Globalization meets hockey tonight at 8 PM when the Boston Bruins square off against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. At stake is not just the pride of two great cities, but the pride of Canada as well. No Canadian team has taken home the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens did it in 1993. That’s hard to believe, given that Canada gave us hockey.
If you tune into NBC tonight you will not only see a great game, you will also see a concrete example of globalization at work. People in my line of work spend a lot of time worrying about all the bad things that globalization generates and facilitates: terrorism, climate change, financial panics, infectious diseases, and so forth. So it’s worth taking a moment once in a while to highlight some of the good things.
Here’s what I mean. Until the 1980s, virtually everyone who played in the NHL was Canadian. American-born players like Robby Ftorek of Needham, Massachusetts were such a rarity that every fan knew who they were and where they came from. The only European-born players were people like Stan Makita of the Chicago Blackhawks who fled communist-controlled Czechoslovakia as a kid and ended up in Canada.
The Bruins and Canucks today look like the UN on ice. Okay, that’s somewhat of an exaggeration. But the countries represented in tonight’s game include Canada, the United States, Finland, Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, and Russia.
Michele Bachmann made some news at last night’s rather sedate GOP presidential debate: she’s officially running for president. Credit Bachmann for impeccable timing. If you want people to know that you are running for president, then announce the news when the greatest number of people is paying attention. The announcement was carefully planned. As Bachmann was telling CNN’s John King and everyone else that she was all in for the race to the White House, her old website went down and her new Bachmann for President website went up. If Bachmann wins the presidency, she would become the first woman to be president. She would also become only the second person born in Iowa ever to become president, and the first president since John Tyler to have a degree from the College of William and Mary.
Last night’s GOP presidential debate didn’t make any foreign policy news. Indeed, unless you stuck it out until the very end, you didn’t hear much about foreign policy. By my count, the two-hour debate had entered its one-hundredth minute before the first foreign policy question was asked. And the focus on foreign policy didn’t last long. Twelve minutes later the conversation had turned to whether the current crop of GOP presidential candidates was good enough to win the White House.
For foreign-policy aficionados the problem wasn’t just a lack of time. It was also that the debate’s moderator, John King of CNN, kept changing the question. The result was a rolling series of non sequiturs. The participants largely talked about different issues, neither engaging nor rebutting their rivals.
The first foreign-policy question came from a voter (and retired Navy veteran) who asked if it wasn’t time to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan. Mitt Romney answered that he would bring “our troops home as soon as we possibly can, consistent with the word that comes to our generals that we can hand over the country to…the Afghan military to defend themselves from the Taliban.” (Romney initially misspoke and said “hand the country over to the Taliban.”) That formulation, of course, doesn’t rule much in or out. Ron Paul countered that he would not “wait for my generals. I’m the commander in chief. I make the decision. I tell the generals what to do.” And what he would tell the generals is, bring the troops home now.
The Water’s Edge examines the political forces shaping American foreign policy, the sustainability of American power, and the ability of the United States to navigate a rapidly changing world.