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‘That’s no joke’: Taking aim at Trudeau, Trump’s campaign chief compares U.S. job numbers to Canadian losses


For Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it seems the fallout from his Buckingham Palace video slip-up is set to run and run.

In the days since the PM’s unguarded remarks showed him cracking a joke at U.S. President Donald Trump’s expense at a NATO summit in England, he has found the clip being used both by Trump’s allies and foes to further their own needs.

At a reception on Tuesday evening, Trudeau was caught on camera with France’s Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Boris Johnson and Mark Rutte of the Netherlands laughing at Trump’s long press appearances. “You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” said Trudeau. Trump said the clip showed Trudeau was “two-faced.”

In a news conference after the summit, Trudeau said his “jaw drop” comment had been referring to Trump’s unexpected announcement that the next G7 summit will take place at Camp David and he had meant no offence.

However, that doesn’t seem to have appeased the Trump side, and on Friday Trudeau was taken to task by Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale.


Brad Parscale, campaign manager for the Trump 2020 reelection campaign, attends a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump in Bossier City, LA, U.S., November 14, 2019.

REUTERS/Tom Brenner

On Friday Bloomberg reported that Canada’s job market weakened, unexpectedly, for the second month in a row. Citing Statistics Canada figures, Bloomberg reported that Canada shed 71,200 jobs in November — the biggest drop since 2009. In total, Canada has added 285,100 jobs in 2019.

Pouncing on the November drop Parscale, citing Bloomberg reporting run online by the Financial Post, highlighted the fact that American job gains under Trump compare favourably to Canada’s numbers. The most recent U.S. Labor Department figures show the U.S. gained 266,000 jobs in the same month.

“Let’s see,” Parscale wrote in a post on both his Twitter and Facebook accounts, the latter of which was shared by Trump’s own Facebook page.

“President Trump is fighting for America and our economy just ADDED 266,000 jobs. Justin Trudeau was laughing it up in London and the Canadian economy just LOST 71,200 jobs. That’s no joke. Trump wins. Again.”

Parscale’s stinging rebuke came soon after Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden had chimed in on the Trudeau clip, posting a campaign video to Twitter in which he used the video to take down Trump, suggesting he is a laughingstock to other world leaders.

“The world is laughing,” read the text over that clip and others of Trump’s trips abroad. “We need a leader the world respects.”

As of Thursday evening, Biden’s Twitter video had garnered more than nine million views. The campaign soon posted it to Facebook and told Reuters it was also promoting it to likely caucus-goers in the early presidential nominating state of Iowa on Instagram, YouTube and Hulu.

The Biden campaign also used the video in a fundraising pitch on Thursday, asking supporters to help turn the online ad into a TV spot.

— with files from Reuters and Bloomberg



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NATO’s New Mission


There is little argument that the 70-year-old NATO Alliance today finds itself in one of the most complicated security environments it has ever seen. China and Russia continue to pose significant challenges, the fast-paced development of new technology is adding borderless perimeters that must be defended and the organization is managing internal strife from its own members including Turkey and the United States.

As part of a joint statement issued Wednesday, leaders said, “We, as an Alliance, are facing distinct threats and challenges emanating from all strategic directions.  Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a persistent threat to us all.  State and non-state actors challenge the rules-based international order. Instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration. We face cyber and hybrid threats.”

Alliance leaders have been focused this week on developing a strategy to address security concerns with China for the very first time, and considering the implications of Beijing’s global investments and growing military. They were also aiming for agreement on a defense plan for the Baltics and Poland, as well as considering new approaches to common threats like terrorism.

Internally, the Alliance has been challenged by Turkey’s seeming lean in toward Russia and with a consistent demand from the U.S. to address burden sharing among NATO members.

“Since 2016, Canada and European allies have added 130 billion more to their defence budgets. And this number will increase to 400 billion U.S. dollars by 2024. This is unprecedented. This is making NATO stronger and it shows that this Alliance is adapting, responding when the world is changing,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the opening of the two-day conference. “NATO is the most successful Alliance in history because we have been able to change when the world is changing. That is exactly what we are doing again. And the fact is that we are doing more together in this Alliance now then we have done in many decades.”

While there has been no shortage of theatrics among leaders this week, The Cipher Brief tapped two of its experts, both former NATO Supreme Allied Commanders Europe (SACEUR) to help cut through some of the rhetoric to understand the Alliance’s strategic importance today to both the U.S. and its allies.

Gen. Philip M. Breedlove served as the 17th Supreme Allied Commander, NATO.  Prior to his position as SACEUR, General Breedlove served as the Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe; and Commander, U.S. Air Forces Africa.

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) served as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander, NATO and is currently an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group.  His is the author of, Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character.

Background:

  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established in April 1949 with 12 initial nations signing on.
  • The Alliance was founded on three basic goals: to deter Soviet expansionism, to form a strong partnership with the United States to deter nationalist militarism in Europe and to encourage political integration throughout Europe.
  • U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower became NATO’s first Supreme Allied Commander (a role always held by an American) in 1950.
  • On September 12, 2001, NATO invoked its mutual defense clause in support of the United States after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • Today, NATO is comprised of 29 member countries including: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, The United Kingdom, and The United States.

 

Why is NATO so important right now?

General Philip Breedlove (Ret.), Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe

“The bottom line is we’re living in some of the most uncertain times of our history. We used to understand our opponents, who they were and where the lines on the ground and the lines in the sand were. Now, there are no lines out there for us to understand. There are all kinds of gray zone conflicts going on. Russia is attacking us in cyber every day. They’re engineering social media against the West every day. They’re interfering in elections, every single one of them including the French, German, U.S., and British elections. Where and how we draw lines and understand what our opponents are doing to us is critical. More than ever, we need NATO. In the last five years, Russia as a major world power, has used its military to cross internationally recognized borders into Crimea and into the Donbass and has changed internationally recognized borders by using their military. I don’t know what more we need to look for in order to understand how important NATO is.”

 

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.), Former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

“I’ll give you three reasons. One is the challenges that we collectively face with Russian adventurism. I think there’s still a significant role for NATO in deterring Russia and by the very nature of its invasion of Ukraine, we see that Vladimir Putin is a gambler. He’s a risk taker and I think will continue to put pressure on the Alliance. Number two, cyber security. We are increasingly at risk in the world of cyber where the level of threat far outpaces the level of preparation. And I think it’s an area in which we would be collectively much, much stronger if we operated together. Third, and finally I think the Alliance matters because of its potential impact in the Middle East and here whether we’re working on counter terrorism, helping to calm the situation in Syria, or in working over-time to deter Iran from bad behavior. And I think there are still significant missions ahead for NATO. I just mentioned three. We also have a continuing mission in Afghanistan and we have challenges in the Arctic. There’s plenty for NATO to do and it’s still great value for the United States.”

 

What needs to happen in London?

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.), Former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

“I think we need the Alliance to take a deep breath and work on the overall center of gravity for this Alliance, which is political coherence. At the moment, you have the French pulling in one direction, you have the Turks distinctly pulling in a different direction to the South, you have questions about where Afghanistan is going and you have the American side, which continues to constantly talk only about funding and who’s paying what. So right now, the Alliance doesn’t feel like a synchronized political Alliance, although its military capability remains strong. So, I would say the number one thing we need is more coherence out of the leadership assembling in London.”

 

Gen. Philip Breedlove (Ret.), Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

“What needs to happen in London is the same thing that should happen every time NATO meets at the senior level. And that is to reinforce the commitment by all of the allies to the alliance, and what the alliance stands for, to its Western values, and to the military commitment that we make to each other. There is essentially a commitment to collective defense, but there are also 28 individual bilateral commitments to defend each other.”

 

Access your full Cipher Brief debrief with Admiral James Stavridis here

Access your full Cipher Brief debrief with General Philip Breedlove here

Join Cipher Brief experts March 22-24 in Sea Island, GA for the fourth annual Cipher Brief Threat Conference.  This is an invitation-only event for public and private security and national experts.  Our 2020 focus is Future Threats and how the public and private sectors need to work together to address them.  Seating is extremely limited.  Request your seat today.

 





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NATO and EU Army Cannot Coexist



Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has warned that NATO and a future EU army cannot coexist.

Mr Farage said during a campaign event in Buckley, Wales, on Monday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has to choose the UK’s place inside or out the European Defence Union. He said that if the nation commits to the proto-EU army post-Brexit, then the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could collapse.

“NATO and a European Defence Union cannot coexist equally,” Mr Farage said in comments reported by POLITICO.

He continued: “No man effectively can serve both. We’ve got a decision to make.”

Highlighting the importance of British military might to Europe, the Brexit Party leader said: “If we leave the European Defence Union, it becomes valueless. Because without [the UK], it doesn’t have the muscle that it needs.”

“But if we stay, don’t be surprised if NATO falls to pieces and we leave the security and protection that America had for us, thank God, twice in the last century,” he added.

Mr Farage’s comments come as President of the United States of America Donald J Trump is in the United Kingdom for a three-day visit to mark the 70th anniversary of NATO. During his trip, President Trump is meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The President had criticised the commitment of NATO members when in 2015, just five of the then-28-member union had hit the two per cent GDP minimum spending on defence (those countries being the U.S., UK, Greece, Poland, and Estonia). The USA funds around 70 per cent of NATO, spending 3.4 per cent of its GDP on defence.

In the subsequent years and with the support of Secretary-General Stoltenberg, more European countries have heeded the criticisms of President Trump and have recommitted to the spending target. Even Germany, which was set to fail to meet its own reduced spending target, recently committed to increased spending. Expanded to 29 countries, seven nations are now hitting their two per cent target.

However, French President Emmanuel Macron, who along with Germany is a great proponent of an EU army, claimed last month that NATO was suffering a “brain death”. He alleged America was “turning its back on us [Europe]” and questioned the U.S.’s “commitment” to the defence union and its members.

Macron’s comments proved unpopular with his European allies, with Germany’s Chancellor Merkel saying with an uncharacteristic bluntness that the Frenchman had used “drastic words” and “NATO remains a cornerstone of our security.” The former German defence minister and the next president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also defended NATO as the “protective shield of freedom”.

President Trump started his NATO visit Tuesday by addressing Macron’s remarks, calling them “very insulting” and remarking that France had many problems of its own, stating: “Nobody needs NATO more than France.”

While the Germans and the French leadership may disagree fundamentally on the importance of NATO, they, along with Brussels, remain the cornerstone of support for an EU army, which Mr Farage fears will over-extend its reach and threaten the 70-year-old transatlantic alliance.

Mr Macron had said in November 2018 that the EU needs its own army to “protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia, and even the United States of America”. The call for a “real, true European army” was backed by Chancellor Merkel, the European Commission, and senior European Parliament politician Guy Verhofstadt.

Mr Farage warned in July that as president of the EU’s powerful executive arm, Mrs von der Leyen would advance plans for a European army, saying: “She’s a fanatic for building a European army, but she’s not alone. When it’s completed, NATO will cease to exist or have any relevance in Europe at all.”

In 2017, EU member states signed up to the Permanent Structured Cooperation process, or PESCO — a key element of the bloc’s Defence Union plans formulated by the outgoing European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who had said the EU needs an army by 2025.

Mr Farage told voters in Wales on Monday that is EU is “not just talking about building their European Defence Union; they are talking about flexing their muscles around the world”.

“I find that in itself very alarming talk. What is clear, what is absolutely clear, is they want NATO out of Europe. That’s what the politicians in Brussels want,” he continued.

“I would say that in a world where there are some major serious threats, we need that military relationship with America today as much as we have ever needed it,” Mr Farage added.





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Putin’s Perfect Cover


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