Since we are on the subject of a higher National Foreign/Defence Policy, I'll split it off to give it its own thread, separate from the Submarines.
What should define our Foreign Policy?
I liked a basic framework proposed by Joseph S Nye. Although he has geared it towards America, I think we are faced with many of the same geopolitical realities as they are and thus the basic framework can be tailored to a Canadian perspective. Nye has gotten a bad wrap for his idea of "Soft Power" - this is due to the fact that starry-eyed idealists like Lloyd Axworthy have taken it and mangled it (much to our dismay). "Soft Power" is really summed up by Theodore Roosevelt's oft quoted dictum "Walk Softly but Carry a Big Stick". In essence, coercive Hard Power, although the most decisive and definitive form of power, should be used sparingly as Soft Power carries much more "bang for the buck". It's cooperative nature allows for efforts to be amplified through acceptance within the International Community.
Anyways, our Defence Policy, as a subset of our Foreign Policy, should be geared to come into play when Soft-Power fails (something Axworthy deemed unlikely, much to his dismay in Kosovo). History has shown that humans and societies are often not rational, pursuing their own goals for a variety of reasons. As such, any Policy formulation should recognize that the ability to shift rapidly from a cooperative Soft Power stance to a coercive Hard Power one is essential. As such, whatever our Policy decides we must have should get full attention from Ottawa; their is simply no excuse for half measures when the military is seen as one half of the essential Soft Power/Hard Power principle of Foreign Policy.
What should define our Foreign Policy? There can be only one thing, the National Interest. Defining Foreign Policy on ideological or idealistic grounds represents a discord with reality and can prove dangerous. I firmly believe that a realistic outlook on our National Interest, which should constantly be re-evaluated against the back drop of the international arena, is the best way to go about things. Ideologues can argue counterpoints, but our National Security demands that we leave that to the Political Science lecture hall.
Nye presents a good framework for the defining features of a framework for our National Interest. These are the six principles that Canada must mold its Foreign Policy (and as an extention, its Defence Policy) around; the first three are pretty consistent to a liberal democracy (Britain formed policies around the same ideas in the 19th century), while the latter three are more relevent to the modern, Information Age democracy living in an increasingly globalized world (it's always been globalizing, the pace now is much faster though). As with any venture, the formulation of the National Interest utilizing these principles must define what is important and what is not. We cannot afford to implement policies willy-nilly, as this will only exhaust our resources rapidly. :
1. Maintain the Balance of Power in Important Regions: Generally, War is accepted as a bad thing for a trading nation like Canada. Wars mean that our military, which is expeditionary by nature, has to be sent (at no cheap cost) around the world to protect our national interest. As such, Canada must remain dedicated to maintaining the Balance of Power in regions important to our National Interest. By promoting a stable balance of power in our Foreign and Defence policies, we seek to maintain the local geopolitical equilibrium and to dampen the incentive by local societies to use force to change boundaries and relative power levels.
Example: Preserving the liberal democratic regimes of South Korea and Japan is essential to Canada's vitality as a Pacific Rim country. Things in Asia which may throw this balance wildly askew (Chinese aggression, North Korean nuclear missiles, a resurgence of Japanese nationalism) are counterproductive to our National Interest.
2. Promote an Open International Economy: Canada is a trading nation. According to the DFAIT, more then 40% of our Gross Domestic Product is stems from this fact. Therefore, a threat to our economic lifeline of trade is a threat to our National Interest. As well, an open, international economy can help to mitigate physical threats to us and can help to develop downtrodden areas around the globe, reducing other forms of threats to our National Interest (rampant refugee populations). As such, our Soft and Hard Power should be directed towards maintain the current world Economic Order that has allowed us as Canadians to prosper from an unprecedented standard of living.
Example: Soft Power-wise, we must promote institutions that breakdown trade barriers and thus reduce economic activity for Canadians. Hard Power-wise, we must defend the internation economic order. If a despot attempts to usurp the Middle East in order to gain control of OPEC and hold the West for ransom, then this represents a clear threat to our National Interest and demands that we take action (as such, our failure to do so in GWI is a sign of failure of the government to execute policy to support this principle).
3. Preserve the International Commons: International commons must be preserved for the use of humanity at large. The easiest example is freedom to use the seas. Nations or groups (Pirates) that inhibit access to the international commons must be dealt with through the application of Hard Power/Soft Power. Other forms of international commons include the global climate, endangered ecosystems, outer space, and the Internet.
4. Maintain International Rules and Institutions: International cooperation remains the best way to protect the liberal democratic order that sustains us. As such, our Soft Power/Hard Power needs to be put to use to promote the institutions to which we belong; allowing us to amplify our National Interests with regards to trade, the environment, weapons proliferation, human rights, terrorism, etc, etc.
5. Assist Economic Development: Much of the world lives in squalor and destitution. These conditions are the breeding ground for hate, radicalism, and desperation - all factors that lead to conflict. Although we can never rid ourselves of the specter of war, helping others to stand on our feet serves a variety of our national interests; it improves relations, it opens new economic opportunities, it reduces suspicion, and it appeals to the moral sense the Canadian public feels in that it must better the lot of mankind.
6. Act as a Convener of Coalitions and Mediator of Disputes: Canada has built a reputation for being a successful actor on the world stage (most of the times). Sometimes, our intervention into the affairs of others may help to resolve the situation, reducing threats to our National Interest. As well, taking an international approach as opposed to an isolationist stance helps to build an international standing among the community of nations.
This is what Nye presents and I find as a well-rounded approach to forming our Foreign and Defence policies. With the principles in place we must now look to prioritizing. We can formulate the desired ends from this; the next step is to look at our resources to develop the appropriate ways and means to support the above framework. In developing ways (policies and strategy) and means (executors of policy - like the Military), we build our inventory of Soft Power/Hard Power "tools" around our ends (as defined by the National Interest).
Hopefully, my idea has some merit. Feel free to pick apart the ideas and contribute. If we are largely satisfied, the next step is to prioritize ends and build our ways and means to reach these goals.