I came across two items yesterday about Brexit and NATO:
Professor Stephen Saideman, in his own blog, says “there are no direct implications since NATO and the EU are entirely separate entities despite efforts by some (France) to have the latter supplant the former. The UK was a major member of NATO before it joined the EU and remained such after joining. I don’t think there are much in the way of discernable behaviors that changed due to that move to inside the EU, although the EU may have lost one major obstacle to defence cooperation … [but] … the indirect implications could be many, but until we see how Brexit actually is implemented, we really cannot speculate too much.“
The Washington Post‘s editorial board, on the other hand, says “the United States can best support Britain, and Europe, by becoming a more active and vocal leader of the NATO alliance, which will retain Britain as a member. If the European Union is weakening or even in danger of crumbling, to the delight of Vladimir Putin, Mr. Xi and other adversaries, then one antidote is a reinforced transatlantic military partnership that bridges the incipient gap between London and the continent. NATO’s next summit meeting is scheduled for next month in Warsaw, where it is expected to confirm an important new deployment of forces to Eastern European countries bordering Russia. Mr. Obama should take the occasion to reconfirm U.S. commitment to NATO.”
I think they’re both right: it is too soon to tell just how much (more?) NATO will matter when ~ not if ~ the EU and Britain are both measurably weakened by the Brexit decision, but, in the interim, NATO needs to stand up, in Eastern Europe, to Russian opportunistic adventurism. I also think that Canada needs to step up, specifically, with an offer of a large, powerful army battlegroup, supported by CF-18s, for an extended (five,possibly even ten years) series of rotating deployments to Eastern Europe.
We need to remember that both NATO and the EU were designed to keep the peace in Europe. NATO was established to deter Russian aggression ~ a threat that has not disappeared, the hopes of the 1990s notwithstanding. the EU was form, in large part, to remove the centuries old conflicting ambitions of France and Germany. Both worked … often in concert, the ambitions of France also notwithstanding. Canada played a major role in the founding of NATO and was, mostly, until the first Trudeau regime took power in the late 1960s, an important and reliable partner.
It is in Canada’s best strategic interests to have continued peace in Europe ~ without unwelcome Russian influence. The EU seems headed for some tough times … now is the right time to fortify NATO. It has, once again, a proper raison d’être ~ it is not well suited to lead out of area operations ~ and Canada needs to reclaim a leadership role in it. The Washington Post is on the right track.