Book Review-‘A Two-edged Sword: The navy as an instrument of Canadian foreign policy’ by N. Tracy

By Geoffery Till, published October 2020

Abstract

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has always been interestingly distinctive in having to deal with two different and sometimes competing contextual imperatives. First, it is what analysts have generally regarded as a ‘medium’ navy, and so has found it particularly difficult to generate sufficient economies of scale in platforms and personnel to help it bridge the gap between commitments and resources. Second, alongside the normal requirement to respond to the challenge posed by possible adversaries (be they the Germans, Japanese or Russians), the RCN has always had to craft a strategic policy that is aimed at their allies and which makes a significant contribution to the collective effort, while also safeguarding Canadian interests and independence. The problem is that Canada, because of its limited resources (and often its political unwillingness to devote what was in fact available) had to rely on its friends to produce what was needed to make a significant military contribution – but this came with the political cost of having to support policies that the Canadian government did not necessarily agree with. In A Two-Edged Sword, Nicholas Tracy offers us a magisterial guide through the tensions that these two competing requirements have posed for the RCN, and how Canada’s sailors and politicians have coped with them…

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Filed under: Other (Twentieth C)
Subjects include: Navies | Strategy & Diplomacy

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