Friday, April 9, 2010

Obama's Disarmament - Ignoring History in Favor of Blind Idealism

Was World War II really that long ago? Have we already forgotten the lessons we should have learned from the run up to that war, primarily via Chamberlain and Churchill? Forget about World War II, was the Cold War that long ago? Have we already forgotten the lessons from it as well? In this case the lesson being a rather brilliant "how-to" (as opposed to the "how-not-to" of WWII.) Whether we have forgotten or not, our president sure has. That is if he ever learned those lessons in the first place, which seems unlikely.

As noble a goal as it seems on it's face, in reality it's just stupid and dangerous. When we look at the track record of disarmament in the real world, versus the track record of deterrence, a very clear picture emerges as to which is better at preventing war, mass death and destruction. And it isn't disarmament, which, however nice it sounds in theory, in practice has had the effect of exacerbating the problem.

If you don't know the lessons of history that I'm talking about (primarily the run up to WWII in Great Britain, and the success of Reagan's "peace through strength" in the Cold War), here's a very brief primer, from Thomas Sowell:


Chamberlain sought to "remove the causes of strife or war." He wanted "a general settlement of the grievances of the world without war." In other words, the British prime minister approached Hitler with the attitude of someone negotiating a labor contract, where each side gives a little and everything gets worked out in the end. What Chamberlain did not understand was that all his concessions simply led to new demands from Hitler -- and contempt for him by Hitler.

What Winston Churchill understood at the time, and Chamberlain did not, was that Hitler was driven by what Churchill called "currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them." That was also what drove the men who drove the planes into the World Trade Center.

Pacifists of the 20th century had a lot of blood on their hands for weakening the Western democracies in the face of rising belligerence and military might in aggressor nations like Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. In Britain during the 1930s, Labor Party members of Parliament voted repeatedly against military spending, while Hitler built up the most powerful military machine in Europe.

On the Cold War:

During the Cold War, many European intellectuals once again misread the threat of a totalitarian dictatorship-- in this case, the Soviet Union. When they finally recognized the threat, many saw the question as whether it was "better to be red than dead."

They were no more prepared to stand up to the Soviet Union than they had been ready to stand up to Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Worse yet, much of the European intelligentsia objected to America's standing up to the Soviet Union.

Many of them were appalled when Ronald Reagan met the threat of new Soviet missiles aimed at Western Europe by putting more American missiles in Western Europe, aimed at the Soviet Union.

Reagan, in effect, called the Soviet Union and raised them, while many of the European sophisticates-- as well as much of the American intelligentsia-- said that his policies would lead to war.

Instead, it led to the end of the Cold War. Are we now to blindly imitate those who have been so wrong, so often over the past hundred years?

Some might say that the WWII isn't exactly analogous to where we are today, and of course the situations are not identical. The point is simply that while the goal of disarmament is to reduce war, to reduce suffering, and to reduce mass destruction, it has the ability to have the exact opposite effect. Indeed, the concept may have been largely responsible for unleashing (or allowing someone to unleash) the greatest horror in the history of mankind (the holocaust). So regarding it as a de facto good is asinine.

Although the international stage is a lot different than our domestic lives, there's a very good parallel right here at home. Gun control laws. Just as with international disarmament treaties, the problem is not getting the sensible, civilized nations to disarm. You can do that all day long, if you wish. The problem is that once you succeed the good guys are left defenseless and the bad guys are still armed to the teeth. "But we'll write them harsh letters! And put sanctions on those rogue, irresponsible nations! That'll show em'! HAH! Bring on your death and destruction, we have a stern tone to deal with the likes of you!" I don't mock this idea merely as an untried theory, we have already seen that it doesn't work.

Of course it would be wonderful to live in that world where the only people with nukes are sensible, responsible nations who could agree to incrementally scale back until nukes no longer exist. But that is not this world. It would be grand to live in that world where we could ensure that, once we had made it through the arduous process of disarming every nation on the planet, no nuclear weaponry would ever resurface again. But that is not this world. I would love to live in a world where you could go back in time and un-invent something. But that is not this world.

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