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March 11, 2016

Preparedness Is Deterrent

Joe Charlebois

One of the history’s greatest military minds, Sun Tzu, has had a long history of influence over those who would carry out the plans of warfare for over 2,000 years.


His writings compiled in The Art of War have withstood the test of time. They have not only been used on the field of battle, but his thoughts have been used in other strategic endeavors as well. Our military and civilian leaders should pay heed to his words.


In the second chapter entitled “Waging War,” Sun Tzu said: “When your weapons are dulled and ardour damped, your strength exhausted and treasure spent, neighbouring rulers will take advantage of your distress to act. And even though you have wise counsellors, none will be able to lay good plans for the future.”


The U.S. military, which has suffered a tremendous reduction in force levels over the past decade, will face even greater challenges in a more volatile world. The next president of The United States will face even more threats than his or her predecessor, mostly because President Barack Obama has failed to provide the international leadership that would have kept our enemies from acting.


In fiscal year 2011, one in every four dollars was spent on defense; by fiscal year 2016 that ratio was projected to drop to one in every five. In Sun Tzu’s words our “weapons will be dulled” and our enemies “will take advantage of (our) distress to act.”


Iran has just been given tens of billions of dollars that were being held through the implementation of sanctions. With those sanctions lifted, Iran is now emboldened to resume missile technology and purchase nuclear technology, or weapons, from their ally North Korea.


This election season there is still a realization that Americans are war-weary; however, our armed forces should never become political pawns in the games that some administrations play. Some candidates have taken isolationist positions, others have been more hawkish and still yet another takes both sides of the issue.


As it stands, the gutting of the military under President Obama is seen by those around the world as weakness.


The next president needs to address the budget for the Department of Defense. The question that will arise is: “Should we maintain the same level of spending for the military?” The answer is no; we need to spend even more. We will need to increase military spending to provide for a force that will provide insurmountable advantages, so that America does not have to wage war.


Sun Tzu: “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”


Since World War II, our nation has been at war, or involved in a Cold War, for nearly seven decades. In that same time – as one would expect – there have been extreme fluctuations in the level of funding which has directly impacted troop levels, fleet levels, and – most importantly – levels of readiness. When the funding was cut beyond readiness levels the effectiveness of our armed forces and the morale of the troops suffered terribly. It has also left us in our most vulnerable positions.


One must not forget that we cannot escape into thoughts of strict isolationism. We have treaties for common defense, not only with our neighbor Canada, but with European allies: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.


In Asia the United States has treaties with Japan and the Republic of Korea. In the Pacific our treaties are with Australia, New Zealand, The Philippines and Thailand. In South America, under the Rio Treaty, the United States would come to the aid of Argentina, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.


These common defense arrangements, established over the last 60-plus years, require that we come to the aid of these 54 nations if they come under an armed attack. These treaties state that an attack on one is to be perceived as an attack on all.


The recent aggressive moves made by Russia, North Korea, Iran and China, make it a distinct possibility that one or more of our allies may be brought into an armed conflict. In fact, with all of the treaties that the United States is party to, it could find itself in a situation that it would be ill-prepared to defend. We need to remain prepared at levels that would allow for our defense and keep our enemies wary.


Sun Tzu: “One who has few must prepare against the enemy; one who has many makes the enemy prepare against him.”


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