America and Canada, allies?
I think far too many Americans are getting a little too upset about what certain Canadian politicians and journalists are saying about the United States. It seems that Internet has opened up the US to some person to person feedback and some Americans are dismayed at what people are saying.
I’d say that most Canadians consider the US a valuable ally. A very strong friend that we agree with on a lot of stuff. We also think that our friend can always be counted on to think about themselves first.
Many Americans see each military action as the US bailing out the world from its problems. Most other citizens see the Americans acting in their own best interests. Sometimes the world’s bests interests are America’s best interests. The world, including Canada, will sit by and watch the US take the bulk of the load. I’ll admit that this is unfair and spineless, but let us not kid ourselves that the US is this selfless altruistic force in the world. If Kuwait had no oil there would have been no response by the US. Kuwait has oil, the US did respond, and the world watched as the US paid the bill.
American foreign policy is guided more by economic and political interests and less by freedom, democracy or fundamental human rights. The US has supported some of the nastiest repressive regimes in the last 50 years and counted them as allies. Iraq under Saddam Hussein was one of them. The current regime in Saudi Arabia is another. We see this, the world sees this, so we are naturally skeptical of the rhetoric about “freedom” that comes out of Washington. It wasn’t that long ago when “Freedom” was cited as one of the reasons America invaded Canada.
For many years Canada’s foreign policy just followed the US. We were in a sense weak and spineless because we had too much invested in our relationship with the US to actually blatantly disagree. Concerning Iraq we did blatantly disagree. We concluded that the threat from terrorists in Afghanistan was real so we sent troops. With Iraq we did not see the same threat. It would have been easy for us to join the coalition of the willing, but Canada actually found some courage to decline. Something that surprised many of us. I’m proud of our nation for standing by its values.
Americans, like the citizens of any other nation, live in their own bubble. Their angle on the world is often unique and distinct from that of Canadians. We, like other societies have an advantage in that we can compare our perspective to the American one. Now that things like the Internet have bridged the gap, and Americans are now being introduced to alternative perspectives some are getting upset. They have suddenly realized that people in western democracies like Australia and Canada hate them.
There have been people in Canada that have hated the US for as long as I can remember. Especially the 20% of Canadians that make up the strong “left”. They refuse to give the US any credit for anything, and see everything the US does from military action to global trade is negative, imperialistic and often evil. These people make it in to government and they write in newspapers. They do not speak for all of Canada.
There is a greater group of Canadians which are willing to give the US some credit. There are probably about 30% of the Canadian population that make up the strong “right” that would fully agree that Canada is bunch of pansies, we should make hefty increases to our military spending so we can actually contribute in a relevant military way. Many of the people in this group would have had us in Iraq. They agreed that Saddam should be ousted and we are friends with the US and buddies always have each other’s back. I’d say that most Canadians are somewhere in the middle.
We believe in the founding principles of western civilization. We believe in the inalienable human rights of all people. Naturally we are a little dismayed when our strongest ally decides that some people have less rights than others, and decide to go against treaties that they have signed. From our perspective we see American military actions as being inconsistent with what we know to be American values. I believe a little less than half the US population agrees with us.
Canada and the rest of the world will consistently call the US on what we see as blatant inconsistencies and lies. Some people will be ridiculous when they do it. Get over it and get over yourselves. America is far from perfect, but that doesn’t mean America isn’t a great nation.