Transition Canada: The US/Canada Relationship

The Baby Boomer generation is now at an age when one’s interest in things like economics and politics naturally rises. There is a greater understanding of the personal implications of things like stock markets, trade agreements and political parties. Younger generations, for example “Generation Y” also known as “Millennials”, referring to those born after 1985, simply have not had time to learn these things in any but a second hand way.

To those readers, I wish to point out a few key facts about what we can expect to see with regard to the U.S. as Peak Oil and Global Warming proceed.

The fact that Canada is seldom mentioned in the US news should not be mistaken for the fact that we are not important to them, as I hope the two charts below make clear. We are only seldom in their news simply because we don’t make trouble, however there is no relationship they or we have that is more important.

The chart below shows the top ten US trading partners. Source: US 2009 Census

and here is another reason Canada is important to the US.

The relationship is of course mutual so as climate change puts pressure on the US supplies of things like water and electricity, they will increase the pressure on Canada for those resources and we will comply.

Further, consider in the above charts; when oil becomes too expensive to spend on shipping containers across the oceans, who drops out of the picture? The attention of the US is going to turn in a major way to Mexico and Canada.

Why will we comply? Because of something called the US National Interest and the application of the Four Instruments Of Power*. What is “in the US National interest” can be stated very simply as “unrestricted access to raw materials”. Canada, and its arctic prize, will be drawn within the arms of a US National Security perimeter to ensure that access. Our borders will become their borders.

How they accomplish such maneuvers is to start with the first of the four instruments of power, diplomacy. Only when diplomacy fails are the other three applied, in an escalating process – economics, intelligence and technology, and finally military power. This is nothing new, in fact it is the oldest game in the world. Consider a deck of cards: hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs – the symbols of the four instruments of power as played out in the context of medieval kingdoms.

The US will never have to resort to the fourth instrument with us because they are underneath our clothes all over the place with the first three. And like I said, the relationship is mutual. Feel free to decide if you think all this is good or bad. Just don’t be surprised by it when it happens.

*For a more detailed study of US National Security doctrine I recommend Appendix I – Guidelines for Strategy of the U.S. Army War College Guide to Strategy  which you can find at
Appendix I – Guidelines for Strategy provides a good summary.

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