From Cold War to Present Day


NATO’s Canadian Clause

The second of the Treaty's 14 clauses is often described as the Canadian clause. Essentially, it encourages economic co-operation among member countries. Strong misgivings stemmed mainly from the opinion that it was pointless to add to the already numerous agencies for international economic co-operation. This opposition to the Canadian proposal was germane up to a point, and it is not surprising that Clause 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty was little used until very recently. Nonetheless some strong political and economic ties have been formed among member countries since 1949.

Today, some 18 countries form an Alliance in which, according to Clause 5 of the Treaty, any attack on one member would be considered an attack on all. Although there have been fluctuations, Canada's naval, land and air contributions to NATO have essentially remained constant over the years. They are seen today in Canada’s participation in a mission to support the restructuring of the former Yugoslavia. NATO's role here is closer to the U.N. peacekeeping one the Canadians are accustomed to than to the role for which the NATO armies are trained. When fully analysed, this may turn out to be a sign of NATO's success.

In any case, alliances are based on conglomerations of special interests, and the NATO allies have been far from speaking the same language on some issues. In the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, NATO's numerous advisory systems were sidelined by the United States. Clearly the superpower was prepared to brush its partners aside as it deemed appropriate. Other big powers were capable of similar behaviour, an example being France and Britain in the 1956 Suez crisis.