The World: A Troubled Watch on the Rhine

The very names evoke heroic themes. The British Army of the Rhine, guardian of the North German Plain. The Royal Navy, charged with sealing off the North Atlantic. But where in 1941 there was the mighty H.M.S. Ark Royal, there is now H.M.S. Tiger, an antiquated hybrid frigate, and only a river of esprit is holding together the Army of the Rhine. Because of their strategic positioning, today's British forces serve as one of the most important links in the NATO chain of defense. But the enduring strength of this link is now in doubt.

One immediate threat to it is the...

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