Canada pulls its NATO weight but we could still spend more

Winnipeg Sun - - COMMENT -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is com­pletely within his right to com­plain about all the NATO coun­tries that aren’t cough­ing up the money they said they would. This in­cludes Canada.

The U.S. Pres­i­dent called coun­tries in­clud­ing Canada “delin­quent” for fail­ing to shell-out 2% of their GDP on de­fence spend­ing. This is the fig­ure all 28 mem­bers of the north­ern de­fence al­liance have agreed to spend, to guar­an­tee we’re in good fight­ing shape to have each other’s backs in times of trou­ble.

But cur­rently only 5 coun­tries are at that level. Canada? Nope. Nowhere near. We’ve hov­er­ing around 1.25%. It’s been decades since we were at the agreed upon amount.

The U.S. leads the charge, shelling out 3.5% in their tra­di­tional role as the world’s dom­i­nant mil­i­tary force. Trump had pre­vi­ously called on coun­tries to get to their promised level by 2024, but he now wants to see that hap­pen im­me­di­ately.

He has a point. First of all, we made this prom­ise for a rea­son.

Why shouldn’t we try to keep it?

But, more im­por­tantly, there are still many un­sta­ble sit­u­a­tions in the world that call for us to re­main strong and vig­i­lant.

There are di­rect threats. The Is­lamic

State has pre­vi­ously threat­ened Canada. North Korea has in­tercon­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles that can hit us. Then there are the in­di­rect threats to which we must never ap­pear weak: Like how China is on the rise and has an eye on Canada’s nat­u­ral re­sources. Or how Rus­sia is al­ways flex­ing its mus­cles, like in Crimea.

That said, Trump is not en­tirely right. Both for­mer PM Stephen Harper and

Justin Trudeau have ar­gued that it’s not so much the quantity of our NATO spend­ing but the qual­ity of it that mat­ters.

It’s not like we’re sit­ting around do­ing noth­ing. Just the other day,

Trudeau en­hanced and ex­tended Op­er­a­tion Re­as­sur­ance — the NATO mis­sion that will now place 540 troops in Latvia un­til 2023. The goal is to be a check on Rus­sian pos­tur­ing in East­ern Europe, which speaks to the core of why NATO ex­ists in the first place.

Here’s the thing: Both po­si­tions are right at the same time. Canada cer­tainly should in­vest more in our mil­i­tary. It’s also true though that we’re not scofflaws. We pull our weight.

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