September 09, 2003
Bully and Bullied

I posted the following comment on this thread over at Vive le Canada, and thought it was worth recording here.


My understanding of how things work is this: the US gets Canada to agree to bad deals, and then makes them worse. They can do this, because they have a lot of power, and Canadians haven't been strong enough to collectively realize what's good for them. (This is largely possible due to the amount of obfuscation and confusion spread by the media, but I digress.)

Canada, having been screwed over, turns around and makes life even worse for developing countries by slapping big tariffs on everything they make. In fact, the only thing that developing countries can even consider selling in Canada is straight-from-the-source natural resources. The more processing is done in the developing country, the more the Canadian tariffs increase. I.e. they can just barely sell us peanuts, but if they try selling us peanut butter, the tariffs make it impossible to compete with Canadian and American producers. All the other industrialized countries do this too, but Canada is among the worst.

It's like some kind of sick hierarchy. We get pushed around by the bully, so we turn around and (through the IMF, WB, WTO) bully all the little kids.

If we had any sense (of justice), we'd get all the poor countries together and fight the US to a standstill. (Actually, it's not the US, so much as the corporations that *mostly* come from the US--the forces of global capitalism.) But such a fight would be hugely draining, and would require major solidarity, tireless organization, and unbreakable resolve.

Those are (currently) not politically feasible activities on a governmental scale. As soon as it was clear that Canada was going to fight, all kinds of foreign capital would pick up and leave, making things bad, real bad, and a government willing to placate the US would be instantly elected, to patch things up.

But there still remains a basic injustice in our "don't pick a fight unless you can win soundly" approach. When the US infringes on our sovereignty, the proper reaction is not to plunder wealth from countries that are even weaker, but to fight that original infringement with whatever means are available.

That much is obvious, until you start a political career based on that premise. Funding? Nope. Media coverage? Sorry.

So it's an uphill battle, but I can't see that that's any reason not to fight it.

posted by dru in canada