Smith: Peace through strength

Smith: Peace through strength

June 16th, 2014 in Opinion Columns

Robin Smith

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

The phrase used by President Ronald Reagan, "peace through strength," was eloquently recalled last week by Dr. Kiron Skinner in a Forbes' online article.

Appreciate these words: "In Reagan's era, 'peace through strength' meant undertaking a massive peacetime military buildup and doing so with bipartisan support. It also meant conveying to the adversary that this military buildup and America's restored faith in itself represented, not preparation for war, but rather a policy of credible deterrence that would facilitate bilateral talks."

Skinner, a founding director of Carnegie Mellon University's Center for International Relations and Politics and a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, went on to clarify the foreign policy approach. Reagan, he wrote, "emphasized that strength was not the goal but was instead part of a strategy to achieve world peace: 'Our strength is necessary to deter war and to facilitate negotiated solutions.'"

After reading Dr. Skinner's writing, I watched a seemingly entertaining, yet void of meaning, YouTube video a few days later. The online video, "Dances with Deer," featured a pit bull dog inside a wrought iron fence with pillars of stone stacked about 5 feet high anchoring the corners of the enclosed area.

Outside that fence, peering in at the barking dog was a deer. For about two minutes, the deer runs from one pillar to the next alongside the barking pit bull. The deer appears to playfully hide behind the pillars as if to taunt the dog, whose instincts were on full display in its constant pursuit of the prancing animal.

The only thing preventing the panting, barking dog from harming the deer was the fence.

As I watched, Dr. Skinner's article came to mind.

Through a light-hearted video, I had just witnessed the value of security -- a swift-of-foot creature enjoying its liberty without fear.

The American way of life -- the right to own property, travel, work, spend, etc. -- is at its best when our freedoms are guarded and protected. The physical presence of security, whether through a vigilant military or our men and women in local law enforcement, fosters freedom and encourages the coexistence of individuals respecting each other's inalienable rights.

Without this committed approach to securing our freedom, we are at the mercy of terrorists and hostile countries that would destroy the nation that we claim to love and protect.

Ronald Reagan, who spent his early years as a Democrat, addressed Americans in his Feb. 26, 1986, speech regarding his "highest duty as president: to preserve peace and defend these United States."

The unifying Republican observed, "We know that peace is the condition under which mankind was meant to flourish. Yet peace does not exist of its own will. It depends on us, on our courage to build it and guard it and pass it on to future generations."

Peace is a result of, not the passive absence of conflict, but the strategic and collaborative acts that cultivate and facilitate "credible deterrence" and "solutions," as noted by Dr. Skinner.

America is in danger. Elections determine policies on terrorism, border security and keeping our military strong.

The monster of political interests has knocked down the pillars that have traditionally held strong the fence of national security.

Yet, peace through strength still works.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.