GEOFF RABY and IRVIN STUDIN. Can Australia think for itself?

Some years ago, in his usually provocative way, Kishore Mahbubhani published a polemic, Can Asians Think? It was his push back against the uni-polar moment and the perceived arrogance of the Washington Consensus. Asia was capable of working out its own policies for its own circumstances. There was no one size fits all. In this essay, Irvin Studin, Editor-in-Chief of Global Brief, turns this around to declare Canada Must Think For Itself.  

And so too must Australia. While the differences between Australia and Canada in terms of geography, proximity and weight of the US – at least in sport we are independent – and relations with Asia are marked, so too are the similarities in terms of reliance on the US for our sense of security.

Studin’s essay, however, highlights a major difference between Australia and Canada. He is calling for Canadians to take charge of their own affairs, be it in media, digital, cultural, sporting, foreign policy, and defence and security. He is concerned that Canada has been beguiled, sleep walking into its dependency on the US.

This can hardly be said about Australia. We have consciously and actively joined ourselves to the US’s hip. Our dependency today is a result of the deliberate policy choices we have made.   We have an Ambassador in Washington who begins speeches in the US proudly boasting that we have been in every war with the US in the past 100 years (don’t mention the Western Hemisphere and spoil a good opening line). Unlike Australia, Canada has actually made choices not to follow the US into war.

The chilling question Studin poses for Canada, and even more so to Australia, in view of our record of following the US, is “Can we [Australians] properly think for ourselves in the context of American political radicalization and strategic incoherence?”

(Geoff Raby was Australian Ambassador to China.)

IRVIN STUDIN. Canada must think for itself (Global Brief, June 2019)

But can it? Amid all the noise, does it even see the problem? What’s to be done, and how to escape the shackles of ‘aw shucks’ nationalism?

Can we Canadians think for ourselves? One can be forgiven for asking the question more than 150 years after Confederation – when Canadians can justly be proud of a peaceable, sophisticated and highly civilized country that has long been admired around the world.

But ask it we must. For the Canadian today rises in the morning to an alarm tone from his iPhone, checks his Twitter account for the latest micro-meditations of the American president, scans his Facebook feed for the freshest American political tumult and Hollywood kitsch, and, if he at all has a moment to spare, turns to LinkedIn to get essentially the same cultural content packaged for slightly more polite company. Just before jetting out the door, he may find deep inspiration in the newest Instagram-enhanced quotes from Mayor Pete of South Bend, Indiana, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Tucker Carlson – telling him how the world works and how to live the good life. He dutifully reposts and tweets these out to his Canadian comrades, all within 30 seconds, as variously “brilliant,” “jarring” or “troubling.” Canadian friends and colleagues will in turn repost and retweet these same quotes as if cutting-edge, if not altogether Talmudic in authority.

The Canadian today rises in the morning to an alarm tone from his iPhone, checks his Twitter account for the latest micro-meditations of the American president, and scans his Facebook feed for the freshest American political tumult and Hollywood kitsch.

Doubtless pressed, she may have just enough time to grab a double-double from Tim Hortons as her daily patriotic ritual, forgetting that Tim’s has by now long been owned and controlled by American capital. As she speeds to work in her Ford or, more progressively, Tesla, she will turn on the radio to take in the newest melodies made in New York, LA and Tennessee, interspersed with the morning news, including from the CBC, the storied national broadcaster, about the latest tweets from the American president, the Mueller Report, Kim Kardashian and some random ‘bomb cyclone’ over and above Colorado. CBC Radio will, as if on cue, have a handful of American experts, lumpen or otherwise, on hand to provide commentary – or, better still, Canadian experts professing to be similarly enthusiastic about the American condition.

This Canadian will, to be sure, anxiously await the latest debrief from the previous night’s hockey matches, eventually translated as San Jose 1, Arizona 0; Columbus 3, Buffalo 2; and finally, Las Vegas 5, Anaheim 0. Hockey Night in Canada.

The Toronto Raptors are playing, you say? They are, we are told, ‘Canada’s team’ – the only ‘Canadian’ team, for a population approaching 38 million, in a league of 30 teams operated out of New York, with only one, largely non-playing Canadian on the roster. In baseball, they find their analogue in the Blue Jays, also ‘Canada’s (lone) team’ among 30, and also with one lone Canadian – nay, perhaps two, I am told – on the roster.

The radio plays a clip from the Ontario premier of the day, one Doug Ford, asserting that the economies that his government is excising from the spending structure of the province are strictly “for the people” – unwittingly channelling his inner Kennedy and Lincoln. The Prime Minister, slightly more knowingly, liberally quotes from Obama and, yes, Kennedy again. (A quote on Parliament Hill from any Father of Confederation could today be met with near-total bemusement.)

On his lunch break, the Canadian, competently schooled and perhaps even a bibliophile, may stop by an Indigo store to leaf though the latest literary offerings. Fancying that culture should follow demography, he might be surprised – if he should even notice – that the ratio of non-Canadian to Canadian books and magazines is not in the order of 10 to one, as per the relative populations of the US and Canada (and per the conventional wisdom), but instead closer to 50 to one.

Not to worry, the Canadian may counter – for everything has gone online. In the event, then, the ratio is no longer 50 to one in our disfavour, but rather some 1,000 to one American versus Canadian websites – to say nothing of the ingeniously American multipliers supplied by the social media giants of California. And good on them.

After a long day’s work, he may wind down before his computer screen to catch a series or movie on Netflix – putatively a great new driver of Canadian art. And he may, just before calling it a night, watch the start of the Canadian evening news: a perfunctory prime ministerial speech in Ottawa, followed by the arrest of Jussie Smollett (who?) in Chicago, and some non sequitur reporting on a small military skirmish somewhere in the Middle East, apparently requiring our Washington correspondent (yes, the Canadian report comes from Washington) to repeat the latest talking points from the White House, Pentagon or State Department. We are to understand that the Americans know their stuff.

As her final good deed for the day, she may call her first-born son, proudly studying for an MBA at a leading Canadian business school. Upon enquiring whether he and his talented classmates were plotting to create, upon imminent graduation, a next-generation Canadian response to Google or Amazon, the son may confirm that the more acceptable – even glorified – path would be, nay, to instead work for these impressive outfits.

Tomorrow, when she rises to a country safe, well-fed and happy, will be the same as today – as per the national expectation.

***

The Consequences of Not Thinking for Ourselves

Canadian politics in this early new century is, at its basest, almost exclusively about comfort and the perpetuation of the comfortable condition. This is less a denunciation of the national politics of a successful country than a statement of empirical fact. For Canada today suffers from the great paradox of its enormous practical success: the comfort built by our forefathers and mothers, combined with longstanding relative national good fortune, makes it exceedingly difficult to allow for serious consideration of sustained national work and pressure in the service of longer-term plans, imperatives and ambitions – the very types of distant vectors and projects that animated the imaginations of the founders of the country.

If the prevailing political instinct is the search for comfort and its consolidation, then the strategic instinct in Canada is constitutionally predetermined as psychological subordination to an imperial mothership, very occasionally interrupted by spurts of quasi-insubordination, although never outright or sustained rebellion. (We speak here of a deeply colonial psyche, largely undisturbed, for more than a century and a half, by domestic cataclysm or extreme international pressures.)

The Canadian of this early 21st century might be offended to hear this, but such sensitivity should only betray his forgetfulness about the genetic circumstances of his own country’s creation.

After all, it is the founding document of Canada – the Constitution Act of 1867 – that states very clearly in its preamble: “…[w]hereas such a Union would conduce to the Welfare of the Provinces and promote the Interests of the British Empire.” Few Canadians have thought seriously to excise this telling phrase. Indeed, no one today writes about it at all.

Said the intrepid founding prime minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald: “England will have in us a friendly nation – a subordinate but still a powerful people to stand by her in North America in peace or in war.” In other words, contrary to the modern-day pedagogy, Confederation was not an independence moment for Canada, but rather a gambit by enterprising, self-consciously colonial leaders to fashion a federating structure or aegis that would unite four British North American colonies (provinces) so as to give a strategic aesthetic against Britain’s natural enemy of the day – the US – at that time just recovering from civil war, but otherwise highly militarized and well disposed to northern annexation.

Of course, the strategic miracle of Canada in the late 19th and full 20th centuries was that we managed to convert our natural enemy into our closest friend, ally and economic partner. In the same process, Canadian popular and political culture – in particular after WW2 and the final fall of the British Empire – began not so much to approximate American culture as to increasingly take its cues, fads and fetishes from the US, now substituting in the Canadian strategic psyche as the imperial mothership by juxtaposition with which Canadians were becoming, slowly but surely, “subordinate but still powerful.”

During the Cold War and in the two decades following its conclusion, the general compact between Canada and the US was one of amicable strategic subordination, conscious and unconscious alike, by Ottawa to Washington in external affairs – again, with irregular and even notorious episodes of quasi-insubordination or disagreement – but powerful political and far less powerful Canadian economic and cultural independence (conscious and unconscious alike) from the US in matters domestic.

Today, however, as we approach the end of the third post-Cold war decade, the logic of this compact with the US, which has delivered peace, ever-increasing material wealth and a general social happiness to Canada (and, it must be said, to the US as well) over the course of at least seven consecutive decades, should lead thinking Canadians to ask the following:

What happens when the US has lost its way in its political behaviour and culture, and when it is no longer a trustworthy ally or source of reasonable or impressive advice and judgement in foreign or international affairs? Can we Canadians properly think for ourselves in the context of American political radicalization and strategic incoherence?

This much is not obvious. And that has nothing to do with the education or intellect of the Canadian. It has, instead, to do with the deep Canadian instinct to strategic and cultural subordination – conditioned and consolidated over the course of at least 15 decades – and, perhaps just as importantly (and desperately), the growing informational dominance of the US over Canada; or in other words, the accelerating cannibalization of the weak and platform-poor Canadian information space by the ever-expanding American information space.

The growing immersion of the Canadian in the American information space, through America’s far superior cultural and media platforms – sporadically described above – means that the Canadian, if he at all can, amid all the noise and fury, even be fully seized of his country’s wicked dilemma of subordination and deep deference to a foreign country that should no longer be seen as a political exemplar or a strategic guarantor, can hardly muster the requisite independent vocabulary to articulate a national exit plan.

Knowing precious little, in any felt way, of China, Singapore, India, Israel or Australia, the Canadian may, if pressed, search for lessons learned from the erstwhile mothership, the UK – only to find, alas, that the Britons, crippled by Brexit and still smarting from several massive foreign policy mistakes of commission, are themselves even less impressive and more incoherent, politically and strategically alike, than the Americans of our day.

So what’s to be done? For now, we Canadians quite obliviously double down, deny (national pride oblige) the problem or downplay its magnitude, and presume or pray that the Americans will, at the margin, still know what they are doing or otherwise make decisions that, even if primarily in the US interest, will continue to supply significant dividends of well-being to Canada and its citizens.

But then again, what if the Americans should themselves continue to commit grave mistakes, or make decisions that, while appearing irresistibly wise on their face, are manifestly contrary to the Canadian national interest? The problématique repeats itself – for Canada patently does not have the national platforms, vocabulary, intellectual frameworks, and proper mentality today to decisively recognize the mistake (the compromised Canadian interest) and, to be sure, to make the necessary moves to resist and remedy it (to reaffirm or reinstate the Canadian interest).

In the negotiation of NAFTA 2.0, known by now as the USMCA, Canada agreed to what was manifestly a US-invented or inspired clause requiring that Ottawa receive the agreement of Washington (and Mexico City) should Canada ever wish to pursue a free-trade agreement with China – the leading economic competitor of the US, Canada’s second most important trading partner, the world’s soon-to-be leading economy, and the stated number one adversary of the Trump administration.

As I asked in my “Open Letter to the Prime Minister” in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of GB, how could Canada ever agree to such a provision, and then presume to politically glorify the overall treaty as a Canadian success story? Did we not realize that China is not only the most important country of the early 21st century, but also, more critically, immediately at our western border? Did we not realize that Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Vancouver are all closer to Beijing than is Sydney, Australia? The Chinese know this cold. Why not us?

Answer: Because we Canadians are entirely immersed and embedded in the American frame – thinking and working, de facto, in an American vocabulary. We allowed the Americans, even in their present diminished and compromised strategic and political form, to do the strategic thinking for us, presuming that they ultimately knew what would be best for our own country, even as they naturally pursued and, as advertised, privileged their own national interest. After all, if not them, then who? We had no answers. We did not even know, and still do not know, how to frame the central problem.

And when the problem began to crescendo – that is, when, after the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, on the request of Washington, at the Vancouver international airport, the Chinese began arresting Canadians in China – we Canadians again turned to the US, and to the Trump administration no less, to ask for help in exiting the crisis. For we had no other gear, no other game, and no other strategic imagination to generate or from which to draw ideas.

In the cultural and sporting realms, the same dynamic prevails – often patently contrary to the Canadian interest. At the 2016 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Canada’s men’s hockey team, the two-time defending gold medallists and the best team on the planet, simply declined to show up, for all practical intents and purposes, to defend the gold medal. Why? Answer: Because the National Hockey League, based in New York City and run, at the executive level, by Americans, decreed that it would not permit its players, including all of its Canadian stars, to participate in the Olympics. There was negligible Canadian protest at this decision – official or informal alike – and Canada proceeded to lose the Olympic competition with a team populated by far weaker, largely non-NHL players.

Quaere: Would France react so timorously were a foreign league to decree that France’s soccer virtuosos could not represent their country in the next World Cup in order to defend their title? Would New Zealand ever tolerate such a spectacle were members of the All-Blacks barred by European leagues from representing their country in the rugby World Cup?

How do we Think for Ourselves?

Thinking for ourselves is not an affirmation of Canadian pride or stubborn intent. It is a habit of mind, supported by national assets. Like the boxer who punches not with his fingers but rather with the torso, the mental repositioning of Canada requires a bulwark of resources, relationships and rewiring (realignments) both to allow the Canadian psyche to see more clearly, consciously and capaciously beyond its present circumstances, and to give it the wherewithal to resist and endure.

Bref, Canada thinking for itself means a Canada that cultivates a term-setting mentality – as distinct from today’s manifestly term-taking Canadian mentality. And if term-setting is a habit of mind, then this Canadian must be populated by properly Canadian mental frameworks, reference points and vocabulary. All of these have, at the time of this writing, still to be invented or reinvented, generalized across the population or its decision-making classes, and solidified for practice. That is the only way in which Canada can find its way out of the present noise and avoid a potentially catastrophic collapse of national decision-making in the context of near-total envelopment by the American machine.

So what’s to be done? Five moves are at play for Canada.

Move No. 1: French and Other Languages

The question of language in Canada has traditionally been viewed in domestic terms – to wit, how to protect and, eventually, officialize the French language in order to better secure the political loyalty of the country’s sizable francophone minority in general, and Quebec in particular. Thus far, 150-plus years into Confederation, Canada has been successful, even if sometimes precariously, in securing this French-Canadian loyalty with but 18 percent of the national population functionally bilingual in the two official languages.

In order to be able to ‘think for ourselves’ and develop a proper Canadian strategic imagination and vocabulary, Canada must begin to see language not only as an internal question, but rather as one that is critical to creating the intellectual ‘degrees of freedom’ that can allow Canadians to develop a bona fide national vocabulary – en route, let us hope, to a properly Canadian ‘school of international affairs.’

To think of language as strategically essential to clear Canadian thinking means that Canada should maximally lever its French-language distinction in order to blunt, offset or diversify away from the blinding noise of English-language bombardment from American-based media and cultural platforms with which Canadian messaging cannot at present substantially compete. This means driving French-English bilingualism well beyond the present rate and closer to two-thirds, if not three-quarters, of the national population of the country within a generation. Facility in French will open Canada’s English-language leaders and decision-makers to reference points, literature and sources of information other than the US (or UK) – consistent, again, with what is required for a properly Canadian school of international affairs.

All of this begins to approximate the national languages strategy about which I have been writing in the pages of GB for the last decade. In other words, two strategic moves in language policy are in play for Canada: first, generalize the bilingual condition across the population within a generation; and second, create critical masses of Canadians who are fluent in a third language – foreign or indigenous – consistent with Canada’s various international interests and pressures (to which we turn below) as well as with the broader reconciliation agenda vis-à-vis the country’s Aboriginal population.

Move No. 2: New Relationships, New Learning and the National Mental Map

Canada can only think for itself if it broadens its roster of deep, differentiated relationships with key countries outside of the principal source of its present non-thinking – the all-encompassing US relationship. Only by cultivating such deep state-to-state and, indispensably, people-to-people relationships with other major countries at our borders – starting with, per the ‘ACRE’ framework that ought to animate our core interests, China, Russia and leading European countries outside of the UK – can Canada seriously source the inputs for the ‘strange brew’ that should make up a Canadian strategic and political psychology that is original and not subordinate or subsumed to the American one (or to any other country down the road). Indeed, only through this ‘strange brew’ can a future Canadian strategic and political psychology reckon with the American one head-on, as a reasonable equal.

As I have noted before in these pages, Canada needs many more embassies and proper relationships in the former Soviet space, Asia and Africa. It needs these not only pro forma, but so that we can comb the entire world, regardless of political system or ideology, for lessons and best practices on how to solve our own problems. (Has Canada nothing to learn from China at all? The supposition is absurd on its face. But the question is itself, absurdly, seldom asked by the Canadian side.) And this is, fundamentally, in order to decouple official Canadian thinking from the deep-seated disposition to do heartfelt comparative policy analysis almost exclusively on the American experience – in extremis, the British experience also, but always confining the Canada policy and strategic imagination to the culturally comfortable and the colonially familiar. Of course, when this Anglo-American comfort zone falls behind in the quality and originality of its judgements and performance, the strategic and policy cost of continuing to presume in it best practices means that Canada can only fall further and further behind.

Expansion of Canada’s relationships, today, is also essential to addressing a key recent, arguably unexpected trend in Canadian foreign affairs – to wit, the rapid accumulation of powerful enemies. These enemies include China and Russia at our immediate borders, but also Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The total population of these enemy countries exceeds two billion. This compares with an ‘allied’ population of some one billion – specifically comprising the US and the NATO members of Europe. Bref, this is a two-to-one enemy to ally ratio for Canada in general, and a slightly greater ratio of enemies to allies immediately at our borders, according to the ACRE framework. From the standpoint of Canadian survival and success, not only is such a net balance of enemies and enemies-at-the-gates dangerous, but it also suggests that Canada’s efforts to diversify economically and intellectually outside of our said comfort zone – or to undertake any number of international policy pushes – will be actively blocked or vetoed by adversarial interests. In other words,

the rapid accretion of enemies can only serve to confirm Canada in its present state of deep non-thinking at the very moment that Canada needs its own thinking not only to get ahead, as it were, but also for purely existential purposes in the context of an ‘America First’ framework that suggests that the US will, in a pinch, not necessarily defend Canada.

Move No. 3: 100 Million Canadians as Telos, Metaphor and Term-Setting

The 100 million Canadians construct about which I have been writing over the last decade is, to be clear, not primarily a vision of demography. Nay, it is even more about metaphor than it is about population quantum, and certainly far more about the idea of ‘kinetic’ national planning, vision and fantasy for Canada than about specific prescriptions for, say, immigration. As a metaphor, then, the idea of 100 million Canadians by the year 2100 suggests to Canadians an ‘end point’ or ‘telos’ toward which the country is conscientiously building – juxtaposed, patently, with the present longstanding absence of any clear national project or ‘north star.’ The telos (and its existence) in itself causes the Canadian and Canadians as a collective to focus his and their energies and ambitions, and to will all of the means and inputs necessary to move the country toward this end state. It just so happens, of course, that this end state is a larger, more capacious, more potent Canada that, in demographic terms, becomes the second largest country in all of the West by 2100 – larger than any country in the EU, and perhaps even larger than Russia – with all the capabilities, assets and marge de manoeuvre that attend such scale. Bref, many things being equal, the Canadian at 100 million, and even en route to 100 million, thinks for himself – and self-consciously so.

As a country, at 100 million, Canada, even at one-quarter or so the size of the US (if it itself still exists in any recognizable form by century’s end), definitively acquires the ability to ‘think for itself’ in terms of both ends and means. It can set the terms of its interior existence just as it can press more meaningfully and muscularly the terms, conditions and goals of various international debates, movements and projects, including through a far more efficient capacity to lead and fashion international alliances and coalitions. Just as importantly, this Canada, as I have suggested previously, comes with a ‘big country’ mentality – one disposed to take ‘big country’ positions and drive them to their logical conclusion. And this psychology is, critically, diametrically hostile to the ‘aw shucks’ school of Canadian nationalism that treats marginalia as national trophies just as it struggles to articulate a coherent Canadian political or strategic theory of the country in the context of near-total identification with the term-setting civilization to Canada’s south.

Move No. 4: Invest in Canadian Platforms at all Costs. Control – yes, control – the Canadian Information Space

Thinking for itself will require Canada to invest conspicuously in existing and brand-new platforms – stubbornly in the national interest, and necessarily against the pressure to let the much larger, more prolific and more energetic American machine drive the national thinking.

Without such investments and platforms – many of them manifestly uneconomic in the first instance – there can be no basis, tout court, for national thinking. There can be no national thinking without a reasonably common national literature (digital and physical alike), a common vision of our geography, and a common and properly national political and strategic vocabulary – bref, without a proper national imagination and reasonable Canadian control of the Canadian information space. Indeed, I am of the view that it is state-led (not state-controlled) platforms, across the broadcasting and media modes – from television to radio, the internet, social media, and all species of next-generation platforms – that should drive the revival of Canadian platforms. This would mean very significant expansion and a decisive transition up the value chain in quality for the CBC, or indeed a wholesale reorganization of the CBC into a properly bilingual English-French broadcaster, with indigenous and foreign-language CBC channels and platforms added for good measure, and with a several-fold increase in the number of top CBC reporters across the Canadian territory and in key theatres on all the continents of the world.

Controlling the Canadian information space means just that. It means that Canada must have a robust counter-thesis to the present reliance on uniquely American social media algorithms and media platforms to drive the national reading, and on dominant American entertainment companies like Netflix to drive production of national culture.

This will require strict national regulation of these platforms, and muscular national support and execution of properly Canadian platforms and frameworks – all supported by a stubborn (hard-headed) national decision-making class that nudges the country into the term-setting realm. It will, at core, require a transition in Canadian official thinking away from the new ‘digital charter’ axis of preoccupation with individual privacy, which misdiagnoses the central Canadian challenge in the digital space, and toward a steadfast national preoccupation with ‘who’ creates and runs the digital platforms, where they are based and incorporated, how they are captured by Canadian law and requirements, and what is being done more generally in Canada to ensure that such platforms have the requisite scale and talent to succeed and support a Canadian imagination.

Move No. 5: Canada’s North and Arctic as the New Centre of the World

Let us never again see Canada’s North in general – and the Canadian Arctic in particular – as geographically remote, or as somehow marginal to, or subordinate within, Canada’s political and strategic imagination. Nay, the North and Arctic are, today, at the very heart of the matter.

Let me explain succinctly.

Climate change oblige, the ACRE framework that brings Russia (the ‘R’) into an immediate neighbour-to-neighbour relationship with Canada also gives leading Northern Canadian cities like Yellowknife, Inuvik and Whitehorse an historic opportunity to position themselves as Dubai- or Singapore-like transportation hubs. Yellowknife, for instance, could, through deliberate planning and term-setting behaviour, position itself as one of the world’s most important new transport hubs – for starters, by air, for passenger and cargo traffic alike – connecting China to the west (and, by extension, Northeast and Southeast Asia), Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union to the immediate north, Northern Europe (and, by extension, all of the EU) to the immediate east, and, to be sure, America and the continental US via Alaska.

Framed in these terms, which are perfectly real and realistic, the Canadian Arctic suddenly finds itself – if only we Canadians can properly think of it so – geographically very close to, and at the immediate crossroads of a consumer market totalling well over two billion people. This is more than six times larger than the present American market that holds a near-monopoly on our national policy and cultural imagination. And yet it still includes this massive US market, as it does our important European markets.

Yellowknife is, as noted, closer to China than is Sydney or even Brisbane, Australia. But it is also far closer to Murmansk, St. Petersburg and Moscow than is Toronto, and closer to continental Europe via the Nordic states than is Montreal. Bref, Yellowknife in particular, and Canada more generally, if only we can recognize our own reality, sits at the intersection of most of the world’s great economic blocs – to wit, NAFTA or NAFTA 2.0, the EU, the Eurasian Economic Union and, to be sure, the increasingly colossal Chinese-led and Asian blocs. What is now necessary for Canada is to refine the intellectual construction – the very basis upon which Singapore and Dubai became hubs out of a swamp and desert, respectively – and to build at pace and scale.

I shall write about the Arctic and Canada’s Arctic future at length in the next issue of GB, but suffice it to stress here that the repositioning of Canada’s North and Arctic as at the very centre of this new-century world not only lessens the banal present fixation on the southern border, but also forces Canada to begin to act as a self-conscious, mindful term-setter – to survive, first and foremost, in the context of the opening up of the Arctic, and second, in order to drive the more general rules of the game for Arctic transportation, economics, people-to-people, scientific and, of course, in environmental terms across this entire new theatre.

Irvin Studin is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Global Brief.

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2 Responses to GEOFF RABY and IRVIN STUDIN. Can Australia think for itself?

  1. brian toohey says:

    Canada should note a recent speech by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the Arctic Council in which he welcomed how global warming would open up new opportunities for minerals exploitation . He added that China and Russia can “but out”. Just how Russia is expected to butt out when its more northern territorial boundaries abut Arctic region to a far greater extent than in the US’ s case . Will Canada also have to butt out ?

  2. Kien Choong says:

    Interesting article. Here in Malaysia (where I am presently), the pay TV channel invariably shows CNN, and the Malaysian newspapers invariably reproduce articles written by Westerners. American “soft power” is so overwhelming that it is hard even for a Malaysian to think clearly and objectively. That may be why Mahatir is so popular here, as he undoubtedly thinks independently. We don’t have to agree with his views, but at least he offers an independent perspective on matters.

    Same with Lee Kuan Yew. He too had independent (and reasoned) views. We need more independent thought in our societies!

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