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Title: Canada's role in international relations: through a triangular lens
Author: Silver, Lara C. A.
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2011
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This dissertation seeks to contribute to the academic debate over the historical authenticity of the 'triangle' among Canada, Britain and the United States, as depicted by historian J. B. Brebner in his book, North Atlantic Triangle, published in 1945. Historians have since challenged the suitability of the 'triangle' metaphor, and have queried whether a 'triangle' actually existed at some points in history. David Haglund, the only political scientist that has ventured around the topic, defined the 'triangle' as a "cognitive reality" for Canadian policymakers from Confederation to the Cold War, and possibly beyond, in his book North Atlantic Triangle Revisited, publ ished in 2000; but the definition has not been validated by any study. This study seeks to address whether the 'triangle' was a 'cognitive reality', thereby seeking to get inside the minds of Canadian policymakers and view the world as they saw it. Drawing upon a Constructivist understan ding of international relations in which policymakers are believed to view the world through a lens of their making, the study gives ontological importance to their language uttered, to draw inferences in how they viewed the world, and Canada's position within it. Metaphors were frequently uttered by policymakers in describing Canada's role in the world as a "link", "bond", "linchpin", "interpreter", "bridge" or "helpful fixer" between the United States and Britain. As units of language, metaphors are not only constitutive but also causal in creating social reality so that the ·policymaker sees the world as it has been described. The metaphors are believed to provide policymakers with an action orientation, and the role conceptions, in tum, become self·fu lfil ling prophecies. In Foreign Policy Analysis, this study can be regarded as an attempt to get inside the 'black box' of the decision-making process, and draws upon the Poli heuristic Theory of foreign policy decision-making in which policymakers are understood to rely upon heuristics (cognitive shortcuts, for example metaphors) to narrow down the menu of policy options, before using a rational process of selecting the option that best maximizes gains. Discourse Analysis as a methodology accommodates_ the study's interest in examining language uttered in its historical context. Prime Ministers John A. Macdonald, Robert Borden, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent I lester Pearson, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau are examined, and it is inferred that they each saw the world through a 'triangular' lens, except Trudeau, who conscientiously made an effort to abandon old metaphors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available