Why Countries Have Chosen a Non-Military Approach?

In a world where military strength is often seen as a measure of power, some countries have chosen a different path. There are currently 23 countries that do not maintain standing armies or armed forces, opting instead for a demilitarized approach to defence. In this article, we explore the reasons behind this approach and its impact on citizens.

The non-military approach emphasizes diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian means to achieve political and strategic objectives. This approach has gained popularity in recent years due to the cost of military actions, political and social considerations, and the importance of preserving diplomatic relations.

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One of the primary reasons for choosing a non-military approach is the cost of military action. Military operations can be incredibly expensive, and the economic cost of war can be devastating to a country’s economy. The cost of rebuilding after a conflict can also be prohibitively high. Therefore, many countries choose to pursue non-military options as a means of avoiding these economic costs.

Political considerations also play a significant role in the choice of non-military approaches. Diplomatic relations are crucial in today’s globalized world, and military action can often have significant political backlash. In some cases, military action can damage diplomatic relations or result in political instability, which can have far-reaching consequences for international relations.

The non-military approach is gaining popularity in today’s world due to economic, political, and social considerations. These approaches offer viable alternatives to military action, and their effectiveness can be seen in many cases throughout history. It is important for countries to consider non-military approaches when addressing global issues, as they can help achieve strategic objectives while avoiding the costs and consequences of military action.

Economic Reasons

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Economic reasons are one of the primary factors behind countries choosing a non-military approach. Military action is often expensive and can have significant economic consequences, both for the country undertaking the action and for the target country. As a result, non-military approaches are often seen as a more cost-effective means of achieving desired outcomes.

One of the main reasons for the high cost of military action is the equipment and personnel required. Military operations require significant investment in weapons, vehicles, and personnel, which can be prohibitively expensive for many countries. In addition, military operations can be lengthy, requiring ongoing expenditures on logistics, maintenance, and supplies.

In contrast, non-military approaches, such as economic sanctions or diplomatic efforts, can be much cheaper to undertake. Economic sanctions, for example, involve restricting trade or financial transactions with a target country, which can be done with relatively little expense. Similarly, diplomatic efforts involve negotiation and dialogue, which do not require the same level of investment in personnel or equipment as military operations.

Another economic consideration is the potential impact of military action on a country’s economy. Military conflict can disrupt trade, damage infrastructure, and disrupt supply chains, all of which can have long-lasting economic consequences. In some cases, the cost of military action can outweigh any potential benefits.

For example, during the Gulf War, the United States spent over $61 billion on military operations, while the cost to the global economy was estimated at $1.7 trillion. Similarly, the ongoing conflict in Syria has resulted in an estimated $226 billion in economic losses.

Economic reasons play a significant role in countries choosing a non-military approach. Military action can be prohibitively expensive, both in terms of the initial investment required and the potential economic consequences. Non-military approaches such as economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts can be much cheaper and more effective, making them an attractive alternative for many countries.

Political Reasons

In addition to economic and social reasons, countries often choose a non-military approach to international conflicts for political reasons. These reasons may include diplomatic relations with other countries, as well as potential political backlash from both domestic and international audiences.

One of the key political reasons for choosing a non-military approach is the importance of maintaining diplomatic relations with other countries. Engaging in military action can strain relationships with other nations, making it difficult to negotiate and work towards mutually beneficial solutions in the future. For example, when two countries are in the midst of a conflict, other nations may choose to align with one side or the other, leading to political polarization and potentially damaging long-term relationships.

Another political reason for choosing a non-military approach is the potential for domestic and international backlash. Engaging in military action can be politically unpopular among both domestic and international audiences, leading to protests, negative media coverage, and damage to a country’s reputation. This can make it difficult for leaders to maintain the trust and support of their constituents, and can even lead to changes in leadership or government.

One example of a country choosing a non-military approach for political reasons is the United States’ decision to engage in diplomacy with Iran in 2015, rather than taking military action. Despite significant pressure to take military action against Iran’s nuclear program, the US ultimately chose a diplomatic approach, leading to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This decision was based, in part, on the potential political backlash that could result from a military strike, as well as the importance of maintaining diplomatic relationships with other nations.

Political reasons play a significant role in why countries choose non-military approaches to international conflicts. Maintaining diplomatic relationships and avoiding potential political backlash are key considerations for leaders when deciding how to approach a conflict. While military action may sometimes be necessary, understanding the political implications of such action is crucial for achieving long-term success in international relations.

Promoting Peace and Diplomacy:

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Promoting peace and diplomacy is one of the most important reasons why countries choose a non-military approach to conflicts. It involves using negotiation, dialogue, and compromise to resolve conflicts rather than resorting to military force. The promotion of peace and diplomacy has become increasingly important in a world that is becoming more interconnected and interdependent.

One of the main advantages of promoting peace and diplomacy is that it can help prevent the escalation of conflicts. Diplomacy allows for open communication between conflicting parties, which can help them to better understand each other’s perspectives and concerns. This can lead to more effective negotiation and compromise, and ultimately to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. By contrast, military action can often lead to a cycle of violence and retaliation that can escalate the conflict and cause even greater harm.

Another benefit of promoting peace and diplomacy is that it can help to build trust and improve relations between countries. Through diplomatic efforts, countries can work together to find common ground and develop mutually beneficial solutions to problems. This can help to build trust between countries and create a foundation for future cooperation and collaboration.

In addition to preventing conflicts and improving relations between countries, promoting peace and diplomacy can also help to promote human rights and social justice. By prioritizing diplomacy over military action, countries can work to address underlying causes of conflict, such as economic inequality, political oppression, and social injustice. This can help to create more stable and equitable societies and ultimately promote global peace and security.

Promoting peace and diplomacy is not always an easy or quick process, and it requires commitment and patience from all parties involved. However, the benefits of a non-military approach to conflict resolution are clear. By prioritizing dialogue and negotiation over military action, countries can build stronger relationships, prevent conflicts from escalating, and promote greater social justice and human rights.

Allocating Resources to Social Welfare and Economic Development:

Another reason for a non-military approach is to prioritize social welfare and economic development. Countries such as Costa Rica, Haiti, and Iceland have been able to allocate resources towards education, healthcare, and other social services by not investing in military defence. This has led to an improved standard of living for citizens and promoted economic growth.

Unique Historical Context and Strategic Location:

Some countries have a unique historical context or strategic location that has led them to adopt a non-military approach. For example, Costa Rica abolished its military in 1949 following a civil war and has since remained a stable and peaceful democracy. Similarly, Iceland relies on its strategic location between North America and Europe to deter potential aggressors.

Impact on Citizens:

The impact of a demilitarized approach on citizens can be significant. Citizens in countries such as Costa Rica enjoy a high standard of living, low crime rates, and a stable democracy. The absence of a military draft also means citizens are not forced to serve in the armed forces, benefiting those who oppose war and violence. However, a demilitarized approach can also have drawbacks, such as increased vulnerability to external threats and reliance on international alliances for defence.

Here is a list of the 23 countries that do not have standing armies:

Costa Rica
Marshall Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
San Marino
Solomon Islands
Vatican City
It is worth noting that while these countries do not have standing armies or armed forces, some of them may have other types of security forces or police that help maintain internal security.


The decision to adopt a non-military approach is a complex one influenced by a range of factors. While it may not be suitable for all countries, a demilitarized approach has proven successful for those countries that prioritize peace, diplomacy, and social welfare. Ultimately, the success of this approach depends on a country’s ability to maintain internal security and build strong international partnerships.

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