Español“Peace through strength” has been a mantra of conservative political theory for many decades. The idea that a strong military guarantees security, and that a weak one invites war, follows from the lessons learned in World Wars I and II. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US military had been mostly neutered since the end of World War I and the Great Depression.
In both world wars, the US homeland was spared the worst of the fighting, with the notable exception of Pearl Harbor and some minor incursions in the Aleutian Islands and the Battle of Midway. A key and almost universally accepted factor underlying those US victories in both wars was the ability of the United States to provide support without being under the constant pressure of bombardment. This was only possible because of its geographical position and its immense manufacturing capability.
During the post-World War II era and the onset of the Cold War, the United States developed a strategic plan to enable its military to fight two and a half wars. That is to say, US defenses were modeled after the war in Europe, the war in the Pacific, and African campaigns. This meant maintaining a massive military infrastructure and global, pre-positioned bases in dozens of countries.
After the end of the Cold War and as a result of advancements in military technology, much of that infrastructure was no longer needed. That obsolescence combined with budget pressure, ideological agendas, and evermore distant memories of a world in crisis led to a fairly consistent pattern of force reduction.
Fast forward to the present day, and we find the current administration in the United States has determined forced cuts in troop strength, benefits, and even nuclear forces are not enough. The Obama White House is asking for more cuts in defense — much more. So deep are the proposed cuts that it could shift the balance of power away from democracies in the Western Hemisphere and directly into the hands of communists and dictators.
This spells trouble for Latin America. Since the advent of the Monroe Doctrine and the buildup of US military might in the 20th century, very few conflicts of any great significance have occurred in Latin America. The US nuclear shield and massive military allowed many countries the luxury of not having to invest in very much in their own military. Countries like Costa Rica that have survived with just a militarized police force could suddenly find themselves re-evaluating their entire defense infrastructure.
The cuts not only threaten US security, but also open the door to a military power vacuum in Central and South America. This will allow even greater influence for socialist dictators and wannabes and enable them to consider cross-border conflicts that could threaten the very existence of entire countries. The cuts would limit the United States’ ability to deploy forces to more than one major conflict at a time, and those forces could easily be distracted by a major conflict in the Middle East or the Western Pacific.
The cuts also come at a time when Russia is actively seeking military bases for ships and strategic bombers in Latin America, specifically in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. Combine this with the existing plan to unite South America into a single country under a socialist regime and all of the ingredients exist to create a continent in crisis.