MacKay backs Gates’ criticism of NATO

Canada doesn’t want to see a “two-tier” NATO, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Friday, as he gave credence to the grim prognosis of the alliance by his U.S. counterpart Robert Gates.

Canada doesn’t want to see a “two-tier” NATO, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Friday, as he gave credence to the grim prognosis of the alliance by his U.S. counterpart Robert Gates.

“I’ve sensed Secretary Gates’ frustration for some time about burden-sharing and the need to have 28 members of the alliance participating more actively and more fully,” MacKay said at the Conservative party’s convention.

MacKay, who just returned from a NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels, added: “I’ve never seen him more adamant, going so far as to name names, and saying ‘look we need some countries to step up.”’

In a blunt exit speech earlier Friday to a Brussels think-tank, Gates said his country’s military alliance with NATO faces a “dim, if not dismal” future.

Gates unleashed one more attack on European members of NATO for relying too much on U.S. military might and not doing enough to support the mission in Afghanistan or the air campaign to protect civilians in Libya.

“Future U.S. political leaders — those for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was for me — may not consider the return on America’s investment in NATO worth the cost,” Gates said.

NATO, formed in 1949 to protect Europe from Soviet Union aggression during the Cold War, has struggled to remain relevant in the two decades since the collapse of the communism.

Afghanistan was its first mission outside its traditional theatre, and has exposed infighting and uneven contributions among its member countries. The alliance’s recent decision to lead the United Nations-approved no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians has also become bogged down amid complaints that some countries are doing more than others.

In Afghanistan, Canada has been lauded by the United States for punching above its weight, and Gates offered the same praise Friday for its contribution to the Libya mission.

But he had harsh words for European efforts in Afghanistan.

“Despite more than two million troops in uniform, not counting the U.S. military, NATO has struggled, at times desperately, to sustain a deployment of 25,000 to 45,000 troops, not just in boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters, transport aircraft, maintenance, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and more.”

And he referenced the stresses NATO has encountered in keeping up the pace the air campaign over Libya.

“The mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country, yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the U.S., once more, to make up the difference,” he said.

It wasn’t the first time Gates has expressed frustration with certain European members of NATO, but it was his most pointed as he steps down at the end of the month as U.S. secretary of defence after more than four years.

MacKay referred to his past public criticism of unidentified European allies that Canada blames for not supporting its fighting efforts in Kandahar, one of Afghanistan’s most violent provinces.

“Burden-sharing is a serious issue … we don’t want to have a two-tier NATO. We want to know that countries are doing their all, participating in a way that is meaningful,” he said.

“Obviously certain countries have more ability to do so. They have more equipment, more forces, more capacity, but we need to encourage countries to ensure that we’re making a global effort.”

Gates singled out Belgium and Canada for making “major contributions” to the Libya mission.

“These countries have, with their constrained resources, found ways to do the training, buy the equipment and field the platforms necessary to make a credible military contribution,” Gates said.

MacKay said NATO is trying to streamline how it undertakes missions outside of its usual “territorial boundaries.”

“So this is a new process when it comes to NATO’s participation in these global conflicts, but it is one that I think Secretary Gates has been adamant about and consistent throughout his time.”

MacKay lauded Gates for his leadership and said he was given an emotional send-off this week’s NATO meeting.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ice shifted to the shoreline at Sylvan Lake on April 21. (Photo contributed by Andrea Swainson)
Icy shores of Sylvan Lake

A local photographer has captured how the ice has shifted to the… Continue reading

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

A boat sits idle on the banks of Villa Victoria Dam, the main water supply for Mexico City residents, on the outskirts of Toluca, Mexico, Thursday, April 22, 2021. The mayor of Mexico City said the drought was the worst in 30 years, and that problem can be seen at the series of reservoirs that bring in water from other states to supply the capital. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2020, file photo Caitlyn Jenner speaks at the 4th Women’s March in Los Angeles. Jenner has been an Olympic hero, a reality TV personality and a transgender rights activist. Jenner has been consulting privately with Republican advisers as she considers joining the field of candidates seeking to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a likely recall election later this year. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Jenner adds celebrity, questions to California governor race

Celebrity activist immediately stands out in a growing field

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 file photo, Jeremy Fleming, head of the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), in London. Western countries risk losing control of technologies that are key to internet security and economic prosperity to nations with competing values like China and Russia if they don’t act to deal with the threat, one of the U.K.’s top spy chiefs warned on Friday, April 23, 2021. “Significant technology leadership is moving East” and causing a conflict of interests and values, Jeremy Fleming, director of government electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, said in a speech. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)
UK spy chief says West faces ‘moment of reckoning’ on tech

China’s Foreign Ministry condemn the remarks

Brooke Henderson, of Canada, watches her tee shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Tournament of Champions LPGA golf tournament, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Canadian Brooke Henderson vaults into tie for fourth at LPGA Tour event

Henderson is sixth in the world women’s golf rankings

Switzerland’s skip Silvana Tirinzoni makes a call during a women’s curling match against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Natacha Pisarenko
Previously unbeaten women’s teams suffer setbacks at Grand Slam curling event

Top six women’s and men’s teams qualify for the playoffs.

FILE - Gal Gadot arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Gadot is using her Hollywood star power to spotlight remarkable women from around the world. The “Wonder Woman” actor is host and executive producer of a new documentary series “National Geographic Presents IMPACT with Gal Gadot,” premiering Monday, April 26. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Gal Gadot spotlights women’s stories in new docuseries

First episode follows a young Black figure skating coach in Detroit

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino listens to speakers during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday October 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Retaking language test unfair during COVID-19: applicants to new residency pathway

New program aims to grant 90,000 essential workers and international graduates permanent status

LtE bug
Letter: Questions around city funding for Westerner

The Advocate article on April 21 on page 3 “Council to discuss… Continue reading

Most Read