Environmentalists love the story about how a frog that will jump out of hot water lets itself be boiled to death if you increase the heat slowly. Apparently it’s not true of frogs. Only humans could be so dumb.

For instance, the US Army Chief of Staff just publicly warned Britons that their defence cutbacks had reached the point where the U.S. seriously doubts the capacity of their closest ally to assist in crises. And nobody tried to jump out of the pot.

Everyone agrees that the world is turbulent. They all speak sonorously of the need for the West to act against strategic threats and moral outrages. But they do nothing about the progressive disarming of the West because it’s so gradual. Here in Canada defence spending is plunging toward 1 percent of GDP. In Britain it’s sliding below 2 percent; the navy is smaller than it has been since Henry VIII; the air force smaller than it’s been since 1914. Ho hum.

Each day we’re very slightly weaker and the world is very slightly more dangerous. But it’s such a gradual process and the social programs that are politicians’ ticket to reelection need an ever larger share of revenue. So we sink gradually into a state of complacent impotence in the face of a gathering storm.

Do I hear frogs laughing at us?

Photo by John Thurm / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / modified from original

John Robson is a documentary filmmaker, an Invited Professor at the University of Ottawa and a commentator-at-large with News Talk Radio 580 CFRA in Ottawa. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in history from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D in American history from the University of Texas at Austin. He has worked in academia, think tanks and politics as well as doing print, radio and television journalism in Canada, and produced and hosted the documentary The Great War Remembered for Sun News Network in 2014. He is married to Brigitte Pellerin.

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