H-Diplo Roundtable on Game Changer: The Impact of 9/11 on North American Security

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H-Diplo Roundtable Review


Volume XVI, No. 13 (2014)

22 December 2014


Roundtable Editors:  Thomas Maddux and Diane Labrosse

Roundtable and Web Production Editor:  George Fujii


Introduction by Geoffrey Hale


Jonathan Paquin and Patrick James, eds.  Game Changer:  The Impact of 9/11 on North American Security.  Vancouver:  University of British Columbia Press, 2014.  ISBN:  9780774827065 (hardcover, CDN$95.00, $99.00); 9780774827072 (CDN$34.95; $37.95).


URL:  http://www.tiny.cc/Roundtable-XVI-13 or http://h-diplo.org/roundtables/PDF/Roundtable-XVI-13.pdf


  • Introduction by Geoffrey Hale, University of Lethbridge. 2
  • Review by Petra Dolata, University of Calgary. 6
  • Review by Christopher Sands, Hudson Institute. 10
  • Review by Stéfanie von Hlatky, Queen’s University. 17
  • Author’s Response by Jonathan Paquin and Patrick James, University of Southern California. 20
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Introduction by Geoffrey Hale, University of Lethbridge


Game Changer is a collection of essays on the security and governance of North American integration since the 1990s edited by political scientists Jonathan Paquin and Patrick James.  Its four theoretical chapters provide a diverse cross-section of theoretical perspectives on continental security relations, addressing the extent and limits of security cooperation among the United States, Canada and Mexico. Six other chapters address various aspects of defense and security relations, reflecting broader tendencies for each national government to address its North American neighbors in bilateral, rather than trilateral, contexts. These tendencies, which reflect substantial differences in size, power, and national priorities between the three countries, have created persistent structural barriers to closer economic and political integration, notwithstanding the persistent efforts of some business groups and academics.


Paquin and James sum up these perspectives in their conclusion with characteristic understatement: “from a realist perspective … states have been promoting their own security, economic interests and relative power, and this has made coordination a difficult task” (251-52) However, in contrast to historic patterns identified by Brian Bow in The Politics of Linkage, they also suggest that varying degrees of ‘bandwagoning’ by Canada and Mexico to preserve access to U.S. markets after 9/11 in return for increased security investments have involved an implicit linkage in bilateral and trilateral security negotiations.[1]


Contributions to this volume overlap with those of several major works on North American security and governance issues over the past decade, including Andreas and Biersteker’s The Bordering of North America, Frank Harvey’s The Homeland Security Dilemma, and Stephen Clarkson’s Does North America Exist? as well as older seminal works on the multiple dimensions of U.S.-Canada relations and contributions from several younger scholars.[2] Many of the issues addressed in Game Changer provide updated perspectives on issues addressed in other recent works, notably Edward Alden’s The Closing of the American Border, Isidro Morales’ Post-NAFTA North America, and Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald’s North America in Question,[3] if more from foreign and security policy than political economy perspectives.


Our roundtable reviewers take somewhat different approaches to the volume. Christopher Sands, one of Washington’s leading observers of U.S.-Canada relations, provides a detailed, broadly affirmative set of chapter summaries. Security policy specialist Stéfanie von Hlatky notes that the editors have successfully integrated “multiple levels of … theoretical and empirical … analysis” of each country’s foreign and defense policies. However, she suggests that certain themes addressed in the book, notably the failures of the Security and Prosperity Partnership’s trilateral bureaucratic processes in 2005-08, are “of secondary importance,” even if they may have provided the Obama administration with an object lesson on how not to manage continental security, border, and regulatory policy cooperation. Petra Dolata, a German-trained historian of North America and  international  and energy relations, emphasizes the extent to which post-9/11 U.S. security policies have “trumped economics” – reflecting broader asymmetries in U.S. government relations with Mexico and Canada. She also draws attention to significant differences in emphasis between the book’s theoretical discussions of the Canada-U.S. foreign and security policy relations and chapters addressing Mexico’s relations with the United States and Canada.


A key difference between von Hlatky’s and Dolata’s assessments is over the extent to which post-9/11 security policies have indeed served as a “game changer” within North America. Von Hlatky suggests that post 9/11 security initiatives have “halted … trilateral momentum” towards regional integration. These observations are consistent with the late Robert Pastor’s lament on declining regional trade intensity and political cooperation in The North American Idea.[4] Dolata points to the extent to which some authors emphasize the relative continuity of certain aspects of cross-border relations within North America, not least continuing “tension(s) between national sovereignty and regional integration,” especially in discussions of Mexico’s place within North America, rather than emphasizing post-9/11 changes in the trajectory of continental integration.


Game Changer provides an informed and intellectually challenging set of perspectives from a cross-section of specialists in the foreign, security, and economic policies of the United States, Canada and Mexico. It is a useful contribution to ongoing discussions of the regional dimension of international relations within North America.




Jonathan Paquin is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre for International Security (CIS) at Université Laval in Quebec City. He is the author of A Stability-Seeking Power: US Foreign Policy and Secessionist Conflicts (McGill-Queen’s, 2010), and the co-editor (with Patrick James) of Game Changer: The Impact of 9/11 on North American Security, UBC Press, 2014. Paquin has written articles in multiple journals including Cooperation and Conflict, Foreign Policy Analysis, International Journal, the Canadian Journal of Political Science, and Canadian Foreign Policy. He received a Ph.D. in Political Science from McGill University in 2007 and he is currently a Canada-Fulbright visiting scholar and Resident Fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS, Johns Hopkins).


Patrick James received his Ph.D. in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. James is the Dornsife Dean’s Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California. James is the author or editor of 23 books and over 120 articles and book chapters. His most recent books include Canada and Conflict (Oxford, 2012); The International Relations of Middle-earth (Michigan, 2012); and co-editor with Jonathan Paquin of Game Changer:  The Impact of 9/11 on North American Security (2014).  One of his current projects focuses on the use of systems analysis to assess scientific progress in diverse fields of study within International Relations.


Geoffrey Hale (Ph.D. University of Western Ontario) is Professor of Political Science at the University of Lethbridge. Among numerous books and articles, Hale is author of So Near Yet So Far: The Public and Hidden Worlds of Canada-U.S. Relations (UBC Press, 2012), and co-editor (with Monica Gattinger) of Borders and Bridges: Canada’s Policy Relations in North America (Oxford, 2010).  He is currently revising a text on business and government in Canada¹s political economy, and coordinating the market flows component of a broader SSHRC-funded research project on borders and globalization.


Petra Dolata is Associate Professor (History of Energy) at the University of Calgary, Canada. She is an area specialist (North America) with a background in both International History and International Relations. Petra’s current research focuses on European and North American energy history after 1945 as well as the history and politics of the Canadian and circumpolar Arctic. She has published on Canada’s foreign and Arctic policies, transatlantic relations, and the concept of energy security.


Christopher Sands is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, where he directs the Hudson Initiative on North American Competitiveness. Concurrently, he holds appointments as the G. Robert Ross Distinguished Professor of Canada-U.S. Business and Economic Relations in the College of Business and Economic Relations at Western Washington University and as Professorial Lecturer in Canadian Studies in the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. From 1993 until 2012 he held several positions with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Sands earned a B.A. from Macalester College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. 


Stéfanie von Hlatky is an assistant professor of political studies at Queen’s University and the Director of the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP).  She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Université de Montréal in 2010, where she was also Executive Director for the Centre for International Peace and Security Studies. In 2010, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies and a policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. In 2011, she was a Visiting Professor at Dartmouth College’s Dickey Center for International Understanding. Prior to joining Queen’s, von Hlatky was a senior researcher with the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich. She is also the founder of Women in International Security-Canada. She has published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science, International Journal, European Security and has recently published a book with Oxford University Press entitled  American Allies in Times of War: The Great Asymmetry (2013).


Review by Petra Dolata, University of Calgary

This edited volume takes the 11 September 2001 terror attacks in New York and Washington as a starting point to discuss the development of North American relations. It does so by explicitly focusing on security. The twelve chapters by renowned experts in the field are ordered according to their theoretical (part 1) and empirical (part 2) contributions to the scholarly debate. One of the core questions of the book is how much change and how much continuity North American relations have witnessed since 2001. More than ten years after the events of 9/11, this is indeed an important question to ask. One of the underlying assumptions is that North America has witnessed a reversal of political and public policy attention away from economics toward security. As the editors state at the very beginning of their introduction to the book, 9/11 was a ‘game changer’ since it led to security trumping economics in North America, signifying a reversal of trends before 2001. This change, which pits national security considerations against regional economic interests, was mainly based on U.S.-driven security transformations that affected the asymmetrical relationships with both Mexico and Canada. The chapters that follow address the nature of these relations and offer policy recommendations. In line with the prioritization of security in North American political life, this book focuses on security, providing “a better understanding of the increasingly important domain of twenty-first century hemispheric security integration” (2). In this sense, the book is a valuable addition to the existing writings on border security and regionalism in North America.


In order to ensure coherence between the various contributions – something that is not always easy to achieve in an edited volume – the editors provided a set of questions that the authors were asked to answer. These include the applicability of theoretical approaches as well as specific security-related issues. One of the questions addresses the tensions between national security and regional economic integration. It is this tension that renders North America a rather understudied example of a truly integrated, regional security space. Thus, the book promises to initiate an important discussion of security in national, transnational, and regional contexts.


Part I includes five chapters that provide “theoretical explanations of post 9/11 security relations” (9). Rather than taking 9/11 as the main cause of a changing security environment that adversely affected North American economic competitiveness globally, in chapter one “Was 9/11 a Watershed?” Charles F. Doran reverts to power-cycle theory to remind us of the longer-term changes that had been well in place before 2002, namely the ascent of China. This approach uses an international perspective to explain some of the changes in North America. At the same time, Doran offers a domestic lens to explain foreign policy decisions in all three countries. While these examples remain cursory, they pose as a relevant reminder that North American security, when explained via foreign policy decisions, must be placed in its international and national frameworks. The next chapter by Frank P. Harvey entitled “The Homeland Security Dilemma” takes a different angle on understanding changes in the North American security environment. Focusing on psychological and cultural studies on fear and risk he addresses the complexity of the changed threat perceptions in the United States since 9/11, which cannot simply be overcome by outlining the irrationality of these fears: “Once a threat is imagined, it becomes embedded and institutionalized in security infrastructure” (39). This has implications for policy formulation, especially for Canada and Mexico where threats may be imagined differently. In having to deal with the United States these countries nonetheless need to address these different perceptions. Thus, Canadian responses to border issues, which highlight economic aspects, will not be successful in addressing current problems. Instead, what Canada needs are more security entrepreneurs and a “proactive security agenda” (44) that would allow Ottawa to manage “Washington’s security addiction” (45).


While Harvey uses psychological insights to discuss what Canada’s strategy towards the United States should look like, Justin Massie finds systemic theoretical approaches most useful in explaining Canada’s international security strategy. In chapter three “Toward Greater Opportunism” he applies soft and hard bandwagoning and balancing theories to tease out the nuances of Canadian security policies over time. He places Ottawa’s strategy toward the United States in a larger transatlantic, if not global, context, arguing for a Canadian foreign policy tradition that combines “continental soft bandwagoning with transatlantic soft balancing” (60). The differentiation between soft and hard bandwagoning seems especially important as Canada’s actions appear less opportunistic if based on the former variant. It is also useful to denote changes under the current Conservative government whose strategy may be defined by continentalism and a growing hard bandwagoning. Interestingly, Massie does not explain this change by 9/11 but rather by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ascent to power and the rise of China.


In chapter four “Canada, the United States, and Continental Security after 9/11”, Mark Paradis and Patrick James also focus on the Canada-U.S. security relationship. Defining it as a relationship that “fall[s] largely outside of any standard model based on power capabilities” (65) they apply attribution theory to arrive at a better understanding of the complex relationship between the two countries. So, rather than using realist systemic approaches the authors base their analysis on attribution theory which focuses on foreign policy roles and political psychology. To do so, they revisit the immediate post-9/11 security relations between the U.S. and Canada and illustrate how the use of situational and dispositional attributes by the two Prime Ministers, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, explains the shifts in those relations as the U.S. shifts from in-group to out-group.


The last chapter in the theoretical section “Canada-US Security Cooperation under the Security and Prosperity Partnership” is co-written by Jonathan Paquin and Louis Bélanger and deals with the fate of the 2005 North American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). To them, this constitutes a very good case study for examining the relationship between regional integrative forces and national approaches to security. They offer three possible explanations for the demise of the SPP: the trilateral nature of the agreement, the inadequate institutional design, and the asymmetric nature of relationships and concurrent distributional conflicts. Their analysis shows how the institutional design was possibly the “biggest problem; indeed the initiative’s non-legal nature almost guaranteed that it would not survive the change of government on both sides of the border” (111).


Summarizing the theoretical section is rather difficult since the chapters address a wide range of approaches located at all levels of analysis: systemic, state, and individual. Some are informed by realist approaches, others by psychological models. The strength of all contributions lies in their innovative conceptual perspectives on the specific case of North American security relations. However, some of the arguments seem to be more valuable for understanding foreign policy in general than the security aspect of foreign relations more specifically. Also, it is rather unfortunate that these theoretical insights almost exclusively pertain to the Canada-U.S. side of the story.


Only in the second part of the book does the reader get more detailed analyses that include Mexico. In chapter six “The Disintegrative Effects of North America’s Securitization on the Canada-Mexico Relationship,” Stephen Clarkson revisits the security relationships in North America since 9/11, arguing that there have been important changes in the region as the different responses to U.S. homeland security policies meant that Canada and Mexico moved further apart from each other. Athanasios Hristoulas deepens the analysis on the Mexican side, outlining in chapter seven “Mexico’s Ambiguous Foreign Policy toward North America” how Mexican foreign policy toward North America is defined by historical policy traditions as well as recent domestic and regional developments. To him it is not just 9/11 that explains changes in Mexico’s security relations with its northern neighbors but also domestic politics, economic crises, and the war on drugs. The tension between national sovereignty and regional integration in particular will define future Mexican policy towards the U.S. and Canada. Taking a look at Mexico-U.S. border relations, Isabelle Vagnoux adds a transnational and intermestic component to this discussion in chapter eight “From the Border Partnership Agreement to the Twenty-First-Century Border.” She is the first one to address in some detail the meanings of security. She is also one of the authors who do not see 9/11 as such a big game changer, arguing that “it only magnified elements, measures, and behaviors that were already in existence” (157-8). Border relations were not about terrorism, they were about drug trafficking and illegal immigration. If at all, 9/11 took on significance because it put an end to the debate on comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S., which constituted an important component of the public debate in Mexico.


The next three chapters move away from Mexico and address the importance of U.S. advocacy think tanks in the security realm (chapter nine “National Interest or Self-Interest?,” by Donald E. Abelson), Canada-U.S. defense cooperation (chapter ten “A Common ‘Bilateral’ Vision,” by Philippe Lagassé) and the role of the defense industry (chapter eleven “Defence Policy and the Aerospace and Defence Industry in North America,” by Yan Cimon). These chapters are important as they address the significance of actors, both state and non-state, and their role in security-policy making. Advocacy groups are seen as policy entrepreneurs (Abelson, 187) who are instrumental in constructing a specific security narrative and industry. In contrast, the defense industry seems less able to shape policy discussion but rather reacts towards policy shocks (Cimon, 219). Lagassé argues that 9/11 did not initiate a binational approach to regional defense but a bilateral one leading to a shift of loci of that defense relationship away from NORAD.


The last chapter “The Canada-US Alliance in the Post-9/11 Context” by David Haglund brings us to another locus of defense cooperation, and that is NATO. In a provocative piece he brings together a number of thoughts put forward throughout the book. He takes the discussion out of the North American region and returns to the transatlantic and international embeddedness of North American security. Accordingly, he asks himself what a truly continental security integration would mean in that context and quite logically proposes to include Mexico in NATO. While he knows, of course, that this is unrealistic and highly provocative, he raises important points about the fallacies of conceptualizing continental security integration exclusively from Canada and the U.S. It gives the wrong impression that security is only related to terrorism. Such an argument also highlights the political dimension and the soft power of NATO as well as the hopes that an alliance such as NATO would make Mexico more like its North American neighbors and thus create some sort of a shared security culture. This is indeed a very good last chapter, not least because it uncovers the problems that the preceding chapters were struggling with. Most of them are not able to comprehensively talk about and analyze a security environment that is truly North American, including all three countries. Maybe this aspect should have been at the center of the introduction and conclusion as well.


As timely as the volume is, there are a few issues that I would like to raise. The first one has to do with the choice of the title which is a bit misleading. Despite what the two editors state in their conclusion, the volume does not “show that 9/11 really was a game changer in North America” (251). Rather, the book takes 9/11 “as its point of departure” (Clarkson, 119). There is an implied assumption that all authors agree that 9/11 was a game changer, which is not the case. As a reader I find this restricts much of the exciting debate that the contributions initiate. Not only is there disagreement about the significance of 9/11 but also about whether we have since seen more change than continuity and whether this is attributable to 9/11. It might have been better to leave the book more open and make the differences in perspective its strength. The second issue I have is that some of the chapters are too short to really develop analytical points. This is especially true with the chapters in the theoretical section. These are important contributions to the current debate and they should have developed their theoretical arguments in more detail. Third, for a volume addressing North American security I would have expected more discussion of the concept and meaning of security in the introduction.


Apart from these criticisms, this is an important contribution to the debate on the evolution of current security relations in North America.


Review by Christopher Sands, Hudson Institute


What is most striking about this volume is its comprehensiveness. Paquin and James have drawn together contributions from leading scholars to address the impact of the 11 September 2001 terror attacks in New York and Washington on extant security relations among the United States, Canada, and Mexico viewed from several important perspectives.


First and foremost, there are four strong chapters from the perspective of international relations theory. In “Was 9/11 a Watershed?” Charles F. Doran employs the power cycle theory for which he is well-known[5] and it proves to be a surprisingly good fit for interpreting the reactions of the three states to their relative position in the international and continental systems and asymmetric threats each was forced to confront on that day. Although the United States was relatively more powerful and capable of global conventional force projection, the asymmetric nature of the terror threat and its demonstrated capacity to exploit the open nature of western societies to attack civilians in the continental United States – something no power had managed to do since Britain during the War of 1812 – rendered the relatively less powerful Canada and Mexico strategically essential to U.S. security. Both Ottawa and Mexico City reacted to this change defensively, concerned to retain market access negotiated as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and failed to work together in confronting Washington in this regard. Nevertheless, Doran argues, the United States’ need for close coordination and cooperation among military and security services in all three countries prompted creative U.S. leadership that altered these relationships to align with the changed nature of the threat


In his chapter “The Homeland Security Dilemma”, Frank P. Harvey provides an effective melding of two arguments he developed to book length.[6] The first concerns the weakness of the multilateral security arrangements that were successfully employed by the United States during the Cold War to counter the Soviet threat when repurposed to counter terrorism. Harvey argues that unilateral responses are more appropriate to global terrorist networks, giving the United States the necessary agility and speed as well as freedom of action that alliance decision-making cannot. The second argument concerns the inherent security dilemma for the United States, whose efforts to respond to terrorism by strengthening border controls can lead other states to react to the new obstacles to U.S. market access by developing alternate markets, thereby weakening the United States position as the central state in the system.  For Harvey, the United States both correctly took unilateral steps where it could in order to respond to terrorist threats and relied on ‘coalitions of the willing’ rather than traditional alliance structures (although NATO was engaged for the Afghanistan theater of operations), and the United States also fueled the defensive responses from Canada, Mexico, and other countries to unilaterally-imposed border security measures.


Justin Massie’s chapter, “Toward Greater Opportunism” considers the Canadian reactions to unilateral actions and proposals for bilateral cooperation from the United States after 2001 in terms of the balancing/bandwagoning behaviours identified within the realist and neorealist paradigms by Robert Gilpin, G. John Ikenberry, Stephen Walt and others.[7] Massie notes that balancing and bandwagoning can be undertaken in ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ ways, and that Ottawa’s traditionally soft approach to both was employed by the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin at different periods in the post-2001 period resulting in a decidedly mixed record of grumbling acquiescence to U.S. security demands in North America and little recognition (or credit) for Canadian participation in Afghanistan, a soft bandwagoning step that earned little credit from the George W. Bush administration.  Stephen Harper shifted Canada’s policy toward hard bandwagoning in Afghanistan in an attempt to advance Canadian interests in closer security relations with the United States; strong support in overseas military operations provided greater flexibility for Canada in continental and border security, allowing for a more successful (from the perspective of reduced tensions within the bilateral relationship) mix of soft balancing and bandwagoning on particular issues.


James and Marc Paradis co-author a chapter, “Canada, the United States and Continental Security after 9/11” that applies contemporary attribution theory from the study of political psychology to consider the motivations and thinking of leaders in Ottawa as they respond to the United States’ security agenda in the period following September 2001. This chapter has an experimental feel, relying on a small number of political memoirs for evidence, and the authors stress that their conclusions are at best tentative. However, since much is made of motivations and intentions in the ‘first draft of history’ – namely, the journalistic record, James and Paradis offer an interesting approach to the subject that bridges what many recall of these events from media reporting and the theoretical interpretations of the other authors in the volume.


The remaining chapters in Game Changer delve into specific changes to the relationship among the North American countries and their governments in the post-2001 period, and in some cases argue for further changes.


Paquin and Louis Bélanger in “Canada-US Security Cooperation under the Security and Prosperity Partnership” consider the rise and fall of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) that was initiated at the start of U.S. President George W. Bush’s second term at a trilateral summit held in Waco, Texas. The SPP institutionalized cooperation among the three federal governments through 20 standing trilateral working groups composed of senior officials, with semi-annual meetings of Cabinet members (three from each country) to review progress and generate reports for annual North American Leaders’ Summits (known as NALS). At the first NALS attended by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009, the SPP was disbanded, although the leaders continued to meet (more or less) annually. Based on dozens of interviews with senior Canadian and American officials, Paquin and Bélanger conclude that the SPP’s security cooperation efforts faltered because of a cumbersome, nontransparent institutional design of dubious legality – complicated by the forced trilateral nature of the working groups, which served to hinder communication and progress. The authors contend that given the importance of the U.S. market for Canada, what the SPP may be said to have achieved in the area of U.S.-Canada security cooperation would have happened without the SPP. It is a very Canadian perspective: the SPP never won over Canadian officials or politicians in either the Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin or the Conservative governments of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. For the United States, I think, the SPP was a greater departure from past practice and an experiment in cooperative governance that has established important precedents for ongoing efforts in these areas with both Canada and Mexico.  It may be true that Canada would have agreed to the same border cooperation measures without the SPP, but the SPP tempered U.S. tendencies to unilateralism in some areas and showed that doing so could effectively advance U.S. interests – lessons that the Obama administration has taken to heart.


Stephen Clarkson notes that the steadily increasing integration of the three North American economies accelerated in turn by the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement was slowed and in some areas reversed by the reassertion of the salience of border security by the United States following the 11 September 2001 attacks. These attacks had, in Clarkson’s view, a ’disintegrative’ effect on North America, prompting Canada and Mexico to resume defensive postures toward the United States as the market access they had risked a great deal politically at home to attain was restricted sharply in the interests of U.S. national security. Clarkson’s prolific writing on the topic of the North American political economy, much of it critical, lends added weight to his argument here.[8]


One of the strengths of Clarkson’s analysis is his appreciation of the role of Mexico in the North American political economy, which makes his analysis fully-trilateral and therefore complete. This is also a strength of Game Changer, which includes two excellent chapters devoted to the role of Mexico – a rare and welcome thing in a book from a Canadian press, for which the editors and the publisher deserve to be applauded.


Athanasios Hristoulas places some of the responsibility for the fact that Mexico has been frequently sidelined as a part of North America on the ambiguous attitude that characterizes much of Mexican foreign policy toward the United States and Canada. Unlike Canada, which often sought defensively to trade closer security cooperation with the United States for a restoration of market access for Canadian firms, Mexico after 2001 sought to barter security cooperation with the United States in exchange for migration reforms benefiting its citizens in an opportunistic (rather than defensive) way that advanced a longstanding foreign policy goal. Hristoulas argues that this conveyed ambivalence about security that did not sit well with the Bush administration in the United States, limiting the success of the strategy. The rise in violence related to narcotrafficking, particularly after Mexican President Felipe Calderon deployed the military against drug trafficking organizations, complicated matters further for Mexican foreign policy while placing security concerns and cooperation firmly on the U.S.-Mexico bilateral agenda. This brought Washington and Mexico City into closer alignment, but, notes Hristoulas, increased discomfort in Ottawa leading to further attenuation of Mexico-Canada relations and setting the stage for the dual-bilateralism of the Obama administration’s North American policies.


Picking up the theme, Isabelle Vagnoux of the Aix-Marseille Université in France considers how the escalation of conflict with organized crime engaged in narcotrafficking via Mexico was compounded by the U.S. investment in security of its land borders with Canada and Mexico. The overlay of the search for terrorists and the search for illegal drugs was reinforced by the Mérida Initiative, which channeled military assistance to Mexico and facilitated intelligence sharing. Vagnoux notes that after a rough start, where the two countries acted in ways that demonstrated low levels of mutual trust, a more cooperative approach emerged and the safe and secure movement of people and goods across the U.S.-Mexican border began to improve. This was not an immediate positive consequence of the 11 September 2001 shock, but the events of that day did contribute.


Western University’s Donald Abelson’s work on the role of think tanks in Canada and the United States[9] has established him as a leading expert on the subject of their policy influence in Ottawa and Washington. Abelson notes that while many policy research institutes were founded to bridge the gulf between academic research and public policy for the educational benefit of government decision makers, the role of these organizations has gradually shifted to advocacy for policy recommendations, perspectives, and outcomes. This was important in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks, which surprised political leaders and led to urgent demand for ideas on how to respond. While Abelson is a bit too generous here in noting my own role as a Canada-watcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and later at the Hudson Institute, his more significant point is that the enormity of the terrorist threat led to a marginalization of specialists on Canada and Mexico as Middle East analysts, national security experts, and specialists in terrorism and illicit networks predominated in the debate and in access to senior officials. As a result, U.S. policy responses focused on the security threat and ignored the particularities and sensitivities of the U.S. relationships with its North American neighbors.[10] This nuanced assessment of the role of think tanks in this specific case is an important contribution to the literature on U.S. foreign policy and on research institutes more generally.


Philippe Lagassé of the University of Ottawa returns attention to the traditional security domain of military-to-military cooperation. The mature and institutionalized relationships that had developed between the armed services of the United States and Canada in the twentieth century changed in response to the 11 September 2001 attacks to better confront the new dynamics of threats to both countries. NORAD, which responded swiftly and capably to secure U.S. airspace in the days following the attacks, was expanded to oversee maritime warning and response. The United States established a new operational command structure, U.S. Northern Command (US NORTHCOM) to coordinate U.S. forces for the defense of North America, and became a new counterpart for the Canadian Forces – which had previously coordinated with the Joint Operations Command led by the U.S. military Joint Chiefs – and for the Mexican military, which had previously coordinated with the U.S. Southern Command. In response, Canada reorganized its national defenses into Canada Joint Operation Command (briefly called Canada Command) just as the logic of the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security eventually led Ottawa to reorganize a number of domestic security and inspection and enforcement functions into a new cabinet-level department, Public Safety Canada. Taking stock of all of these changes, Lagassé sees the extant bilateral model for institutionalized U.S.-Canadian military cooperation as superior to recent attempts at trilateral structures that sought to include a wary Mexican military. Still, the gradual return to U.S. dual-bilateralism in North American military cooperation could be enhanced, in Lagassé’s view, by Canada’s participation in ballistic missile defense through NORAD, and the asymmetric threat presented by scenarios wherein terrorists attempt attacks using portable missiles or unmanned drone aircraft provides ample justification for the reconsideration by Ottawa that Lagassé suggests here.


It is on this point that Yan Cimon of Université Laval weighs in with a very strong chapter on military procurement to meet new challenges of the post-2001 world. Cimon starts by noting that the close military-industrial links that developed during the First and Second World Wars between Canada and the United States at a time when the automotive and aerospace industries were closely linked and played a large role in production of military equipment have been undermined by U.S. suspension of Canada’s exemption from the application of U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITARs) which began before 2001, and the subsequent expansion of the export control list to include a number of “dual-use” technologies that hindered technology transfer between civilian and military industries and firms in the two countries. Given the deep post-NAFTA integration of supply chains noted by Clarkson in his chapter, Cimon’s account of the disruption these changes caused is perhaps understated here, though he notes that with significant diplomatic effort Canada has been able to regain some of its former privileged access to U.S. defense technology and procurement. This brief bit of encouraging news is immediately counterbalanced as Cimon notes the changing nature of threats to North American security, and the importance of not just restoring but greatly enhancing the collaboration of the two countries defense industrial bases to adapt to the rising threats from terrorist networks, hostile states, and new tensions in Asia.

The most original and provocative contribution to the volume may be the one provided by David Haglund of Queen’s University. Haglund considers the alliance relationships between the United States and its neighbors in turn, and concludes that Lagassé and others are right to discount the potential for trilateral defense, intelligence, and security cooperation in North America. Yet he suggests a novel solution: bringing Mexico into the Atlantic Alliance as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. I have advocated this idea myself[11] but still found compelling new arguments in Haglund’s case for Mexico’s NATO membership, including the well-established accession process developed for central and eastern European countries, which includes benchmarks for the improvement of civil-military relations and upgrading military professionalism, equipment and training. Haglund notes that adding Mexico to NATO could strengthen NATO if it allowed European members to pursue their proposals for a ’European Pillar’ of coordination within Europe balanced by a ’North American Pillar’ (the United States should, of course, play a role in both). And Haglund challenges traditionalists who view the U.S.-Canada alliance as sacrosanct to acknowledge what other authors in this volume have argued throughout: that this alliance has changed, and is no longer what it was. Rather than trying to revive it by extending certain institutions, such as NORAD, to include Mexico,[12] Haglund argues that Mexico would make NATO more relevant to North American defense and therefore to the United States – bolstering the U.S.-Canadian alliance by adapting it to pressing threats in a way that it has not been since the age of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles and long-range bombers.


In the final chapter, the editors Paquin and James underscore the contemporary policy relevance of the volume. This is helpful as a summary, but also because this book started with a workshop held in Quebec City to mark the tenth anniversary of the 11 September attacks in 2011 that I was fortunate to have been able to attend. The authors have updated their original presentations into the chapters included here, but new developments inevitably occur and these are noted where pertinent and the editors provide a pointed recap of the policy recommendations that may be drawn from the book.


The breadth and diversity of this volume’s chapters, which include several fresh and provocative ideas and perspectives on the multi-dimensional consequences of the events of 11 September 2001 for North America make it an essential addition to libraries everywhere (including Europe and Asia, where the peculiarities of North American relations are often reduced to the oddity of the United States, unfortunately). It is accessible and quite suitable for university course adoption as a principal or supporting textbook, particularly for graduate students. My own career in Washington D.C. university and think-tank circles includes a decade before and more than a decade after the World Trade Center towers fell, and I learned a lot from this book, and will keep it handy.

Review by Stéfanie von Hlatky, Queen’s University


They say timing is everything and 2014 is a propitious year to think back on the impact of the 11 September 2001 terror attacks in New York and Washington on North American security, the Canada-U.S. relationship, and how both countries respond to global challenges on the continent and abroad. It’s an opportune time for such an assessment because the military intervention in Afghanistan is ending, the American withdrawal from Iraq and post-Arab Spring instability (especially in Syria and Egypt) are profoundly changing the Middle East, and last but not least, Russia is becoming increasingly confrontational right on NATO’s doorstep. This begs the question: how could the US and its allies have gotten it so wrong after 9/11? As Frank Harvey notes in his chapter in the book (Chapter 2: The Homeland Security Dilemma: Assessing the Implications for Canada-US Border Security Negotiations), Canada got caught in the U.S. homeland security dilemma, pursuing the untenable goal of perfect security. Foreign and defence policy is a complex business and, from this reviewer’s perspective, deserves rigorous and innovative scholarly attention. Jonathan Paquin and Patrick James share the same commitment in Game Changer: The Impact of 9/11 on North American Security.


In this edited volume comprised of twelve chapters, the contributors cover several topics ranging from the state of the bilateral relationship, to border security, to defence cooperation. It’s an interesting volume in itself but also a useful tool for students interested in security studies with a Canadian foreign policy focus. To this end, I am sure to draw on several of the chapters for my own classes. The book’s main strength is that it offers a good balance between attempting to integrate theories of International Relations and providing useful case studies to cover the breadth of relevant security topics that have emerged since 9/11. At times, the reader might be put off by terms such as “hard bandwagoning” (in Justin Massie’s chapter “Toward Greater Opportunism: Balancing and Bandwagoning in Canada-US Relations”) or assessments of continental security that are based on ‘attribution theory’ (in Patrick James and Mark Paradis’ chapter “Canada, the United States, and Continental Security after 9/11: An Assessment Based on Attribution Theory”), but these authors succeed in making these concepts sufficiently accessible to justify their inclusion in an anthology that seems marketed to a broad audience. A few more highlights deserve mention.


First, the editors skillfully integrated multiple levels of analysis in the volume to answer a variety of theoretical and empirical puzzles in foreign and defence policy analysis. For instance, Charles Doran studies the impact of 9/11 on the North American continent by placing the war on terror in its proper context, including systemic trends but also domestic-level factors (Chapter 1: Was 9/11 a Watershed?). What is striking then, is to come to the realization that factors like the rise of China, new technologies, and electoral factors have all interacted with the policy shifts induced by the terrorist attacks.


Second, the editors managed to include some original themes, like the role of think tanks, as described by Donald E. Abelson, who demonstrates how think tanks have positioned themselves as advocates of the war on terror (Chapter 9: National Interest or Self-Interest?Advocacy Think Tanks, 9/11, and the Future of North American Security). The ‘war of ideas’ and especially, the role of (the now defunct) Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is an essential part of the events leading up to the 2003 Iraq War (176). Also original and no less fascinating is David Haglund’s chapter on Mexico as a possible NATO member (Chapter 12: The Canada-US Alliance in the Post-9/11Context: Any Room for Mexico?). While this idea, to put it in Haglund’s own words, is “at best idiosyncratic and at worst verging on the deranged,” its implementation would result in benefits for NATO’s members that are worth discussing (246).


I should also mention a couple of things that could have been done differently. The main one is readily identifiable by browsing the table of contents. For a field that has grown remarkably diverse, the editors were only able to include one female scholar. Finding exceptional female contributors should not prove challenging, so this lack of diversity is surprising. While Isabelle Vagnoux’s chapter on the U.S.-Mexico border stands out as the only contribution by a female scholar, it is a chapter that gets bogged down in definitional concerns over what ‘security’ entails rather than one proposing novel angles by which to assess the U.S.-Mexico relationship (Chapter 8: From the Border Partnership Agreement to the Twenty-First-Century Border: Enforcing Security on the US-Mexico Border).


The second concern I have about the volume is its disproportionate attention to topics of secondary importance, i.e. events that would not necessarily come to mind when thinking about the ‘game changing’ impact of 9/11. One example is a chapter written by Jonathan Paquin and Louis Bélanger that dissects the defunct Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) (Chapter 5: Canada-US Security Cooperation under the Security and Prosperity Partnership: An Autopsy Report). The SPP boils down to a highly-trumpeted security and trade agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the United States that was abandoned shortly after being announced. However short lived this initiative ended up being, Canadian foreign policy wonks and scholars cannot seem to let go. Retelling the SPP story might be useful as a cautionary tale for the implementation of the Canada-U.S. Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, but it was not a game-changing event in the post 9/11 North American environment.


To come back to the question of why the U.S. and its allies have been so unsuccessful in their efforts to tame the post-9/11 security environment, we might need more time, and perhaps a new book as well.  However, Game Changer provides us with some analytical frames and guiding questions that will stay relevant for the foreseeable future. As Paquin and James highlight in their introduction called “The Changing Contours of North American Security”, there are some persistent policy trade-offs between “two North American requirements: the reality of economic interdependence and the timeless Westphalian notion of national security and territorial protection” (2). Another lesson from the book is that any trilateral momentum (U.S., Mexico, Canada) appears to have been halted in the post-9/11 world. The chapters by Stephen Clarkson and Anathanasios Hristoulas (Chapter 6: The Disintegrative Effects of North America’s Securitization on the Canada-Mexico Relationship and Chapter 7: Mexico's Ambiguous Foreign Policy toward North America, respectively) do not offer much cause for optimism.


Issues that are likely to rise in prominence, however, are related to bilateral (Canada-U.S.) defence cooperation, as laid out in the chapter by Philippe Lagassé. Canada can balance the requirements of enhanced border security with a more deeply-integrated security relationship, which might or might not include closer bilateral defence ties (Chapter 10: A Common "Bilateral" Vision: North American Defence Cooperation, 2001-12). Recent reports on missile defence might reverse the “bilateral ambivalence” (199) which has been observed on this file.


The other hot-button issue concerns Canada’s defence industry, as discussed in Yan Cimon’s chapter (Chapter 11: Defence Policy and the Aerospace and Defence Industry in North America: The Changing Contours of the Post-9/11 Era). Big procurement projects will be featured on the list of policy priorities for 2015 and beyond, given the massive influx of dollars that have been promised by the government of Stephen Harper for defence acquisitions over the next couple of decades. Cimon’s findings highlight that, while Canada’s defence industry is closely integrated with that of the U.S., Canada again concentrated its efforts on border security rather than traditional defence sectors, a shift that was precipitated by Canada losing its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) exemption between 1998 and 2000, combined with a stronger focus on the border after 9/11. While these observations still hold true, this chapter would benefit from an update, as Canada’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the unveiling of its new procurement strategy in 2013 are major developments that will likely have a profound and lasting impact on Canada’s defence industry.


To conclude, Paquin and James have assembled an impressive collection of contributions that are short, clearly articulated, and targeted, which makes for both an interesting read and a useful pedagogical tool. While it might leave the Canadian or Mexican reader feeling a little underwhelmed about the state of their country’s relationship with the United States, the book dutifully highlights and analyses the core security issues that have rocked the continent in the last decade and a half.


Author's Response by Jonathan Paquin and Patrick James, University of Southern California


We would like to thank the editors of H-Diplo for organizing this roundtable on Game Changer and we are very grateful to Christopher Sands, Petra Dolata and Stéfanie von Hlatky for their thoughtful and constructive comments on our volume. Their comments have caused us to rethink certain aspects of our work and we found this exercise quite stimulating.


All three reviewers make very positive assessments of the volume. There is a consensus among them that Game Changer is comprehensive, articulate, rigorous, innovative and that it makes a valuable (even significant) contribution to the study of North American security. This is music to our ears since these were precisely the objectives that we pursued throughout this intellectual adventure. A decade after 9/11, we thought it was time to take stock of the effects that the 2001 terrorist attacks had on the conduct of security relations in North America. We wanted to provide new and diversified insights on the subject, and believed that such an analytical assessment was largely missing from the International Relations/foreign policy literature. We are also pleased that the reviewers appreciate the structure of the book, which is divided in two parts: one dealing with theoretical contributions to the topic, and the other with original empirical analyses of different security themes related to 9/11.


Of course, these reviews did not go without some fair and thoughtful criticisms and we would like to address them.


Petra Dolata asserts in her review that a better conceptualization of the meaning of security should have been integrated into the introductory chapter. It is of course important to set the conceptual meaning of the main research theme, especially when it is potentially confusing and misunderstanding. However, we believe that there is no ambiguity in the way we refer to security in the volume. We are referring to national security, essentially defined in materialistic terms.


Dolata points out that the theoretical section of the volume mainly focuses on the “Canada-U.S. side of the story” and that it did not say enough about Mexico. It should be emphasized here, as we mentioned in the introduction of the volume, that the book mainly reflects a Canadian perspective on the issues at stake. We believe that despite this limitation, Charles Doran (an American scholar) managed to launch the theoretical discussion in Chapter 1 by integrating Mexico effectively into the theoretical debates. Moreover, Christopher Sands notes in his review that the book includes “excellent chapters devoted to the role of Mexico – a rare and welcome thing in a book from a Canadian press, for which the editors and the publisher deserve to be applauded.” We therefore think that the volume is balanced and that Mexico is definitely not left out of the debate.


Dolata also asserts that most chapters did not produce analyses truly based on a North American perspective – a criticism that is related to her previous point. We respectfully disagree. The introduction and conclusion of the book are framed from a truly North American perspective. Even if several chapters address bilateral issues (either Mexico-U.S. or Canada-U.S.), overall the book gives a broad North American perspective on security. Moreover, the volume’s bilateral focus reflects reality on the ground, given the rarity of longstanding trilateral institutions.


As for the choice of the title Game Changer, Dolata finds it a bit misleading since not all authors see 9/11 as such a game changer. This is a fair point. However, without having wanted to narrow the discussion of the impact of 9/11, we were looking for a title that summed up the views of the vast majority of authors, and it turned out that most of them were of the opinion that 9/11 was a game changer. But if we could do it over, I believe we would add a question mark at the end of the title to suggest a wider spectrum of debates and to avoid this kind of criticism.


Stéfanie von Hlatky also raised interesting points and her criticism revolves around two concerns. First, she points out that security studies as a field of research has grown quite diverse over the last decade and that the volume should have better reflect this diversity by including more female scholars. We totally agree with her that there is a gender imbalance and that we should have paid more attention to this issue.  We also might have made a further effort to recruit additional Mexican contributors. Von Hlatky’s second concern, however, was quite surprising to us. She argues that the volume pays “disproportionate attention to topics of secondary importance” and she directly refers to chapter 5 on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SSP) as an example to illustrate her point. With all due respect, we strongly disagree. The SPP was a significant North American security and trade initiative that structured trilateral relations for about half of the 2000s decade. Thus the study of the evolution of North American relations would have been incomplete without a rigorous analysis of the SPP’s creation and demise.  Social scientific investigations, furthermore, tend to under-represent the study of institutions that do not persist, such as the SPP, in favor of those that do, like NORAD (North Atlantic Aerospace and Defense Command) and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).


It is not an easy task to review an edited volume such as Game Changer. Edited books contain chapters written by several scholars having different background and research angles. Yet, Sands, Petra, and von Hlatky came up with constructive and balanced assessments of our work and we very much appreciate the time they took to produce these thoughtful reviews.


[1] Brian A. Bow, The Politics of Linkage: Power, Interdependence and Ideas in Canada-U.S. Relations (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009); Paquin and James, “Continental Security,” 252, 254.

[2] Peter Andreas and Thomas J. Biersteker, eds., The Rebordering of North America: Integration and exclusion in a new security context (New York/London: Routledge, 2003); Frank P. Harvey, The Homeland Security Dilemma: Fear Failure, and the Future of American Security (New York/London: Routledge, 2008); Stephen Clarkson, Does North America Exist? Governing the Continent after NAFTA and 9/11 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008); Charles F. Doran, Forgotten Partnership: Canada-US Relations Today (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984).

[3] Edward Alden, The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration and Security since 9/11 (New York: Harper Collins, 2008); Isidro Morales, Post-NAFTA North America: Reshaping the Economic and Political Governance of a Changing Region (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); Jeffrey Ayers and Laura Macdonald, eds, North America in Question: Regional Integration in an Era of Political and Economic Turbulence (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012).

[4] Robert A. Pastor, The North American Idea: A vision of a continental future (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 27.

[5] Charles F. Doran, Systems in Crisis: New imperatives of high politics at century’s end (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

[6] See Frank P. Harvey, Smoke and Mirrors: Globalized Terrorism and the Illusion of Multilateral Security (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004) and The Homeland Security Dilemma: Fear, Failure and the Future of American Insecurity (London: Routledge, 2008).

[7] The principal texts by these three authors cited by Massie are: Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); Ikenberry, After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of World Order after Major Wars (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001); and Walt, Taming American Power; The Global Response to US Primacy (New York: W.W. Norton, 2005). The chapter also cites Gideon Rose, “Neoclassical Realism and Theories of Foreign Policy” World Politics 51:1 (1998); Robert Pape, “Soft Balancing against the United States” International Security 30:1 (2005); Ilai Z. Saltzman, “Soft Balancing as Foreign Policy: Assessing American Strategy toward Japan in the Interwar Period” Foreign Policy Analysis 7:1 (2011). The footnotes and bibliography for this chapter and the volume as a whole are thorough and provide an additional resource for readers.

[8] See for example, Stephen Clarkson, Does North America Exist? Governing the Continent after NAFTA and 9/11 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008); and Uncle Sam and Us: Globalization, Neoconservatism, and the Canadian State (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002).

[9] See for example American Think Tanks and Their Role in US Foreign Policy (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996); and Do Think Tanks Matter? Assessing the Impact of Public Policy Institutes (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002 and 2009).

[10] For the record, Sidney Weintraub and I warned of the importance of balancing border security reinforcements with market access for trade and people flows across North American borders, as well as the enormous potential for cooperation with the governments of Canada and Mexico in the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ all-hands publication issued four months after the attacks: To Prevail: An American Strategy for the Campaign Against Terrorism (Washington, D.C.: CSIS Press, 2001). The reaction confirms Abelson’s argument: our advice was not effective in tempering the U.S. policy response.

[11] Most recently in “Why NATO Should Accept Mexico” Huffington Post May 18, 2012. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/christopher-sands/nato-mexico_b_1525638.html

[12] This proposal was advanced in 2010 by James Carafano, Jena Baker McNeill, Ray Walser and my Hudson colleague Richard Weitz in Expand NORAD to Improve Security in North America (Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 2010).