Vive Le Canada

Denmark takes path shunned by Canada in following U.S. to Iraq
Date: Monday, November 07 2005

Denmark takes path shunned by Canada in following U.S. to Iraq

15:06:04 EST Nov 6, 2005

COPENHAGEN (CP) - Retiree Doris Kruckenberg doesn't like the direction her country is going, and for four years she has turned up regularly to let the Danish government know.

A couple of times a week she protests with fellow peace activists outside Denmark's stately parliament building. Their message: pull Danish troops out of the Iraqi conflict instigated by America's George W. Bush.

Kruckenberg represents the sharpest end of a political wedge that has divided Danes in the post-9/11 era.

On a chilly fall day, the longtime member of the Peace Watch group voices concern about the close alliance Denmark's leaders have crafted with the U.S. White House.

"I certainly think that the war on Iraq is illegal," said Kruckenberg, 68. "And I definitely don't think that wars in any way can be fought against terrorism. I think it increases terrorism."

Denmark's recent spat with Canada over ownership of Hans Island, the tiny Arctic outcrop between Ellesmere Island and Greenland, has overshadowed a more dramatic difference - the relationship each country has forged with the United States.

Canada rankled Washington with its refusal to participate in the invasion of Iraq two years ago. Ottawa also balked at taking a formal role in Bush's ambitious missile defence project.

Relations between the two neighbours have been further strained by a nasty and prolonged dispute about softwood lumber.

Denmark, on the other hand, has contributed more than 500 troops, under British command, to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. The Scandinavian country has also been more receptive than Canada to the concept of a missile defence shield, agreeing to update a key early-warning installation in Danish-controlled Greenland.

In recognition of their friendly relations, Bush visited Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen at his official residence in July, prior to the gathering of G-8 leaders in Scotland.

How have two northern countries with relatively small populations taken such distinct approaches in dealing with Washington?

Canada's history has in many ways been defined through its co-existence with a world power populated by 10 times as many people.

Despite strong ties, Canadian leaders have traditionally been wary of being seen as overly chummy with Washington.

In Denmark's case, an alliance with the United States serves as a means of declaring its identity in a Europe that is becoming more deeply interconnected, said Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen, a senior research fellow at the Danish Institute for International Studies.

"If we have an external ally, we have at least the potential for asserting ourselves vis a vis the big countries in Europe that might otherwise dominate us."

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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