THE best way to guard against a major conflict, is to prepare for one.
In 1949, scarred by two World Wars and worried about on-going Soviet aggression, the USA, Canada and 10 European countries did just that by forming the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Its founding principle is simple: an attack on one country is an attack on them all.
NATO has now expanded, with its raison d’etre more relevant than ever.
The next summit in July will partly focus on the relationship with Russia, which continues to destabilise her neighbours, with Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia particularly in the firing line.
Russia’s recent invasion of the Ukraine, annexation of the Crimea and support for Syria’s Assad, combined with a number of assassinations and significant cyber-attacks across Europe, show Putin’s total disregard for peaceful co-existence.
As a result, NATO jets are patrolling the skies above the Baltic
States and four, multinational battle groups are permanently stationed on the ground.
However, funding the cornerstone of our defence is testing governments across Europe and US patience.
Only three of the 29 members spend the agreed two per cent of their annual GDP, while America continues to foot the majority of the bill.
This year the US paid $618 billion, contrasting with the $300 billion paid by the other members combined.
Successive US Presidents have all pointed out that America cannot guarantee Europe’s security if it won’t pay its share.
Worryingly, NATO’s standing is being undermined with the creation of what resembles an EU army, paid for out of a £4.5 billion European Defence Fund.
The EU disputes this.
To me, and many others, this is an extravagant duplication of what we already have with NATO, which must not be undermined.