All this proves to us that, while the minds of governments are full of war, those of the governed are full of peace
After exploring budgetary options pertaining to domestic policy, Frédéric Bastiat looks into international policy. He starts by exposing the arms race then existing in Europe. According to him, it is a potential source of savings. He is convinced that freedom is a mean to reach peace, as opposed to those who think that peace can only be guaranteed by oppressing the “enemy” (which is itself created as such by oppression – this is a vicious circle). To those who think that napoleonic wars allowed France to shine, he retorts that intellectual, artistic and commercial influence are way more efficient than military coercion.
He does not details to which level it is acceptable to reduce military spending – the message he is trying to convey is that international policy needs to be reviewed in order to be based on a philosophy of peace rather than war. He takes this opportunity to remind us that wars are not led by the people (who can, unfortunately, made to believe that they are necessary as we shall see in 1914) but directly dependent on the ego of the governing people – this is the point of today’s quote.