Peace Through Strength

“We know that peace is the condition under which mankind was meant to flourish. Yet peace does not exist of its own will. It depends on us, on our courage to build it and guard it and pass it on to future generations. George Washington’s words may seem hard and cold today, but history has proven him right again and again. “To be prepared for war,” he said, “is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” Well, to those who think strength provokes conflict, Will Rogers had his own answer. He said of the world heavyweight champion of his day: “I’ve never seen anyone insult Jack Dempsey.” – Ronald Reagan 

“Belief in the efficacy of military power almost inevitably breeds the temptation to put that power to work. ‘Peace through strength’ easily enough becomes ‘peace through war.'” – Andrew Bacevich 

I have never served in the military and as such I have never been engaged in combat. The Vietnam War ended in 1975 when I was 14 and the U.S. military draft ended in 1973Though I have never served our country or set foot on a battlefield the images of the cost of war are ingrained in my mind.

For those of you old enough to remember Dan Rather reports from the war in Vietnam broadcast every night on the CBS evening news with Walter Cronkite you have seen the images. If you had sons, brothers, cousins, or uncles who left the states as happy, carefree kids and returned from South East Asia two or three years later as sullen, quiet and reserved adults you have seen the images too.

In 2015 the United States spent over $600 billion on defense. Since the 1990’s that budget has increased between 17% and 20% annually and has almost tripled in twenty years. What has all that money bought us? Peace through strength or peace through war? It is a question that I don’t have an answer for.

The defense industry spends a lot of money-getting people elected. Some numbers that I have seen recently show that Hillary Clinton has actually received more contributions from defense contractors than Donald Trump. Maybe they are simply reading the tea leaves or hedging their bets since a Trump victory would certainly guarantee a ramp up in defense spending based on Ronald Reagan’s Peace Through Strength philosophy he has adopted.

I have decided that what I would support is a Peace Through Conversation initiative. That rather than blowing each other up we sit down and try to figure out why we want to blow each other up. Rather than guessing or assuming why ISIS hates us, ask and work towards a resolution. Rather than pointing nuclear warheads at North Korea uncover the acceptable paths that will allow us to coexist peacefully. The argument against conversation is that it is easier to negotiate with a mad man when you point a gun to his head. Maybe, but that trick only works if you are willing to pull the trigger.

Maybe I am naive or maybe I have just gotten soft in my old age, but when I hear a Presidential candidate say “I’m good at war. I’ve had a lot of wars of my own. I’m really good at war. I love war, in a certain way but only when we win.” and it is met with a thunderous approval from an audience it concerns me. There are too many hotspots, to many new “Vietnam’s”  out there that it would be easy for a Donald Trump to make the case that the only path to peace is through strength. I am sure Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and General Dynamics would agree with this strategy. But remember it is easier to negotiate with a mad man when you point a gun to his head. We don’t need to elect our own mad man, there are already enough of them in power.

Well, come on all of you, big strong men, Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He’s got himself in a terrible jam, Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun, We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it’s one, two, three, What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn, Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven, Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why, Whoopee! we’re all gonna die. 

Country Joe and the Fish “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag”



About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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21 Responses to Peace Through Strength

  1. Suze says:

    I sang the entire song before I could stop myself. I have lost too many to wars. I too wish for a quiet conversation between nations. And as Nov 8 comes closer i find myself, more and more, waking in a cold sweat in the middle of these dark nights. If I prayed, I would be mightily praying that the American people choose by careful thought instead of fear and rhetoric this Tuesday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. larryzb says:

    And, Tuesday may have some surprises, possibly unpleasant.


    • Yup if the KKK members can find a clean sheet to wear and get out to vote for Trump we might have some surprises. If the Trump supporter who yelled “F*ck you” to me is sober enough to remember where his truck keys are to vote we might have some surprises. If the short fat redneck who called me a “faggot” for supporting Hillary can convince his mom to drive him to the polls we might have some surprises. Otherwise we shall see.


    • Guess those weren’t the surprises you were thinking of.


  3. Loved that song. I served during Vietnam but not in the jungles and rice paddies. A bunch of times I was called “faggot”, “pussy”, “wimp” for not supporting what our government did. I’m hearing those words again for having Hillary signs in my yard and on my truck. The only emotion I have is sadness in knowing that we as a nation have gone nowhere since 1968. It will not end with the election. Trump has unleashed a hatred that will not stop on Nov. 8th. Thanks for your thoughts and for taking a stand.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. William Tell says:

    “Rather than guessing or assuming why ISIS hates us, ask and work towards a resolution.”
    I’ve had enough of the back-and-forth as to whether Islam is “a religion of peace” or instead the Koran mandates unspeakable acts. I doubt ISIS itself has any real clue why they hate. There is a need for large-scale examination of what unleashed the genocide of the Shoah, of Bosnia, of Rwanda. That such investigations have so far borne no fruit may mean the answer actually tells us something about human nature that we’d prefer not to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe where you need to start; is Christianity a “a religion of peace”? You might answer your questions better if you start from a point of truth rather speculation.


      • William Tell says:

        Christianity doesn’t show me any advandatges over any other thought-system in this regard. One needs to reflect on healthy vs. poisoned individuals, healthy vs. poisoned congregations.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Healthy vs. societies. I certainly agree with your sentiment. But “we” don’t think like that. The “rights” we protect are Biblical rights whether any of us want to accept that or not.


          • William Tell says:

            Gees, well, this could get deep real fast.
            This morning I was reflecting on my need to WANT a better life for my (currently homeless) self. I have a history of difficulty with allowing myself to WANT — ANYTHING. In recent weeks I have seen how this reflects a fear of disappointment. In the past, I believed instead it was about being afraid of wanting the wrong thing, wanting something different from “God’s will” or “God’s plan.” Now I recognize that those were, in effect, religious excuses that masked my basic fear of disappointment.
            The solution, for me, for this (Since anyone’s sure to ask.), is to love myself enough that I won’t fear disappointment. I can overcome any disappointment, if I merely love myself enough. Thus I am empowered to take risks: I may be disappointed, but it’s going to be OK.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I have spent the last 10 years battling disappointment due to a careless act on my part. That “act” is a line in the sand, my before and after. I think back to what I had and I was disappointed for a long time that I no longer have somethings in my life. But I didn’t lose everything, and I discovered what I “kept” is more valuable and more important than the ego, and prestige that I “lost”. “If you want to make God laugh, tell her about your plans.”

            For me, there is no “God’s plan” there is no “God’s will” it’s just us, our dumbass selfs and whatever we can cobble together, and whoever we can cobble it together with.

            Nothing pisses me off more than to hear some rich guy, driving around in a BMW saying, God’s been good to me, God has really blessed me. What that tells me is God has favorites and if that is the case, what hope is there for the rest of us? Life is about disappointments, that’s what makes the victories so much sweeter and humbling.

            You’re homeless. I can only imagine the disappointments you have faced but I know, at least in my community (read my latest post: ) that there are caring, compassionate people that want to help, whose hand is extended but like you insinuated it starts with you and me, to love ourseleves first and a willingness to accept the love of others.


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