NATO Brussels Summit

A Primer to the Brussels NATO Summit

by Colin Robertson
CGAI Vice President and Fellow
May, 2017

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Table of Contents


Executive Summary

On May 25-26, NATO leaders will meet in Brussels. This will be the first multilateral forum in which President Donald Trump will be in attendance, and where much of the focus will be following his varied comments on NATO. From its original 12 members, NATO now stands at 28, including many former Warsaw Pact nations, and has operated in Afghanistan, performed anti-piracy missions, and taken part in humanitarian operations as well.

Despite these successes, President Trump, both as a candidate and since, has called on the Alliance members to increase their share of the burden, symbolized to him by the two percent goal. There are six big-ticket items which will be discussed at the summit:

  1. NATO readiness to reinforce collective defence, including investing in capabilities;
  2. Defence spending;
  3. Relations with Russia;
  4. Deepening partnerships and maintaining NATO’s open door policy;
  5. Afghanistan; and
  6. ISIS and Terrorism.

It is expected that President Trump will again forcefully push for all members to meet the 2 percent of GDP spending on defence commitment. In return the other leaders will expect a clear commitment to collective defence. As leaders meet, new Pew Foundation survey numbers reveal strong support among the populations of NATO member countries for both the Alliance itself and, more importantly, collective self-defence.

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Introduction

Presidents and prime ministers will meet in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday (May 24-5, 2017) in a summit meeting of the 28 partner nations. The focus will be on U.S. President Donald Trump, appearing in his first formal multilateral forum. It will also be the first meeting for France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron.

The conference takes place against a complicated backdrop; upcoming elections in the United Kingdom and Germany, the recent elections in France and the Netherlands, the Brexit negotiations, the ongoing campaign against ISIS, turmoil in Syria, questions about Afghanistan, the continuing migration from the Middle East and North Africa, the latest Greek bailout, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarianism in the wake of the recent constitutional referendum, the continuing Russian occupation of parts of Ukraine and improved Russian military capacity, Chinese elbowing in on the South China Seas, North Korean nuclear and missile testing, increasing cyber-attacks, including those that shut down parts of Britain’s health services and a new terrorist incident at a concert in Manchester.

NATO leaders will dedicate and then meet in the organization’s new, multi-billion euro headquarters. A section of the World Trade Center – The 9/11 and Article 5 Memorial – the only time in its history that NATO invoked Article 5, the mutual defense clause, will be unveiled by President Trump. A section of the Berlin Wall, underlining how NATO kept the peace during the Cold War, will be dedicated by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Critics say the new headquarters also reflects the challenges confronting the Alliance: it is behind schedule and over-budget.

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What is NATO?

NATO is a military and political alliance constructed around the principles of collective security, democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. It has 28 members including Canada, the United States and most European nations, as well as a host of Euro-Atlantic partner nations. NATO represents half of the world’s economic and military power. As Secretary General Stollenberg observes, “no other superpower has ever had such a strategic advantage.”

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, enshrined in 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, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, the 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. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, NATO membership is now 28 countries – most of the former Warsaw Pact countries, including the Balkan states created with the dissolution of Yugoslavia (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia). Montenegro will join when its membership is ratified by all member countries and Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are on NATO’s membership action plans, a kind of waiting-room for membership. Georgia and Ukraine have declared an interest in joining NATO and at the Bucharest summit (2008) NATO said the door was open although, since 2010, Ukraine has not formally pursued membership.

NATO is headquartered in Brussels, where former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg leads its Secretariat with Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, a former U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security NATO military operations are headed by two commanders: Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) based in Brussels is currently U.S. General Curtis Scaparrotti; and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), based in Norfolk, Virginia, is currently French General Denis Mercier.

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

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What has NATO done?

NATO has three core tasks: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.

For its first 40 years NATO’s purpose was to deter Soviet aggression. Today, arguably, it is to deter Russian 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 served under NATO command in six different operations on three continents, including counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

NATO forces were involved in bringing peace to the Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo), operations that continues 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 U.N.-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 that air campaign.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2014 presented NATO with a renewed challenge, while events on its southern flank – in North Africa and the Middle East – require ongoing attention.

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President Trump and NATO

All eyes at the summit will be on President Trump, who arrives as part of his first official trip abroad, which also took him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, and finally Brussels.

NATO leaders usually meet in the aftermath of the election of a new American president, as it is the U.S. that provides the muscle for the organization. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Mr. Trump called NATO “obsolete”, warned the Allies that they would have to carry more of the load, and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Since his election his statements on NATO have reflected a more traditional U.S. stance. During his meeting in April with U.N. Secretary General Jens Stollenberg, President Trump re-affirmed U.S. support for NATO saying the Alliance was “no longer obsolete” but declared that “NATO members meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe.”

Vice President Mike Pence and the senior security and defence team all support NATO. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Defence Secretary James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly – all served as generals in the U.S. Forces. His Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was CEO of Exxon. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, his ambassador to the United Nations, has been vocal in her criticism of Russia.

At the Munich Security Conference in February, Vice President Pence said “the United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to this trans-Atlantic alliance”. He also reiterated Mr. Trump’s message that the Allies need to pay their “fair share…That pledge has gone unfulfilled for too many for too long and erodes the very foundation of our alliance.”

The U.S. effort leading to the Brussels summit was handicapped by the lack of senior personnel in the U.S. Administration. Many posts at the National Security Council, Pentagon, State Department, as well as ambassadors, including to NATO and most of its member nations, have yet to be named, let alone confirmed by the Senate.

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Big Ticket Items

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

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and intervention in Syria 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, have argued “Article 5 collective defence must be modernised and re-organised around cyber-defence, missile defence and the advanced deployable forces vital to contemporary defence.”

2. Defence spending

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

The American argument is expressed well in the valedictory remarks to NATO (June 10, 2011), of former U.S. 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.”

Speaking in February to his fellow defence ministers Defence Secretary James Mattis said “America will meet its responsibilities, but 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 defence.

Defence spending in 2000 for most NATO members was 2 percent of GDP but it then steadily declined. According to NATO figures released in March, 2017, only five of the 28 members meet NATO’s target of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defence: the U.S., the U.K., Poland, Greece and Estonia. The U.S. spends 3.61 percent on defence and the U.K. 2.17 percent, based on NATO figures for 2016, while Germany spends 1.2 percent, France 1.7, Italy 1.11 and Spain 0.9. By NATO’s estimates for this year, Canada will spend 1.02 percent of its GDP on defence.

3. Relations with Russia

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea violates the U.N. charter, 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 to “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 has not worked out as planned. The NATO-Russia Council, created in 2002, meets in the belief that “in times of tension, dialogue is more important than ever.” NATO has responded to the changed security environment by enhancing its deterrence and defence posture.

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 (and the European Union). Ukraine is not his first incursion into a neighbour’s territory. In 2008, at his instruction, Russian forces invaded Georgia and occupied the South Ossetia region.

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 – including Afghanistan, Australia, Colombia, Iraq, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand and Pakistan. At its peak, the ISAF mission in Afghanistan included 22 partner nations. Partnership does not include the security guarantee of Article 5. Ukraine and Georgia want membership in NATO and at the Bucharest summit in 2008 NATO encouraged this, but NATO enlargement is controversial and there is discussion of different architecture to guarantee security.

A wise persons report (2016) commissioned by the Finnish government concluded that Finland and Sweden should stick together, whatever the decision, but that membership would provoke Russia. It described Russia as an “unsatisfied power” that “has made unpredictability a strategic and tactical virtue, underpinned by an impressive degree of political and military agility.”

5. Afghanistan

NATO has been involved in Afghanistan since the U.N. Security Council authorized the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that operated from August 2003 to December 2014. ISAF was NATO’s longest mission employing more than 130,000 troops from 51 NATO and partner nations, including Canada. A new NATO-led mission (Resolute Support) was launched in January 2015 to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions.

In his meeting with Secretary General Stollenberg in April, President Trump said he would like more NATO members to re-involve themselves in Afghanistan.

While Canadian Forces left Afghanistan in March 2014 after a twelve-year campaign and the loss of 161 men and women, Canada continues to support a number of programs and activities.

NATO’s current mission in Afghanistan, RESOLUTE SUPPORT, was launched to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions in January 2015. A total of 39 countries (and all NATO members with the exception of Canada and France) have contributed a total of 13,459 troops at last official count.

6. ISIS and Terrorism

President Trump told Secretary General Stollenberg during their April meeting in Washington that he hopes that “NATO will take on an increased role in supporting our Iraqi partners in their battle against ISIS.” In his first major foreign policy address abroad (May 21), President Trump told Arab leaders in Riyadh that the fight against terrorism ‘‘is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between those who seek to obliterate human life and those who seek to protect it.’’

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What results can we expect from the Brussels summit?

NATO Leaders will want to hear President Trump explicitly confirm his commitment to Article 5.

President Trump’s pronouncements aside, reinvigoration of the Alliance begins with political will, and this is a hard commodity to coalesce.

President Trump will reiterate his demand that the Allies spend 2 percent of GDP on national defence, the target originally set by NATO in 2002. Without an agreed strategy on what the spending is to support, binding commitments before 2020, the date set at the 2014 Wales summit, are unlikely.

Commitments 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.

President Trump will likely push for NATO to formally join the anti-ISIS coalition. Germany is reportedly pushing back against the idea but some form of NATO commitment may be forthcoming. In meeting with reporters last week Secretary General Stollenberg said ““Allies who are arguing in favour are pointing to the fact that by joining the coalition NATO could send a clear message of political support.”

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Canadian involvement at the summit?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be pressed about Canada’s financial commitment to NATO. During his address to Parliament in June 2015, President Obama also pushed Trudeau for more spending, saying not once, but three times that “NATO needs more Canada.

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Mr. Trudeau is likely to respond to President Trump as he did during his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in February when he said that “there are many ways of evaluating one’s contribution to NATO” noting that Canada has “always been amongst the strongest actors in NATO.”

Trudeau will likely cite Canada’s leadership of a multinational NATO mission in Latvia (a commitment he made at the Warsaw summit in 2016), as part of broader Canadian support to Operation REASSURANCE, and note the “significant procurement projects” — especially the ongoing construction of new warships and the purchase of fighter jets – and Canada’s renewed activist internationalism.

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Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told Parliament that the Defence Policy Review – which may include new spending for defence – is scheduled to be announced on June 7.

In practical terms under Operation REASSURANCE, Canadian fighter jets patrol the Baltic skies, and since April 2014 Canada has deployed five Halifax-class frigates in support of NATO reassurance measures. Canada is providing humanitarian and Special Forces support to a U.S.-led multinational effort to support pro-Iraq forces battling the Islamic State.

In terms of readiness, Canadian forces already have achieved significant interoperability on land, air and sea with the U.S. through NORAD, our binational aerospace and maritime surveillance agreement, and through both joint exercises and active operations in theatres like Afghanistan and Libya, and now in Latvia.

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Public Opinion and NATO

Public opinion continues to support NATO.

A spring 2017 Pew Research Center survey of six EU nations (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom), the U.S. and Canada finds positive views of the military alliance.

Asked about their own country should militarily defend a NATO ally (i.e. Article 5) if embroiled in an armed conflict with Russia, there is strong support in the Netherlands (72 percent), Poland (62 percent), United States (62 percent), Canada (58 percent) and France (53 percent), to living up to their mutual defense commitment as a member of NATO.

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BrusselsNATOSummit5.jpgTwo-thirds of Canadians hold NATO in high esteem, a rise of 10 percent since 2015, with rising support across demographic groups and with strong support amongst the major parties: Liberal Party (75 percent), Conservative Party (74 percent) New Democratic Party (65 percent).

Germany has the fourth-largest defense budget in NATO, but only 40 percent of Germans believe they should come to the aid of an ally with. More than half (53 percent) do not support such aid.

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In a 2015 survey a third of those surveyed said their country should increase its national defense spending, while nearly half (median of 47 percent) want to keep spending the same and 14 percent favor decreasing defense spending. The figures for Canada were 31 percent increase spending, 52 percent stay the same and 13 percent saying decrease spending.

A Gallup survey in February, 2017 revealed 80 percent of Americans support the Alliance. When Gallup first asked Americans about their views on NATO in July 1989, 75 percent thought the alliance should be maintained. This percentage dropped to 62 percent in 1991, months before the Soviet Union’s formal collapse, staying at that level during NATO 1995 intervention in the Bosnian War.

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About the Author

A former Canadian diplomat, Colin Robertson is Vice President and Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and Executive Fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. He is Senior Advisor to Dentons LLP working with the Business Council of Canada. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. He is a member of the advisory councils of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute and the North American Research Partnership and participant in the North American Forum. He is a past president of the National Capital Branch of the Canadian International Council. He is an Honorary Captain (Royal Canadian Navy) assigned to the Strategic Communications Directorate. He writes on international affairs for the Globe and Mail and he is a regular contributor to other media.

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Canadian Global Affairs Institute

The Canadian Global Affairs Institute focuses on the entire range of Canada’s international relations in all its forms including (in partnership with the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy), trade investment and international capacity building. Successor to the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI, which was established in 2001), the Institute works to inform Canadians about the importance of having a respected and influential voice in those parts of the globe where Canada has significant interests due to trade and investment, origins of Canada’s population, geographic security (and especially security of North America in conjunction with the United States), social development, or the peace and freedom of allied nations. The Institute aims to demonstrate to Canadians the importance of comprehensive foreign, defence and trade policies which both express our values and represent our interests.

The Institute was created to bridge the gap between what Canadians need to know about Canadian international activities and what they do know. Historically Canadians have tended to look abroad out of a search for markets because Canada depends heavily on foreign trade. In the modern post-Cold War world, however, global security and stability have become the bedrocks of global commerce and the free movement of people, goods and ideas across international boundaries. Canada has striven to open the world since the 1930s and was a driving factor behind the adoption of the main structures which underpin globalization such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and emerging free trade networks connecting dozens of international economies. The Canadian Global Affairs Institute recognizes Canada’s contribution to a globalized world and aims to inform Canadians about Canada’s role in that process and the connection between globalization and security.

In all its activities the Institute is a charitable, non-partisan, non-advocacy organization that provides a platform for a variety of viewpoints. It is supported financially by the contributions of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Conclusions or opinions expressed in Institute publications and programs are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Institute staff, fellows, directors, advisors or any individuals or organizations that provide financial support to the Institute.

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US Elcction and Canada as target

Canada leery of protectionist U.S. campaign

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The Canadian embassador to Washington says the Republicans’ and Democrats’ tough stand on trade is concerning

OTTAWA (Reuters) — Canadian diplomats are fanning out across the United States to talk up the benefits of trade with state and local leaders and counter what senior officials see as a worrying mood of protectionism swirling through the U.S. election campaign.

Amid voter anger about the supposed harm done by international trade deals, both Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton have talked about altering the North American Free Trade Agreement. That could have calamitous results for Canada, which sends 75 percent of its exports to the United States.

From trade forums in Kentucky, California and Illinois addressing state legislators and small-business owners to meetings with mayors, labour unions and interest groups, a team of diplomats has gone coast to coast to explain how important Canada is as a trading partner.

The diplomatic offensive comes amid concerns in Ottawa about both candidates, who opinion polls show are in a tight race ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Trump has talked about renegotiating the NAFTA treaty with Canada and Mexico to secure more favourable terms for the U.S.

However, he has also said he would revive TransCanada Corp’s cross-border Keystone XL pipeline project, which Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration blocked over environmental concerns. Clinton has said she opposes Keystone XL.

Current and former government officials in Ottawa said a Clinton presidency posed its own challenges for Canada.

They see the Democrat as tough on trade and more hawkish than Obama, who quickly struck up a warm relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

While tough talk on trade has occurred in previous U.S. election campaigns, “there is an undercurrent and a mood here which is concerning me,” said David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to Washington.

MacNaughton, who took up the job in March, has already visited Denver, Colorado Springs and Boston and plans trips to Massachusetts, Michigan and California.

An embassy spokesperson said diplomats were intensifying their outreach effort and doing more events than usual. At every meeting, they hand out tip sheets showing Canada is the top export destination for 35 U.S. states and that nine million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada.

Trudeau will not say which candidate he favours, stressing he is happy to work with whomever U.S. voters elect. However, his Liberals have more policies in common with U.S. Democrats. Elected last October, he and Obama have become close, exchanging visits to each other’s countries.

“Some of the issues that we are going to be facing will be very much the same regardless of who wins,” MacNaughton said.

“I think we have to prepare to deal with some pretty difficult situations on the trade front.”

Some Americans had little idea about the size of the U.S. trading relationship with Canada, he added.

Roland Paris, who served as Trudeau’s foreign policy adviser until late June, said Trump had tapped into some strong anti-trade sentiment.

“Those feelings aren’t going away any time soon,” he said.

“We may be heading into some protectionist headwinds, even with a Hillary Clinton presidency.”

Trump and Clinton also oppose a proposed Pacific trade deal that could benefit Canada.

One person with day-to-day knowledge of the U.S.-Canada trade file also predicted strains over Canadian exports of softwood lumber, as well as Canada’s system of protection for its dairy industry, which U.S. producers strongly dislike.

Another potential area for concern is Canada’s defence spending, which is .98 percent of gross domestic product, far below the two percent commitment agreed on by NATO members.

MacNaughton said that in his talks with Republicans and Democrats, both had raised the issue of “U.S. allies stepping up to the plate” in military terms.

Trump stirred concerns among allies and even some Republicans earlier this year by saying he would decide whether to come to the aid of Baltic NATO allies in the event of Russian aggression only after reviewing if they “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, who had several postings in the U.S., also predicted hard discussions with Clinton administration officials over defence.


“We will be circled because we are at .98 percent,” said Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.


That may not sit well with Trudeau’s government, which is pledging to run large budget deficits for at least the next five years to fund investment in infrastructure and social programs.

A government source said Canada had taken part in a number of high-profile NATO missions and was ready to push back on de-mands to increase spending in the military.

“We’re quite prepared and proud to stand up on our record and explain why there might be a discrepancy between numbers … and our actual contribution,” said the source, who asked not to be identified given the sensitivity of the topic.

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Trump and NATO

CTV News Interview with Bureau Chief Joyce Napier

Donald Trump glides effortlessly from mercantilism on trade to reciprocity in collective security ie we will trade with you as long as we make a profit and we will defend you as long as you pay your fair share (with that share to be determined by Mr. Trump).

It is true the Alliance has had a free ride on the back of US security, especially since the Cold War and that especially since 9-11 the USA under Bush and Obama, has puuhed the Allies to do more. Jeff Goldberg writes in his Atlantic article on the Obama doctrine that President Obama told UK PM David Cameron that the special relationship depended on UK spending more on defence. Cameron spent more. President Obama had same message for  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – in his June speech to Parliament he said 3X that NATO needs more Canada.

What Mr. Trump said on defence is brutal and unsophisticated and would destroy the Alliance,  it will be the same message ie USA expects more from the Allie –  that Hillary Clinton will deliver to the Alliance as well.  Bob Gates said it best in his farewell remarks tto NATO as Defence Secretary: “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 … to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=916172

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Canada, NATO and the Defence Review

 

Canada must start pulling its weight in NATO

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Jul. 05, 2016

This week’s NATO summit in Warsaw will test the Trudeau government’s commitment to collective security.

Speaking last week in Canada’s House of Commons, U.S. President Barack Obama called on every NATO member to contribute its “full share to our common security.” So that there was no mistake about his message, Mr. Obama repeated his call three times that NATO “needs more Canada.”

The next day the Trudeau government announced that Canada will take a “leadership role” to support NATO in Eastern Europe. Putting boots on the ground is demonstrable support for deterrence. It illustrates continuity with the Harper government’s earlier commitments of fighter jets and trainers to Eastern Europe. It is also smart politics: three million Canadians claim Eastern European origins, 1.2 million from Ukraine alone.

Canada’s new contribution will be welcomed in Warsaw but there is still a big gap between Canada’s current spending of 1 per cent of GDP on defence and NATO’s 2-per-cent standard. With the U.S. currently spending 3.62 per cent and tired of carrying the rest of the alliance, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump will likely be as gentle as Mr. Obama in pressuring Canada and other NATO members to budget more on defence.

The 28 nations that make up the NATO alliance face a series of crises, including leadership changes. Europe is weakened by economic malaise, the migrant crisis, and now Brexit, a contagion that threatens to spread across Europe. To the east, the alliance confronts a revanchist Russia. On its southern flank there is continuing turmoil in the Middle East and terrorist strikes deep into member countries.

The spine that sustains our beleaguered liberal international order is collective security. Collective security depends on a credible deterrence supported by all members of NATO.

The Warsaw summit comes as the government concludes its cross-country consultations on Canada’s new defence policy. Two submissions, by retired naval officers Bruce Donaldson and Glenn Davidson, stand out.

Retired vice-admiral Donaldson argues that the key questions in the review are not the what, when and where but rather, “how much … how soon, and for how long … how many at the same time”, and “at how much risk”? To enhance Arctic sovereignty, Mr. Donaldson recommends investments in high data-rate communications, navigation safety, air and ground transportation infrastructure, and monitoring of activity in remote internal areas.

In his submission, Mr. Davidson warns that while planning is useful, “things will only rarely happen as forecast.” This underlines the need for a flexible Canadian Forces response capability and to maintain interoperability with U.S. Forces. Mr. Davidson, who later served as Canadian ambassador in Syria and Afghanistan, also says that because deployments historically extend well beyond their originally anticipated date, we need to build sustainability into operating budgets.

Both admirals are also critical of recent defence management. Mr. Davidson argues for greater risk tolerance, more continuity in senior positions and a “long pause” in continual “organizational tinkering.” Mr. Donaldson warns of the culture of “risk intolerance” that infects government with the senior bureaucracy adverse to all financial risks and ministers reluctant to make decisions. The result is serial delays at the cost of capacity and capability.

Later this week Dr. David Bercuson will release a collection of essays by experts on Canada’s defence challenges, underlining the importance of collective security and the U.S. defence partnership. Dr. Bercuson’s essay warns that Canada “must never spread itself too thinly, try to do too much across the spectrum of military operations, or use the military as tokens where tokenism won’t count for much.”

The Trudeau government has shown deftness in its handling of foreign policy and leadership on climate and migration. It understands soft power and the importance of multilateral engagement and dialogue. But experience suggests that a credible deterrence is a precondition for constructive dialogue with adversaries.

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Canada and NATO

Collective security comes at a cost. Canada should pay its way

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2015

NATO defence ministers meet tomorrow in Brussels to confront continuing conflicts on their eastern and southern flanks. Complicating their deliberations is the knowledge that big chunks of their populations oppose using military force if Russia attacks a fellow NATO member. For NATO leaders, making the case for why we fight is as important as having the capacity to fight.

From fir trees to palm trees, NATO forces are engaged. Simulated conflict exercises on NATO’s eastern frontier respond to what Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg describes as President Vladmir Putin’s “unjustified nuclear sabre-rattling”. The U.S.-led coalition in Syria and Iraq engages in daily, deadly sorties against ISIS.

The takeaways from Afghanistan and Libya for NATO are that while armed force can bring temporary stability, enduring peace and security requires continuing diplomacy, development assistance and some means of preserving order. Call it peacekeeping for the 21st century.

NATO forces also play a key role as the first responders to humanitarian crises, such as rescuing migrants crossing the Mediterranean and helping to contain Ebola in West Africa.

Despite the NATO leaders agreeing in Wales last September to “reverse the trend of declining defence budgets” only five – U.S., U.K., Estonia, Poland and Greece – meet the NATO guideline to spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence.

Canada has committed whole-heartedly to NATO missions. It took a disproportionate number of casualties in Afghanistan and were at the sharp end of the campaign in Libya. Canadian forces are actively engaged in Syria and Iraq. Canada is training Ukrainian troops and during a visit to Warsaw earlier this month Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada will station troops at NATO’s new command centre at Szczecin, Poland.

Canada’s defence spending, however, falls short of NATO’s benchmark. Despite the Canada First Defence Strategy and a refined procurement policy, former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page observes that with the Harper government “spending in real terms is even lower than when they came into office in 2006.” April’s federal budget will lift Canada’s contribution to slightly more than 1 per cent of GDP.

As the country prepares to enter its election campaign in earnest, it needs a healthy debate over its defence capacity and capability, especially around the made-in-Canada naval procurement policy.

Canada accepts the rationale of supply-chain economics for almost everything else it manufactures. Auto and aviation industries, civilian and defence, are specialized and integrated. Canada buys tanks from Germany and fighter planes from the U.S., with significant offsets creating jobs for Canadians. Why is shipbuilding different?

At the Wales summit, leaders reaffirmed that the “greatest responsibility” of the Alliance is to “protect and defend our territories and our populations against attack.” But when the Pew Foundation recently asked major NATO nations if they would use military force if Russia “got into a serious military conflict” with another NATO member, the findings revealed troubling divisions.

Most Americans (56 per cent) and Canadians (53 per cent) would support intervention. So would a plurality in the U.K. (49 per cent) and Poland (48 per cent). But, more than half in Germany (58 per cent), France (53 per cent) and Italy (51 per cent) would oppose intervention. The Spanish divided 48-47 per cent for intervention. Together these nations collectively account for 88 per cent of NATO’s GDP and 78 per cent of its population.

NATO leaders reaffirmed at Wales their willingness to “act together” and “decisively to defend” freedom, liberty, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. They have work to do in persuading their citizens that the collective defence of our shared values obliges a willingness to use armed force.

Equally troubling for the Alliance was that only 49 per cent of Americans view NATO favourably. The U.S. pays 74 per cent of NATO’s costs. President Barack Obama says the U.S. “can’t do it alone” and this plea is repeated by successive U.S. defence secretaries.

Communiques at the end of summit meetings are usually mind-numbing bromides and aspirations of good intentions. What really counts is each nation’s interpretation of the collective commitments. Success in this week’s meeting depends on each NATO defence minister saying some variation of the following:

  • First, we commit to meeting NATO’s 2-per-cent defence spending target by 2017, recognizing that, when your neighbourhood is combustible, investing in defence is smart insurance. Only when our armed forces have sufficient capability and the readiness to react, can we be confident in their deterrent capacity. The trendline is moving in the right direction with 18 allies expected to increase their defence spending.
  • Second, we commit to a national public education campaign on the meaning and responsibilities of collective security. To its credit, Germany’s leadership has begun their debate on the need for greater engagement.

Attitudinal shifts take time and constant reinforcement.

Courage, resolution and endurance are qualities not always associated with democracies or their leaders. But they are essential.

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The EU matters to Canada

Why the European Union endures despite its flaws

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail

Canada is bound to Europe through ties of history, family and sacrifice. Our collective security is enshrined through NATO and we recently negotiated the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

This month, we commemorate the many cords that bind us in ceremonies marking the 70th anniversaries of the Battle of the Atlantic and Victory in Europe Day. Prime Minister Stephen Harper observed that Canadian “commitment, innovation and professionalism” in the Second World War generated “international recognition for our country and immense national pride.”

If the United States was the arsenal of democracy, Canada was the aerodrome, training thousands of Commonwealth fliers. Canadians built and sailed many of the ships that won the Battle of the Atlantic. On this battle, Winston Churchill said, hinged, “everything elsewhere on land, sea and air.” By war’s end, the Royal Canadian Navy was one of the world’s largest, growing from 3,300 men and 13 ships to 95,000 men and women and 428 ships.

Ceremonies in recent days across the Netherlands remember the more than 7,600 Canadians who died in its liberation. The tulips blooming today on Parliament Hill are the gift of a grateful Dutch nation and, later this month, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima will visit Ottawa.

The EU continues to be an experiment – political, economic, social and cultural – in federalism. Federalism is a system of government in which Canadians are also invested, especially in the practice of pluralism.

There are faults and flaws with the EU: too much bureaucracy; economic disequilibrium between south and north; the tensions of balance between national and supra-national sovereignties evidenced in the emergence of anti-EU, nationalist-populist parties; and, the threat of exits by Greece (“Grexit”), through financial default, or Britain (“Brexit”), through Prime Minister David Cameron’s promised referendum.

The European experiment has faced many challenges: the Cold War that threatened global catastrophe; dissolution of the former Soviet Union and the tragedies that befell the Balkans; the recent Great Recession with effects still plaguing much of southern Europe; the boatloads of refugees from the Middle East and Africa now crossing the Mediterranean.

But the European Union endures and the refugee inflow is testament to the continuing attraction of the EU’s liberal and democratic virtues.

There is a line of new applicants for EU membership. The Ukrainian crisis was sparked in part by Ukrainian desire for closer association with the EU rather than the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union. Last month, Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati was in Ottawa and received Canadian endorsement for its EU bid.

The EU’s economic partnerships continue to broaden. It is negotiating a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States. The public debate on investor state dispute settlement threatens to sideswipe our CETA, now in post-negotiation legal scrub and translation.

We need to re-engage with the EU’s Commission, Council, parliamentarians and member states to assuage concerns, highlight the mutual benefits and ensure that there is no backsliding. An energetic diplomatic campaign should be complemented with visits by ministers and the business community.

Let’s utilize our various inter-parliamentary relationships. The European legislators within the NATO Parliamentary Association are influential and the Canadian delegation should be making the case for CETA at its spring session in Budapest this week.

The case for Canada begins with the more than 100,000 Canadians who died during two world wars, many of whom are buried throughout Europe. Canada’s current deployment includes RCAF fighter jets in Central and Eastern Europe; HMCS Fredericton recently completed exercises in the Baltic. Trainers in Ukraine could also help our Baltic allies.

The generation that fought the Second World War and then created global and regional institutions, rooted in liberal internationalism, is now passing. So, too, is the international consensus that holds these institutions in place.

This past weekend Russia staged its biggest-ever military parade in Red Square to mark Victory Day. Standing with President Vladmir Putin were Chinese President Xi Jinping, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Cuba’s Raul Castro and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro. Mr. Putin reiterated his criticism of NATO and the United States. Later this week, China and Russia conduct joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean.

We take for granted continuing peace and prosperity, starting with our deeply rooted transatlantic partnerships. But without a commitment to activist diplomacy, backed up by muscular collective defence, this century could be as difficult as the last.

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Arms for Ukraine

Why the West should listen to Merkel on Ukraine

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Feb. 17 2015

Do we arm Ukraine? Economic sanctions have not dissuaded President Vladimir Putin from continuing Russian aggression.

At the Brisbane G20 summit in November, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Mr. Putin to “get out of Ukraine.” For Western leaders, the question is what do they do next.

How long will the new ceasefire endure? Few put much credence in Russian assurances. An earlier ceasefire unravelled as Mr. Putin’s “little green men” pushed forward.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko wants Western help, specifically lethal arms. Brandishing captured Russian military IDs at the recent Munich Security Conference, Mr. Poroshenko asked what further evidence is required of Russian aggression.

The UN estimates the conflict has killed more than 5,000 and displaced a million. Mr. Putin has the escalatory advantage and he ruminates about the use of nuclear arms.

For Mr. Putin, the campaign is a “holy war’ protecting the Russian diaspora, as well as a development that rights the 1989 dismemberment of greater Mother Russia. While there have been some Russian protests over Ukraine, anti-Western attitudes there are at a 25-year high.

A recent report, authored by members of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment, argues that the West’s strategy to restrain Mr. Putin has failed. They recommend significant military assistance: radar, drones and short range anti-armor weaponry to enable Ukraine to counter the Russian offensive.

They argue that “to deter and defend” will raise the cost of aggression and bring Mr. Putin back to the bargaining table. If Russia is not stopped now, they argue that the Kremlin will believe it can get away with this form of hybrid warfare. The next Russian intervention could be in Estonia or Latvia – NATO members with security guarantees.

NATO’s top commander is calling for the use of “all tools” and, at his recent confirmation hearing, U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter favoured arms for Ukraine. Non-intervention by the West during the Spanish Civil War, evocatively captured in Alan Furst’s novel Midnight in Europe, only advantaged Franco’s fascists.

But providing arms bring multiple challenges. It takes time to transport equipment and even more time to train Ukrainians in its use. There is the risk of escalation. Surveys in the United States are consistent: There is no appetite for American boots on the ground.

For now, the West negotiates. U.S. President Barack Obama preaches “strategic patience and persistence” in the newly updated U.S. National Security Strategy, but it is German Chancellor Angela Merkel who is demonstrating both qualities.

Ms. Merkel, who hosts the G7 summit in June, is leading the negotiations with Mr. Putin. Ms. Merkel has Mr. Putin’s number. Her leadership underlines Germany’s geopolitical re-emergence, the only silver lining in this crisis.

Ms. Merkel argues for continued engagement and, for now, she is against arms for Ukraine. This was her message at the recent Munich security conference and in meetings last week with Mr. Obama and Mr. Harper. Ms. Merkel deserves our continuing support.

Providing arms raises many questions:

  • How do we control for their distribution?
  • Who will be in charge of then?
  • Who will train the Ukrainians?
  • What and where are the firebreaks?
  • Will arms increase casualties and risk a proxy war?

Economic sanctions and the drop in oil revenues have been brutal on Russia; its GDP may fall 5 per cent this year. At some point the bite of sanctions will have to diminish Mr. Putin’s appeal to Russian patriotism.

Like it or not, Ukraine is not a NATO member and the reasons why we did not militarily intervene in Mr. Putin’s Crimean conquest still apply. We are already engaged in a widening conflict with the Islamist militants of ISIL. This week, world leaders convene for a White House summit on counterterrorism. Meanwhile, there are the negotiations with Iran, with Mr. Obama declaring that there must be a nuclear deal by the end of March.

Preserving Western consensus, within the European Union and between the EU and United States, is always difficult. But if Washington presses ahead with lethal arms, the Western consensus will crumble.

For now the West’s best choices are threefold:

  • With Ukraine: more economic support conditional on the country improving its governance. Ukraine is worse than Russia in Transparency International’s’ corruption index. As a start why not advise on Canadian-style federalism and language rights?
  • With Russia: continuing engagement with biting sanctions. As costs rise, Mr. Putin’s calculus of actions without consequences will change.
  • Within NATO: Honour the pledges made at the Wales summit to reverse defence cuts and make the alliance fitter, faster and more flexible.

Whatever the West does, we need to do it collectively, or Mr. Putin wins. Before adding more arms to the Ukraine crisis, trust Chancellor Merkel and double down on patience and diplomatic engagement.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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Keeping weapons out of the wrong hands

Air travel is difficult enough without worrying about missiles

Colin Robertson  The Globe and Mail  Tuesday, Jul. 22 2014

The tragic fate of those aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, apparently downed by a surface-to-air missile, has sparked global public sympathy for the victims and condemnation for those responsible.

Our best hope of containing this threat to air travel is to act quickly by tightening international covenants on access to weaponry that takes down aircraft.

The source of the missile and launcher that downed Flight 17 appears to be Russian but there are other potential sources for would-be copycats. The sources for the Hamas rockets against Israel likely include Iran, Pakistan and China. The arsenal of the new caliphate, declared by the Sunni-led rebellion against the Iraqi government, now includes captured weapons made in the United States.

Since Cain and Abel too many still subscribe to the quip by the amoral arms merchant, Undershaft, in George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara, that “Nothing is ever done in this world until men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done.”

The arms industry is big business. Given human nature, it’s also a necessary business.

The Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI) estimates the global arms trade to be worth at least $43-billion (U.S.) and likely much higher because many states, notably China, do not release data on arms exports.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department reports that our exports of military goods and technology are worth $635-million (Canadian). Most of it goes to fellow NATO allies, but also to countries including Afghanistan, Egypt, Ukraine and Yemen.

Like most countries, we have in place elaborate export controls and safeguard agreements to ensure our weapons are “not prejudicial to peace, security or stability.” We don’t export to nations on the UN sanctions list or those with “a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights.” All goods destined for North Korea or Belarus require a permit.

Even then, no system is fail-safe.

India developed their nuclear weapons capacity in 1974, sourcing from CANDU reactors. It chilled Indo-Canadian relations for decades until Prime Minister Stephen Harper concluded a nuclear co-operation agreement in 2013 under safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In the arms bazaar, nuclear proliferation is the greatest danger.

Like his predecessors, President Barack Obama, is working to contain proliferation through negotiation, sanctions and international law. Slow and frustrating, there is discernible progress.

Notwithstanding current tensions, Russia and the United States completed a new nuclear arms treaty (START) in 2011, setting out new limits on intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads.

Sanctions have brought Iran to the bargaining table in Geneva. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has concluded there is sufficient “tangible progress” to extend discussions beyond the July 20 deadline.

North Korea remains a problem, still firing missiles and rockets, despite continuing condemnation from the UN Security Council.

A series of international nuclear security summits – Washington, Seoul, the Hague – were initiated by Mr. Obama in 2010.

They have resulted in minimizing the use of highly enriched uranium, higher security standards at nuclear facilities and measures to detect and prevent the illicit trade in nuclear materials.

Canada has pledged funds to help non-proliferation efforts, ratified international covenants on suppression of nuclear terrorism and protection of nuclear materials.

There are similar efforts to curb and control conventional weapons, like that which brought down Flight 17.

The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, to which Canada was a founding contributor, obliges governments to voluntarily supply data on their imports and exports. Seventy nations, including Canada, have done so consistently.

The Wassenaar arrangement of 41 states, including Canada, aims at preventing transfers of conventional weapons or dual-use goods to illegitimate end-users.

As with nuclear non-proliferation, containing conventional weapons remains a work-in-progress.

Given previous Canadian leadership to curb land mines and small arms, the Harper government’s refusal to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty is perplexing. It deserves a rethink.

Concerted international action, abetted by technology that improves detection and attribution, can work “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” the UN Charter says.

Chemical weapons killed and blinded tens of thousands during the First World War. Popular revulsion led to the Geneva Protocols proclaiming that “the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases … has been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilized world.”

The prohibition against chemical weapons endures. When breached – most recently by the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria – there has been sanction and remedial action.

Every day, an estimated 5.4 million people board airplanes. By midday, air traffic over Canada and the United States alone reaches an estimated peak of 5,300 flights.

Confidence in global aviation safety obliges action by the international community. Air travel is difficult enough without worrying about missiles.

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U.S. President Obama piles pressure on Russia's Putin to force Ukraine's separatists to cooperate in crash investigation of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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Ukraine, NATO, Collective Diplomacy and Defence

Have the West’s actions encouraged the world’s rogues?

The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Apr. 15 2014 also on RealClear World
Colin Robertson

It’s a testing moment for the international order.

How will we respond to Russian actions that Prime Minister Harper describes as  “aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic”? Is the NATO Alliance prepared to draw red lines? Will we defend the system that President Obama said we have worked  “for generations to build”?

Collective diplomacy gets its shot at the Ukrainian crisis when ministers from the Ukraine, Russia, USA, and European Union meet this week in Geneva.

Success will depend on whether Russia commits to troop pull-back, removal of agitators, non-interference in the May 26 Ukrainian elections and then recognition of its new government. Ukrainian authorities must guarantee the rights of its Russian-speaking minority.

The USA and EU must define, clearly articulate and then act on a calibrated set of sanctions. Demonstrating military muscle is essential. NATO exercises on land, air and sea is ‘language’ that Mr. Putin will understand.

That there is public fatigue with what many see as unsatisfactory foreign adventures is understandable. Iraq was an unnecessary war and the long campaign in Afghanistan has not had a satisfactory conclusion.

The recession and continuing joblessness obliged governments to concentrate on domestic recovery and now restraint in operations.

Defence budgets have suffered. Less than a handful of the 28 NATO members meet their commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence.

Has the tilt to domestic preoccupations and defence cuts inadvertently encouraged the rogues and those who don’t like the western international order?

Strong actions will  reconfirm the West’s commitment to international order. Alliance strength and solidarity will also send a message to others – Iran, North Korea and China – who are testing the limits.

The Ukrainian crisis reminds us that collective security, the purpose of NATO, is an enduring priority that requires real commitment. Words alone don’t defend principles or deter aggression.

For Canada this means a recommitment to our own defence establishment. We currently spend 1.5 percent of GDP on defence.

We point, with justice, to our contributions in Afghanistan and Libya. We argue, with reason, that results and output are more important than numbers,

But we can do more. Our promised procurement of ships, planes and land vehicles is behind schedule and already Inflation is eating away at the new kit.

Our defence policy puts ‘Canada First’.

A clever piece of political phraseology, our investment is as much in collective security through NATO and NORAD. These alliances have insured the long peace on which depends our prosperity.

A strategic alliance of democratic and sovereign states; the adjectives are both its strength and its shortcoming. NATO’s faults – sclerotic decision-making, unequal burden-sharing, lack of readiness – are much discussed, notably by then-US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates.

Yet, after sixty-five years, the Alliance continues to be the most successful collective defence partnership the world has known. With a combined four million under arms, NATO collectively accounts for nearly 70 percent of all military spending

NATO is the effective cop on the global beat, the go-to organization when muscle is required to manage chaos and restore order.

The three core principles of NATO’s Strategic Concept –  cooperative security, crisis response and collective defence – have enabled partnerships and operations beyond its original theatre.

Ultimately, collective security depends on two factors.

Political will is the most important. History suggests it takes a crisis, like the Crimean invasion, to arouse the Alliance to action.

The second is economic strength. We focus on NATO’s Article V: in the case of an attack we are all for one and one for all. Yet we pay relatively little attention to Article II with its emphasis on the development of free institutions and encouraging economic collaboration.

Acknowledged as the Canadian contribution in  drafting the NATO charter, the economic value of Article II is overlooked. Yet as a formula for economic regeneration, freer trade is without rival.

Bringing the Atlantic economies into closer integration is good for business and strategically smart.

This strategic dimension has been missing from the debate on the US-Europe Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement (CETA). Achieving CETA and TTIP would be the economic match to the security alliance we created in 1949.

It’s collective security, but with an economic edge.

Representative institutions, bolstered by free trade and the market economy, are the best means to underwrite our security and defence. They enable us to deal with the world as we find it, even as we work collectively towards the world we wish.

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