Monday, January 13, 2014

Secretary/Minister of Defense/Defence

And a little something that I’d typed up last night, extensively reedited in the morning light sans (mostly) the influence of alcohol.


Did you know that cabinet members responsible for “defense” was a relatively new invention? Take a look at the current permanent members of the UN Security Council for example.

1.      USSR: People's Commissar for Defence (1934–1946)
2.      UK: Minister for Coordination of Defence (1936-1940)
3.      France: Minister of National Defence (1944–1974)
4.      Republic of China: Minister of National Defence (1946-)
People’s Republic of China: Minister of National Defense of the People's Republic of China (1954-)
5.      United States: Secretary of Defense (1949-)

(Germany, with its ReichsWEHRministerium (1919-1935) preceded all of them. Note the years of origin—and end.)

Before this, cabinet ministers were typically responsible for “war” and/or individual branches “army” or “navy.” But war becoming increasingly less acceptable as the continuation of diplomacy by other means. That said, it’s hard to stop at pure defense…or in Manchuria…or in Poland…or in Afghanistan…

And while we’re on this subject, note that in most if not all competitive sports, substitution of war by other means, you play both offense and defense. Even in track and field, ski and snowboarding, figure skating and gymnastics, and others where you do not directly engage your opponents but instead play against the clock or geometric measurements, or stage what are essentially beauty contests, there are elements of offense and defense with an eye on opponents at play.

Okay, now back to work.

1 comment:

Robert Dujarric said...

Generally the "secretary of war" or "minister of war" was in charge of the army and the "sec of the navy" of "navy minister" of the navy (this in the days before independent air forces, though in the 1930s you started to see some "minister of the air"). In the US Sec Def was the title of the person who headed the Dept of Defense, created after the Dept of the Army, Dept of the Navy were incorporated under the umbrella of the Defense Dept and an independent Air Force was established