Following up on the advocacy of building resilient home-based national defense in The Sovereignty Solution, Anna Simons advises fully engaged populations to adopt a “don’t tread on me”/ ”beware: poison” approach to resist invasions. Recognizing that the United States have limited means by which assistance can be effective in places like Ukraine, Simons acknowledges the effectiveness of broad spectrum insurgent warfare in repelling outsiders from occupying or controlling territories.
This dual pronged strategy of active resistance and non-compliance details how smaller states can appear less attractive to aggressors by being both impregnable and toxic without expending tremendous resources for “national defense”. The first is in having a populace with access to weapons that embrace an armed lifestyle. Decades of subjugation under the Soviet Union and the current bureaucratic regime in Kiev, gives the people of Ukraine a steep learning curve to overcome if they are to gain the “don’t tread on me” approach to active resistance. Still, Eastern Europe is not without a history of civilian-based resistance.
Assertive non-compliance also makes an occupiers position untenable and measures such as strikes, walk-outs and ostracism offer non-violent strategies to regain self-determination.
So with all of these options available, why do modern nation-states not invest in low cost civilian based defense strategies? Why has Ukraine, cognizant of its vulnerable geopolitical position, not actively established a system of coordinated citizen militia or orchestrated deterrence to outside interference?
The political situation in Ukraine may be nuanced through local conditions, yet the general principles and incentive structures of politics remain constant. Political means are organized for expropriation of natural and personal resources. Any government oriented toward taking or redistributing property has reason to fear a population capable of resistance. Building a capability to repel outside occupiers is equally able to fend off local banditry, whether official or unofficial.
The security of a free state is not in the interest of a redistributive political regime. It should come as no surprise when populations are vulnerable to foreign invasion…or terrorists with box cutters.