I have, for the past few weeks, speculated about the Trump Effect, especially that part related to military burden sharing. It was all very well for NATO’s Secretary General (its allied civilian leader) Jens Stoltenberg to remind President Trump about how readily Europe rallied to America after 9/11 but that was 15+ years ago and it appears, according to an article in the New York Times, that President Trump wants more, now.
“Defense Secretary Jim Mattis,” the New York Times reporter says, “echoing his boss in Washington, warned on Wednesday that the amount of American support for NATO could depend on whether other countries meet their own spending commitments … [and he added that] … “Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do,” … I owe it to you to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms” … [and] … “America will meet its responsibilities,” he said, but he made clear that American support had its limits … [further] … In his speech to NATO defense ministers, Mr. Mattis repeated a call made by previous American secretaries of defense, for European allies to spend more on their militaries. His comments on Wednesday give teeth to President Trump’s expressed skepticism about the alliance … [and, he ] … went further than his predecessors in apparently linking American contributions to the alliance to what other countries spend … [and] … “If your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense,” he said.“
I suspect that James Mattis’ remarks were aimed at Canada, too, in spades, and with regard to both NATO and NORAD.
How can Prime Minister Justin Trudeau juggle his big spending, domestic and global green, feminist and sunny ways agenda along with this new pressure to double the defence budget ~ which is already at nearly $20 billion per year but which accounts for less than 1% of GDP.
Professor Michael Byers proposes some “fun with numbers” solutions, but they are, to be charitable, silly, at best, and that’s to be expected from a well known anti-military gadfly. I have no doubt that the Trudeau regime will follow up on some of them.
The simple fact is that the problem, itself, is simple: it’s all about and only about priorities. If President Trump ties defence burden sharing to NATFA, for example, then we are stymied … all those expensive green, feminist and sunny ways projects that Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal Party and many, many Canadians like so much will have to give way to defence spending ~ which many, many Canadians dislike … some quite intensely.