Some people argue that because you are so globally inter-connected, it no longer makes sense (and is indeed tantamount to suicide), to fight wars against each other. They suggest that wars were all very well until the middle of the twentieth century, because it was possible to have separate blocks of humans in different nations who pummelled each other. But from then onwards the massive development of world trade and world communications means that you live in a ‘global village’. They criticize nationalist aspirations and conflicts, and like Einstein, describe nationalist wars as the childhood disease of measles which you should grow out of.
They point to the partial success of the United Nations in the fifty years after 1945. They refer to a consensus that the most powerful, like private individuals living in society, should forgo the short-term advantages which they could gain from their superior military power, for the long term and larger good of humankind from which they will benefit indirectly.
These critics draw attention to the international doctrine which was developed, and apparently accepted by you, that even the most powerful nations could not legally attack weaker countries unless they were themselves attacked. This new international rule, they say, has converted a world of Machiavellian pre-emptive strikes into a more stable one, even if it left some fairly nasty regimes in place.
At first sight these arguments seem a little plausible, and indeed you did sign up to such a convention. So how are you to overcome the arguments and justify breaking out of these restrictions? There are various arguments you would like to suggest to you.
One is to assert your right to do what you like. Proclaim that if your country’s self-interest is best served by attacking others, this is the primary (but don’t say, even if it is true, the only) criteria. Just as an individual has the right to take out a gun and shoot someone if they suspect them of evil intentions in the greatest of your nations, so at the governmental level you have the right to do what you like – particularly because you have the power.
That you have the power is, in fact, the key. For it is obviously not a right which others have, for if they were to assert the same right, how could you ever criticize them? So, like the possession of nuclear weapons, it is a right which only top members of the club can have.
Secondly, if you need to go further, the argument about self-defence can be endlessly manipulated. All you need to do is to say that some of your nationals, may be threatened, somewhere in the world, and you have to defend them. This was a favourite technique of the British with their gun-boat diplomacy. So, for example, when their trade in opium to China was challenged, they sent in their gunboats, as did the Americans a little later when one or two of their citizens were killed in Japan. If this technique was good enough for those glorious Christian Empires in the past, it is good enough for you.
It would be a very weak state or group that does not have even a puny weapon which, if it fell into the wrong hands, could, at a stretch of the imagination, be deployed somewhere where your citizens might be. The fear in this case can of course be multiplied and need not even be exaggerated much since your vast over-production of weapons has left the world awash with lethal tools. Anyone can just look on the internet to see how they are made. So you are always vulnerable.
You should allege that people plan, at some unspecified point, to ‘stockpile’ (whatever that means), weapons (unspecified) for use against us – in ways which you obviously cannot divulge for security reasons. Just as you struck down the witches before they attacked us in their malevolence, so you must encourage your countries to strike down the modern evil ones before they can get round to building up their reserves.
Smack a naughty child even before he or she acts. You know they hate you. You know that if you were in their position you would try to strike back against what they perceive as unfair treatment. So get them before they can.