shall we dance a slow one

The American flag floating over every square foot of North America, clear to the North Pole. The ancient ghosts of annexation have always haunted Canadians that reciprocity would engulf the country. To America, Canada is seen as useful, as well as irritating. How does America deal with a nation of closet radicals living in steaming private worlds of contradictory emotions? The quandary of the menace of peaceful American penetration, frustrated by geography and economics; an inability to extricate itself, even marginally, from the continental economy. Still, with all its power, money and cultural penetration, the U.S. cannot turn Canadians into Americans.

Political cartoon "We Can't Undo the Lock, Sir John Is On Guard; Hand It Over the Fence?" commenting on the National Policy and Canadian - American relations, by an unknown artist, 1891---Read More:

…Even pleasant myths contain some truth. Canadians supposedly perfect relationship across the border has always been and remains an ambivalent love-hate complex, baffling to most Americans who are conscious of no such spiritual stresses and feel only a genial indifference. America, Canada’s enemy in pioneer times, is today her friendly seducer, which also serves to unite the country in a somewhat questionable national experiment. It began with John A. MacDonald risking everything on a risky gambler’s throw: He guaranteed to build a railroad from the St. Lawrence to the Pacific if the British Columbia colonists would enter the new confederation. A spanning of the continent with steel. No people of their numbers had ever attempted such a project. It was a mad scheme, and after trial and tribulation, expected British betrayal, the last ceremonial spike was driven in 1885.

---The old love hate dynamic still exists, but it persists in a new guise. Instead of military conquest, it is economic. Massive American investments have confused the question of who owes what to who. Read More:

The colonial chore boy running around yelling ready aye ready!. Stephen Harper as imperial chore boy for all seasons? …He isn’t alone; imperialism has come back into intellectual fashion. U.K. historian Niall Ferguson said we should all “welcome the new” — i.e., American, “imperialism” which will be “not very different” from the old, British version. Michael Ignatieff in his Harvard-New York Times phase, wrote similarly in praise of “empire lite.” ( Salutin)

---Much can be said about the interactions between the garrisoned or ghettoised and the larger community that creates their feelings of isolation or division. George Woodcock once wrote: “It might be a metaphorical exaggeration to describe Canada as a land of invisible ghettos, but certainly it is, both historically and geographically, a country of minorities that have never achieved assimilation.--- Read More: image:

He isn’t alone; imperialism has come back into intellectual fashion. U.K. historian Niall Ferguson said we should all “welcome the new” — i.e., American, “imperialism” which will be “not very different” from the old, British version. Michael Ignatieff in his Harvard-New York Times phase, wrote similarly in praise of “empire lite.”…

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…Rick Salutin:The War of 1812 is a symbolic minefield for Canada-U.S. relations. From our side, they invaded, with expectations of being welcomed and perhaps staying. Thomas Jefferson said it would be “a mere matter of marching,” like U.S. officials before they invaded Iraq. From their POV, it involved the last assaults on U.S. soil — including burning Washington to the ground — until 9/11. That image won’t engender warm and fuzzy feelings. Recently they created Buy American rules that irk Canadians who thought we had free trade. That doesn’t sound friendly either. The relationship is always an ongoing minefield.

---External Affairs Minister Lester Pearson, a staunch supporter of Israel and leading foreign policy decision-maker for decades, explained this thinking in a 1952 memo to cabinet: “With the whole Arab world in a state of internal unrest and in the grip of mounting anti-western hysteria, Israel is beginning to emerge as the only stable element in the whole Middle East area.” Pearson went on to explain how “Israel may assume an important role in Western defence as the southern pivot of current plans for the defence” of the eastern Mediterranean. Politically, culturally and economically dependent on North America and Europe, Israel is a dependable Western imperial outpost in the heart of the (oil-producing) Middle East. Due to its Jewish/’White’ supremacist character Israeli society is overwhelmingly in opposition to its neighbours, heightening its geopolitical reliability.--- ( Yves Engler) Read More:

So the Harper people try to reframe 1812 as part of a march toward sheer harmony with the U.S. Why? Because the Harper transformation of our foreign policy — a serious project — is, in a word, imperialist. Don’t jerk that knee. I mean it in a descriptive, not judgmental, way. It means denying that Canada could ever stake out an independent space in world affairs, from which it could do good through roles like mediation and peacekeeping. Instead, we must align with the mightiest global powers (which used to be called empires) and play a subsidiary role in their ventures, l

occupying Afghanistan or bombing in Libya. So the military gets rebuilt, under Harper, to make war, not keep peace; and the old terminology, like Royal, as in navy, is back. It sounds kooky but it makes a point. Read More:–salutin-canada-says-ready-aye-ready-at-the-una

---Long under Ottoman rule, then British control after World War I, the Palestinians were an oppressed and relatively powerless people. Palestinians also had the misfortune of living on land claimed by a predominantly European political movement: Zionism. Historically, Ottawa has sided with colonial powers and opposed national liberation struggles. Canada opposed calls for the withdrawal of Dutch troops from Indonesia in the late 1940s. For decades Canada supported British colonialism in Africa while throughout the late 1950s it sided with France against the Algerian liberation movement. Into the 1970s, Ottawa backed Portugal as it waged a colonial war against the people of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. It took decades of struggle within Canada — and a shift in the international climate — for Ottawa to withdraw its backing for the apartheid regime in South Africa. Considering this history, it’s not surprising that Ottawa opposes the Palestinian national liberation struggle. To focus on the Jewish lobby is to downplay Canada’s broader pro-colonial, pro-empire foreign policy. It is a mistake to view Ottawa’s support for Israel in isolation.--- Read More:


The racial and ethnic divisions are the most interesting part of Taylor’s study. In fact, the establishment and subsequent treatment of identity is one of the main differences between republican and imperial state-building. Early in the days of the republic, there was a strong, nationalist need to strictly define who was in and who was out, and much of today’s criticism of the early political system stems from its failure to incorporate all identities under a democratic embrace of difference. By contrast, Taylor points out that “[m]anaging ethnic divisions was the essence of empire,” and the British used sympathies of habitants, Frenchmen leftover in British North America from the Seven Years War, and Native allegiances, especially, to manipulate anti-American sentiment and control those Britons who might feel that the grass was greener on the republican side….

---In his oft-quoted “Conclusion” to the LiteraryHistory of Canada, Frye likens Canadian history to Jewish history directly before launching into his well-established theory of the “garrison mentality.” Frye describes the Canadian imagination as consisting of “small and isolated communities surrounded with a physical or psychological ‘frontier’...such communities are bound to develop what we may provisionally call a garrison mentality.”10 It involves persistently taking a defensive stance against the world’s larger influences—an image of helpless Canadians huddled together besieged by the vast nothingness of the wilderness on one side and the aggressive capitalism of America on the other comes to mind—as well as being preoccupied with asserting social and moral values. Read More: image:

…None of this is to suggest an idealist sense of British identity politics. The most cited cause of the war was British impressment of sailors into their Navy, under the justification that, as Taylor puts it:

Britain’s rulers insisted that no one born a subject could renounce that identity and its duties. Allegiance began at birth and ended only in death. No emigration, not even a legal process of naturalization, could alienate a subject. Throughout life, the ‘natural-born subject’ remained obligated to serve the king in time of war. And the subject became a traitor if he fought against the sovereign of the kingdom of his birth….

…The weight given to race by the Americans was perplexing to the British, who derided the class of the Irish. Because “Republicans defended liberty for white men by restraining national power, while Britons nurtured imperial power by constraining liberty particularly for sailors,” the two sides clashed over the ways in which they viewed the white man’s body and the value of their respective citizens and subjects.

Meanwhile, once the fighting began in earnest, the British called upon the loyalties of the Native Americans, Shawnee and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois/Six Nations) to help them against the invading Americans in Upper Canada. This tactic was especially useful against Americans who were utterly terrified of the warriors. “Conditioned by childhood stories, soldiers expected the worst whenever they heard, saw, or imagined Indians,” and several battles and skirmishes were easily bungled by American terror….

---George Cruikshank. 1819.---Read More:

…In our historical memory, Taylor criticizes the narratives that cast “the Americans fighting the British as distinct nations … the patriotic historians obscured the civil war waged for the future of the empire and of the continent, a civil war that had divided Americans, Indians, and the Irish during a lingering age of revolution.” From the exhaustively researched evidence he presents, Taylor’s argument is most convincing; however, it is exactly the lingering revolutionary age and the racial politics of the later nineteenth century that prevent our understanding of multiple civil wars in American history…. ( Ivan Lett ) Read More:

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