Well, looking at this blog, I have realized that no one has posted anything here since January 15th. All the authors here have busy lives except me, so it appears that I ought to remedy this defect. My remedy shall be a proper blog, i.e. a complete ramble, on the need for a strong military. I doubt whether I shall say anything novel or interesting on the topic, so read on if you enjoy my style and humor. Otherwise, you could also read on if you notice plenty of mistakes and half-baked ideas for which you’d like to upbraid me.
Reading Theodore Roosevelt’s memoirs–especially the chapter titled “America the Unready” on the Spanish-American war–makes one realize the importance of military readiness. Yet, there are always arguments over just how ready the country should be for war. This is an age of profit and play. The prospect of a major war is the last thing on people’s minds. (And no, this article shall not engage in fear-mongering.) People want to be well educated, trained for the work force, and maybe have a kid or two when they feel established in society. The first thing on our minds is enjoying life to the full. The conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, riots in Europe, Islamic fundamentalists gaining power in Libya and Egypt, the possibility of radicals having control over North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, a belligerent and nuclear Iran, an imperialistic Russia, and the rise of Communist governments in South America have little hold on the minds of Americans.
Concerning military build-up, there exist two reasonable views: 1) America ought to maintain the most powerful fighting force in the world and 2) a large military is unneeded because history has shown that Americans have a natural aptitude for soldiery and our potential industrial output is huge. The main problem with the second view is that it ends wars which have already started. Sure, we can institute a draft and increase our military strength quickly, but the people in the regular military, in the case of a major war, are sure to suffer more casualties in the beginning as a result of being underpowered.
People make the mistake of thinking that large armies cause wars. In reality, unscrupulous governments who see easy victims cause wars. Theodore Roosevelt was a foremost historian on the War of 1812, which was caused because by British impressment of U.S. sailors and other British insults to national honor. Thomas Jefferson had so reduced the U.S. Navy that it consisted of two commissioned vessels by the end of his term, and his successor could only increase this to six frigates and fourteen smaller vessels by the outbreak of the war. A depleted navy like this attracted predations by both Britain and France, which led to a quasi-war in the case of the latter and a full blown war in the case of the former. The U.S. indeed increased military production, but not before the British burned down Washington. It would have been better to have had a strong military from the outset in order to deter war altogether.
As a matter of fact, if military build-ups and large armies caused wars by themselves, surely the Cold War should have given us WWIII. Rather, in the way that two predators of equal strength decline to attack one another, the very awesomeness of military might on both sides deterred Russia and America from going to war. True, we fought the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Afghan War during this time, but these wars paled in comparison to a nuclear world war. The very prospect of the horrors in such a war prevented it from happening!
And America would benefit by the expansion of its military culture. In our over-civilized society, the military and virile virtues have eroded. (Here’s an article I wrote on a similar topic using the first Hobbit movie.) Civilized people fear conflict more than anything else and strive for peaceable solutions. While there is nothing wrong with striving for peaceable solutions, the vicious of the world see the desire for peace as weakness–and they are proven right. Whenever dangers threaten, people hope that someone else will take care of it. For example, the movement to disarm citizens so that only the police are armed creates a society where neither oneself nor one’s neighbors are able to confront violent men. This means one can only supinely submit to the perverse intentions of evildoers. I would rather live in a country where martial skills were celebrated and widespread. After all, one of the South’s most significant advantages over the North during the American Civil War lay in its people’s more rugged lifestyle and more widespread skill with firearms. Where the skill in firearms and rugged living was more equal–the Western theater of the war, the North enjoyed more frequent successes.
So, perhaps the solution lies in encouraging the virile instincts of young men. Like Sparta, we ought to denounce the pursuit of wealth in favor of virtue and self-sacrifice. Perhaps, God has given us many more military men than we know, but commercial culture and the culture of bodily ease makes them never develop the traits or inclination necessary for this pursuit.