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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