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Friday, June 22, 2007

Would a larger army make us safer?

Many of the Democratic candidates for president are arguing for increases in the size of the standing army. Barack Obama has a specific figure - 92,000 troops - and Mitt Romney and other Republicans are advocating for "at least 100,000." But what will a larger army buy us in an age of terrorism?
This bipartisan consensus -- which even includes Bush, who recently unveiled his own five-year plan to enlarge the Army and Marine Corps -- illustrates the inability or refusal of the political class to grasp the true nature of our post-9/11 foreign-policy crisis. Any politician who thinks that the chief lesson to be drawn from the last five years is that we need more Americans toting rifles and carrying rucksacks has learned nothing...

[The] second consensus consists of two elements. According to the first element, the only way to win the so-called global war on terrorism, thereby precluding another 9/11, is to "fix" whatever ails the Islamic world. According to the second element, the United States possesses the wherewithal to effect just such a transformation. In essence, by employing American power, beginning with military power, to ameliorate the ills afflicting Islam, we will ensure our own safety.
As the author says, "this is sheer twaddle."

The failure to protect ourselves on 9/11 was an intelligence failure, not a military one. Investing in more troops with limited resources simply means a smaller focus on what items actually protect us.

Second, we have proven rather effectively that a military solution to the threat of terrorism (or Islamic extremism) is a failure.

To those arguments against the strategies in the war on terror, I'd add that we're less likely to have our volunteer men and women deployed to foreign wars by swashbuckling presidents if there are fewer of them to go around. A bigger standing army is no way to reign in an extralegal president.

1 comment:

rick said...

You write "Second, we have proven rather effectively that a military solution to the threat of terrorism (or Islamic extremism) is a failure."

It may be worth noting that, as is often said these days, had we not invaded Iraq we might have found greater success in Afghanistan.

In particular, if we accept this note then we might more precisely express the sentiment as "the chosen military 'solution' seems to be a failure" (assuming that we intended to fight terrorism in Iraq in the first place).