Originally published in The Times

E&OE

The prospect of major war is more real than at any time since 1939. We all wish it were otherwise but we urgently need to face up to this. The Russian dictator is starting to win in Ukraine and won’t stop there.

The Middle East could explode at any moment, with ramifications for our trade and internal cohesion. The commissars in Beijing are ceaselessly weighing the moment to seize Taiwan, and that too would have massive economic repercussions.

The only way to keep the warmongers at bay is through stronger alliances for peace. One of the best means is to deepen the longstanding Five Eyes alliance by including Canada in the new Aukus arrangements that link the US, Britain and Australia: first to build an Australian nuclear submarine but, as importantly, to create a seamless defence industrial system for the leading anglosphere countries.

The readiness of the US and the UK to share nuclear propulsion technology with Australia is a welcome sign. But this should be only the beginning of a stronger security partnership needed to deter emboldened tyrannies.

Regrettably, US domestic politics is jeopardising support for Ukraine, Britain is continuing to downsize its military, and Australia is skimping on defence acquisitions to pay for nuclear subs that won’t arrive for almost a decade. This needs to change, fast.

Canada answered freedom’s call in two world wars and contributed substantially to the Nato-led campaign in Afghanistan. It is a G7 economy with ample capacity to boost its and others’ military power through its manufacturing and technological strengths and endowment with strategic minerals.

Its participation could strengthen the Aukus partnership on defence technology, such as hypersonic and counter-hypersonic missiles, underwater drones and artificial intelligence. With Canada’s involvement, this second Aukus pillar could deliver results sooner than the nuclear submarine project.

So many of our people are still convinced that peace is inevitable and conflict only affects others. Collectively, we are sleepwalking through lotus land. The democracies’ supply chain exposure to China and resource vulnerability to Russia needs to end; their military industrial capacity must rapidly be rebuilt. Our armed forces’ personnel shortfalls need to be addressed, perhaps through some form of mass national service.

Above all, the great democracies need to remember their cultural and spiritual strengths, which even now make them beacons of hope and inspiration to the wider world.