7.2.7 Self-Protection Against Military Threats from Other Countries

Countries develop their own armed forces, and form relationships with powerful partners, for self-protection against military threats

Most countries have decided that multinational and global institutions (6.6.5 and 6.6.6) are insufficiently robust to guarantee their safety.  Governments choose to protect their populations by relying on their own military strength and their relationships with friendly countries.  They recognise that they must take account of the relative military strength of potential adversaries, making calculations based on ‘realpolitik’ ( – as described earlier.  The politicians choose self-protection, outside the realm of international law and the governance of the United Nations.

Although the need for national armed forces might be expected to diminish, it is politically inconceivable in the short to medium-term that countries will feel able to manage without them.  Their level of defence spending is determined by economic and political considerations, as described later (7.4.6).  And they have several ways of boosting their self-protection against military threats, as described in the following sub-sections:

●  Countries might apply to join one of the two major international alliances – the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) or the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) – to obtain protection ( The significance of the SCO has been underreported.  Russia and China want to use it to end American hegemony and prevent NATO’s further expansion.  It has largely neutralised the impact of western economic sanctions on Russia, and it can continue to have a major impact on the war in Ukraine.

●  Governments can make tactical agreements, or negotiate peace treaties, in response to specific threats ( Such agreements reflect the relative power of the parties, and they only last as long as is mutually convenient unless they are enforced by an organisation such as NATO.  That logic applies to the war in Ukraine.

●  Whether alone or in concert, countries might choose to forestall attacks by making an intervention ( This might include the use of military force, although this is always problematic.  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been very costly.



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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/727a.htm.