Peace through strength

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"Peace through strength" is an ancient phrase and concept implying that strength of arms is a necessary component of peace. The phrase is quite old; it has famously been used by many leaders from Roman Emperor Hadrian in the first century AD, to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. The concept has long been associated with Realpolitik.[1] In 2011, the American Security Council Foundation, a small non-profit conservative organization chaired by a dentist in Sebastian, Florida, claimed a trademark of the phrase.[2] The trademark was cancelled in 2013 as part of a lawsuit settlement.[3]


The phrase and concept date to ancient times. Roman Emperor Hadrian (AD 76-138) is said to have sought "peace through strength or, failing that, peace through threat."[4] Hadrian's Wall was a symbol of this policy.[5]


Peace Through Strength (1952) is the title of a book about a defense plan by Bernard Baruch, a World War II adviser to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, published by Farrar, Straus and Young.[6] During the 1964 American Presidential campaign, the Republican party spent about $5 million on "Peace through Strength" TV spots.[7] For supporters of the MX missile in the 1970s, the missile symbolized "peace through strength."[8]

Ronald Reagan and Republican Party

In 1980, Ronald Reagan used the phrase during his election challenge against Jimmy Carter, accusing the incumbent of weak, vacillating leadership that invited enemies to attack the USA and its allies.[9][10] Reagan later considered it one of the mainstays of his foreign policy as President.[11] In 1983, he explained it thus:

"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."[12]

The approach was credited by many for forcing the Soviet Union to lose the arms race and end the Cold War.[13] "Peace Through Strength" is the official motto of the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).[14]

"Peace Through Strength" appeared in the Republican Party platforms of 1980,[15] 1984,[16] 1988,[17] 1992,[18] 1996,[19] 2000,[20] 2008[21] and 2012.[22][23][24][25]


For Andrew Bacevich, "belief in the efficacy of military power almost inevitably breeds the temptation to put that power to work. 'Peace through strength' easily enough becomes 'peace through war.'"[26]

Jim George of Australian National University used the term to describe part of what he argued was the Straussian and neoconservative foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration.[27]

The mock inversion "strength through peace" has been used on occasion to draw criticism to the militaristic system of diplomacy advocated by "peace through strength".[28] Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich adopted the slogan "Strength Through Peace" during his 2008 Presidential run, as part of his platform as a peace candidate in opposition to the Iraq War.[29]

Trademark dispute

During Reagan's presidency, the non-profit American Security Council Foundation (ASCF) and its for-profit direct-mail provider, Communications Corporation of America, sought to influence United States foreign policy by promoting the idea, but after the Soviet collapse of 1991 ASCF fell into obscurity while other organizations continued to promote the slogan.[30] The Heritage Foundation and the Center for Security Policy (CSP) have also used the term in print.[31] The ASCF registered a trademark for the phrase in April 2011.[32] In September 2012, ASCF filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against CSP and Frank Gaffney,[33] prompting the Washington City Paper to ridicule ASCF's Director of Operations, Gary James, who had apparently been editing the online encyclopedia Wikipedia article 'Peace through strength' so that it was "drenched in .. ASCF references."[2] Following a counterclaim by the CSP alleging that the trademark application had been fradulent, on August 5, 2013, the ACSF announced that it had settled the lawsuit with the CSP and would cancel their trademark claim.[3]

See also


  1. Bruce Russett (2009). World Politics: The Menu for Choice. Cengage Learning. p. 325.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sommer, Will (September 14, 2012). "No Peace for Hawkish Think Tanks Over Reagan Slogan". Washington City Paper.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 American Security Council Foundation (August 5, 2013). "Ronald Reagan's Legacy Preserved: AFLC Wins Favorable Settlement in Trademark Battle over Famous Slogan". Retrieved April 8, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Elizabeth Speller (Oct 14, 2004). Following Hadrian?. Oxford University Press. p. 69.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Martin Wainwright (14 March 2010). "Legions of sightseers attend Hadrian's Wall illumination". Retrieved September 15, 2012. Designed as a symbol of Hadrian's contemporary-sounding policy of "peace through strength", the wall marked the northern frontier of the Roman empire.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Steven A. Seidman (2008). Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History. Peter Lang. p. 76.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Fred Kaplan (18 September 2005). "Perspective: Cold War Relic; All It Touched Off Was a Debate". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Kiron K. Skinner, Serhiy Kudelia, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and Condoleezza Rice (17 September 2007). "Politics Starts at the Water's Edge". The New York Times. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Peace Through Strength (1980 Political Commercial)". YouTube.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. White House. "Biography of Ronald Reagan". United States Government. Retrieved 2009-07-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Jeffrey Arthur Larsen (2005). "Peace through Strength". Historical Dictionary Of Arms Control And Disarmament. Scarecrow Press. p. 168.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "'Peace Through Strength' - The Official Web Site of CVN 76 USS Ronald Reagan". United States Navy. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Republican Party Platform of 1980". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Republican Party Platform of 1984". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Republican Party Platform of 1988". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Republican Platform of 1992". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Republican Party Platform of 1996". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Republican Party Platform of 2000". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "2008 Republican Party Platform". The American Presidenty Project. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Republican Platform. "We Believe in America". Republican National Committee. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Huntley, Steve (October 8, 2012). "Romney's Foreign Policy: Peace Through Strength". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Editorial (October 8, 2012). "Romney's Peace Through Strength". Washington Times. Retrieved October 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Walshe, Shushannah (September 12, 2012). "Paul Ryan Describes Mitt Romney Foreign Policy as the 'Peace Through Strength Doctrine'". The Note, ABC News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Andrew Bacevich (4 August 2010). "The Western Way of War Has Run its Course". CBS News. Retrieved 20 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  28. John Lofland (1993). Polite Protesters: The American Peace Movement of the 1980s. Syracuse University Press. pp. 103–104.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Eric Appleman, ed. (2008). The Race for the 2008 Democratic Nomination: A Book of Editorial Cartoons. Pelican Publishing. p. 29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "The American Security Council Mission Statement". Retrieved 9 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Kim R. Holmes (1995). "Geo-Conservatism; Why Conservatives Are Better Than Liberals at Foreign Policy". Policy Review. The Heritage Foundation (71).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. "Peace Through Strength". United States Patent and Trademark Office. April 5, 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "American Security Council Foundation v. Center for Security Policy, Inc. et al". District of Columbia District Court. Justia. September 7, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>