While our best endeavors for the preservation of harmony with all nations will continue to be used, the experience of the world and our own experience admonish us of the insecurity of trusting too confidently to their success. We cannot, without committing a dangerous imprudence, abandon those measures of self-protection which are adapted to our situation, and to which, notwithstanding our pacific policy, the violence of injustice of others may again compel us to resort.
John Adams said this in an address to Congress near the end of his term, when he was in the home stretch of establishing peace with Napoleonic France and ending the Quasi-War. In essence, he was continuing the call for an navy, a "wooden wall" to protect us from our enemies.
(Side note, I was actually reading about this over the past few days, thus the need to quote.)
Ronald Reagan was a wee bit more pithy: "Peace through Strength."
In his case, it was the nuclear arsenal, and the willingness to look across the ocean to the USSR and dangle a finger over the button which, if pressed, would make seeing in the dark easier due to the glow, if your eyes didn't get burned out of your head first. Ah, the fun days of mutually assured destruction and the fun absurdity of duck and cover.
The point I'm getting to here in my nostalgia is that we, as a country, have always found peace in the world by having the biggest guns out there. Often, it has taken us a few years of struggle to catch up and build the army we need (WWII). The fact is that someone will ALWAYS have the biggest guns out there. And even with the problems I have with the Imperial Federal Government, their goal is to retain power, and that includes not being overrun by other countries. So begrudgingly, this is something
(Another side note (because I'm all about them (and parentheses)), that reminds me of the 80's movie Red Dawn, because this was a story whose backdrop was a WWIII where America's allies were wiped out, and allowed a weakened USA to be invaded (and it was on TV recently, giving me some nostalgia). But that's just superfluous, although it takes me to some fun Second Amendment discussion.)
This is an issue today as President Obama hosts an(other historic (because he likes everything historic, I guess)) ally-free discussion of nuclear weapons today. First of all, some agreement. The President does state correctly that the largest threat is not from fun with mutually assured destruction, but from little (ISLAMIC, though he won't say it) terrorist groups suicide-nuking a city or two.
However, I have been concerned with his approach in dealing with many of the hostile countries he's invited to Washington to talk at (no, that's not a typo). It also concerns me when he takes things off the table preemptively, or enters into nuclear reduction treaties that the other party indicates they won't necessarily honor (although that action, thankfully, has to have 67 votes in the Senate). And it makes me wonder when he intentionally snubs traditional allies in favor of countries that like that "death to America" chant a little too much.
To clarify, I don't think that President Obama seeks to destroy the country. But I think he does come from the approach that a humbled and conciliatory America is the way to go for a foreign policy in a world heavily populated with dictators, thugs, and loony generals who lead countries because they "took care of" the last administration. The evidence so far is that we were better off with the wild warmongering of "cowboy diplomacy," if only because it meant that, even if other countries didn't show us respect, at least they weren't so contemptuous as to fear us bombing us back into the stone age. Or starting the bombing in five minutes. Or warmongering, as John Adams was accused of doing just before he achieved peace.
While we must consider the changing complexion of the enemies that threaten this country, and adjust our response to the smaller and harder-to-find threats that are most likely to continue to threaten us, it can never be at the expense of the old formula, which hasn't changed since someone figured out that the sharpened stick made it easier to kill the other guy who just had a big rock with which to bludgeon the shit out of someone else. And the sharpened stick in the hands of someone reluctant but willing to use it is a tradition that we hold, despite the number of times we end up pulling out a smaller one.
Finally, just because a little global thermonuclear war makes for fun movies with lots of dirt and even better games, a look into an improved Washington. Because war, war never changes: