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TRENDS IN AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY FRANK H. UNDERHILL A Canadian needs to live for a while in the United States before the full meaning of the Declaration of Independence dawns upon him. It is with somewhat of a shock that he discovers how deep-seated is American nationalism and how widely it differs from the colonialism amidst which he has grown ,up in Canada. He listens to Americans talking amongst themselves about their national interests and policies, and he finds himself very often taking offence at their habit of treating Englishmen as foreigners. They assume as a matter of course that .Britain is a great power with a particular body of interests of her own and that the United States is another power with distinct interests of her own. And a Canadian listening to them realizes that) however much of a Canadian nationalist he may have thought himself at home, he has never quite been able to regard Britain as an outsider in this detached impersonal way. Particular Americans may be violently antiBritish , but the general American attitude towards Britain is one neither of animosity nor of affection. It is simply that of one )ndependent people to another. What the Canadian misses is the filial piety which is so much a part of his own attitude that he had not been quite aware of it until he lived amongst neighbours.· It took us in .Canada one hundred years to write our Canadian declaration of independence-from Lord Durham's Report to the Statute of Westminster. And, because of this fact, independence has not had the same effect upon our national consciousness as it has had upon the consciousness of the Americans. A critic might say that we achieved our Independence in a long _fit of absence of m1nd. We still look out on the world through British spectacles. We are independent of but not separate from Great Britain. The Americans are both independent and separate. This difference makes for a persistent misunderstanding ·in Canada of the American attitude towards the world at large. We are fond of picturing our great neighbour as going through a slow, awkward and painful transition from isolation to internationalism.· Of course there is considerable truth in this picture. But we tend · to misinterpret the nature of both the isolationism and the internationalism . For isolation with us was apt to mean a state of 286 TRENDS IN AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY: 287 colonial tranquillity in which Britain sheltered us from the hard impact of world forces; and international activity has meant our taking part in world affairs in association with Britain and under British leadership. American policy in all its phases, whether isolationist, interventionist, internationalist or imperialist, has never in our time been affected .by this emotional attaclunent to another people. It has always been motivated by a simple wholehearted devotion to American interests. It has always been nationalist and is likely to remain so. Another discovery which a Canadian in the United States makes-though perhaps this is just saying the same thing over again: it all goes back to the Declaration of Independence-is the completely self-centred outlook of the Americans as a whole and their cheerful ignorance of the outer world. At first he is shocked by their ignorance of his own country, Canada, an ignorance which is accompanied by the most overwhelming good-will. He finds himself constantly reminding his hosts that good-will is not a satisfactory substitute for knowledge as a basis upon which to conduct Canadian-American relations in this new era when the destinies of the two countries have been so closely bound together. But he soon discovers that the Americans are blissfully unconscious not only of our Canadian problems but of the problems confronting all other peoples and of the points of view of other peoples on general world issues. This, in spite of the fact that their newspapers and periodicals supply theJil with the best news services available to any nation. They assume as a matter of course that their way of doing things is an accepted model for the world, and that the rest of the world will adjust itself to their demands without their...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 286-297
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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