The crabby eye-rolling of foreign policy scholars

In his excellent series on Canadian identity, Michael Valpy says Canadians’ persistent belief in peacekeeping and soft power infuriates foreign policy scholars, driving them “nuts.”

It may not be surprising that these academics, who receive substantial government funding through the Department of National Defence, and increasingly big business, hold much more hawkish views than the public.

Canada’s foreign policy and business establishments have predictably argued that Canadians must trade in their values of diplomacy and UN peacemaking for more U.S.-friendly approach to the world.

For instance, we all remember the calls from the universities and boardrooms (and newsrooms) banging the war drums for Canada to join the U.S. invasion of Iraq, warning harsh economic punishment if Canada refused. But as the Globe and Mail’s poll this week showed, most Americans believe our decision to avoid the disastrous invasion of Iraq was the right one.

I am relieved that the Canadian government doesn’t always take the advice of the foreign policy scholars. Sometimes foreign policy is too important to be left to the experts.

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