There is an interesting article in Foreign Policy about the political problems that President Donald Trump’s demands for increased defence spending create for Germany. The author, Elisabeth Braw, who is a journalist and an adjunct fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, explains that the German military is seriously underfunded (like, I hasten to add, the Canadian Armed Forces). The German military’s admirals and generals, she explains “lack the funds they need to use their troops and much of the Bundeswehr’s equipment is not deployable … [and] … Germany’s top brass has for years been raising the alarm about the poor state of their forces’ readiness, but German politicians haven’t acted. Now … [she explains] … U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to bully Berlin into spending more on defense — which makes it political suicide at home to do so … [thus, she says] … As a result, the generals and the many able officers and soldiers under their command are likely to lose out again.“
I think the situation is the same in Canada; our admirals and generals (and we have way too many of each) also lack the funds they need, they have raised the alarm and they have, like their German confrères have been met by a solid wall of political indifference.
Carlo Masala, a professor of international politics at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, which provides civilian education for military officers explains, in the article, that ““In the past several years, we have been increasing defense spending, but if we move to swiftly increase it further, it will look as if we’re doing it for Trump … [and] … That just won’t fly with the German voters.”” I think, once again, swe have an almost exact analog with Canada.
But Professor Masala has a solution: “French President Emmanuel Macron. “Most Germans would spend 2 percent for Macron,” he contends. “What needs to happen is that Trump should say nothing about German defense spending, and Macron should instead make the case for large increases. Then it would be possible.” It’s true that SPD leaders have a strong affection for the Europhile French president; after last year’s elections … [Chancellor Merkel’s political partners and foes] …promised to push Germans to embrace Macron’s ideas … [and Ms Braw concludes that] … Masala’s plan might actually work. But for Trump’s ambitions for German defense spending to go anywhere, the first step is for Trump himself to shut his mouth.“
I doubt that President Marcon has quite as much influence in Canada but I am pretty sure that Canadians share the German people’s aversion to President Trump and will support Prime Minister Trudeau when he promises to not increase defence spending.