42 Comments

This is an excellent and provocative point of view until the final sentence. Canada made a commitment to spend 2%. Regardless of whether others are missing their commitment, regardless of whether we are in theory a bit more safe than those in the EU, it does not excuse failing to do what we committed. It's not about Trump thinking we owe it. Unless of course we'd like to assert that nothing we commit is actually genuine and we rely on foreign leaders to supervise and establish guard rails for our conduct? I aspire to live in a country which demonstrates maturity, self governance & accountability and integrity. Disappointing wrap.

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founding

Don't understand why Canada is so reluctant to increase military spending to 2% of GDP. We've been throwing around equivalent and larger sums on domestic priorities of questionable value, and if NATO falters I would think we'll be in a hurry to shore up our ability to defend ourselves. Canada is a freeloader and we should stop with the 'yeah but's' Er no, let's talk about free dental care for 59 and a half year olds!

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founding

The great irony to Trump’s bluster is that the so-called “Article 5 Tripwire States” — the Baltics, Poland and Romania — all well exceed the notional 2% threshold (Poland doubles it), and presumably he would feel honour-bound to leap to their defence. Unless his grandstanding just underscores what a delusional blowhard demagogue he is.

It does pain me, however, to push back on your cutting Canada some slack with our reputation as one of the “fighting few” — that crutch has exceeded its best before date. The Battle Group we lead in Latvia only exists because other allies have filled the ranks our Army is unable to meet; the Air Force doesn’t have enough pilots to crew the couple of dozen operational CF-18s; and the Navy doesn’t have a ship to join in protecting the Red Sea trade routes. There is nothing to push out the door. Good grief.

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Mobster diplomacy, that's a good, concise description. On the one hand, I hate the idea of Canada spending more on our military as a result of Trump's tactics. I'd much rather see us invest in our military as a way to support our allies and have a robust, credible deterrent against aggressors and the capacity to assist at home during natural disasters. On the other hand, I hope that our leaders resist the urge to do something foolish like NOT investing so we don't look like Trump is pushing us around. As Philippe pointed out, it's not like we'd be paying our dues to the USA for protection. We would be investing in Canadians and local industries and requiring economic offsets for procurements from foreign companies.

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The background behind Canada’s reluctance to spend anything beyond the bare ass minimum on its defense fits quite nicely with the background of the current Canadian leadership. Quebec where Trudeau is from had conscription riots in both WWI and WWII with the latter resolved by the creation of Zombie regiments where draftees would not have to go overseas. And the NDP historic socialist roots means that military spending might lead to Canada going to war with fellow socialist countries. Hence, and in spite of countless examples of individual acts of heroism by members of the Canadian forces, the heart of the current Canadian leadership is not really behind meeting their national defense obligations.

In spite of former President Trump’s un-Canadian public behavior in many areas, he does have a point in asking allies to meet their obligations. Canada’s neglect means that down the line American men and women could give up their lives protecting Canadian self (ish!) interests. This is shameful and disgusting

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I think as much as anything, Trump is pushing for increased defence spending because he knows the vast amount of it will go to US companies....so he's enriching his friends and supporters again. Don't get me wrong, Canada's defence spending is insufficient, and incompetently doled out. We should be spending more; to combat Putin's expansion.

As for Trump, a second Trump presidency is a disaster for Canada, and a disaster for the concept of global democracy. The irony of Trump wanting countries to spend more on defence is ironic considering the Trump Party's blatant goals of enabling Putin.

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Canadians should be concerned with Trump’s tough talk. We’re right in his crosshairs. In addition to not meeting the two per cent of GDP to NATO, Trump does not like our heads of state, Justin Trudeau. Trump is like the elephant which never forgets. He hasn’t forgotten how Trudeau insulted him in comments Trudeau made after the G-7 meeting in Quebec early on during Trump’s first term. Having his pal Vladimir take Trudeau down a peg or two would suit Trump just fine and we would be fools to bury our heads in the sand, believing it could never happen.

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The military is broken from within. Eight years of steadily encroaching DEI policy have shown the primary military demographic, white men, the Exit. Recruiting is a disaster as it is in the UK and the US who have both adopted the same policies. Coincidence? I think not. Historically, Francophones have always been at the front of the line when it came to promotion. Bilingualism was extra points. The Pink List always existed but ‘soto voce’. Now we have gender, skin colour, sexual orientation and spirtituality layered on top. Enough is enough. Merit is long gone. So long as these disastrous and blatantly discriminatory policies remain, the military’s major demographic will vote with their feet. Money won’t fix this problem.

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Not only do we not spend 2% of our GDP NOW, we haven't spent that for how many years? If you include the under spending for the last ten years or so, think of what we need to spend just to catch up. If we did, perhaps we could once again have a respectable military, fully staffed, and with the tools they need to be functional, both here, in Canada, and to some minor extent, abroad.

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We should all dream of a day when there is a consensus amongst mature minded Canadians to spend 2% (or more) of GDP for a functioning military.

And not because we need to placate our American neighbours, but because a democracy that cares about its national security does these things.

We should also dream of a day when a Canadian government throws a grenade into our military procurement program. There is something sadly wrong when everyone with the power to make changes for the better is content with delivery of purchases is measured by the decade.

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Finally, an article pointing out the obvious. Canada's position is both immoral and stupid.

Imorral: NATO's logic stems from the idea that our pooled military resources are much more effective than any single country can achieve. This logic especially applies to smaller or mid sized countries, which in NATO's case applies to every member country except the US. In other words, we all need NATO very badly, but the US only kind of needs it. We should be so lucky that the US is willing to be a part of NATO and that the only thing it is asking in return is that our defense spending equal or exceed 2% of our economy. In such an arrangement there is ample incentive to take advantage of your NATO treaty members and cut your own defense spending, knowing that NATO's mutual defense committment has your back. A kind of perverse tragedy of the commons. The 2% spending target is designed to counter this incentive. Has anyone looked at this from America's perspective. Can someone explain why it's ok for Canada to expect US citizens to go without the many social programs we have, while they watch countries like Canada role out social program after social program. They are not demanding that allies spend the same % as America spends. They are not demanding that we give them money (an actual protection racket). They are demanding that we pay the 2% that we agreed to, so that us being a part of NATO, actually has value. But the majority of media describes this as Trump (and by extension America) being immoral.

Stupid: NATO began as a counter to Russia, but behind Russia is China. A country with 10 times the resources and industrial capacity and a clearly demonstrated disregard for a rules based world order. Regardless of what happens with Russia, we need to be a part of a defense alliance in this kind of world.

But hey, free prescription drugs are so much better if American taxpayers are willing to pay for our defense. Immoral and stupid.

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Feb 21·edited Feb 22

"On the one hand, it’s clearly dangerous and evidence that a second Trump presidency could shake the foundations of the alliance."

(?) It isn't "evidence" of this at all. It's simply typical Trump bluster that you've seized on as a pretext for some speculative hypothesizing.

"We should rightly be worried and condemn such reckless rhetoric."

With analysts (?) like you as models, how do the reckless rhetoricians continue to go so wrong? "Dangerous." "Mobster diplomacy." "Protection racket." "Horrified." "Menacingly." "Threatening." "Kneecap our economy." How perceptive does one need to be to realize that the antidote to bluster isn't counter-bluster but anti-bluster?

"In the end, though, most NATO allies can’t dodge the fact that they’ve spent less than promised."

If it's "a waste of breath" to point out the delinquency of America's NATO allies, why have you acknowledged it twice? We're not learning anything about NATO from this article that we didn't know before: all we've learned is that you don't favour Trump's style and have used this particular instance of Trumpian bluster as a pretext for venting against it, paradoxically in a way scarcely distinguishable from what you're nominally criticizing. This isn't enough to make for an interesting article; and an analyst unable to distinguish between evidence (we can't have 'evidence' for things that haven't yet happened and might never happen) and his own speculations courts charges of "reckless rhetoric" himself, wouldn't you say?

P.S. For those interested, here's an informative, thought-provoking take on this topic:

https://unherd.com/2024/02/trump-is-not-natos-biggest-threat/?=refinnar

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It would be a mistake to assume that an increase in defense spending would placate Trump. The complaints about not meeting target defense expenditures are merely a pretext for Trump's larger opposition to the whole idea of NATO. Trump doesn't see the need to expend *any* money or make *any* commitments to the defense of anybody else, and assumes that the US has been made a chump by what he sees as footing the bill for so long.

It's an ignorant, foolish view: it ignores that the US indeed needs allies, is stronger with them, and would both need to spend more money on defense *and* be less secure without NATO. He also misses the American interest of having NATO maintain a peaceful Europe and help secure the rules-based democratic order that underpins American prosperity. His suggestion that he would fail to abide by the Article 5 provision that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on them all completely misses the fact that the *only* time Article 5 has ever been invoked was to the benefit of America after 9/11.

All of this only underlines why Canada needs to spend more on defense: the assumption that America would come to our aid is increasingly shaky. If China made a move on Canadian arctic territory for the purposes of resource extraction or started illegal fisheries along Canadian coastlines, would a Trump administration really come to Canadian aid or would Trump be bought off by an offer of trade concessions? If Canada ends up in some sort of confrontation with a Trump-led nationalist US government, can we count on European support if Canada has neglected engagement and support of European security concerns?

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founding

"Mobster diplomacy"...just a negative metaphor for calling out free riders. "A second Trump presidency could shake the foundations of the alliance". Good. In my opinion, it badly needs shaking. The UN and NATO have sprouted pimples and boils that evolve then cascade on the world in the form of unproductive--and even terror supporting--cancers.

Both the UN and NATO need calling out. Perhaps it isn't so "mobbish" after all.

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Say what you will about Mr. Trump. Yes, he has a bullying attitude, and yes, he blusters a lot. You may like him or hate him, my point is he is the only Western leader to speak to the North Korean president, he set in motion the Abraham Accords in the Middle East which went a long way to normalizing relations between Jews and Arabs. Also, during his administration there were no new wars started.

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Then I suppose we better pay up. So far we've been all talk and there's been no consequences. What's the point in having a minimum spend if members can ignore it? Our country needs a kick in the ass and I have no issues with it coming from Trump, at least for this specific thing.

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