It amazes me when politicians and the media show shock when individuals and countries fail to obey the rules. If this were something new that was only rare throughout history, then I might accept the shock of these organizations, but it is not. Bad guys and bad countries rarely obey the rules. That is why we call them bad. I enjoy reading about history, but it is obvious to me that there are too few others who share my interest, especially those in a position with power.
When British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Germany in 1938 and declared, “Peace in our time” while he waived a document signed by Adolph Hitler most people cheered. Giving up a country such as Czechoslovakia in the name of peace seemed to be a small price to pay. After losing a generation of men in World War One, they thought that anything was better than war. Appeasement does not last long as the world learned rather rapidly. That act has been used as the prime example of failed appeasement, but we continue to appease in the hopes that it will finally work. I fear that it is hopeless because the bad guys only obey the rules when it suits their purposes.
By definition, criminals (bad Guys) do not obey the laws. Each time that there is a mass shooting in this country, the immediate cry is to add more gun control laws. The only ones who are influenced by these laws are the law abiding citizens because the criminals ignore them. The countries that have disarmed their citizens have a much higher rate of home invasions because they know the residents are not armed. That is not true in this country and thus there are fewer home invasions. Mass shootings usually occur in areas such as schools and government buildings where the civilians are not allowed to have weapons. The bad guys know this and they becomes their targets.
The Kellogg Briand Pact was an international agreement outlawing war and was signed in 1928. The stupendous losses of human life during World War One was the major driving force for that naïve pact. It is obvious how successful that has been. It seems that the best way to prevent being dragged into a war is to be extremely powerful both militarily and mentally. The United States has been very powerful for most of the last century and the current one and yet we have been engaged in numerous conflicts. How can that be? When enemies believe that a country does not have the will to protect its interests, it is tempted to become aggressive.
The Cuban Missile crisis is a good example. The Russians did not believe that President Kennedy would act when they placed nuclear weapons on Cuban soil. The “Bay of Pigs” fiasco sent that message when the United States did not support the Cuban rebels.
The Korean War is another example when our Secretary of State drew a defensive line in the pacific that did not include Korea. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait is another example when Saddam Hussein did not believe that the United States would act. There are those who believe that our withdraw from Somalia after losing troops sent a message to the terrorists that we were weak. Osama Bin Laden saw that as a green light to attack on our home front.
The latest surge of violence in many of our cities is seen as a response to what occurred in Baltimore. The police were told to refrain from acting so that the rioters could vent. Now it seems that the bad guys are taking that as a cue to become more violent. The statistics seem to support that thesis. Having the might and power is essential, but one must also have the will to use it.
Donald Myers is a retired Marine Colonel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org