Rahim Mohamed: Is Trudeau surprised NATO socks don’t count as defence spending?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suffered yet another hit to his international reputation last week when a leaked secret Pentagon assessment (obtained by The Washington Post) revealed that he’d privately told NATO officials that Canada will never meet the alliance’s defence spending target of two per cent of national GDP.
The leaked assessment, first shared on the Discord messenger app, further revealed a number of unflattering details about the state of Canada’s armed forces — including new revelations about the response to the unidentified aerial object that entered Canadian airspace in February. The document’s authors (who have yet to be identified) also claim that Canada’s “widespread” military deficiencies are becoming a liability for our security partners and a source of tension within the alliance.
There was a time when Trudeau’s reported comments could be written off as simply “saying the quiet part loud.” Historically, a solid majority of NATO countries have failed to meet the two per cent GDP target. As recently as a decade ago, just three of the alliance’s then 28 members met this target. The NATO defence alliance has, accordingly, been seen for decades as a textbook example of the free-rider problem. (What’s NATO going to do to delinquents, kick them out of the alliance?).
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