The Best of Both Worlds: Canada’s Normative Transcendent Purpose and Its Decision to Stop Its Airstrikes in the Syrian Civil War

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Submitted: 2018-12-29
Published: 2018-12-29
Section: Articles
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The Syrian Civil War is yet another war in a series thereof in the Arab Spring in which the
United States and its allies are involved. However, an anomaly has occurred in the military
coalition: Canada has significantly decreased the degree of its involvement by stopping its
airstrikes within the Western coalition’s campaign. Employing a dual-perspective of classical
realism and constructivism, this thesis seeks to find the determining factors to the event using
the concepts of transcendent purpose and of norm dynamics. To arrive at the conclusion, this
thesis investigates norms projected by Canada in relation to its military alliances, including
but not limited to NATO. This thesis finds that, on the one hand, Canada has historically
always defended its image by joining military coalitions involving the United States; on the
other hand, however, Canada is always reluctant to engage in wars which defy its
transcendent purpose, hence the best of both worlds. This thesis concludes that Canada’s
foreign policy, in line with its transcendent purpose, constitutes of two factors: the Axworthy
norms and legitimacy. In the Syrian Civil War, the United States-led coalition lacks both.

Keywords

Canada, Syrian Civil War, transcendent purpose, norm dynamics, Axworthy norms, military alliance

  1. Kevin Ali Sesarianto 
    Department of International Relations, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Diponegoro, Indonesia
  2. Mohamad Rosyidin 
    Department of International Relations, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Diponegoro, Indonesia