International Journal’s weblog

October 7, 2008

Alexander Moens – Afghanistan and the revolution in Canadian foreign policy

Filed under: Uncategorized — internationaljournal @ 4:50 am

After the end of the Cold War, Canada continued to participate in UN peacekeeping
missions and NATO operations, but there was no overall strategic
sense about priorities. While defence dollars shrank by more than 20 percent
in the 1990s, the 1994 white paper on defence made few hard choices or
trade-offs. Even so, there was no follow-up in terms of new equipment to
match strategy.

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September 19, 2008

Featured Article: David Perry – Canada’s seven billion dollar war

Filed under: featured article — internationaljournal @ 12:36 am

In March 2008, parliament voted to extend Canadian military operations in
Afghanistan through 2011. By July of that year, roughly 41,000 Canadians
will have served in the Afghan theatre of operations, 15,000 more than
fought in Korea. Given the seriousness of Canada’s commitments, in terms
of both blood and treasure, informed discussion of the Afghan war is vital to
ensure the public understands the government’s aims and motivations, as
well as when Canadians can expect to see the forces return home. On these
points, there has been significant discussion amongst the public, parliamentarians,
and pundits which, while highly partisan, has included substantive
reasoned debates. In contrast, there has been little analysis of the
financial burden for the government of Canada—and the Canadian armed
forces specifically. For a national military only recently emerging from a
decade of budget cuts, the financial cost of such a substantial combat mission
is significant.

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September 3, 2008

Featured Classic article – William Saywell – China Revisited

Filed under: Uncategorized — internationaljournal @ 8:08 pm

To predict today whether the mood of China in 1975, let
alone years later, will be one characterized by conventional
methods of economic development and subdued political
tendencies, or one of tumultuous upheaval, would be fool-
hardy, given the extraordinary pattern of change in the past.

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Featured review – Peter Woolstenstcroft on Harper’s Team

Filed under: Uncategorized — internationaljournal @ 8:06 pm

Elections leading to change often produce many books, but the 2006 Cana-
dian federal election was exceptional. To date, eight books have been pub-
lished accounting in some measure for the Conservative party’s accession to
government, albeit with a minority. Tom Flanagan’s book is uncommonly in-
teresting in that he writes as both a central insider and a leading political sci-
entist. Flanagan, on the one hand, references Edmund Burke, Aristotle,
Friedrich Hayek, the “median voter theorem,”and academic election studies;
on the other, he discusses the highs and lows of campaigns, the panoply of
events, people and committees, and the mundane (how many buses does a
party need to campaign in the prairies?).

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Featured article – Joan Debardeleben – Russia’s duma elections and the practice of Russian democracy

Filed under: Uncategorized — internationaljournal @ 8:05 pm

Former President Vladimir Putin and official spokespersons for the Russian
political leadership have repeatedly proclaimed their commitment to demo-
cratic values, but western observers and domestic critics are sceptical.1 The
most recent election for the Russian parliament on 2 December 2007—the
state duma—exemplified the many ambiguities about the state of democracy
in Russia. While the elections were ostensibly competitive—11 parties on the
ballot and four winning seats in the legislature—international observers, to
the extent they were present, made contradictory judgements on the demo-
cratic credentials of the vote. ‘

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July 31, 2008

IJ Classic article: Allen Guttmann – The Cold War and the Olympics

Filed under: Uncategorized — internationaljournal @ 4:18 pm

From 1952 to 1988, from the games held at Helsinki to those
just completed in Seoul, one of the most dramatic aspects of
the modern Olympics has been the sports rivalry between the
United States and the Soviet Union. Propagandists on both sides
of the Iron Curtain have presented the competition between
Russian and American athletes as a portentous symbolic strug-
gle between two ideological systems. As the games have become
increasingly important in the political sphere, the success or
failure of the Olympic team, as measured in the unofficial medal
counts, has often overshadowed the performances of the men
and women who actually ran, jumped, threw, wrestled, rode,
and otherwise displayed their physical skills. President Carter’s
198o decision to use an Olympic boycott as a diplomatic weapon
ended, or ought to have ended, the naive notion that the games
might somehow be insulated from the international power
struggle. The Soviet Union’s 1984 reprisal should not have
surprised anyone.

IJ Featured article: Pavel K. Baev – From west to south to north: Russia engages and challengers its neighbours

Filed under: Uncategorized — internationaljournal @ 4:16 pm

It is hardly surprising that Russia’s foreign policy is to a very large degree
concerned with relations with its immediate neighbourhoods, which are
uniquely diverse and often rich in violent conflicts. This short-range policy
is a direct consequence of the country’s enormous longitude, which provides
it with more neighbours than any other state in the world. Obsession with
relations with the United States constitutes an important exception to this
pattern,but this pivotal political dimension has to remain outside the scope
of this article.Another massive omission is the ambiguous nature of Russia’s
relations in its far eastern neighbours, primarily China. Following advice
from Dirty Harry, this author acknowledges the need to know his limitations.

IJ Featured review: Paul Robinson on Michael Byers’ Intent for a Nation: What is Canada For?

Filed under: Uncategorized — internationaljournal @ 4:14 pm

Polemics create problems for reviewers. Inevitably, reviewers’ attitudes to-
wards them will be biased by their political opinions. If they happen to agree
with the politics of the writer, they will be inclined to find the polemic cogent
and forceful; if they happen to disagree, they will be inclined to find it inco-
herent and naïve. Polemics also need to be distinguished from scholarly
works. There is little point in a reviewer noting selective use of evidence, lack
of sourcing, and so on; these come with the territory. The real measure of a
polemic is not whether its arguments are valid or properly supported by ev-
idence, but whether the work in question is likely to achieve the political pur-
pose for which it was written.

May 21, 2008

Classic article – On diplomacy in the nuclear age by John F. Kennedy

Filed under: Uncategorized — internationaljournal @ 4:25 pm

 

In the diplomatic history of the free world since World War iI the 

name of Lester Pearson has many entries. Still in full vigour as 

leader of the Opposition in Canada, Mr Pearson’s stature cannot 

be assessed for another decade. Yet already ‘Mike’ Pearson has 

been the chief architect of the Canadian foreign service, probably 

unequalled by any nation; he has been a brilliant ambassador and 

foreign secretary; he has been a central figure in the growth of the 

Atlantic Community and NATO, even while taking a leading role 

in the shaping of the United Nations. 

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Featured review – Douglas Goold on Conrad Black’s “The Invincible Quest”

Filed under: Uncategorized — internationaljournal @ 4:21 pm

Ever since Boswell completed his famous biography of Johnson more than

200 years ago, it has been fascinating to consider the relationship between

biographers and their subjects. Why did the author choose the subject he or

she did? Is the biographer sympathetic, not so sympathetic, or downright

hostile? Does the biographer capture the spirit of the subject, and under-

stand what makes him or her tick? Finally, does the published work tell us

almost as much about the biographer as it does about the subject?

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