Submitted by: Terry Payne
- Si vis pacem, para bellum--If you want peace, prepare for war--
Some thoughts on our situation today’s weakened state from a former US Navy Captain with a strong background in engineering and technology. He’s retired now but owned an aeronautical company for many years in PA. It’s 38 pages but has some very interesting data on capabilities and our weak platforms.
Happy New Year,
Subject: SOME THOUGHTS ON DETERRENCE - Si vis pacem, para bellum.
If you want peace, prepare for war.
28 Dec 2022
For the New Year, my hope is that it will be wonderful for you and yours.
Attached is a writing which is long and perhaps of little interest to many. There is certainly more detail than necessary, but I wanted to record a breadth of ideas and concerns.
Sorry for typos or syntactic errors, but I haven't been able to adequately edit and correct in the haste to get some ideas recorded.
Hopefully, some of you may find some ideas and some historical notes which are of sufficient interest to lure you into at least reading a few paragraphs if not the lengthy dissertation.
At my age, who knows if tomorrow I will even remember enough to put together a provocative sentence or two, so I blurted it out as it went. I hope our children and grandchildren can be exposed to and contemplate some thoughts which seem to me vital to the safety of our country and its unusual core ideas of independence, individuality, freedoms not granted by authoritarians but inherent, a meritocracy and government not by central authoritarians, but by law and the will of the people.
Feel free to read, ignore, comment or not.
Have a wonderful, happy, safe and healthy new year. Keep the thought processes going. Please stay in touch.
What lures or drives people to aggression?
As early as Thucydides, three causes of wars were identified as ideology, fear, and gain.
Not long ago, I tried to capture a broader or more detailed outline of reasons for aggression with some historical examples.
There may be many reasons for wars as history and current events show. Beyond “Ideology, Fear, and Gain”, other specifics seem relevant. Perhaps all the following can be grouped under these three, but I find it more illuminating to break out more categories.
• Territorial aggression – for space, resources, revenge, historical reasons or many other reasons. Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, China all are recent examples.
• Economic defense which is defending a stable self-sufficient economy, stable currency, free and fair trade, defending transit and freedom of seas and air, and maintaining energy and other critical resources and the lines of communication necessary to utilize trade.
This has always included punishing pirates, punishing extortion and thievery, punishing unfair manipulation and trade practices and cooperation with friendly countries.
Barbary Pirates were predators we went to war to eliminate very early in our history. For years we have battled pirates in the Gulf of Yemen and West Indian Ocean. We have also expended much energy trying to assure critical passages remain open from the Straits of Hormuz and Red Sea to the Straits of Malacca. We have repeatedly asserted the freedom of the seas through FON or freedom of navigation transits from the Gulf of Sidra which Gadhafi tried to annex to current issues in the S. China Sea and Strait of Taiwan. International Law requires transit or use of legally defined waters to contest a claim, or eventually defaulting to the claim.
• Resources. For example, Japan aggression for land, food resources, oil, rubber, iron and other resources they lacked and were cut off by sanctions. Could be land, food, crops, minerals, slaves (as in Islam or African tribes selling captives).
• Revenge. Righting supposed wrongs. This is an alleged reason for Hitler’s rise and aggression, as he claimed the Germans were stabbed in the back in WW1, sold out by politicians, and abused in a totally unfair and ruinous settlement at Versailles. That, along with lebensraum, the excuse of uniting or protecting like peoples (by ethnicity, language, religion or..). He even vilified Jews as subhuman criminals and excused his atrocities as retribution for their alleged control and manipulation of the economy and a global conspiracy to destroy Germany.
Persian aggression vs. Greece in part traced to Greek victories and Xerxes invading to avenge his father Darius, the Persian the third ruler of the Achaemenid Empire started by Cyrus the Great.
• Historical reasons, and claims which may relate to righting wrongs, revenge, setting the historical record right, restoring boundaries and territory which have been taken…. The current struggles by Russia to recreate the USSR are an example. So is Germany grabbing back territory lost in WW 1. Other examples include Islam believing Allah grants them the right to any land once invaded, “Palestinians” trying to displace Israel, Jews reclaiming the promised land with claims and governments/occupation/
• Political system and philosophy conflicts such as Communism vs Capitalism, Fascists vs Western Democracy, conflicting royal systems, conflicting moral systems, revolutions for freedom from colonial powers or internal oppression (as in the French Revolution).
• Theological. Islam has always been an aggressive religion based on the mandate from Allan to make the world all Muslim and eliminate heretics, disbelievers, infidels, Jews, Christians, etc. The ideological imperative led to conquest by the sword during Muhammad’s life and thereafter. Within 100 years, Islam conquered and ruled the Arab Peninsula, North Africa, Spain, and penetrated France until finally stopped at the Battle of Tours in 732, 100 years after Muhammad’s death. They also had captured Persia and penetrated through Central Asia to Wester China (the Uighurs today). Christianity has also seen its conflicts between Church and State (Rome-England).
An interesting aside on Islam. Muhammad sought the rule and riches of the camel caravan oasis and rest stop, Mecca for most of his adult life. After attempting to undermine and displace the ruling tribe and fleeing to Yathrib (later renamed Medina, a short version of city of the Prophet), he turned to caravan raiding, then to conquest of towns and villages. When he did so, to attract warriors, they pillaged, looted, enslaved and destroyed the economic viability of the conquered towns. When he eventually overcame Mecca, he now was leading an army of people living on loot, not by taking over and exploiting the trades or agricultural success of those conquered and slaughtered. This meant they had to continue to expand and find new targets for loot and so it went, albeit under the guise of obeying Allah’s mandate to spread Islamic rule throughout the world and over all people, eliminating the infidels.
· Power, ego, narcissism, entitlement, justification of position. Offering the population a “win” bring glory on the leader and creator of their new power and position in the world. It can be argued that if a tyrant isn’t increasing power and sway, he is losing. Mussolini certainly had dreams of Roman glory and Empire driven by ego and narcissism. Hitler carried on long after it was evident he lost, bringing destruction on his country as did Tojo and his successors in Japan. Pharaoh’s, Alexander, Xerxes and many others all sought power, saw themselves as special and justified their aggression with arguments from divine entitlement to simply having wisdom to rule which others did not. Stalin was quite sure he was right and his rule absolute. Sputnik and the drive for other conquests and victories fed his ego.
· Distraction allowing an unpopular dictator/ruler to distract the populace and focus on some real or fancied “enemy”. Major economic failures or other internal problems may also be the motive for distraction with an external enemy, real of crafted. Even today, this may be driving Putin.
· Treaty and other commitments requiring coming to the aid, defense of, or joining with treaty partners. WW1 would be a classic case as more and more countries joined both sides due to treaty commitments and other reasons such as ethnicity, culture, language, oil in the Middle East, control of choke points etc. Arguably, we became involved in Vietnam due to SEATO agreements.
· Preemption as part of aggression or arguably as a defense to remove a threat. This might be seen as Preventive war to allegedly righteously stop an aggressor before they become stronger and more likely to attack.
· Response to attack as in the US declaring war on Japan immediately after Pearl Harbor.
· Mistakes due to misconceptions, defective intelligence and analysis, negotiating failures, sensor failures whether naturally caused or mistakenly believed to be hostile action, a test gone wrong or mistaken as a threat, a misperceived exercise, or whatever.
· Escalation. Every conflict has an escalatory element to it, especially on the part of the losing party. So, a next step, leads to a retaliatory next step, which triggers another next step, and soon, a minor border skirmish is a full-fledged war with no holds barred. The reaction to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand which led to war, escalation and finally a worldwide conflict, WWI is an example.
· Fear. Fear of intent of the “other”. Fear or loss of power, prestige, position, resources, territory or some valued construct or belief.
The point of this thought piece is that conflict can arise from any of a number of reasons, and to avoid it, deterrence requires a strong country with credible defenses and deterrent power, the means and the will to use it. This requires a strong economy, strong and clear positions transmitted by an effective diplomatic arm.
Unending talk, “diplomacy”, concessions, appeasement and being nice or paying bribes may simply not be enough to dissuade or deter an evil entity.
The question is does the US currently have the economic, military, political and moral strength, as well as the determined leadership, to convince potential aggressors and enemies it isn’t in their interest to challenge or threaten our National Interests.
US NATIONAL INTERESTS
Which does lead to a definition of U.S. National Interests. My view would be this means our political, economic and physical security and the welfare of our people. This means defense of our freedoms, defense of territory, protection and preservation of our Constitutional Republic. It means supporting and defending our Constitution. Necessarily, this means friends, alliances, social, economic, and diplomatic relations around the now interconnected world.
It also means defending our economic welfare based on free markets, free decision making, freedom of capital flows and investment choices, a stable currency and minimization of taxes, regulations, and inflation. It means defense from aggressors, defense from crime.
This does mean interaction with world markets, other political and social systems and free international commerce.
In conclusion, it seems historically self-evident that weakness invites aggression. My contention is that a powerful defensive and deterrent military, unassailable without massive consequences and supporting a free and powerful people, led by a government with clearly stated objectives and the support of the people, a strong and growing economy and rational, positive diplomatic relations, is key to defending our interests and way of life.
Hopefully deterrence means there is no need to have to engage in hot warfare or entanglements without clear objectives and a definition of “success”.
This does not seem to describe our current situation.