JEROME STARKEY If David Cameron is to convince Trump to back Ukraine, he needs to speak his language – for Don money trumps everything

WHAT kind of ally is America?

For decades this was a question Europe did not have to answer.

David Cameron is travelling to the United States to convince them to aid Ukraine
David Cameron is travelling to the United States to convince them to aid UkraineCredit: Reuters
Cameron is meeting Trump in Florida
Cameron is meeting Trump in FloridaCredit: Getty

America was unflinching.

It was the guarantor of the global order it helped to create after World War Two.

But as Britain’s Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron travels to Washington in the coming days, he may find a different answer.

He may find a different America.An America where some in power have forgotten that not all wars are wars of choice, like the ones they fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some are existential, like Ukraine.

Cameron is on a mission to persuade US Republicans to stop obstructing aid to Kyiv.

More than £50billion in military aid has been blocked in Congress since December.The money is not just a number.

It is air defence missiles that Ukraine does not have to shoot down Russian missiles and dronesIt is artillery shells its guns cannot fire to hold blood-soaked front lines in the Donbas.

It is lives and land that Ukraine is losing.

And if the tap remains turned off, the prospects for Ukraine are bleak.

President Zelensky spelled it out for America when he said: “If Congress does not help Ukraine, Ukraine will lose the war.”

So what? There is a cohort in US Congress who seem not to care.

Pull up the Atlantic drawbridge, they say.

Put America first. Spend the money on stopping migrants crossing the Mexico border.

When David Cameron compared Vladimir Putin to Hitler in February, he got short shrift from hard-right Republicans.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a die-hard Trump supporter and ardent Ukraine critic, said the former Prime Minister should, “Worry about his own country”.

She added: “Frankly, he can kiss my ass.”

Cameron is expected to meet Donald Trump and House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson in Washington.

They are the two most powerful Republicans. And they hold Ukraine’s fate in their hands.

If Cameron is to have any chance of convincing them to soften their stance on Kyiv he will have to make his case in terms of America’s self-interest.

Donald Trump has hailed Putin as a savvy genius
Donald Trump has hailed Putin as a savvy geniusCredit: AP

Perhaps that is why his latest warning was framed in terms of money.
Donald Trump understands money.

Writing with France’s Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne, Cameron warned: “The costs of failing to support Ukraine now will be far greater than the costs of repelling Putin.”

Over the past two years America and Kyiv’s allies have successfully stalled a Russian invasion of Europe for a fraction of the cost were their own troops fighting and dying.

But if the tide turns and Putin wins, what is to say he will stop marching?

That might seem like a far off prospect in America.

But it is not so distant in Poland, nor the Baltic or Norway, where governments are urgently ramping up their defences.

It is not a distant prospect in Sweden and Finland, where they scrambled to join Nato in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

And what is the lesson that China would learn if Western resolve crumbles?

If America walks away from Ukraine and Russia is allowed to humiliate Nato, what does that mean for Taiwan?

In a blunter message last week, to mark the 75th anniversary of Nato, Cameron urged America to pull its weight because, “American security is at stake”.

He said: “Britain has put forward its money for Ukraine this year.

“So has the European Union. America needs to do it.”

The 32-nation Nato alliance is the poster child of the past eight decades of Pax Americana — the unprecedented era of peace in Europe guaranteed by America.

But the Nato alliance is quaking at the prospect of Donald Trump’s return to the White House if he unseats Biden in November.

The proof of that panic is Nato’s plan to raise a war chest of $100billion to “Trump-proof” aid to Ukraine over the next five years.

It follows a warning from Britain’s Defence Secretary Grant Shapps that allies would be unwise to rely on America to win the war.

Speaking last month, Shapps said: “Ultimately, we might need to ask ourselves, is it OK for the democratic borders of the continent of Europe to be decided by America?

“And I don’t think that’s OK.”

Shapps suggested hopefully that Trump would rally behind Ukraine because, “Trump wants to back winners, always”.

But the former US President is anything but predictable. And he has a tricky history with President Zelensky.

Trump’s 2019 impeachment centred over claims he abused his power and pressured the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on rival Joe Biden.

The former US president has hailed Putin as a savvy genius.

And he claimed he could end the war in a day — which has widely been seen as a sign he would cut off aid and force Kyiv to capitulate.

While Trump might not be in power, he has the Republican party in his sway.

It is the Republicans, not the White House, starving Ukraine of weapons.

It was the same Republicans who withdrew from Syria, abandoning their Kurdish allies in 2019.

It was Donald Trump who set the course — that Biden followed — for the disastrous retreat from Afghanistan.

Perhaps those were aberrations.But it is the Republicans and Donald Trump who will answer the question:

What kind of ally is America?

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