Most maintain that the signing of treaties will persuade the minds of world leaders, and their peripheral machinery, against war. Others still, that the friendship Canada affords with its allies is sufficient for assurances of peace. “Soft-Power,” they believe, will triumph. These positions are dangerous and historically spurious.
Any treaty written without a mass of soldiers looming like death’s shadow behind its ink is meaningless. The pen is only mighty in conjunction with the sword. Neither the Treaty of Versailles nor the Munich Agreement stopped Hitler. If we eliminate the sword from one of the quarrelling parties, what should dissuade the armed from using its might to resolve for themselves a more attractive outcome?
The Bayesian-Nash arms races of history have shown great avoidance to violence out of fear from the very real possibilities of Mutually Assured Destruction, particularly during the Cold War. It was the mushroom cloud, not the cunning maneuvers of Statesmen, which brought Bush and Gorbachev’s pens to parchment for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). It is often the Statesmen, who in their bungles have lit their nations’ batteries and rained ordinance down upon their enemies. No hardened soldier pines for war. Statesmen, however, pine for tribute and the glory of statues.
Isabella d’Este, serving as regent and wife of Duke Gianfrancesco Gonzaga in the 15th century city-state of Mantua, Italy, managed to repel the encircling armies of King Louis XII of France, Cesare Borgia, and Pope Julis II without a drop of blood spilt. How was this accomplished? Sex.
Political tenuousness defined Mantua. Any mistake or bungled attempt at appeasing these ruthlessly ambitious men would serve as pretext for war and result in ruin. Isabella was notorious for her beauty and charming company. She fanned flames of desire in these men through trickery and deception. Constantly alluding to her target’s union and the possibility of rule in Mantua, it was yet never given. Never submitting her heart, she did, it was widely rumoured, submit her body. This delicate practice of Soft-Power allowed her to develop the city-state to its glory, which it held for over 300 years.
Before the Peloponnesian War, as is universally observed with all wars, the various players began to divide and ally themselves between the two “power centres of gravity.” In this case: Sparta and Athens. Caught in the middle was a conflict between the island of Corcyra (Corfu), and the city-state of Corinth. Each side’s fate hung on the protection of Athens. Both sent ambassadors to make their case.
The Corcyrean spoke first. He lamented plainly that it was true his island had never helped Athens and were, in fact, enemies. It was the threat of annihilation that produced his presence before the Assembly. All he could offer was his island’s Navy, which was only eclipsed in size and might by Athens herself. A Navy which, if combined with the Athenian, could surely destroy the Spartans at sea. The Corcyrean retired.
The Corinthian, in contrast, made an eloquent and passionate speech that brought men to tears. He talked of the endless favours bestowed to Athens by Corinth. He talked of friendship and how it would look to her allies if she so readily abandoned an old friend for the greed of supposed victory over Sparta. The Corinthian retired.
After brief deliberation, a unanimous decision was reached: Corcyra would have the full strength of the Athenian war machine. Corinth twisted in the wind. Realpolitik triumphed.
Canada holds the longest coastline. If our secondhand, antiquated, dry dock ridden, diesel-electric submarines were made sentries, every submarine would be guarding a coastline 1.26 times the circumference of our planet. In November, HMCS Windsor fired a live torpedo. All of our submarines spend their days in refit and as a result of Chretien’s decision, it was the first live torpedo fired in15 years. None of our boats are capable of patrolling the arctic, and that is frightening.
If equally distributed over our Canada’s landmass, a platoon of 30 soldiers would be responsible for an area twice the size of the Greater Toronto Area.
If the 65 now-scrapped F-35s were purchased, each would be defending an airspace greater than New Brunswick and none could make it to Ellesmere.
“The conqueror is always a lover of peace; he would prefer to take over our country unopposed.”
– Carl von Clausewitz, On War
It is time to get serious about defence spending.