A question of military restraint

One of the things that is usually beseeched in armed conflicts is restraint. Should a nation like the US sometimes deliberately exercise a lack of restraint - even up to use of nuclear weapons - to remind everyone that the other times it is acting with restraint?

Blow up everything so people will we grateful we didn’t blow up everything the other times? Um, okay.

Why stop there? We could randomly invade a dozen countries just to remind all the other countries how nice we’ve been by not invading them.

Should you deliberately beat your wife from time to time for no real reason just so she knows the rest of the time that you’re restraining yourself from beating her? How exactly is the rest of the world going to be reminded that the US is acting with restraint by the US randomly deciding to throw nukes at things?

Here’s a novel idea: How about we remind the world that we’re not blowing them up and invading them by NOT blowing them up and invading them?

It’s a lot better than the current situation, where we blow countries up and invade them to remind them that we have no military restraint.

Proportional response is definitely a political concern for military objectives. The US and most other countries during the modern era do and have exercised some level of restraint for moral reasons, tactical or otherwise. So I’m not sure what the debate is.

One prominent proponent of the invasion of Iraq certainly thought so:

Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.

Well, funny you should use those examples, since the US does not need to prove we would dare use nuclear weapons on real targets…

Feeling the same way here. You use sufficent force to deal with the threat that does exist (or accomplish the goal of dominance that you seek) while displaying the capability and the will to deter potential threats and/or cow those you wish to dominate, but you do not spend your resources going berserk when you do not need to, just to prove a point – you may need them before you can restock.

Going around proving you can whup any man in the room just for the sake of it tends to run rather expensive in the age of industrial warfare. Plus there is the curious phenomenon that often folks on the receiving side of Shock and Awe may be only momentarily shocked but not at all awed.

Anymore, military restraint is pretty much limited to not sending in the military.

I imagine the rest of the world is pretty aware that the USA can destroy large populations at will.
I believe we should embrace military restraint as our primary doctrine.
When I grew up, we were supposed to be the ‘good guys’.
Perhaps, during the Cold War we borrowed too much of the tactics of our enemies and have used them for our own purposes long after that conflict dissolved.

The Cold War was when we became a superpower. A superpower’s first responsibility is to keep power, and its real enemies are those, foreign or domestic, who do not hold that reality above all else.

That makes no sense at all; are you really trying to characterize a lust for power and dominance as a moral principle?

Well, since we are one of the first two ‘superpowers’ in modern history, then I am not certain that the rules have actually been written about this. When were in conflict with the USSR, the USA did many things that I am ashamed of. Perhaps I am naive, but it seems that as time went on we became just as ‘evil’ as we perceived our enemy was. We started spying on our own people. We covertly sponsored proxy wars that led to the deaths of many people. We began a run-up of military spending that led us eventually to two simultaneous trillion dollar wars.

Perhaps a superpower’s first responsibility is to protect itself, but the second might be to protect the less defended nations from aggression from other less ethical nations. To do that, we must remain ethical ourselves. We can not become the enemy we seek to destroy else we will merely have replaced that unethical structure with one equally unethical of our own.

When I was a child, the USA was a champion of liberty and freedom.
Now? After the past two or three decades?
I am not so sure.
We have supported dictators that have killed their own citizens to remain in power.

I suggest we regain the higher ground by restraining our military might so that it used only when our borders or our allies are attacked.
That seems rather prudent to me.
And ethical.

The purpose of a military is not to show restraint. It’s to kill people and blow shit up.

If we commit our military into harm’s way, their standing orders should be:

Take this area. Level it to the ground and kill anyone who doesn’t surrender.

If we aren’t willing to do that, we shouldn’t commit our troops. Period.

The purpose of a great many aggressive military operations is profit; essentially muggings on a international scale. Blowing up industries and people you intend to use for your own profit goes against the whole point of such operations. There’s also the problem that America likes to pretend it’s the good guy, heroically riding to the rescue; wanton slaughter and destruction makes holding to that fantasy harder.

Well, that kind of goes with what he said: if we’re going to follow his rules, we won’t be sending in troops at all. Of course, we didn’t even follow his rules in WWII, so I think we can safely dismiss the policy as idiocy.

It is sooo much easier to go the scorched earth route with nukes, that is why I fully support this. I also think we should be building more & bigger nukes, like the crowd pleasing 25 mt or even the 50 mt. That would be AWESOME DUDE!!!11!!!

Yes, but they act at the behest of politicians.