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June 20, 2008

John McCain on Diplomacy
Posted by Michael Cohen

So today John McCain has an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press that extols the virtues of the U.S.-Canada relationship, because there is no surer way to make Michiganders swoon then to pen an 800-word love letter to Ottawa. Oh, Canada. . . . indeed. 

I recommend all DA readers take a look at this piece because, honestly, they got some real wordsmiths over at McCain campaign headquarters. Take this poetry, for example:

Canada and the United States have a shared destiny. We are both continental powers, nations shaped by our diverse heritage and our frontier experience. We are also both Arctic nations. And because of this common geography, we must be acutely aware of the perils posed by global warming and take immediate steps to reverse its effects.

Shared destiny? We are both Arctic nations? And shouldn't all countries, regardless of geography, be worried about GLOBAL warming. OK, I'm off on a tangent. Let's get to my favorite part:

In countless areas of international security, from Afghanistan to Haiti to proliferation, our common interests require common action. Sen. Obama's take-it-or-leave-it approach to dealing with America's friends would not rebuild the alliance relationships we need.

On my watch, America will listen to the views of our democratic allies. When we believe action is necessary, whether military, economic or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right. But we, in return, must be willing to be persuaded by them.

"Take-it-or-leave-it approach!" (Honestly, after 8 years of the Bush Administration, do you think John McCain might be on shaky ground criticizing the 'take-it-or-leave-it' approaches to foreign policy coming from Barack Obama).

This coming from the man who wants to not only expel Russia from the G-8, but exclude China while adding Brazil and India, but who is also running around the country attacking Barack Obama for wanting to talk to Iranian leaders. Oh I'm sorry my bad, those countries aren't our friends. This is the 14-year old girl approach to foreign policy. If you're in my clique, we're BFF; if not, we're going to tease you until you develop an eating disorder (hat tip to Elaine Benes).

But how about our friends; in the run-up to the Iraq War McCain called our European Allies "vacuous and posturing;" he openly derided German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as a modern "Rip Van Winkle" and accused France and Russia of putting "commercial interests" above "world peace." Is it any wonder why America needs to "rebuild" our alliance relationships?

Seriously though, what is a better approach to multilateralism than "we'll try to persuade" other countries of our rightness . . . try to take a guess, by the way, what happens when these countries are unpersuaded. Will America say "Okay" and slink back home? Or even better, "we must be willing to be persuaded by them." Jeez, how open-minded.  "Willing to be persuaded" now that is the beginning of a beautiful and respectful long-term diplomatic relationship.

Honestly, if John McCain wanted to pick up some votes in Michigan, it might have been best to shelve this piece and instead pen an 800-word love letter to Henrik Zetterberg. Now that would be some effective international diplomacy!


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Comments

Far be it from me to offer advice to a master wordsmith, but this latest from the DA Brat Pack goes on for eleven paragraphs without once mentioning NAFTA, the subject of Sen. McCain's Op-Ed and the object of Sen. Obama's vigorous disapproval.

It occurs to me that if one really wanted to be seen as a supporter of Sen. Obama, one might want to at least try to defend Sen. Obama's position. Obama is not way out there, certainly not in Michigan, on NAFTA. He might even be said to hold the opinion of the majority of voters in that state, many of whom consider NAFTA -- rightly or wrongly -- an issue of some importance to them. I don't know if it has ever occurred to them that someone like McCain would have more standing to speak about NAFTA and American relations with Canada as he did in the Free Press if he were more obsequious toward Vladimir Putin. Perhaps this is an argument of such devastating force that Obama is saving it for the home stretch of the campaign. At any rate, Obama doesn't like NAFTA. He thinks it should be renegotiated. Is he right or not?

The post was about diplomacy, not NAFTA. I thought that was pretty clear.

What is needed here is a recognition of what Canadians think. Canadians agree with American policy on some points (eg. some aspects of security) but have other concerns that are quite different (eg. need to diversify trading partners, slow the brain drain to the United States, attract immigrants).

It would be helpful if we had e-discussions like those held by the Canadian DFAIT, in which students and citizens are invited to contribute comments that are then digested and read by the Department.

http://geo.international.gc.ca/cip-pic/current_discussions/group-en.aspx

Zathras is right, this was about NAFTA, which means why should US car companies build cars in the US, where they have to provide medical benefits, rather than in Canada where the government does?

If 221,000 Michigan jobs "are supported by trade with Canada" (doubtful) then how many have been lost to Canadian car plants?

Michigan businesses sent more than $23 billion of exports to Canada? If they did, they may not have produced those goods. Apply this caveat:
"Caution: The Origin of Movement series allocates exports to states based on transportation origin, i.e., the state from which goods began their journey to the port (or other point) of exit from the United States. The transportation origin of exports is not always the same as the location where the goods were produced. Consequently, conclusions about "export production" in a state should not be made solely on the basis of the Origin of Movement state export figures."
http://www.trade.gov/td/industry/otea/state_reports/michigan.html

Canadian auto exports to the US are over $60 billion.

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