Towards a civilised defence policy

 

 

In the editorial of the October NATO Watch Observatory, there is an aptly titled section, Smart Defence means less offence. 

Dr Ian Davis, founder-director of NATO Watch, writes:

Europe’s militaries are more appropriately scaled for their actual needs than the US military – given that the biggest external threats to transatlantic interests are economic, not military.

More importantly, and a fact often overlooked, is that excessive or ‘dumb‘ defence spending can and has contributed to insecurity. The cost of the post-9/11 wars in the US alone have been variously estimated at between $3-5 trillion, and at least 225,000 people, including civilians, troops and insurgents have died as a result of the conflicts. This spending has not only impacted negatively on human and economic security in the US, but in the wider world—including Europe and North America—mainly through the ‘blowback’ from a misguided ‘war on terror’. . .

NATO Secretary General Rasmussen champions “Smart Defence” saying this does not mean spending more, “but spending more effectively” . . . But the US also needs to spend much less and shift the focus to ‘soft‘ security expenditure. The case for reducing and rebalancing US security resources is overwhelming . . .

In addition, a serious discussion about identifying core transatlantic defence requirements and capabilities needs to be predicated on two things: a rejection of the failed preventive war doctrine of the last decade and new thinking about alternative political and military strategies.

One alternative approach to traditional military thinking of offensive defence and pre-emptive military strikes is non-provocative or non-offensive defence (NoD). The principle theory of NoD is simple: that armed forces and military postures should be re-structured with a view to maximize their defensive and minimize their offensive capabilities. NoD research in the mid 1980s, for example, suggested that it was possible to do this while still retaining the capacity to inflict serious damage against an aggressor.

NoD has been largely forgotten in the post-Cold War and post-9/11 world. Whether it might be a viable strategy for addressing some of the so-called ‘War on Terror‘ concerns remains an open question. But with the Defence and Deterrence Posture Review (DDPR) currently underway there has never been a better opportunity or a more pressing moral imperative for NATO strategists to explore such possibilities. Do our strategic leaders have the capacity and courage to step beyond their traditional deliberative boundaries and to think outside the box? Watch this space.

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