Issues of National Security in the 1970's: Essays Presented to Colonel George A. Lincoln on His Sixtieth Birthday

By George Lincoln; Amos A. Jordan | Go to book overview

2.
Employing America's Military Strength in the 1970's*

COLONEL Amos A. JR. JORDAN

Paradoxically, as the gap between the military capabilities of strong and weak states has increased in recent decades, the ability of the strong to impose their will upon the weak seems to have diminished. The traditional role of military power as the final arbiter of interstate relations seems somehow to have changed. That traditional role, expressed by Louis XIV on the barrels of his cannon as Ultima Ratio Regnum ("the last argument of kings"), was, of course, always more ambiguous than any simple formulation would suggest. The brevity of Louis's particular formulation was perhaps more a consequence of the high cost of engraving cannon than of his simplistic estimate of the uses of military power. Since his time, and especially in the past two decades, the relation between armed might and statecraft has changed sharply with the shifting nature of the international system and the radically expanded technology of warfare.

Determining the relevance and utility of United States military power in the decade of the 1970's involves gauging the military implications of national foreign policy goals, the international and domestic political setting in which those

____________________
*
The views expressed in this essay are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of the United States Government.

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