Do we really need a Cold War military alliance in the post-9/11 era?
This is a question that has become much more critical in the public discourse since Donald Trump raised it in his presidential campaign. Now that Trump is on his way to finally occupying the one of the world’s most powerful offices, it is much more than just a controversial opinion. It’s a potential policy doctrine.
As the US discusses its terms of future engagement with the America-led alliance, it’s time for us to consider Canada’s place in NATO as well. In case the US decides to leave the alliance (which is entirely possible), what should Canada do?
Canada and the NATO
One of the promises Trump made in his campaign was that, if elected, he would choose to leave the NATO. In Trump’s view, NATO is becoming increasingly obsolete in the current era. Its functional value is quite low while the expense to maintain it, on the other hand, is relatively much greater.
If the US withdraws from the NATO, Canada will have two possible policy options. Canada can either choose to follow Trump’s example and save its expenses on the military alliance. Or it can choose to step forward and assume a more assertive leadership role in the organization. Moving ahead amidst an isolationist policy by the US will involve weighing the pros and cons of both options.
The Liberal view
Judging from the Liberal Party’s response to Trump’s election and future prospects, the government pretty much wants to go with the latter option. It wants not just to stay in NATO, but also wants to lead more directly from the front. That’s what Liberal MP Bob Nault, head of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, thinks.
This is easier said than done, though. If Canada decides to boost participation in NATO post-Trump, it will need to increase its defence spending which will put a strain on an already struggling economy. So it’s important that we ask ourselves a question.
Is being in NATO really worth it?