NATO has long called upon its members to maintain military spending at 2 percent of GDP. However, few alliance members have met this target.
The latest spending figures indicates that Canada is actually one of the worst offenders. In 2013, only five other NATO countries spent a lower percentage of GDP on defence (see below). . . .
Canada has small, highly competent, deployable forces. We also have a track record of making modest but effective contributions to NATO’s joint operations, from the Balkan crisis of the mid-1990s to the missions in Afghanistan, Libya, and now in Eastern Europe.
But let’s not fool ourselves. Continued reductions in defence spending will have an impact on the quality of the forces that Canada can deploy in the future. . . .
If the West and NATO continue disarming (which is effectively what they are doing, relative to others), we will find ourselves in a much more dangerous world in the not-too-distant future.
The case for government spending is always difficult to make in times of fiscal strain. Today, the economies of North America and Europe are facing slow growth and many competing demands. Nevertheless, we would be foolish not to invest in our diplomatic and military capacities now. If we fail to do so, we risk paying a much higher price later.