The United Nations, as I never tire of reminding the ignorant, was originally the name of the military alliance that opposed the Axis powers in WWII. Britain, the USA, Russia and China. And at the very end, elbowing their way in to ensure they wouldn't be left out, France. That's why these five nations are permanent members of the Security Council. The young seem to imagine the UN was created out of an upswell of global altruism drenched in love and egality. It wasn't. It was forged from the shrapnel of war. The Atlantic Charter, originally an agreement created and edited by Churchill and Roosevelt in the dark days of 1941, grew into the UN charter. It exists as a forum to prevent wars of aggression through international jaw-jaw
However when jaw-jaw fails we must most reluctantly fall back on war-war. And that's what NATO is for. Formed in a Bipolar world, it fell into decline when the globe became unipolar but today in a Tripolar world it needs a resurgence of commitment - from the old nations of the world and those since 1945 founded on democracy, nations that have eschewed national aggrandisement and aggression and are committed to a defensive alliance.
And that is the big problem. There has arisen in Europe a new empire, a nascent Reich, that has very much not eschewed aggrandisement and pushing out its borders to create lebensraum. It wants all of Europe from Sweden's Iron Ore to Ukraine's wheat fields, from North Sea oil to the Mosul oilfields of Iraq. It wants armed forces to win and govern its territories, global-scale arms research and manufacturing capability and more than anything else it wants the 2% of GDP that its member nations have hitherto committed (in theory, anyway) to NATO.
Britain wants no part of this madness. The US may not be perfect, but at least American citizens are allowed to elect their President. And they have law and courts not under political control. And America, as Churchill said, always does the right thing. Eventually.
And that is the background against which the members of NATO meet this week to celebrate 70 years. I guess those years break down as 40 years of genuine mutual commitment, 20 of splurging the dividend saved from the wall coming down, and the past 10 with France, Germany and the western European EU nations just going through the motions and pretending that they're still a part of it.
The EU's strategy is clear; while we're in their 'transition' phase, they want the US and UK to defend Europe from Russia and China, for free. Once they've got their own army they won't need us any more. Everyone knows this. It's hardly a secret. Yet mutual security is so important that for public consumption we must all pretend it's not the case. But I'd love to be a fly on the wall to hear what they actually say to each other this week.