Long-time readers probably remember; I'm the kind of guy who looks at military actions, compares costs and benefits (if the latter are to be found at all) and usually concludes that it wasn't worth it.
I did this for about conflicts and arrived at the more general opinion that the military is for defence, period. Actual defence, such as "other military force shoots at us at the sea or in our or allied countries".
For years I tended to bring this attitude and the cost/benefit comparisons into discussions with others, and a pattern became all-too obvious:
Many people are simply not into this comparison of costs and benefits in regard to the military.
The mere idea to be able to bomb place x or have a sub cruising in y or be able to send a brigade into region z to do something - this idea has value to them in its own.
I concluded that people interested in military affairs are overwhelmingly wired for this kind of thinking, and while probably not representative and certainly not influential in very small countries or demilitarised countries such as Costa Rica, they are very relevant in the U.S., UK, France and possibly Australia and Canada.
They dominate the public discussion on national security affairs. Representatives with interest in military affairs tend to have such special emotional needs, and too many of them are warmongers.
These special emotional needs make it almost impossible to determine an optimal national security policy. We don't know the share of these special people with such special needs and we have little information about their valuation of the military capability itself (it seems to be incredibly high, for no money figures leave even the trace of an effect on them).
How could we supply them with military capability in order to satisfy their emotional needs? If we did, would this improve the overall national emotional well-being or would it be too detrimental for the people without such special needs?
Maybe it's possible to tell them to set up a special fund and pay for their desired military capability themselves, while the others only pay for actual defence? Kind of as if Germany had sent the bills for the construction and operation of the Imperial High Seas fleet to emperor and Flottenverein (a pro-Navy association that lobbied a lot; kind of a ~1900 NRA for warships), as they were the driving force behind building said (utterly useless and even extremely risky) high seas fleet.
What can psychologists tell us about these special needs people; are they cultural or genetic? If cultural, can they be healed? Does giving them what they need only grow the need further as with a drug addict and his drugs or can their special emotional need be satisfied for good?
How handle such people with special emotional needs a life in countries such as Luxembourg or Costa Rica? Do they own lots of private weapons and private camouflage clothes or do they suffer from medically recognised anxieties?
It's abundantly clear to me that cost/benefit reasoning cannot explain the drive towards military power alone. Some powerful emotional needs help to drive it, too. Many peace researchers have blamed war and arms race profiteers as well as Niiskanen's bureaucrat with his principal-agent issues for the apparently irrational emphasis on the military in many nations. These explanations don't suffice to explain what has become abundantly clear and documented in the internet age: Many people without such monetary stakes in military budgeting have value the military much higher than the non-psychological benefits can justify.
Arms races - especially arms races without a serious competitor in the race - are shaped in part by nothing more sophisticated than a child's rage attack when its parents didn't buy some ice cream.