Because the United States was strong, it has only rarely been attacked.
Pearl Harbor was attacked only after US defense spending had been cut 70% for over a decade.
North Korea invaded the Republic of Korea in 1950 only after Congress had refused to support the Republic with $150 million in assistance requested by President Truman, and when Congress was proposing to cut our defense budgets by over 40%.
Soviet leader Khrushchev built the Berlin War and put nuclear missiles in Cuba when he perceived the US to be weak and unprepared: he said America "could be pushed around."
When we retreated from Vietnam, in the following decade, more than a dozen countries fell to the control of the Soviets, who were convinced that the "correlation of forces" had changed in their favor. The decade culminated in their invasion of Afghanistan, the collapse of arms control and the fall of Iran and Nicaragua.
After the end of the Cold War, we took our security less seriously and cut nearly a $1 trillion from the defense budget of the United States. In that environment, our embassies in Africa were bombed; we left our soldiers in harm's way in Somalia, where they were slaughtered and their bodies dragged through the streets; the USS Cole was attacked in Yemen; a truck bomb exploded in the basement of the World Trade Center in New York, and the Murrah building in Oklahoma City was destroyed.
Whatever less defense spending did for us, it was not better security.
How then can sentient people claim a modernized military will invite aggression?
Even as we lessen our commitment to security, we hear China now calling for war with Vietnam and the Philippines over the oil resources in the South China Sea.
Iran flaunts its nuclear program and new ballistic missile deployments even while killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
North Korea has repeatedly been attacking the Republic of Korea -- even while elements of the Pakistani intelligence services, according to our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, help the Haqqani terrorists attack our embassy in Kabul.
When the United States is perceived as weak, when we undermine our own security by poorly thought out-defense consequences, we invite aggression.
It seems to be "Peace Through Strength," as President Reagan said , that protects America.
He had a quaint notion: "We win, they lose."
The free people of the world and we did indeed win the Cold War -- not because we were weak but because we were strong, and deliberately drove, through a military buildup, our Soviet adversary to be weak. We used an entire array of tactics: we strategically undercut Soviet revenue by cutting oil prices dramatically. We denied the Soviets advanced weapons technology while sabotaging the technology flows that were allowed.
As a country, we have never invited war and have, like all democracies, always sought peace. But we should never naively assume that peace can grow naturally from the unfulfilled dreams of tyrants. As Natan Sharansky points out in The Case for Democracy, dictatorships always have to be in a state of war – to distract their people from the corrosive rule of the dictatorship; dictators always have to invent an external threat whom their people can blame for their misery instead of them.
In the 1980s and beyond, we pushed back Kaddafi over the Gulf of Sidra; we reflagged the Kuwaiti tankers against Iran; we deployed our INF missiles in Europe under NATO's umbrella and turned aside the coercive terror of the Soviet SS-20s; we modernized a hollow military and spoke prudently while carrying a "big stick"; we rescued our students in Grenada and freed the country from brutal dictators; we helped El Salvador and Columbia defeat the menace of terror groups; we helped the democratic resistance remove the dictators Ortega from Nicaragua while moving that country toward democracy; we defended Kuwait's independence; we drove Saddam back to Baghdad and luckily discovered and eliminated a fully developed nuclear weapons program.
At the end of the Cold War, we were perceived as strong -- and all of Eastern Europe escaped the Soviet empire.
Ten years ago, we were perceived as strong despite being attacked, and with that strength we liberated Afghanistan and Iraq.
We took down the A.Q. Khan smuggling group "Nukes R US;" Libya's Colonel Muammar Kaddafi gave up his nuclear program, and now he, too, has joined Saddam Hussein in "jihad" hell.
Throughout history, the recipients of liberty's blessings have often tried to keep it on the cheap. They have often ended up not with liberty but with tyranny, and without the resources with which to acquire freedom once again.
Tyrants are forever on the march. Our choices are two: we can watch such armies — whether they using cyber or EMP threats, artillery and tank armies or car bombs and IEDs -- take our liberty. Or, as the documents of our founding fathers require, we can support the determined effort needed to "provide for the common defense."