Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bad Day for Canadian Diplomacy

Canada starts the day with news that the UAE is serious about using its waning leverage over Camp Mirage to get more landing slots for Emirates Airline.  Then, it fails to get enough votes to beat Portugal, so the quest for a UN Security Council slot fails.  PM Harper blames the Liberal opposition for not being united enough.  Sure.

So, this may cause some angst up here.  My take is that the UNSC is only a big deal if you make it one.  While Canadians tend to care a great deal more about the UN than Americans (except for those who think it controls black helicopters), the UNSC is significant but not always relevant.  How would Canada cash in there, other than ego-wise?  If it has to sell out a bunch of policy positions to get on the Security Council, then the question would be if it is worth more than what is sold.  It is not a tradeoff-free situation.  Since only the big five have vetoes, the temp members have limited influence: anything that gets past all of the big five is going to be relatively uncontroversial so that Canada's vote would not be that important.  Getting a super-majority in the SC is likely if the big five agree.  And if they don't and one vetoes, then a super-majority does not matter.

Does this mean that the world hates Canada?  No.  Does it mean that Portugal has more friends in the world?  Not so sure.  The Canadian effort seems to have been late and inept, and perhaps, just perhaps Canadian diplomats did not sell out where the Portuguese did.  We will need more info to judge, but this is not nearly as important as the media will make it out to be.

Of course, I am a UN-skeptic, so take this with a grain of salt if you will.

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