Amidst all the sound and fury prompted by Trump on both sides of the Atlantic, the highly inconvenient truth is that he is correct. In the defence context, too many European countries have been delinquent for decades.
Despite European NATO’s technological superiority over Russia, we will struggle to defend against a Russian attack: only Finland and Poland have land equipment on the necessary scale.
Sombre warnings from politicians and generals are entirely at odds with decades of what can be fairly described as a deeply unserious approach to defence.
The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, “one of the most critical routes for global trade” according to the International Maritime Organisation.
No decent person can support piracy or missile attacks on peaceful merchant vessels. Someone has to defend the global order. Not for the first time, that someone is the Anglo-American alliance.
He also says that the Conservative Party “seems to me to be more strident than I am comfortable with, less compassionate than I am comfortable with, and verging on the xenophobic.”
They have grown up in a cultural milieu that denigrates Britain’s culture and history to the point that the idea it is even worthy of respect – never mind dying for – is ridiculous.
That the chances of securing a successful prosecution for a Troubles-related crime are negligible, because of the passage of time and the quality of evidence now available, is a difficult fact to face.
As some march to condemn a current conflict on Saturday, many will observe the two-minute silence at 11am. They will reflect on the impact of past conflicts which have forged Britain and are an intrinsic part of our national story.
Armed officers and soldiers obviously cannot have carte blanche to shoot as they please; but there must be some allowance for the impossibility of always getting every split-second judgement right.
There is a debate to be had about future engagement with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. It can be had without propagandising for its members and making the fight against them look ridiculous.
If we are to keep our nation safe, our adversaries deterred, and our allies reassured, we now urgently require full-scale reform of the way we be buy and support our fighting equipment.
The objective seems to be to help it survive and to stay in the fight (with perhaps 70,000 dead already), but not for it to win back its lost territories in a timely manner.
“Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.” Dr Johnson’s observation has stood the test of time – but is a poor basis for civilian, parliamentary government.