US Embassy defends Canada after Navarro slams country’s military service in book

The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa on Thursday issued a rare statement praising Canada’s military service in Afghanistan after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro sharply criticized Canadian policies in a new book.

Richard Mills, the embassy’s chargé d’affaires, said that the U.S. “deeply values the service and sacrifice of our Canadian allies in support of the defense of freedom and global security.”

The statement cited Vice President Pence’s comments during his 2019 visit to the country, noting how the two North American countries “have stood shoulder to shoulder in the defense of freedom for generations.”

“Our ancestors fought side by side in the great conflicts of the 20th century,” Pence said. “And in recent years, our armed forces have fought against the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism across the Middle East. And both of our nations have endured great sacrifice.”

Mills is currently the top-ranking official in the embassy because Aldona Wos, who President Trump nominated to be the U.S. Ambassador to Canada in February, has not been confirmed.

The unusual statement comes after Navarro was quoted in a new book, “The Madman Theory” by CNN’s Jim Sciutto, dismissing the idea that Canada is “doing us a favor” with its military presence in Afghanistan.

“Were they doing us a favor, or were they brought into the idea they needed to do that as part of the global effort against terrorists?” Navarro told Sciutto. “I mean, if they were just doing us a favor, maybe their government should have been thrown out of office. I mean, every time that a Canadian shows up in a uniform, it’s doing us a favor? How’s that work?”

The Trump official also accused Canada of serving as a way station for Chinese products that would otherwise be subject to stiff U.S. tariffs.

“What’s good about Canada?” he told Sciutto. “It’s like this blue-eyed brother kind of thing. It’s just Canada. It has its own national interests and self-interests.”

Rick Hillier, Canada’s former chief of the defence staff, blasted Navarro as “an idiot” for his comments.

“My first reaction, honestly, was, ‘What an idiot,’ ” Hillier said, according to CBC News. “I mean, even if you believe those things, I’m not sure why you would make them, or why you would disrespect the service and sacrifice in this spilling of blood and the loss of lives by Canada’s sons and daughters who soldiered alongside our American battle brothers and sisters.”

Hillier was commander of the multinational Afghanistan mission in 2004 led by the NATO. He said that Navarro, who advises President Trump on trade issues, is not qualified to speak on military matters.

“First, I thought he must be a military genius and knew this stuff. Then I realize he’s a trade adviser, so I’m not sure why he’s commenting upon this,” he said. “He obviously doesn’t understand the Article 5 of NATO that an attack on one is an attack on all.

“We believed in that here in Canada,” Hillier said. “And that’s why Canada stepped up to take part in that mission and try and make the world a better place.”

Hillier said that Navarro’s remarks reflect “a nastiness in the relationships around the world now internationally involving the United States of America.”

Several other high-ranking officials voiced support for the Canadian Armed Forces after Navarro’s comments.

“When our friend and ally was attacked on 9/11, Canada was there for America that day and throughout the entire Afghanistan campaign. One hundred and sixty-one Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our collective peace and security,” said Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

In a statement, Sajjan said that Canadians have stood with Americans “from the beaches of Normandy to the Korean peninsula and even now as we work together in our fight against Da’esh in the Middle East,” using the Arabic name for the Islamic State.

“You’ve left behind sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, to stand by our U.S. partners and allies around the world,” tweeted Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. “Many of your brothers and sisters never returned. We remember your sacrifices. We’re grateful for your service, @CanadianForces.”

Navarro also faced criticism from former U.S. officials.

Bruce Heyman, the former U.S. ambassador to Canada, in a tweet called Navarro’s comments “inappropriate, inaccurate and harmful to our bilateral relationship.” 

“Several US Generals told me on many occasions that if they were ever stuck in a foxhole they would want a Canadian by their side,” he added in another tweet.

Leon Panetta, who served as Defense secretary and CIA director during the Obama administration, said Navarro’s remarks send a strong signal that he is “not a trustworthy member or a trustworthy ally, and that raises a lot of concerns with regards to those strong alliances that are critical to peace and prosperity.”

“Instead of an America that is a world leader, the rest of the world is looking at the United States as a rogue nation that cannot be trusted,” Panetta added in an interview with CTV News

Navarro and other Trump administration figures have frequently blasted Canada on trade issues.

In 2018, Navarro accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “bad-faith diplomacy” and said at the Group of Seven summit in Quebec that there was a “special place in hell” for him.

Tags Canada Canadian Armed Forces Donald Trump Jim Sciutto Justin Trudeau NATO Peter Navarro Richard Mills Rick Hillier US-Canada relations War in Afghanistan

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