As increased globalization forces countries to pretend that they like playing with all the other kids in the playground despite fearing they'll have their toys stolen, never has there been more blatant self-interest cloaked in the phony pretext of outreach or do-goodery. Nowadays, a country is expected to appear both broke and overtly generous -- otherwise, you're just a jerk.
Take Canada, for example. Canada used to be run by nanny-state leftists more concerned with looking like Boy Scouts to the rest of the world than with any kind of self-preserving action. Now, as it benefits from six years of conservative governance, it's loading up on military hardware in anticipation of Arctic resource protection. It has just expelled select Russian diplomats and charged a Canadian naval intelligence officer for allegedly peddling what were likely Arctic-strategy secrets. It's flashing its huge oil reserves to various international suitors as oil-extraction projects finally come to fruition.
All this makes Canada insufferable at a time when the nations of the world are supposed to be leaning over a common bathtub, slitting their wrists in unison. A French friend who had nothing but positive things to say about Canada a year ago said to me this week, "What has Canada done for the little kids in Africa? Canada only cares about itself!" A recent Slate magazine article asks if Canada is "becoming a jingoistic petro-state."
A "good" global citizen is apparently expected to go around in a crisis helping others with their oxygen masks at the risk of passing out and being of no use to anyone. It's expected to take in any and all newcomers, be driven by overwhelming emotion to give all its money away to dodgy foreign regimes, and bask in the prevailing global brotherhood forged by empty pockets.
So how can a country assuage the guilt of having its act together and not come across as some kind of weirdo who'd prefer to sit on the couch licking the Frito Lay sour cream dust off his fingers rather than socialize? Well, there are clubs for that, son! Pick a pandering preference -- anything from aboriginal rights to environmentalism -- to serve as the politically acceptable context for seeking to further enhance your bottom line. Just don't actually start believing what comes out of your own mouth about it, because then you'll end up broke -- the European Union being the gold standard of this.