If you want peace, prepare for war, was the Roman maxim.

Following that injunction the U.S. maintains its place as first among superpower equals, even if it is no longer the hyperpower that it was in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But with its depleted armed forces unprepared to fight a major war, or perhaps any kind of war, on its own, Europe (Brexit Britain included) has come to resemble the rich and feeble late Roman Empire that depended on unreliable mercenaries for its security.

"The foundations of the world order are being shaken to their core,” U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps recently warned in a speech. Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are challenging the status quo and America’s armed forces are overstretched. Shapps’ description of a "pre-war” crisis is right — but what is his Conservative government and its European partners prepared to do about it?