Mr Putin’s apparent belligerence might quietly be welcomed in some corners of NATO, an organisation that in recent years seemed to have lost its way and its reason for being.
Calls for member states to increase defence spending to 2% or more of GDP after twenty five years of cuts are growing, especially for European nations who are perceived not to have “done their bit.” The ‘peace dividend’ has been substantial, ranging between 0.7% and 1.5% of GDP for Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Canada. The largest ‘peace dividends’, however, accrued to the UK, where defence spending as a proportion of GDP fell over that twenty-five year period from 4.0% to 2.3% and the USA, where the proportion declined from 5.6% to 3.8%, (World Bank figures). These are the NATO members where it might be most expensive to return to former levels of military outlays. That may partly explain why they are among the more enthusiastic proponents of economic warfare.
There is though, zero appetite among our politicians to do anything but keep reaping dividends from defence cuts. For one thing, we're at completely the wrong point in the election cycle to expect anything but short term fluffy inducements and frankly, I don't see anyone out there with the moral courage to do the right thing even if they could figure it out. There is too, war fatigue in the general populations who are tired of seeing our boys come back in boxes and are embarrassed at the growing number of amputees in their local shopping centers. All in all, from the top down, everyone wants an easy life and that ultimately will cost very much more in both percentage points of GDP and body bags.
We live in an age of political and moral cowardice and no one appears to be unsettled in the slightest by it.