Don't talk about the neighbours: Canada and the regional politics of the Afghanistan mission

Nossal, Kim Richard
January 2011
Canadian Foreign Policy (CFP);2011, Vol. 17 Issue 1, p9
Academic Journal
Despite the importance of regional politics in the Afghanistan conflict, Canadian policy-makers have remained almost entirely silent about the crucial role that countries in the region have played in the conflict. Canadian political discourse about the Afghanistan mission has been almost exclusively fixed on what is happening within Afghanistan itself, as though the games that state and non-state actors in Afghanistan's neighbourhood - particularly Pakistan, India, Iran, and Saudi Arabia - were playing had no bearing on the mission. This essay seeks to explain why Canadians have been so hesitant to talk about the neighbours when they talk about the Afghanistan mission. I conclude that Canadians do not talk about the neighbours because they have gotten out of the habit of thinking of the world in the grim terms of Realpolitik; instead Idealpolitik is the predominant idea in the discourse of Canadian foreign policy.


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