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If the mutual revulsion of Old World and New is natural, the inability to make common cause is potentially catastrophic. For that cause is what we mean by the defence of Western civilisation, to which all the efforts of Standpoint have been devoted for the past decade. The fact of the matter is that Europe is not prepared to defend its own borders, let alone a civilisation based on a set of Judaeo-Christian values in which its elites long since ceased to believe. Half a century ago, the German legal theorist Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde posed the key question: “Does the free, secularised state exist on the basis of normative presuppositions that it itself cannot guarantee?” The easy assumption that Europe will carry on living in a post-Christian paradise has already been rudely interrupted. It was recently reported that for the first time 53 per cent of British adults now say they have no religious affiliation. Demographic predictions are notoriously unreliable, but the Islamisation of Europe now seems more than likely to overtake the Europeanisation of Islam. Michel Houellebecq’s 2015 novel Submission has already painted a persuasive scenario of France as an Islamic republic in the very near future. Is it plausible that such a Europe will defend Western civilisation?

The most obvious test of Europe’s readiness to defend the West has been set by Vladimir Putin. Ukrainians have not forgotten that their government was persuaded by the United States and Britain to hand over its nuclear weapons to Russia in return for a pledge of territorial integrity under the 1993 Budapest Memorandum. After what happened in Crimea and the Donbass, no sovereign nation state will ever denuclearise again. Now Putin menaces several Nato members — yet only those directly threatened (the Baltic states and Poland) have increased military spending from historically low post-Cold War levels. In Germany, as in many other countries, Russia is meddling in domestic politics — yet the defence budget languishes at 1 per cent of GDP and public opinion opposes the use of force in almost any circumstances, even to support a Nato ally under attack. Both the crypto-communist Left Party and the nationalist Alternative for Germany party are pro-Russian. The EU is committed to creating supranational European armed forces, but it is unclear how this fits with Nato, which is based on the sovereign nation state. One does not need to be a Putin to realise that any likely EU army would be less than the sum of its parts.

The West can certainly defend itself. Morally, if not militarily, it is more dominant than ever. But the English-speaking nations, and above all the United States, are still the only likely, or even possible, leaders of the free world. They alone have the ambition and the confidence for such an arduous and thankless task. We may well be on the eve of a transatlantic resurgence that will usher in a new phase of Western civilisation, more prosperous and creative than ever before. We may not like Donald Trump. We may not like much of what he has to say. But he is right that the nation state is the foundation on which that resurgence must be based.
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