Lisa Jackson, President Obama’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) quit her post abruptly this past week. Environmentalists in the capital are reporting that her departure from one of Washington D.C.’s most vilified posts is in protest of the State Department’s impending approval of the transcontinental pipeline plan, Keystone XL. The pipeline is slated to increase oil transport capacity in the Hardisty, Alberta/Cushing, and Oklahoma corridor by nearly 900,000 barrels of oil per day. Regardless of who succeeds her as Washington’s green czar, Canadians and Americans alike can expect to see more of the policies that so trouble us today.
The policies emanating out of the EPA and the White House that should worry us all were displayed most forcefully last year during the State Departments review of the Keystone XL application. At that time the EPA under Lisa Jackson’s tenure sent a letter to the State Department underlining its worries with regard to the State Department’s lax analysis of Keystone XL. That letter contained the seeds of a Democratic doctrine at odds with the party’s traditional philosophy. As habitual moral relativists, the Democrats like to avoid judging and intervening in the affairs of foreign nations and like to accuse Republicans of overstretching the legitimacy of America’s international hegemony.
The passages that will most worry internationalists of the ‘non-interference’ persuasion are the ones pertaining to Green House Gas emissions. Somehow, the EPA believes that it can block trade with Canada on the basis that our products are environmentally harmful. Notwithstanding the fact that the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) prohibits interference in energy products trading, for a country that hasn’t taken the Kyoto protocol pledge to block trade for environmental reasons, the hypocrisy may seem a little rich for Canadians’ humble tastes. Likewise, for America’s State Department to vehemently protest the European Union’s attempt to bring foreign airlines under the umbrella of their GHG emissions taxing scheme, to turn around and attempt against Canada what it has decried elsewhere is perfidious to say the least.
What does it all mean? It means that America believes it has a right to look into the affairs of other nations, emit a judgment of values and presumptuously take corrective action for the sake of the ‘lost sheep’ country it demeans. And this despite its signatures on treaties committing it to do the opposite and its complaints about other jurisdictions attempting such self-righteous actions themselves.
Most people outside the US recognize that America is in a unique position of international clout that has infected it with a rather strong case of navel gazing. Far be it from us to try and correct this defect, since Obama and his socialist-leaning ilk are doing a great job of curbing it themselves by ruining America’s finances and economy. However for America’s own sake let’s counsel another course of action less detrimental to its own interest.
Leaving aside the economics of the decision, there remains the question of precedent. Do American Democrats really believe that in one fell swoop America can renege on its international treaties, question free-trade, disregard national sovereignty and not have foreign nations reply with reciprocal action? The answer seems to be yes for both Democrats and Republicans. What is more shocking is not that such actions are advocated in the halls of Congress, where demagogy is a lifestyle, but rather that the highest bureaucrats in the land who are supposedly advised by international relations experts, can officialize such discourse. That Senator (D-Mass) Kerry and vice president Biden are publicized as international relations buffs by the political apparatus of the Democratic Party while upholding some of the above mentioned views is a baffling indictment of that party’s depthless international expertise.
The unprincipled behaviour of America’s top bureaucrats is a stain on its image as the standard bearer of multilateralism and mutual respect between nations. If America does not want Canada to partake in the campaign for an energy independent North America so be it. We may all be poorer for it, but we must live with the mistakes of our elected (and unelected) leaders. Canada has already made it clear it will find other trading partners if America remains stubbornly disdainful of the goods Canadians have to offer it. China, India and many other growing nations will not flinch before our environmental record when choosing to alleviate poverty at home by partnering with respectful trading nations such as Australia, Canada and the like.
As a final note to remind Americans of their general lack of consideration (not that we or anybody really cares about that sort of thing anymore), Canada is America’s largest trading partner. It is the number one destination for American exports and one of America’s larger and one of its least scary investors. Let’s face it: who do you want financing your deficits; cuddly and polite Canadians or the secretive and incomprehensible Chinese politburo? So for an American President who believes in doubling exports, in what was it… 5 years, in order to return his middle class to the glory of bygone industrial days, to basically show his most valued trading partner the middle finger (and also doing it to absolutely every other trading partner, on an even more regular basis) is just startlingly unbecoming of the leader of the free world.