Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Going Native, Eh?

I never expected to be working on Canadian defence issues.  I thought it was very funny that I had a title, Canada Research Chair, where I was neither Canadian nor studying Canada, but then again, the hard scientists are not just studying Canadian microbes….  But Afghanistan has been the gift that has kept giving to me anyway, as my work on NATO and Afghanistan led to an interest in Canada’s effort, which in turn led to much interaction with the Canadian Forces and folks within the Canadian government (and probably a book on Canada and Afghanistan after the current project is done).  While I have now interviewed over two hundred people for the Dave and Steve project on NATO and Afghanistan, perhaps a quarter of these folks are Canadians.  I have had the opportunity not only to talk to the Canadians in Ottawa and Montreal, but also a trip in 2007 to Kandahar and Kabul.  And this effort has led to a proliferation of questions about Canadian foreign and defence policy, including:
  • the CF effort in Libya, as an extension of the Afghanistan experience;
  • the impact of the world upon Canada and vice versa; 
  • the role (or lack of role) of parliament in overseeing the Canadian forces, where Phil Lagassé and I spend much time with warring tweets about Crowns and prerogatives and accountability and oversight;
  •  the effort to develop a whole of government approach where civilians and military folks are supposed to be working together (the subject of my presentation in Australia);
  • larger questions about the future of the Canadian Forces
    • Can Canada afford all three branches?  I say nay;
    • My deep skepticism about Arctic Sovereignty;
    • What is the place of the Canadian military in the making of foreign policy;
  • applying IR scholarship (theories, models) to understanding Canada as well as putting Canada into a Saideman-specific context given my interests in ethnic conflict and in civil-military relations.
I have also developed friendships with other folks on the twitterati list [especially Stephanie Carvin (@StephanieCarvin), Philippe Lagassé (@pmlagasse), Emmett MacFarlane (@EmmMacfarlane), Taylor Owen (@taylor_owen),  Roland Paris (@rolandparis), and Mark Sedra (@msedra)],  so that I end up responding to their tweets  with “vigour” as the aforementioned list indicates.  I guess that means I lack a filter, especially a politeness filter.  Well, we knew that already, eh?

To be clear, I am still most ignorant about other parts of Canadian foreign policy, such as soft-lumber disputes, trade agreements in general, and so on, and my knowledge of Canadian history is mighty thin and selective.  Going to Vimy can only do so much.  

Tweeting, like blogging, allows me to speculate, ruminate and react, building upon my previous research and also blundering into areas where I have no research experience but opinions nonetheless.
I look forward to more tweet-ersations about this incredibly large yet incredibly small country.  Please join the conversation so that I can @reply with vigour.

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