Peace through strength

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Phrase was popularized by Reagan

Peace through strength is a principle which stands in recognition that having the ability to repel a bad actor is the best way to preserve peace. The phrase was popularized by Ronald Reagan and has been included as a part of every Republican Party platform since 1980. The concept goes back further than the 20th century. It has been associated with President George Washington and may have been described by leaders going as far back as the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

Founding Fathers

The concept appears more than once in the Federalist Papers. In Federalist No. 4, John Jay argued for peace through strength by pointing out that union (of the 13 states) "and a good national government as necessary to put and keep them in SUCH A SITUATION as, instead of INVITING war, will tend to repress and discourage it".[1] In Federalist No. 24, Alexander Hamilton also argues for peace through strength, stating that strong garrisons at the west and a navy in the east will protect the union from the threat of Britain and Spain.

In The first President, George Washington, enunciated a policy of peace through strength in his fifth annual message to Congress, the 1793 State of the Union Address.[2][3] He said:

"There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."[4]

Reagan Doctrine

For a more detailed treatment, see Reagan Doctrine.

President Ronald Reagan spoke of peace through strength. Most notably, he spoke of it on February 26, 1986:[5]

One cannot sit in this office reviewing intelligence on the military threat we face, making decisions from arms control to Libya to the Philippines, without having that concern for America's security weigh constantly on your mind. 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. George Washington's words may seem hard and cold today, but history has proven him right again and again. ``To be prepared for war, he said, ``is one of the most effective means of preserving peace. Well, to those who think strength provokes conflict, Will Rogers had his own answer. He said of the world heavyweight champion of his day: ``I've never seen anyone insult Jack Dempsey.