OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending NATO after the French president suggested that the lack of leadership in the United States is causing the "brain death" of the 70-year military alliance.
Trudeau, who met with re-elected, newly elected and defeated parliamentarians on Parliament Hill on Thursday, said that NATO continues to play an important role in bringing together Canada and its allies in the name of collective security and shared values.
Canada is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was created in 1949 in response to threats from the Soviet Union and remains one of the most important military alliances in this country.
The NATO membership also includes France and the United States, with all the members promising that an attack on one is an attack on everyone.
Yet in an interview published by The Economist magazine, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that European allies must re-evaluate the alliance given the recent US actions under President Donald Trump.
These include the sudden withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria, a plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan before talks with the Taliban stopped and repeated Trump attacks on other NATO members for don't spend enough on your defense.
These complaints are expected to be important when NATO leaders meet in London in December.
Trump also questioned why the United States would send troops to defend some Eastern European countries.
"We are currently experiencing the brain death of NATO," Macron told The Economist magazine in the interview published Thursday. He added that the United States under Trump seem to "turn its back to us", specifically citing the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.
"So as soon as you have a member who feels that you have the right to leave alone, granted by the United States of America, they do. And that's what happened. "
When asked about the comments of the French president, Trudeau said: "NATO continues to play an extremely important role not only in the North Atlantic but in the world as a group of countries that come together to share values, which share a commitment to shared security.
"And frankly, the fact that Canada was able to show significant leadership in both Baghdad leading the training mission in Iraq and on the eastern front of NATO in Latvia are examples where NATO still has an important role to play." .
Canada currently has around 250 military trainers involved in a NATO mission to train local forces in Iraq and another 600 troops participating in a NATO mission to Latvia that serves as a check against the Russian aggression in the Baltic States.
Macron's public criticism of the world's largest military alliance was rejected by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after the two met in Berlin.
"The French president has chosen drastic words," Merkel said. "This is not my view on NATO cooperation and I think that such a radical blow is not necessary, even if we have problems, even if we have to put it together".
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also insisted that the NATO Alliance remains relevant today as it celebrated the 30th anniversary of the end of the Cold War by visiting a German village that was divided during that conflict.
"I think NATO remains an important, critical, perhaps historically one of the most critical strategic partnerships in all recorded history," said Pompeo.
– with The Associated Press files
This story was first published by The Canadian Press on November 7, 2019.