Famous lawyer Gerry Spence referred to power as “the gun that shoots both ways”. I have never heard it put more succinctly. Using power to resolve conflicts seems to be effective in the short tun. Just send in the marines, right? Well, think again. Playing power games has long term effects that are very difficult to predict.
In Europe, this got out of control back in 1914. Back then, the great and mighty leaders assumed that they could resort to limited war to adjust power disputes without huge consequences — to themselves at least. You might say that we are still feeling the effects of that colossal miscalculation.
So we are smarter now, right? Well … perhaps and perhaps not. But one thing is more clear now than it was back then. Regimes that worship at the altar of military might do not inspire the respect that they once did. After the disastrous wars of the 20th century, we accept as a norm that aggression is wrong. Folks still use aggression, but they do it with additional risk. And that may save us as a species.
This applies on a personal level as well. The amount of coercion needed to keep things under control is directly proportional to the probability of their collapse.