Thursday, July 19, 2007

Good Cop/Bad Cop in the Americas or Why Harper is on Tour

It's curious how the siren call of foreign affairs can lure a leader. Bush famously called for a "humble" foreign policy but has since evolved his position into spreading democracy to everyone everywhere. Or at least he's spreading something around. Likewise Stephen Harper made very little mention of foreign policy while campaigning yet it is growing into one of his favourite topics.

So why is Harper touring Latin America? He's making a big show about how Canada's role in the region will be different than that of the US. No imperialism thanks, we're Canadians. Now if we allow that Harper's foreign policy people have bought into the contradictory right-wing meme that the only way for Canada to have a strong, independent foreign policy is to cleave to the US, that doesn't make sense.

Hmmm, well let me put on my cynic hat here and see what I can think up. What Harper is really doing is putting a friendlier face on essentially the same policies that the US has advocated for the region. Harper is playing the good cop, he'll reference Venezuela only in the most oblique way and he'll stick to talking about how good free trade is for everyone. I'm sure Harper's vision for the future of the region could probably have been written in the US State Department, but he's putting a nicer face on it. See? It's good cop/bad cop, and Canada is supposed to be playing the good cop. Soon we may offer Latin America a cigarette or a cup of coffee, we understand it, we're on its side.

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