I do play videogames for recreation, and in this well-defined environment one strain of character became more obvious than anywhere else: Self-restraint. Often times I make use of less than I could to keep a videogame that became easy more interesting. I assume that I tend towards self-restraint, and apply it in much of my life and thinking.

Examples are plentiful even on this blog. There's the "elegance in warfare" thing, the railing against extremist war goals.

Then there's the intense interest in 'economy of force' and the railing about power fantasies that drive demands for more military spending well beyond what's evidently enough to deter aggression against us.

I'm also frequently outspoken about a distrust in problem solving approaches that mostly involve throwing additional resources at a problem. Finally, there's my aversion against excess safety, such as airspace deconfliction that goes so far that it accepts poorly linked casualties and failures in order to eliminate a tiny quantity of directly linked accidents.
Unlike some others, my kind of self-restraint hasn't led me to a fanatic preference for 'small & lightweight' as the answer to everything, maybe seeing a repelling example of such a bias early on warded me against it.
_ _ _ _ _

Naturally I am convinced that a good dosage of additional self-restraint would greatly benefit our nations, particularly if applied to foreign policy of great powers and to military affairs/spending.
It would be interesting to learn what psychologists would uncover if they were to profile the personalities and groups that coin actual policies or public opinion on military affairs.
Would they find that rather basic motives like greed, playfulness and fear drive the outcomes? What educational and professional background correlates with which preferences and approaches?

In the end, people should understand a very, very important and very, very fundamental truth:

Military power is an expensive means to an end (security). Once that end is achieved any more military power would be a waste of resources, since military power does not yield profit. 

We're not fighting wars for arable land in a subsistence economy any more. You cannot really conquer natural resources any more in Europe (or Northern America), that concept has died in its last stand in 1945. The sole exception - Israel's attempt to hold on to occupied territories since 1967 in spite of repeated UN resolutions demanding its withdrawal - is in my opinion bound to fail, and it has already proved to be excessively expensive.

Self-restraint is necessary to stop at the point where peace is maintained or the nation defended. Those who lack this self-restraint will favour more extreme military power and more applications thereof - and may cause more economic damage to their own country and lead to more deaths than all of their country's criminals combined. The most important virtue in regard to military policy is thus self-restraint.



  1. Most nation-states that invest more than necessary in their military do this not for deterence but for other reasons, especilly to threaten others to do their will or to impose their will on them forcefully.

    For this (today for cultural reasons hidden) agenda you need a much stronger military force than you need for deterence. Of cause you cannot tell this openly and theirfore must use manipulation, lies and selected informations to get from the people what you want - more military forces to use them against others.

    This is today not so much about conquering lands, but about controlling raw materials, moeny/goods and their flow and especially about (political) influence. You do not need to conquer a land and then rule it with high costs if local proxies of you do all the dirty work for you and you therefore have greater profits and can explore the country the same way like you have conquered it. You do not need military to conquer a land, but to gain influence their and take the profits of a colony without the costs of colonnisation.

    It is therefore not about conquering ressources, but about controlling ressources in other and officially souveran countries (all over the world). And if you do not want to play this game the result will be econnomically disadvantages.

    Moreover their is a second, smaller but more dangerous group which willingly assist the above mentioned doctrine. In my opinion war can be a entity for itself and some humans are very dedicated to it, regardless of logical reasons against it. This people want war and like violence and destruction and not all of them are psychopaths, most of them have instead a strong thanatomania in the sense of freud.

    Because this two groups exist and have much influence your kind of self-restraint in military policy is not sufficient. Simply because these groups do not play the same game and do not follow the logic. This could lead to hositilities in cases you would not suspect them and then to a catastrophic defeat of your forces with all the consequences this has today and this even then according to conventional military wisdom your forces are stronger than the forces of the enemy. What conventional military wisdom think about being sufficient for deterence is therefore not sufficient.

    Moreover a strong (draft) military strengthens the society as a whole because it improves the cohesion of the society, their frugalness, endurance and their discipline and ability to solve problems together. A strong draft-type military is therefore very conducive for a society and should not be looked at only from the question of deterence.

    As a summary: i am deeply convinced that you need in every case more military than you would need only for conventional deterence and that hidden positive effects of a strong military for the society as a whole are underestimated today.

    1. The thing about controlling raw materials sources is a fairly common, but poorly supported idea.
      Look at how little role the Gulf states have in U.S. oil imports, for example: http://crudeoilpeak.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/US_oil_imports_OPEC_1973_Jul2013.jpg

  2. That is exactly the point: the are not acting logical and are not playing your game of logic and sanity. It does not matter what is true or what is logical and sane, if the counterpart thinks and feels completly different all your military logic fails.

    Moreover: in western (tm) societies any kind war is today regarded as evil, and no one want to fight for the evil. Also most people regard military aggression always as evil and bad for the society. That is exactly the kind of attitude that will lead to the next military catastrophe and that i also find in your writings. Only defence and deterence because it is written in the Grundgesetz and moreover it is logical and sane and good. That is exactly the attitude that will loose the next war which will come. Not because it is not true or logical, but because the enemy acts irrational, not logical and give a shit on the truth.

  3. Irrational behaviour does not magically create military superiority.

    It's up for debate what deterrence & defence is ENOUGH deterrence & defence, but wasting resources on great power gaming on different continents at the expense of neglecting the conventional forces is certainly not the way to go.

    1. European countries vis-à-vis politics of Trumpistan should debate almost exclusively continental deterrence and defence. That's for sure. However, there is also big question of political cohesion of European countries, which strongly modifies this debate. Concerning deterrence of Russia, you cannot count much on Portugal, Spain or Italy, for example. Turkish army is now increasingly pro-Russian army. It is better to plan for some "redundant" capacities.

  4. @ Karel: I see. So by redundant capacities you mean plan for the occupation of Southern and Western Europe, and probably, most of the Balkans. If the French decline to fall in line, I suppose they are in for it too. But of course this is only to prevent these turncoats from betraying their own self-interest (read Mitteleuropa). Shame really, but in the name of the Reich..... Curious how 1914 or 1940 always seems to be around the corner. Curious also how the Mitteleuropean mind always moves along the same rails. Evidence perhaps for Geography as the supreme determiner of nation-political conduct?

    Stefano (London)

    1. You might reconsider your sweeping interpretation after looking up where Karel is from.