The newspapers are running a story that Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, is warning the UK and other NATO nations about cutting their defence budgets.
This is the most naked order from Imperial HQ we've seen in public for a while, which must mean they're worried, but it's far from unique.
We sometimes need to step back from the political rhetoric to look at the global political situation. When we do, it's clear that NATO is the equivalent of the Roman Empire's foederati: natives hired by the imperial power to tame them and to extend the empire's reach at low cost.
The US is, of course, much like Rome in that the entire economy depends on military spending: this is Marxism in its purest form. Whatever the Tea Party and their Republican friends say, they don't really want small government. They want heavily armed, globe-spanning government, just without any of the social stuff like Welfare, education and civil rights.
Reduce the massive armed services (the US spends ten times more on arms than the next ten countries combined), cut away the 'pork' of army bases, arms factories and so on, and the economy collapses. Entire towns will be devastated. Poor people wouldn't have an escape route via enlistment. Let's be clear: the US needs a permanent state of war to remain afloat.
Turning to the UK, it's time to honestly admit that it's a puppet. OK, British politicians might occasionally make a trade treaty decision or a fisheries agreement without Washington's approval, but on the serious stuff, nothing happens without Americans giving the word. Remember Blair's orders to his new Ambassador to Washington: "get up the arse of the White House and stay there' - keeping close to the Americans was and is far more important than the lives of Iraqis and British soldiers, more important than international law.
The more British politicians protest, the more pathetic it is. I have to laugh every time one of them says 'independent nuclear deterrent': Britain's nuclear weapons are made by, rented from and loaded by the US, and can't be launched without US permission. They don't even have 'Royal Navy' painted on them. Lockheed Martin make them, Halliburton put them on the subs. No US permission to fire = no firing. No spare parts, no computer upgrades, no movement from harbour without finding a US force waiting.
The UK is a shield and an aircraft carrier for the US, like the other 140 or so countries with US military bases on their land: if that's not a global imperial hegemony, I don't know what is.
So why is Hillary so upset? Perhaps she genuinely thinks that Britain's contribution to the anti-imperial bush wars which flare up here and there is important. But I doubt it. The US could swat like a fly any country in the world, without raising a sweat. No, Hillary's upset because our potential failure to invest in new weapons of mass destruction might indicate a failure of nerve, a little pinprick of self-interest. The US might look like a bully of it can't point to the nominal contributions of micro-states like Britain, Denmark and Italy - it needs cover to make itself look like a leader rather than a dictator.
Hillary, in short, finds our lack of faith in her - disturbing. Only at times of stress do we see the iron fist under the hegemonic velvet glove.
But don't worry. The Tories will always, always choose guns over butter, or child benefit. The Navy's been promised its two aircraft carriers, despite the lack of any actual aircraft to go on them (though the US is selling some…).
All's well. Go back to sleep.