News Item 151

12-Nov-11 - Forgotten Partnership Redux: Canada-U.S. Relations in the 21st Century––the book which revisits Charles Doran's landmark book in a contemporary setting––is now available! Watch the interview

Forgotten Partnership Redux: Canada-U.S. Relations in the 21st Century––the book which revisits Dr. Charles Doran's landmark book in a contemporary setting––has just been published! Dr. Doran's arguments still hold true today and he continues to be a leading expert who is heavily consulted in the area.

Watch the interview with one of the volume’s editors, Dr. Christopher Sands of the Hudson Institute, about this much-anticipated book that he and Professor Greg Anderson of the University of Alberta painstakingly put together.

*Both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Sands will be at the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States (ACSUS) meeting in Ottawa (Nov 16–20, 2011) with galley copies!

A transcript of this interview follows:

Question: Why did you decide to undertake this book?

Answer: Forgotten Partnership Redux: Canada-U.S. Relations in the 21st Century is an edited volume that brings together the leading scholars of U.S.-Canadian relations to honor a book that first appeared 25 years ago and warrants a second look.

We had both studied under Charles Doran and were admirers of his masterwork on U.S.-Canadian relations, Forgotten Partnership: U.S.-Canada Relations Today. It is an absolute classic, combining fairly sophisticated international relations theory with historical and cultural insights on this unique relationship.

Through an accident of history, we believed that the book really had not received the kind of attention it deserved from the scholarly community and was not being read as it should by students of international relations today.

Forgotten Partnership was published in 1984, following a period of real and unprecedented tension between the United States and Canada. Canada had adopted sharp, economic nationalist polices that threatened U.S. investments there, particularly in Alberta’s oil sands; a foreign policy that was often antagonistic to Washington during the height of the Cold War––including an infamous “nuclear peace tour” by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; and a series of trade disputes had emerged due to Canadian cultural protectionism of films, magazines, and border broadcasting. Charles Doran at Johns Hopkins was one of the leading experts in the United States on the U.S.-Canadian relationship––and he still is by the way––and so his book was an important one for policymakers as well as for scholars trying to understand the tensions roiling the relationship.

However, a few months after Forgotten Partnership was published, Canadians elected a new Conservative government headed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The Mulroney government scrapped economic nationalist policies and encouraged U.S. investment again; Canadian foreign policy became staunchly pro-American in the twilight years of the Cold War that ended with the collapse of Soviet tyranny; and the two countries negotiated a free trade agreement that led to another trade agreement, NAFTA, which changed the tone of U.S.-Canadian relations completely.

Many people then promptly forgot Forgotten Partnership . We believe that the policy insights and theoretical modeling in the book are relevant and valuable today, in the twenty-first century.

Question: What do you hope your readers take away from your book?

Answer: This is a book that scholars and policymakers will come back to again and again because of the range of strong, insightful essays by authors who are in their own right among the very top rank of scholars in North America.

Doran’s original book considered three aspects of the relationship: the political-strategic dimension, the trade-commercial dimension, and the psycho-cultural. Authors from the United States, Canada, and Mexico tackle the contemporary and future importance of Doran’s ideas and show that his approach is still capable of explaining significant tensions in the relationship. Just as important, several authors look at Doran’s approach in fresh new ways, considering for example whether it can be used to explain U.S. relations with Mexico or Quebec.

Question: What other research do you believe is needed on this topic?

Answer: There will always be a need for research and study on the U.S.-Canadian relationship, of course, but for too long in my view this unique bilateral partnership has been overlooked by scholars of U.S. foreign policy and international relations––or dismissed––because it is considered different to the point of uniqueness. Some contend that Canada is a subordinate appendage of the United States politically, economically and even culturally and so the dynamics of partnership are a fiction.

We believe that is just plain wrong. Canada has shaped its relationship with the United States around the principal of mutual respect for the other’s sovereignty and convinced Washington, DC to concede things that no other country has been able to obtain. The United States, for all its strength, does not get its way in all things where Canada is concerned.

And that was the source of the tensions that culminated in 1984 and Doran’s book: Canada had adopted a series of policies that offended U.S. interests and upset many Americans. People suddenly noticed Canada and looked at this relationship in a new way. Since then, the United States has basked in unipolar moments and declared itself the indispensible nation, and of course faced the shock of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Washington has adopted economic nationalist policies as part of the stimulus and groups have tried to block the construction of pipelines and powerlines to connect U.S. consumers with Canadian energy; Canada joined the NATO missions in Afghanistan and Libya, but opted not to participate in the liberation of Iraq and many Canadians are avowed skeptics of the fight against terrorism, particularly the U.S. conduct of the fight; border security and conflicting regulations are undermining continental economic integration, and with it, U.S. competitiveness; despite shared concerns, neither country has been willing to adopt a joint approach to climate change.

This book makes clear that for those who would understand these contemporary issues, Charles Doran’s work remains essential and vital and the U.S.-Canadian partnership is worth remembering anew.

Watch an interview with Dr. Charles Doran on C-SPAN, which was conducted around the time of Forgotten Partnership