The Americans are calling for increased defence expenditure in Europe. The fact is that they are tiring of defending an ungrateful but rich continent and would rather concentrate their efforts on the Middle East and the Far East.
The militarist lobby in the UK has interpreted this as a demand that Britain does not fall below the recommended 2% of GDP spent, although in fact Britain and France have been exemplary in maintaining their armed forces under difficult eonomic circumstances.
What America really meant was that Germany should come to the table. Its expenditure has been around half the requirement and its armed forces are in a terrible state of training and equipment. But the Germans prefer to let others defend them.
Britain should pull out of Germany as well.
In the middle of all this, up pops Jean Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, to suggest that Europe, too, should have its own army.
Of course there has long been talk of a European Army and occasionally there are joint exercises, but it would be a nonsense without Britain's particiation, and fortunately we have refused so far. We should continue to refuse.
How would it work, Junckers's army? Would participation require unanimity so that Ireland, for example, which professes neutrality, could scupper any chance of it ever being used? Or would it be by qualified majority voting, which woud mean that several countries which were opposed to the Gulf War would have been forced to send soldiers?
Juncker wants this because an army is one of the trappings of nationhood. like a flag and an anthem, which he already has.
It is, however, an idea best avoided.