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From the archives

Liberal Interpretations

Making sense of Justin Trudeau and his party

Clock Watching

The nuclear threat lingers still

Spending Power

Can compassion and efficiency be combined in the use of public funds?

Chris Alexander

Chris Alexander served as Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005.

Articles by
Chris Alexander


Policy in an age of displacement December 2021
In recent memory, no single issue has wreaked greater havoc in American politics than immigration. Terrorism cost lives, upended aviation after 9/11, and brought disaster to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Sub-prime mortgages cost Americans eight million jobs. A massive trade deficit with China made Wall Street, Omaha, and Silicon Valley billionaires unspeakably rich, while ripping the guts out of the manufacturing…

At the Crossroads

The rest is still unwritten September 2021
One reason Afghanistan is still at war is that its history has not yet been properly written. To put the problem another way, peace still eludes the country partly because its main challenge has not yet been fully identified — or even clearly stated. Instead, Afghanistan’s real history tends to lurk in the shadows of larger…

A Wretched Motley Crew

The struggle that defined two nations November 2020
For six or seven unprecedented decades, Canada and its allies shared three powerful assumptions: that democracies would multiply, trade would grow, and borders would stay open. NAFTA and an enlarging European Union were poster children for these megatrends. Sadly, in the age of Trump, Brexit, and COVID‑19, all three comforting nostrums — signs of history’s seeming drift toward better times — have hit the…

Clickbait and Switch

Startling trends for democracy October 2019
If you ask Canadians, as I have been doing lately, whether they think political debate is healthy today, most will answer in the negative. Ask them when they first detected a change — whether in Canada or on the global stage — and many will say it was four or five years ago. That’s when politics seemed to take a turn toward…

The King’s Ear

On the influence of dictators July | August 2019
William Lyon Mackenzie King was the grandson of one of Canada’s most famous rebels and heir to our strongest twentieth-­century political brand. Born in 1874, he is best known for his long run as prime minister (twenty-­two years), for his devotion to his mother, Isabel King (mentioned thousands of times in his diaries), and for his “double life,” which included a passion for the…

‘Scots Wha Hae’

Turmoil in eighteenth-century Scotland changed Canada and the world January | February 2019
On May 31, 1821, the sheriff and a dozen men entered Ascoilemore, a hamlet in the valley of Strathbrora in the county of Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands, to enforce eviction orders against its residents. At the home of Jessie Ross, the sheriff ordered her young daughters, Elizabeth and Katherine Ross, into the shivering cold. When Jessie refused to…

The Truth of Canada’s Failure in Afghanistan

Geopolitical condescension and the Forever War October 2018
Over fifteen years working in Afghanistan or tracking all aspects of the conflict from outside, I’ve only once dared hope that peace was in prospect. It was May 2, 2011. Just after 1 a.m., Pakistan time, U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in a walled compound in Abbottabad, a kilometre from the Pakistan Military…