Last week there was a fundamental shift in the world’s international order. I’m not talking about Colombia’s air strike against FARC rebels in Ecuador. Nor am I referring to Saudi Arabia being stood up by the Arab council, or the turmoil in Israel.
All that stuff is to be expected. No, this shift stems from a memo that our sissy neighbor to the north, Canada, has never received. For those who missed it, in the Democratic debate before last week’s primaries Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both promised to reconsider NAFTA. Shortly thereafter, someone from the Canadian consul’s office met with Obama economic advisor (and GSB professor) Austan Goolsbee.
During the meeting, Goolsbee pointed out that the policy response might not be as drastic as the rhetoric on NAFTA. The consulate wrote up a memo that ended up in the hands of Canada’s prime minister and his chief of staff Ian Brodie. Brodie then leaked the memo to Canadian public television.
Brodie has clearly forgotten how things work: NAFTA is a privilege Canada enjoys. He should just be happy that we even bother to trade with them—it’s not as if Canada actually makes anything we care about. Honestly Canada can keep Labatt Blue and Rick Moranis. Little Giants aside, I’m pretty sure we’d all survive. When the U.S. wants to renegotiate a trade deal, Canada would be best off taking whatever we offer.
But it’s one thing for the little ones to get antsy. It’s another when they hit us where it hurts. Brodie could have accurately said that both Clinton and Obama have done double turns on NAFTA. He could have even cited unnamed Obama advisors, but they had to single out the golden boy of empirically based policy.
Thankfully, Obama and Goolsbee understand that a message needs to be sent. If we don’t make an example out of Canada, they’ll only continue to step up their demands. (As the saying goes, you give an inch, they take Minnesota). Worse still, other nations will follow suit—perhaps Serbia will take on Ben Bernanke, or China will poke fun at Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That is not a world I want to live in.
This is about more than just the United States. This is also about the U of C. No one comes into our house and knocks us around. When foreign nations attack our faculty, the University must respond. The Kalven Report might discourage this sort of armed combat, but this is just the sort of extreme situation that Kalven allowed an exception for.
Five years ago President Bush gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq. All the while, our northern neighbor has slipped further and further into the raging depths of fanaticism—sanctions and apologies are meaningless to monsters like Brodie. President Zimmer and Professor Goolsbee need to follow this brave example. Give Brodie and the Tory party 48 hours to leave Canada. It is the only way to peacefully settle this conflict.
Alec Brandon is a fourth-year in the College majoring in economics.