Time For Rearmament

7 March 2024

Time For Rearmament

We must get going.

By Robert Kilconner

Jehovah did not play cricket, or so you would assume if you read the Book of Joshua. There is no fair play involved at all.

Suppose you were an innocent Canaanite, managing your flocks, occasionally fighting with your neighbours and generally carrying on in a 13th century BC sort of way. Then Joshua and Co arrive. Well, you pick up your sword, strap on your armour and set out for the battlefield, reflecting no doubt that your fellow fighters are a good tough lot and that if, as you expect, they show more skill, tenacity, courage and general military adeptness than the Israelite invaders then the latter will be driven off and you can get back to your farming. That is how it should be according to the usual rules but, alas for you, not this time. This time the Israelites have a hidden ally, the Lord of Hosts. They need some walls knocked down? If they blow their trumpets the Lord will fix it. They need the day extended to complete a victory? No problem, The Lord will arrange for time to stand still. However skilful, tenacious, brave and adept you and your colleagues may be, it is all completely pointless. You cannot win. The Lord will see to that. It really isn’t very fair and one might have expected Jehovah to see that. If only he had been to a better school!

The parallel with modern Israel and western support is an obvious one but so too is the parallel with the way in which we in the West rely for our security on America. Since 1945 the safety of Western Europe has depended on American military might and many of us have sat happily sneering at them as they expended lives and treasure in maintaining Pax Americana. Has Europe done the obvious thing and built an equivalent military machine which can take over the burden? Well, not really. The Poles have spent a lot as generally have frontier states. We in the UK have just satisfied the NATO requirement of 2% of GDP. Other states such as Germany and Belgium trail behind. In fact though this is a little academic. The real question is not whether some NATO target is achieved but whether Europe does or does not have the might to take the place of the US as its defender and the answer to that seems to be “no”.

And yet it is becoming more and more important. The fracturing of US support for the Ukraine is clearly an immediate problem but it is not an isolated one. It is the sort of thing which happens when a country withdraws from a world wide role and loses its will to dominate, support or guarantee. All hegemony has an end. Britain withdrew. France lost its colonies. Rome fell. Is it the turn of the US to forfeit its place on the world stage or at least to begin to do so, perhaps as a result of its people simply getting fed up with it? It would certainly be no surprise. Their current political traumas surely point to a nation in decline and, in any case, World War II is now almost 80 years ago and any break necessary for Europe to recover must surely have expired. Why should they continue to shoulder our burden?

So soon we will need to be able to protect ourselves and we had better work on the project. Perhaps a European grouping within NATO which could function independently if it had too. And there isn’t much time. If the US withdraws and the Russians do come they are not going to wait politely for us to rearm. After all, like Jehovah, they have no idea whatever about cricket.

Tile photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash
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