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?  

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Michel Bastian, France

To Adam McDowell:
Hear, hear. Can´t say I don´t agree: it´s the idea that counts. Obviously, the cold up there makes you think faster ;-). I´m glad to read so many sensible Canadians posting on this board. After I read all this, it came to me that the Canadians might actually be the only non-biased, rational and humanist voice in the current maelstrom of global political chaos. I´d advise both the US and Europe to listen to them.

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Dear Norm, USA: Lay off the espresso? Inconceivable! But some good micro-brews would be an acceptable substitute.

Jan Paul, USA

The 100,000 Iraqi killed by the invasion was based on 988 families that were asked if they knew of anyone lost (primarily by air attacks) and weren't asked if the people they knew were actually civilian or military casualties and then this poll was extended to reach the 100,000 number.
However, the count from morgues, hospitals and witnessed events place that total at about 17,000 to 18,000 innocent civilians at the high end. But, even saying 100,000 and comparing that to the over 300,000 killed by Saddam Hussein, it would seem to be an improvement if his rates of rape, torture and mass execution were continuing.
Although the loss of any innocent life is regretable, the Iraqi people who have been freed and are in the less volitile areas have expressed their feeling that the sacrafice was acceptable given what Saddam Hussein was doing to them. Even some in the more volitile area say the loss of innocent life was worth it. Of course, if you weren't living in Iraq and having your family persecuted or murdered, I can see where you wouldn't feel their possible freedom was worth the sacrafice.
Canada and the U.S. have many things in common and Canada was at least supporting the U.S. in this war. We also find that most of resistance to U.S. policy coming from Canada is from the same places major resistance in the U.S. comes from. Large metropolitan areas that prefer government more in line with socialism. Ask the loggers, farmers, and many other people living in rural areas where you depend on neighbors when a fire breaks out or a barn needs to be built or a baby-sitter is needed, what they want. Ask the people who have immigrated and just want to work and save and get the education they need to rise from poverty in both Canada and the U.S. This is more a struggle of urban vs. rural and socialism vs. capitalism. France is often held up as having shorter work weeks and more free time and better culture. Then how come businees is leaving them and unemployment is so high. Remember the shorter work week was an attempt to increase employment not provide more free time. The thought was that business would hire more people to make up for the shorter work week. Instead more business left. Unemployment rates for 2003 according to the governments of the countries we speak of?
France 9.1% Germany 9.8% Canada 7.6% U.S. 5.8% (lower now as others may be too). Real GDP growth rate? Germany .40 France 1.0 Canada 3.4 U.S. 2.45 (2003 rates) So Canada and the U.S. are closer together in these areas too than they are to France and Germany. The countries of Scandanavia all had rates below 2.0 or just a little better than France. Interestingly, many of the countries in the coalition have real GDP rates higher than Canada or the U.S. While our big opponents France and Germany had rates lower than Canada or the U.S. They can't even get their own economies going and yet people say we should let them make the decisions?
According to the world ranking of countries for real GDP growth, the countries involved in supporting the U.S. in the war have the following real GDP growth rates (rank) Note how many are doing better than France and Germany (this is growth rate not GDP actual rate which is much different and much lower in some countries coming out of communisim)
Armed alliance preparing for invasion: United States 2.45 (116) (permanent member of UN Security Council): 235,000 troops; United Kingdom 1.60 (147): (permanent member of Security Council) 45,000 military personnel; Australia 3.60 (79): 2,000 troops; Poland 1.30 (154): 200 troops.
Unarmed support in the Gulf: Bulgaria (elected member of Security Council) - 150 chemical warfare experts; Czech Republic 1.50 (149)- chemical and biological warfare specialists; Romania 4.50 (49) - non-combat personnel; Slovakia/Ukraine 4.0/ 4.10 (71/62)- chemical experts.
Permission for use of military bases/airspace: Bahrain 3.80 (73); Kuwait -2.0 (200); Qatar 3.80 (74); Croatia 5.30 (31); Spain (Security Council) 2.0 (130); Jordan3.5 (84) ; Italy.40 (177); Portugal .80 (169); United Arab Emirates 2.4 (118); Ireland 5.20 (32); Turkey 7.80 (13).
Other supporters of war: Israel -1.10 (195); Canada 3.4 (87); Japan (post-conflict support)-3.0 (189); South Korea 6.20 (19); Denmark 1.80 (140); Netherlands .30 (180); Afghanistan (no data) ; Albania 5.0 (36); Azerbaijan 6.10 (20); Colombia 2.0 (135); El Salvador 1.90 (138); Eritrea 2.0 (134); Estonia 4.40 (53); Ethiopia 5.50 (26); Georgia 4.0 (70); Hungary 3.20 (94); Latvia 4.50 (46); Lithuania 6.70 (17); Macedonia .30 (179); Nicaragua 2.40 (119); Philippines 4.60 (45); Uzbekistan 3.0 (98).
So, according to earlier posts all these countries growing GDP faster than France and Germany should be ignored and France and Germany who were in under-the-table deals with Iraq should be calling the shots????
What's wrong with this picture???
I think I'll stick with Canada and these other countries and wish France and Germany the best and I do mean the best. I don't want anyone to be oppressed and not be free to chose their own style of government and economic policies. You couldn't do that under the Talaban or under Saddam Hussein and both were viewed as threats. The entire U.N. thought Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD or some very serious weapons systems and passed unanamously the resolution the U.S. used to oust Saddam Hussein. But, France and Germany who had other agendas quickly pulled their support when the resolution was actually put into action while all these other nations not only didn't pull out, but supported the U.S. including some who couldn't really afford to do much.
Canada and the U.S. have their differences too and Canadians at this point seem more tolerant of some things that are being tagged as religious issues, but I think that is good too. People who align more on Canada's side of those issues can go their and Canadians who align more with the U.S. views can come here. However, most will say they are willing to put up with things where they are simply because they don't want to move and they will work to change things where they live. And, that is good too. Free people get to do that and Canada and the U.S. are free neighbors with some things in common and some things that are different. Time will sort out the rest and history will record it so others can learn from Canada and the U.S. and all the other countries trying new things.

Bob Powelson, Canadian in Korea

"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."
That comment in "agreement" with Susan is both ingenuous and just plain wrong.
In my fairly long life I have served in or with 3 armies. I spent some time a a junior officer in the Canadian Army back when we still hade some pride in being warriors. For part of that time I was seconded to the US army for an advanced tank gunnery course. The US military was first rate, well trained, well paid and well educated. They were thoroughly professional.
I gave some time to the Israeli army in 1967 - as a volunteer. I missed the war but spent a couple of months being useful right after it. They were very, very good soldiers. Motivated, decent, many of them very young and tougher than you would ever believe. They weren't warriors in the traditional sense but they were "mighty men of Israel". This is a biblical phrase by the way.
The problem with my country Canada is that it was founded and still exists based upon a negative. That is NOT being American. What a silly reason for existance.

Scott Howell, Canada

I think its unfortunate for americans to dismiss our (canada's) opinions simply in the fact that we have a weak military. just because you have bigger guns doesnt mean you have more of a right to an opinion. some of the rhetoric coming out sounds suspiciously like "might makes right". As far as the slight debate about the amount of causualties in Iraq, the Johns Hopkins University just published a report a few weeks ago listing the CIVILIAN deaths in Iraq to be over 100,000. no one asked them if they considered giving their life in order that america can have enough petrol for their SUV's! I think that it was quite brave of canada to stand up to bush and refuse to send troops to Iraq for a war we didnt want. If we all do not support organizations like the UN, the world will be a worse off place. for all its failings its at least a forum where world governments can air greviences without going to war. Canada was key in making the UN happen, is a massive financial supporter of such, therefore makes the world a better place!
God (whatever shape you believe he takes) bless the world

Richard Honey, USA

I believe strongly in the words of our first President, George Washington: "Avoid foreign entanglements". We had nothing to gain by entering either of the great world wars or the cold war. Hitler was France's problem, not America's. In that spirit today, we should get out of the UN, Nato, Okinawa, the Korean peninsula, Canada, Mexico, anything to do with the Middle East, Africa, Cuba, etc. etc.
America is despised and hated by the entire world. Its time we grew up and recognized that fact. We should simply mind our own business and suspend business relations with Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Europe, Japan, Korea, Mexico, etc. We must become more independent. Our relations with Europe cost us a great deal more than we gain. Like an unwelcome quest, we should just quietly leave.

Bill Young, District of Columbia, USA

To all:
Does anyone legimitately see a change in US-Canadian relations in the next 50 years? Unification? A trade freeze? A war? No.
We can predict the following things:
1. Canada will remain more liberal (left-leaning, American usage) than the US.
2. Canada will continue to rely on and have US protection. Not that it needs to, or that the US is hurting itself by this protection. Canada is the one nation on earth in an even better defensive position than the US. Not only is it far from real imperial powers (not soft power, not even Bush administration), but its next to one scary, tough country. Ask someone else if this is scary-good or scary-bad.
3. Both countries will remain welfare state capitalist societies, speak English, be predominantly Christian (more so than, say, Frankestan-- haha, France in 50 years). Yes, there is a push in some contemporary right-leaning circles to undo much of the regulatory and social service apparatus in the US. They may get some of what they want. Likewise, there may also be a similar push in Canada, as the weight of a well-intentioned but sometimes ineffective social system needs to be lightened.
4. Sometimes, political groups in each country will use the other one for domestic polical points. "You bastards! You weaklings!" As the US goes through its fourth great awakening, this will become more extreme. And then less extreme. The roundheads aren't coming back.
5. Canada will be able, under some circumstances, to be a friend to the United States and Europe, both. Even if the Bushies and the Chiraquistas (or whatever) win, Europe and the United States aren't going to war. We'll probably bicker about things a lot. See 4. Canada doesn't need to be a bridge; sometimes domestic political concerns will make it reasonable for US and European leaders to be friendly; sometimes not. But unless I see a major shift in one of the three groups in question, such as my joking change in Europe from Christan-Enlightenment-Secularist-Left-Capitalist to, say, Narco-Islamicist, Europe and hte US will not require a real mediator. Canada gets to continue to play shining moral exemplar to the world; once in a while that'll help something. Not like they're going to conquer Africa and cure AIDS, or make North Koreans love Celine instead of Kim.
In conclusion:
We've been debating the moral value of other peoples' social programs and other peoples' (apostrophes correctly placed) tax burdens-- and sniping. Shouldn't the real debate be about prediction? Is someone predicting something I'm not?

Bob Powelson, A Canadian in Korea

I would remind you that almost all of the oil that makes Canada "oil rich" belongs to Alberta. Fiscally sound is a joke. COnfiscatory taxation makes Canada a bad "workers paradise".
If legalizing pot and gay marriage are important factors somepne has their priorities wrong.

Luca, Italy

I don't think Canada can have a bridging role between Europe and the US on a political level. That is because Europe has a completley diferent way of viewing foreign policies, trying to take the diplomatic route (i think thousands of years of war eventualy encourage this) instead of waging wars. The US are well known around the world for their military power (there are many bases here in Italy that were strateic to the war in Iraq) and their reluctancy to wage a "slow and inefficient" diplomatic battle. Such differences cause violent clashes, France, Germany and recently Spain.
On the Economic hand however, i think Canada is the link to North America for many European business.
I think that mr. McDowell is correct when he sais that Canada will matter to the world more than ever in a few years, mostly because of it's rich resources and ties with the Far East, the US will have to consider Canada more and more over time.

Leviathan, Canada

I think that Canada has more to do with Europe and that section of USA called " New England" , rather than those from Texas, Misouri, West Virginia or Utah.
Why ? Because USA is isolating itself. Because these lunatic bigots are believing they are the new crusaders.
As the great John Donne used to say: " No man is an island intire of itself"
Paul Martin is a George Bush's Puppet.

Adam McD, Toronto, Canada

Someone had their priorities wrong by making pot and gay marriage illegal in the first place. As for the oil, I do not need to be reminded that most of Canada's oil is located in Alberta. This is a propos of what, exactly? Alberta is a Canadian province and will remain so in the future -- reflecting the wishes of actual, real-life Albertans (occasional right-wing fantasies notwithstanding).Now let's talk about the real problem in an earlier post of yours. The problem with Canada, you say, is that it's always defined itself by not being American. That our country has never inspired you is obvious, and for that I genuinely feel sorry for you. But when I think of what it means to be Canadian, I think of justice and fairness, diversity and tolerance, innovation and sound judgement. These things are so general among the wise of the world that they are not exclusively Canada's, and of course many, many Americans hold these values dear as well. Is that defining Canada by being not American, then?Well, there are also places and particulars that define Canada. Based on personal experience, I think of the North, Toronto, Quebec, the Maritimes, Vancouver; poutine, KD, curling, our sense of humour, the way Canadians introduce themselves to strangers by complaining about something... it's kind of a silly thing, loving a country, isn't it? But my point would be that these things aren't "not American" any more than they are "not Mexican" or "not Chinese." As a right-winger (can I presume to say that about you?), you use the U.S. as the standard against which everything is judged, and through that lens, Canadians talking about our unique identity appear to be using the U.S. as a foil. Look more closely, however, and you'll see that Canadians who love Canada define it in a way that (1) actually links us to anyone of a like mind, anywhere and (2) contrasts us, in the silly particulars, from everywhere that isn't Canada -- including the U.S., yes, but only by virtue of including every place on the planet that is not Canada. Long story short: As someone who loves Canada, I do not care how different it is from the United States. I love it for what it is, and I would never think to love it for being different from a country that I do often admire (shh! don't tell the Americans I work with ;-)
Does that make sense?

Jan Paul, USA

The rise and fall of nations is a beautiful thing to behold, if you are an historian. Not so good if you happen to live in a nation in decline. There are several in decline right now and several rising from ashes of oppression, economic disasters, and starving people. Try to guess where the next economic superpower will be.
I believe it will come from a hungry people in a nation that has decided to encourage education among its poor, provides hard working labor that is flexible and willing to adapt to a changing work environment. It will encourage business and wealthy people to come and share in its dream. It will place the cost of government on the backs of the poor at first and then middle class simply because that is who there will be the most of. Yet, those backs won't be overly burdened because there will be a lot of them sharing the load. The wealthy will contribute their share too, but those countries will expect them to do more. They will expect the wealthy to create the businesses, the jobs, and the procucts needed to fuel the economy through the working men and women and they will create the environment that ecourages the wealthy to do just that.
It will have colleges that are designed for the very best applicants. The standards will be so high that few Europeans or Americans will qualify. Their wages will be lower than those of more developed nations but their buying power will be much greater since they will be buying their own products. They will read their newspapers and laugh at the Europeans and Americans squabbling about who has more, is better or who is more moral or politically correct. Their tax rates will be low on both business and citizens and they will demand people be responsible for their own decisions and actions. They will produce more goods of a higher quality and have very low unemployment. In short they will be what the declining nations once were.
They will be disciplined, strict societies with laws based on what is good for society and not the individual. The individual will be expected to sacrifice for the good of the country and the company he works for. The humorous thing about this will be that the workers will be happier, take more pride in their work and accomplish more than those in the declining nations because they will be respected by their peers. They will probably place a high value on the family and expect the family to care for each member of that family more than they expect the government to.
Now, all we have to do is figure out where that country is and move there. I doubt seriously if the trends we are talking about, the policies we have, the direction our countries are moving will change much. But, many countries have changed and are moving in the opposite direction of the declining nations where self has become more important than society, where pleasure is more important than working hard with pride, where minorities believe they have more rights than majorities. We will see many young people come to parents and grandparents and tell them they are moving to other countries where opportunities to "get ahead" are better.
Who are these nations? Look around the world and you will see dozens of them. They have several things in common. They are cutting taxes, reducing regulations, privatizing government services whenever possible, and demanding high education standards. People who don't work hard and take part in joining in the country's efforts to improve are considered undesireable and subjected to the disdain of their peers. These countries will have their struggles but for every stop back they will take two forward. It may not be in this decade or the next, but soon they will be a real economic force to be reckoned with. They will be insourcing while others are outsourcing and wondering why business is leaving.
Who are the nations in decline? Look around and we will see several. Just look for countries that are losing "national" pride, losing business, increasing taxes, providing more and more entitlement programs with fewer and fewer workers gainfully employed. The size of their government will be expanding while their manufacturing base declines. A study not long ago in the U.S. found over 18.7 million in government employ with only 18.1 million in manufacturing. Unemployment rates in Germany and France are near double digit while Ireland is at 4.3 and even lower rates are found in S. Korea (3.1) and Thailand (2.9). But, it is probably some country just rising from the ashes that will be the next economic power, some country larger with more resources and lots of "hungry" people.
While we "chat" about our and others faults, they will be working, creating their identity, developing and moving up the economic ladder while we move down. This is normal. It is what happens in the normal cycle of nations. The people who will benefit are not the ones who complain, but the ones who are willing to move, to take risks, to accept challenges and the unfairness of life and governments and succeed in spite of that unfairness. We are finding faults with each other and ourselves which could lead to change, but how many of you really believe it will. You know your governments just as I know mine. The governments in most of our countries bends to the will of the majority. What do the majority in your country want or in some cases who will that majority soon be? Or, maybe some governments moves to the will of some minority. Radical, conservative, liberal, business, environmental, socialist, capitalist, etc. Who is pulling the strings? If they have their say what will the majority of people do?
For example we have seen the people voice their desire that the government tax business and the wealthy. What happens? The businesses pass the cost on to the consumer or move out of the country to a better tax environment. The wealthy switch to tax free investments, move their wealth to another country, or move themselves to a better tax environment. The results are the same, fewer jobs and lower tax revenues. After all, aren't those unfair businesses we try to tax what made many of our countries great and economically powerful.
Its like the guy who pulled out in front of a runaway truck at an intersection because he had the right of way. He was right, dead right. We may be right in our condemnation of a lot of things in our countries but if we end up being "dead right," what will we have actually accomplished? We will have created the conditions that have allowed some other country to get our business, our wealth and our power and we will sit in our poor houses reminiscing about the good old days. We will write letters to our children in other nations and ask them to send us some things we need and can no longer get. We will sit and talk about which group to blame. Was it the "left" wing or the "right" wing? Was it the capitalists or the socialists? Maybe it was the "moral majority" or the "silent majority" or the "liberals." It won't matter though because it will be too late.
You see, it isn't the groups that will tear down the current economic powers. It will be the individuals. You may recognize them as groups, but they will be groups that have a lot of common things among their individuals. They may have different spoken views and needs but in common will be "self" not "society." All the socialists who think capitalists are evil will be in one group. All the conservatives who think liberals are evil will be in another group. All the people with altnernate lifestyles in another group calling the rest intollerant (and many will be). Self, self, self will be much more important than pulling together in spite of differences to make the nation strong and defendable against cultural, economic and military onslaughts. There are lots of ways to lose power beside being militarily weak. Military strength? Russia had that, once. Who conquered them? No one, yet they are now struggling for identity, economic stability, and for direction.
Yes, watch and see who is laughing hardest at our bickering and you may just see the next "superpower." But, that is the normal way of life. On second thought, they are probably too busy growing to notice our bickering. Name one nation in history that hasn't risen, peaked, and then declined. The ext "superpower" will do the same.
I am ready to move. Are you? I am ready to help a new nation rise. Are you? Or, do you just want to complain about something we all can see is going bad and that we also know we probably will never be able to change? I voice my concerns just as loud as you do and I hope for change. But, I am also a realist and if I see that I am "beating a dead horse," I will take my saddle and leave. Why? Because I love life and I love watching people and helping people grow and see their hope for a better life materialize and that only happens when self is second to fellow man and in a person that has pride in what he does to help his fellow man even when it sometimes means giving his life for his fellow man.
You see I love the Canadian, the European, the Asian and everyone else. But, I will not tolerate selfish people that can't see how they are tearing down themselves when I can live with people who are learning to love life, hard work, and a society that meets their basic needs of security, food, and shelter. It will also be a nation that meets higher needs of belonging and esteem and will motivate people to work smarter and be more productive for the good of all, not just self.
I want to live with people who have faith in the future, their own destiny and the destiny of their society. It may be a nation founded on God or it may be secular. It doesn't matter as long as the individual can feel he has choices that meet both his own the the societies goals. But, it will be founded on principles and have an identity and will tell people that come into its society, "This is who we are and this is our culture and you can either adapt or leave." They may be tolerant of some things that are different, but they won't change to match them. They will keep their identity intact whatever it is. The majority will establish that identity in the beginning of the "new" nation's rise to power and whether by constitution or some other means will make it a firm identity. They will admit it isn't fair to everyone, but it will be just in that everyone will be subjected to the same laws and social norms.
You see nations don't become strong by catering to minorities as unfair as that is and it is unfair. Societies become strong by having unity based on the equal application of laws and rules and social norms that the majority find meets the needs of building the discipline a society needs to develop and become powerful. One nation can have one identity and another a different identity, but they all need an identity to have unity and the teamwork needed to excel.
Right now almost every country we have been talking about is losing it identity, its unity, and along with that its ability to have the teamwork needed to flourish. The U.S. flourished because people from all over the world could come here to worship and work and prosper even though they knew they would have to conform to the common "Ten Commandments" the majority of religions had based the country on. Even many people who had different faiths or didn't even believe in God came and enjoyed success because they knew what the rules were, what was expected, and how to "get along." They knew it wasn't fair, but also knew how to deal with that unfairness and still succeed. Some came and made their fortune and then went back to their own culture. Some established a little sub society here with its own culture, but the overall identity of the nation was never lost.
Tolerance was a two way street. You could be different as long as you didn't try to destroy the identity of the nation as a whole. In spite of this unfairnes, the knowledge of what this country's identity was allowed people of all sorts of backgrounds, faiths, and nationalities work together and sometimes even put on uniforms and fight together. Pride in family and country was rampant even when it was sometimes unfair or even wrong because this country was allowing people (most, no all) to approach if not reach their dream of a better life for themselves or at least their children.
And, yes, sometimes tolerance was lacking. Many are the people that came here and lived through prejudice (Irish, Italian, Germans, Jews, Chinese, Blacks, etc.) just so they could make things better for the next generation or the generation after that because as bad as it was here it was still better than where they came from. They hated the people who tried to hold them back and yet still had pride in what they did, how they worked, and how they built this country. Yes, I generalize, but that is what society does. It takes a lot of different people and creates an identity that has its own unique characteristics that make it different from any other nation. However, once that identity is destroyed the nation is soon if not already in decline.
We pick at each other because we are different when we should be rejoicing we have choices as to how and where we can live and work. France doesn't want to be like Germany or Ireland. Canada doesn't want to be like the U.S. or Italy. Yet, we all seem to be bent on letting a few people in the minority in each country try to tell the majority what they should be. We are doomed if we lose or have lost our identity as a society.
Have we?

Bob Powelson, A Canadian in Korea

>Your defense of Canada is interesting. My mention of pot and gay marriage was meant to express my dismay that things so inconsequential in the great scheme of things should be thought important.
>The oil issue in Alberta is important enough that after the NEP (That one cost me $500,000 out of pocket) it was enshrined on one of the amendments bringing the Charter into existance that a Province can never again be made to sell its natural resources the the rest of Canada for less than the world price.
You said:
"As a right-winger (can I presume to say that about you?), you use the U.S. as the standard against which everything is judged, and through that lens, Canadians talking about our unique identity appear to be using the U.S. as a foil."
It is more than just using the US as a foil. The United Empire Loyalists who started English Canada were adamant about being not American. Canada became a country right after the US Civil war when the Brits were scared crapless about American expansionism. When you ask a Canadian what is different about the US and Canada he mentions the first two (usually the only two) are medicare and gun control.
> With respect that is more than just a foil. That is the left wing part of Canadian society making the US the BAD example. That is the part of Canada's socia programs financed by confiscatory taxation.
> For anyone who thinks Alberta separatism is dead just let Ottawa make another grab for our oil and it will become very lively indeed.
> Do you honestly think that Canada would have survived intact with any neighbour but the US. They have been the best neighbours possible and we should be glad to have them. To me, when it comes to a choice between Europe and the US, the US wins 100 times out of 100.

Susan Starke, USA

To Matthieu, UK:
Maybe it's because I'm a stupid Jesuslander, but the wit and irony of your parodic response to my post escapes me.
To Mr. Beach, Brasil;
My disdain for many (not all) graduate students is based on my experience of having been one. I am now a university professor in a "blue" state. In a pinch, I'd much rather place my fate in the hands of the average American GI than in the hands of the average American or British graduate student in the humanities. As for preferring that people live in ignorance? Well, that would put me out of a job. I have numerous friends and family in the military. My experience seems to be the mirror opposite of yours.

Bob Powelson, A Canadian in Korea

Alex Baines, Manc/UK - You said:
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.
Whether or not the US needs 2billion a day is irrelevant so long as the Japanese, Chinese and Koreans are willing to loan it, since not much comes from Europe rxcept Britain. Interesting how the Europeans and Japanese are grumbling abou the US dollar.
With a week dollar the US saves all of the interest costs on the transfer and even some of the principle. Poor Europe, no one understands their cowardice except themselves.

Michel Bastian, France

To Susan Starke responding to Mr. Beach, Brasil;
> My disdain for many (not all) graduate students is based on my experience of having been one. I am now a university professor in a "blue" state. In a pinch, I'd much rather place my fate in the hands of the average American GI than in the hands of the average American or British graduate student in the humanities. As for preferring that people live in ignorance? Well, that would put me out of a job. I have numerous friends and family in the military. My experience seems to be the mirror opposite of yours.
This has to be a classic: a comparison between grad students and the military on a political discussion board under the heading "What about Canada?". This is why I love political blogs :-).
To get back to the off-topic subject: is the US military worse-led and trained than all the other militaries? Well, having been in the military myself I´d say it´s a question of exactly what arm of the military you´re talking about (though I´m not a military expert by far). I can´t speak for the army (which is apparently what you two are on about) and navy, but I know my air forces and navy air arms. Is the american air force/navy the best equipped air force? Yes, undoubtedly, hands down. It´s to do with the Pentagon´s massive spending on manpower, research and new technologies in this sector. Is US Air Force and Navy personel the best trained and led? Difficult question, since this is highly dependent on what kind of unit you´re talking about, support, fighters or transport. Also you have to differentiate Air Force, Air National Guard and Navy (including Marines). Between the three, Air Force is mostly about average when compared to the Air Forces of other Nato countries, National Guard is slightly below on training (and also on equipment; simply put they get all the second-rate stuff the air force doesn´t need anymore) and Navy air operates on another planet entirely when it comes to training and equipment. I suppose this is to do with the fact that most navy and marines air units are much more liable to actually see combat than the other ones. Also, taking off and landing on a carrier (or flying a VTOL Sea Harrier) tends to keep your senses alert and your skills up :-). Incidentally, this goes for the French and British Navy as well. Navy units tend to be above average when it comes to training. Equipmentwise, the french and british navies of my time (some eleven years ago) couldn´t hold a candle to the american naval air arm. Today, however, I gather this has changed somewhat in respect to equipment quality. Of course we still don´t have the enormous budget of the americans, so the quantity isn´t there.
All in all, if you want a comparison of training quality, you can safely leave out the navy air arms. They´re mostly very well trained and led irrespective of their nationality.
That leaves us with a comparison between air forces. Let´s start off with support: the most dismal air force support unit I ever saw was an Air National Guard unit attached to a wing of F4 Phantoms on visit at our airbase. Those guys were decidedly not up to par. The Air Force support units I can´t say anything about, since I haven´t seen them in action yet. However, from hearsay, I gather they´re ok. The training level of fighter and ground assault pilots is about the same all around Nato, and this includes the american air force as well. One reservation, though: since the friendly fire accident involving american warthogs (A-10 ground assault planes) and british infantry units in Iraq I have a few doubts about their combat readiness, especially since there were rumours of combat drugs having been used on the pilots (though I never got around to checking out whether these rumours were true).
American air transport crews are mostly well trained. In fact, I read somewhere the Galaxy crews (that´s a huge big american long range transport plane) receive some special combat zone training other Nato nations don´t receive, so it´s possible their standard is slightly above average. I´m not sure about that, though.
All in all, as Air Forces go, the american one isn´t better or worse trained or led than any other Nato Air Force. Its main advantage is basically numbers. No other Air Force in the world is as large as the american one.

Peter Trevino, New York, USA

"Could Canada, like Britain, aspire to a bridging role between Europe and the US?"
As long as Bush is at the helm, we, in the US, will need all the help we can get, and Canada is the best country on this side of the Atlantic to lend us a hand, along with Britain on the other side.
Free World Web couldn't have said it any better: Canada is "committed to the welfare state and social security, pacific, multilateralist, respectful of international law." All these are characteristics America would need in order to be respected and at peace not only with Europe but with the rest of the world.
As the 2004 US presidential election showed, there is a slight less number of us who would want this respect and peace accomplished in accordance with international law; but we have one big obstacle to achieve it, and he was elected by a slightly bigger number of Americans.
Canada: HELP!

Ben, dual Canadian/American citizen, Toronto

I do think that Canada can play a role between the USA and Europe. But this will be a limited one -- rather like its role between Britain and the USA was, back in the day. Sometimes it'll be listened to, sometimes it can carry messages in the backchannels, and sometimes it'll just be plain ignored.
Why is this? I think that Canadians are more European in their sensibilities. (I don't necessarily think this is a good thing -- I prefer American foreign policy.)
Take an issue like Iraq: Canada was brokering a compromise deal -- a resolution with an auto-trigger for invasion. This failed, and as it looked like the US was the intransigent party, Canada sided with the Europeans. Had Bush soft-pedalled it a bit more, I think he could have gotten Canada on-side -- there was material to work with in Canadian public opinion. Mind you, it probably wouldn't have been worth the wait -- our contribution would not have been any larger than a single battalion, I suspect.
For a larger role, Canada needs to actually start spending money on its military and on its presence abroad. As, sadly, the public will for that isn't there (we want national childcare instead), Canada may be restricted to crying out on the sidelines about stuff we don't like.

Gurdip Singh, England

I think all countrys should have the right to the European Union.

Henrique Figueiredo, Brazil

To me, Canada, besides the visibles differences from US, is not able to mediate the cross-talk between Europe and US. First, because the US mainstream do not consider Canada as a true force and, second, the massive invasion of US culture in Canada, like partially explained by Alice, blind the canadians (mostly from britain regions) for the Europe culture. What the canadians want to be? Like europeans, live the money...

Marla Luther, Canada

My sentiments go out to Anonomos as I too am a Canadian living outside Canada by choice for the past 13 years. I grew up in Canada during the Trudeau years and as a young adult I looked forward to me and my country being able to realize Trudeau's famous "Just watch us" statement as Adam points out. Because Canada has all the points going for it which Adam points out.
Yet in my years in Canada nothing happened and since I've been away, I have been watching Canada and though things have changed in many ways, Canada still hasn't been able to take on a role of much importance on the transatlantic stage or elsewhere in the world.
I wish that Canadians would step into their inborn, strategic potential. It is not the size of the country or its population that counts, it is its sense of self-confidence and its conviction to bringing its skills to the table to make a difference. And that is where Canada has so far failed. Hampered by it own puritanical blandness and the blandness of its political parties on the one hand, and bogged down by the never-ending separatist debate in Quebec on the other, along with an almost pathological need to analyse its relationship with the United States in order to define its own distinct identity have made a county with so much potential virtually impotent on the international stage.
The problems in Canada which Alice lists do exist. But these are issues with which many nations struggle. The key point in her comment is that Canadians do not see themselves in the role that TGA suggests for them. They are much too cautious by nature. That is a shame. Trudeau died of old age four and a half years ago. Where are the sexy, smart heirs of his legacy that Adam speaks of? They should show themselves!!

Terry Scott, USA

Judging from the opinions above, the real question would be whether Canada can ever be a bridge between the U.S. and Canada. And that's kind of like the question, how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? (Just one, but the light bulb has to WANT to change.)
Canada is in the unfortunate circumstance of being the neighbor of a dying empire. We assume that eventually sanity will return to the U.S., but on the other hand, the Germans went all the way down the road of defeat and undoubtedly, to the very end, there were some of them who believed Goebbel's broadcasts and expected victory at any moment.
Individual elements of American insanity are already breaking off and crashing to the ground under their own weight. Pot prohibition has cost so much, and done so little, that legislatures are quietly turning down the penalties. It's not exactly a coincidence that pot is illegal in the U.S. and the drug companies are our biggest financial problem. Pot is the canary in the coal-mine of drug regulation.
The point to remember is that the Bushies only amount to 52% of the voters, or, as a CNN story actually said, Americans are divided on whether Bush is a uniter. We've certainly heard an earful from some of the Bushies in this thread, but remember, whatever their real job is, they probably do it just as badly as they post. (Or worse, judging from the record in Iraq to date.)
Naturally, the right-wing American press doesn't like to talk about what we do well, but as the Bushies have inadvertently reminded us, Social Security is a huge success, in absolute numbers probably the largest and most successful social welfare program ever administered. I'm sure there is something else we do well, although what it is escapes me at the moment....
So be of good cheer, we may yet live through this. And if we do, we'll probably look a lot like Canada.

Chaim, Victoria, BC, Canada

Returning to the question that is the justification for all of this verbiage (now, mine included), "Could Canada, like Britain, aspire to a bridging role between Europe and the US?" I would have to say that while we can aspire, it would be in vain.
First and foremost, I think the US truly does not care what others think about its domestic or foreign policy. My experience dialoguing with Americans, including participation in political blogs, is that there is a deep indifference in most Americans about how they are perceived. They much prefer to be loved, admired, appreciated and regarded as saviours, but disgust, disagreement and principled opposition just leave them cranky, threatened and prone to retreat to insult and their entrenched value systems, the vaunted "American way," which knows of no superior or alternate way in the world. Americans are imbued with a messianic belief in their glorious global destiny, and President Bush articulated that belief succinctly in his second coronation when he said that spreading liberty is "the calling of our time." Sometimes liberty must be spread using cluster bombs and napalm, and that's just the way it is, folks. That this is widely accepted by Americans is evidenced by Bush's re-election despite the radical shifting of the goalposts that justified the illegal invasion of Iraq. Once the Bush Doctrine of "pre-emption" had been announced, Americans were led by lies and the manipulation of the fawning media (manufacturing consent) from the initial hysteria of weapons of mass destruction aimed at Boise, Boston and Biloxi, and the bogus evil plottings of Saddam with ubiquitous shadowy al-Qaeda, to the spreading of "freedom," "democracy" and privatization as the justification for the slaughter of the innocent along with the guilty. The world must understand that, fundamentally, Americans just don't care what others think about them, and since they are guided by the Divine, and only they truly understand the sacred gifts of democracy and freedom, what need have they of poor little "socialist" (hah!) Canada to bridge the difference between righteous America and the hedonistic, cynical, godless, treacherous and ungrateful Europeans?
Secondly, the vast majority of Europeans regard Canada as a somewhat more polite annex of America and don't think of us much, if at all. They may spend some time thinking of our vast scenic beauty or uncouth men whacking baby seals to death or uncouth lumberjacks hacking down old-growth forests, but that's about it. Those who hate France may find it surprising that I contend France, perhaps more than most European countries, understands Canada best, as we are partners in a ferocious battle to protect our cultural and social industries from the American juggernaut, an effort hated by American trade officials, who see in this not the protection of unique civilizations but stumbling blocks to greater market share. So, Europeans, regarding us as quaint if pleasant Americans, don't take us seriously enough to allow us to exercise any bridging role between the US colossus and the emerging Euro superpower. They see little advantage in privileging Canada with an intermediary role as they strive with understandable determination to create another powerful pole in this unipolar world, conscious of the dangerous imbalance created by all power resting in the hands of messianic America, and seeing over the horizon the inexorable rise of China.
Third, there is a strong movement afoot in Canadian government and political circles, to suck up to the Americans, further integrating our security strategies and our economies, signing on to National Missile Defence, surrendering the Canadian dollar, etc. While this is opposed by well over 70% of Canadians, and the dislike of America continues to grow, the political and business elite ceaselessly seek to impose this deep integration. Until this is resolved (the outcome is far from certain), any pretense at playing a bridging role is risible.
Fourth, the U.K's role at bridging the gap between Europe and the U.S. has led to further distrust of the U.K. in Europe and further loathing of Europe among the vigorous nationalists in the U.K. Blair may pretend that the U.K. is playing a bridging role, but chirac and Schröder just shake their heads and laugh.
So, where does all of this leave Canada? Here I wax poetic and make the following suggestions. 1) Canada needs to forget trying to influence the U.S. and European behemoths and should focus on strengthening international law and institutions, the U.N. in particular. 2) We should strive to develop stronger economic relations with China, Brazil, India and Japan. (This is an old song, as others here have pointed out.) We have a lot in common with South American countries, Australia and New Zealand in opposing the obscene agricultural subsidies Europe and America grant their farmers, to the detriment of our economies and the beggaring of the Third World. 3) We should substantially build up our military forces so as to be able to participate vigorously in U.N.-sanctioned peacekeeping/peacemaking efforts, be able to respond to increasingly severe environmental disasters and convince American military planners that any hostile takeover of Canada will be costly. 4) We should "do the right thing": increase Overseas Development Assistance to 1% of GDP, forgive debt, transfer technology to the Third World, assist Africa with free generic AIDS medicines, go well beyond Kyoto, at home and abroad, to redress the looming climate change disaster. We should do this not only because it is the right thing, but because this makes friends and influences foreign governments to think positively of Canada. Selfish altruism.
Given that the U.S. and Europe don't give a rat's patootie about Canada, we must forge our own role in the world, one which leves behind the quaint notion of bridging the difference between Europe and America.

Cymro, Cymru

Congratulations to Chaim on an excellent summary of the relative positions of the USA, Canada and Europe.
As a European (Brit) I am encouraged by Canada's quiet determination to go its own way, and I hope Canadians will continue to do so. Certainly Canada's social/welfare system leads to a much healthier and happier society, to judge by international surveys that regularly place Canada at the top of "best places to live". That is why I hope Canada does *not* try to become a "bridge" between the USA and Europe. That is the fantasy of the "special relationship" that over the last 50 years has often resulted in British governments placing American interests ahead of British (or European) interests, and that is the last thing I would wish on Canada.
I also agree with many of your US commentators that Europeans (and perhaps Canadians) need to be more assertive about defending their own interests, politically, economically and militarily, in relation to the USA. If we want to "defend freedom" (to use the usual US phrase) in places like Palestine, the Balkans, Central Asia, Burma, Saudi Arabia or wherever, then we need the means to do so independently of our American "allies". So I reckon the best thing Canadians and Europeans can do - together or independently - is to ignore US propaganda about "spreading democracy", and focus instead on learning from what the USA does best: Ruthlessly defending its own interests.

hempydave, canada/26 other countries

way 2 many americans talking about a place they know nothing about since ww2 usa has treated canada as a yuoger bother thinking it can better advise us on how we shuold run our country and u can take whaever is ours . Medical cannibus is ahuge issue.Most canadains dont belive sick people should be jialed or forced 2 take dangeruos drugs. Canada used 2 be a nice place its relly gone down hill 10% canadains cant get insurance coz the US companies buoght out all the canadain companies and they dont want 2 insure any thing risky ??????????? they just want 2 canadians 2 pay for 911 the US enjoys its freedom and miliarty power
on the backs of canadains and mexicans and all the other nations it rippsoff. They talk of free trade and now theres more protection/anti free trade dutys and taxest then before.
In business i have learnt americans will cheat u any way they can then laff! Saying "what u gunna do sue were in the US and u cant tuoch us!" Welll grandma did say vote with yuor feet ( walk yuor money else where)

Phil Karasick, Seattle, Washington, USA

Congratulations, HempyDave: You have single-handedly proven that smoking pot makes you st-o-o-o-o-o-o-pid. Either that, or else huked on fonix reely wrkd fr u eh?

Adam, Canada

go Canada!

matt, usa

well, who cares why dont we just keep living like we are now give it up. the war the space program start focusing on today instead of focusing on a big red planet and the war just end it why dont we just live our lives. and if countries need help and money cant the governemnt get things for free or just print more momey. this whole world is scrooed! were recking our world

I did't even read the big note at the top. I just want to talk about things that bother me in polotics and related things. first the cut in health care then the tabacco company! i qwote " we keep selling tabacco for money, then we take the money and use it for your health care" WTF! were gunna need the health care after we have cancer!!! how gay

Joe, New York City

The more I think about Canada, the more frightened I become. To our north I see a massive country with unlimited natural resources that is at least twice the size of the US geographically. But when I look at where the people live, I see that over 90% of them live within 100 miles of our unprotected border. The implication is clear: the Canadians are massing for an invasion. We must mobilize immediately before the Canuck hordes descend upon us!!!!


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