Peace through strength

Peace through strength

"Peace through Strength" is the doctrine that military strength is a primary or necessary component of peace. It is also the meaning behind the olive branch and live oak branches within the seal of the state of Texas and of the Republic of Texas. This is sometimes taken to mean world peace, and sometimes taken to mean peace for the possessor of the military strength. This doctrine is a major justification cited for large militaries, and also served as the primary motivation behind the Cold War doctrine of mutually assured destruction.

The concept arouses a great deal of controversy. On the one hand many, especially in the military, belief in this doctrine and it was responsible for the naming of the Peacekeeper missile. On the other hand, opponents of the concept argue that the doctrine is merely a form of doublespeak and a justification for militarism.


The notion of peace through strength is a very important part of both modern and traditional Chinese strategic thought, and was first formalized by Sun Tzu. The complexity of this doctrine can be seen by reactions to Chinese military modernization, which in the view of the Chinese leadership is merely the implementation of this doctrine, while to other powers such as the United States this modernization may look threatening.

The initial work on the principles and goals of this new strategy in American Foreign Policy began in 1978. This was the year the original Coalition for Peace through Strength was formed, and a national strategy conference was held at the American Security Council's headquarters in Boston, Virginia. After considerable debate, the participating Coalition members selected eight strategy principles they recommended for adoption as national policy.

This public diplomacy campaign and national strategy effort sparked a movement that had history-making consequences. This strategy effort involved 257 Members of Congress, 168 national organizations, and 514 colleges and universities. The resulting study became "A National Strategy for Peace Through Strength."

The national strategy campaign was strictly bipartisan, and the results were embraced by prominent leaders for both political parties. The eight principles and goals for this strategy eventually became the cornerstone of the defense and foreign policy of the United States. They resulted in the successful conventional and strategic modernization program of the 1980s, and they also led to vigorous support for democratic resistance movements around the world.

These principles and goals were incorporated into a Peace Through Strength Resolution. In introducing this resolution in the U.S. Senate in 1983, then Senator Paul Laxalt (R-NV) explained the strategy gap the NSC lawmakers were working to close. The Senator said:

"Soviet expansionism has been driven by a goal of domination and guided by a grand strategy to achieve that goal. Soviet successes have been possible only because the United States has had neither a goal nor a strategy in this conflict. U.S. policy has been essentially that of reacting to Soviet initiatives in defense of the status quo."

President Ronald Reagan's national security policy was based on the principles of "Peace Through Strength." These principles were adopted in both the 1980 and 1984 Platforms of the Republican Party.

The fundamental premise of the Peace Through Strength Strategy was based on the need for military, economic and diplomatic strength. The strategy introduced by the lawmakers was often controversial, and it was not popular. Among other elements, its principles called for using non-military means to stop and roll back the growth of communism. It advocated changing the national security structure in order for the United States to maintain a strong military so it could prevail in any conflict with the then Soviet Union.

Duncan Hunter, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives and 2008 presidential candidate, operates a political action committee called Peace Through Strength PAC, dedicated to furthering his conservative foreign policy objectives.

Those who have believe in problems with this strategy have turned it on its head, promoting a concept called Strength through Peace. This alternative motto has been promoted by people like 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

External links

* [ The American Security Council]

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