North American Integration

Why Canada needs to show more love to Mexico

The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Sep. 30 2014

In a world that is suddenly messy, there is a renewed premium on living in a good neighbourhood.

With the United States, we are friends, allies and partners, whether we like it or not and whether they know it or not. With Mexico, we are too often an indifferent friend and partner, seemingly oblivious to Canadian trade and investment and the millions of Canadians who fly south for sun, sand and tequila.

The North American free-trade agreement (NAFTA) underpins North American integration but, after 20 years, it needs renovation. Happily, fresh intellectual capital is coming to stimulate decision-making in time for next year’s North American Leaders’ meeting in Canada.

Canada’s Senate foreign affairs committee began hearings last week into North American integration. The U.S. Council on Foreign Relations soon will publish its recommendations on managing the neighbourhood. Next month, our trade ministers meet with business leadership in Toronto to chart paths to North American competitiveness.

Our U.S. relationship has been sustained by rules-based institutions that level the playing field. Security is guaranteed through NATO and NORAD. Trade is managed through our multiple trade agreements – notably our Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and NAFTA and now the Trans‑Pacific Partnership. Our shared environment is a notable success story, beginning with the Boundary Waters Treaty and the International Joint Commission.

Our leverage internationally comes from the fact that because we understand the United States better than anyone else, we can interpret the rest of the world to the U.S. and the U.S. to the rest of the world. Investment and trust in our foreign service is essential to maintaining those relationships.

We like to think we know everything about them and they like to think they know everything they need to know about us. We’re both wrong, but because of the asymmetries of trade and investment, they matter much more to us than we do to them. We need a Canadian representative in each U.S. state and, with jobs and security top of American minds, we need to remind them that their best customers also “have their back.”

U.S. President Barack Obama may be a lame duck but he can still get a lot done. The FTA was negotiated during the final two years of the Reagan administration. NAFTA was negotiated in the final years of the administration of George H.W. Bush. The Smart Border Accord morphed out of the Canada‑U.S. Partnership initiated in the Clinton administration’s final years.

Let’s quickly finish the first stage of the Beyond the Border and Regulatory Cooperation initiatives. Make pre-clearance and common standards the norm rather than the exception. Monitor progress and establish accountability through bi-national and bi-regional associations including the Canadian American Business Council, Canadian-American Border Trade Alliance, Council of the Great Lakes Region and the Pacific Northwest Economic Region. Apply the ‘lessons learned’ trilaterally.

Some think we would be better off dealing directly with the United States rather than including Mexico. If the rapidly increasing Canadian investment in mining, banking and manufacturing in Mexico and common interests vis-a-vis the United States on issues like border and transportation doesn’t persuade you, then consider two facts: With 122 million people, Mexico is already the United States’ second-largest trading partner and will eventually surpass our own trade with the U.S. And there are 51 million Americans with Latino roots, most of them Mexican, sitting in legislatures, Congress, cabinet and, one day, in the White House.

The reforms of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto open a window to business opportunities for us especially in Mexico’s ambitious infrastructure program: railroads, expanded metros, Mexico City’s new airport, over 10,000 kilometres of new pipelines and gas-fuelled electricity generation.

To do business, Mexicans need to get here. Our current visa process is long, arduous and humiliating. Fix it and bring North American trusted traveller programs into alignment.

Mexico should be our first development assistance priority focusing on sustaining the rule of law through police and judicial training.

Our private sector wants North American convergence on border facilitation and deregulation. The North American energy revolution will reindustrialize our countries and revitalize manufacturing. Our motto should be “Made in North America.”

Revitalize NAFTA’s commissions on the environment and labour. There doesn’t need to be any contradiction between sustainable resource development and economic growth. The EU model of skills and training, mutual recognition of education and labour credentials should also be a North American advantage. Canada should join the North American Development Bank and we should position it as the preferred financier for trans-border infrastructure.

Canada is a North American nation. We can’t change geography, nor would we want to. Let’s show the world what good neighbours – three democracies with 500 million people – can achieve.

More Related to this Story


Video: How the visa issue looms large over ‘Three Amigos’ summit
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto officially welcomed the prime minister with full honour guard in Mexico City Tuesday. Earlier, Stephen Harper met with some of the country's business leaders.

Video: Stephen Harper welcomed to Mexico with honour guard

Stephen Harper arrived in Mexico City Monday ahead of the Three Amigos summit with the U.S. and Mexican presidents. The Prime Minister attended a wreath-laying ceremony honouring fallen Mexican soldiers.

Video: Stephen Harper in Mexico for leaders’ summit

Comments Off on North American Integration

Senate Testimony North American Integration



OTTAWA, Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade met this day at 10:30 a.m. to examine the potential for increased Canada-United States-Mexico trade and investment, including in growth areas in key resource, manufacturing and service sectors; the federal actions needed to realize any identified opportunities in these key sectors; and opportunities for deepening cooperation at the trilateral level .

Senator A. Raynell Andreychuk (Chair) in the chair.

The Chair: Honourable senators, we’re convened as the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.  We are continuing our study of the potential for increased Canada‑United States‑Mexico trade and investment, including in growth areas in key resource, manufacturing and service sectors; the federal actions needed to realize any identified opportunities in these key sectors; and opportunities for deepening cooperation at the trilateral level.

Colin Robertson, Vice President, and Fellow, School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute: Thank you, Madam Chair.  By way of introduction, I served in the Canadian Foreign Service for almost 33 years with a concentration on Canada‑U.S. relations, including postings to the UN in New York while we were on the Security Council in 1977, returning to the consulate general in 1978 during the later Carter and early Reagan administration as one of the crop of junior officers sent to get to know the local congressional delegations as part of our diplomacy in the United States under Allan Gotlieb,  which embraced Congress as well as the administration.  Gotlieb’s I’ll Be With You In a Minute, Mr. Ambassador remains the best how‑to diplomatic guide for Canadian diplomacy in the United States.

I was a member of the Canadian teams for both the Canada‑U.S. free trade and North American free trade negotiations during the Reagan, George H.W. Bush and early Clinton administrations.  I served as our consul general in Los Angeles during the later Clinton and early George W. Bush administrations.  Prime Minister Martin appointed me as the first head of the Advocacy Secretariat in Washington to advance our interests on Capitol Hill, working closely with our provinces and using public diplomacy.

During my last two years in the Foreign Service, I worked on a major study on Canada‑U.S. relations with Derek Burney and Fen Hampson at Carleton University to help prepare Canadian policy for what turned out to be the Obama Administration.

On retirement from the Foreign Service, I joined CDFAI and McKenna, Long and Aldridge, a Washington‑based law firm.

By conviction and experience, I favour closer North American integration because it will strengthen Canada and sustain those things that define what it is to be Canadian.

I’ll start with a story.  On the seventh day, God created Canada, a country of mountains, lakes, forests and fish, abundant resources, a peaceable kingdom with people from every land, fleet of foot, especially on skates — Senator Demers.  St. Peter asked God:  Don’t you think you’re being a bit generous to these people?  God smiled at St. Peter and replied:  Just wait until you see the neighbour.

A Foreign Service career gives you the privilege of speaking with our prime ministers, and each one has told me that prime ministers have three main files on their desks:  national security, national unity and the U.S. relationship.

Read Richard Gwyn’s splendid biography of Sir John A. Macdonald and you will appreciate that a preoccupation with our southern neighbour is older than Confederation.  The Mexicans have a similar perspective.  Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, a contemporary of Macdonald, would lament of his nation’s propinquity to the United States:  So far from God, so close to the United States.

But as much as we might complain about Uncle Sam, I have never forgotten the perspective I received as a junior officer at the UN.  A group of us were dumping on the United States after the Carter Administration’s failure to embrace and ratify the East Coast Fisheries Agreement.  A Polish diplomat, his country still under the boot of the Soviet Union, listened to us complain about the Americans.  He then asked us, “Would you rather be us?”  It stopped us short.

Anti‑Americanism is a virus that is deep in our DNA.  My view is that God did us a great favour, not just in our place and people, but also in our neighbour.  We are friends, allies and partners, whether we like it or not and whether they know it or not.

Franklin Roosevelt, probably the president who best understood Canada’s strategic importance to the United States, established with Mackenzie King the framework through which we have conducted relations since 1938.

In return for preferred access to what is still the biggest market in the world, we undertook to be a reliable ally, benefiting from the U.S. security shield.  Having carried more than its fair share of the security load, the U.S. is now asking its allies to step up and do more.  For our own security and to demonstrate our commitment to collective security, we need to invest, especially in building the ships to sustain the maritime order on which our commerce depends.

Successive presidents and prime ministers, the smart ones anyway, have followed this formula of sustaining institutions, security through NATO and NORAD, trade through our multiple trade agreements ‑‑ notably the FTA and NAFTA and leading now to CETA and the Trans‑Pacific Partnership ‑‑ and on the environment, beginning with the IJC and including the acid rain agreement and the Montreal ozone protocol.

Institutions level the playing field and they work to the immense benefit of Canada.

Brian Mulroney, the prime minister who probably best understood the United States, recently observed that “the relationship with the United States is something the prime minister alone has to nurture, the same way he would tend to the most delicate flowers in a garden.  It’s that important.  If you can’t do that, you don’t have much clout internationally.”

Mulroney understood that our leverage internationally comes from the fact that because we understand the United States better than anyone else, we can interpret the rest of the world to the United States and the United States to the rest of the world.  This means reinvesting in our diplomatic service.

We are a North American nation.  We can’t change geography, nor would we want to.  Let us get on with deepening the integration that is already taking place through investment and supply chain dynamics, as well as through the people‑to‑people ties that we enjoy with the United States and that now include Mexico.

I’ll conclude with three recommendations.

First on the U.S., we like to think we know everything about them and they like to think they know everything they need to know about us.  We’re both wrong, but because of the asymmetries of trade and investment, they matter much more to us than we do to them.

As a start, we should have a representative in each U.S. state to act as our ears, eyes and, when necessary, our mouths to make the Canadian case.  When Congress and the states act, it is usually not malice but lack of appreciation of the Canadian perspective.  We need to be there to set the record straight on urban myths like the one still there about the 9/11 terrorists coming from Canada.  It’s not nice diplomatic notes but rather straight talk between friends.  As I have learned, be brief, be blunt and be quick because once a myth takes root, it’s hard to undo it.

Let’s do diplomacy differently and cost‑effectively by hiring from the star‑spangled Canadians already living in the States.  Get them to establish business groups like what we have done in Arizona with the Canada‑Arizona Business Council.  This clever initiative set as its goal to increase the number of direct flights to Arizona.  In a decade, under the leadership of Glenn Williamson, now our honorary consul, they’ve increased from 8 to 100 flights a week.  That translates into an awful lot of trade and investment.  Let’s get to it.

President Obama may be a lame duck, but lame ducks can get a lot done.  We didn’t begin negotiations of the Canada‑U.S. free trade agreement until the final two years of the Reagan Administration.  The acid rain agreement and the North American FTA were negotiated in the last two years of the Bush Administration.  The Canada‑U.S. partnership came together in the last years of the Clinton Administration, and it morphed into the “smart border accord.”

Let’s take the initiative and keep pushing on shared issues like Beyond the Border, regulatory cooperation, as well as the Arctic, energy and environmental collaboration.  Sustainable development is not a choice between the environment and the economy; it’s both together.

Ambassador Bruce Heyman wants to get things done, but he needs our help to resolve problems constructively.  Hectoring and hazing may make for headlines, but it’s not smart diplomacy, and history suggests it’s also poor politics.  Canadians expect mature behaviour when dealing with the U.S.

Second, On Mexico, a window is now open to significantly increase our commercial ties, thanks to the reforms of the Peña Nieto Administration, especially in terms of selling them our energy know‑how, our engineering and infrastructure expertise and in educating the future Mexican leadership at our schools and universities.

The Mexicans want to do business with us.  Our private sector wants convergence on border facilitation and deregulation.  There are real opportunities for Canada in Mexico’s ambitious infrastructure program, including railroads, expanded metros, Mexico City’s new airport and over 10,000 kilometres of new pipelines.  The North American energy revolution means cheap gas will reindustrialize our countries, especially in energy‑intensive industries.  It’s more than oil and gas; it’s investment in electricity plants based on gas.  These are all areas of Canadian expertise.

President Peña Nieto personally selected Ambassador Francisco Suarez to open the doors.  Suarez is a doer but he needs a partner.

To do business, Mexicans need to get here.  Our current visa process is long, arduous and humiliating.  We figured it out with the Czechs, on whom we imposed a visa at the same time as the Mexicans.

The immediate fix would be to recognize Mexicans who qualify for preferred entry to the U.S.A. in the same fashion that the U.S. gives Canada preferred access through the NEXUS program.  Ultimately, we need to bring these trusted traveller programs into alignment.

We should match the Mexican efforts to establish close relations between our universities, not just increasing student exchanges ‑‑ why not aim to quadruple them in next four years ‑‑ but also in joint research projects.

For strategic reasons Mexico should be at the top of our development assistance list, with help in policing and judicial training.

There are still some who think we would be better off just dealing directly with the United States.  They argue trilateralism complicates things.  It does, but surely we can walk and chew gum at the same time.  If the rapidly increasing Canadian investment in mining, banking and now manufacturing in Mexico doesn’t persuade you then consider these two facts:

  • Mexico, with 122 million people, is already America’s second largest trading partner and their trade is growing faster than our own.  Forty per cent of what Mexico sends to the U.S. was sourced out of Mexico.  The figure is 25 per cent for Canada, underlining our integrated trade.
  • There are 51 million Americans with Latino roots, most of them Mexican.  This is a vital voting block.  There are legislators with Latino roots in state houses, Congress, the governors’ mansions and cabinet, and it will not be long before there is one in the White House.

Third, the hidden wiring of Canada‑U.S. relations is the web of relationships beyond the prime minister and president and our cabinets, especially premiers, governors and legislators, federal and state.  We need to expand this wiring with Mexico.

I applaud the work of the revitalized Canada‑U.S.A. Interparliamentary Group, under the leadership of Senator Janis Johnson and MP Gord Brown.   We should integrate the Canada‑U.S. and the U.S.‑Mexico groups to create a North American interparliamentary group.  This would give us a much better chance of sustaining attention from U.S. senators and members of Congress and with our Mexican colleagues we can put pressure on the U.S. to deal with shared interests, like challenges around trucking, border infrastructure and improving the logistical challenges of the supply chains that now cross all our borders.

Like the Canadian geese now flying south that I heard this morning, North American integration has become a force of nature.  Embrace it con mucho gusto to our mutual benefit.  Let North America demonstrate to the world what it means to be a good neighbour.

Comments Off on Senate Testimony North American Integration

CETA Summit

Canada-EU trade deal close to completion. Now the hard work begins

The Globe and Mail  Tuesday, Sep. 16 201

There will be justified celebration later next week when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso meet to mark the end of negotiations over the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA).

These agreements open doors. Now we must take advantage of them.

Translating CETA’s potential into real gains requires all levels of government, working with business, to get our goods and services to market and then to sell them within the EU.

The agreements realize the long-held Canadian goal of closer economic links with Europe. CETA sets the standard for the next generation of trade deals including the EU-U.S. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

CETA has been a long time coming.

A trans-Atlantic economic community was meant to complement the NATO collective security pact (1949) but there was insufficient business interest on either side of the Atlantic. In the mid-1970s, Pierre Trudeau sought counterweights to the United States through contractual links with Europe and Japan but there was little business appetite.

Brian Mulroney’s vision and determination convinced Canadians that our sovereignty would be enhanced, rather than jeopardized, through freer trade with the United States. Jean Chrétien finessed Liberal opposition to freer trade through the NAFTA environmental and labour accords. Enlisting the premiers, Mr. Chrétien successfully marketed the Canada brand through the Team Canada missions, at the same time demonstrating the kind of political leadership still essential in Asian markets.

Our economy enjoyed a decade of trade-inspired growth, convincing Canadians that we can successfully compete globally.

The Harper government is deservedly self-congratulatory over the negotiation of CETA. It took awhile for PM Harper to realize that the road to Brussels really goes through Brussels and the EU Commission not member states. Meanwhile, we tested the patience of the EU’s Barroso and Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht.

CETA confirms the provinces as full partners in Canadian trade negotiations. They have competence, especially in marketing, and share constitutional authority in many of the areas, like procurement, that now dominate trade negotiations.

CETA owes much to provincial initiative. Then-Quebec premier Jean Charest convinced then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy to champion the start of negotiations. As Quebec’s chief negotiator, former premier Pierre-Marc Johnson, managed the transitions in Quebec governments while maintaining a pan-Canadian approach.

Business wanted this deal. The Canada Europe Roundtable for Business, notably Roy McLaren and Jason Langrish, were tireless advocates and intermediaries in making it happen. Their continued involvement is essential. We need their help in identifying CETA business champions within the EU.

CETA is still many months from implementation. After the legal scrub, the deal requires translation into 24 official languages, approvals by the EU Council and Parliament, then ratification by its 28 member states. Canadian legislation – federal and provincial – will also be required.

The intervening months should be used to better position ourselves for CETA.

First, we need to get our house in order:

-Build the infrastructure to get our goods to market including construction of the west-east pipelines and terminals. Renovate our roads and rail, ports and airports. The Harper government’s new ‘Building Canada’ plan is a good start but we need a national transportation strategy.

-Get on with freer trade internally, including reform of supply management.

Second, we need to market our goods and services within the European Union:

-Concentrate on those sectors and services where we have a competitive edge: mining, agriculture, animal health and research, oil and gas, financial services, aerospace.

-Make the Canadian brand in products, like pork and beef, a premium product, as New Zealand has done with its lamb.

-Position ourselves into existing EU supply chains, taking advantage of our access to the United States and Mexico and our gateway to the Pacific.

-Restart the Canada-EU Energy Dialogue to focus on transportation and infrastructure. Our oil and gas offers reliable, strategic energy security, an alternative to current EU dependence on Russia and the Middle East.

-Resurrect the “Team Canada” playbook through partnering all levels of government in marketing our goods and services. The practical work of matchmaking companies has already started through the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters’ Enterprise Canada network.

-Set targets for each EU country. CETA forecast a 23 per cent increase in trade. Incorporate these metrics into our ambassadors’ mandate letters.

-Rethink selling off our official residences. Instead, use them as marketing platforms. Mr. Chrétien, arguably our best salesman-prime minister, understood that you don’t do diplomacy from your basement.

With CETA finally negotiated, our attention turns to the systematic marketing of a “Made in Canada” brand that is synonymous with reliable delivery, excellent service and superior products.

More Related to this Story


Video: Canada-EU trade deal billed as a ‘game changer’

Video: Stephen Harper signs ‘historical’ trade pact with the EU
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels on Friday Oct. 18, 2013, after announcing a free-trade agreement between Canada and the Europe Union. Ten months after this declaration of a ‘historic moment,’ Ottawa quietly announces reaching final negotiated deal.

Video: Leaked EU trade agreement: Canada caved on drug patents

A former diplomat, Colin Robertson is vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a senior adviser to McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP

Comments Off on CETA Summit

Ukraine, Russia and NATO summit

CTV News Channel: Will Ukraine join NATO?

Colin Robertson of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute on the chances of Ukraine joining NATO and why Russia is against it.

Comments Off on Ukraine, Russia and NATO summit

Primer to the NATO Summit

Primer to the Wales NATO Summit: NATO, summit agenda, likely results, Canadian interest

A Policy Paper

by Colin Robertson
CDFAI Vice President

September, 2014


Table of Contents

What is NATO?
What has NATO Done?
What is on the NATO Agenda in Wales?
What Results Can We Expect from the Wales Summit?
About the Author
Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute


Presidents, Prime Ministers, and ministers responsible for foreign affairs and defence will meet in Newport, near Cardiff in Wales for the 26th NATO summit, September 4-5, at the invitation of UK Prime Minister David Cameron. With ‘partner’ nations also present, leaders of 60 countries are expected at the summit.

The conference takes place against a backdrop of the ongoing Ukrainian crisis and continuing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa.

As host David Cameron observed in his letter to fellow leaders “In 2014, the world is more unpredictable than ever and we meet at another pivotal moment in the history of the alliance.” Or, as President Obama said last week at a party fundraiser, “If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart.”

Both leaders are also conscious of the domestic backdrop: the Scottish referendum on independence (September 18) and the US midterms (November 4).


What is NATO?

In the wake of the Second World War, the victors set up a series of international institutions. The foremost was the United Nations, with universal membership designed to advance human progress and prevent the “scourge of war”. Responding to what Winston Churchill described as the “iron curtain” descending “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic”, the western alliance set up a collective security agreement called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In the words of its first secretary general, Lord Ismay, NATO was to “keep the Russians out, the Germans down, and the Americans in”. A collective security agreement, an attack on one would be considered an attack on all (Article 5). NATO was also designed, at Canadian insistence, to have an economic dimension to promote trade, investment, and commerce between the members (Article 2).

The agreement was signed in Washington on April 2, 1949. Its original membership included twelve countries – the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. In signing the agreement Canadian External Affairs Minister Lester Pearson said that Canadians “feel deeply and instinctively” that the treaty is “a pledge for peace and progress”.

The Alliance expanded: Turkey and Greece joined in 1952, West Germany in 1955 and Spain in 1982. France left the military alliance in 1967 but rejoined in 2009. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, NATO membership is now 28 countries – most of the former Warsaw Bloc countries including the Balkan countries created with the dissolution of Yugoslavia (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia).

NATO is headquartered in Brussels, where Secretary General Anders Rasmussen, former Prime Minister of Denmark, leads its Secretariat. Former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg will succeed Rasmussen as Secretary General in October.

NATO military operations are headed by two commanders: the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) based in Brussels is currently General Philip M. Breedlove, United States Air Force; and the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) based in Norfolk, Virginia is currently French Air Force General Jean-Paul Paloméros.

Member nations are represented in both the NATO council and military committee and legislators meet annually in the NATO parliamentary assembly. While a Canadian has never held the post of Secretary General, Canadian General Ray Henault, a former Chief of Defence Staff, served as Chairman of the Military Committee from 2005-2008.


What Has NATO Done?

For its first 40 years NATO’s purpose was to deter Soviet aggression. Canadian troops were stationed in Europe, mostly in Germany.

With the end of the Cold War, NATO shifted to help the former Soviet bloc countries embrace democracy and the market economy.
Since 1989, NATO has also become involved in a series of out-of-theatre missions. Over 150,000 troops have served under NATO command in six different operations on three continents, including counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
NATO forces were involved in bringing peace to the Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo), operations that continue today. NATO forces, under the umbrella of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), have been present in Afghanistan since 2003. There have been operations around Iraq (1990-1) and a training mission (2004-11). In 2005, NATO assisted in the relief efforts following the Pakistan earthquake. In recent years, NATO has also provided support to African Union peacekeeping missions in the Sudan and Somalia. NATO led the UN-sanctioned Libyan campaign (Operation Unified Protector) in 2011, maintaining a no-fly zone and conducting air strikes against the Gaddafi regime. Canadian Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard directed the air campaign.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February presents NATO with a new challenge while events on its southern flank – in Libya and the Middle East – oblige a response.


What is on the NATO Agenda in Wales?

1. NATO Readiness to reinforce collective defence, including investing in capabilities.

Recent events, notably the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have underlined the need for NATO readiness including a rapid combat-ready expeditionary force with attention to cyber defence and maritime security. As NATO scholar Julian Lindley-French and Admiral (ret’d) James Stavridis, former SACEUR, argued recently “Article 5 collective defence must be modernised and re-organised around cyber-defence, missile defence and the advanced deployable forces vital to contemporary defence.”
Host UK Prime Minister David Cameron has also called for a 10,000 member joint expeditionary force with Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway and the Netherlands indicating that they will participate. The model for the force will be the new Anglo-French Joint Expeditionary Force that will be operational by 2016.

2. Defence Spending

The United States shoulders three quarters of the alliance’s operating budget. US presidents and cabinet secretaries have consistently encouraged NATO members to spend more.

The US argument is expressed well in the valedictory remarks to NATO (June 10, 2011), of former US defense secretary Robert Gates, who warned, “The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress — and in the American body politic writ large — to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”

Former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder graphically described the gap between the US and the rest of the Alliance: “the US spends three times as much as Europe on equipment, four times as much per soldier, and seven times as much on defence research and development.”

Fortunately, US public support for NATO remains high:  78 percent, the highest in 40 years, according to a May survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Writing last month to NATO leaders, host David Cameron urged members to “make the strongest possible commitment to increase their defence spending”, stressing that such investment signals “that NATO means business“.

It will take considerable effort. Defence spending in 2000 for most NATO members was 2 percent of GDP but it has steadily declined. Today only a handful of the 28 members meet the target. IHS Jane’s Defence Budgets notes that 13 of the top 20 most rapidly declining defence budgets from 2012 to 2014 are NATO members or partners.

3. Relations with Russia and stronger ties with Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Poland and illegal annexation of Crimea violates the UN charter of the Helsinki Final Act, and Russia’s 20-year old commitment “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine”.

With the end of the Cold War there was hope that Russia would eventually become a NATO partner and in 2009 NATO and Russia signed an accord “build together a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area on the principles of democracy and cooperative security.” Like the Obama ‘reset’ it hasn’t worked out as planned.
President Putin wants to create a sphere of influence on his frontiers and, through the creation of his Eurasian Union (a free-trade customs union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus), a counter-weight to NATO. Ukraine is not his first incursion into a neighbour’s territory. In 2008, at his instruction, Russian forces occupied southern Georgia.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk plans to seek membership in NATO (dropping Ukraine’s non-aligned status). In a recent extraordinary meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reminded membersof NATO’s decision taken at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 according to which Ukraine will become a member of NATO, provided of course that Ukraine so wishes and provided that Ukraine fulfils the necessary criteria.”

4. Deepening partnerships and maintaining NATO’s open door policy

NATO’s partnerships, born out of its 1990 London summit focused first on the former Soviet bloc nations (many of whom are now full members), then on crisis management in the Balkans, and, since 9-11, on wider partnerships now including more than forty nations around the world – Australia, New Zealand and, as the latest addition, Mongolia. At its peak, the ISAF mission in Afghanistan included 22 partner nations. Partnership does not include the security guarantee of Article 5.

5. Afghanistan and the completion of ISAF at the end of 2014

NATO has been involved in Afghanistan since the UN Security Council authorized the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in December, 2001. At its peak, ISAF deployed 150,000 troops, over a third of which came from European NATO members and Canada.

An Afghan government has yet to be declared following the elections earlier this year. In December, U.S. combat forces are scheduled to withdraw. The US is still without agreement with Afghan authorities to leave an estimated 10,000 troops there for training and counterterrorism missions.

6. Jihad

Writing in the Daily Telegraph last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for a “firm security response” to defeat jihadist militants and the Islamic State saying that, as host, he would use the Wales NATO summit to build international support using “all our resources – aid, diplomacy, our military prowess…We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology which I believe we will be fighting for the rest of my political lifetime. We face in ISIS a new threat that is single-minded, determined and unflinching in pursuit of its objectives.”

Last week Mr. Cameron continued in the same vein saying, “This threat cannot be solved simply by dealing with the perceived grievances over Western foreign policy. Nor can it be dealt with by addressing poverty, dictatorship or instability in the region, as important as these things are. The root cause of this threat to our security is quite clear. It is a poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism that is condemned by all faiths and by all faith leaders. It believes in using the most brutal forms of terrorism to force people to accept a warped worldview and to live in an almost medieval state.”


What Results Can We Expect from the Wales Summit?

Reinvigoration of the Alliance begins with political will. The Ukrainian crisis and threat of Jihad should motivate leaders to put a higher premium on collective security and readiness.

On Jihad there is broad agreement about its threat to the civilized order (and not just to the West).

Leaders will agree to the readiness strategy but the test will be in its implementation. In practical terms that could mean a new high-readiness brigade as well as increased Alliance exercises on NATO’s eastern periphery. New NATO bases in Poland and the Baltic states are possible.

Strong rhetoric in support of Ukrainian sovereignty is already being matched with financial guarantees and training although a discussion on arms for Ukraine would be divisive. Nor is there any expectation of early Ukraine admission to NATO – the Article 5 guarantee would effectively oblige direct confrontation with Russia. As President Obama said last week “a military confrontation between the U.S. and Russia “is not in the cards.”

In response to recommendations, including recent reports from NATO parliamentarians, young leaders and experts, there likely will be commitments to purchase equipment interoperable within the Alliance and to increase interoperability within NATO forces.

A firm commitment by all members to spend 2 percent of GDP on national defence, the target originally set by NATO in 2002, is unlikely without an agreed strategy on what spending is to support. This would have to include actual capability requirements as well as agreement to make those resources available for combat. The Afghan and Libyan missions were handicapped by the caveats imposed by some NATO members on use of their personnel and equipment.

Canadian involvement at the summit?

Prime Minister Harper will be joined at the summit by Foreign Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson. They have four goals: underscoring Canada’s commitment to the Alliance; addressing the pressing political and security challenges; the need for a concerted response to Russian efforts to destabllize Ukraine; and to discuss security transition in Afghanistan.

In practical terms, Canada fighter jets are already patrolling the Baltic skies. The Canadian mission to NATO has also tweeted “a ‘helpful’ guide map for Russian soldiers who keep getting lost and ‘accidentally’ entering Ukraine.” Canada is providing air support to a US-led multinational effort to support pro-Iraq forces battling the Islamic state.

While Canadian Forces left Afghanistan in March after a twelve-year campaign and the loss of 161 men and women, we continue to support significant development and security support programs.

In terms of readiness, Canadian forces already have achieved significant interoperability on land, air and sea with the US through NORAD, our binational aerospace and maritime surveillance agreement, and through both joint exercises and active operations in theatres like Afghanistan and Libya. As Eric Lerhe has demonstrated this has not impaired Canadian sovereignty.

As for the 2 percent GDP for defence spending target: a spokesman for Prime Minister Harper said that Canada an “aspirational target”, adding that Canada will spend “on measures that meet actual operational needs, in response to global issues.”

Comments Off on Primer to the NATO Summit

NATO Wales Summit

What NATO members must do to empower the alliance

The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Sep. 02 2014

“Keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down” was how Lord Ismay, NATO’s first Secretary General (1952 to 1957), described the Alliance that has since become both the sword and shield of our liberal international order.

Recent events revalidate Lord Ismay’s trope except that Germany now needs to take on responsibilities within NATO commensurate with its leadership within Europe. The rest of the Alliance, including Canada, also need to step up their commitments.

NATO leaders and their foreign and defence ministers meet this week in Wales to focus on a readiness action plan.

Leaders face immediate challenges on NATO’s eastern and southern flanks.

Their priority is addressing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea.

Sanctions are biting but they have not deterred continuing, blatant Russian incursions. Tit-for-tat sanctions mean that industry – including Canadian pork producers – are taking a hit. Yet Russian actions oblige more sanctions requiring more discipline and sacrifice.

Then there is jihadism. For British Prime Minister David Cameron, it is a “clear and present danger” and U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a coalition “to extract this cancer so that it does not spread.”

NATO’s longer-term challenges are twofold.

Firstly, a war-weary United States is tired of picking up the tab and having its call for burden-sharing ignored. American taxpayers cover three-quarters of NATO spending. At NATO headquarters in June, Mr. Obama said the U.S. “can’t do it alone.” Pointing to the “steady decline” in European defence spending, he expects every member “to do its fair share.”

Secondly, there is the challenge of persuading the rest of the Alliance to develop a credible rapid expeditionary capacity.

Only a handful of NATO’s 28 members meet the defence budget spending target of 2 per cent of GDP (Canada currently spends 1 per cent).

All members voted for the 2011 operation to stop genocide in Libya. Less than half participated. Fewer than a third (including Canada) engaged in combat. Quality of contribution – rapid deployment without strings attached – matters more than the GDP target. But, argues defence analyst Julian Lindley-French, 2 per cent well-spent on defence is better than 1 per cent.

The annual reports of successive NATO Secretary Generals’ chronicle the increasing asymmetries in members’ capability. NATO renewal requires boosting combat capability through joint procurement, training and logistics. It means modernizing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, and adapting to hybrid warfare.

NATO renewal starts with Germany, Europe’s dominant power.

Germany still has stabilization forces in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan; it contributed in Mali, but not in Libya. Even before the Ukraine crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand coalition began reassessing German foreign policy. At the Munich Security conference this spring, German President Joachim Gauck argued it is invalid to use “Germany’s guilt for its past as a shield for laziness or a desire to disengage from the world.”

German leadership will have to persuade a public wary of activism. But recent events, says German-born Henry Kissinger, mean that “Germany is doomed in some way, to play an increasingly important role.”

Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Stephen Harper should make three points in Wales:

First, that Canada supports NATO readiness.

Our reinvigorated Canada First defence strategy must include a robust expeditionary capacity. We need a fresh perspective on military procurement, with immediate attention to our navy and its maritime responsibilities.

Second, a closer transatlantic economic partnership is of paramount importance.

The Canadian-inspired Article 2 of the NATO Treaty calls for closer economic ties. The now negotiated Canada-EU agreement (CETA) opens the door for business-to-business matchmaking through smart initiatives like the EnterpriseCanadaNetwork.

Third, a transatlantic energy-security partnership is valuable.

The EU depends on Russia and the Middle East for its energy. Russia has shut off the tap to serve its ambitions. We should market the Energy East and Line 9 pipelines, new refineries and Atlantic terminals as strategic investments providing energy security to the EU.

The paradox of the liberal international order is that its reciprocal benefits and privileges depend on collective responsibility to uphold the rule of law and respect for norms – like not invading neighbours. But in making it inclusive, it tolerates scofflaws, like Russia (and Iran, Syria, North Korea). Free riders – China, Brazil, India, even Switzerland – not only refuse sanctions but use the opportunity to increase their commerce with Russia.

According to Dr. Kissinger, the international order depends on a “sense of legitimacy” and an equilibrium of power “that makes overthrowing the system difficult and costly.”

This week, NATO leaders must demonstrate collective political will and commit the necessary resources to sustain the security equilibrium. Canada can help show the way.

More Related to this Story

Ukrainian official says Russian forces have seized the eastern city of Novoazovsk even as Moscow remained silent on whether its forces had crossed the border. Deborah Gembara reports.

Video: Putin advisor says Russia invaded Ukraine
Ukraine's Security Council releases a video of what it says is a Russian tank in the southeastern town of Novoazovsk, bolstering claims that "Russian military boots are on Ukrainian ground." Rough Cut (no reporter narration)

Video: Ukraine releases video of purported Russian tank in Novoazovsk

Video: Footage shows Canadian soldiers participating in NATO training exercises in Poland

Comments Off on NATO Wales Summit