The art of diplomacy involves working with allies to improve relations, confronting national-security threats from enemies, and getting as much cooperation as possible from nations in between the two.  Generally speaking, that means a nation should refrain from insulting their friends, especially when trying to get them to extend their commitment to a military alliance in a war zone.  Yesterday, Hillary Clinton tried sweet-talking the Canadians into keeping their troops in Afghanistan after 2011:

The United States would like Canada to keep some of its troops in Afghanistan once its combat mission there ends next year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday. …

“We would obviously like to see some form of support continue because the Canadian forces have a great reputation. They work really well with our American troops and the other members of our coalition,” Clinton told CTV television.

“We would very much look forward to having Canada involved in any way that you think appropriate,” said Clinton, who was in Ottawa for a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight leading nations.

Her remarks followed what diplomats say has been an energetic campaign behind the scenes to pressure Ottawa, one of Washington’s closest allies.

When did Hillary include this in the “energetic campaign”?

It was supposed to be a meeting of polar pals. But a high-level session on the vast opportunities opening up in the Arctic got off to a chilly start Monday, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Canada for leaving several players off the guest list. …

Clinton noted that the three other nations in the Arctic region — Sweden, Finland and Iceland — had complained they were not included in the meeting. She said she also was contacted by representatives of indigenous groups in the area that had been left off the list.

“Significant international discussions on Arctic issues should include those who have legitimate interests in the region,” Clinton said, according to a prepared copy of her remarks to the meeting, which was closed to press. “And I hope the Arctic will always showcase our ability to work together, not create new divisions.”

What a great idea!   Let’s convince Canada to have its soldiers die on the Af-Pak theater front by insulting them at their own conference.  After all, the troops that Sweden, Finland, and Iceland have in Afghanistan — not to mention those of “indigenous groups” — are so much more important strategically to the US and its mission in Afghanistan.  While Canada merely contributes almost 3,000 combat troops, Sweden has 500 non-combat personnel in Af-Pak, while Finland has 95.  Iceland has … four.

Canada, not surprisingly, responded by politely telling Hillary Clinton to pound sand.  The extension of the mission in Afghanistan is politically untenable anyway, but Barack Obama’s snub of Stephen Harper last December certainly didn’t help matters.  Neither does a pointless rebuke at a conference hosted by Ottawa.

So far in this administration, we’ve managed to alienate the UK, Israel, and now Canada, while talking nicely towards Iran and North Korea with no results to show for it.  That, apparently, is “smart power.”