Thursday, November 23, 2006


Via Left Turns? (and also my colleague Max Cameron), an interesting article on "democracy promotion," and specifically Canada's role supporting and providing an alibi for US "overt operations" in Latin America: "Canada's Contribution to 'Democracy Promotion'".

democracy cartoonWith a particular focus on FOCAL, the Canadian Foundation for the Americas, Anthony Fenton describes Canada's role as a National Endowment for Democracy "proxy" in "this new genre of political intervention into the affairs of the nations of the Global South."

The article is of special interest to me in part because (along with Max) the other day I met up with Carlo Dade, a former World Bank employee who is described here as "a FOCAL senior advisor" and "the main point person for FOCAL’s 'Canada and the Rebuilding of Haiti' program." Dade is quoted quite unabashedly arguing for Canada's proxy role in support of US policy objectives in Latin America:
The U.S. would welcome Canadian involvement and Canada’s taking the lead in Haiti. The administration in Washington has its hands more than full with Afghanistan, Iraq. . . This is a chance for Canada to step up and provide that sort of focused attention and leadership, and the administration would welcome this.
Dade was a nice enough guy to have a beer with, but it was indeed quickly apparent that his version of "democracy" was unashamedly tied to free markets and private sector interests.

Canada's role in these overt operations, to push a particular formula of social governance on Latin America, is legitimized by the linguistic slip that ties the country's self-image of itself as a "civil society" (in the sense of peaceable and polite) to the concept of civil society, or Hegel's "bürgerliche Gesellschaft" (bourgeois society), as a bulwark against authoritarian states and radical social movements alike.

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