By Reginald Welkin
The Cold War, what was it really? Yes, it was a strategic fight between Soviet Nations and Western nations, that involved little direct conflict, but a host of wars by proxy in numerous countries spanning the globe. The US and Soviet Russia were allies during World War II and in just a few years, were where preparing for nuclear war. What happened?
James Madison, discussed one aspect of it when he wrote: “If one nation maintains constantly a disciplined army ready for the service of ambition or revenge, it obliges the most pacific nations, who may be within the reach of its enterprizes, to take corresponding precautions.”[i] In other words, it is only natural for other countries to increase their militaries when one of their neighbors improves its military, and it would be pretty naïve for a country not to do so.
Several of the Founding Fathers were opposed to the idea of a Standing Army or Navy. They felt that to all countries that had them were either using them in times of peace to suppress freedoms in their countries, or that they were the cause of or the means of engaging in unneeded wars. John Adams wrote: “A standing Army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the Liberties of the People. Soldiers are apt to consider themselves as a Body distinct from the rest of the Citizens. They have their Arms always in their hands. Their Rules and their Discipline is severe. They soon become attachd to their officers and disposd to yield implicit Obedience to their Commands. Such a Power should be watchd with a jealous Eye.”[ii] This is what happened in Rome, in 49 BC, when Julius Caesar marched his army across the Rubicon river. His men were more loyal to their military leader than to their country and fellow citizens. Alexander Hamilton states: “But in a country, where the perpetual menacings of danger oblige the government to be always prepared to repel it, her armies must be numerous enough for instant defence. The continual necessity for his services enhances the importance of the soldier, and proportionably degrades the condition of the citizen. The military state becomes elevated above the civil. The inhabitants of territories often the theatre of war, are unavoidably subjected to frequent infringements on their rights, which serve to weaken their sense of those rights; and by degrees, the people are brought to consider the soldiery not only as their protectors, but as their superiors. The transition from this disposition to that of considering them as masters, is neither remote nor difficult: but it is very difficult to prevail upon a people under such impressions, to make a bold, or effectual resistance, to usurpations supported by the military power.”[iii] [iv]
It is quite fascinating how members of both current Primary Parties (Democrats and Republicans[v]) support a standing army and its use. It is true that Democrats often claim to want a smaller military and clamor whenever Republicans enter a war[vi], but when they are in power or feel the need for military action[vii], they are often quite loud in their desire for war.[viii] Republicans often are more supportive of the military, but are quick to judge military decisions made by Democrats.
It is only some of the smaller Secondary Parties who are for limiting (e.g. Libertarians[ix]) or abolishing (e.g. The Green Party[x]) standing militaries in America. It is quite apparent that some form of defense is needed to “secure our borders” or defend our country, but it also is pretty obvious that militaries are not only a temptation to go to war, but are also a danger to citizens[xi] in general. The general consensus on Standing Armies has changed with time, and the Founding Father’s respect for Militias has been greatly eroded by modern ideas and extremist groups.
Many tend to jump into a variety of positions that don’t always make sense. Some assume a standing army is a necessary evil while others say that we should shift into a militia styled on that of modern Israel or other countries that rely on Conscription. Maybe someone should begin to look at something other than compromise, maybe an Intersection of Ideals for constructing a functional defense force. Maybe someone should start proposing creative ideas like Term Limits for Military Officers. Either way, people from every part of the Political Spectrum can fear the dangers of a Police State, but often only when it targets them. Maybe in Time of Peace, we should have our armies take a seat.
[i] Madison, James (Jan 19, 1788), Federalist No. 41, Via The University of Chicago, http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_12s22.html, Accessed: Sept 2, 2017.
[ii] Adams, Samuel (1776), Letter to James Warren, Via The Samuel Adams Heritage Society, http://www.samuel-adams-heritage.com/documents/samuel-adams-to-james-warren-1776.html, Accessed: Sept 2, 2017.
[iii] Hamilton, Alexander (Nov 20, 1787), Federalist No. 8, Via The Portable Library of Liberty, http://files.libertyfund.org/pll/quotes/192.html, Accessed: Sept 2, 2017.
[iv] Federalist No. 8, Via Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_No._8, Accessed: Sept 2, 2017.
[v] Collins, Dan (Oct 3, 2002) “Congress Says Yes to Iraq Resolution” ,CBC, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/congress-says-yes-to-iraq-resolution/, Accessed Sept 2, 2017.
[vi] Loughlin, Sean (July 10, 2003) “Democrats Step up Criticism of Bush on Iraq”, CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/07/10/democrats.iraq/index.html, Accessed Sept 2, 2017.
[vii] Levy, Gabrielle (Apr 7, 2017), “Clinton, Democrats See Hypocrisy in Trump’s Syria Posture”, US News, https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2017-04-07/clinton-democrats-see-hypocrisy-in-trumps-syria-posture, Accessed Sept 2, 2017.
[viii] Rogin, Josh (June 18, 2014), “Hillary Clinton Pushed Obama to Keep Troops in Iraq”, The Daily Beast, http://www.thedailybeast.com/hillary-clinton-pushed-obama-to-keep-troops-in-iraq, Accessed Sept 2, 2017.
[ix] “2016 Platform”, Libertarian Party, https://www.lp.org/platform/, Accessed Sept 2, 2017.
[x] “Ten Key Values”, Green Party, http://www.gp.org/ten_key_values_2016, Accessed Sept 2, 2017.
[xi] Berlin, Jonathan & Rumore, Kori (Jan 27, 2017), “12 Times the President Called in the Military Domestically”, Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-national-guard-deployments-timeline-htmlstory.html, Accessed Sept 2, 2017.
Writes about politics from a Conservative Libertarian viewpoint. While pushing for a government that is Fiscally Conservative and Socially Liberal, he personally appreciates the Socially Conservative lifestyle.
Copyright R. A. Welkin