in a world that "could use more of Canada". That is why whenever I share my origins with others, am faced with questions about the weather instead of acknowledgement for our acheivements in politicial, cultural, and human spheres.

Peter A. Juhasz, Canada

I certainly hope that Canada becomes a bridge not only between the US and Europe, but perhaps between the US and Asia as well. But Canada is a federation more like Europe than the US in structure, and having travelled widely in Canada from coast to coast, I can tell you that attitudes vary greatly on this subject along regional lines. Many Quebeckers do not consider themselves Canadians and wish to have their own soverign state but still gravitate towards Europe and European attitudes while in the west, particularly in Alberta, there is also a growing separatist sentiment, but one which is very much aligned with a conservative US. Perhaps the reason for the failure of Canada to stand up as a leader in world affairs is because we cannot speak with one voice (sound familiar?).

Jon Caranto, USA

Committed to the welfare state and social security, pacific, multilateralist, respectful of international law? These characteristics are not "European"; they merely represent the strategies of weakness. Like many countries in Europe, Canada is a weak nation with an extremely strong friend (America). Look at the United States in the 19th Century-- America was "European" except for its obvious ambitions for power. America enjoyed the protection of the Royal Navy, yet nonetheless sought to become its peer. So I suppose Europe today is the Europe of Robert Kagan's imagination-- a weak, decadent supranational bureacracy, with little ambition and clearly content to receive the American pacifier. America needs no bridge to Europe, because Europe's KNOWS that America will always be there when Europe needs it (WW II, Cold War, Bosnia, Greece and Turkey, Kosovo, etc).

In other words, Canada will not be a bridge to Europe from America. Canada will merely be what it has always been: an unofficial province of the United States, an extension of the American branch of Western civilization. For all its supposedly "European" (i.e., weak) characteristics, Canada is culturally

Roger Axelsson, Norway

Caranto wrote: "Like many countries in Europe, Canada is a weak nation
with an extremely strong friend (America)."

I have contributed to the US economy on several occations, from pilot training through studying for an MBA. And I love the vision in the declaration of independence, created by the founding fathers July 4th, 1776. But. Under this administration, the US is portraying a geriatric mentality - creating a fenced community motivated out of fear, and isolating the US from the other 96% of the human race. Mostly from friends but also from foes.
I appreciate the military power of the US Army, and we should be thankful to the "coalition of the willing" who fought fascism and communism. Without it, we would be writing these messages in another language.

But it is not this US military power that attracts me, but the liberal ideal of "all men are created equal". No military power can ever trumph the power and attraction of this ideal.

If this and/or any subsequent administrations squander this ideal of the US as "home of the free" for a new ideal of "home of the safe" - then the freedom seekers will look elsewhere.

Why not to Canada?


Ronan, Ireland

Mr. Caranto's views are typical of 'Republican' Americans who see might as right and who think the weaker members in society should be ignored. He probably even counts himself as a religous person. The fact is Europe, Canada and most western democracies are committed to a welfare state, are multilateralist and do respect International Law, these are ideas to be proud of and are worth defending. The US, by ignoring International Law, has alienated itself from its former allies and by ignoring its less well off citizens (over 30% of Americans live below the poverty line) is building up a powder keg which, if not addressed, will eventually threaten its very existance. Canada has similar gun laws and similar gun ownership as the US, why do you think more people (as a percentage of population) are killed in the US as in Canada (or anywhere else for that matter). Something is not right in the 'land of the free'(?).

Ray Vickery, Canada

Canadians should be aware that Mr Caranto's attitudes are not as uncommon as one would wish: many Americans seem to adhere to the "ripe fruit" theory˜that Canada will fall to them in due time, and there is no need to shake the tree in advance. Even quasi-leftist Americans say things lillke "I don't believe in borders" when talking of Canada. It gives one pause. After all, lke Iraq. we possess natural resources which America, in tine, will feel should be theres. I mean. of course, water.

Pax Americana, USA

I do not wish to be the sole defender of Mr Caranto's words but I shall not sit idle while Ronan seeks to disparage 'Republican' Americans.
The obvious central point in Mr. Caranto's submission asserts that Canada (and in my opinion, Continental Europe and to a lesser extend South Korea and Japan) has engaged in demonizing the US for 50 years. During this era the US has expended a disproportionate share of treasure (in real dollar and % of GNP terms)and blood in defense of freedom and democracy.
If the combined senses of the above named countries are so offended by our unilateral actions in our own self interest:

  • Post WWII Marshall Plan
  • Berlin Air Drops
  • Intervention in Greek Communist takeover
  • Medium range nuclear Pershing Missile deployment

Why has the populace never raised the collective voice and simply show us the door?
Because the alternative is not palatable. Suddenly these countries would be forced to grow-up and become responsible for their own survival. Even now, in these times of heightened rhetoric and vitriol, when the US attempts to scale back troop levels in Germany there is an outcry from the governments that it is 'payback'.
Without being arrogant I think he was just saying each country that wants to be a player on the world stage must step-up and be counted.
No risk....No reward

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

As a proud American who has previously lived in Canada for a number of years (Vancouver, British Columbia) I have observed the numerous differences between the U.S. and Canada, and indeed between the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Canada definitely aspires to a bridging role between nations -- regardless of whether it's between the U.S. and Europe, North America and Asia, etc.
Unfortunately for Canada, no one has yet volunteered to be the 'bridge' between the U.S. and Canada. There are vast and serious differences in culture and values between the U.S. and Canada, just as there are vast, serious and unbridgeable differences in culture and values between the U.S. and Europe.
Americans are overwhelmingly Individualists. Many of us strongly believe that the Individual -- not the Group, not the Many, not the State -- is overwhelmingly the most important element in society. The so-called "Good of the Many" DOES NOT outrank the "Good of The Few". Many of us believe that people who are poor are that way because they rightly deserve to be so. We believe that every Individual has the right to get born, to receive at least a guaranteed minimum level of education -- but that beyond that, you are entirely on your own. We believe in holding individuals responsible for their own actions and for the consequences of their own decisions. We believe that there is no "right" to Free or Government- (translation: Taxpayer-funded) Medical Care, no "right" to be supported at Taxpayers' Expense for years or generations at a stretch as an alternative to working. We believe that the only "rights" you are guaranteed, are the Rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution -- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in whatever form that may take. We don't believe in a European-style Nanny State. And we will not be bullied or browbeaten into "living up to European ideals". If we wish to ignore our less-well off citizenry, that is our right. Homelessness on "your" part, does not "auto-magically" translate into Tax Increases on "my" part.
The fact that "Europe, Canada and most western democracies are committed to a welfare state" is not a reason why America "should" also be so inclined. The "Everyone else is doing it" argument doesn't work on us. We aren't going to "hop to it". We aren't going to "get with the program". We have a Right to be the nation that we want to be, regardless of whether this is different from what you "want us" to be like. We don't want to be like you. We want to be like us -- like Americans.

Michael Remler, USA

Americans should be aware the Mr Vickery's attitudes are not as uncommon as one would wish: many Canadians seem to adhere to the "self important" theory - that Canada will matter to us in due time, and that there is some need to plan for their future. Even quasi-moderate Canadians like to say things like "They are so different from us" when talking about the United States. It gives one pause. After all, we possess a large economy which Canada, in time, will feel they should be open to them. I mean, of course, jobs and money.

Millie Trayer, USA

I agree with my fellow American Jon Caranto. To Ray Vickery, I think you better go back to school and learn how to spell. To Ronan from Ireland, many Americans who live in poverty are poor because they are too lazy to work and they expect the taxpayers to take care of them. The USA has a Constitution and we abide by it not International law! International law is a big farce as is the the United Nations. Ronan, you worry about Ireland and as an American I will worry about my country. We will prevail in the USA!

Matthew Goldman, USA

Mr. Caranto's descriptions of "strong" America versus "weak" Canada and Europe provide a frighteningly blatant display of the current phenomena in America. It is a love of power, stripped of the trappings of religious crusade or what have you, that makes war such an appealing option for so many people. It makes for interesting television, and allows the war supporter to feel vicariously strong through his delusion that he is sharing in the power of the state with which he identifies himself. As for the idea that Canada be a "bridge" between America and the rest of the world, what the Bush administration needs are stop signs, not bridges. If an enlightened Canada can do something to prevent further American aggression, that would be wonderful.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

I think the idea that Canada could be a "bridge" between the US and Europe is a wonderful, if quaint, notion. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that it would ever work. While Americans living in states bordering our northern (Canadian) neighbors are quite familiar with Canada and generally quite friendly towards Canada, that doesn't mean that we wish to "be like Canada", nor do Canadians necessarily want to "be like us"; that's why there's a border separating our countries. There are still considerable cultural differences between the USA and Canada. The biggest of these differences is our sharply differing view of the role of government. Canadians embrace the idea of the All-Powerful Benevolent Government. Americans are inherently and innately distrustful of and suspicious of Government. The most hysterically and ironically funny joke in the U.S. (and one which makes many Americans reflexively reach for their firearms) is "I'm from the Government, and I'm here to HELP you!". Canadians look to their government to fix problems; to many Americans, Government IS the problem, not the solution. Americans look to themselves, their families, their churches/synagogues and charity organizations to "fix" problems; they want and expect their government to interfere as little as possible in their daily lives. I have to politely disagree with Mr. Ray Vickery, in that I don't believe Canada would ever "fall like ripe fruit" to America (unless Quebec and the Western provinces all unilaterally seceded simultaneously). Certainly most Canadians would not be in favor of that. Nor, I suspect, would most Americans, if they knew the cost of such an undertaking (raising our taxes to shore up Canadian social programs, for example). For Canada, the present situation is ideal; they have all the benefits of economic association with the U.S. (a ready and willing market for Canadian goods and raw materials; a dynamic economy open to Canadian job seekers), with none of the fopreign policy headaches (Canada considers itself unthreatened by anyone, and spends next to nothing on its own defense, much less on NATO, leaving it free to lavish funding on social programs).

Jakub, Poland

Presumably given your "let's all just get on with life in our own country' attitude, you'll oppose unprovoked, unnecessary invasions of third world countries?
You may be suprised to learn that international law makes an identical prohibition.
Your assertion that 30% of Americans are too lazy to work and expect the tax payer to pick up the bill is crazy simply because in America the tax payer genuinely DOESN'T pick up the bill. You could make that kind of argument about Western European countries, but not about America at all.
Jon Caranto and 'Pax Americana' both seem to not know that the Cold War has ended. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is no military threat to most of Europe anymore. Only potentially to those countries that continue to back the hypocrisy and unprovoked agression of American foreign policy.
To suggest that America's involvement in WW2 is altruistic is also absurd. Perhaps those that make this claim can justify the US Lend-Lease programme nearly bankrupting the UK ?
Oh, and Millie,
Perhaps the United Nations, like other multilateral institutions, would be less farcical if America didn't insist on undermining them when it felt like it ? If America didn't overturn 60 years of international legal precedent set out at Nuremberg in order to invade Iraq? If president Bush didn't tear up 60 or so years of international consensus on Israel's occupation of the west bank and gaza strip ?
do you never stop and seriously wonder why the whole world hates your country ?

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Perhaps you would be good enough to define what constitutes "unprovoked, unnecessary invasions of Third World countries". It is an established and well-documented fact that Iraq under Sadly Insane Hussein blatantly violated U.N. resolutions, established an elaborate network of sham companies to illegally purchase prohibited weapons, and failed to account for hundreds of liters of chemical and biological weapons. That's called a "material breach", and that in itself justifies a military response by US and U.N. forces. The vast majority of the companies found to have violated UN sanctions and illegally sold prohibited materials to Iraq, were headquartered in Europe. Gee, what a surprise (not).If "there is no military threat to most of Europe anymore" as you claim, then I am sure that Poland will be happy to withdraw from NATO. Obviously the Russians pose no military threat to Poland anymore, so there is no need for US or NATO troops to be stationed and prepared to defend Poland's territorial integrity, is there?The claim that "the US Lend-Lease program nearly bankrupted the UK" is preposterous and untrue. The Lend-Lease Program provided vital war materials to Britain at a time when Britain was faced with imminent defeat by the Nazis. It was the overall cost of the war that was financially unsustainable for Britain.As for the so-called "60 years of international consensus on Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip", that so-called "international consensus" is utterly wrong. The West Bank and Gaza Strip were captured fairly by Israel in wartime. They are not "occupied territory", they are Israeli property (just as California and Texas are not "American-occupied California" or "American-occupied Texas"). They will stay that way until Israel decides otherwise. Territory captured in wartime belongs to the victor. If you are troubled by this concept, I suggest that you apologize to Germany and return the thousands of hectares of farmland that Poland seized (stole) in WW2 from ethnic Germans whose families had lived peacefully in Poland for hundreds of years. Don't forget to return Danzig to Germany, too. Oh, wait, that's right -- you didn't have any intention of giving up "your own" territorial conquests -- only "other people's".

Jakub, Poland

What you say on Iraq is true. Saddam Hussein was in breach of a multitude of UN resolutions and that necessitates "action" by the international community. Not necessarily military action. If you think that 100,000 Iraqi deaths was justified because it satisfies your interpretation of the minutiae of the UN's proceedings then I think you're a terrifyingly amoral excuse for a human being.
As for NATO, I'd be perfectly happy for Poland to withdraw. It was set up entirely to defend America from the Soviet Union "threat". No Soviet Union, no threat.
Naturally, it was enormously significant for people in Poland when we were allowed to join NATO as it represented a major step in our transition from communism. I struggle to see what role NATO really plays now, though. Perhaps you can identify the military threats to Europe you're so certain exist ?
I'm not wrong about the lend-lease programme. It may have provided britain with vital resources but under ludicrous conditions. I simply find it tiresome when Americans pretend that their involvement in WW2 was motivated by the altruistic charitable nature of the US. America stayed out of the war for 2 years and refused to intervene when Britain was threatened most in the summer of 1940. One of the conditions of the lend-lease programme suggested by US negotiators was that Britain's war debts be largely cancelled if Britain surrendered the West Indies. At one point America offered Britain a few Destroyers on the assumption that Winston Churchill make a public announcement that, if the Nazis sucessfully invaded the UK, then the entire British fleet would sail across the Atlantic and join America. The idea that a prime minister of a country at war should make such an announcement, considering the impact it would have on morale, is absurd. Aditionally, the lend-lease debts were called in IMMEDIATELY at the end of the war seriously threatening Britain's ability to feed its own people.
The West Bank and Gaza Strip were captured by Israel in an illegal war in which, essentially, they were the agressor. And it's not enough for international consensus to be "wrong" for President Bush to just discard it ... only 2 countries in the world think Israel has any right to be in those territories. The only reason we don't refer to "American occupied California" is because the people in California recognise the authority of the American government. Do the majority of people in the occupied territories ?
Naturally, as a Pole living in New York, I'm not going to lose any sleep over Poland's territorial conquest, but I'm of the opinion that people should live in the country that they want to live in. This is clearly more than just a dispute over land.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Saddam Hussein was indeed in breach of a multitude of UN resolutions and that necessitates "action" by the international community. It does necessitate military action in my opinion. In fact, in my opinion military action was and remains the sole and only acceptable action that could be taken. There are only three types of action that can be taken by the U.N. against murderous dictators like Sadly Insane Hussein: (1) diplomatic actions, (2) economic actions, and finally (3)military actions. The idea of imposing (1) "diplomatic actions" on Saddam as a means of pressuring him to comply with the relevent U.N. Security Council resolutions is simply too ludicrous even to be considered; what do you suggest should have been done -- stop inviting him to diplomatic cocktail parties?!?! Alternative (2), economic actions, in the form of sanctions, had been employed for over 13 years (since the end of the original 1991 Gulf War) and had failed to persuade Saddam to change his course of actions. I am old enough to remember quite clearly the original Gulf War #1 in 1991. At the time of that conflict, a so-called "peace movement" argued that military force was unnecessary and that economic sanctions alone would remove Saddam's army from Kuwait. Of course that argument was utter rubbish, and military force was needed to eject Saddam's forces from Kuwait. Ironically it was the so-called "peace movement" of the time (who were quite frequently nothing more than thinly-veiled anti-American apologists for Saddam) that supported economic sanctions as an alternative to war. Thirteen years later, after it was apparent that Saddam was using the excuse of the sanctions to skim billions of dollars from the infamous U.N. "Oil For Palaces" program, thatsame so-called "peace movement" turned around and denounced as "immoral and murderous" the very same sanctions they had earlier supported as an alternative to the use of military force. First they opposed military action, then they opposed action. The only logical conclusion that can be drawn therefore is that the so-called "peace movement" wanted Saddam to, in effect, pay no penalty whatsoever for his invasion of Kuwait and countless violations of U.N. resolutions; they wanted Saddam to Win. Gee, no, that's just not acceptable. Not acceptable at all. Since you seem to think that there was some "other" alternative to the use of force, it is therefore incumbent on you to explain to us all just what that alternative was. So far, you have not proposed any alternative solution at all, and have merely continued to announce what you "Don't" support (namely, the use of force). When you can propose some alternative solution (other than hollering "Transporter room, lock onto Saddam's coordinates and beam him to the brig!" a'la "Star Trek"), perhaps then there will be something to discuss. Until that time, any so-c, alled "solution" that left Sadly Insane Hussein in power is totally unacceptable to me. He had to go, he didn't want to go, you weren't willing to use force to "make" him go, therefore he wasn't going to go. We used force, we "made" him go once and for all, and I for one am proud of that. As for the so-called "100,000 Iraqi deaths", I see no evidence of that. However, I do see evidence of the remains of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis being exhumed from Saddam's Killing Fields. And had Saddam remained in power, there is every indication that even more Iraqis would have died at his hands. We did the right thing in invading and liberating the Iraqis.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

I would be perfectly happy for Poland to withdraw from NATO, too. No one is holding a gun to the Polish government's head and "forcing" them to belong to NATO, so presumably the Polish government thinks that NATO membership benefits Poland and is in Poland's best interests. However, NATO was not set up to defend America from the Soviet Union at all. It was set up entirely to defend Western Europe from the Soviet threat (which of course was very real; the Soviets did not maintain millions of troops and thousands of tanks, artillery and planes to "defend" the Soviet Bloc from MacDonalds, the Gap, Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, Chevrolet and the Evil Imperialist Shopping Malls of the West. The Soviets fully intended to conquer and occupy Western Europe (a fact that was fully revealed when the Berlin Wall came down and the East Germans' elaborate preparations for seizing West Germany by force were revealed to the world), and NATO was a defensive alliance to defend Western Europe, not America. I suggest that you look at a map of Europe; you will see that the nearest nations threatened by Soviet invasion were (and still are) in Western Europe. Furthermore, I suggest that you research the history of the blatant Soviet blockade of West Berlin in 1948-49, when the Soviets cut off the shipment of all food into West berlin in an attempt to starve the city into surrendering to the Communists. This was countered by the now-famous Berlin Airlift in which American transport planes were all that kept West Berlin from starving. It seems that your knowledge of NATO and the History of the Cold War is sadly lacking (perhaps the result of Communist propaganda during your upbringing, if you grew up in then-Marxist Poland). Some time spent researching and understanding the truth would probably be quite beneficial. As for military threats to Europe, I suggest that spend some time learning about the Yugoslavian conflict of the early 1990s, which resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people in an internecine civil war while a supposedly "civilized" Europe stood by, sucked their thumbs and collectively did nothing. That conflict, particularly in Kosovo, was not settled by 'civilized European diplomacy', but rather by American bombs.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Your knowledge of history is in serious disrepair. In the summer of 1940 (over a year before the US entered World War II), U.S. President Roosevely released US Navy planes to be sold to the Allies and made available more than half a million Lee-Enfield rifles, as well as machine guns, ammunition and artillery pieces. He then made an agreement with Britain to trade 50 (that's "FIFTY") destroyers (which is larger than some countries' entire navies) to Britain in exchange for leases on British bases in the Caribbean. The British also made outright gifts of leases on British bases in Bermuda and Newfoundland. This agreement, as British PM Winston Churchill later observed, was a "decidedly unneutral act" (quoting Churchill directly), which "by all the standards of history" would have "justified the German Government in declaring war" upon the United States.
I suggest that you do further research on the actual terms of the Lend-Lease Program, as you are indeed wrong. The Lend-Lease Program never "forced" Britain to "surrender" the West Indies. The agreement was that arms and other military-related equipment would be lent to the Allies on the understanding that they would be returned or replaced when the war ended. In March 1941 (again,prior to America's entry into the war), the U.S. Congress voted seven billion dollars as the first installment on a huge program to arm the Allies. Moreover, the US was tacitly already involved in the war well before we actually declared war. US volunteer pilots served in the RAF in the battle of Britain. US naval warships were escorting convoys to Britain well before the US entered the war. And the US Navy destroyer "USS Reuben James" was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 115 men (out of a crew of 160) by a Nazi U-Boat while escorting an Allied convoy - on October 31, 1941 (2 months before the Pearl Harbor attack that brought the US "officially" into World War II).

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

I find it stunniungly ironic that you would claim that you "simply find it tiresome when Americans pretend that their involvement in WW2 was motivated by the altruistic charitable nature of the US". I further find it incredible that you would claim that "America stayed out of the war for 2 years and refused to intervene when Britain was threatened most in the summer of 1940". To begin with, no one has claimed here that American involvement in WW2 was ever motivated by any "altruistic charitable nature of the US", other than you. American involvement in WW2 was motivated by the fact that we were directly attacked on 7 December 1941 with the loss of thousands of american lives. Moreover, the very reason that the US "stayed out of the ear for 2 years" was precisely because the Peace Movement of that time wanted it that way. The US was haunted by the memory of the slaughter of millions in an entirely unnecessary, wholely European war (World War I) and was deeply pacifist and anti-war. The anti-war/Peace Movement of that time had hundreds of thousands of followers in the US, including Charles Lindbergh (the famous New York-to-Paris aviator, who later flew fighter planes in WW2 but refused to fight in Europe because he didn't want to kill Nazis) and a certain Joseph P Kennedy (father of JFK) who was fired by FDR from his job as Ambassador to Great Britain because he (Kennedy) thought Hitler and the Nazis could never be defeated and that the US should abandon England and "get on the right side of History". The Peace Movement believed that the US had no "right" to get involved in a war in which we had not been first directly attacked by anybody. The Nazis never directly attacked or threatened the US mainland; accordingly, the Peace Movement declared that we had no "moral right" to declare war on them. Sixty years later, the descendants of the original idiotic "peace movement" make the exact same claim with regard to Iraq. How convenient for you, Jakub; when the subject is Iraq, you excoriate the US for diving headlong into an armed conflict with a country that seemingly did not pose a threat to us and which had never directly attacked the US mainland. Then, when the subject is World War II, you excoriate the US sixty-three years after the fact for our having NOT dived headlong into an armed conflict with a country (Germany) that did not pose a threat to us and which once again had never directly attacked the US mainland. Thank you for explaining your European philosophy, which basically seems to be that the USA is "always wrong" and that the USA allegedly "has no right to go to war, unless Europe demands that we must go to war".

Julian Beach, Committed European in Brazil

If ever there was a case for the total isolation of the USA, puffed up, supercilious pierrots like Mr Caranto make it more eloquently than we Europeans ever could.
Join the boycott of the USA today. In the end they need us more than we need them.

James Berry, UK

What a rediculous arguement between Mr Karasick and Jakub. All this stuff about WW2 seems a little pointless. Surely the concern today should be about the worrying differences between American and the rest of the world (I generally mean Europe by that).
As a European I dont like the idea of the individualistic society that America promotes, but please dont take that as a criticism. I like living in a society that protects its week and vulnerable, even if this does mean that there are many scroungers who take advantage of it. But the American system is also one that works. Millions of immigrants decided to live in the "melting pot" of America and they knew what this involved, hard work but for equal opportunity.
I honestly believe that Americas heart is in the right place, there are many instances, as already mentioned, where it did not have to intervene but it has. Recent concern has centered on Americas reluctance to listen to the world community on things such as climate change, and this is a worry. As the largest consumer, American action is the most important, not only to solve the problem but to act as an example to others. I find Bush's assertion that inacting Kyoto would cost too many American jobs crazy. surely an economy of that size could cope with a few extra regulations, and with a large chunk of the rest of the developed road signed on, it would not affect competition all that much.
Finally, I believe that Europeans view of America is based on the notion that as America is the world power, its citizens should consider its governments impact on the rest of the world when electing its representatives. Rubbish. Americans vote for who they want to vote for on issues that are important to them. It is unfortunate that American politics has such an impact on the rest of us, but the only way to balance that is to take responsibility for ourselves. Despite Europe's obvious reluctance to go down the military route after the horrors of the world wars, it must trust itself to increase its military strength so it no longer needs to rely on America. European is financially strong but it is in defence which Europe is weak. European countries, especially those such as Germany and Italy, who for so long have depended on American military protection and had minimal military budgets, need to start putting up or shutting up.

Jakub, Poland

Obviously this argument we're having has grown somewhat vast in its magnitude so i'll do my best to be brief
Iraq: I would be delightd if George Bush announced tomorrow that henceforth all US foreign policy would be motivated by a desire to "liberate" people from murderous dictators. The very fact that he isn't going to do that means we have to assume that they were more dubious motivations at work. Sadly, we can only speculate about what they may be.
NATO: I'm fairly certain Poland's joining of NATO had very little to do with the need for military protection from no obvious enemy. The only reasons countries want to join NATO these days is to be able to attend the diplomatic cocktail parties. Perhaps you can explain why you think that trouble in the Balkans is a threat to the rest of Europe? I shared your disdain at the horrendously slow way that the UN responded to Kosovo, incidentally.
Lend-Lease: I never claimed that Britain WAS forced to surrender the West Indies as part of the Lend-Lease terms. It was simply something which, according to Anthony Eden's autobiography, was proposed during the discussions. The terms of the lend-lease agreement didn't offer Britain the opportunity to return weapons, they demanded financial remuneration.
US involvement in WW2: There is absolutely NO comparison between WW2 and war in Iraq. Are you SERIOUSLY suggesting that a unified Nazi Europe would have posed no security threat to the United States? You're obviously well-read and intelligent, so I presume not.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

By all means, Mr. Julian Beach, join the boycott of the USA. As soon as possible. PLEASE. "In the end they need us more than we need them."
We in America "need" Europe about as much as a Fish needs a Bicycle.

Julian Beach, Brazil, the country of the 21st century

Excellent Phil.
On that, at least, we agree.
Please feel free to write to your congressman demanding the closure of all US bases and secret listening posts in the UK and the repatriation of all military personnel. Start your campaign today! Get involved!
I'm certain it's not going to be complimentary but go ahead and tell me what it means. You know you want to.
Macdonalds é o caralho! Viva a cultura nacional!

Jakub, Poland

If America really DOESN'T need Europe, why did the President respond so quickly to the fairly minor sanctions imposed by the EU after Bush whacked up tarrifs on steel imports ?
Relying entirely on an internal market may have worked in the 1920s, but it won't work now.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Mr. Julian Beach:
Believe me, I have already expressed to my Congressional Representatives my strongly held view that the young men and women of the US military should be brought home from the UK at the earliest convenience. Their presence there is an antiquated holdover from the days of the Cold War. They are vitally needed elsewhere, and Europe should be more than up to the job of defending itself should the need arise. Of course if Europe is not really up to the task, that will not be "our" problem to have to deal with.
As for "secret listening posts", I suspect most of that work can be done using intelligence-gathering satellites.
I did get involved, and I did start my campaign (or join one). I participated in the successful boycott of French-made products all during 2003. You might recall that this campaign resulted in a roughly 20%-25% drop in sales of French wine exports.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

You stated that you "would be delighted if George Bush announced tomorrow that henceforth all US foreign policy would be motivated by a desire to "liberate" people from murderous dictators." You then stated that "the very fact that he isn't going to do that means we have to assume that they were more dubious motivations at work." In actuality, you really do not know yet whether Pres. George Bush is going to launch further military campaigns to rid the world of military dictators, or if he will announce that he will do so. Your view that he isn't going to do so is not a "fact" at all, only an opinion. Personally I do not care what reasons Pres. Bush used to justify ridding Iraq of a murderous dictator like Sadly Insane Hussein and liberating Iraq's people. Any excuse will do for me. He had bad breath, he kicked his dog, whatever. As I have already stated, any so-called "solution" that left Saddam still firmly in power is unacceptable to me. He had to go, he wouldn't go willingly or peacefully, so we made him go "un"-willingly and "un"-peacefully, and I am delighted that we did so. As far as NATO goes, if the only reason for joining NATO is supposedly to "go to diplomatic cocktail parties" as you put it, perhaps Poland should indeed withdraw from NATO. Then again, having been simultaneously invaded by both Nazi Germany and the Stalinist U.S.S.R., maybe the Poles and their government are a little more knowledgable about the need to not wait until there is an "obvious" enemy before preparing to defend themselves. I suggest that you ask the Polish government themselves, I am fairly certain that they will be happy to explain it to you. Since you don't appear to see any risk to the rest of Europe from trouble in the Balkans, I suggest that you spend some time reading up on the history of World War 1. It was te issue of trouble in the Balkans (the assassination of the Arch-Duke Ferdinand by a Serb) that triggered the "Great War", as it was originally known, back before Europe found it necessary to number its cataclysmic confrontations. Do you feel that it was perfectly acceptable for the 1990s Balkan conflict (triggered by that famous megalomaniac, Slobodan Milosevic) to slaughter hundreds of thousands of people and re-introduce the words "concentration camp" to the European lexicon, so long as "your, precious little" corner of Europe was not involved or dragged into the conflict?

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

>Are you SERIOUSLY suggesting that a unified Nazi Europe would have posed no security threat to the United States?

Europe was essentially unified under Nazism from 1940 on, after the Nazis conquered France. A unified Nazi Europe did not pose any security threat to the United States. The USA's security was never threatened by this fact. The Nazis could not possibly have invaded the United States. They couldn't even invade England from a distance of about 10miles across the English Channel without their air cover, and they lost their air cover during the Battle of Britain.

>If America really DOESN'T need Europe, why did the President respond so quickly to the fairly minor sanctions imposed by the EU after Bush whacked up tarrifs on steel imports ?

President Bush is a free-trader at heart and was never really in favor of tariffs on steel imports in the first place.

>The West Bank and Gaza Strip were captured by Israel in an illegal war in which, essentially, they were the aggressor.

That is an incorrect assessment. From the massive build-up of hostile Arab military forces on Israel's borders, it was obvious that a joint attack upon and invasion of Israel by the Arabs was imminent. As usual the Arabs refused to accept the fact of Israel's existence and were gearing up to launch another all-out war to wipe Israel off the map and to push the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. Israel as a sovereign state had the absolute right to defend itself against invasion and annihilation by hostile forces invading from three sides (Egypt, Jordan, Syria). And (contrary to popular and mistaken world opinion) the Israelis did not have any "obligation" (legally, morally or otherwise) to "play nice" and wait patiently until anti-Jewish forces were pouring across the borders, before they had the "Moral High Ground" to exercise their legitimate right of self-defense.

>And it's not enough for international consensus to be "wrong" for President Bush to just discard it ... only 2 countries in the world think Israel has any right to be in those territories.

Yes, it is enough. And those 2 countries are right, and The Rest Of The World is WRONG.

>The only reason we don't refer to "American occupied California" is because the people in California recognise the authority of the American government.
That is incorrect. TODAY the people in California certainly recognise the authority of the American Government. But at the time that the US captured California and Texas from Mexico, American citizens were a distinct minority in those territories. No matter, all those who didn't swear allegiance to the new US state governments were driven out at gunpoint (or worse), and Mexican insurgent rebellions were crushed by Texas Rangers and militias. Those territories are ours now. And they will stay ours, forever. They will not be returned to Mexico, now or ever.

>Do the majority of people in the occupied territories ?

If they don't, they can always go live in some other, predominantly Arab/Muslim country. But they will never repeal the outcome of the 1967 Six-Day War. Nor will they ever succeed in repealing the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel. And they will not change the Fact that This Land Is The State Of Israel, and Will Remain The Land And Property Of Israel, Forever.

Jakub, Poland

I think we can be reasonably sure that George Bush isn't going to go into another war and "liberate" another group of people. Why would he co-operate with Saudia Arabia while it abuses its own people? Why the reluctance to intervene in the Sudan ? Why the reluctance to criticise a military dictatorship in Pakistan? Why the tolerance of abhorrent human rights abuses in Uzbekistan? The slowness to respond to problems in Haiti ?
You keep imploring me to read up on history yet you seem unaware that history has happened. Seriously, how likely is it that Germany will reinvade Poland? Additionally, it is absurd to assume that unrest in the Balkans will ignite a repeat of the first world war ..
As for Milosevic, you're avoiding the question I asked. I asked you to name a direct military threat to Europe. You've failed to do so.

Jana, USA

You people just don't get it. What "welfare" country has really grown and proved that way is better for the people and the country? How better off are the welfare countries? Yes, America has poor and America has homeless, but America has opportunities. In America you have a choice to either get out and bust your butt and make something of yourself or sit on it and be poor. WE make our choice. We call it the American Dream.
What does the "welfare" country offer? Bust your butt to support free-loaders? Who's going to go the extra mile in that situation? What future do the welfare countries offer their poor - to be supported by governmental charity for a 1,000 generations? I'd rather be poor in America with a chance than supported by welfare with no way out.

Norm, USA

**a-hem** Though I find the debate between Jakub and Phil to be quite informative, allow me to return to the subject of Canada . . . for a while . . .
As a dual-national anglophone, raised in Quebec, with family on both sides of the Canada-USA border, I agree in large part with Phil when he writes, "For Canada, the present situation is ideal . . ." A bit overstated, but the general idea is a reasonable fit for me.
I doubt whether Canada will ever materially influence USA foreign policy, much less serve as a bridge to further European interests, though Canada's relative equanimity has permitted Canada to have credibility in the role of a UN peacekeeper, and some success as a 3rd-party negotiator. If official Canadian opinion is largely ignored in Washington DC, it may be, in part, because Canada lacks the men, material, and the military risk-taking tradition to be of much direct help (or threat) to the USA. My sense is that American presidents spend more time on Mexican than on Canadian issues. I suspect there is more Canadian influence on the USA through Canadian artists (writers, comedians, actors, musicians) than through diplomatic channels.
It remains to be seen how Canada's social welfare system will hold up under the pressure of Canada's rapidly growing, heterogeneous population (a new development for Canada, but well-known in the USA). In addition to the perennial French versus English social problem, (*yawn*) Canada has imported new ones through sizeable immigration from Haiti, Jamaica, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Russia, and Hong Kong in particular. These groups bring with them their own social expectations, traditional animosities, and crime syndicates that manifest within (and are changing) the Canadian society Europeans can appreciate.
Putting aside the incentives of liberty, opportunity, and social-welfare handouts, it is reasonable to expect that as global warming continues (for whatever the causes), massive immigration pressure will continue from the overpopulated, desertified, or war-torn regions of the world to the cooler, more spacious, wetter areas. British Columbia and Washington State are already seeing a growing influx of Californians ;-). Things change.
So who knows? The possibility exists that Canada, synthesizing American and Canadian experiences of integrating and governing a diverse population within a democratic context, can serve as a bridge to Europe for North American social values ;-)

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

No, I don't think we can be certain that George Bush isn't going to go into another war and liberate (no quote signs) another group of people. I would probably support him, were he to do so. He cooperates with Saudi Arabia for the same reason that every US President from Franklin Roosevelt cooperated with and cultivated a relationship with the Saudi government -- because it is in our national interests to do so. We have strategic national interests in that area of the world, and as a nation we have not "merely" the Right to Protect and Defend those national interests, but moreover the Obligation to do so. In fact, we need to cooperate with the Saudi government now more than ever, since they are now in the front lines in the War On Terror. After having spent years in a state of denial about the level of involvement by Saudi citizens in Terrorism, the Saudi government has realized that it no longer has the luxury of sitting back and dismissing Terrorism as being "someone else's problem"; it's now their problem, too. And immense changes are happening in Saudi society as a result of that abrupt shift in the attitude of the Saudi government. The radical mullahs who preached Jihad are being silenced by the Saudi government, funds that might have flowed to terror organizations are being seized, and the Saudi government is (slowly) taking its first steps toward some form of liberalization. All of that change is due to the US government's interaction with the Saudi government. If we had simply announced "We don't like your policies, so we're not going to talk to you or work with you" and flounced off (the idiotic, inept and disastrous policy of the Carter Administration, which managed to embolden America's enemies and alienate America's friends), U.S. government influence and leverage over the Saudis would have dropped to zero, as would their incentive to cooperate further in any way with the U.S. The US government has already voiced criticisms of the Pakistani government in the past and probably will do so in the future, but in my opinion it is the height of idiocy to go out of ones' way to deliberately antagonize a government that is also in the front lines of the War On Terror and whose cooperation we desperately need. Uzbekistan is under the radar at the moment, there are bigger and more valuable fish to fry. Problems in Haiti are nothing new and not "our" responsibility, just as Somalia was not America's "responsibility" in the 1990s, which is why it was such a horrendous and disastrous mistake for Pres. Clinton to involve US forces in that mess.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA


>Additionally, it is absurd to assume that unrest in the Balkans will ignite a repeat of the first world war ..

The Russians were none too happy about the US and NATO bombing the Russians' traditional allies, the Serbians. It's fortunate that the Russians chose not to make their disagreement more than verbal, or the scope of the conflict could have expanded considerably.
I previously asked you: Do you feel that it was perfectly acceptable for the 1990s Balkan conflict (triggered by that famous megalomaniac, Slobodan Milosevic) to slaughter hundreds of thousands of people and re-introduce the words "concentration camp" to the European lexicon, so long as "your, precious little" corner of Europe was not involved or dragged into the conflict? You're avoiding the question I asked. However, the tone and substance of your reply lead me to conclude that you feel that it is perfectly acceptable to allow Serbian Yugoslavs, Croatian Yugoslavs and Muslim Yugoslavs to slaughter hundreds of thousands of each other, so long as you can somehow hermetically seal the conflict area off from the rest of Europe.

>As for Milosevic, you're avoiding the question I asked. I asked you to name a direct military threat to Europe. You've failed to do so.

Presently the biggest direct military threat to Europe is Islamic terrorism. Islamic terrorists have already infiltrated Russia's borders numerous times. They have dynamited apartment buildings with civilians inside of them. They have bombed subway trains. They have bombed and destroyed civilian airliners in flight, killing everyone on board. They have seized and slaughtered Russian hostages in opera houses, in schools.
However, your question begs a rebuttal question: Since when does there ever "need" to be a "direct military threat" at all? Why shouldn't nations build and maintain armies regardless of whether there is a "direct" military threat or not? The entire purpose of maintaining miltary forces, after all, is precisely to deter such a direct threat from occurring. The existence of the military does not need to be "justified" in any way.
Correct me if I am mistaken, but you appear to believe that unless and until the existence of a "directmilitary threat" can be "proven" (presumably by bombs crashing down upon your home), there is "no justifcation" for maintaining a usable military.
Perhaps various individuals choose to live in a mental fantasy world in which an opposing country, identified as a "direct military threat", is "given a good stern warning" and told "Now, you mustn't do anything to us or attack us in any way for at least five years, because it will take us at least that long for us to build up our military now that we've determined that you are a 'direct military threat', and for you to attack us before we're ready to defend ourselves would be extremely unfair and a Bad Thing". The notion that an attacking power would dutifully "wait till you're ready" before attacking is so ludicrous that it suggests a mentality addled by pyschotropic drugs. Then again, various individuals also choose to continue to believe in the Tooth Fairy as well, so I suppose almost anything is possible.

>Seriously, how likely is it that Germany will reinvade Poland?

Seriously, up until just before Sept. 1, 1939, the people of Poland likely thought that the likelihood of being invaded by Germany was next to zero. That is presumably why Poland joined NATO, so that they would not have to base their national security, sovereignty and survival on "likelihoods".

Paul, USA

Thanks, Norm, for returning this discussion to Canada-USA-Europe issues in an intelligent manner.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Dear Norm,
I like your approach and your suggestions. I am not certain whether US Presidents spend more time on Mexican issues than they spend on Canadian issues. Certainly the unfortunate softwood timber dispute between the US and Canada has consumed more time than I would have liked to have seen devoted to that issue. If Americans' attitude toward Canada tends toward benign ignorance (and it does), I guess I would still greatly prefer that, than to see the US attitude change to one of very-much-aware-and-knowledgable hostility. We in America do not have a large number of other countries on our borders (only two, Canada and Mexico), and we tend to only be aware of other countries when they become very real and obvious threats to us, so staying beneath the US's radar screen of attention is probably "A Good Thing" for Canada (as Martha Stewart would say). Our benign neglect of Canada vs. Mexico has much less to do with intentional ignorance, than it has to do with the US-Mexico realities. The US-Mexico border is a place where a modern First World country (the USA) runs up hard against a Third World economy (Mexico), with all of its attending issues of glaring inequalities and disparities. While I desire good relations with Mexico, and I understand that it's natural and inevitable that Mexicans would be drawn to work in the US for its higher standards of living and opportunity, our economy cannot reasonably be expected to continuously absorb millions of poor, unskilled and often-illiterate legal or illegal immigrants. And in a post-9/11 world, it is imperative that the US gain control of its borders. We don't perceive (rightly or wrongly) our northern border with Canada to have the same dire sort of problems as the southern border. Personally, I think Canada is quietly invading and taking over the USA through its exports of actors and performers like William Shatner (Captain Kirk), James Doohan ("Scotty"), Jim Carrey, Raymond Burr, Bryan Adams and Shania Twain. We're learning to say "Eh?", enjoy hockey, and drink good stout Canadian beer ;-) What -- Californians, in British Columbia?!?!? Can we in Washington State pay you to take the Cali-fornicators?!?! PLEASE? ;-) (*former Vancouverite here*)

Duncan, Victoria, BC, Canada

*ahem* There was a topic to this thread, wasn't there? ;)
It's difficult to speak for all of Canada, because like any country we have people with widely varying attitudes, so I'll try to be as even-handed as I can, although I can bet that most Americans won't agree with me on a lot of counts.
Canada is a small country. It is a rich country for it's size, but it's not powerful, and although it attempts to be important diplomatically, it's a small power and has been since, well... it's always been weak. We have 30 million people spread in a line along our territories bordering America (hardly economically efficient, except in relation to our populous neighbour), and much of the rest is an Arctic wasteland we can't afford to defend. We plain just never had the manpower or geography to fight a war of independence against Britain (although we revolted twice, and failed).
So Canada was forced to compromise, and that's been a policy forced on us since the country's inception. First Britain dominated us, then the United States. So compromise and diplomacy has always been the Canadian way (when we weren't, like the Americans, forcing our native population into reservations or wiping them off the face of the earth). We, too, had a bloody Civil War where we brought the rebels to their knees. Over the World Wars, Canada fielded some of the finest units and developed a sense of national identity separate from Britain.
Canada is a bit of a strange case in that it has become very tightly connected with the United States economically and consumes an enormous amount of US media and culture, but yet has remained very distinct in terms of values and political life. There is but a dying gasp of the left wing in the United States mainstream (it's a dirty word to call yourself a liberal, much less a socialist), and even those candidates in the Democratic Party are quickly marginalized (see Howard Dean). Americans have been becoming increasingly religious since the 1980s, looking more to God and Satan to explain the natural world and human behaviour. If you don't believe me, look at the way George Bush characterizes the world. 'Axis of Evil'? He routinely makes reference to God's will and the idea that God has a special place for America in His heart. Increasingly, Canadians have difficulty relating to American politics as a result. It's an arrogant view. It's one of the big reasons why Americans are so frustrated with the rest of the world and don't understand why their allies are leaving them. And the truth is, Canada doesn't matter enough to the States to get them to listen.
Canada has also weakened its role as arbiter between the United States and Europe because we have become biased against the United States in our government. Recently, some of the members of our goverment have called the Bush administrations "bastards", "those damn Americans", etc. And that's with reporters nearby. Canada, although we must remain diplomatic because our relationship with the United States is our most important one, has become really disturbed by America recently, especially during the Bush administration. Most of us can't put our finger on it (well, except in one word: Bush), but this is my analysis:
American patriotism is an enormous problem. By patriotism, I don't mean 'love for your country' or 'love for your system of government'. Patriotism in America, for wayyy too many people, means identifying personally with the concept of America (which is that everything America does is by definition pre-supposed to be good, because it is the land of freedom and democracy). Thus, if someone points out an inconsistency in American policy (even if it is a legitimate moral dilemma), many people take it as a direct insult to them personally. Some people refuse to accept any proposition that involves America looking bad. And their response often comes with direct insults.
Americans by and large don't want to hear that their country plays power politics rather than spreading democracy around the globe. You can point out to them National Security Council memoranda from the Persian Gulf War, signed by George Bush Sr., that explicitly state, in THIS order, that the war was fought for oil and to protect strategic allies in the region (there's Israel, which can defend itself fine with U.S. weapons systems, and then oil-rich dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). This is not an isolated incident. The United States has attacked and exploited the natural wealth of many weaker countries, governing the directly (as was the case in the Philippines, Peurto Rico and Hawaii at one point), or through puppet dictatorships/republics (Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Vietnam, Honduras, South Korea).
It is a natural human tendency to commit acts violence. All large powers do it. It is part of the evolutionary scrabble for survival and scarce resources, amplified by technological development and societal organization. America sees itself set apart from that process, either through it's Christian devotion or through its secular values of democracy and freedom - and it IS one of the most free and representative governments on earth. However, one of its failings is its inability to measure its actions against its values to see whether they're in agreement, and pass judgement upon themselves. Until the United States learns to take its own self-criticism, there's no chance that another country, even its closest neighbour, can sway its views.Let the flaming begin! (Or, failing that, a rational discussion will suffice.)

Can Am

As a Canadian, I would hope Canada gets on with the business of building legitimate social and economic ties with the more enlightened countries of the world to work on the tough issues that face humanity. Radical freedom fighters (terrorists) targeting expansionist and imperialist invaders is on the bottom of the list (not the top) of important things to do in the world. As a species (not nationalists of any color or flag), we face global challenges and are running out of time. In many respects, America will run its course (see Fall of Empires). Canadians, Europeans, South Americans, Africans and Asians would be wise to get to work on issues such as AIDS, Global Warming, Genocide in the Sudan, clean water, 25 million living in slavery, etc. and leave America to her cherished business. While it's at it, Canada might consider moving its gigantic trade to Europe and South America. What the rest of the world needs to do - bottom-line - is ignore the bully, tend to the work that really matters, watch the bully implode, and greet a new humble friend on the flip-side.Roger Axelsson, Norway

Sean, Ireland

To Jana:
The statistics make a mockery of the American Dream. The countries with the greatest movement between socio-economic classes are the social democratic Scandinavians.

Gavin, South Carolina, USA

Why must it be all or nothing? Why not come to a happy medium in between extremly and unnecessarily rich and desperately poor. We only have a relatively short number of years to exist and live life--why not enjoy its beauty and complexity in all forms? Becoming a workaholic does not allow one to relish life and live it as a human and not a mindless busy-body. And being deperately poor does not allow one any type of vantage point over economic and daily distress.

Alex Baines, Manc/UK

Phil states that America needs Europe as much as a fish needs a bicycle. Considering America requires $2billion a day capital inflow to support it's burgeoning deficits I rather think that it does.

Mark Smallwood, Santa Cruz, CA

As a fellow American, let me just say, why don't you shut your blowhard mouth and get back to work doing whatever it is you do for a living? You are an embarrassment, and your vitriolic stupidity only serves to confirm the idea that all Americans are moronic, hysterical, self-absorbed narcissists. If you're so convinced of your rightness and intelligence, write a book, run for office, or get your own hateful radio show. Don't waste your time and ours trashing Canada and Europe. Get a life!

Adam McD, Canada

Several people have questioned whether Canada could serve as a bridge between the U.S and Europe on the basis that the U.S. tends to ignore us.
What hasn't been mentioned is the fact that Europe, and Europeans, ignore us as well. As a Canadian who lived in the UK (Canada's most likely European ally) for two years, I can attest to a depressing ignorance of Canada on the part of even progressive, educated Brits. The standard mental file of Canada is compiled like so: "Unless I am specifically told otherwise, I will assume that Canada resembles the U.S. in all respects. At no point will curiosity inspire me to re-evaluate this position, no matter how much evidence I absorb about their essential differences." To people in the UK and Ireland, think of it this way: How much more do you hear about Australia than Canada in the media? Now, does it surprise you that Canada is actually about 50% larger than Australia by population? Why does the latter receive so much more coverage, then? In one instance where a European nation *has* taken an interest in Canada, it has only done so to cause my country a great deal of nuisance. I am talking about France's persistent encouragement of Quebec sovereigntists, who neither represent Canada, nor -- as two referenda on Quebec separation have proven -- Quebec itself. We Canadians might occasionally entertain the tantalizing fantasy that Europeans care about us and are interested in how we are faring. Sadly, by and large, they do not. Canada can't serve as a bridge between two entities that never pay it any attention. It's too bad for people like me. I'm a North Toronto NDPer (U.K. translation: a West London Labourite; U.S. translation: a Manhattan liberal) and proud of it, and I love Europe too.

Julian Beach, Brazil

You ask, Jane, "what "welfare" country has really grown and proved that way is better for the people and the country?"
Britain has. Canada has. Norway has, among a multitude of others.
I note, also, that since Mr Bush's re-election enquiries about emigration from the US to Canada have increased about twentyfold.
Just to get you really frothing at the mouth, here is my list of reasons to move to Canada:
1. Canada has universal public health care.
2. Canada has no troops in Iraq.
3. Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol.
4. More than half of Canada's provinces allow same-sex marriage.
5. The Canadian Senate recommends legalizing marijuana.
6. Abortion is legal in Canada and not under threat.
7. Canada has more guns per-capita than the USA. It also has strict gun laws and a fraction of the number of gun-related deaths.
8. Until this year the United Nations had ranked Canada the best country to live in for eight consecutive years. Norway, another "welfare" nation, has recently moved into the top spot.
9. Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976.
10. Canada has not run a federal deficit since 1996-97.
Of course, Jane, I do understand your position. After all, America needs it's army of dispossessed today more than ever. Otherwise who would Halliburton, Carlyle Group etc. send to fight their war for for them?

John, America

Oh my goodness!
Isn't it self-evident? Agnostic Secular-Humanism destroys all who embrace it?
Europe is enveloped in Darkness as a result of her gleeful involvement and acceptance of this idea..
Beware America, or else we shall become as lacking in understanding as so many Europeans.
Refute the lie.
God Bless America!

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Reply to Duncan, Victoria:
Duncan, you stated that
>Americans by and large don't want to hear that their country plays power politics rather than spreading democracy around the globe.
I for one have no problem acknowledging that the US plays global power politics. All nations do. That's the nature of the beat. That's how the game is played. However, sometimes that exercise of global politics does involve spreading democracy. This coming January, there is an election scheduled in Iraq -- quite likely the first relatively free elections that Iraq has ever had in its history. The Shi'ite opposition to the US presence has suddenly eased over the last couple of months (something that few in the West seem to be paying attention to), and I would be willing to bet that the reason is that the Shi'ites, who were long dominated by the minority Sunni Muslims of Saddam Hussein's Tikrit tribe, are sensing that their greater numbers will give them political power, peacefully, for the first time. I daresay that this certainly would not be happening, were Saddam Hussein's regime still in power. Sometimes the exercise of global power does bring positive results, Duncan. I believe that "results" are what matter.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Mark Smallwood,
As a fellow American, let me just say, kindly go pound sand and crawl back under your bridge, Troll. Freedom of speech appliers to everyone, not just the people that "You, personally" agree with. If you have a problem with that, go post somewhere else. No one is holding a gun to your head and "forcing" you to be here.

Sean, USA

It is absurd to compare the US to Europe. First of all, which US and which Europe? The US is such a large and complex country that I always have to chuckle when I hear Europeans speak authoritatively of "America." There are times when I myself, California-born and bred, feel a stranger within this nation's borders and among its people.

Alice, Toronto, Canada

Hello, I'm just embarking on The History of the Present, but as a Canadian , this question triggers 3 questions and some reflection.
My first question is simple.
1) How can the Canadian federal government take on the role of "soundboard / facilitator" for two very distinct entities beyond our borders when we've never really bridged the "two solitudes" here at home? (French / English) Anyone who recalls the Quebec Referendum (1995) "should Quebec separate" may recall the "No" group won by a very slim margin.
And if you look at the growing support for the separatist party (under Gilles Duceppe) you see "plus ça change, plus ...the separatist movement is alive and well not least with "boomer" intellectuals. And let's not forget the other separtist movement in the Western provinces. You get my point..we barely have our own house in order!
Some people assume that because the Canadian accent falls mid-way between that of the UK and the US that we are mid-way right across the board. Having spent 40-odd years here I venture to say that's far from true. (Yes, we know and like Sir Alec Guinness, Dame Christie, Judy Dench, Mr. Bean, Phil Collins Wallace & Grommit, The Manchester Guardian, Fish & Chips, Hello Magazine and Caffrey's beer but if you were to do a survey I'm fairly sure that (for better or worse) what comes across the 49th parallel has broader appeal. (Don't get me started on the mega-buck-publicity campaigns behind every Hollywood flick and all the new comuter games.)
Given the stated topic here is whether and to what degree Canada could serve as as a bridge between the US and Europe, given the other posted website topics are challenging and likely of interest to most Canadians, given the absence of input from Canadians within Canada, it seems logical to ask:
2) Has this web site been sufficiently publicized in the Canadian media -- both mainstream and "alternative"?
It appears that Canadian correspondents based in New York, Washington, Boston etc. may have neglected to mention the website when they covered the book? If so, all is not lost.. Given we "Canucks" consume a wide varitety of US culture (including for example the New York Times Book Supplement) we may well hear about the site from US sources this week (Nov 14-20, 2004)
3) Is the average Canadian predisposed to political discussion (web based or face-to-face) with anyone other than her/his "inner circle" ? I invite the input of Canadians currently residing here as well as off-shore and "south -side" contributors who've lived here.
The point to this query is this: If we as a nation are not very good at that sort of thing then the "bridge" role may be tricky: whatever initiatives are undertaken by our government may well be un-acknowledged or misunderstood by "rank and file" Canadians. (If Canada was cost-sharing in this it would likely get the thumbs-down from tax-payers..but if the budget came from some third-party to which many groups contribute e.g the UN then maybe it would garner more support)
Given the numerous references to the fact that Canadians shy away from heated, politically-oriented, intellectual discussion, it may prove helpful to illustrate how this "failure" or idiosyncracy has come to be...
CANADIAN SOCIETY (culturally / politically diverse, pluralistic) to some degree owes it's stability to the fact that in a public setting, the respectful, somewhat cautious individual eschews controversial politically-oriented topics in favor of "safe" topics.
It's worth remembering that each year Canada welcomes
(after due review) "newcomers" from all over the world. Some
arrived from a highly polarized political climate e.g. the Middle East, some hail from countries where certain sectors of the populace have a higher social status based on their cultural origins / caste (e.g. India & Pakistan) others came here from a place where intellectuals were seen as a threat (China during the Cultural Revolution)
BABY BOOMERS It's also worth noting that many Canadian baby boomers came through a public school system so riddled with experimentation (1965-1980) they cannot confidently quote Plato, Aristotle, Hugo, Dickens, Wolfe, Roth, Friedman, Marx, Churchill, Roosevelt etc. One could argue that these folks should have done their homework as adults--done some extra reading, gone back to school etc (and many in fact did)/ However, the fact remains: if the foundation was weak, there's a loss of confidence, the person has trouble participating in "high-brow" discussions, and there's "low brow" culture on every corner.
CANADIAN MEDIA Radio: With the exception of CJRT Radio (based in Toronto but broadcasting throughout about half of Ontario) our privately-owned radio stations are concentrated in the hands of a few powerful "giants" whose current affairs reporters are not particularly well-versed in history and politics. (We invariably get more facts than analysis) Some of the culture-specific programs have very informed commentary about issues within their community (e.g. Koran discussion groups) but many talk shows build their base by debating provincial and personal issues: e.g. how to get a competitive rate on your next mortgage, pros and cons of banning pit-bulls in public areas, pros and cons of facelifts.
Fortunately, we do have a coast-to-coast national public radio network which tries to be both inclusive and representative and which broadcasts in both French and English. (CJBC and CBC).
Television: Consumption varies tremendously. Some Cdns. are content with about 10 stations (non-cable household in a rural area) urban viewers equipped with a powerful "dish" bring in about 200 channels--but this doesn't necessarily trigger serious intellectual debate. It appears the "boomer" generation (most of whom are juggling job, and the double-demands of teen-agers and frail parents) get a general overview of world events rather than an in-depth understanding. What's it like in the UK?
Newspapers: Canada's "original" national newspaper "The Globe & Mail" has lost many key columnists and is struggling to survive. The "under 25" crowd gets its information from other sources e.g. web sites, and blogs. Those over 25, who travel to work via underground (we call it the subway) have a choice between paying just over $2 for The G & M or picking up a "freebie" tabloid with enough info-tainment for 20 minutes. Canadian "boomers" (many of whom spend long hours at a desk and/or behind the steering wheel) report that getting through the whole newpaper every day is a challenge.
CANADIAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS This following comment is intended to trigger a response! Most Ontario schools, (Ontario being one of the largest provinces) despite their sizeable budgets (highest per student spending in the Western world) have forced the social sciences to take a back seat to reading math and pure & applied science. (This is at least in part a question of the proverbial pendulum swinging back again. (As any Canadian over 40 can confirm, the 60s and 70s featured so much experimentation and freedom of choice that a whole generation of students graduated w/out a firm grounding
in history/ politics/ economics. Many were deemed defficient in basic writing and math on admittance to Cdn. universities and the pendulum swung back..
All this is not so much an admmission that we DO in fact like to blend in with the woodwork, as an affirmation that we are odd but quietly proud of it. In Canada (rather like in Switerland,) matters are reviewed and discussed, experts consulted, similar problems in other countries are considered. We even hold the occasional referendum.
Many enlightened Canadians can see that a "one size fits all " solution to a perrenial or thorny problem usually doesn't work. Whether its off-setting the imbalances between "have versus have-not" provinces or support to an able-bodied person struck by a life-changing disability, the idea is (contrary to what Karasick said) not every province nor individual can reach it's potential unassisted. (In Karasick's world, an Einstein or Rutherford from a poor family could not launch his career, the orphan would be inelligilble for an artificial trachea, the openly gay MP's proposals for environmental reforms might never get published, the developmentally-delayed 7 year old charging her dad with rape might never get legal representation)
The Canadian way is multi-faceted. At the same moment a wealthy person departrs for the US to get immediate surgery in a private hospital, his tax dollars may be helping an innner city kid receive basic dental services. A talented youngster from a family of limited means can qualify for training as an opera diva, a landed immigrant whose skills are no longer marketable may be eligible for re-training.
"Fend for yourself' is one way but there's room in this world for "demonstrate/ document the need and we'll go to bat for you"

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Can Am:
I used to live in Vancouver, BC and had been hearing ever since the early 1980s that Canada was considering shifting its trade to Europe and South America. However, after twenty years of hearing this, I frankly still do not see it happening. It seems to me that there are a couple of reasons for this. (1) Due to continuing and ongoing interprovincial trade barriers and protectionism between Canadian provinces, it is still easier to trade across the US-Canada border, than it is to trade between Canadian provinces. The presence of the huge American marketplace on Canada's southern border makes the US a natural trading partner (in spite of our occasional spats over trade rules). (2) The US with its relatively free market is still much more receptive to imports of Canadian products than is the EU with its highly protectionist attitudes.

Alice, Toronto, Canada

Hello Web Master / TGA:
Please disregard my amateur attempt to contribute to the discussion about Canada''s possible involvement as a bridge between Europe and the US. My failure to correctly read the topic resulted in a faulty arguement about the US and the UK which, if published, would only result in ridicule.
As for my summary of reasons why many Canadians shun heated political discussions, there have been enough digressions and the arguements submitted 9re media and education and how they shape our political consciousness) are hardly new. Furthermore the points put forth are not sufficiently well researched to withstand the scrutiny of other readers.
I would do well to stick with my "hands-on" pursuits and leave the intellectual discussions to those in academic circles.
Mea culpa

Levis Must

Canada cannot be much of a bridge to anything, we are just a powerless American colony, no big news there. In fact we only exist as a state at all because America already owns everything in our country and doesn't have the time or energy to invade again (which they did three times in the past by the way). The vast majority of Americans are barely aware of our existence and have no interest in expanding their knowledge, even though we share the largest undefended border in the world and are their largest trading partner.
George Orwell once observed that the further people are from the center of power, the more they are in touch with the world as it really is. I have always felt that Canadians on the whole are more in touch with the world and far less gullible than Americans. No, we're not patriotic, we don't jump up and down about being "individuals" and we don't worry whether lending a hand to someone down on their luck makes us weak. Many Americans, on the other hand, swallow the most senseless drivel faster than they down a diet Coke Unprovoked military conquest and occupation is "spreading democracy". "Individualism" doesn't seem inconsistent with relinquishing basic civil liberties, and providing essential services like health care to every citizen is seen as weakness.
The economic and military power that made America the preeminent superpower was ultimately founded on enlightened and liberal values - fairness, equality, freedom, tolerance and justice. These values brought people to America seeking a better life over the last centuries (including, by the way, the atomic scientists that made America the victor of WWII and laid the foundation for her current status as military superpower). Liberal values fostered the spirit of enquiry and innovation that underlie her scientific, economic and technological status. People around the globe looked to America for leadership because of her moral and ethical status. But in 21st century America"Liberal" has become a term of derision, ignorance and intolerance are championed as strength and the "American Way" seems to boil down only to aggression and consumption. Just another imperial empire.

Bob Powelson, A Canadian in Korea

Julian Beach lists a few points as to why, in his opinion, Canada is a "welfare country" that has "proven" such to be possible. These points should bear a little scrutiny:
1. Canada has public health care. Yes it does. With waiting periods that are unconscionable, that is losing its best doctors to the US as a brain drain and confiscatory taxes to pay for the medicare.
2. It is rather a pity that Canada has no troops in Iraq. Pity! Our beef and softwood lumber disputes with the US would be easier to solve if we had a little goodwill with the American administatration.
3. Unfortunately we succumbed to the psuedo-science behind Kyoto. Now most of Canada's cost on Kyoto is going to be born by one province - Alberta.
4. Yes and one province - the one most like the US, Alberta - has already introduced legislation to use the opt out clause in Canada's Charter of Rights to avoid it.
5. Oh yes! Legalizing marijuana is a matter of earth shattering proportions. Ludicrous.
6. Unfortunately abortion is legal.
7. Canada does not have more guns per capita that the US and the new gun laws are not being enforced and will likely die from a large part of the population refusing to comply.
8. Canada is a "great country to live in" IF you like paying high taxes and letting the social welfare system do you thinking an planning for you.
9. Unfortunately Canada did abolish the death penalty. If it was put to a vote of Canadians it would likely be brought back.
10. Canada has not had a federal deficit for three reasons; high taxes, the US supplies our defence for free and not to mention that Alberta with about 10% of Canada's population has a cash surplus almost exactly the same as Canada's.
I am a Canadian and I have lived in Asia for five years. After 9/11 I took the Canadian flag of my bag and put an American flag one it. My way of giving the one finger salute to my insipid "home and native land".

Susan Murray, USA

Jakub said: "I think we can be reasonably sure that George Bush isn't going to go into another war and "liberate" another group of people. Why would he co-operate with Saudia Arabia while it abuses its own people? Why the reluctance to intervene in the Sudan ? Why the reluctance to criticise a military dictatorship in Pakistan? Why the tolerance of abhorrent human rights abuses in Uzbekistan? The slowness to respond to problems in Haiti?"
I don't understand your logic, Jakub. We cooperate with Saudi Arabia because we buy their oil. Pakistan is finally showing us some degree of cooperation. We're certainly not going to intervene in places like Sudan and Haiti locked in civil war. I'm not happy we intervened in Kosovo. We are justified in ousting Sadam Hussien because we helped create the farce of sanctions against him instead of taking him out in 1991. We went along with the UN and hoped, mistakenly, that the Iraqi people would overthrow him. It is in everyone's best interest to be rid of him. Lifting the sanctions was unacceptable and keeping the sanctions was unacceptable. Logically, what could we do?
We are going to act in our best interest and it is foolish to think that you can save people from themselves. You can't "lift" a country, or anyone, from poverty. You can try and show them how to help themselves. The United States does not want to become the world's sanitation department, cleaning up every mess in the world.
Canada apparently feels that everything we do affects them all in a personal way and they have done nothing to convince us of that opinion. We are often taken aback at the shrill and vitriolic criticism we hear from our neighbors in the North. It appears that you are angry with us simply because we don't always agree. It doesn't seem very "enlightened" to me.

Duncan, Victoria, BC (Canada)

Hi, Phil:
I agree that Iraq will be freer and more democratic under U.S. occupation than it was under Saddam Hussein's rule. But I hesitate to call it a victory for democracy, as the Bush administration has already made a lot of decisions for the Iraqis without their consent:
Paul Bremer, first CPA chief, chopped the size of government dramatically, privatizing many industries; Iraqis were not meaningfully consulted. He also loosened foreign investment rules to the point that companies are given carte blanche to take money out of Iraq. Durther, U.S. is building the largest embassy in the world in Iraq, from which to control the Middle East, and is preparing for a long-term military presence to take the place of troops that were previously stationed in Saudi Arabia. Bush has also already indicated that an Islamic-rule government would not be acceptable, should Iraqis vote for it it. The war is also partially about securing Iraq's oil resources, although I'm not convinced that that's the main issue at hand for this administration.
But I think the 'results' that stick out in most Canadian minds are the 100,000 or so Iraqis that were killed in this war. That's a bit less than one of every 250 people, if you figure a population of roughly 25 million. Bin Laden, in comparison, murdered just 3,000. You can't kill that many people for an abstract ideal (Islamic or democratic) and tell them that it's for their own good. Sacrificing one's life for an ideal is fundamentally your OWN decision to make. Could you, personally, tell the families of those who died in Iraq, that it's your right to decide that their freedom is worth more than the lives of their loved ones? I think you'd probably get lynched, anywhere in the world, *especially* the United States. What would've happened if France had tried to 'liberate' you from Britain?
And I think that's indicative, that's why so many peoples either hate the U.S. or have lost sympathy for them, why Canadians in particular have more difficulty relating to your country now: consistently, the American government shows willful ignorance of the suffering of people abroad and placates the left-wing at home by spoon-feeding them pablum about freedom and democracy while glossing over the casualties. It's not right.

Norm, USA

Help me understand. Were you responding to Julian? What is your assessment of Canada, or do you include Canada when you say "America?" Are agnostic secular-humanists destroyed by definition because they are not active believers (they'll have an eternally bad afterlife)? Or, are there signs and symptoms of destruction during life? If so, what do you think the signs are in Europe? How long have these signs been there?

How would you know when the lie is refuted?
I've read similar statements from Moslem extremists when they discuss America. They think that by not accepting Allah, America is doomed. They are more charitable toward Europe, but they're just as certain as you are.

J, uSA

Roger from Norway... hear hear...
You write my own thoughts...
In my lifetime I expect to watch America slowly collapse under it's own moral hypocracy. Jon, USA will sit in his rocking chair as an old man and rattle off hate murmur about the liberals who have destroyed America... but it will be his own that have torn the lady from her pedistal.
The ideals of liberty have faded from these shores. The dream, the song, the motion and the movement... all have come and gone. It's sad.
But fear not ! Ten generations ago a brave man and wife struck out for the unknown... for a new ideal... that of liberty.
and so will I.
I'll see you in the new, new world my brothers and sisters!
Fight on...
from within the political boundries of the former 'united' states of America.

Susan Starke, USA

To Julian Beach, Brazil (UK expat?):
I realize that this thread is about Canada, a nice country that offends no one and also will never be on the forefront of the great battles of our time. However, I find your characterization of the US armed forces as the "dispossessed" breathtakingly ignorant. The idea that no one would join the armed forces except out of desperation betrays the fact that you do not understand the warrior ethos. The vast majority of US servicemen are amazingly competent, professional, and humane. They deserve the highest respect, not cheap condescension of the type you display, a disdain so typical of office eunuchs and graduate students. By the way, my praise of the military extends to the volunteer forces of all free, democratic nations, including Canada.

Michel Bastian, France

To Sean
> It is absurd to compare the US to Europe. First of all, which US and which Europe? The US is such a large and complex country that I always have to chuckle when I hear Europeans speak authoritatively of "America."
Yup, and I tend to break up in roaring laughter when I hear some americans speak of Europe.
> There are times when I myself, California-born and bred, feel a stranger within this nation's borders and among its people.
No comment :-).
To John
"Enveloped in darkness" indeed. Been watching the Osbourne show once too many, haven´t you, John?
Back to the topic: what about Canada? Good question. As Adam pointed out, most Europeans, like many americans, tend to identify Canada with the US. That, of course, is a mistake. Canada has its own set of values and its own set of problems, and yes, it has its own distinct national identity. However, I hold that the canadian value system is much closer to the european model than to the american one ("agnostic humanism" again, John, beware, the darkness is spreading :-)). On the other hand they are neighbours to the US and as such have taken in a lot of american cultural influence. Could they serve as a bridge between Europe and the US? I don´t think so. It´s not because they wouldn´t be able to do it, it´s more because of the Bush administration´s inclination to only take notice of countries with power to oppose them either militarily or economically. Canada, like Europe, only has limited options in that respect. So what will happen if Canada tries to mediate between the US and Europe? Most likely they´ll be told to "go pound sand" as Phil is so fond of saying.
What will Canada´s best option be in the next few years? I don´t know. The Canadians themselves will have to decide that. One thing I do know, though: if they decide they want closer ties with Europe, they´ll be welcome.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Hi, Duncan:
Iraq in my opinion will ultimately be freer and more democratic under (temporary) US occupation than it ever was under Saddam Hussein. It's not yet a 'complete' victory for democracy, because democracy is a fragile reed that has seldom, if ever, taken hold in Arab and/or Muslim countries ruled by various types of dictatorships. But Democracy is beginning to take hold in Iraq. This coming January 30 there will be an election in Iraq -- the first one in that country's history, if I am not mistaken. And that is something that would never have happened under Saddam's regimne. Anyone proposing such elections would likely have "disappeared" into a mass grave. I believe that foreign investment rules did and do need to be dramatically loosened in Iraq to allow investors to take money out if they so choose; otherwise, no one would ever agree to voluntarily invest in Iraq, and foreign investment is desperately needed, particularly in Iraq's dilapidated oil industry. Yes the US military is preparing dfor a long-term presence to take the place of troops that had been stationed in Saudi Arabia; that's exactly how it should be, in my opinion. It will take years, if not decades, of a US presence there to stabilize the country and help it on its transformation to democracy. It would be absolutely wrong, criminal and immoral IMO to pull US troops out before that task was finished, no matter how long that job takes. We kept US troops stationed in West Germany for decades after WW2 ended, to help keep the country stable and protect its territorial integrity. That was the right thing to do, and I believe we should do likewise in Iraq. Securing Iraq's oil resources was a vital mission in order to safeguard the Iraqi peoples' future as it is their only source for the hard foreign currency they need to rebuild their country; the country has no other major industry or export. BTW 100,000 Iraqis did not die in this conflict, that was a made-up "guess-timate" that is unsubstantiated and unproven. If France had tried to 'liberate' the US from Britain, I believe we in the US would have welcomed the French with open arms, and if they had killed some Americans during the process of liberating the US, that would have been completely understandable and acceptable; such things happen in war and are a totally acceptable price to pay. Freedom is more important than Life itself.

Norm, USA

I'm glad your long response was posted. I enjoyed your analysis, and I'm disarmed by your modesty. It's well, so Canadian! You project an equanimity that I've always associated with Canada.
Don't fear for your credibility, there don't seem to be any scholars here, and nobody is marking report cards. It's just we dilettantes describing the elephant from our various vantage points. It's what people do, you know, create pictures in our heads then react to them. Generating good will is a bonus.
I can see Duncan, Phil, and I enjoying a few beers and a friendly argument in some tavern in Seattle or Victoria, though we should best lay off the espresso ;-).

Bob Powelson, A Canadian in Korea

Duncan: There may or may not have been 100,000 Iraqi deaths and most of them can be laid at the door of Saddam's coddled Sunni minority. A minority struggling more against their loss of priviledge, than against the Americans. The Shi'ite majority in the south has been fairly peaceful. The Kurds in the north have their area quite peaceful except for raids by Sunnis and foreign terrorists. If there are problems in Mosul and Kirkuk (Kurd areas originally)perhaps they should be given a free hand and maybe even allowed a little "payback" for being gassed. Where should Canada be in all of this? For a start we can send a few troops, a token because that's all we have and then work at sending a few more. Perhaps Canada can show the Old Europe that their sloth and cowardice are curable. We could act as a bridge to help them regain what they have lost. The US has for bearly 200 hundred years been a good friend and neighbour. Anything the Americans get from us the pay for - full price. Does anyone really believe that a juicy prize like Canada would still be free and independent next to any other power than the USA. Dream one, if you do.

Christopher Mara, United States, Massachusetts

I thought I'd let most of you in on a secret. The US is a big country. Sometimes too big. We do give more rights to the states. For most of my life I've been scared of giving them more power. It was states rights that crushed millions of African-Americans and kept them from sharing in the American dream. I've visited Canada a lot over the last few years and I find a kindship with them. Outside of Montreal and Toronto I find them to be social conservative and politically liberal. Being a Native Brooklynite who has lived in New England for the last 20 years I can share a lot of their views on how one conducts oneself and how you interact with others. My views aren't shared by others in the USA outside of New England. Especially in the RED states. For those of you who aren't up on social and political history, it was the enabling of the indivdual in the northern European states that gave rise to modern economic development. Once these states had freed themselves of the yoke of religion, ie the Catholic Church, they we able to pursue a more free economic path. Though I myself was raised Catholic, it was the almost Protestant Catholism of the US in the 60's and the 70's. The separation of Church and state was absolute. Mostly the Cathlolic Church stayed out of politics because of the Protestant anti-papal fears. However, because of the large Catholic population (and Jewish) in the northeastern states a sort of peace treaty was enacted the result of which was the separation of religion from politics, not as separate as in Europe but more so than the rest of the country. What was the result? The states that followed this path have the highest standard of living in this country. Is this a coincidence? I think not. In 3 New England states that have lower Catholic populations, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire you have lower standards of living and in the New England states that have high Catholic populations you have the highest standard of living in the US (meaning the world). In other Blue states that have large Catholic populations, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York you still have some of the highest standard of living in the US. These facts haven't changed for almost 100 years! The standard of living in a lot of Southern states has grown in the last 50 years, North Carolina and Georgia to name a few but it's still at least only 2/3 what it in in the northern states. Why is that? I believe it's because lesser interference of religion into the politics of these states. This enabled many people, especially woman, to participate in economic development. There's nothing wrong with a woman staying home to raise the children but if she chooses to work she creates capital for her and her community. Raising children to be productive members of society does this as well but if she works to even better. This was the economic crime of the disinfranchisment of the African-American community in the south. Beyond the immoral treatment of millions of people, it was economic handicapping to prevent millions of people to better themselves economically.
Comparing ourselves to Canada? Culturally they are very similar to the US. Socially and Politically they are not. Many Americans are under the impression that social programs had nothing to due with our economic development. How strange that they come to this conclusion. If it wasn't for Labor Unions fighting to raise the wages of their workers we won't have the standard of living we enjoy right now. If you provide a safe work enviroment for workers that is a boost to their standard of living. If you protect workers from rises and falls of Capitalism with unemployment insurance you raise their standard of living. If you enable them to have health insurance that raises their standard of living. Contrary to to views in the US we really don't have the highest standard of living. Between the UK, France and Germany, an aggregate population of 200 million, they enjoy roughly equal standards of living to Americans. True if you have Blue Cross health insurance in the US you probably have the best health insurance in the world but if you have HMO insurance (like most Amwericans) you have roughly the same insurance converage as people in the above countries do. Plus they live longer! Have lower divorce rates, teen pregnancy and (my favorite) much lower crime. Sorry my fellow Americans, but the illusion that we are a country of individuals who just want government to get out of the way is good if you're a Jeffersonian agrarian society but in a modern technological society you need government safety nets because a good capitalist won't give them to you. As Howard Dean said "Business is like Hockey. I like the action but we need rules"

Matthieu, UK

To Susan Starke

I agree with you, The vast majority of US servicemen are amazingly incompetent, unprofessional, and inhumane. They deserve the lowest respect, and also cheap condescension of the type you display, a disdain so typical of rural gun-ho cowboys and mullet-Texans. By the way, my praise of the military extends to the volunteer forces of all free, democratic nations, including Canada.

Julian Beach, Brazil

Hello Susan,
Yes, I'm a British subject living in Brazil. Accurate so far. Well done!
Unfortunately that's as far as the accuracy goes in your reply. Your touchingly romantic characterisation of the US soldier as "competent, professional and humane" does not fit with my experience.
How do I arrive at this conclusion? I am a former soldier myself and I served for three years in Germany alongside some of the best equipped, most unmotivated, worst trained and worst led soldiers it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. No prizes for guessing where they were from.
I am, therefore, not an "office eunuch" or "graduate student" and I am delighted to inform you that the "warrior ethos" was not my motivation for a career in the army, precisely the opposite in fact. Furthermore why you would consider graduate students worthy of such disdain is beyond me. Perhaps you would prefer people to live in ignorance. This seems to be the number one prerequisite for an eight year sojourn in the White House these days so perhaps you've got a point.

Adam McDowell, Toronto, Canada

Canada is "just a powerless American colony"? Canada "will never be on the forefront of the great battles of our time"?
I suppose we should stop coming up with things like peacekeeping, the pacemaker, the BlackBerry, JAVA, frozen food, etc. etc. etc.
The problem is that Canada has had a long spell of self-doubt brought on by that weird demographic bulge, the baby boomers. Alice, you were right to (sort of) identify Canadian baby boomers as a barrier to Canada's political development.
But talk to Canadians under 30; they're confident, self-assured and have no sense that Canada will fall into history's waste basket. Reading the work of social scientists and pollsters like Michael Adams about young Canadians, it becomes clear that the country's future will be shaped by well-educated, well-informed people with a lot of vigour.
Canada's staying out of Iraq, its march towards legalizing marijuana and gay marriage and other recent developments in the direction of liberalism have been made possible by the views of the emerging voter pool in this country. And yes, looking at the results of our last election, young Canadians have started to vote in impressive numbers as compared to the U.S. or U.K., for example.
The people on this thread who have suggested that Canada can't make a difference in the world fail to recognize that it's not the size of the country that matters, it's the scope of the idea (see the land mine treaty, a Canadian initiative, for example).
The idea that Canada doesn't matter is going to seem silly and old-fashioned in a decade or two, mark my words. How could it not? How could a highly educated, oil-rich, fiscally sound country with strong connections to the U.S., Europe and the Far East -- the whole world, really -- fail to matter? The real legacy of Pierre Trudeau will be the smart, confident and worldly Canadians who emerge on the stage in the coming years.
To paraphrase Trudeau, just watch us.


Go to page 1 2 3 4 5