Is a Self-Defense Force Adequate?

The UK’s Green Party has always been on the fringe of politics, with only a handful of eccentric supporters and a single MP in the famously Bohemian seaside resort of Brighton. As people get fed up with the main parties, support for the Greens has climbed to around 5%, and they’ve started to take themselves quite seriously. For the last few months they’ve been demanding as much media attention as the major parties – the Conservatives, Labour, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats – and they’ve finally got their wish. Now the media spotlight is shining brightly on their policies. It would be terrifying if it wasn’t so hilarious; it’s like a blueprint for a police state designed by teenage hippies.

Green PartyAnyway, the Green defense policy involves scrapping the Trident nuclear deterrent (of course), then reducing the “large” regular military to a self-defense force. Now that the British people have had a good look at the unpleasant madness that lies under the Greens’ fluffy facade, there’s no chance of them winning any real power in May’s elections, but it’s fair to ask if they’re right about this at least. Could the UK, USA and other western nations save money, and make ourselves more secure, if we cut back on expeditionary capability and restructured the military into a smaller force dedicated to home defense?

As far as I can see the answer is an emphatic “no.” The main argument in support of the idea is that military “adventures” abroad actually cause us more security problems than they solve, and this view is at the very least naive. Islamist terrorists don’t attack the west because of our foreign policy and military interventions; they do it simply because they hate the west. Some people need regular reminders that 9/11 happened before the invasion of Iraq, and whatever motivated bin Laden to organize that atrocity – he was never very clear about it, and it’s too late to ask him now – it certainly wasn’t because we invaded Iraq in 1991. Osama actually offered his Afghan-based rebel group to the Saudi government as a ground force to fight against Saddam (who Osama always hated, and was hated by Saddam in turn) but was turned down. The Saudi government decided they’d rather be defended by real soldiers, so Osama and his jihadis were left to sulk in Peshawar. The argument that we’d be safer from terrorism if we hadn’t sent troops to the Middle East just doesn’t wash.

Even if expeditionary forces don’t actually make us less secure, though, do they make us any more secure? Self-defense force proponents say no. I disagree, quite strongly. In the west we don’t usually choose our enemies; they choose us. Once they do that, we have to fight them and there are only two options on where to do that – on our own soil or somewhere else. Staying out of the Middle East – what the naive call “their lands” – won’t help. According to Islamist ideology, the whole world is “their lands,” and their avowed aim is to extend the caliphate over all of it. That means we’re going to have to fight them anyway and it’s best to do it outside our own borders. That means a proper, balanced military with the full range of expeditionary capability.

The idea that a local defense force is adequate for a nation with global interests is simply ridiculous. If you trade, you need to be able to protect your trade routes. If you have friends, you need to be able to go to their assistance. It’s worth noting that the only major power with a self-defense force instead of a military is Japan, and the difference there is in name only; the JSDF is the tenth most powerful military in the world, ahead of Israel, Australia, Iran and North Korea. It also has real power projection capabilities based around light carriers and submarines. The Japanese know that safety through local defense is an illusion. It’s a shame some western politicians aren’t as smart.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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