Montesquieu

A new disease has spread in Europe ; it has sei­zed upon our prin­ces and made them main­tain an inor­di­nate num­ber of troops. It has its cri­ses, and it neces­sa­rily beco­mes conta­gious. For as soon as one state increa­ses what it calls its troops, the others sud­denly increase theirs, so nothing is gai­ned the­reby except their com­mon ruin. Each monarch keeps stan­ding all the armies he might have if his peo­ples were in dan­ger of exter­mi­na­tion, and this state of effort by eve­ryone against eve­ryone else is cal­led peace.1 Thus is Europe rui­ned to the point that if any indi­vi­duals were in the situa­tion of the three most opu­lent powers in this part of the world, they would not have enough to live on. We are poor with the wealth and trade of the whole globe, and soon by dint of having sol­diers we will have nothing but sol­diers, and we will be like the Tartars.2

The great prin­ces, not satis­fied with buying the troops of the smal­ler ones, try to pur­chase allian­ces on every side, in other words almost always to waste their money.

The conse­quence of such a situa­tion is the per­pe­tual increase of tri­bu­tes ; and to the pre­ju­dice of all future reme­dies, no one any lon­ger relies on income but ins­tead wages war with his capi­tal. It is not unheard of for sta­tes to mort­gage their funds even in pea­ce­time, and employ to ruin them­sel­ves means they call extra­or­di­nary, and which are so much so that the most tur­bu­lent pro­di­gal son can scar­cely ima­gine them.

It is true that it is this state of effort that maintains the balance, because it exhausts the great powers.

All that is needed for that is to valorize the newly established invention of militias almost throughout Europe, and carry them to the same excess as has been done with the regular troops.