War Is A Racket – Made By Government

AfPak – Just Another Example of War Racketeering

A little while back I already read a very informative article that sheds some light on the US military situation and the war racket that of course continues under the Obama administration. I hope it will help the reader understand why I believe that the US military policy under our current administration is even more destructive than it already was. I will first cite some important passages that stood out to me:

Now that the much despised George W. Bush is out of the way and a more popular figurehead is doing PR for Dick Cheney’s right-hand military leader Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who is leading his second AF-Pak surge now, and with long time Bush family confidant Robert Gates still running the Defense Department, the masters of war have never had it so good.

Obama has now escalated deployments in the Af-Pak region to 98,000 US troops. So in Af-Pak and Iraq, he will now have a total of 222,000 US troops deployed, 36,000 more than Bush ever had – 186,000 was Bush’s highest total.

The amount of private military contractors deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan is rarely reported on in the US mainstream press, but a Congressional Research Service investigation into this revealed that a record high 69% active duty soldiers are in fact private mercenaries.

Although the administration is yet to disclose how many private mercenaries will be deployed in the latest surge, it is believed that the 69% ratio will remain in tact.

The Pentagon released a report showing that Obama already had a total of 242,657 private contractors in action, as of June 30th. 119,706 of them in Iraq, 73,968 in Afghanistan, with 50,061 active in “other US CENTCOM locations.”

Back in June, Jeremy Scahill reported on these findings: “According to new statistics released by the Pentagon, with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of ‘Private Security Contractors’ working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan….”

Plus, we must mention, the immense dangers of having private military contractors as 69% of our fighting force. For those of you unaware, private military contractors are hired from all over the world. Any former soldier, from any country, is welcome to come and fight for a salary – a salary that is often significantly more than what we pay our own US soldiers.

These mercenaries have a vested interest in prolonging the war, for as long as there is a war, they have a well paying job. So it is easy to infer that a significant percentage of these contractors will not have the US soldiers, or US taxpayers, best interests at heart.

Obama continues to feed this out of control private army by pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into shady and scandalous companies like Blackwater, who recently changed their name to Xe Services, because they destroyed their reputation by committing numerous war crimes in Iraq. A recent investigation by Jeremy Scahill revealed the extent to which Blackwater is involved in covert operations inside Afghanistan and Pakistan. In some cases, Blackwater is not working for the US, but were hired by covert elements inside Pakistan. When it comes to private contractors, the fog of war grows ominous, exactly who is fighting for whom is unclear. The crucial factor is who paid them the most that particular day.

I found that bold part quite staggering. It shouldn’t surprise one, but it was simply something I hadn’t thought through yet. Just imagine a scenario like this: The US military hires Blackwater mercenaries for a surge, but at the same time some other Blackwater sales person may have closed a deal with some Pakistani resistance group. Do you realize what motives are involved here?

Before this latest surge, there were over 123,000 US and NATO troops in the Af-Pak region, and 200,000 Afghan security forces, supporting the US effort. According to US intelligence sources the total number of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in the region was estimated to only be about 25,000, giving the US led forces a minimum of a 12 to 1 troop advantage.

Speaking of fueling hatred toward the US, other than a huge troop increase, there has also been a sharp increase in the use of unmanned drones. The New Yorker reports: “According to a just completed study by the New America Foundation, the number of drone strikes has risen dramatically since Obama became President. During his first nine and a half months in office, he has authorized as many C.I.A. aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W. Bush did in his final three years in office.”

The unmanned drones have caused major controversy due to the high number of civilian causalities they cause. However, as the study stated, the Obama Administration continues to increasingly rely upon them.

So summing up these statistics, we have the most fierce and technologically advanced military force in history, vastly outnumbering what amounts to be a ragtag army of peasant farmers with guns, and our best option is supposed to be an increase in troop levels?

US soldier suicides are also on the rise. In 2008, 197 army soldiers committed suicide. Thus far in 2009, there have been 211 army suicides.

What we are witnessing here with such high enlistment levels during this economic crisis has many parallels to Germany in the 1930’s. Just like the United States now, the German economy in the 1930’s was devastated by an economic crisis brought on by Wall Street. With rising unemployment and poverty, German men turned to the military for income and health benefits that their family severely needed. With over 25 million US citizens unemployed and underemployed, over 50 million with no healthcare, and over 50 million living in poverty, military service is now a last resort for a growing number of desperate Americans as well. The record-breaking enlistment numbers are expected to continue to rise as the economy continues to decline.

According to these calculations, 30,000 troops for this latest surge will add an additional $30 billion to the annual budget, just in troop related costs. Also consider the price of moving fuel around, AFP reports: “Moving soldiers and supplies across the rugged Afghan landscape costs more than in Iraq, with the military consuming 83 liters or 22 gallons of fuel per soldier per day.” The Hill adds: “Pentagon officials have told the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee a gallon of fuel costs the military about $400 by the time it arrives in the remote locations in Afghanistan where U.S. troops operate.”

There was public outcry when Bush drastically raised an already bloated military budget to record highs. But in comes the admired anti-war candidate Obama, in the middle of a severe economic crisis, and what happens? Obama drastically increased Bush’s record budget to $651 billion in 2009. Yes, during a severe economic crisis, Obama actually increased Bush’s budget. US military spending is higher than the rest of the world combined. The 2010 budget, which doesn’t account for war-related spending yet, is already set to grow to $680 billion.

However, these budget numbers are deceiving because the Obama Administration has been getting better at hiding extra spending in other budget items. The actual total 2009 budget was over $1 trillion.

The article goes on listing many more wasteful projects and operations that all have but one objective: To pillage the public purse, to loot the taxpayers by as much as possible. I really recommend reading it in its entirety.

One philosophical fact that I do want to point out in regards to this: People need to understand what lies at the root of such gigantic excesses of madness. You can cry and complain and wag your finger all you want, but it’s all worth zero if you don’t consistently oppose the root of all evil: taxation and with it the government.

(And before writing me and complaining about my terribly blind trust in the market and my ideological opposition to government, please do me a favor: Read precisely what I am writing. Inform yourself about the facts and concepts involved. I always reference as many terms and concepts as possible to other parts in my blog where I define things in more detail. Think things through carefully before you talk! This stuff is way too important to have it be subject to arbitrary statements of fuzzy logic.)

War – The Perpetual Government Racket

It sometimes amazes me how people can fail to get this point: In a society with limited to no government it would be completely impossible to wage such wars. A free market would rule it out from the outset. No private business would embark upon the venture of war. Why? Because it is way to expensive! It is a losing proposition, a bankrupt business from the get go, a terribly unprofitable undertaking. Any business plan that would have recommended the invasion of Iraq would have been torn apart by prospect investors.

Why is this the case? Because private investors voluntarily decide whether or not they want to contribute money to a project. And they will only do so if it is profitable and feasible. Who in his right mind would commit to paying $2 trillion over several years without ANY profit whatsoever accruing to him.

(This is not to say that all considerations on a voluntary market are ones of financial profitability. But when it comes to bombing the hell out of villages with poorly armed peasants in tents, I think I can safely assume that the psychic reward one can reap from contributing to such an effort is rather negligible to say the least and can thus be ignored for the sake of this discussion.)

Now I can already hear the braindead among us crying: “But don’t you see?? It IS all private! Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater all lobbied to fight these wars and they ARE making a profit!!” Yes of course they are! But they are not INVESTING anything. They are on the opposite side, the cost side, the receiving end of the racket. They benefit the more the investors in this venture lose. My point is that no voluntary investor would fund this project to begin with.

So how is it possible that they managed to raise money for this insanity? Because the investor in this war is you, the taxpayer. And you have not been asked whether or not you are willing to pay this money. And even if you think you were through voting: No, you weren’t. Did anyone give you this choice: “If you would like us to send hitmen in green costumes and helmets over to a country that has never attacked or threatened us, kill those people who will obviously rise up in opposition, and on top of that kill around 1,000,000 innocent men, women and children via the help of clusterbombs and other new devices that we are planning on testing out, please mail a check over $10,000, made out to the Department of Defense. If you don’t, someone may launch a scud missle from the middle east that may hit your house. We realize the likelihood for this is slim or none, but you don’t want to take any chances, now do you?”

You have no idea how this venture operates. You have no clue what is happening with your money. You have no clue what you are actually getting out of it. For a simple reason: There is NOTHING you are getting out of it. Quite the contrary: You are getting more and more terrorist organizations popping up left and right. The best example was “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” which was formed after, not before the invasion. And this is merely one simple example. Anyone ignoring these facts is either blind or deliberately chooses to due to emotional/professional attachment.

(But let’s, for a second, take aside ALL the points I raised above. Let’s assume some private investor devises a war venture that indeed somehow turns out to be profitable. Maybe because there is a ridiculous amount of resources all concentrated at one spot and those resources are 1000x more powerful than oil and the people who occupy it are truly hated by virtually every person in the surrounding areas and the entire rest of the world. On top of that we will have to assume that it will be financially more feasible to launch an aggressive operation and take over the existing machinery, train people on them, etc. than to do something as simple as offering to buy out the existing operation, or even just sign a vendor contract and buy the resources on an ongoing basis … Don’t you think the investor would still think things through a lot more clearly for his, albeit evil, venture? Don’t you think he will try and expend as little money as possible on drones, tanks, helicopters, mercenaries, etc.? Don’t you think we will do everything humanly possible to not upset neutral residents in the surrounding areas so he doesn’t have to face ongoing insurgencies, wounded fighters, ongoing health care commitments that he’d have to pay for himself??

But for the sake of the opposing argument, let’s even assume he doesn’t get THAT part. And he indeed starts spending incredible amounts of money invested, trillions of dollars that would even bankrupt the richest men in the world many times. Let’s say now he has entirely pissed off everyone in the area and faces massive insurgencies, do you think ANYONE will lend him more money to CONTINUE this venture?? What if he incorporated as a publicly traded company to bring on multiple investors? Don’t you think this business’s stock would drop to zero in no time at all and force it through bankruptcy, turn its bonds into junk bonds, and dry up all access to capital markets?

Do you see how diametrically opposed his mindset will have to be when compared to a taxing government that is naturally being lobbied by people who will inevitably benefit from ongoing and higher expenses of the tax loot? So even IF war was possible in a free market, it would not remotely measure up to the monstrosities we see under interventionist markets, or at the very least not continue for years and years to come.)

The issue is always and everywhere the same: War is a racket, made by government. It happens to be the most monstrous and destructive racket to have ever existed. It is one that the Enrons, Worldcoms, and Madoffs of this world would bow down before in awe and admiration.

So long as you support the concepts of taxation, so long as you believe in the concept of a government and the system of interventionism, so long as you think that YOUR candidate will be different once in office, you can talk all you want about the evils of this world, you can wag your finger, cry out, protest, complain about this or that inevitable outcome. But you won’t accomplish a darn thing. You will be wasting your adrenaline and brain cells, and, ironically, in the very process you will be doing precisely what the biggest racketeers of this world want you to do: You remain a part of the machine.

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Afghanistan: Withdraw Rapidly and Completely

Ron Paul’s great statement before the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House, December 10, 2009:

Mr. Speaker thank you for holding these important hearings on US policy in Afghanistan. I would like to welcome the witnesses, Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry and General Stanley A. McChrystal, and thank them for appearing before this Committee.

I have serious concerns, however, about the president’s decision to add some 30,000 troops and an as yet undisclosed number of civilian personnel to escalate our Afghan operation. This “surge” will bring US troop levels to approximately those of the Soviets when they occupied Afghanistan with disastrous result back in the 1980s. I fear the US military occupation of Afghanistan may end up similarly unsuccessful.

In late 1986 Soviet armed forces commander, Marshal Sergei Akhromeev, told then-Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, “Military actions in Afghanistan will soon be seven years old. There is no single piece of land in this country which has not been occupied by a Soviet soldier. Nonetheless, the majority of the territory remains in the hands of rebels.” Soon Gorbachev began the Soviet withdrawal from its Afghan misadventure. Thousands were dead on both sides, yet the occupation failed to produce a stable national Afghan government.

Eight years into our own war in Afghanistan the Soviet commander’s words ring eerily familiar. Part of the problem stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. It is our presence as occupiers that feeds the insurgency. As would be the case if we were invaded and occupied, diverse groups have put aside their disagreements to unify against foreign occupation. Adding more US troops will only assist those who recruit fighters to attack our soldiers and who use the US occupation to convince villages to side with the Taliban.

Proponents of the president’s Afghanistan escalation cite the successful “surge” in Iraq as evidence that this second surge will have similar results. I fear they might be correct about the similar result, but I dispute the success propaganda about Iraq. In fact, the violence in Iraq only temporarily subsided with the completion of the ethnic cleansing of Shi’ites from Sunni neighborhoods and vice versa — and all neighborhoods of Christians. Those Sunni fighters who remained were easily turned against the foreign al-Qaeda presence when offered US money and weapons. We are increasingly seeing this “success” breaking down: sectarian violence is flaring up and this time the various groups are better armed with US-provided weapons. Similarly, the insurgents paid by the US to stop their attacks are increasingly restive now that the Iraqi government is no longer paying bribes on a regular basis. So I am skeptical about reports on the success of the Iraqi surge.

Likewise, we are told that we have to “win” in Afghanistan so that al-Qaeda cannot use Afghan territory to plan further attacks against the US. We need to remember that the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 was, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, largely planned in the United States (and Germany) by terrorists who were in our country legally. According to the logic of those who endorse military action against Afghanistan because al-Qaeda was physically present, one could argue in favor of US airstrikes against several US states and Germany! It makes no sense. The Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to remain in Afghanistan because both had been engaged, with US assistance, in the insurgency against the Soviet occupation.

Nevertheless, the president’s National Security Advisor, Gen. James Jones, USMC (Ret.), said in a recent interview that less than 100 al-Qaeda remain in Afghanistan and that the chance they would reconstitute a significant presence there was slim. Are we to believe that 30,000 more troops are needed to defeat 100 al-Qaeda fighters? I fear that there will be increasing pressure for the US to invade Pakistan, to where many Taliban and al-Qaeda have escaped. Already CIA drone attacks on Pakistan have destabilized that country and have killed scores of innocents, producing strong anti-American feelings and calls for revenge. I do not see how that contributes to our national security.

The president’s top advisor for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, said recently, “I would say this about defining success in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the simplest sense, the Supreme Court test for another issue, we’ll know it when we see it.” That does not inspire much confidence.

Supporters of this surge argue that we must train an Afghan national army to take over and strengthen the rule and authority of Kabul. But experts have noted that the ranks of the Afghan national army are increasingly being filled by the Tajik minority at the expense of the Pashtun plurality. US diplomat Matthew Hoh, who resigned as Senior Civilian Representative for the U.S. Government in Zabul Province, noted in his resignation letter that he “fail[s] to see the value or the worth in continued U.S. casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year old civil war.” Mr. Hoh went on to write that “[L]ike the Soviets, we continue to secure and bolster a failing state, while encouraging an ideology and system of government unknown and unwanted by [the Afghan] people.”

I have always opposed nation-building as unconstitutional and ineffective. Afghanistan is no different. Without a real strategy in Afghanistan, without a vision of what victory will look like, we are left with the empty rhetoric of the last administration that “when the Afghan people stand up, the US will stand down.” I am afraid the only solution to the Afghanistan quagmire is a rapid and complete US withdrawal from that country and the region. We cannot afford to maintain this empire and our occupation of these foreign lands is not making us any safer. It is time to leave Afghanistan.

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The True Cost of War

… and of course the only change we see from the president is to send yet more troops into combat.

President Obama said Tuesday that he was determined to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, and his aides signaled to allies that he would send as many as 25,000 to 30,000 additional American troops there even as they cautioned that the final number remained in flux.

It has to be utterly confusing for those who for some reason thought Obama was going to be a peace candidate. Time to remember the 2008 presidential campaign, when some crazy Republican candidate dared to say “Just come home …”

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A Foreign Policy of Peace and Freedom

The US has, in the 20th century, slipped into a state of perpetual war with no end in sight. Constant meddling, occupations, bombings, troop deployments, nation building have become but a mere sideshow which public opinion appears to shrug at.

Hardest hit are the poor and the middle class. Their tax money has been spent on bombings and killings across the globe. Their future earnings have been borrowed against to pay for yet more bombings and killing. Their kids have been sent off to unknown lands, many have died, even more have returned with devastating injuries. Many of them have imported the habits of drug use and abuse and have ended up homeless. No less than a quarter of all homeless people are war veterans.

Economically, there is nothing more disruptive to the general welfare than a state of perpetual war. Not only does it stifle progress. It destroys productive assets and most importantly human lives.

President Obama has stepped up the Bush administration’s horrendous drive for more resources for more wars, just as George Bush had stepped up the global depredations perpetrated by President Clinton. It is an ongoing, consistent development. The public is conditioned to it in a slow process, kind of like the notorious frog is slowly boiled in water of increasing temperature.

But for Ron Paul, very few people in politics have consistently argued for an unconditional withdrawal of all US troops from all foreign countries. Whoever argues for it is met with nothing but rolling eyes, cynicism, shouting, and ridicule. Hired “experts” stand ready to make up a whole slew of arguments as to why “it just dosn’t work that way”. (Ironically it is those experts who have been wrong on every single foreign policy prediction they made. Meanwhile, our movement has been predicting virtually every major backlash and blowback that would inevitably ensue from the US’s foreign meddling.) But all this is expectable. It is the way latter day profits and civil leaders were always met in public until their dreams became reality and people realized the truth behind their ideas.

A change in foreign policy is long overdue.

Thus Murray Rothbard is always a good read. His consistent application of his beliefs in peace and freedom is unparalleled. The governments of the world would be well advised to follow his recommendations on foreign policy, in particular the United States. Below I posted the chapter “On Relations Between States” where he lays the foundation for libertarian foreign policy:

EACH STATE HAS AN assumed monopoly of force over a given territorial area, the areas varying in size in accordance with different historical conditions. Foreign policy, or foreign relations, may be defined as the relationship between any particular State, A, and other States, B, C, D, and the inhabitants living under those States. In the ideal moral world, no States would exist, and hence, of course, no foreign policy could exist. Given the existence of States, however, are there, any moral principles that libertarianism can direct as criteria for foreign policy? The answer is broadly the same as in the libertarian moral criteria directed toward the “domestic policy” of States, namely to reduce the degree of coercion exercised by States over individual persons as much as possible.

Before considering inter-State actions, let us return for a moment to the pure libertarian stateless world where individuals and their hired private protection agencies strictly confine their use of violence to the defense of person and property against violence. Suppose that, in this world, Jones finds that he or his property is being aggressed against by Smith. It is legitimate, as we have seen, for Jones to repel this invasion by the use of defensive violence. But, now we must ask: is it within the right of Jones to commit aggressive violence against innocent third parties in the course of his legitimate defense against Smith? Clearly the answer must be “No.” For the rule prohibiting violence against the persons or property of innocent men is absolute; it holds regardless of the subjective motives for the aggression. It is wrong, and criminal, to violate the property or person of another, even if one is a Robin Hood, or is starving, or is defending oneself against a third man’s attack. We may understand and sympathize with the motives in many of these cases and extreme situations. We (or, rather, the victim or his heirs) may later mitigate the guilt if the criminal comes to trial for punishment, but we cannot evade the judgment that this aggression is still a criminal act, and one which the victim has every right to repel, by violence if necessary. In short, A aggresses against B because C is threatening, or aggressing against, A. We may understand C’s “higher” culpability in this whole procedure, but we still label this aggression by A as a criminal act which B has every right to repel by violence.

To be more concrete, if Jones finds that his property is being stolen by Smith, Jones has the right to repel him and try to catch him, but Jones has no right to repel him by bombing a building and murdering innocent people or to catch him by spraying machine gun fire into an innocent crowd. If he does this, he is as much (or more) a criminal aggressor as Smith is.

The same criteria hold if Smith and Jones each have men on his side, i.e., if “war” breaks out between Smith and his henchmen and Jones and his bodyguards. If Smith and a group of henchmen aggress against Jones, and Jones and his bodyguards pursue the Smith gang to their lair, we may cheer Jones on in his endeavor; and we, and others in society interested in repelling aggression, may contribute financially or personally to Jones’s cause. But Jones and his men have no right, any more than does Smith, to aggress against anyone else in the course of their “just war”: to steal others’ property in order to finance their pursuit, to conscript others into their posse by use of violence, or to kill others in the course of their struggle to capture the Smith forces. If Jones and his men should do any of these things, they become criminals as fully as Smith, and they too become subject to whatever sanctions are meted out against criminality. In fact if Smith’s crime was theft, and Jones should use conscription to catch him, or should kill innocent people in the pursuit, then Jones becomes more of a criminal than Smith, for such crimes against another person as enslavement and murder are surely far worse than theft.

Suppose that Jones, in the course of his “just war” against the ravages of Smith, should kill some innocent people; and suppose that he should declaim, in defense of this murder, that he was simply acting on the slogan, “give me liberty or give me death.” The absurdity of this “defense” should be evident at once, for the issue is not whether Jones was willing to risk death personally in his defensive struggle against Smith; the issue is whether he was willing to kill other innocent people in pursuit of his legitimate end. For Jones was in truth acting on the completely indefensible slogan: “Give me liberty or give them death”—surely a far less noble battle cry.

War, then, even a just defensive war, is only proper when the exercise of violence is rigorously limited to the individual criminals themselves. We may judge for ourselves how many wars or conflicts in history have met this criterion.

It has often been maintained, and especially by conservatives, that the development of the horrendous modern weapons of mass murder (nuclear weapons, rockets, germ warfare, etc.) is only a difference of degree rather than kind from the simpler weapons of an earlier era. Of course, one answer to this is that when the degree is the number of human lives, the difference is a very big one. But a particularly libertarian reply is that while the bow and arrow, and even the rifle, can be pinpointed, if the will be there, against actual criminals, modern nuclear weapons cannot. Here is a crucial difference in kind. Of course, the bow and arrow could be used for aggressive purposes, but it could also be pinpointed to use only against aggressors. Nuclear weapons, even “conventional” aerial bombs, cannot be. These weapons are ipso facto engines of indiscriminate mass destruction. (The only exception would be the extremely rare case where a mass of people who were all criminals inhabited a vast geographical area.) We must, therefore, conclude that the use of nuclear or similar weapons, or the threat thereof, is a crime against humanity for which there can be no justification.

This is why the old cliche no longer holds that it is not the arms but the will to use them that is significant in judging matters of war and peace. For it is precisely the characteristic of modern weapons that they cannot be used selectively, cannot be used in a libertarian manner. Therefore, their very existence must be condemned, and nuclear disarmament becomes a good to be pursued for its own sake. Indeed, of all the aspects of liberty, such disarmament becomes the highest political good that can be pursued in the modern world. For just as murder is a more heinous crime against another man than larceny so mass murder—indeed murder so widespread as to threaten human civilization and human survival itself—is the worst crime that any man could possibly commit. And that crime is now all too possible. Or are libertarians going to wax properly indignant about price controls or the income tax, and yet shrug their shoulders at or even positively advocate the ultimate crime of mass murder?

If nuclear warfare is totally illegitimate even for individuals defending themselves against criminal assault, how much more so is nuclear or even “conventional” warfare between States!

Let us now bring the State into our discussion. Since each State arrogates to itself a monopoly of violence over a territorial area, so long as its depredations and extortions go unresisted, there is said to be “peace” within the area, since the only violence is continuing and one-way, directed by the State downward against its people. Open conflict within the area only breaks out in the case of “revolutions,” in which people resist the use of State power against them. Both the quiet case of the State unresisted and the case of open revolution may be termed “vertical violence”: violence of the State against its public or vice versa.

In the existing world, each land area is ruled over by a State organization, with a number of States scattered over the earth, each with a monopoly of violence over its own territory. No super-state exists with a monopoly of violence over the entire world; and so a state of “anarchy” exists between the several States.2 And so, except for revolutions, which occur only sporadically, the open violence and two-sided conflict in the world takes place between two or more States, i.e., what is called “international war” or “horizontal violence.”

Now there are crucial and vital differences between inter-State warfare on the one hand and revolutions against the State or conflicts between private individuals on the other. In a revolution the conflict takes place within the same geographical area: both the minions of the State and the revolutionaries inhabit the same territory Inter-State warfare, on the other hand, takes place between two groups, each having a monopoly over its own geographical area, i.e., it takes place between inhabitants of different territories. From this difference flow several important consequences:

(1)In inter-State war, the scope for the use of modern weapons of mass destruction is far greater. For if the escalation of weaponry in an intra-territorial conflict becomes too great, each side will blow itself up with the weapons directed against the other. Neither a revolutionary group nor a State combatting revolution, for example, can use nuclear weapons against the other. But, on the other hand, when the warring parties inhabit different territorial areas, the scope for modern weaponry becomes enormous, and the entire arsenal of mass devastation can come into play.

A second corollary consequence (2) is that while it is possible for revolutionaries to pinpoint their targets and confine them to their State enemies, and thus avoid aggressing against innocent people, pinpointing is far less possible in an inter-State war. This is true even with older weapons; and, of course, with modern weapons there can be no pinpointing whatever.

Furthermore, (3) since each State can mobilize all the people and resources in its territory, the other State comes to regard all the citizens of the opposing country as at least temporarily its enemies and to treat them accordingly by extending the war to them. Thus, all of the consequences of inter-territorial war make it almost inevitable that inter-State war will involve aggression by each side against the innocent civilians—the private individuals—of the other. This inevitability becomes absolute with modern weapons of mass destruction.

If one distinct attribute of inter-State war is inter-territoriality, another unique attribute stems from the fact that each State lives by taxation over its subjects. Any war against another State, therefore, involves the increase and extension of taxation-aggression against its own people. Conflicts between private individuals can be, and usually are, voluntarily waged and financed by the parties concerned. Revolutions can be, and often are, financed and fought by voluntary contributions of the public. But State wars can only be waged through aggression against the taxpayer.

All State wars, therefore, involve increased aggression against the State’s own taxpayers, and almost all State wars (all, in modern warfare) involve the maximum aggression (murder) against the innocent civilians ruled by the enemy State. On the other hand, revolutions are often financed voluntarily and may pinpoint their violence to the State rulers; and private conflicts may confine their violence to the actual criminals. We must therefore conclude that, while some revolutions and some private conflicts may be legitimate, State wars are always to be condemned.

Some libertarians might object as follows: “While we too deplore the use of taxation for warfare, and the State’s monopoly of defense service, we have to recognize that these conditions exist, and while they do, we must support the State in just wars of defense.” In the light of our discussion above, the reply would go as follows: “Yes, States exist, and as long as they do, the libertarian attitude toward the State should be to say to it, in effect: ‘All right, you exist, but so long as you do, at least confine your activities to the area which you monopolize.’” In short, the libertarian is interested in reducing as much as possible the area of State aggression against all private individuals, “foreign” and “domestic.” The only way to do this, in international affairs, is for the people of each country to pressure their own State to confine its activities to the area which it monopolizes, and not to aggress against other State-monopolists—particularly the people ruled by other States. In short, the objective of the libertarian is to confine any existing State to as small a degree of invasion of person and property as possible. And this means the total avoidance of war. The people under each State should pressure “their” respective States not to attack one another, and, if a conflict should break out, to negotiate a peace or declare a cease-fire as quickly as physically possible.

Suppose further that we have that rarity—an unusually clear-cut case in which the State is actually trying to defend the property of one of its citizens. A citizen of country A travels or invests in country B, and then State B aggresses against his person or confiscates his property. Surely, our libertarian critic might argue, here is a clear-cut case where State A should threaten or commit war against State B in order to defend the property of “its” citizen. Since, the argument runs, the State has taken upon itself the monopoly of defense of its citizens, it then has the obligation to go to war on behalf of any citizen, and libertarians must support such a war as a just one.

But the point again is that each State has a monopoly of violence, and therefore of defense, only over its territorial area. It has no such monopoly—in fact it has no power at all-over any other geographical area. Therefore, if an inhabitant of country A should move to or invest in country B, the libertarian must argue that he thereby takes his chances with the State monopolist of country B, and that it would be immoral and criminal for State A to tax people in country A and to kill numerous innocents in country B in order to defend the property of the traveller or investor.

It should also be pointed out that there is no defense against nuclear weapons (the only current “defense” being the threat of “mutually assured destruction”) and, therefore, that the State cannot fulfill any sort of international defense function so long as these weapons exist.

The libertarian objective, then, should be, regardless of the specific causes of any conflict, to pressure States not to launch wars against other States and, should a war break out, to pressure them to sue for peace and negotiate a cease-fire and a peace treaty as quickly as physically possible. This objective, incidentally, was enshrined in the old-fashioned international law of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, i.e., the ideal that no State aggress against the territory of another—which is now called the “peaceful coexistence” of States.

Suppose, however, that despite libertarian opposition, war has begun and the warring States are not negotiating a peace. What, then, should be the libertarian position? Clearly, to reduce the scope of assault against innocent civilians as much as possible. Old-fashioned international law had two excellent devices for this purpose: the “laws of war,” and the “laws of neutrality” or “neutrals’ rights.” The laws of neutrality were designed to keep any war that breaks out strictly confined to the warring States themselves, without aggression against the States, or particularly the peoples, of the other nations. Hence, the importance of such ancient and now forgotten American principles as “freedom of the seas” or severe limitations upon the rights of warring States to repress neutral trade with the enemy country. In short, the libertarian position is to induce the warring States to observe fully the rights of neutral citizens.

For their part, the “laws of war” were designed to limit as much as possible the invasion by warring States of the rights of the civilians of the respective warring countries. As the British jurist F.J.P. Veale put it:

The fundamental principle of this code was that hostilities between civilized peoples must be limited to the armed forces actually engaged. . . . It drew a distinction between combatants and noncombatants by laying down that the sole business of the combatants is to fight each other and, consequently that noncombatants must be excluded from the scope of military operations.

In condemning all wars, regardless of motive, the libertarian knows that there may well be varying degrees of guilt among States for any specific war. But his overriding consideration is the condemnation of any State participation in war. Hence, his policy is that of exerting pressure on all States not to start or engage in a war, to stop one that has begun, and to reduce the scope of any persisting war in injuring civilians of either side or no side.

One corollary of the libertarian policy of peaceful coexistence and nonintervention between States is the rigorous abstention from any foreign aid, aid from one State to another. For any aid given by State A to State B (1) increases the tax aggression against the people of country A, and (2) aggravates the suppression by State B of its own people.

Let us see how libertarian theory applies to the problem of imperialism, which may be defined as the aggression of State A over the people of country B, and the subsequent maintenance of this foreign rule. This rule could either be directly over country B, or indirectly through a subsidiary client State B. Revolution by the people of B against the imperial rule of A (either directly or against client State B) is certainly legitimate, provided again that the revolutionary fire be directed only against the rulers. It has often been maintained by conservatives—and even by some libertarians—that Western imperialism over undeveloped countries should be supported as more watchful of property rights than any successor native government might be. But first, judging what might follow the status quo is purely speculative, whereas the oppression of existing imperial rule over the people of country B is all too real and culpable. And secondly, this analysis neglects the injuries of imperialism suffered by the Western taxpayer, who is mulcted and burdened to pay for the wars of conquest and then for the maintenance of the imperial bureaucracy. On this latter ground alone, the libertarian must condemn imperialism.

Does opposition to all inter-State war mean that the Libertarian can never countenance change of geographical boundaries—that he is consigning the world to a freezing of unjust territorial regimes? Certainly not. Suppose, for example, that the hypothetical State of “Walldavia” has attacked “Ruritania” and annexed the western part of the country. The Western Ruritanians now long to be reunited with their Ruritanian brethren (perhaps because they wish to use their Ruritanian language undisturbed). How is this to be achieved? There is, of course, the route of peaceful negotiations between the two powers; but suppose that the Walldavian imperialists prove adamant. Or, libertarian Walldavians can put pressure on their State to abandon its conquest in the name of justice. But suppose that this, too, does not work. What then? We must still maintain the illegitimacy of the Ruritanian State’s mounting a war against Walldavia. The legitimate routes to geographical change are (1) revolutionary uprisings by the oppressed Western Ruritanian people, and (2) aid by private Ruritanian groups (or, for that matter, by friends of the Ruritanian cause in other countries) to the Western rebels—either in the form of equipment or volunteer personnel.

Finally, we must allude to the domestic tyranny that is the inevitable accompaniment of inter-State war, a tyranny that usually lingers long after the war is over. Randolph Bourne realized that “war is the health of the State.”6 It is in war that the State really comes into its own: swelling in power, in number, in pride, in absolute dominion over the economy and the society. The root myth that enables the State to wax fat off war is the canard that war is a defense by the State of its subjects. The facts are precisely the reverse. For if war is the health of the State, it is also its greatest danger. A State can only “die” by defeat in war or by revolution. In war, therefore, the State frantically mobilizes the people to fight for it against another State, under the pretext that it is fighting for them. Society becomes militarized and statized, it becomes a herd, seeking to kill its alleged enemies, rooting out and suppressing all dissent from the official war effort, happily betraying truth for the supposed public interest. Society becomes an armed camp, with the values and the morale—as Albert Jay Nock once phrased it—of an “army on the march.”

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