It’s delusional to think Britain should be a global military power,

Simon Jenkins
The armed forces want a big increase in defence spending. They are dreaming up threats.
The generals don’t know whether to cheer or cry. This time each year, they restage the battle of Waterloo, with the Treasury as the dastardly French. Old comrades and chiefs of staff are summoned to the colours, to gallop through the letters pages and on to the BBC. This month the call is to increase defence spending from 2.1% of GDP to 2.5%, or even 3%. Suddenly to their rescue have come, of all people, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

To anyone seriously concerned with world peace, a possible rapprochement between a belligerent United States and a paranoid Russia is good news. Even better, it might spark a long-overdue review of Nato and its purposes. But to the generals, it is grist to the mill. Suppose the US got into bed with Russia? Suppose Britain faced war on two fronts? And look at Korea, and China, and jihadists everywhere. Give us 3% at once, they cry, or we are doomed. […]

The present tension with Russia is largely due to Nato recklessly pushing its border eastwards after 1989. To assume that the US’s nuclear umbrella would always cover this advance was unwise. Yet to pretend that a British deterrent is a substitute for an American one is absurd.

If armed conflict erupts in Europe, it will be over messy borders and disputed strips of territory. Washington will not commit great armies to Europe merely because a Moscow tank has arrived in a Russian-speaking Baltic town, any more than it did in Ukraine. No serious person can anyway imagine Nato fighting a massed confrontation with Russia in central Europe, let alone at the behest of an Erdoğan of Turkey or Orbán of Hungary. The lesson of history is that Europe has to live with Russia, good or evil. If it goes to war, Russia wins. Läs artikel