Deterrence: The Future of Arms and Energy

In February of 2022, Russia launched a military operation in Eastern Europe. The occurrence took many in the Western world by surprise. Many worldwide were not aware of the treaties being violated and the continued growth of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) by Ukraine joining the Partnership for Peace in 1994. Then later the US led coup in 2014 that overthrough the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych, in what was termed the Euromaidan Revolution.

Many in the world were not expecting the sudden deployment and assumed the responses would be more symbolic in nature like those demonstrated by China’s response to the US continued provocations in Taiwan–despite its numerous treaties and long trade history with China–and inspite of the fact that the US verbally promised to adhere by the One-China Principle.

However, Russia was different from other states frequently put into this situation in the past, for three very important reasons: 1 ) Russia possessed an impressive nuclear weapons arsenal, 2) Russia has never been colonized and 3) Russia had been hedging its bets suspecting betrayal.

After the tiny archipelago of Japan was heartlessly bombed and it surrendered in 1945, many people forget that the 11th most populous nation in the world was officially occupied for seven years. One could argue, that occupation has lasted for 77 years as the US hosts 23 military bases in Japan. But the US also has several other military installations throughout the island chain, with 31 military installations on the island prefecture of Okinawa alone! It is this kind of domination that many states do not want to have. Submission to the same minority values, interests and viewpoint has left many states sophisticated atomatons.

Some may not be so privileged to merely be occupied, some are damaged beyond recognition–bombed to the stone age, like Libya and Afghanistan. To give you an idea of the human toll, the UNHCR registered nearly 3 million Afghan refugees (2.6 million) of which 85 percent are IDPs (internally displaced persons) in Afghanistan. Sovereignty and defense matters for non-West states in an age where occupations may last up to 77 years (see Japan).

It makes sense then to fight for sovereignty from the usual forces, because the alternative is long and bleak. Operation Odessey Dawn in collaboration with NATO in 2011 left Libya in ruins until date. It has been over a decade and NATO and alied forces are still in the region. The goal then is not to let occupiers from this school of thought gain a foothold. It could mean a matter of multiple decades long occupations or an eternity of regime changes.

While Russia has seemed content to chart its own course over the years, it doesn’t seem to have the same attachment to Western ideals and values. There is not a real level of genuflection toward the West that many other post-colonial states have. This may be explained by the complicated relationship the West has always had with Eastern Europe. This being on display most notable in Ukraine, with the awkward interchanges and arms-length engagement with its current president Zelenskyy in Kiev; as well as the paternalism dictated to some Eastern European states and their constituency who bow to Western wills.

Even as states like India, Korea and Japan seek to align themselves with the West, they are still pushed and brow-beat by the same threats levelled at those that openly refuse to tow the line. India itself during UK occupation (fondly called Colonialism) lost 45 Trillion dollars from 1765 to 1938 According to 2018 data research by noted economist, Utsa Patnaik. This is known as underdeveloping or de-industrialization–where occupation and the parasitic siphoning of resources results in regression of the state. Only recently has the nation has began to build back after independence.

Korea itself, despite protests by thousands of citizens, are comtinually beset with 15 military bases. Those bases come with a toll, of violence and sexual abuse. Including the devastating toll of comfort women inflicted by Japanese and US servicemen. It is estimated that of the 50,000-70,000 comfort women embondaged in sexual slavery, 80 percent were Korean.

While war has a huge effect on infrastructure and military personnel; occupation seems to exacerbate the effect further in psychological, economic and even social identity issues. Leaving some counties in a continuous cycle of devastation.

And African states will not even be mention fully in this article, for the compounded devastation that has kept that continent and its many states in turmoil. It seems the continent and it’s people have not been able to truly get its footing since it alied with Western powers against its own local confederacies. Much like the Hotel California, it seems you can check-in, but you can never leave. The strategy, internal cohesion and reliable alliances African states need to wrest itself from occupation, just doesn’t seem to be there. Such alliances have left nations vulnerable and barely sovereign for decades on into centuries.

Therefore, defense matters in a world where parasitic actors may occupy for centuries! In 27 more years, Japan will have been occupied by US forces for 100 years. And that is not many years away. It may be that history has presented to the world’s people the strongest case, with the clearest mandate to secure your survival at all costs. Both Eastern states in the news (in East Asia and Eastern Europe) have been able to sustain a measure of autonomy, because they are able to defend themselves with nuclear force.

Just recently, North Korea has made intentions to ally with Russia, as the economic and NATO theatrics of the Ukraine conflict further cement the need to be able to defend oneself from hostile, unpredictable actors through fiscal and military might. As the world pivots back to nuclear energy, it may likely also pivot back to nuclear weapons to keep rogue actors at the gate–those who are undeterred by international bodies, logic or treaties.

While it is admirable that many states have chosen to take a course of nuclear nonproliferation, it seems that proliferation is the only thing protecting some economies and states from hostile states at this point in history.

The importance of being able to protect those resources and demonstrate that power tangibly is the only language that many aggressive actors understand. Much like the pirates and Barbarians of the old age, detterence–not dialogue was the most effective strategy. It may be that these constant provocation may result in a collective siege by many actors fed up with uncertainty and the possibility of endless occupation.

Defense, may be the name of the game; but sovereignty is the prize.

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