Re "The 'hard power' deficit," Opinion, Sept. 11
Gary Schmitt, who laments the decrease in defense spending by Western governments, writes as if this is another century. Countries no longer field massive militaries, as territorial and ideological struggles have declined.
The United States should have learned from the four useless, stalemated Asian land wars that we have fought since World War II. Those small and poor countries chose to not play by our rules and employed hit-and-run, asymmetrical tactics. There is no counter for this, unless we want to drop a nuclear bomb.
Our military planners are brainstorming ways to stay in business, but the United States needs to get out of the invasion business. Paraphrasing one of our 19th century presidents, we do not need to travel the world slaying dragons; it is futile and devastating to everyone involved.
After two world wars and a Cold War, it is encouraging to read that European nations can now spend such large percentages of their budgets on peacetime needs rather than on the military, Schmitt's views to the contrary notwithstanding.
Conversely, prosperous South Korea, facing an aggressive North Korea, "has not seen its defense burden rise above 3% of GDP for nearly 20 years," Schmitt writes. Another affluent nation, Taiwan, has not increased its defense budget, while China's grows by more than 10% every year.
Such wealthy nations need to be informed that the U.S. is too heavily in debt to underwrite their defense requirements any longer.
The world is tired of war, and this is a bad thing?
Schmitt sets up China and Russia as potential enemies. The Cold War is over; it's time to start winning the peace. We've gone a long way toward making both countries our friends. It's now time to finish the job and point out to them the economic advantages of continuing to decrease tensions.
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