The Bush Doctrine: Softening Unilateralism

I’ve had some back and forth with the blog Bunker Mulligan about the Bush Doctrine, that is, the more Unilaterist (sp?) position taken by the current US administration versus the Multilateral, UN based actions that were the norm since WWII.


There is no doubt that this doctrine, which was, as Bunker Mulligan pointed out, actually initiated in part during the Clinton Administration… and has roots as far back as the Reagan years… has truly taken hold. 9/11 pressed President Bush into fully implementing the spirit of this new way of dealing with threats and affecting change in the world.

One of the many facets of this new strategy is the Missile Defense system. Canada is deep in debate on whether to join the initiative… or at least the population is. It has come to light now that last year, before the election and when the Liberal Party still had a majority in Parliament, Canada was poised to join the US as a partner in the Missile Defense Shield.

The reason was not solely to defend Canada from Missile attack (which the National Defense documents suggest is not likely within the next 15-20 years anyway) but rather to maintain its’ relationship with the United States as a key ally and maintain control of our own sovereign airspace during any incident.

The CBC says:

Another document notes that American foreign policy has become much more unilateralist after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and says support for what President George W. Bush calls “the war on terror” will remain a litmus test of allied loyalty.

So really, joining the Shield has little to do with providing a defense from missile attack but rather ensuring that Canada maintains her crucial alliance and good relationship with the United States. Unlike Iraq, where the objections against participation were much more concrete and visible… this Missile Defense project is far more abstract. Not only because it doesn’t even work yet but also because it’s going up against an “enemy” that at present doesn’t really exist.

To that end you have to ask what you gain by participating, and in this instance you gain the trust of the United States and confirmation that you are still strong allies and willing to help, as we have in Afghanistan and elsewhere, in the War on Terror.

When the Missile Defense Shield was first proposed I was absolutely against Canada participating… but now my position has softened some. I see now that if we do not participate we are leaving ourselves open to intrusion on our sovereignty as a nation… the US could simply take action without any Canadian consultation and say “oh sorry” if they were “forced” to enter our airspace our use our resources. It is far better for Canada to be in on those decisions. To have a voice, as they do at NORAD, in the defense of North America. I would also like to think that our pressence would be used to calm down our unilateralist neighbours and hopefully act as an angel on the shoulder of whoever is pressing the buttons.

Perhaps by joining this initiative and showing that we do want to help and support our American neighbours we can at the same time gain respect from them and they will in turn listen to our point of view and hopefully moderate their otherwise controversial actions.

2 thoughts on “The Bush Doctrine: Softening Unilateralism”

  1. Chris, we have reached that rare moment in the blogosphere where you and I agree. This issue is an important opportunity for the relationship between our two nations to move toward a cooperative and mutually beneficial partnership. Hurrah! Is this a new beginning?

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