In 1776 a new nation was born in the western world. The Declaration of Independence birthed the United States of America. The same forefathers that drafted the declaration, including George Washington, all took part in establishing a new form of foreign policy, known as unilateralism. (Encyclopedia. com, 2008) In its infancy, unilateralism in the United States, then referred to as “isolationism”, focused on one guiding principle that is still followed today: never agree to a policy that benefits another nation more than it benefits yours.
Now, while it seems that this is what every country should do, nothing could be further from the truth. Every nation, at some point in its history has made agreements that they knew would benefit their partners more than themselves, this is compromise. However, there is one nation that makes a valiant and concerted effort to never end up on the losing end of a deal, to never give another nation a break, to never compromise. This nation is the United States of America. The choice of the United States to turn its back to the world has greatly impacted many nations for the worse.
Unilateralism in the United States is a policy that has adversely impacted Canada. The negative effects can be seen through the constant border security issues, the horrible military and economic allegiance Canada now has to the United States, and the blatant disregard by the United States of international agreements and organizations. The first example of how unilateralist ideology in the United States has harmed Canada is seen in the constant issues both nations have on border security and boundaries. Ever since its conception as a nation the United States has been on the hunt to dominate Canadians north of their border.
These issues began even before Canada was a nation. After gaining its independence the United States almost instantaneously began challenging the borderlines that divide Canada and the United States. More specifically, areas in the Canadian province of New Brunswick and the American state of Maine were faced with heated conflict. At times the United States, showing their unilateralist and expansionary greed, even attacked New Brunswick with their military. While none of these battles were large in size, the unnecessary loss of Canadian life will always be fundamentally wrong and will always harm Canada.
The lives lost in these battles and skirmishes were unnecessary because there was no change in the boundaries. Throughout these early stages Canadians consistently offered handfuls of fair border treaties and arrangements that benefitted both nations. The United States struck down almost all of them, proposing new, extremely one-sided treaties that would drastically harm Canada. Another area of the Canadian-American border that has caused conflict is the American state of Alaska. Originally, Alaska was Russian territory.
However, in 1859 Russia decided it was in their best interests to put Alaska up for sale. Britain, who was in control of Canada at that time, actively pursued the purchase of Alaska from the Russians. It looked as though Alaska was going to become Canadian territory; Britain was providing Russia with viable offers that made sense for Russia. The deal between Russia and Britain was doomed from the start however, because America would not quit until Alaska was theirs. They convinced Russia that the biggest threat to them, not only in Europe, but globally was Britain.
Russia then refused to sell Alaska to Britain. America would eventually purchase Alaska from Russia in 1867, two years after the conclusion of the American Civil War, for 7. 2 million dollars. This purchase has harmed Canada greatly. Alaska has proven to be a territory rich in natural resources, mainly gold. The acquisition of these resources by the Americans obviously substantially increased their wealth and of course would give them even more financial superiority over Canada. Moreover, the territory belonging to the United States makes little geographical sense.
Alaska is attached to Canada’s Yukon Territory and for any American to travel to or from Alaska and the mainland; they would have to travel through Canadian territory, be it by land, sea, or air. This has caused a headache for Canada, as they pretty much have to provide America with easy passage to and from Alaska. The geographic location of Alaska also provided the United States with significant opportunities to expand their dominance and military campaigns in the Asia-Pacific region. These opportunities could have been Canada’s.
Even today, Canada continues to struggle with the United States on the issue of border security. In the 21st century Canada has agreed to many policies and treaties, put forth by the Bush and Obama administrations in the United States, that adversely impact Canada’s economy, and basic privacy rights. Examples of this are the amendments that former President of the United States George W. Bush implemented in American law that provided American border patrol agents with more freedoms to operate how they please. Many analysts feel the American border agents now have for too much power.
These mendments allow American agents to seize, read, and even make copies of the documents of those entering the United States through Canada. This means that Canadians now must worry that American border agents will copy their private documents, like their birth certificate or passport for example, that are supposed to be kept between the individual and the Canadian government. The seizure and reproduction of these documents seriously violates both Canadian and American constitutional law. This action would actually violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.
The fourth amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. ” (The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, 1789) This means that the United States protects its citizens against the unreasonable seizure of documents, especially without a warrant.
It is important to note that the Canadian border agents do not have the same power over Americans entering Canada. As a matter of fact, action of this nature by Canada would most likely be consider an act of war by the United States, who would see it for what it is, espionage. Unfortunately, much of the same unilateralist policies have been enacted under the Obama administration. Current President Barack Obama has worked with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the “Beyond the Border” initiative, which was announced and put in place on December 7th, 2011.
This policy gives the United States even more Canadian information and more freedom to operate in Canada. The Beyond the Border policy gives the American government more access to information, such as sensitive documents, on Canadian citizens. It also allows them to “ramp up security” meaning that American law enforcement agencies, such the CIA and the FBI, will now be allowed to increase the number of operatives and operations inside Canada. Furthermore, the United States will also increase the number unmanned “drone” helicopter fighter along the border, providing them with aerial dominance over the area.
Again, it is important to note that these luxuries will not be given to Canadian agents. The constant border issues however, are not the only problems that Canada faces at the hands of America’s unilateralism. Another issue that Canada must deal with is the now well-established military and economic allegiance they have to the United States. A good example of this allegiance is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, commonly known as NATO. NATO was established in 1949 by the United States.
It started out as just a political alliance between some of the world’s most elite democratic nations such as: Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and more. However, when the Cold War began, America began ramping up their involvement in NATO, essentially taking complete control over it. NATO then became a front against communism, seen as a response to the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact. This dragged all the NATO countries into this battle solely because “America said so. ” The Cold War was a time of extreme animosity and fear.
Canadians were forced to live in fear of nuclear annihilation every day throughout the mid 20th century because the United States declared that all of NATO was against Russia and communist ideology. The North Atlantic Treaty states that all nations are obligated to provide aid to another NATO country if they are attacked. This means that Canada would have been obligated to go to war with the Soviet Union if they had actually attacked America. Moreover, any mistakes that the United States makes worldwide, also reflects on Canada through NATO.
Economically, Canada is once again crippled by the “Beyond the Border” agreement announced under the Obama administration. While the aforementioned privacy issues with the Beyond the Border agreement are a serious danger to Canada, perhaps even more dangerous are the economic principles in this agreement. The “Beyond the Border” agreement removes many of the regulations Canada has with the United States. However, there are no such regulation reforms on the American side of the agreement, again no compromise is made. This agreement grants the Americans much more freedom while operating business in Canada.
An example of these freedoms is in the removal of safety regulations placed on products in Canada. Many safety codes no longer apply to goods being sold in American owned businesses. This is an extreme danger to Canadian entrepreneurship and the overall economy. With more freedoms to operate, American businesses are at an advantage against Canadian businesses. Furthermore, it is ridiculous to suggest that a product come from the United States is safe, when the same product coming from Canada is not.
This is a danger to Canada. What if it’s a children’s toy that comes cross the border into Canada, dodging safety protocols? What if this toy was, in fact, a danger to children? This kind of scenario is unacceptable, as it threatens the lives of all Canadians. Another serious economic issue Canada has with the unilateralist policies of the United States comes from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA was enacted in 1994 under the Clinton administration. The goal of this agreement was to free trade among Canada, the United States, and Mexico by removing many of the duties on different classes of goods. This free trade benefits the United States far more than Canada.
America has substantially more wealth than Canada. This wealth gives the United States the power to invest more money in the markets than Canada ever could, giving America the opportunity to dominate Canadian markets. Furthermore, the United States now has access to Canadian oil, timber, beef and more duty-free. Canadians have lost jobs because of this. Between 1994 and 2001, 398,837 jobs were lost in Canada. Moreover, these rising freedoms for American companies means more pollution of the waters in Canada by the Americans, who practice now perfectly legal dumping practices.
Along with the United States’ unilateralist domination of Canada along the border, economically, and militarily, comes their blatant disregard for international agreements and organizations. One of the agreements that provides an excellent example of the unilateralist ideology in the United States is the handling of the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is an effort by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce the overall levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the world’s nations.
However, for the United States of America reducing emissions also means reducing profits. To this date 191 nations have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, yet the United States has not. The choice by the United States to turn their back on Canada and the other nations involved in the Kyoto Protocol, gives them yet another unfair advantage over Canada. This is because the United States won’t have to obey the same environmental laws as Canada, and will be able to operate their businesses much more freely. Perhaps the biggest organization the United States defies is the United Nations.
The United Nations was established by America itself after World War Two. Its goal is to mediate discussions among nations across the world. The United State is one of the five nations that make up the United Nations’ Security Council, the most powerful nations in the organization. Despite its power within the United Nations and the fact that they established it, the United States constantly defies the orders of the United Nations. An example of this was their issues with the China policies in 1971. Their defiance would increase further when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
The fall of the Soviets left the United State alone as the world sole super-power. This egotistical realization let to conflict with the United Nations. The biggest example of this defiance in recent history is the Iraq War, which lasted from 2003 to 2011. The United Nations declared that America did not have just cause to declare war on Iraq. Nevertheless, the United States decided to go to war, making the war illegal. On top of this defiance they even threatened Canada in attempts to get them to join the war in Iraq.
This time Canada stood up to America and refused to join the war. From the start of Operation Freedom on March 19, 2003 to August 31, 2010 the United States suffered 4,421 fatalities in Iraq. Canada avoided similar losses by avoiding the greedy, unilateralist quest for war by the United States. Furthermore, the United States’ defiance of the United Nations humiliates the other nations, including Canada. In conclusion, the policy of unilateralism in the United States has had severe negative consequences here in Canada.
This can be seen through the Untied States defiance of international agreements and organizations, the dependence, both economically and militarily, of Canada on the United States, and the constant issue of border security. Unilateralism is not an acceptable practice. It is immoral and consistently makes a mockery of well-developed nation’s legal systems. In order for there to be more equality among the nations in the world, the policy of unilateralism in the United States of America must be abolished.