A Podcast Called INTREPID

Discussing and debating Canadian national security law and politics

Ep 17 A Post-Christmas Carol(ine)

In the middle of night on December 29, 1837, Canadian militia commanded by a Royal Navy officer crossed the Niagara River to the United States and sank the Caroline, a steamboat being used by insurgents tied to the 1837 rebellion in Upper Canada. That incident, and the diplomatic understanding that settled it, have become the short-hand in international law for the “inherent right to self-defence” exercised by states in far-off places and different sorts of war. The Caroline is remembered today when drones kill terrorists and state leaders contemplate responses to militarily-threatening adversaries. But it is remembered by chance and not design, and often imperfectly. Destroying the Caroline: The Frontier Raid that Reshaped the Right to War (Irwin Law, 2018), by Intrepid Podcast's own Craig Forcese, tells the story of the Caroline affair and the colourful characters who populated it. Along the way, it highlights the various ways in which the Caroline and self-defence have been used – and misused – in response to modern challenges in international relations. It is the history of how a forgotten conflict on an unruly frontier has redefined the right to war. In this special commemorative episode, marking the 180th anniversary of the Caroline's sinking, Stephanie introduces the subject, and Craig reads the preface and first chapter of his book, to be released in early 2018. In the meantime, you can follow @Cdr_Drew_RN on Twitter, as he live-tweets the events of December 1837, using the hashtag, #sinkingthecaroline.