"Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong."- Ronald Reagan
"And that prince who bases his power entirely on...words, finding himself completely without other preparations, comes to ruin..." -- Niccolo Machiavelli
After the horrors of WWI, people became so adverse to war that, in 1928, nations across the world actually signed onto an international treaty called the Kellogg-Briand Pact. This, let's be generous and call it "ambitious" treaty, actually made war illegal and it was signed by 62 nations including Britain, France, the United States, and perhaps most notably, Germany.
Now, given that humankind has forever been engaged in wars of some sort or another, you may be wondering how this treaty was to be enforced? Well, there's the hitch. There was no enforcement mechanism. Everyone just signed on to the treaty and wished for the best.
That was exactly the sort of mentality that encouraged the world to stand by helplessly as Germany, Italy, and Japan ran wild and attacked their neighbors during the thirties and eventually began the biggest, bloodiest conflagration that the world had ever seen.
This should have produced a number of lessons for the human race that would stand through time immemorial. Feeding the alligator and hoping that he eats you last, i.e. appeasement, isn't a wise strategy. Strong nations are foolish if they allow weaker nations that mean them harm to gather strength until they are a danger. When the leaders of other nations tell you that they mean you harm, take them at their word. War may be tragic, but it's also necessary. You could go on and on with the lessons that we should have learned from World War II.
Fast forward to the present and the blind utopianism of the twenties and thirties is not only back with a vengeance, it's worse than ever.
We have members of our own Congress insisting we raise the white flag in Iraq because it turns out that, surprise, they didn't realize that the war might be hard. Many of those same fickle members of Congress who voted for war and now want to cut and run, want to take terrorists whom we caught overseas, and put them into our court system. Of course, that would undoubtedly mean that terrorists would be freed by the hundreds since our soldiers aren't trained as policemen, our intelligence agencies will be unable to talk in detail about their sources, and because civilian courts are simply not designed to handle foreigners captured in a time of war. Can you imagine our grandparents complaining that Nazis in prisoner of war camps were denied their right to "Habeas Corpus" because they weren't given a slick lawyer courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer and tried in an American court? Giving captured soldiers and terrorists from foreign lands the same constitutional privileges as Americans on trial for robbery or murder would so hamper the effort that it would practically make fighting a war impossible -- which probably has a lot to do with why pacifists on the left are suggesting that very foolish course of action.
But, don't get the idea that this is only an American problem, because it's not. Much of the world expects the United States to prostrate itself to the United Nations before going after threats to our country, despite the fact that the UN is a corrupt, anti-American, anti-Semitic, talking shop that isn't capable of successfully organizing a two car parade. These are the same people that demand that we cease using landmines in South Korea, although they're vitally important to the defense of that country from its rapacious northern neighbor. They also insist that we sign on to the International Criminal Court, where anti-American plaintiffs could bring cases before anti-American foreign judges who'd decide our guilt or innocence on charges that Americans may not even consider to be crimes.
Although time and time again, history has taught us that weakness invites attack, European nations have allowed their militaries to atrophy practically down to nothing. The once powerful NATO alliance now consists of the United States, Britain, and a group of nations that couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. This has produced a bizarre spectacle in recent years, that features the United States and Britain doing almost all the real fighting in places like Kuwait, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, while simultaneously working overtime to get other nations to contribute a few rusty frigates, peace keepers who are only capable of keeping the peace if no one resists, and medical workers who don't get near the front lines, so we can maintain the illusion that the United States and the Brits aren't doing all the real work.
It's bad enough that the Europeans have deluded themselves into believing that powerful militaries don't matter as much as "soft power," but the truth is that they don't have the guts to use their "soft power" either. If nations at the UN, particularly European nations, were willing to put international security above making a few bucks from nations like Iran, Syria, and Saddam's Iraq, the world would be a much safer place today. But instead, what we get are nations that contribute practically nothing of significance to world security, cursing and undermining the United States, the only nation that has the power and the will to deal with countries like China, Iran, and Syria.
Bad actors on the international scene, whether they be rogue nations or terrorists, cannot be wished away, nor can they always be convinced to see the error of their ways with sweet reason. Moreover, the sad fact is that paradoxically, if the West doesn't prepare for armed conflict or eschews the cruel but necessary parts of it, it will only invite more violence and turmoil. That's what happened after WWI, it's what's happening today, and it will continue to happen in the future if liberals in the United States and Western Europe don't stop searching for a utopian world without war and start dealing with the world as it is and will likely always be.