NATO has problems (but it’s not who’s spending what)

by David Bercuson

Financial Post
September 4, 2018

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is sick and no one is trying to cure the alliance. While NATO’s last meeting in Europe seemed to focus on which members were meeting the two per cent of GDP expenditure on defence and which were not (Canada was far from the goal), the real problems afflicting the alliance today went undiscussed.

NATO was born almost 60 years ago to contain the Soviet Union and to deter any efforts by the U.S.S.R. to either openly attack non-Communist countries there or to intimidate them to follow the Soviet line even if they were not Communist. The latter condition was dubbed “Finlandization,” because although Finland was a functioning social democratic nation, it lay along the Soviet border and thus virtually every aspect of its foreign and defence policy had to line up with Moscow, or else.

But the Soviet Union is long gone, the Cold War is over and although Russia under President Vladimir Putin is trying to resurrect the military power that once marked the Soviet Union, it is a shadow of its former military self even though it holds the largest collection of nuclear warheads on the face of the planet. The Russians are trying to modernize and reorganize their military as fast as they can, but they have neither the money nor the intellectual resources to match the United States, let alone NATO.

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