Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Alliances

     It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world....There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard. – George Washington’s Farewell Address
     [P]eace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none... – Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address

     In contrast with the days of the Founding, Americans of our time have grown accustomed to having their country deeply embroiled in the affairs of other nations – to the extent of (at one time) having military forces stationed in more than half the other nations of the world. Though we’ve pulled back somewhat from those days of our widest extension, we remain inexplicably committed to certain foreign “partners.” Far too little thought goes to America’s own interests – specifically, what we get from pouring out our treasure and putting our finest young men at hazard for the defense of other lands.


     Brux, a military power of size and prowess, was becoming concerned about the looming threat of Frammistan, a power of comparable size well to the east that had begun to assert itself in ominous ways. The most important of the buffers between Brux and Frammistan was Wazznia, a smaller nation than Brux, albeit with a robust economy and a martial history of some note. The ruling council of Brux decided to explore the possibilities of an alliance with Wazznia, implicitly directed against the threat emanating from Frammistan. They instructed the Brux Minister of Defense (BMD) to approach Wazznia’s Secretary of War (WSW) about it. The following conversation ensued.

BMD: An alliance that treats an attack on either of us as an attack on both of us would serve both our interests.
WSW: Hmmm...I suppose it would, but you’ve got a much larger military than we do. Realistically, how much could Wazznia contribute to the defense of Brux?

BMD: It’s not about your size. It’s about your geographical position. An assault on Brux would have to come through Wazznia. We’d like the Frammisti to be aware that Brux wouldn’t wait for its own borders to be violated – that we’d respond to an assault on Wazznia with the same degree of commitment and force.
WSW: You know, that sounds really good for Wazznia. I think we’re in!

BMD: Excellent. I’ll just nip off home and—
WSW: I can’t wait to tell Wazznia’s prime minister! From now on, Brux will defend Wazznia! No more need to conscript our own sons. No more need to maintain a military of our own. And all the money we’ve spent on arms and the fortifications on our eastern border can be channeled into our welfare system. Imagine all the votes our party can buy with that!

BMD: Uhhh, you know, that’s not really what Brux has in mind...
WSW: (lost in rapture) The peace faction will be mollified! The barracks can be used to house the homeless and the disabled. We might even succeed in balancing the Wazznian national budget. (Sobers and turns to BMD) Brux will, of course, station forces in Wazznia for this new responsibility, right?

BMD: Well, I suppose it would be appro—
WSW: Even better! Brux will need to rent land on which to station them. And they’ll spend their salaries at Wazznian stores, on Wazznian goods. It will heal our balance of trade. We’re looking at an economic boom!

BMD: (hurriedly) You know, I was going to mention your sale to Frammistan of high-tech components with military applications. If we’re going to be allies, don’t you think you should put a clamp on that?
WSW: Not at all. With no Wazznian forces along the Frammisti border, cross-border trade can increase. In fact, the threat to Frammistan from Brux’s own forces will expand the market for it. What a great idea! I can’t believe Brux is being so generous to us!

     Brux’s Minister of Defense returned to his ruling council somewhat shaken. Given the Wazznian Secretary of War’s reaction to the idea, an alliance no longer struck him as particularly attractive. Even so, the Foreign Minister looked upon the idea with favor. Worse, when his report was presented to his nation’s elected legislators, a substantial fraction of them remained strongly in favor of a pact. However, they were evasive about their reasons.

     When he looked into the matter, he found that those who supported the proposed alliance were aligned with economic interests that would benefit from the expansion of Brux’s military, an expansion the proposed alliance would surely require. In particular, Brux’s aviation industry stood to profit handsomely from the expansion of Brux’s Tactical Air Command. Under no circumstances would Brux put soldiers in the field without tactical air cover...but to strip the homeland’s air defense for that purpose would be unthinkable. Thus, Brux would have to increase its expenditures on air-superiority fighters by many billions of gazoutehs – and that didn’t address the need to hire additional maintenance personnel to be stationed in Wazznia.

     The Minister of Defense, being more daring than most appointed officials, mentioned these facts in a televised interview. Almost at once, he was denounced by the pact’s supporters. The most virulent of them accused him of being covertly in league with Frammistan, eager to see Brux’s sacred soil violated by the dreaded Frammisti legions. A few stated outright that he was a traitor to his own country.

     His party’s advocates in the media remained curiously silent.

     The Minister of Defense decided to leave the matter before the pact’s promoters contrived to remove him from his post. “I’ve done my part,” he told himself. “It’s out of my hands.”

     The alliance was struck. The results were as the Wazznian Secretary of War had foreseen in his rhapsody. And tensions between Brux and Frammistan increased.


     Shall we apply our intellects to our “sacred alliance” with the nations of Europe via NATO, Gentle Reader? Europe, the aggregate population of which is greater than ours? The aggregate GDP of which is comparable to ours? The nations of which have benefited to the tune of over ten trillion dollars from the free defense America has provided them...and which have seldom politically supported or militarily assisted America in its foreign conflicts?

     How would Brux’s Minister of Defense view the NATO alliance?

1 comment:

  1. And Europe has a GDP 10X that of Russia, against which threat to Europe the U.S. is now apparently defending.

    ReplyDelete

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