On Tuesday I was speaking on the radio by telephone with my friend Evan Solomon in Ottawa (where he has been since his shabby treatment by the moronocracy that “manages” the CBC). We were speaking of the American cruise missile attack on Syria, of possible scenarios in the Middle East and in U.S.-Russian relations. Evan referred to some comments Justin Trudeau had made about Syria, which were unexceptionable, and asked me what I thought the effect of them would be. Unfortunately, I said, they will have no effect, not because there was anything wrong with what the Prime Minister said, but because Canada has no influence whatever in the world. It is unique in this condition among G7 countries, because it has a monstrously inadequate defence capability and takes no serious initiatives in the Western alliance or in international organizations.
Canadians seem to imagine that influence can be had in distant corners of the world just by being virtuous and altruistic and disinterested. That is not how international relations work. The powers that have the money and the applicable military strength have the influence, although those elements may be reinforced if a country or its leader is able to espouse a noble or popular cause with great persuasiveness. This last was the case in the Second World War, where Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle and Adolf Hitler were all, in their different ways, inspiring public speakers who could whip up the enthusiasm of their peoples. Churchill and Roosevelt stirred the masses of the whole world who loved and sought freedom. There are no world leaders now with any appreciable ability to stir world opinion, and influence in different theatres is measured exclusively in military and economic strength, unless there is a colossal moral imbalance between contending parties. Even where such a moral imbalance exists, as in the contest between civilized and terrorism-supporting countries, the advantage is not easily asserted.