By Paul Brown
Throughout most of history it has been up to small communities, even heads of households, to provide for their own defense. This was just the natural order of things. With smaller nation states or tribal groups, inferior systems of communication, little-to-no roads, and scarcity of land and other resources, conditions have almost always been ripe for organized violence between neighbors (both near and far). But over time nation states grew larger. Technology and better forms or organization led to police forces and large, national militaries that protected entire nations, allowing smaller communities and households to let their guard down. If roving bands of armed men are unlikely to come to your town to pillage (such as Vikings, or warring Greek city-states), then what’s the point of spending time, money, sweat, blood, and tears on preparing for pitched combat? Swords, spears, guns, and training were put on the backburner or dispossessed altogether by people in most regions . . .
And thus you have our current condition. The average American relies on the US military to protect them from any large groups of combatants (foreign and domestic), and relies on the police to protect them from most other violence. But how much should we rely on these mechanisms?
It is no secret that the United States has an aversion to total war, the concept that any and all means should be used to win a war. It hasn’t always been that way. World War II is the most recent example of the employment of total war by the US. World War I, and even the US Civil War are also good examples.
But for the last 70 years we have been thoroughly committed to fighting limited warfare: In Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again…we set very limited objectives, and we no longer commit to winning. Clearly this has been problematic for our win/loss record, and I contend that it will continue to be problematic well into the future.
Certainly, the US could change its stance on warfare. From a policy standpoint it wouldn’t be that difficult. But it seems to me that our system of creating policy is broken, and as a result we are unlikely to change in that arena any time soon.
As a result of our reluctance to change, the US will continue to experience less than stellar results in war. This isn’t because we don’t have a capable military. It’s not due to lack of funding, poor equipment, or poor training. It is due solely to the decisions made by politicians, and by extension generals.
Changing that may take decades, or even a century or more. That means America’s enemies will grow stronger while the US grows weaker. Given our closest neighbors and other geographical strengths, the possibility of foreign invasion will still be slim, but over time such an event will become more possible. Internal violence as a result of a weakened state, possibly due to provocations by external states is certainly a possibility.
That is why I advocate for a major change in policy in my book, Total War: America’s Roadmap to Victory (free on Amazon until 11:59 pm today only). If the US doesn’t put total war back on the table, we are doomed to losing conflicts for the foreseeable future.
But expecting our politicians to make the right, sensible decision in this situation (or most others) is something of a pipe dream. So until then, keep and bear arms.
Paul Brown is the author of Total War: America’s Roadmap to Victory, and has written several articles for The Washington Times and for TTAG. He served in the Marine Corps as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, and he is a fervent advocate for gun rights.