‘Bad mistake’ to judge Canada’s defence commitments solely on spending: U.S. envoy – National

U.S. President Joe Biden’s Special Envoy to Ottawa said on Friday that it is “too common” to judge Canada’s global military security efforts solely on how much money it spends on defense. It was a bad mistake,” he said.

David Cohen said this week that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau privately told NATO officials that Canada would never meet its military alliance spending target of 2% of GDP. declined to comment on the Washington Post report.

But he had a lot to say about whether Canada deserved its stingy reputation over the years when it came to committing resources to the Canadian military.

“I think it’s a bad mistake. Quite frankly, I think too many people are making this mistake … Somehow Canada’s commitment to defense needs to be measured by one metric. said Cohen.

“I don’t think that’s right.”

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Mr. Cohen was a keynote speaker among past and present U.S. ambassadors, trade lawyers and bilateral scholars gathered at the Canadian-American Institute of Law’s annual conference in Cleveland on Friday.

He said Canada will make its own decisions on priorities and budget allocations. In 2014, along with many other allies, in 2006 he voluntarily agreed to aim for his 2% target originally set by NATO.

But Cohen suggested that Ukraine’s support for the war with Russia and its plans to strengthen its Arctic defenses should have more weight in the policy debate than it does now.

“Forget the percentage of Canada’s defense spending relative to GDP. Canada has gone to great lengths to provide military assistance to Ukraine whenever requested by the United States or the United Nations.” Stated.

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“Every time there was a need, Canada stepped up.”

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Cohen’s defense contrasted with that of one of his predecessors, David Jacobson. Jacobson said at the previous night’s awards ceremony that he feared the consequences of what Trudeau said.

Jacobson, who served as Barack Obama’s ambassador from 2009 to 2013, said the Washington Post report could make it harder for Canada and the United States to resolve future bilateral irritants. Stated.

“This is one of the ways governments lose trust,” says Jacobson.

“This is a perfect example of what not to do to solve some of the two-way issues that are legitimately very important to some Canadians and some Americans.”

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The report, which appeared on the front pages of newspapers online Wednesday and Thursday, was based on documents from the Department of Defense’s secret pile that were leaked in recent weeks on online chat forums for gamers.

Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old IT specialist and member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was arrested last week and charged with violating the U.S. Espionage Act.

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The Washington Post says the unsigned and dated document, not seen by the Canadian Press, refers to Canada’s “extensive” military deficiencies that have caused friction with security partners and allies. Stated.

Jacobson acknowledged a longstanding truth in a politically polarized United States. Public support for military missions abroad is weak, especially when U.S. taxpayers bear most of the bill.

While NATO has long struggled to meet its 2% spending target for many of its members, US military spending is about 3.3% of GDP, 13 times larger than Canada’s.

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By comparison, Ottawa’s federal government currently spends about 1.4% of its GDP on defense.

“What happens is that the American people say, ‘Why do we have to do this? Why do we have to protect the world?'” Jacobson said. It is in the United States’ best interest to do so, he added.

“But at some point people will say, ‘Well, we have all these freeloaders’ — I hate to use that word — ‘We have these freeloaders I have everything, so I’m not going to do it anymore.”

This is a phrase that reminds me of former President Donald Trump. Donald Trump, who frequently accuses NATO allies of disrespecting the alliance, is running for president again next year.

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The Post’s article did not provide details of Trudeau’s comments. However, it did explain complaints from many allies about perceived shortages within the Canadian military.

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For example, NATO is “concerned” that Canada has not added to the ranks of the Latvian battle group.

Turkey was “disappointed” by Canada’s apparent “refusal” to deliver aid after an earthquake earlier this year, and Haiti was “displeased” by Canada’s reluctance to launch a security mission. ‘, the paper reported.

“Wide defense deficiencies hamper Canada’s capabilities,” the Washington Post said, citing a document that “strains partnerships and alliance contributions.”

The document appears to have been written before Mr. Biden’s March visit to Ottawa.

“When you look at this on a threat assessment basis instead of just looking at a single data point, Canada stands up. ‘ said Cohen.

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Canada’s defense spending “trajectory” has also improved gradually in recent years, he added.

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The liberal government has committed about $40 billion to modernizing Norad and defending North America, in addition to the $8 billion military spending announced in the 2022 budget.

“In Joe Biden’s worldview, no country should be independently judged or evaluated for what they are doing in the defense arena,” Cohen said.

“The question is, what kind of partner are you? We see Canada and the United States as closely intertwined.”

As for Latvia, Canada has launched an urgent competitive procurement process to equip its armed forces with anti-tank, anti-drones and anti-aircraft defense systems, Defense Minister Anita Anand said.

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The US military warned in February that a major military operation was now impossible given its deployment to Latvia and Canada’s continued military support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, according to The Washington Post. .

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The United States is also desperate to find someone to lead a multinational aid mission in gang-ravaged Haiti, and officials have confirmed the Canadian name as a worthy option.

However, Mr. Jacobson said he felt that the issue of Canada’s role in Haiti was not so much a bilateral disagreement as a serious question of capacity.

“One of the things I’ve learned about military intervention is that you can’t do everything. You don’t have enough bullets, not enough tanks, not enough soldiers to do everything you want,” he said.

“If we consume 1.4% of GDP, we will have even fewer tanks, soldiers and bullets.”

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