Former prime minister Stephen Harper says the world order has returned to a kind of Cold War between two superpowers, this time between the United States and China.
And while middle-power countries like Canada are part of the rivalry, Harper told a defence conference on Friday they lack the economic and security clout to do much on their own to shape the outcome.
“Yes, middle powers like Canada can play a role and should play a role,” he said. “But I don’t think we should think that, especially for a country like ours, we could set courses completely independent of the Big Two.”
The former Conservative prime minister gave his view of the new world order during a wide-ranging question-and-answer session at a virtual gathering hosted by the Conference of Defence Associations Institute.
Following the Second World War, the U.S. and its allies engaged in a prolonged Cold War with the Soviet Union and its communist allies and satellite states.
Russia now a ‘disrupter’
While Russia remains “strategically important,” Harper said its comparatively small economy today puts it out of the same league as China and the U.S. Russia has devolved instead, he said, into being “the world’s biggest disrupter,” along with rogue states like Iran and North Korea.
“It’s a hacker, it’s a disrupter, it’s a mercenary,” he said.