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Navigating a New World:
Does Canada need a big army to have an impact in the world? Does political power really grow from the barrel of a gun, as Mao once said? Not according to former Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy. In Navigating a New World, the long-time Winnipeg MP makes the case for what he calls "soft power" and a foreign policy based on human security, rather than tanks and bombs. He is also blunt in his appraisal of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. Since the events of September 11, Axworthy writes, Bush has followed a "radical security doctrine that prescribes the use of U.S. military supremacy to establish the U.S.'s unchallenged right to determine the character and shape of the world--what might be called imperial ambitions." In the name of fighting terrorism, Axworthy argues, the U.S. has hailed repressive governments as "loyal allies" and overlooked their human-rights records. "All one has to do is join the anti-terrorist parade and all sins are forgiven," he says.
Axworthy's book chronicles his efforts to create a global "soft power" movement during his term as Canada's foreign minister from 1996 to 2000 and since becoming director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia. He defines soft power as a "revolutionary" mix of foreign aid, multilateral diplomacy, and simple persuasion to achieve change in war-torn areas like Uganda and Afghanistan. Axworthy devotes much of his book to vivid behind-the-scenes accounts of his efforts pursuing this agenda, including his work on the 1999 land-mine treaty and the International Criminal Court. Axworthy isn't entirely impartial; this is, after all, a memoir. He ignores some key controversies from his watch, like Canada's nuclear assistance to China's repressive regime and Ottawa's efforts to undermine UN protections for indigenous peoples. Nonetheless, Axworthy's book is a good read for anyone interested in an insider's critical view of some of the key flashpoints and ongoing crises of the post-Cold War world. --Alex Roslin [via]