Great Britain is a long-time ally--that is, after a few disagreements early in this nation's existence. Australia has fought side by side with the Americans in all modern wars. Canada is swell, as is the Canadian government.
But if some full-bird colonels at the Pentagon don't have contingency plans in case one of those countries attacks the United States, then somebody isn't doing their job.
There should be operations orders in the can for all kinds of possibilities. What if the French teamed up with Bahrain in a sneak attack? What if Trinidad and Tobago got aggressive? What if lovely Liechtenstein decided to take Boston? (The Liechtenstein air force must be especially stealthy. The country has no airport.)
We're semi-serious here. Who knows where the trouble will start tomorrow? Did anybody think Sarajevo could have led to tens of millions of deaths between July 1914 and November 1918?
The motto for anybody in charge of a nation's defense should be: Be prepared.
The foreign minister of Taiwan made news this week when he said his island nation "needs to prepare" for a military conflict with mainland China. Why this caused such a fuss is beyond some of us. Any foreign minister who'd say different would be foolish.
Nobody wants a war between the Red Chinese and the free Chinese, least of all the free Chinese on Taiwan. War has been avoided since 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek put his people on boats and fled the Chinese Civil War, leaving Chairman Mao & Co. on the beaches, looking after them as they sailed to Taipei.
The peace has been kept by not being too specific about who controls what on paper, what might be the reaction to certain Quemoy-Matsu Islands incidents, what red lines might exist back at military HQ--and always preparing for the worst. Taiwan isn't buying military equipment from the West for nothing.
A week ago, the ChiComs put 28 warplanes in the air, including fighter jets and bombers. They didn't exactly buzz Taipei, but did everything but. According to dispatches, the planes did not violate international law or Taiwan's airspace, but it was certainly a show. Of strength, that is.
Beijing has always said the island of Taiwan is a rogue state, and it would like to get it back one day. So every once in a while, the mainland flexes its military muscle.
So Joseph Wu, the foreign minister of Taiwan, told the press his people, uh, noticed the radar alarms.
"As Taiwan decision makers, we cannot take any chances," he told CNN. "We have to be prepared. When the Chinese government is saying they would not renounce the use of force, and they conduct military exercises around Taiwan, we would rather believe that it is real."
The decision-makers in Beijing clutched their pearls. Why, that was the talk of a "diehard separatist," and an official for The Party said the country would "take all necessary measures to severely punish such 'Taiwan Independence' diehards."
So you see the need for being prepared.
Weak countries, asleep countries, distracted countries are often targeted countries. If ye seek peace, prepare for war. As long as Taiwan is alert and focused, it makes a fight in the South China Sea less likely. Peace, it's wonderful.
And even a jittery peace is better than the bloody alternative.