Justin Trudeau faces Trumpian pressure on the NAFTA file. But, Tom Walkom writes, he also faces pressure because Canada is a member of NATO. That pressure is not just about ponying up more money. It's about once again sending troops to Afghanistan:
The problem facing the NATO-led force is that it is losing. The Taliban poses a significant threat in at least 40 per cent of the country. The Afghan army on its own has been unable to defeat the insurgents.
Added to this is the growing presence in Afghanistan of the terrorist group Daesh, also known as the Islamic State.
To meet these problems, the American general in charge of the NATO-led forces wants Washington to send between 3,000 and 5,000 additional military “advisers.” The Trump White House is said to be split over the request. No matter how this is sorted out, Trump wants other NATO members to share any pain.Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, said Thursday that a decision on the exact number of troops to be deployed by the alliance will be made later this year.Oddly enough, Trudeau’s rhetoric on NATO may make it more difficult for Canada to avoid contributing troops to any expanded Afghan mission.Faced with a U.S. president determined to have other NATO members spend more on defence, Trudeau has argued eloquently that money isn’t everything.
Dealing with Trump -- Angela Merkel will confirm this -- is a Herculean challenge:
Behind all of this is the spectre of the upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation.The Trudeau government is fixated on keeping the trade pact linking Canada, the U.S. and Mexico intact. Ottawa looks at everything, including defence, through a NAFTA lens.The government strategy to date has been threefold. First, it is waging a public relations blitz to convince American lawmakers that it is in their own national interest to keep NAFTA more or less as is.Second, it is waging a charm offensive to convince Trump that Trudeau is his, and America’s, best friend.Third, it is hinting — more in sorrow than in anger — that, if forced, Canada can engage in trade practices of its own to make life difficult for American firms.But of the three, the charm offensive is key. Faced with a president who takes perceived slights badly, Trudeau is going out of his way to stay on Trump’s good side.
Staying on Trump's good side is a Sisyphean task. As soon as you roll the stone up the hill a little, the mercurial Trump kicks it back down again.
It's not easy to stay out of Trump's swamp.