No country could afford to have to fight a war with over-age soldiers and obsolete equipment, unless its military defense was left to someone else. That someone else is the United States.
Like so many people who have been sheltered from the harsh realities of life and not forced to stand on their own two feet, Western Europeans have been able to indulge themselves in illusions. The most unrealistic of these illusions has been that we can just talk our way out of international threats with "negotiations," treaties and UN resolutions.
That approach was tried for two decades after the First World War. That is what led to the Second World War.
France was the worst. In the 1920s, its foreign minister Aristide Briand negotiated much-ballyhooed agreements renouncing war -- agreements that won him the Nobel Prize but did nothing to deter war. In fact, such things lulled peaceful countries into a dangerous complacency that emboldened aggressor nations.
France's record of cowardice and betrayal of its allies during the 1930s, was climaxed by its own surrender to Hitler after just six weeks of fighting in 1940. At the 11th hour, France appealed to the United States, which was not in the war at that point, for military equipment -- that is, for the kind of "unilateral" American intervention at which the French would sneer so often in later years.
Are these the people to whom we should defer on life-and-death questions?
Are our actions to be limited to what is acceptable to the lowest common denominator at the UN or in Europe? Are the lofty rhetoric and condescending airs of foreigners to impress us more than their dismal track records?