- Nov 22, 2003
- Reaction score
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Question for your discussion: What will it take to militarize the West?
By TigerHawk at 8/12/2006 09:40:00 AM
I'm going "down the shore" today, so I'm asking you to answer a couple of questions in the comments while I'm lounging on Risden's Beach in Point Pleasant: What will it take to militarize the United States? What will it take to militarize Western Europe?
The cumulative events of the last five years and the tortured choices we face in the Israeli-Hezbollah war have caused many on the hawkish right to believe that our failure to confront Islamic fascism in its various dimensions is condemning us to fight a huge war in the future. For these writers, it is the 1930s all over again, and we are making the same mistakes that the leaders of the West made in the fight againt European fascism. See, e.g., Cardinalpark's post earlier in the week, John Batchelor's disturbing essay in the New York Sun, and Michael Ledeen's "Five Minutes to Midnight" post at the Corner. There are countless other examples.
The problem, it seems to me, is that we are not ready to fight another major war. We have only a couple hundred thousand soldiers that we might deploy, and that would leave us totally exposed elsewhere. To do much more than we are doing now we need a bigger military and we need to spend a lot more money.
Now, it is clearly within our capacity to put many more men and women under arms. During World War II, we put 16,000,000 people into the military, about 13% of the population. Today, even adjusted for an older population, we could probably put 30,000,000 people under arms if our survival depended on it. A huge war in the Persian Gulf would not take that many soldiers, but it wouldn't surprise me if military planners said that we would need four or five million.
We obviously have the capability, if not the will, to expand our military massively if we decide the threat warrants it. However, we will only be able to do this if we substantially militarize our society. We will almost certainly need conscription, and we will need to spend a much larger share of our national income on defense. We will also need to make different investment decisions inside the economy. We would need to mobilize the home front to sustain support for the war. Life would change for everybody.
So, if an existential war against Islamo-fascism is as inevitable as World War II became after the appeasement of the 1930s, what event would be necessary to motivate the United States to militarize its society and economy to fight that war? What event, if any, would militarize Western Europe?
What will it take?