America is tired of being the world’s protector. We have been warned –

5 months ago Comments Off on America is tired of being the world’s protector. We have been warned –

The problem, Trump says, is that Nato members have started to “look at the United States as weak and forgiving and feel no obligation to honour their agreements with us”. So America should charge them for Nato’s protection, and if they won’t pay, it should leave them to “defend themselves”. To be clear: he doesn’t just want European countries to honour their Nato pledge (spending 2 per cent of economic output on defence). He wants Washington to be reimbursed for the cost of Pax Americana.

All of this may be alarming, but it runs with the grain of US public opinion. A recent poll shows that about three in five Americans think the US should “deal with its own problems” and “let others manage as best they can”. Just one in three thinks they have a duty to “help other countries deal with their problems”. And whose problem is an aggressive Moscow? Russia is not, really, a threat to world peace any more; it’s more of a regional threat. And that region is Europe. So why, Trump asks, did America ever end up being dragged into Ukraine to solve a problem on Europe’s doorstep? Where were the once-fearsome Germans? Why don’t they lead?

It’s all typical Trump: crude and obnoxious, but, probably, based on a decent point. The US spends 3.6 per cent of its economic output on defence; Germany spends a pitiful 1.2 per cent. And what little Germany does have tends not to work. When Angela Merkel made the grand gesture of sending weapons to Kurdish rebels fighting Isil, her cargo planes couldn’t get off the ground.

At the time, the German military confessed that just half of its Transall transport aircraft were fit to fly. Of its 190 helicopters, just 41 were ready to be deployed. Of its 406 Marder tanks, 280 were out of use.

Even Barack Obama has been tiring of European uselessness. He recently admitted that he had to threaten to end the “special relationship” with Britain before David Cameron agreed to spend the Nato minimum on defence. Even then, Mr Cameron used smoke and mirrors, counting military pensions and intelligence in the total figure. So at a time when the US stumps up 72 per cent of total Nato spending, the puzzle is not why Americans should be growing fed up with it all. The puzzle is why their patience (and generosity) has endured for so long.

America is tired of being the world’s protector. We have been warned –