Peace, Order and Good Government: A Foreign Policy Agenda for Canada

By: Michael Ignatieff

I have three goals in this lecture. The first is to assist in defining the intellectual task that a foreign policy review needs to accomplish. The second is to identify core values and interests that should drive our foreign policy. The third is to propose that “peace, order and good government” should constitute the organizing frame for Canadian foreign policy activity across the fields of diplomacy, defence and development.1

A foreign policy review has to bring three key elements together: our values and interests as a country, the policies that best serve these values and interests and the challenges in the external world that policy has to meet.

A review will fail if it proposes values that contradict interests, policies that do not serve these interests or fail to meet the challenges in the external world. A review succeeds when a clearly articulated set of interests and values allow us to ration resources and capabilities effectively and when the policies that result from these hard choices address the challenges we face.

A fourth element is also important. There is hardly a government department that does not have some external exposure or involvement in the world beyond our borders. A policy review has be a policy map, identifying who does what, where in Canada's foreign relations. It should also propose coherence, a strategy to co-ordinate and leverage all the resources this government has to offer in the foreign policy field.

One reason why we cannot afford to be nostalgic about the Pearson era is that it was the last period in which foreign policy remained a monopoly of government. No longer. Nowadays some of the best foreign policy research is done by NGO's; some of the best service delivery in the aid and assistance fields is done by private organizations; Canadian companies are foreign policy actors with huge effects on the country's reputation and influence, for better or worse. So a review has to map all the institutions, private and public, that shape the Canadian presence in the external world. Having mapped these institutions, a review has to re-think government's co-ordinating role: no longer the commanding sovereign, but the networker, facilitator and legitimating authority in a highly decentralized network of connections to the external world.

So to recap, the four key questions in any foreign review have to be:

  • What values and interests should policy serve?
  • What challenges must policy address?
  • How can policy meet these challenges?
  • How does government co-ordinate implementation across federal and provincial institutions, civil society and the private sector?

Let me begin with values and interests. Human rights, tolerance, multiculturalism, human security have all served as guiding values for Canadian foreign policy. There is nothing wrong with these values, except that they don't mean very much unless we specify the institutional or economic pre-requisites that make them sustainable in societies overseas. The key institutional pre-requisite for these values is good government. Human rights cannot be defended from the outside alone. They need to be anchored in decent institutions at home. When we fail to specify what human rights requires by way of real institutional support, we articulate human rights policies that are little more than rhetoric. The other trouble with these values is that they are guides to policy everywhere these days, especially in Scandinavia. Canadians want a foreign policy for Canadians, not for Scandinavians. A third problem is that, besides not being specifically Canadian, values aren't much help with priorities. I have heard senior defence figures in Canada lament the emphasis on values in Canadian foreign policy. How, they complain, can you base procurement and force structure decisions on the basis of values? This is true. We have lots of values in Canadian foreign policy and not enough interests. We need interests because we have to do triage, and triage is the essence of policy: making hard choices between what is desirable and what is fundamental.

So what are our interests as a country? It has been said Canadian foreign policy has only one true set of interests-the relationship with the United States. Our livelihood as a people and our security as a nation depend vitally on getting this relationship right. Getting it right is more than making nice noises. Certainly, we should change the tone, but a foreign policy review is not about tone, it is about substance. So what should the substance be? Maintaining our national independence is our guiding national interest, and the central paradox of Canadian foreign policy-and of Canadian life-is that our independence is most at stake in our relations with our closest neighbour and best friend. It should be possible to say this without being suspected of anti-Americanism. We have done too many great things together as a country for us to base our national pride on a negative. Anti-Americanism is negative, proud defence of our national independence is positive and Canadians—and our American friends—have always understood and respected the difference.

Defence of our independence should dictate the terms of our co-operation with the Americans on immigration, border security and continental defence. Our independence cannot be defended by anyone else: so we have to pay for it, with a national defence capability that can secure our borders and protect our people, in alliance with others, but in fundamental independence of their capabilities and capacities. We should not sell our co-operation cheaply, but we can only strike the right bargain if we have adequate capabilities. I line up squarely with those –– like Jack Granatstein –– who have been saying for years that we do not spend enough on intelligence, border security and national defence, and we do not know what to spend it on. We need to spend with a vital interest in mind: maintaining, securing and defending the territorial integrity of Canada and the safety of Canadians at home and overseas. Peacekeeping in Haiti and Afghanistan is worthwhile, but peacekeeping alone cannot provide the sole content of our defence posture. We need to keep our own borders secure; we need special forces capability for rescue and counter-terrorist activity. We need to substantially bolster our intelligence-gathering and evaluation capabilities. However we reconfigure our armed forces, and I am no defender of the separate identities or procurement budgets of our forces, we need to maintain combat-capable land forces and we still need to have boats to secure our coast lines and planes to patrols our skies. Independence has to guide our defence decisions. We do not want to arrive at a situation where Canadian lives are in danger, at home or abroad, and we have to be dependent on someone else's capabilities, whether diplomatic, intelligence or military, to get us out of trouble. A helping hand from a friend is one thing, dependency is another. A helping hand to a friend is one thing –– and so we should provide security co-operation, border monitoring in a close and co-operative manner –– but subservience is another. Negatively, we must not be dependent, and we must not be subservient. Positively, we must stand on our own two feet.

Independence is also a vital economic interest. It's good for Canada and good for the global economy to extend free trade throughout the hemisphere, but we have to do so in a manner that defends our economic independence as a country. We can't base policy on a diehard defence of this or that industry, but we must ensure effective control of the basic levers of national economic policy, in relation to employment, interest rates, currency values and basic industrial structure. We need to guarantee our own independence, by assisting other more vulnerable countries in our trading zone to safeguard and enhance their own independence. Thus if we defend labour standards at home, we need to fight for equal labour standards across NAFTA and take measures that drag our industries into a race to the bottom. Finally, in our bilateral relations with our powerful neighbour, we need to stand up for ourselves. We cannot allow stronger partners to manipulate agreements signed in good faith to protect their own industries while devastating ours.

Independence is not just an interest: it is also a value. We care about our independence because we love our country. We have fought for it and some of our ancestors have died for it. Our independence has never been easy, and its future survival is not beyond question. Independence also works. One lesson of our history is that when we pursue an independent foreign policy—over Cuba, over China—we both serve values and we also serve our interests. Our relations with China and with Cuba have not always been popular with others, but they have allowed us to play a role in these countries which has enhanced both our commercial and our political interests.

Multilateral commitments are rightly held to be essential for any mid-power like Canada, but we neglect independence –– going our own way, taking a lead –– at our peril. Supporting multilateral institutions doesn't always mean singing in the choir. Sometimes we have to take a solo, and we should not be afraid to let our voice ring out. We sang solo on land-mines, on human security and on the responsibility to protect and on the Montreal consensus. Other countries joined in descant, but our solo was heard and made a difference. The deeper, if unpopular truth is this: multilateralism is not a value in itself; it is valuable to the extent that it allows us to make our voice heard and our influence felt. We seek to be heard, not just so that we can indulge in the pleasure of hearing those distinctive Canadian vowel sounds, but in order to safeguard our independence and increase our national power.

It is an abiding Canadian illusion to suppose that we can maintain influence without power, just as it is an illusion to think that the sheer size of our economy will always guarantee us a seat at the tables of influence. There are countries with large economies that count for little in the world's counsels. Soft power is not a substitute for the harder varieties. We will not have influence unless we have power, and we will not have power unless we maintain capabilities. We cannot have the capabilities we need –– and these range from a strong diplomatic service, an effective intelligence service, and a combat-capable counter-terrorist and peace-enforcement force –– unless we invest significantly greater resources from our national budget. We will not be powerful and we will not have influence, therefore, unless we have political leadership that is unafraid to challenge the Canadian electoral preference for being nice on the cheap.

Canadians will only make these investments for the sake of something vital. Our sovereignty is vital, and in a globalizing world, it is more important than ever, since it is effective government in Canada that guarantees us leverage, influence and protection in a world beset with change. For all the happy talk about globalization, I cannot see any future beyond the nation state. For all the talk of global governance, I cannot see how global solutions to common problems are possible unless states exist that deliver meaningful protection to their citizens. The state is the fundamental guarantor of political legitimacy and the essential source of citizen's protection. The Canadian state matters to us instrumentally because its passports and its resources protect us at home and abroad. It matters to us intrinsically because it symbolizes our home, our native land. We cannot love the world, or the international community, or any other abstraction. We can only love the countries we come from. Patriotic feeling must be the real driver of any foreign policy review that hopes to capture our interests and our values and reflect the ultimate commitments of our fellow citizens.

Why do we love our country? Why should we care about its continued independence? Why should we place this interest—and this value—at the centre of our foreign policy? Millions love this country, as I do, because it gave their families refuge from tyranny and fear; others love it because it is a land of opportunity; still others love it because it is so astoundingly beautiful. For an older generation, it is worthy of love because it has been a community of sacrifice. We are a country whose young men and women have laid down their lives to secure the freedom of others. Just ask the Dutch how they remember the young Canadians who fought their way into Holland in the autumn of 1944. Just think of what we commemorate every year at the Cenotaph.

But none of these reasons to love our country –– for its land, its opportunities, for its history of sacrifice –– is distinctive. Other countries' forms of patriotism are rooted in many of the same experiences. What is it about being a Canadian that is such a special destiny? We need an answer to that question because we want a foreign policy that does not just reflect cosmopolitan values –– human rights, tolerance, multiculturalism –– but national values rooted in our soil and in our own history. National values, by the way, are not the enemy of cosmopolitan ones, but their friend. Liberal internationalism –– the passion to help others, to defend their rights –– is best nurtured by a fierce desire to protect and defend our own.

So where should we look for these anchoring national values? What makes Canadian values and identity distinctive is our particular history as a political community. We are British North America, a colonial fragment that remained loyal to the Crown, but which secured “responsible government” first among all the colonies of the crown, and which went on to create a transcontinental nation state, divided into five regions and two language groups. We have reason to be proud of our loyalty to British institutions, proud of our peaceful achievement of national independence and proud, above all, that we have made a transcontinental union of regions and languages cohere for over a hundred years, in the middle of a world whose ethnic and religious groups too often believe that each nation deserves its own state. We have proved that two nations can share a single state; that two languages can share a single political community; and that regions with powerful political traditions can work together to sustain a common fabric of citizenship for all Canadians. In the last forty years, we have also pioneered a hugely significant attempt to reconcile that common fabric of citizenship with full self-government for aboriginal peoples.

This tradition gives a significantly different inflection to our democratic values. Thus in the famous words of the British North America Act, our first constitution, we define the purpose of our political union as “peace, order and good government”, in explicit contrast to the Jeffersonian vision of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. All political traditions, including those to the south of us, have to balance liberty and order, free enterprise and government action. We balance with the belief that freedom without order risks violence and liberty without government action risks injustice and inequality. These commitments, first articulated in the BNA Act, remain anchored in our Charter. There are deep historical reasons why we have chosen to give this weighting to our primary political values. A heterogeneous population, without common myths of origin, thinly spread across 5000 miles of inhospitable terrain, has good reason to believe that what holds political community together is honest, responsive, decentralized and democratic government. A country with a relatively small domestic market has learned that it cannot leave the creation of a common infrastructure to the market alone: government must work with business to create the public goods that make a country cohere. Finally, a people with two languages and a rich heritage of aboriginal and immigrant tongues, knows that we are held together not by common myths of origin or shared ethnic or religious roots, but by political institutions –– Parliaments, provincial legislatures, courts, political parties and a free press –– and by the political creed enshrined in our Charter.

What then is distinctive about the Canadian political tradition is the idea that the state creates the nation, that government action is a precondition both for economic development and the creation of a political community. At the same time as we believe in government, we are a free enterprise country. Social democracy has had a huge influence on our politics, and so has the history of free trade unionism, but we have never been socialist. We believe in markets because we know that they are better at allocating capital and labour than government, and because free markets make for free peoples. We also know that markets alone cannot distribute equitably between classes and regions. Hence a political community cannot cohere if it is not sustained by public provision of health care, unemployment insurance and social security, along with federal redistribution of revenues from rich provinces to poorer ones.

These values are not the property of any particular political party, though some parties have embodied them more successfully than others. They are the property of all our parties, and their operative role in holding our country together explains why our politics is ever so slightly, but decisively, to the left of center of our neighbours to the south.

When we look for distinctive Canadian values, in other words, we should look at the history of our institutions and register the enduring commitments they represent. When we look at our values and our institutions, we have reason to be proud. Their vitality gives us reason to be patriotic. Yet patriotism of the heart should never still the patriotism of the head. It is important to look the failings of our tradition squarely in the eye. While peace, order and good government meant that Western settlement proceeded under the aegis of the Mounties and we avoided massacre in our encounter with aboriginal peoples, it did not stop the federal government executing Louis Riel. It did not stop residential schools and a century of ignoring clear statutory promises to the aboriginal nations who signed treaties with us. Likewise, Canadians like to think their history of good government has been corruption-free. This is not so. From the days of John A. Macdonald to recent regimes, Canadian governments have not been as good or as honest as we want them to be. Sometimes, as in our resort to the War Measures Act in 1914 and again in 1970, we have sacrificed too much freedom for the sake of order.

For better –– and sometimes for worse –– peace, order and good government, and the institutions that anchor this creed in our national life, have been the guarantors of our national independence and our national distinctiveness. The success of this creed makes our country one of the most sought-after destinations for migration in the world. Our capacity to resolve our conflicts peacefully means that we have survived where many other multinational, multi-ethnic, regionalized societies have failed. For all our justified concerns about corruption in government, by the standards of Transparency International, Canada remains one of the best-governed countries in the world. Finally, our commitment to human rights, tolerance and diversity is not abstract and it is not optional: given how diverse we have become, it is the very condition of our survival as a distinct people. These ideas –– peace, order and good government –– are not just a cluster of values. They define our national interest. They are the precondition of our national independence.

If this way of reading our national interest and our values is correct, what are the implications for the public policy of our country overseas? How should these values and interests drive our engagement with the external world?

To answer this question, we need to identify the global trends that most deeply impinge upon our interests as a country and to specify the particular skills we can bring to the solution of the problems that threaten “peace, order and good government” in the world at large.

Every country has to focus on what it does best, where its comparative advantage lies. My suggestion is that Canada needs to do something about the long-standing, but now decisive crisis in state order that is sweeping the world, undermining “peace, order and good government” in as many as thirty of the world's states.

The crisis of “state order” is a product of two waves of freedom that have swept the world since 1945: the first began with the independence of India and culminated with Mandela's walk to freedom in 1990. This wave of self-determination brought majority rule, national independence and democracy to Asian and African peoples ruled by the great European empires. The second wave began with the breakup of the last European empire, the Soviet Union, in 1991. Since then 16 new states from the Baltic to central Asia have emerged and are now struggling for viability. Under the impact of these two waves, the number of states has jumped from 45 to 191. There are more democracies than ever before, more genuine freedom –– for women, for previously subjugated minorities, for colonized peoples –– than at any time in human history. But if a majority of states are stable and self-governing, a significant number rank as burdened, failing, failed or rogue states.

Burdened states are those without the resources or the institutions to meet the needs of their people. Failing states are those where the central government no longer controls all its territory, and is battling insurgencies or separatist movements. Failed states are those where law and order have broken down and basic service provision has failed. Rogue states are those where government functions but where government defies the obvious rules of the international community.

For Canadians, the crisis of state order is not a distant issue. Our concern for it is not simply humanitarian. It has direct impact on our interests. Three of our most important recent immigration streams –– from Somalia, Sri Lanka and Haiti –– have come from failed or failing states. While we must always maintain our commitments to provide asylum for refugees, and while it is in our interest to maintain comparatively high levels of immigration, it is not obvious how any rich and favoured country like Canada can expect to maintain effective immigration control and population management if we find ourselves living in a global order where state order is collapsing in twenty-five to thirty states around the world.

This does not exhaust the symptoms of state crisis. Other peoples –– the Iraqis, the Libyans, the Iranians and the North Koreans –– have lived in states where national wealth is used, not to develop the country, but to develop weapons of mass destruction. Canadians cannot live securely in a state order populated by rogue states. We may or may not support coercive regime change, but we absolutely must insist on a state order in which non-proliferation regimes are obeyed.

Other states –– and these include Afghanistan and Somalia –– have allowed their territory to become training grounds for terrorist groups. Other states, like Syria, Libya and Iran, have actively sponsored terrorism against other states. Again, Canada has a direct national interest in preventing the state order from offering any refuge to those who train, harbour or in any way assist international terrorism.

Finally, there are states which are so mismanaged and so corrupt that they cannot carry out any development goals. Canada needs honest and capable partners in development. Otherwise we are just wasting our time and money.

As long as ordinary people are misruled –– whether in states collapsing into chaos or rigidifying into tyranny –– they cannot benefit from globalization, technology, science and progress. Without states that work, states that deliver real security and real services to their people, the promise of globalization will remain a cruel sham. Without capable states, global governance is a fiction.

If this diagnosis of the vital security challenge before Canada is correct, then what policies do we need to develop to meet it?

Canada has a vital interest in ensuring the eventual success of the democratic revolution in our time. If emerging democracies do not succeed, we will face rising tides of immigration as well as the disorder, discontent, violence, terrorism, epidemic disease and environmental degradation. Where democracy and markets are working, Canadian foreign policy has clear goals to assist, encourage and sustain. For example, Canadian lawyers, working for the OSCE, helped draft the language legislation for the Baltic republics, allowing them to find a constitutional formula that would safeguard the legitimate rights of the linguistic majority while protecting the Russian minority, and, in this way, guaranteeing a peaceful transition to democratic majority rule. Canada probably has more institutional memory about the legislative and legal requirements for the accommodation of linguistic and religious diversity than any other mature democracy in the world.

We are already putting this institutional memory to work, helping a number of other countries on the path to democracy, by monitoring elections, assisting in the design of courts, prosecution services and police services, the creation of central banks, and the writing of property and inheritance law. The Canadian intuition is that democracy without rule of law is the tyranny of the majority and markets without regulation is just the despotism of the wealthy and well-connected. Our intuition is that human rights and tolerance have to be anchored in good institutions: separation of powers, independence of the judiciary, a free press, entrenched minority rights guarantees and rule of law.

The Canadian intuition about development arises from our own experience as a developing nation in the 19th century, when the national policy successfully linked government investment in infrastructure, free immigration, protection of basic industries and a vigorous private sector. It is second nature for Canadians to see government regulation not as the enemy of market freedom but as its precondition; second nature for us to see good government as the precondition for development that is equitable between classes, religions and regions. Our own experience of development is relevant to the democratic nations seeking development today and relevant to the design of the policies that should guide Canadian attempts to make global development more honest, more equitable and more long-lasting.

The focus of our foreign policy should be to consolidate “peace, order and good government” as the sine qua non for stable states, enduring democracy and equitable development. Other countries will always have larger development budgets than we do, but few countries know as much as we do about the intimate causal relation between good government and good development. Just as other nations—like the Norwegians—have specialized in peace-making, through the Oslo process and the Sri Lankan processes, so we should specialize in a policy framework that brings all our “governance” activity together in a single powerful program of action.

I prefer “peace, order and good government” to “governance” as an organizing frame for Canadian activities simply because it articulates a specifically Canadian expression of what governance ought to be about: democratic institutions, federalism, minority rights guarantees, linguistic pluralism, aboriginal self-government and a positive, enabling role for government in economic and social development.

Such a proposal is more than a slogan or marketing device. It implies, first, accepting an analytical priority for the role of good government in promoting equitable development and sustaining democratic development. It implies, second, that Canada's traditions and institutional memory give us a comparative advantage in relation to other countries. It implies, third, that we are willing to harness the dispersed “good government” capacity currently spread right across the federal government.

Not all of this “good government” work is done by government itself. Some of the most exciting work is done by NGO's that receive some government support, for example, the Forum of the Federations. Bob Rae and other members of the Forum have been deeply involved in the Sri Lankan peace negotiations, attempting to flesh out what a federalist solution to the Sri Lankan tragedy might look like. In northern Iraq, Kurdish experts look to Canadian precedents and the Federation's advice when considering how to craft a federalist model for the future of Iraq.

At this point, a skeptic might well ask whether our institutional experience can actually be transferred to societies that have lacked our unique advantages: a history of benign colonial rule, early independence, vast natural resource wealth, a wealthy and powerful neighbour, and so on. History matters, our history has been different, and we cannot assume that Canadian best practice, in federalism or any other field of good government can simply be exported to very different societies. Moreover, as a people who secured their freedom from an empire, we know that it is a form of imperialism to base policy on the assumption that what worked for us must work for everybody. Yet our history does entitle us to say that ethnic multiplicity can be a source of strength rather than weakness; that linguistic multiplicity does not necessitate secession; and that political dialogue can avert the breakup of a nation. We have some authority in these matters, and we should use it, not to lecture, but to listen, not to impose but to learn, adapt and change our ideas as they encounter the different reality of other political cultures.

In democratic societies that are stable and capable of development, Canadian policy can assist with improving the institutional design and operation of governance. Where societies, in John Rawls' phrase, are “burdened” with ethnic conflict, religious hatred, or a bitter memory of civil war, we need to perfect a tool kit of preventive intervention: conflict resolution at the village and community level, political dialogue at the national level, constitutional change, in the form of devolution to empower disenfranchised regions or groups, and minority rights guarantees to end discrimination and injustice. No country has managed to put all of these elements of prevention –– conflict resolution, political dialogue, constitutional change, together with economic assistance –– into a coherent stand-by capability, bringing together NGO, government and professional capacities. That is a challenge we should seize as a country, since, as I have argued, we have comparative advantage in the politics of managing divided societies.

Finally, in societies where conflict has reached the point of massacre and ethnic cleansing, we have a “responsibility to protect”, and, with that, a responsibility to intervene, if necessary, with military force. “Responsibility to protect” is a phrase that has entered the global lexicon thanks to the Canadian initiative to support the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. The ICISS is only the latest of a series of examples which illustrate that one of Canada's largest contribution to international affairs has been in the realm of ideas.

“Responsibility to protect” is one such idea. Instead of conceiving sovereignty as a synonym for territorial control, the Canadian idea sees sovereignty as entailing a responsibility to provide a people basic protection. When the state is either unwilling or unable to perform this duty, whether from incapacity or malignant intention, the duty to protect the population falls on other states. Responsibility to protect reconceives the world of states as a series of interlocking duty holders towards the populations they are supposed to serve. Where one state fails in its duties, other states must step in: to stop the killing, feed the hungry, restore order and return sovereignty to those who can fulfill their duties.

From a “peace, order and good government” perspective, the “responsibility to protect” entails, first, a responsibility to prevent ethnic and religious conflicts before they destroy a state, second, a responsibility to react when states are either unwilling or unable to protect their populations, and finally a responsibility to follow through, with reconstruction assistance, stabilization forces, and institutional reconstruction over the long-term. We should understand “peace, order and good government” as entailing a continuum of responsibilities that bring to bear all the expertise and capabilities of the Canadian government, and the national community, up to and including the use of military force. The “responsibility to protect” identifies a policy continuum –– prevention, intervention and follow-through –– that would define the very core of a foreign policy organized around the principle of promoting “peace, order and good government” in the emerging state order of the 21st century.

The final question is how to consolidate and adapt the existing capacities of the federal government to serve the agenda I have proposed. Good government work is being done overseas by private and public sector, federal and provincial, government and non-government actors: diplomats, development officers, election officials, revenue specialists, native rights experts, judges, policemen and women, lawyers, doctors, teachers and activists. The federal government should try to understand this vast, heartening web of overseas activity by Canadians, and it should find clever ways to assist it, but it should not try to control it. Its function is to confer authority –– to speak for Canada when national commitments must be made, to provide resources when these are needed, and to provide a supporting framework, so that Canadians at work overseas feel that their contribution fits into a coherent and inspiring common task.

A “peace, order and good government” program for Canada entails first of all making better use of our governance capacity, currently dispersed right across the government. Instead of tinkering with institutions here or there and adding an increment to each, we should be thinking of developing a national civilian capacity to promote peace order and good government that would rival and complement the capacities of Canadian forces. Different government departments, from Elections Canada to the RCMP, receive requests to second personnel to assist other governments. It would expand their capacities if there were an agency that:

  • brokered requests for assistance from governments and organizations around the world;
  • funded deployments;
  • maintained a government-wide roster of our “peace, order and good government” experts, both in government and out;
  • had a budget to support innovative programs, research into best practice from other government departments and agencies as well as the NGO sector; and,
  • through debriefing, training exercises, and after action review, developed and conserved institutional memory and best practice in the good government field.

The agency could also serve as a co-ordinating forum for the most difficult task of all: to respond to emerging crises, like Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq, all cases of acute institutional failure accompanied by violence. Canada improvises magnificently but it may be time to stop improvising. If my analysis is right, these crises –– which combine state crisis or collapse with violence –– are going to recur. Canada needs to develop:

  • a prevention capability: to strengthen rule of law, improve police, conciliate ethno-religious conflict, create political dialogue;
  • an intervention capability, not just peace-keepers, but civilian police, administrators, water sanitation and humanitarian experts; and,
  • a reconstruction capability: from constitution-writers to contractors and construction engineers.

Most of this capability is already located either in the private sector or in existing agencies of government. A peace, order and good government agency has to find these people, work with their departments and employers to create a secondment strategy and then establish training regimens that work through various deployment scenarios and test capabilities against reality.

This is muscular multilateralism. Developing these capabilities would help the UN raise its own capacity to deploy to prevent conflict before it starts and rebuild after it is over. Such a program would demonstrate that Canada is prepared to make a serious investment in sustaining and developing the capacity of states to shoulder the burdens that globalization has placed upon them. “Global governance” and “international community” are empty slogans as long as the states that compose our global order lack the capacity to protect their citizens and enhance their lives. If Canada fails to help solve the growing global crisis of state order –– in the 20 to 30 states that are burdened, failing or failed –– our commitment to “global governance” will be hollow, for global governance means nothing unless states have the capacity to take part in global solutions to our common problems.

Finally, a focus upon peace, order and good governance helps us to meet a vital national interest. Just as we want to maintain our own national independence, to safeguard the land we care about, so we want to help others to do the same. If we love our own land, we have good reasons to help others create political orders that deserve the same fierce attachment. Finally, we need to shed the Canadian sense of immunity and impunity, that deeply-rooted belief that we are safe from history's dangers. Our sense of national interest could use a certain sobre measure of fear. A global order in which states are no longer able to protect their own people and their own territory presents Canada with real and growing danger. But we have the resources –– and most of all, the political memory –– that gives us a unique ability to turn danger into opportunity.


1 I would like to gratefully acknowledge the contribution to this paper of Michael Small, Fellow at the Weatherhead Center, Harvard University. He bears no responsibility for errors of fact or argument, but should take credit for anything that turns out to be useful in this analysis. I am also grateful to a former Weatherhead Fellow, George Haynal, for similarly useful advice. I also wish to gratefully acknowledge my debt, over several years, to the policy analysis provided by Brian Tomlinson and the Policy Team at Canadian Council for International Co-Operation. I would like to thank the Clerk of the Privy Council for an opportunity to present an early version of these ideas at a seminar in June 2003, as well as Carleton University for asking me to give the Sun Life Lecture in November 2002, where these ideas had their first outing.