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Canada as a post-Monroe kingmaker August 4, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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This editorial by Carlo Dade in Monday morning’s Globe and Mail is an interesting survey of the development of the Monroe Doctrine with respect to the United States’ self-declared role as the West’s big brother. The Doctrine developed out of the US’s feeling that Latin America was its sandbox, with the US declaring itself the brute squad of the western hemisphere and no one having the military power or the inkling to argue. As Mr. Dade writes, “While no one in the hemisphere endorsed the Monroe Doctrine, it was begrudgingly accepted as an unavoidable reality.”

Mr. Dade, however, notes that the US is currently occupied (ha!) militarily in the Middle East, and points to Brazil’s rise to leadership in the United Nations’ mission to keep stability in Haiti as evidence that Latin America and Brazil are developing politically into able world powers. Canada has a unique role to play in the post-Monroe era.

Daniel P. Erikson saw fit to write a Requiem for the Doctrine (WARNING: PDF) in the February 2008 issue of Current History. “The power dynamic in the Western Hemisphere,” he says, “has tilted away from the United States, but Washington has been reluctant to adapt its playbook accordingly.” (61) Specifically, Mr. Erikson cites to Brazil’s position in Haiti and to the US’s failure to make good on threats to prevent Raul Castro from ascending to power in Cuba as evidence that Washington “can no longer dictate decisions that were once considered solely in its purview.”

Mr. Erikson, however, focuses largely on Latin America, and specifically on China’s decision to step into the economic catbird seat. He largely ignores what Mr. Dade suggests, that Canada provides a politically palatable intra-hemisphere alternative to full economic power being granted to the United States. Mr. Dade glibly says Canada is willing to tolerate developing socialism in Latin America where the United States would not, but far more powerfully highlights the twin barrels of political dignity and free trade. “Canada”, he says, “can play a natural role as a friend, ally and companion, who will actually listen to what Latin Americans have to say and engage them.” In so doing, he highlights Canada’s role as an economic kingmaker in the western hemisphere.

Canada has the opportunity to assert an almost Monroe-like level of control over the continuing economic development of Latin America and the Caribbean.



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