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Author Topic: Abolish the armed forces  (Read 3022 times)

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Offline HemingwayTopic starter

Abolish the armed forces
« on: February 22, 2012, 05:59:54 PM »
There was an article in the newspaper over here recently ( here's an English article with all the details ) concerning a pledge made by Vladimir Putin to expand Russia's defense budget by $770 billion over the next ten years. The article calls it "the Kremlin's biggest military spending spree since the Cold War". It's also about a hundred times what my country currently spends on defense. It's comparing apples and oranges, for sure, but it puts things into perspective, for me at least. But it's not Russia or Russia's spending I'm really curious about. It's just a nice lead-in.

I have two propositions for you to consider. The first one is relatively straight-forward, while the second one will require some more explanation.

1. If we're serious about the long-term survival of our species, spending ever more money on what we euphemistically refer to as defense is not the way to go. Or, put differently, standing armies and weapons of mass destruction must go.

I recognize that this view may be seen as naive and utopian. If that is the case - which I don't believe it is - then utopia is necessary, unless we want to leave our survival to chance, and simply hope that someone, at some point, doesn't decide to blow us all up. Furthermore, I realize that an armed force of a limited scope may be necessary, as, of course, there are those who don't play by the rules, and would exploit a world without weapons for its own benefit. But that, at least I hope, is quite different from having a standing army numbering in the hundreds of thousands or an arsenal of weapons that could annihilate the world many times over. Now, I'm not suggesting we should do this over-night. It's a goal to work toward.

The one major flaw I see with this - and it's not really a flaw, so much as a setback, or a means to an end - is that achieving this may require military intervention in places where people are concerned with surviving from day to day, and not in the long term.

2. In as few words and put as simply as possible, countries with militaries that serve no actual purpose, should absolish them entirely. This would include countries with no conceivable threats to its safety ( ones that might be countered by a military presence, anyway ), or with armies so small that even in the case of an actual war they wouldn't do much good.

There are a few problems with this proposition. One is that many countries today are parts of international organizations where their armed forces are just a part of a greater whole. Or it may be seen as being very isolationist, putting that country's own interests before the interests of the world. After all, a country that can abolish its armed forces without any negative consequence, is in a privileged position. It's also possible that, as smaller states give up their armed forces, others that might actually need their armies ( say, South Korea and its ally, the US, being perhaps the most obvious example ) would become even more of a "world police", and get a lot of power with potential for abuse.

There may very well be more, but these are the most obvious to me.

As I see it, there are quite compelling reasons not to rid ourselves of our militaries just yet. But, on the other hand, the most compelling reason of them all - our survival - weighs heavily against. There's a conflict here, and I can't seem to solve it. That is the reason I'm posting this. Perhaps I'm missing something important, or perhaps there's some alternative I can't quite see. The best I can come up with is that what we need is some sort of fundamental restructuring of the world's armed forces, but I don't know how.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2012, 06:14:35 PM »
Consider this.. the Russian federation (and associated countries) aren't stable, but they are sitting (collectively) on some of the greatest unexploited resources in the world and all you have to do is look East.. and South to see where the future problems are coming from. You've got the middle east (with some of the most erratic leaders out there) and China.

If you don't think the Chinese won't do a landgrab, you're sorely mistaken. If they think they can get away with it, they will do so in a hairy minute. The People's Republic of China is a growing industrial economy just LOOKING for material. If I was a neighbor.. I would be worried. After all they took Tibet for nothing but to use as a gateway further west. Indian and Pakastan both are sweating for decades because of that.

Not to mention you are looking at a military that is in DIRE need of rebuiling and restructuring. That takes money.


Offline HemingwayTopic starter

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2012, 06:31:10 PM »
That doesn't really address any of the points I raised. I even brought up the example of North and South Korea, which isn't even an armed conflict that's waiting to happen, but waiting to escalate.

On the other hand, while North Korea is run practically like a religion, the leaders of China and Russia ( at least for the moment - I suspect there are less pleasant alternatives, which is saying quite a bit ) are at least rational people. That being the case, an armed conflict is not inevitable. I would hope it's anything but, because I'd hate to find out what an all-out war between two or more states with vast nuclear arsenals would look like. If ever there was a recipe for the total extinction of our species, that must be it.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2012, 07:06:28 PM »
Thing is.. both sides are very pragmatic. If EITHER of them thinks for a moment they CAN get away with something they will do it. Russia and China are very alike in that. Don't assume for a moment that will change.

As for the North/South Korea.. I'm witholding opinion till a better read on Kim Il Sun's son and how much control has (as well as how many bodies are put in the ground)

Depending on how you measure it, North Korea's army is one of the .. top eight or so armies in the world (by volume/size). Much has been said about their tech but what they have is reliable and good.

Not to mention that they have had 50 years to plan out what they are going to do. Like dead zeroing artillery on a LOT of real estate across the DMZ. They might lose (eventually) but the butcher's bill will be bad.

And consider this. The only reason they are still standing is because China is using them as a buffer. They don't want a stable, industrialized and unified Korea on their borders.

Offline HemingwayTopic starter

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2012, 07:30:34 PM »
In the interest of keeping the thread from derailing, I'm just going to repeat that none of what we've talked about so far directly relates to either of the two propositions I'm actually curious about. I already made conessions concerning situations where the armed forces of a country serve an actual purpose. I'm not saying the US and South Korea, to name but a few, should abolish their armed forces and hope their adversaries and enemies follow their shining example.

However, I think we've already proven, during the Cold War, that it's possible for two states opposed to each other to work things out diplomatically, and make a mutual effort to, in the case of the Cold War, put an end to a pointless arms race and reduce the number of weapons of mass destruction. War is, sadly, profitable to some. But nobody benefits from war on a truly global scale ( even if there's a clear winner in such a conflict, what are they left with? ). So it is possible to be completely pragmatic about it, and still work toward this goal of abolishing first all weapons of mass destruction and second all standing armies. I think, once you point out the stakes, that all but the utterly suicidal ( the entire reason, I think, that North Korea poses a threat at all, is the fear that they might in the face of defeat turn suicidal ) would see the benefit of a world with no armed conflict. Again, that's a sort of utopia, and most likely it's something we'd have to continuously work toward rather than a state to reach, but still. That's the long-term goal.

Offline Caela

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2012, 08:01:18 PM »
The idea of being able to have all armies stand down and melting down all the weapons of mass destruction is a pretty one but I think it's highly unrealistic. Even when the world was a much larger place and war a much more difficult prospect (no motorized vehicles, troop movements taking months instead of days, having to fight your enemy hand to hand and the likelihood of both of you ending up dead of wound infections if not killed outright in battle etc.) we still had wars. Leaders became greedy, wanting to take what was their neighbors and expand their own lands and used many means to motivate their people to go and take it for them. When it wasn't temporal greed, it could, often, be religious greed and various religious leaders have used the names of their gods to motivate people to slaughter each other (thus putting money in the temples pockets) for centuries.

Sadly, the motivations behind those wars hasn't changed. Leaders of many types still become greedy and want to take what isn't there's. Religions still pit people against each other with claims that they are the, "One true way," etc.

Until a basic part of human nature changes and we learn to set greed and fanaticism aside we will need standing armies to protect us from the threats such human failings pose. And you can bet that if some countries DID lay down arms, they'd quickly be swallowed up by someone who hadn't. It would be a recipe for mass annexations by more powerful countries because of the above mentioned human failings.

Offline Zeitgeist

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2012, 06:48:07 AM »
Between universal health-care and the dispensing with war, we better be looking at colonizing space and other planets as we would in short order be living on top of one another. As cruel as it may sound, sickness and war play a role in our world as a safety valve. That's not to say we shouldn't make strides to tamp down on those but it is a cold truth.

Offline HemingwayTopic starter

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2012, 07:50:37 AM »
Until a basic part of human nature changes and we learn to set greed and fanaticism aside we will need standing armies to protect us from the threats such human failings pose. And you can bet that if some countries DID lay down arms, they'd quickly be swallowed up by someone who hadn't. It would be a recipe for mass annexations by more powerful countries because of the above mentioned human failings.

I have two points to make to this.

First, what you're saying does not pose an insurmountable challenge. Greed, I would suggest, is a consequence or a side effect of our instinct for survival. We have armies because we want to survive, but the only reason we need those, is because others have them, too. It's like sort sort of global catch-22. In the end, I think the value of peace far outweighs that of the potential for conquest. That shouldn't even be controversial, unless you're of a sort of "get rich or die trying" mentality, where if you can't conquer everyone you'd rather see the whole world burn and our species end.

Secondly, saying countries that do lay down their arms would be swallowed up by someone else simply doesn't conform with reality, because it's not a hypothetical question. Several countries have abolished their standing armies, and they remain sovereign states. It's true most of these are protectorates of other countries or organizations, but not all of them.

Between universal health-care and the dispensing with war, we better be looking at colonizing space and other planets as we would in short order be living on top of one another. As cruel as it may sound, sickness and war play a role in our world as a safety valve. That's not to say we shouldn't make strides to tamp down on those but it is a cold truth.

That's one dangerous safety valve. A global armed conflict would essentially be a coin toss between a conventional war followed by a peace treaty, and a very permanent sort of population control, from which we'll never recover.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2012, 12:52:49 PM »
Short of finding two things: cheap renewable power and something like a replicator a la star trek, there will be no way to avoid the resource issues of war. And we have too many cultures that aren't mature enough to put historical and cultural differences behind them. Yet.

As a species we are capable of doing a lot.  As individuals and countries, we got a way to go. 

Offline Zakharra

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2012, 01:06:42 PM »
I have two points to make to this.

First, what you're saying does not pose an insurmountable challenge. Greed, I would suggest, is a consequence or a side effect of our instinct for survival. We have armies because we want to survive, but the only reason we need those, is because others have them, too. It's like sort sort of global catch-22. In the end, I think the value of peace far outweighs that of the potential for conquest. That shouldn't even be controversial, unless you're of a sort of "get rich or die trying" mentality, where if you can't conquer everyone you'd rather see the whole world burn and our species end.

Secondly, saying countries that do lay down their arms would be swallowed up by someone else simply doesn't conform with reality, because it's not a hypothetical question. Several countries have abolished their standing armies, and they remain sovereign states. It's true most of these are protectorates of other countries or organizations, but not all of them.

 Those countries only exist because someone strong militarily is standing up for them. That's why nations like Taiwan and S. Korea still exist. If the Chinese and N. Koreans thought they could grab them without much consequence, they would do it, as Callie said, in a hairy minute. That's what Iraq tried 22 years ago with Kuwait. They thought they could get away with it and had to be curb stomped. Standing armies are very much needed.  You might not like them but they have been a necessity for the last 5,000 years and there's no sign they are going away.

A nation with out a standing army is only possible in places like Europe, where their neighbors will respect their boundaries. If a neighbor doesn't respect the boundary, there's nothing to really stop that nation from coming in and taking over.

 If several S. American or C. American nations disbanded their armies, their neighbors would be biting off chunks of their territory within a year or twoo at the most. After all, there's nothing to stop them. Do you think for a moment, Chavez of Venezuela wouldn't invade Columbia or any other neighbor if they disbanded their armies? He'd find an excuse so fast, your head would spin.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2012, 03:08:02 PM »
Zak is right.. he (Chavez) would be across the border to quash 'drug cartels seizing our assets' or something. Not to mention it would be a GREAT distration for how he's hijacked the democratic process of his country.

As for the Kuwaiti invasion way back when, it was easy enough to see why he did it. Coast line. Look at Iraq and Kuwait on the map. Iraq has what.. 20 to 40 miles of coast line, is like.. 3rd in overall volume in countries in the gulf, where is Kuwait is TINY but has dozens more in coastline than Iraq. Add in oil, banking and assets it was no surprise.

Right now the only thing that is keeping China from 'recovering' Taiwan (which they have always maintained was a 'rogue' province) is they want to keep it working. A smoking crater doesn't make them money. I'm willing to bet within the next 2 decades they will keep some of sharing agreement that will keep the infrastructure and political in place while China 'recovers' them. Something similar to what they did with Hong Kong. The only thing that can change this equation, in my opinion, is if Taiwan finds allies with the backbone to back them up. Not likely to happen, just look at how many formal recognition of Taiwan's sovereignty are on the record. They aren't many and most of them are ambiguous at best.

Grant prior to the 1970s, Taiwan was almost as bad as their rivals the People's Republic, but today they are a strong democracy. Which is why it will be sad when their independence is sacrificed under the power of appeasing the People's Republic.

Offline HemingwayTopic starter

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2012, 03:32:57 PM »
If several S. American or C. American nations disbanded their armies, their neighbors would be biting off chunks of their territory within a year or twoo at the most. After all, there's nothing to stop them. Do you think for a moment, Chavez of Venezuela wouldn't invade Columbia or any other neighbor if they disbanded their armies? He'd find an excuse so fast, your head would spin.

If? Again, not hypothetical. The list of countries without standing armies isn't very long - about two dozen - but of those, two are in Central Armerica ( actually, remarkably few are European, most are in the Pacific and Caribbean ); Costa Rica and Panama. You might argue that these countries are well protected by other countries, in particular the latter, which the US has a bit of a vested interest in. But they directly contradict the example you gave, and if they can do it, then what's to keep others from doing the same? In doing so, the world would, I dare suggest, become a less volatile place. Furthermore, the money not spent on superfluous defense can be used elsewhere.

You might not like them but they have been a necessity for the last 5,000 years and there's no sign they are going away.

Part of the reason I wanted this debate in the first place is this suggestion, that armies are necessary. It's implicit in practically all countries, even ones like mine that haven't needed to defend themselves in over half a century. But I see no good arguments for this. The only one I can think of is that others have armies, therefore we need an army, after all we wouldn't want to seem like a tempting target for them. But that's a perfectly circular argument, both from and for the status quo. I'm not going to put words in your mouth and assume that's it, but if it isn't, I'd like to hear your argument.

Otherwise, I think the issue is actually a lack of imagination and serious consideration of alternatives. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the "armies are necessary" argument seems to view world peace as a delicate balance. Not all that different from the Cold War. Deterrence theory in effect, really. But then what about bilateral or multilateral agreements, where all parties involved reduce their military spending proportionately? I can see how there might be considerable resistance to such a suggestion, but is the logic behind it fundamentally flawed? If all sides cooperate, then the relative "weight" of each of them in the global balance of power remains the same. It's a situation where everybody benefits, and nobody loses anything. Unless you can demonstrate that some countries are just naturally more aggressive than others and wish to dominate others, I don't see how such a cooperation would be impossible.

Now, I'm by no means an expert on the intricacies of global politics, especially those concerning military matters, but the bottom line is that alternatives exist. It's just a matter of finding them, and having the will to follow them. It'd definitely be difficult, and might take a very long time, but it'd be worth it, unless we destroyed ourselves along the way. And if we don't, how long until we do destroy ourselves? Even if you're vehemently in favor of the armed forces, can you ( as in, anyone ) honestly say the world we live in is a safe place, what could possibly go wrong?

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2012, 03:47:31 PM »
The military does more than just stand around on their hands you know. The Army Corp of Engineers do survey work in the US, the Navy assists the coast guard at see. In fact the 'up cycle' training of my last squadron involved working with the CG on sea search and rescue work, and 'down training' cycles included doing the same or helping other agencies like ICE and the DEA. Disaster assistance is another point all the services work on as well.

And if you think the Somali pirates are a problem NOW, imagine what they'd be like if we were even small in military services than we are. Something like.. FIVE navies commit forces to patrolling that region and STILL don't find them all. And there are other 'flash points' around the world.

One of the points of the Navy that frequently gets lost is the open seas policy. Downsizing the navy will continue to impact on this duty. I think pretty much EVERY standing navy has that particular mission.

Offline HemingwayTopic starter

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2012, 04:19:58 PM »
I'm well aware of that. But arguing that they perform other perhaps very necessary tasks is not an argument for keeping them armied. Here, at least, the Home Guard have a many duties that don't require them to be armed, but they still are. This is where, as I believe I mentioned, there's room for restructuring. In cases like that, it's basically a technicality. I don't take issue with everything that falls under the umbrella of 'armed forces', just because of that name.

As for Somali pirates, and terrorism, and drug lords, and whatever else fits within that same rough category, the measures to counter those are precisely the ones I made concessions for in the first post, so again, no argument from me.

On an unrelated note, I've noticed that so far no one has mentioned weapons of mass destruction. If this means people agree that we need to get rid of them, I suppose that's good. If not, I'd be curious to hear from whoever that might be.

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Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2012, 06:36:04 PM »
Given the development of 'smart' munitions, I can get behind saying that WMDs are fast becoming obsolete.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2012, 08:48:51 PM »
Given the development of 'smart' munitions, I can get behind saying that WMDs are fast becoming obsolete.

Unfortunately there are many who want to have them.

Scary that you have countries who can't control their own people yet think the Bomb will help them out.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2012, 11:44:39 PM »
If? Again, not hypothetical. The list of countries without standing armies isn't very long - about two dozen - but of those, two are in Central Armerica ( actually, remarkably few are European, most are in the Pacific and Caribbean ); Costa Rica and Panama. You might argue that these countries are well protected by other countries, in particular the latter, which the US has a bit of a vested interest in. But they directly contradict the example you gave, and if they can do it, then what's to keep others from doing the same? In doing so, the world would, I dare suggest, become a less volatile place. Furthermore, the money not spent on superfluous defense can be used elsewhere.

 A large part of that is the unspoken threat that nations like the US would come down like ten tons of bricks on anyone who tried to invade. They can avoid getting invaded because they either have the backing of a nation like the US, they have neighbors that aren't warlike or they are far from any other nation (the Pacific island nations are an excellent example of that.)

Quote
Part of the reason I wanted this debate in the first place is this suggestion, that armies are necessary. It's implicit in practically all countries, even ones like mine that haven't needed to defend themselves in over half a century. But I see no good arguments for this. The only one I can think of is that others have armies, therefore we need an army, after all we wouldn't want to seem like a tempting target for them. But that's a perfectly circular argument, both from and for the status quo. I'm not going to put words in your mouth and assume that's it, but if it isn't, I'd like to hear your argument.

Otherwise, I think the issue is actually a lack of imagination and serious consideration of alternatives. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the "armies are necessary" argument seems to view world peace as a delicate balance. Not all that different from the Cold War. Deterrence theory in effect, really. But then what about bilateral or multilateral agreements, where all parties involved reduce their military spending proportionately? I can see how there might be considerable resistance to such a suggestion, but is the logic behind it fundamentally flawed? If all sides cooperate, then the relative "weight" of each of them in the global balance of power remains the same. It's a situation where everybody benefits, and nobody loses anything. Unless you can demonstrate that some countries are just naturally more aggressive than others and wish to dominate others, I don't see how such a cooperation would be impossible.

Now, I'm by no means an expert on the intricacies of global politics, especially those concerning military matters, but the bottom line is that alternatives exist. It's just a matter of finding them, and having the will to follow them. It'd definitely be difficult, and might take a very long time, but it'd be worth it, unless we destroyed ourselves along the way. And if we don't, how long until we do destroy ourselves? Even if you're vehemently in favor of the armed forces, can you ( as in, anyone ) honestly say the world we live in is a safe place, what could possibly go wrong?

That's only possible if all sides are willing to not wage war. And that hasn't happened in over 5,000 years of civilized human history. Right now, the US president Obama, is wanting the US military to reduce it's nuclear warhead count to like 300, while the Russians and Chinese are looking to increase their nuclear capacity.  Iran is very likely trying for a nuke and if they get  one will either hand it off to a terrorist group like Hamas/Hezbollah to use or use it as a club to threaten the nations in the Middle East to bow to Iran's sovereignty.

 As long as you have people and nations like that, you will always need a standing military. Just because the Cold War is over, doesn't mean the world is automatically a safer place.  The alternatives you mention, only exist if everyone agrees to the,. The moment someone doesn't agree is when it fails.

 There's another thing to take into consideration now too. No longer can you conscript  people into the military and send them off to war in a week. Military personnel need a lot of training to be ready to use the weapons they're given. And it takes time to make those weapons.  You need soldiers ready to act almost instantly in today's world.






Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2012, 12:03:57 AM »

That's only possible if all sides are willing to not wage war. And that hasn't happened in over 5,000 years of civilized human history. Right now, the US president Obama, is wanting the US military to reduce it's nuclear warhead count to like 300, while the Russians and Chinese are looking to increase their nuclear capacity.  Iran is very likely trying for a nuke and if they get  one will either hand it off to a terrorist group like Hamas/Hezbollah to use or use it as a club to threaten the nations in the Middle East to bow to Iran's sovereignty.

 As long as you have people and nations like that, you will always need a standing military. Just because the Cold War is over, doesn't mean the world is automatically a safer place.  The alternatives you mention, only exist if everyone agrees to the,. The moment someone doesn't agree is when it fails.

 There's another thing to take into consideration now too. No longer can you conscript  people into the military and send them off to war in a week. Military personnel need a lot of training to be ready to use the weapons they're given. And it takes time to make those weapons.  You need soldiers ready to act almost instantly in today's world.

You can bet on that. It's a forgone certainty in the Gulf states that if the Iranians get the Bomb that they will use it as a political club to everyone within reach of them. The Gulf at the very least, more likely the entire Middle East. I could see them using it as a lever to build a Pan-Islamic state of their liking.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2012, 01:03:30 AM »
As the saying goes, a country always has an army: its own or somebody else's. If the armed forces are phased out, left in "yesterday state" technically, or pushed down so much that they cannot credibly defend the land, then you get an opening for someone else with a stronger hand to step in.

Living next door to Russia myself, in a country that's always perceived Moscow as the main threat and arch enemy, I am not feeling amused by their rearmament plans but still can't say it was a big surprise. This had to come, seeing that the Russian economy is rebounding long-term and that they feel they have lost ground and "respect" (the ability to 'make' other countries listen to their arguments and offers, benevolent or not) , both to the U.S. and its allies and to China - and they want to restore some of this great power status. Besides, I think it has to be counted in that Russia lost people in WW2 on a much larger scale than any other allied nation (excepting only Poland, which was bled white on its home soil, but most of that was when there wasn't much actual fighting in the country). The assault that Hitler waged on Soviet Russia was clearly genocidal in character and it cost the country in excess of twenty million lives (between 22 and 25 million, according to most estimates); and from summer 1941 to summer 1944, Russia was the one major country to put boots on the ground in Europe to fight Hitler head-on, on a day-to-day basis and on a long front. It was a "never again" experience, and it's still with them for sure; they will read new threats in the light of what they endured back then just like Americans will read new threats in the light of Iran in 1979 or the Pacific war of the 1940s.

So if Germany, the US, China or some other major power or superpower would say to Russia under present conditions "hey, we're not planning to invade you, board your ships or wrest any of your territory or your trading deals from you! Just relax!" the reaction is going to be, openly or not, "Well, that's not something you're gonna decide alone - and how do I know what you're planning in ten years time?". I don't think one can fault them for that. Like many countries, they can certainly be blamed for how they have used their armed forces and armed advantages at times, but hardly for looking to the long-term preservation of their country and the safety and wellbeing of its people.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2012, 01:41:20 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline HemingwayTopic starter

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2012, 07:36:53 AM »
I'm getting the distinct sense I should've been more careful in choosing a subject for this thread, because most of the arguments here seem to be in opposition to a general "abolish the armed forces, period" proposition, and not to the ones I actually made in my opening subject. I made those specifically because they would make the world a safer place, but they're not utopian fantasies.

The first one is simply a statement of principle, the reason why I hold the positions I do. I don't think it's controversial to say that a world without armies is safer than one with armies. I certainly don't think a world with even larger armies than we have now is safer than one with smaller. And that's to say nothing of WMDs.

The second is that countries that don't need their armed forces, for whatever reason, should abolish them. Against this, there have been some arguments, generally that this is only possible in certain places that are peaceful to begin with, or because they're protectorates of other states or organizations. Well, what of it? To say it's only possible because some requirement has been met, is not to say that it's impossible.

It's possible there's some confusion in what I wrote, not least because of my lurid subject line. I never suggested that any country completely do away with its capacity for violence, to get rid of all its weapons so to speak. But if there's an organization of defense in place where each state contributes only a part of the whole, then essentially you get a country that's far more capable of self-defense ( because it can count on other members of the same organization ) than it is of invading its neighbors. That's well within the limits of what I proposed initially.

My hope, of course, would be that in the long term, the whole world is organized in a similar fashion, basically abolishing the need for armed forces. That is a utopian fantasy, at least in the current political climate. But even if we never get to that place, just the fact there are countries like that will make the world a slightly safer place, and it will allow those countries to spend their defense budgets ( those parts that are superfluous, anyway ) elsewhere.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2012, 07:54:15 AM »
Just stating a quick one here because it's a vital point but one I didn't get around to making before: I don't feel Russian rearmament means they will be going for a nuclear duel or armageddon anytime soon. The Russian leaders - Putin or any leader they might select in the foreseeable future - are rational people (agreeing with Hemingway here) and these days they can't simply boss around the major part of their own nation. Plus they don't have the belt of allies at their west frontier that they had before 1989, and that really counts in how they size up a major war. They know that an all-out nuclear war with the US (or possibly with China) would spell cataclysm for themselves too.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2012, 07:57:16 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Sethala

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #21 on: February 29, 2012, 12:18:14 PM »
On an unrelated note, I've noticed that so far no one has mentioned weapons of mass destruction. If this means people agree that we need to get rid of them, I suppose that's good. If not, I'd be curious to hear from whoever that might be.

I'm not going to touch the rest of the thread right now (partly because I'm supposed to be out shoveling snow right now, not typing on a forum...), but I do want to toss in my $0.02 on this one.

There is a saying that goes, I believe, "the best weapon is that which you never have to use."  WMDs are a last-resort, a failsafe.  It's the idea behind MAD (Mutually-Assured Destruction); that if you decide to wipe me out, I can still hit a button and wipe you out.  While it may seem that this doesn't accomplish anything (and in fact, it would be incredibly horrible if it actually happened), it's a very large deterrent.  If any country tries a full-scale war, WMDs are there to ensure that there's still a limit to how high the issue can escalate.

That being said, while I'm not in favor of us disposing of all of them, I do agree that they should be scaled back a lot.  Have some available as a deterrent, but that's it.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #22 on: February 29, 2012, 01:09:36 PM »
The one reason I think that WMDs are heading towards obsolescence is that right now, the US can send GPS-guided munitions to knock on the enemy leader's door.  Okay, I'm exaggerating slightly (and I'm sure the folks that have worked with them will correct me to the extent that security allows ;D <3), but the fact remains that we can take out the leadership of an enemy group while leaving most of the population intact.  Unless you have a situation where the population is just as fanatical as their leadership, there's no need to 'nuke 'em 'til they glow'.

(The 'fanatical populace' argument is the one reason that WMDs aren't already obsolete in my eyes.)

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #23 on: February 29, 2012, 01:29:49 PM »
I'm not going to touch the rest of the thread right now (partly because I'm supposed to be out shoveling snow right now, not typing on a forum...), but I do want to toss in my $0.02 on this one.

There is a saying that goes, I believe, "the best weapon is that which you never have to use."  WMDs are a last-resort, a failsafe.  It's the idea behind MAD (Mutually-Assured Destruction); that if you decide to wipe me out, I can still hit a button and wipe you out.  While it may seem that this doesn't accomplish anything (and in fact, it would be incredibly horrible if it actually happened), it's a very large deterrent.  If any country tries a full-scale war, WMDs are there to ensure that there's still a limit to how high the issue can escalate.

That being said, while I'm not in favor of us disposing of all of them, I do agree that they should be scaled back a lot.  Have some available as a deterrent, but that's it.

Actually that is why I think nuclear proliferation is not a bad thing lets say every nation had 10 nukes and they could hit any other nation with them that would be a deterrent. Okay would you be the one to want to go to war and worry at some point someone will used some of these? I note India and Pakistan are nuclear as is Israel the fact they have these weapons reduced the odds of a major war significantly between these powers and anyone else. So I have an idea the major two powers should give every nation ten nukes as a gift with ICBM's and the whole nine yards if the nation wants them. Then if 90% of nations have them it will immediately make major war a very risky thing forcing nations to behave more and even despotic regimes will think about attacking anyone outside their borders.

Offline HemingwayTopic starter

Re: Abolish the armed forces
« Reply #24 on: February 29, 2012, 01:42:37 PM »
There are some fundamental problems with deterrence theory, though. It's basically a game of chicken. The most important, I think, is that it doesn't factor in insane or suicidal regimes. If the threat of nuclear annihilation isn't enough to discourage someone, then it does nothing. It's basically about who's willing to apply the most pressure without actually pulling the trigger. It also doesn't take into account terrorist groups, or Tom Clancy-style extremists factions within the Russian armed forces. Or the US armed forces, for that matter. Don't think I trust the US with its nukes any more than I do Russia. I trust North Korea even less, but that sort of goes without saying.

You'd also need someone actually willing to consign the human race to extinction. I mean, if one side's nuclear arsenal is sailing through the upper atmosphere toward you, what are you going to do? You'd basically be saying if you can't have the planet, no one will.

It's a thoroughly suicidal plan, is what I'm saying. Even people who were for it during the Cold War now realize this

Then if 90% of nations have them it will immediately make major war a very risky thing forcing nations to behave more and even despotic regimes will think about attacking anyone outside their borders.

How is that even remotely the case? Assuming there's a 100% certainty that an attack ( nuclear or otherwise ) will be met with a nuclear strike, yes, it might work. But that's not how reality works. It further assumes that all leaders are willing to push equally hard, with no one willing to push just a little bit harder. It also doesn't prevent conventional wars. It might prevent the use of nuclear weapons in those wars, but then again, why should it, once one side grows desperate?

In short, we'd be dead within a week.