Every four years—for at least a year—the United States exercises its democratic right to scare the living daylights out of the rest of the world.
This is especially nerve wracking for Canada. Most Canadians live barely an hour away from the United States and historically have regularly been asked by great powers—first by the British Empire and more recently by the Americans—to help pick up the pieces.
A new Canadian nationalism is emerging, however, to alleviate this stress. The writer Conrad Black responds to our sense of powerlessness with an assertion of Canadian power globally that is nearly magical. Black changes his loyalties but not his allusion; home, for Black, is where the power is.
He’s a faithful student of traditional power politics and puts no conscious faith in the potency of the morally superiority Canadian diplomat. Yet, Black is a risk-taker and a compulsive problem-solver. He just wrote an article outlining “A new Canadian role on the world stage.” He doesn’t bother with fine-tuning:
“From time to time over the last five years in these pages, I have emphatically proclaimed the desirability of Canada playing a leading role in renovating most of the principal international institutions - in particular, the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, International Monetary Fund and the Organization of American States.”
Canada, Black suggests, should organize groups of rising countries like Australia, South Korea, Singapore, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, India, and possibly Iraq. The groups might vary but their strategic mission would be the same: repair those multi-lateral institutions that the victorious World War Two powers put in place and are now running down.
As the Old Order’s side-kick with tremendous emerging of its own still left to do, Canada is presumably well positioned to guide the way: “Opportunity beckons and the need for renovation is immense. Canada’s time is now.”
Not happy to stick to platitudes, Black dares to tackle the question of power sharing and in doing so rather exposes the vanity of his proposed Canadian mandate:
“A multiple-voting system linked either to population, economic product, and human-rights criteria should be instituted at the UN General Assembly, to replace the current one country/one vote system. In the alternative, any country with apparently less respect for human rights than China should be temporarily reduced to non-voting observer status until it changes its ways (so should China itself, but that is completely impractical).
Being “practical” about China doesn’t make the general proposition worth debating.
It isn’t something Canada can credibly advance. With less than one percent of the world’s population, it would not be in Canada’s interest to make the General Assembly more “democratic” and it would be laughable for Canada to argue that its economic and natural endowments should be given compensating votes. As an association of sovereign nations, the General Assembly can only be organized according to one country/ one vote and cannot be much more than a place to talk.
Black’s convictions about power are needed back in Canada. However, while it may be painful to him and laughable to many others during the US primaries, the place to expand Canadian influence most powerfully is Washington and the means is Canada-US not world federation.