Sunday, November 15, 2015

Predicting Canada's Reaction

While folks say that theories cannot predict a specific outcome, our theories do arm us with expectations about likely behavior.  As Canada faces the ISIS challenge, what will it do?  I have consulted the Canadian Foreign/Defence Policy Literature and distilled a few predictions from the various theories:

Canadian Foreign/Defence Policy Theory
Sokolsky’s Canadian realism focuses on how much is just enough?*  Canada will contribute just enough to please US.  [This coincides with my guess--that Trudeau will keep his promises.
End Fighter Mission, More Training
Massie's Atlanticism: Canada will follow the US/UK/France
Stay in Fighter Mission
Massie's Prestige: Canada wants to be seen as a good ally, punching above its weight and all that.
Stay in Fighter Mission
Role theory: Trudeau's Canada will want to be seen as honest broker
End Fighter Mission
Structuralism and Critical theory types: Canada is constrained by US.
Stay in Fighter Mission
Nossal: Canada will do very little but talk lot about whatever it does.
End Fighter Mission
Elite consensus/bureaucratic politics: new government will be pushed by CAF and Ottawa's bubble of elites
Stay in Fighter Mission
Domestic Politics: New government will focus on domestic dynamics, and keep its promises
End Fighter Mission
So, whichever way Trudeau goes, we can find about half of the theories wanting.  We would need more predictions to separate the "stay" arguments from each other and the "end" arguments from each other.  Still, we can use this event to discern which dynamics seem to be at play.  Of course, a one-time event is not sufficient to eliminate a theory for all time.  However, it does help us as we teach our students about how to extend theories to understand current events and what kind of outcomes might lead one to find one set of theories to be more helpful/more predictive than others.

*And, yes, in thinking about this, I have realized I am a bit of a Sokolskian as I have repeatedly described many Canadian efforts as the least/most they can do.

Oh, and Vegas happens to be more convinced by the domestic politics argument, so you would have to bet 200 to win 150 if you bet on leaving the mission and you can win 300 if you bet 100 if you think Canada will stick around in the fighter mission.

H/T to twitter friends for inspiring this post and for dreaded reviewer number 2 for making me read some of this stuff (I had read Sokolsky, Nossal, bureaucratic politics/elite consensus folks before I wrote Adapting in the Dust).

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