As usual, my fuzzy thinking is often inspired by the rants of a friend. This friend was adamant that Canada is pretty much an embarrassment in the world theatre and that the US role is misunderstood and unappreciated? Whew! That lights my fire though its riddled with some truth and some not! And then I settle into my own disappointment in Canada`s lack of direction in helping to solve the world`s peace problems. We need to do so much more. Or at least something.
My friend continues that I`m a dreamer, Canada is insignificant and that the only hope for the free world is the greatest nation on earth. Guess who? But I struggle with the fact that the US has been the undisputed heavy weight champion of the world since 1991. Sure I wouldn`t choose China, Russia or Iran to lead this world, that would be nuttier than Cheney. But is the planet a safer place for this 16 years of leadership?
I love their movie industry and geography but their foreign policy just plain sucks the life out of too many vulnerable people in the world. And too often it carries the faint odor of self interest. Consider the histories of US involvement in Vietnam, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Palestine, Afghanistan (when they supported Bin Laden), Iraq (when they supported Saddam), Africa, and Iraq post 9/11. Then there`s the embarrassment of Guantanamo Bay contravention of the Geneva Convention and my personal disappointment at lack of support for a Kyoto process.
A little reading and research on this brief list is not really inspiring as a basis of consideration for a vision of Canadian foreign policy. So what can little old Canada really do? How about if we look to our history and traditions to find someone who shook the world in a fit of peace. Someone who found a way to make the world safer without waving bombs and sabre rattling. What if we consider Mike Pearson?
Canadian Prime Minister Lester B Pearson in his short tenure as government leader implemented the Canada Pension Plan, Universal Heath Care and refused to join the US in Vietnam war effort. But his best may have come in 1950`s when (while Canadian Minister of External Affairs) he served as president of the United Nations General Assembly. This guy was a giant in International diplomacy with the heart of a "peacemaker".
When an Egyptian blockade of the Suez Canal threatened to boil over into a world war (Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt for control of the canal) Pearson proposed and sponsored the resolution which created a United Nations Emergency Force to police that area, thus permitting the invading nations to withdraw with a minimum loss of face. Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1957 for his persistence and vision. He tamed the beast with a diplomacy that the usual idiots in places like Iran, Britain, Israel and the US could stand a little taste of right now.
So I would like to tell my friend,that this is the kind of non violent pro active diplomacy that I would like to see Canada (and hopefully many others) use as a force for world peace. Winning peace rather than the war means stepping boldly around the shite and into the hard work of building rather than bombing. As the brilliant American economist, Jeffrey Sachs, would say: "military occupation without withdrawal saps dignity while grinding poverty and economic disarray saps hope" and where there`s no dignity or hope there is little chance for victory. I`m going to go out on the limb here and suggest that the "world is not a safer place" than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Its pretty damned good here in Ontario but I think I hear the world knocking at our door. And fresh thinking based on "peacemaking" tradition is long overdue.