Chris Westdal, a Rideau Institute Senior Advisor, also has the distinction of having been the only Canadian Ambassador to both Ukraine and Russia. He recently gave a talk to the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, entitled: RussiaWeHardlyKnewYe
In this brilliant article, Westdal briefly surveys the “train wreck” that is Stephen Harper’s foreign policy and then examines the detritus of Canada-Russia relations.
I see [the last ten years] as a decade of neo-con nihilism. Relations with Russian have been among the many casualties….
American neo-cons led the U.S. to do great damage in the world. Ours have led Canada to shrill irrelevance. We are “proud to be the loudest” and the “most certain.” We never “go along to get along” and we talk a very tough game, but as Professor Denis Stairs points out, “We shout loudly … and carry a little twig.”
It doesn’t do us much good. Try naming one thing we’ve led anyone to do in the world this last decade.
On the Harper government’s relations with Russia:
Our relations are now a wasteland…. Our leader is now proudly Putin’s harshest critic, the lone hawk of the West, a Churchill soaring over all those Chamberlains, Canada now Russia’s most distant neighbour.
And it’s getting us nowhere. Whatever one thinks of our role in the region’s problems, it’s clear we’ll have little role in their solutions – because, as in the Middle East, we have no credibility with essential players.
Chris Westdal ends this trenchant critique with powerful words:
On a larger scale, we in the West accuse Putin of “aggression” in Georgia and Ukraine – we who have driven NATO up Russia’s nose, abrogated the ABM Treaty, bombed Belgrade, Russia’s ancient southern (Yugo) Slav ally, invaded Iraq (handing it to Iran), left Afghanistan in ruin, sown chaos in the Middle East and destroyed Libya – unleashing a flood of arms upon the most vulnerable countries in the world. If we accuse Russia of “aggression,” I ask you, with what would we charge ourselves?
All things are relative. There is no meaning without context. Putin is a demon – compared to whom? Russia is aggressive – compared to what?
For the full article, click Russia We Hardly Knew Ye.