I do often imply a certain doctrine of mine (I call it the "Quick White Peace Doctrine") when I write about defence policy:
This doctrine contains three maxims:
- Do not launch or join wars of aggression
- Try to deter a war of aggression against your country or alliance
- If (2) fails, seek a quick white peace (and be prepared to achieve this)
(1) and (2) should be self-explaining and obvious, but the term "white peace" may require explanation. A white peace is a peace under which the status quo ante is restored; no party of the conflict gains or loses territory nor do they gain or lose territory claims nor does any part become obliged to pay reparations of any kind.
It's essentially a reset to the pre-war situation except for the damage done and the aggressor having learnt that this kind of war does not yield benefits.
The intent behind the doctrine is to minimise the damage done by war. To compel the aggressor into accepting more ambitious demands would require additional war efforts and would lead to greater human suffering and economic damage, but also to greater risks. Essentially, points (1) and (2) become effective once the defending power has reached the point where the aggressor would agree to a white peace; the diplomatic ending of the war serves the same purpose as did the peacefulness and deterrence effort prior to the war.
It's part of the "quick" requirement that the war should not be escalated unless this serves to end it quickly. A regional limitation of the conflict by the aggressor should be welcomed. "quick" does not include nuclear suicide, of course.
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This leads to a somewhat weird optimum-finding for peacetime defence policy. On one hand we should want to spend just as much as required to deter, but on the other hand we should spend enough to defeat an aggression quickly. The ability to defeat a foreign power quickly (to the point of white peace) typically requires more resources spent in peacetime than to the ability to merely defeat an aggressor slowly.
My preference regarding military spending in the EU is on enforcing a white peace quickly rather than slowly and barely. This has the additional benefit of offering a greater margin of safety in the deterrence effort.
The consequences of such a doctrine are far-reaching and tend to yield very different outcomes than the pursuit of armed services' self-interest, to follow old paths or to pursue intuitively favoured "balanced forces".
The "How to fix..." series has shown this; usually I dispense with the unessential (which in the European context is usually the navy) and focus on quickly effective air and land power, backed up by cheap militias and possibly a single regiment for protection of the national government in the capital (akin to the German Wachbataillon).
NATO is a two-continents alliance, so we can have many forces optimised for the first weeks of conflict, with forces from the other continent or even only other end of the same continent arriving much later in force and adding a strategic deterrent against continuing a war past a white peace offer.
All luxuries should be cut mercilessly. The strategic Schwerpunkt should be on the ability to defeat an aggression quickly to the point where agreement to a white peace proposal is likely. This requires economy of force elsewhere; cut everything else that's not needed for this purpose.
Even slight inefficiencies in military spending due to having poor ideas or lacking the self-discipline to follow good ideas can cause an annual waste of resources greater than the entire debt refinancing of Greece and Spain combined. The current inefficiency of military policymaking in Europe is a huge ongoing crisis. Sadly, almost everyone seems to have become accustomed to this inefficiency.