What David Hasselhoff is to Germans, I am the opposite to Canadians. OK, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. But in the last week, yours truly has become one of the most reviled Americans north of the 49th Parallel. It's all because of a cover story for the current issue of National Review in which I argue for the strategic bombing of Canada.
Let me recap. Five decades ago, historian Frank Underhill wrote that the Canadian is "the first anti-American, the model anti-American, the archetypal anti-American, the ideal anti-American as he exists in the mind of God."
It's a rather famous quote among students of U.S.-Canada relations, and it's pretty much entirely wrong. The New Soviet Man or the French Intellectual: these are the "ideal" anti-Americans because they not only hated America but they offered an alternative to it (a dictatorship of the proletariat and a dictatorship of extremely clever cheese-makers, respectively).
Canadian anti-Americanism, meanwhile, is reflexive not reflective. It offers no alternatives, no positive vision. One angry e-mail I received summed it up: "The one great thing about Canada is that we're not America." Well, there are hundreds of countries that can put "not America" on their collective resumes.
This childish obsession with not seeming American has forced Canadians to cling to antiquated policies and ideas. Healthcare is the most famous example. In Canada, if you suggest even the most minor market fixes to the aging and money-hemorrhaging healthcare system, in all likelihood you will be accused of advocating -gasp!
-"Americanization." Waiting months for necessary surgeries or even MRIs is a worthwhile price to pay, if it means
not following in America's footsteps.
In fact, as David Gratzer, a noted Canadian reformer, has pointed out, Canada is well to the left of Sweden.
Sweden, which once was synonymous with socialism, has introduced market-based reforms that have reduced waiting times by up to 50 percent in some instances. If the Canadian reformers could just call it "Swedenization," they might be able to push through desperately needed changes.
But the biggest problem on the horizon for U.S.-Canada relations is the fact that Canada now looks to the United Nations as its moral guide. For much of their history, Canadians saw the British Empire as their parent (the country was founded by loyalists after all). This often meant they were on the right side of some issues well before the United States was. They entered both World Wars earlier than their American brothers, and they were unified in their opposition to slavery without needing to settle the issue with a bloody civil war.
But now, the Jean Chretien government as well as Canada's intellectual classes see the United Nations as the true moral authority. The examples are endless. After 9/11, Chretien all but declared that the United States deserved the attacks because it is too rich and arrogant.
Canada declared that Hezbollah was free to act on Canadian soil, but the Jewish equivalent of the Red Cross, Magen David Adom, had its tax-exempt status removed. Magen David Adom provides ambulances to the West Bank and Gaza.
Hezbollah makes those ambulances necessary. Around the same time that Canada gave Hezbollah the green light, it
threw a hissy fit over America's attempts to make sure that would-be terrorists don't cross the U.S. border.
The clearest signal that the Canadians have embraced UN-ology is their unilateral disarmament. The Canadian
military was once among the most formidable in the world. Today it is in danger of vanishing. Its navy is old, rusted and sinking. Its army is woefully underequipped and overworked. Its airforce is held together with wire hangers and Scotch tape. Canada, enthralled by the U.N., likes to say it is a "moral superpower" and a "nation of peacekeepers" not warriors. But among nations of the world, it ranks 37th and falling as a peacekeeper.
All of this matters because you cannot be a moral superpower -or even a persuasive voice -in world affairs if you are not willing to put your money where your mouth is. Moreover, despite what many Canadians may think, America has long seen her northern neighbor as a partner, not a vassal. But if Canada refuses to act like an ally, preferring to parrot anti-American insults from the floor of the U.N., the U.S. will do what's necessary without bothering to ask for Canada's opinion.
That's why I suggested -sarcastically -that we should bomb Canada. If we did, it might slap the Canadians back into coherence and force them to take their responsibilities seriously again.
The reaction from Canadians has been both surprising and predictable. Of the nearly 1,000 e-mails I've received, about a third of them are from Canucks on my side. They are ashamed of the false face projected by their government and media. It's heartwarming to hear, especially amid so many offers to slap me around. It's not the same as being the Canadian David Hasselhoff, but I'll take it.