“Either You're with Us or Against Us”: Illiberal Canadian Foreign Aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, 2001 - 2012
Wildeman, Jeremy Donald
Date: 1 October 2015
University of Exeter
PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies
No one theory in international relations can fully describe the complicated actions and motivations formulating a state’s foreign policy. Yet the paradigm that best describes the approach taken by Western governments, such as Canada, when supporting peace building between Israel and the Palestinians is neoliberalism. They did this by ...
No one theory in international relations can fully describe the complicated actions and motivations formulating a state’s foreign policy. Yet the paradigm that best describes the approach taken by Western governments, such as Canada, when supporting peace building between Israel and the Palestinians is neoliberalism. They did this by sponsoring an Oslo Peace Process with Palestinian development aid in a development for peace model built upon precepts of cooperation and free market trade. That approach to peace building failed though because Israel and the Palestinians never altered their behaviour, remaining mired in a state of violence. Still, Western states continue to provide aid funding based upon the precepts of this model after more than twenty years of failure following the 1993 Oslo Accord. The unique contribution of this research study is to provide insight into why these peace building efforts failed to take hold through an analysis of development aid projects from one Western country, Canada, for a period from 2001 to 2012. Specifically this is done through an account of the experiences of project coordinators from Canadian organisations that ran human rights and poverty reduction projects in that time. By taking the neoliberal paradigm into account, when assessing their experiences we gain insight into the factors that led to Oslo’s undoing, at least via Canada as a sponsor of the Peace Process. In this case failure is built upon a combination of degrees of naivety by aid practitioners and measures taken by Canadian elites to undermine Canadian development aid projects for Palestinians. In particular, from 1993 onward the Canadian government offered unswerving support to Israel, to the point where Canada was either contributing directly to Israeli settler colonialism in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, or else helping to obscure it. Altogether this suggests at a theoretical level that, in spite of employing a strongly neoliberal foreign policy adopting progressive principles such as international law, human rights and cooperation, Canada in reality takes a foreign policy track that favours special or national interests, as well as favoured state allies, all at the expense of cooperation in world affairs or the rights of people being oppressed by an ally. The Canadian case suggests that the progressive elements in neoliberalism might only be applied selectively and not universally by a state, depending on its government’s perceptions of its self-interests.
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