Hope does little to stop aggression, and while we can always hope for peace, you’d better have something more than hope to back you up. If you denude your defense capability, then you lose the option of using something other than a nuclear weapon as your only back up option. I think my point is that if you reduce your conventional forces, in the hope of finding that utopian global society, or worse yet, leveraging your defense ability to pay for enabling social programs, then you are more likely than not going to have some stone age SOB in your face with a knife. Trust me, I’ve been shot at more than once, and there is nothing romantic about it. Instead, I just think that Theodore Roosevelt had the right idea, “walk softly and carry a big stick.” My concern is that we’re giving away our stick, while we cling to the hope that people won’t behave like people. Right now, Putin is just such a person, but he isn’t the really the point, since there will always be a Putin, or a Kim Jong Un, or a Stalin, or a Hitler, or a Pol Pot, etc. I am an advocate of a strong defense as a deterrent, and you have to maintain it, otherwise, the other guy will hit you when you’re unable to fight back. Russia and China both have increased modernization and funding for defense, and while they haven’t caught up to our technology yet, their sheer numbers are enough of a threat to offset most if not all of the latest technology. So, while we downsize, they are moving in the other direction.
Not included in that response is my simple belief that it is the lesson that comes from a “zero tolerance” policy. Just as we now have “zero tolerance” in schools, with the inclusion of nuclear weapons into the “warfare” equation, we have eliminated the simple, more basic options that we as humans will naturally gravitate toward. Against this backdrop, everyone immediately assumes that with zero tolerance, there will be no fights, and therefore nothing to escalate into greater violence. I think the last 20 years of that social experiment has shown that it “ain’t working.” Now we just have people bringing larger items to the table, in order to inflict a greater harm, that is basically spawned from the suppression of human nature. An old adage in the Army was that “Stress is created from the suppression of the desire to choke the living *&#$! out of the person who is annoying you.” When we aren’t allowed to express our anger, then it becomes a bottled up rage, and rage never leads to anything good. Granted this is at the base individual level, but it begs the question of how nations will act or react in a given situation.
With the advent of Nuclear Weapons, Nation States are now relegated into a “zero tolerance” position. If backed into a corner, can any nation that possesses them not actually use them for their basic survival? Sure, the smarter nations know that such use would ultimately destroy themselves, and thus the argument would be that even if survival was on the line, then why use them? This is great, except that we can’t always count on that concept. The days of Mutually Assured Destruction are now gone, and were gone the second that a rogue state or potential non-state actor might now be part of the mix. Having said this, there is more to the story.
Just as the individual suppresses his anger, the normal nationalistic divides among nations, as well as the usual ethnic, religious, and other factors, can all create a “national rage.” We’re seeing it around the globe, and it is a dangerous path, since such actions can bleed into everyone’s national and personal interests in a blink of an eye. We are playing with fire, which is why it is necessary that we keep our powder dry and secure. The deterrence through strength is about the only option we have left, since the alternative is that one nation will back another one into a corner, from which they will then bring their “gun” to school. I’m pretty sure that any alleged parity among nations will be far more dangerous for that very reason. Just food for thought, as we draw down our military to a strength level consistent with 1940. (Which, by the way, wasn’t a very good year for any nation state.) ~ Michael S. Pauley