Role Quests in the Post-Cold War Era: Foreign Policies in Transition


318 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-1533-X
DDC 327




Edited by Philippe G. Le Prestre
Reviewed by D.M.L. Farr

D.M.L. Farr is professor emeritus of history at Carleton University and
the editor of Life and Letters of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.


This is a book for the academic specialist who is concerned with
analyzing the roles states assume in their relations with other states.
It is based on a content analysis of the speeches of decision-makers in
the turbulent years 1989–93, when the Berlin Wall was brought down and
the relatively stable era of the Cold War ended. Eight countries are
chosen for analysis: the United States, the Soviet Union/Russia, China,
Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Eight or ten of
each country’s speeches on foreign policy are analyzed for each year,
and the results are set down in a collection of essays. The work was
done by the Centre d’études des politiques étrangиres et de
sécurité of the Université du Québec а Montréal, an organization
founded in 1991 to carry out research, public communication, and

In the case of Canada, roles, identity, and status do not appear to
have changed very much in spite of the winding-down of the Cold War and
the uncertainties of the future. In 1970, K.J. Holsti identified three
major roles articulated by Canadian spokesmen and foreign-policy
specialists: mediator-integrator, developer, and faithful ally. Twenty
years later the liberal internationalist interpretation of Canada’s
external policy still remained dominant. The mediator and developer
roles were still paramount, but faithful ally had been replaced by a new
role, which the authors of the Canada essay (André Donneur and Caroline
Alain) call “defender of values.” By this phrase, they mean
Canada’s support for human rights and democratic institutions. A great
deal of work has gone into reaching this conclusion; some might ask
whether a reading of newspapers over the 1989–93 period might not have
led to the same finding, but there are nuances to the analysis that are
spelled out in this study. The argument is sometimes difficult to
follow, and the expression is often shrouded in the jargon of
international relations analysis. The work is supported by statistical
figures, tables, and a massive list of references.


“Role Quests in the Post-Cold War Era: Foreign Policies in Transition,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 10, 2023,