A Necessary Demonstration of Force

What would Albrecht von Wallenstein say about the American convoy? It’s not wrong to demonstrate force. It can only be a mistake when it’s necessary to demonstrate openness and empathy instead. But in recent years, Europe has moved away from such moments.

One can say as much of the American military convoy, which will drive through the Czech Republic at the end of March. It obviously is a demonstration of might. But anyone who doesn’t like it should say how NATO is to react to the demonstrations of Russian might that started in 2008 and have since culminated in the annexation of Crimea.

A number of Czech politicians consider the planned convoy a provocation (Filip, Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia), a superfluous demonstration of might (Veleba, Party of Civic Rights), a needless gesture (Bartošek, Christian Democratic Union-Czech People’s Party) and saber-rattling (Berkovec, ANO). As if they didn’t know that having no force worthy of demonstration is worse than demonstrating force at a necessary moment. The Czech army, with all due respect to its deployment on expeditions, is not capable of effectively demonstrating force in Europe. If we want a small professional army and the luxury of abolishing compulsory service, let’s be glad that allies are demonstrating force on our behalf.

Many Czech politicians (not just those cited) give the impression that they’ve taken a fancy to Albrecht von Wallenstein. His Duchy of Friedland was carved out of hereditary estates from the historical land register. As a state within a state, it enjoyed privileges. It didn’t have to provide for the overwinter billeting of armies, sparing itself expenses and unpleasantness. Wallenstein wouldn’t have had to host an American convoy — but don’t buy it.

How could admirers of Wallenstein forget that it was precisely he who first maintained a standing army with contributions and his own resources? There are simply two sides to every luxury. Do we want such a luxury? Do we want an army of our own that enables us to demonstrate force — and do we have the money for it?

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