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The time is ripe for new initiatives

Posted on: May 18th, 2016 by BWNWAdmin No Comments


I recently attended a very interesting film entitled, A Bold Peace, Costa Rica’s Path of Demilitarization. The film was the work of Michael Dreiling and Matthew Eddy and it dealt with Costa Rica’s decision to abolish their military services in favor of a national police force. Dreiling is an associate Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at the University of Oregon and felt strongly that this inspiring story needed to be told. It definitely gets one thinking. Could the larger countries of the world do such a thing? It seems like quite a stretch, yet I find myself musing on the possibility. Many strategic thinkers, schooled in realpolitik, would undoubtedly scoff at such a notion but what is the role of military forces indeed but to protect the national security and prevent invasions from other countries. Could a national police force accomplish such a task? Do we really need to spend huge sums of money and set up foreign bases around the world (over 300 at last count) each year trying to persuade other nations to see the world as we see it? Certainly it is a worthwhile question to be pondered and debated.
     A quote from Jill LePore caught my eye, “between militarism and pacifism lie diplomacy, accountability and restraint.” She goes on to say that sometimes, “less is more.” Which leads to policy debates of this political season. I have yet to see defense policy discussed in any depth and it begins to feel as if the military and defense are the “third rail” of American politics. Indeed, what discussion I have heard has been from Jeb Bush who said that the readiness of American troops is in desperate need of more expenditure to keep us on the path of having the most mighty military forces in the world. I guess 700 or 800 billion a year just isn’t enough. Donald Trump echoed those sentiments. It seems there is no rebutting the presumed need for a “mighty military.” If more expenditure on arms and personnel actually brought us more security and happier outcomes for the U.S. and the world, one could support such a view, but that hasn’t proven to be true, so maybe we should begin to explore some of the other options available to us. Let us begin to have that fruitful discussion and explore some of the creative and exciting policy options that we have. The time is ripe for new initiatives.
Jim Anderson

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