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Does Antagonizing Others Keep You Safe?

Last week, after Barack Obama announced that he would reduce, not eliminate, George W. Bush’s non-functional missile defense system in eastern Europe, Senator James Inhofe stood up to express his outrage. He quoted Ronald Reagan, saying,

“Since the dawn of the Atomic Age, we have sought to reduce the risk of war by maintaining a strong deterrent and by seeking genuine arms control. Deterrence: Making sure the adversary who thinks about attacking the United States or our allies or our vital interests concludes that the risks to him outweigh any potential gains. Once he understands that, he won’t attack. We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.”

Is it still the Atomic Age, and if so, is that something we’re proud of?

Ronald Reagan’s reasoning presumes that the Soviet Union was actually planning to attack the United States. Some in the Soviet Union may have drawn up such plans, but we now know that the Soviets were never capable of going toe to toe against the United States militarily. They were too weak, right from the start, and the Soviets ran their nation into the ground because they couldn’t let go of their military bluster.

The Soviets became weaker, and weaker, because they accepted Reagan’s idea, and presumed that the United States would attack unless the Soviet Union appeared to be strong. Saddam Hussein made the same mistake, creating a show of dangerous military power in the thought that such a display would protect him from attack. This strategy didn’t work for them. Why would it work for us here in the United States?

Of course, the Soviets did have nuclear weapons, and that made them dangerous. They only had those weapons, however, because the United States of America had invented nuclear weapons in the first place. The Soviets stole the technology from us.

We’re still paying down the huge debts that Ronald Reagan created with his unprecedented military spending – all for a conflict that the Soviets never could have won anyway. Reagan’s reasoning, that a show of restraint is never permissible, led to the first Gulf War and American bases in Saudi Arabia, which in turn provoked Al Quaeda to attack on September 11, 2001.

The American show of strength didn’t stop an attack. Instead, it seems to have encouraged it. Am I wrong? Does Ronald Reagan’s idea that antagonizing those around you with displays of aggression makes you safer? Is that how you act with the people in your neighborhood?

4 comments to Does Antagonizing Others Keep You Safe?

  • ReMarker

    I think you have it exactly right. Your article covered many bases of facts that get lost often times, too.

    Reagan’s logic was faulty. In your article’s regard as well as in regard to “government is the problem”.

    It seems the logic of these two “Reagan positions” are opposite.

  • ReMarker

    Flag The Green Man. Seperate from the content of this article in this “Does Antagonizing Others Keep You Safe?” thread, the title question “Does Antagonizing Others Keep You Safe?” has intrigued me.

    The answer to that question may be yes or no, depending on the subject matter to which the question is asked.

    Example:
    If the subject matter is about “leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else”, then “Antagonizing Others” may, in fact, be effective in keeping us safe. An example of a world class group of socially-minded “Antagonist” are The Yes Men.

    A recient prank of The Yes Men is a false New York Post edition proclaiming “We’re Screwed”.

    I think The Yes Men are making us safer.

    Sidebar for The Green Man: Do The Yes Men pass your criteria for “acceptable environmentalists”?

  • Kevin

    but but .. the missles were to protect Central Europe from the dastardly IRANIANS!!! nothing to do with the Russians…

    left unanswered was exactly WHY the Iranians would attack some of their largest trading partners, or HOW, since their missles do not have the range to do that, or, WHATEVER since the proposed systems are unbuilt, untested and a total scam anyway.

    it was just done to piss off the russians all along.

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