Navigating a New World: Canada's Global Future

Navigating a New World: Canada's Global Future

by Lloyd Axworthy

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In Navigating a New World Lloyd Axworthy charts how we can become active citizens in the demanding world of the twenty-first century, to make it safer, more sustainable and more humane. Throughout he emphasizes the human story. As we meet refugees from civil war and drought, child soldiers and landmine victims, the moral imperative is clear: this is a deeply…  See more details below


In Navigating a New World Lloyd Axworthy charts how we can become active citizens in the demanding world of the twenty-first century, to make it safer, more sustainable and more humane. Throughout he emphasizes the human story. As we meet refugees from civil war and drought, child soldiers and landmine victims, the moral imperative is clear: this is a deeply compassionate appeal to confront poverty, war and environmental disaster.

Before Lloyd Axworthy entered global politics, "human security" -- a philosophy calling for global responsibility to the interests of individuals rather than to the interests of the nation state or multi-national corporations -- was a controversial and unfamiliar idea. When put into action, human security led to an international ban on landmines, initiatives to curtail the use of child soldiers, and the formation of the International Criminal Court. Today, with conflict raging across the planet -- and building -- the need for a humane, secure international governance is more vital than ever. So how can Canada reject a world model dominated by U.S. policy, military force and naked self-interest? How can we rethink a global world from the perspective of people -- our security, our needs, our promise, our dreams?

Lloyd Axworthy delivers recommendations that are both practical and radical, ranging from staunch Canadian independence from the U.S. to environmental as well as political security; from rules to govern intervention when nations oppress their own citizens, to codes of conduct on arms control and war crimes.

Arresting and provocative, Navigating a New World lays out just why Canada has the skills to lead the world into a twenty-first century less nightmarish than the last, and help make the world safer and more just for us all. This is a call for action from one of Canada's most eloquent statesmen and thinkers, and is essential reading for all Canadians.

Where is the line we draw in setting out the boundaries for being responsible for others? Is it simply family and close friends? Do we stop at the frontiers of our own country? Does our conscience, our sense of right or wrong, take us as far as the crowded camps of northern Uganda, surrounded by land mines, attacked repeatedly by an army made largely of child soldiers? I believe we in Canada have a special vocation to help in the building of a more secure order. We need not be confined to our self-interest. -- from Navigating a New World

From the Hardcover edition.

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Conflict is our actuality. Conversation is our hope. -- David Tracy, The Analogical Imagination

Prologue: Canada and the World

Canadians are on the road to global citizenship. Increasingly in work, travel, education and in personal and political engagement the world is our precinct, with international trade, finance, technology and business driving much of our global interests. But there is also a political, cultural and even moral dimension to our emerging role in global society.

Canadians take pride in what we do in the world. Our sense of identity is often tied up in such achievements as peacekeeping, placing in the top rung of the United Nations Human Development Index of best places to live, and winning a gold medal in Olympic hockey or a Man Booker Prize in literature. The values we express internationally help define who we are when other distinctions are being erased. Equally, our welfare is closely tied to international rules and practices. Daily while at Foreign Affairs I saw how little separates what we do inside our border from what happens outside and vice versa. We occupy the global village that Marshall McLuhan prophesied we would half a century ago. What this means is that we win in a stable, equitable, cooperative world. We lose when it is turbulent, divisive and unfair. It only makes sense, therefore, to examine carefully what we can do to tip the global system in a constructive way. That is what I would like this book to achieve.

I don’t feel we yet fully understand the responsibilities and obligations that come with being a global citizen or make the full connection between the need for well-resourced international initiatives and our domestic interests. Too often we try to do things on the cheap, and avoid the tough commitments. In the federal election of 2000, I watched with some dismay how the entire campaign unfolded with nary a word about foreign policy. There was great discussion of domestic economic priorities, but nothing on how to strengthen our capacity for effective international action–and this despite growing disenchantment with a variety of global developments, expressed most notably in protests and demonstrations.

My own years at Foreign Affairs were very much occupied with the effort to define a distinctive international place for Canada. When I arrived there in 1996, a decided shift was taking place in the perceptions and calculations arising out of the end of the Cold War and the surge of globalization in economics, technology and information. In the early nineties there had been fond hopes of a new era of prosperity based on the liberalization of markets, deregulation and the global movement of capital. Poverty in the Third World would be whittled away by the powerful forces of the marketplace. By the middle of the decade, though, that tide of optimism was on the wane. Inequities were growing, not receding. The value of global trade and investment agreements was under challenge by Southern countries, and there was growing skepticism from civil-society groups. The spectre of ecological disaster was creeping into prominence.

Similarly, President George Bush Sr.’s bold claims for an emerging system of security based on international cooperation -- the “New World Order” -- had already run aground in Somalia and Bosnia. The United States was increasingly shy of exerting direct leadership in the security requirements of an era of messy internal ethnic conflicts. The United Nations was discredited by its inaction in Rwanda and impoverished by the nonpayment of dues by the world’s superpower and other financial shirkers. There was a definite vacuum in defining security needs and responses.

This was especially so in scoping out answers to the dark side of globalization -- the increasing threats from international terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, small arms traders, illegal-diamond merchants and people smugglers. The same networks of information that allowed capital to move around the world in seconds, or brought scenes of suffering into living rooms around the globe, gave these predators the capacity to exploit the vulnerable and establish international connections that could overwhelm the capability of individual nations to protect their citizens. Drug trafficking, for example, had become a multi-billion-dollar business and confronted police forces with the most sophisticated tools of communication, transportation and organization. Ugly signs of dangerous terrorist networks were being detected. Already in 1996 I was calling for a starvation policy to deny criminal perpetrators access to money and arms.

There was an obvious demand for more effective international teamwork to meet all these challenges. Halting steps were being organized at the UN, the G-8, the OECD. But there was an opposite pull. The strong hold of beliefs in national sovereignty, and anti-internationalist feelings, meant that many governments resisted multilateral cooperative ventures. The philosophy of go-it-alone was alive and well even in the face of a shared risk. Traditional notions of national interest were stoutly defended even while they simply didn’t match the tempo of interdependence that was under way.

Complicating the efforts to govern this global interdependence was the pre-eminent position of the U.S. The collapse of the Soviet Union had confirmed the dominance of American power and influence as the reality of the global system. With this came increasing U.S. claims that its dominant position carried special responsibilities and therefore prerogatives to act unilaterally. The Clinton administration generally set its actions inside the framework of international institutions and laws. But not so the government of George W. Bush. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, launched an aggressive U.S. effort to assert U.S. interests, repudiate multilateral, collaborative governance, and follow a radical security doctrine that prescribes the use of U.S. military supremacy to establish the U.S.’s unchallenged right to determine the character and shape of the world -- what might be called imperial ambitions.

From a Canadian point of view, the U.S.’s reluctance to submit to international treaties and agreements, and its new doctrine of pre-emption, are cause for great concern. While over the past decade most agreements in arms control and environmental or human rights have not been ratified by Congress, now the Bush administration is not just a reluctant signatory but also a ferocious opponent of any agreement that does not directly serve specific ambitions of the U.S. -- hardly a promising atmosphere in which to construct a new global architecture.

From the Hardcover edition.

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