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Maclean's 50: NATO Hanging in the Balance
25 January 2008, 18h55 EST (GMT-5)

Maclean's 50
The Maclean's 50
Click logo for the full commentary and original article

John Manley's report on Canada's mission in Afghanistan has predictably set all and sundry wondering what it means for the Conservative government that commissioned it, and the Liberal Party that Manley once aspired to lead.

In my contribution as a member of the Maclean's 50, however, I argue that the more vexed question is what the report's demand for more troops means - or ought to mean - for NATO.

My full commentary published at the Maclean's web site is below. The original article and companion commentaries are available by clicking here.

* * *

The question of how NATO states react to a demand for additional troops for Afghanistan should do far more than decide the future of Canada's role in the war; indeed, it should decide the future of NATO itself.

The very essence of NATO is the doctrine of mutual defence of its members, by its members. Even after the end of the Cold War, countries have clamoured ever more ardently for membership in the alliance that regards an attack against any member as an attack against all members.

Yet, in Afghanistan, the vast majority of NATO states have revealed an abject hypocrisy: they are all too happy to cower under an umbrella of security held over their heads by the sacrifice of others, including the wholly disproportionate casualties being borne by Canadian soldiers.

If our NATO partners are not prepared to live up to their obligations today, they should not expect Canada or others to recognise any obligation to them tomorrow.


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