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When China invaded Tibet in 1950, she did so in the knowledge that the United States would not react. China could rely on the Democratic president of the time, Harry S Truman, not to intervene to defend the territorial integrity and independence of the benign theocracy that was stamped out by 40,000-80,000 troops of the so-called “People’s Liberation Army.”

When Russia invaded Hungary in 1956, she could count on Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had had a heart attack earlier that year, not to do anything about it. Not only Hungary but the remainder of eastern Europe would remain in slavery to the Communist species of totalitarianism for a third of a century.

When Turkey invaded northern Cyprus in July 1974, she did so knowing that Richard Nixon was distracted by the Watergate affair that would take his presidency the following month. She still occupies two-fifths of the island, including the beautiful north coast, the Five-Finger Mountains and the agricultural treasure-house of the Mesaoria.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, she had not the slightest fear that Mr. Obama would intervene militarily to defend the sovereign territory of Ukraine against its former tyrannical rulers. She knew he would do nothing.

Naturally, none of the many invaders of the 20th and 21st centuries gave even a passing thought to what the corrupt, toothless U.N. might think. Their only concern might have been the United States, which used to have the power – and, usually under Republican presidents, the determination – to ensure and, if necessary, to enforce the territorial integrity of the nations of the world against invasion by their violent neighbors.

Not any more. As Upchuck Hagel continues his relentless dismantling of America’s armed forces, as the “Democrats” hold irrelevant slumber parties on the floor of the Senate fatuously to draw attention to global warming that has not occurred for 17 years 6 months, no potential invader need lose any sleep over worry about whether Uncle Sam will stand up against him.

The best any nation now threatened with invasion can hope for is that John Kerry will be sent to express earnest but empty platitudes of meaningless solidarity, and that the bleating ninnies of the European Union will agree to the ritualistic imposition of ineffective economic sanctions.

It would not be fair to blame Mr. Obama alone for the inexorable decline of the United States as a superpower. Surprisingly, Ronald Reagan was among those who sowed the seeds of your nation’s present military weakness. For it was he, abandoning all fiscal restraint, who greatly accelerated the accumulation of national debt Mr. Obama has so dangerously compounded.

One lesson America and the world will now expensively relearn is that, though maintaining effective armed forces is expensive, failure to maintain them is potentially many times more expensive.

Russia invaded the Crimea because she can. Nobody will stop her, and she knows it. The hurried meetings of diplomatists in NATO and the EU have come to the same depressing conclusion. There is nothing we can do, because we are now too weak. We have all relied too heavily on the United States in the past. Now we can rely on her no longer. Another superpower has strutted and fretted its hour upon the stage and now is heard no more.

The pantomime of an unconstitutional referendum in the Crimea will proceed. We shall watch, but we shall not act. Our politicians will make sonorous comments about how illegitimate it is. But they will do nothing. For without a strong and willing America, they are powerless.

Britain was once a world power, too. She, too, lost her superpower status at the same moment that – on borrowed money – she set up an ultimately unaffordable national health-care and welfare system.

The West – if it is to survive at all, for Ukraine is a warning – will need to rethink the balance between paying for the armed forces and giving ever more lavish handouts to ever greater numbers of its citizens.

The further the defense-to-welfare spending ratio falls, the less able is a nation to contribute not only to maintaining the integrity of its neighbors’ borders but also to maintaining its own.

Britain, for instance, has now dismantled so much of her defenses that even a small invading force could take the country over within days. There are only a couple of naval dockyards; there is only a single submarine base; there is a mere handful of operational airfields; and the army has now been reduced to the numbers under arms in the last Crimean War. For the first time since King Harold a thousand years ago, we are incapable of defending our homeland, let alone anyone else’s.

Naturally, we do not expect an immediate invasion. But by failing to anticipate it we invite it. That is unwise. It is not always possible to foresee who our next enemy will be, or why or when that enemy may wish to move against us. That is why strong defenses are an unavoidable necessity that the West now avoids at its peril.

It is the weakness of the West, above all, that has allowed Russia to invade Crimea. Our elaborate non-response will be noted by our enemies, and will in the future be more openly and more directly exploited, at great cost to our freedom.

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