The power of friendship: Who needs a military?

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The power of friendship: Who needs a military?

By Eli Talbert / Columnist

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From an outside perspective, it seems as though the world is descending into chaos. With persistent headlines on the conflict in Ukraine and the unrest in the Middle East, the world may seem like a frightening place.

While it is true that the world may “seem” frightening, that doesn’t necessarily warrant military intervention.

Although the United States has often been referred to as “the world’s police force,” we  have learned domestically that the less police there are, the better. So, let’s apply that to foreign policy, too. Instead of using our military as leverage against our enemies, we should learn to be persuasive in other, nicer, ways. 

Countries like Russia, North Korea and China will no longer respond militarily to foreign policy issues — they have made it clear that they want to resolve situations peacefully. Vladimir Putin reminded us in his op-ed last year that “We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.” If the United States would refrain from “language of force,”  then the White House, like Putin, could solve international issues in a peaceful, humanitarian way — much like in the way the Russian leader has handled the crisis in Ukraine. 

Like Russia, China is also rapidly increasing its military spending — amidst nearly two decades of double-digit increases in its official military budget — with no reason to use its military. Don’t mind the numerous regional conflicts involving China — as Neville Chamberlain said on the eve of World War II, war can be avoided “by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will,” something Poland failed to realize — as history taught us. 

Honestly, what any other country is spending militarily doesn’t really matter. Our mere disapproval is powerful enough to stop any country from, say, annexing a small part of another sovereign nation. Even if a country were to outspend the U.S. militarily, the next top three spenders — China, Russia and Saudi Arabia — are all famously supportive of human rights. Russia even went through the trouble of releasing a “White Book” detailing all the human rights violations in Ukraine, stating in one section, “Moscow was deeply concerned by egregious cases of arrests [in Ukraine].” The book stressed that the Ukrainian people deserve a place where freedom of speech is welcome. Correspondents on Russian TV echoed this sentiment. 

In addition, the money we will save from using non-military tactics can be put toward improving the economy at home. Sources predict that endless roads could be built by the government as a result, and seeing that 38.1 million American jobs are tied to international trade, decreasing our foreign military presence will help guarantee that the global marketplace is completely open. For instance, pleasing North Korea by decreasing our military presence would open the republic up to some serious investment opportunities.

Reducing the strength of our military will certainly make us more likable overall. A little known fact is that the United Nations is a much larger version of high school. Diplomacy is not an intricate calculation of economic and military advantage. Rather, it’s all about who likes who personally. 

But, unlike in high school, no one likes the strong jock kid. Rather, world leaders prefer the kid who sits by himself quietly in the corner at lunch — he’s much less threatening. Once the newly crowned caliphate of Isis realizes that the United States no longer poses a threat to its cultural dominance, it will no longer see a need to use violence to promote their extremist agenda. My guess? They’ll start using civil disobedience. 

After all, the United States is the land of the liberated, not the liberators. If we just remembered that, we would be a lot more popular with our enemies.

The White House needs to realize this. To some it may be an odd truth, but make no mistake, it is the truth: War is not a necessary evil. It is an unnecessary side effect of having too many aircraft carriers. 

Write to ejt26@pitt.edu

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