Donald Trump’s comments that, if elected president, the U.S. wouldn’t automatically come to the aid of allies are “not helpful,” Canada’s defence minister says.
The Republican nominee caused a stir this week when he said some NATO members aren’t spending enough on defence, and are instead relying on the U.S. to protect them. That would change if he’s elected, Trump told the New York Times.
“We’re talking about countries that are doing very well,” he said. “I would absolutely be prepared to tell those countries, ‘Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.’”
While Trump appeared to be directing his comments at European allies, Canada spends less than one per cent of its gross domestic product on defence. That is half the NATO target and puts Canada near the back of the pack among the alliance’s 28 members.
In an interview with The Canadian Press Thursday, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan defended Canada’s military contributions and NATO. He pointed to Canada’s recent promise to lead a NATO force in Latvia and its role in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as proof the country is pulling its weight.
“We’re stepping up in a much bigger way,” Sajjan said. “When you put everything together, we have nothing to embarrassed about. In fact, we actually can be very proud of the fact of how much we’re doing.”
Trump has made some confusing remarks on international defense but asking allies to pay a little more isn’t one of them.
Sajjan and his government may be comfortable picking its battles and the money spent on them but those do not equal military might or moral fortitude. That’s smoke and mirrors.