Archive for October, 2009

October 29, 2009

War! What is it good for?

“Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object.”.. said the king who impoverished his subjects merely a few years later.

Is there such a thing as a good war? And who should decide if a war at hand is good or not?  What is the best way to fight a war?

A few days ago, I was arguing with a conservative friend who claimed that a draft for a defensive war is justified. Indeed a draft for a war is akin to taxation. I have given quite a bit of thought to the topic of war. It was once a complex topic to me – because on one hand it involved defense of everything you hold near, dear and precious, on the other – millions have been slaughtered in these acts of collective violence. Thanks to the perspectives offered by Hindu philosophy, Christian/Catholic scholastic tradition, Islamic fundamentals (not fundamentalism), Dr. Rothbard and Dr. Hoppe, along with many others I cannot list here – I have come to the conclusion that it is not so complex after all. An ethical approach to war is far superior to a “pragmatic” approach – in achieving all the goals the “pragmatic” approach apologists establish.


Not only is the voluntary fighting force far superior in fighting wars, winning them and at a much lower cost, it is also reduces wars, violence, death and injury – offers the least possible risk that wars pose to the liberty of free people. If the following arguments make sense to you – I urge you to consider the abolition of standing armies, in favor of fully voluntary fighting force.

Ethical arguments

  1. There are wars that must be fought and others that must not be waged. Wars as a whole are never good to common people, and soldiers on either side. The only people who benefit from wars are the nutjob leaders who either solidify their personal power (some thrust their people into war just to gain personal glory and a name in history books) and those who sell weapons (also called merchants of death) to the warring nations/factions at exorbitant prices. A soldier always looses the war – regardless of the outcome of the war as a whole. The people on both sides always loose the war, by loosing generation of young men who otherwise would have been happy contributors to the wellbeing of others and destroying homes, industry and infrastructure that took years to build up prior to the war itself.
  2. The only person capable of deciding whether a war is good or not – must be the individual. I do not oppose those that seek to sway/convince the individual to join a war – however any compulsion/coercion levied upon the person to be highly unethical and must never be tolerated.
  3. An individual is responsible for his own safety – he may follow orders of leaders he deems capable, but any such interaction must be voluntary. To the extent the interaction is non-voluntary or is imposed through threats of court-martial or other types of punishments – is the precise extent unto which the interaction is unethical.
  4. Taxation for funding of military organization is unethical. All contributions towards raising and sustaining armies must be voluntary. To the extent these are not voluntary – the collection and hence the armies sustained on such collections are unethical. (To Mr. Harry Reid- Despite your insistence, Taxes are not voluntary in the USA or any other nation-state for that matter).
  5. There exist cases where surrender is better than fighting the war (the think of Saddam’s Iraq)- and this too would work out much better in a society resorting to voluntary fighting force than in a system which assumes and enforces national loyalty and obligations.  The soldiers that dropped their weapons and went home, took the risk of their lives in doing so – for if Saddam had not been toppled – they could have faced execution for their desertion.

Political arguments

  1. Given that a voluntary military is not provided for with taxes – it must disband soon after it has served its purpose. Thus a free society does not have to guard against the “military-industrial-congressional-complex” as Eisenhower famously warned about. Cost for upkeep of the army is reduced, while enthusiasts can keep developing weaponry.
  2. Because there is no standing army – the adventure fantasies of political elites cannot be fulfilled by waging wars in foreign lands. This in-turn reduces enmity with foreign peoples – thus following the advice of Washington, Jefferson and John Quincy Adams – trade and friendship with all, entangling alliances with none. The political elite can have as many alliances as they want – when it comes to sending help – they cannot send any – apart from expending their personal fortunes(and wouldn’t that be a blessing to impoverish a bellicose fool?).
  3. In a territory that depends solely on the voluntary soldiers for its defense – the right to keep and bear arms is safe and will be virtually unchallenged. No commie gun control nut can advocate the abolishing of gun ownership, no more than he can advocate a unilateral and total disarmament.  Plus, there would be no arms to enforce any such Arms control.

Military arguments

  1. History has multiple evident instances that armies populated by volunteers and sustained on voluntary contributions tend to be small, very effective, friendly to the local population and fight defensive terms only. I am not suggesting here that this is a black and white situation – all armies are gray in this regard – however the degree to which an army adheres to voluntary organization clearly indicates its higher success rate, compared to similarly armed/disadvantaged non-voluntary armies. Even the US military establishment acknowledges the importance of voluntary organization when it claims to be an “all-volunteer” fighting force.
  2. Because voluntary fighters will purchase military equipment directly on the market place, the weapons manufacturing market becomes wide open to free competition, thus leading to cheaper and better weaponry, munitions and armor. Bad or expensive weapons manufacturers will be weeded out through market mechanisms. For a voluntary soldier, his life is much more precious and hence the weaponry balance, specifically defensive & armor vs offensive weaponry would be balanced.
  3. Because there will be no fixed military installations in a voluntary society, an invading army cannot identify targets to destroy – a task rendered quite easy in the day of stealth bombers, long range cruise missiles, and GPS guided munitions. Hence the defending army has much more time to reorganize and fight effectively as compared to statist armies heavily depending on fixed infrastructures (including GPS satellites). One of the key factors of modern warfare is – Planning. An enemy cannot plan effectively, as it cannot estimate the size of resistance army it will face, the types and quantities of weapons the resistance holds, etc. When an attack is thus mounted – it will be almost completely blind – and carries a high risk of breaking the morale of its leadership and invading soldiers as soon as they realize their superiors have no idea who/what they are fighting.
  4. Because the value of life of a soldier now is directly in the hands of the soldier – a risk value of disability/death of each soldier could and would be much more rationally allocated (as opposed to being decided by distant generals and commanders). Battlefield doctors (also volunteers) could compete to gain be hired by soldiers to aid them with injuries, thus fostering the best ways to avoid, fix and deal with battlefield injuries. Just as with armor and weaponry, the service of battlefield wounded would also be open to the market (possibly with soldiers hiring doctors to operate upon them, directly), thus overtime improving the quality of care for wounded soldiers.
  5. The hierarchy within the volunteer army would have to be established through good conduct and leadership, not based on who salutes the best(rhetorical) or who has been pushing paperwork in the “system” the longest. Thus “the charge of the light brigade” or “waist deep in the big muddy” could be avoided. Although, all good armies try to inculcate this culture – they obviously have not succeeded in such. Also because, soldiers will enter each battlefield on their own choice, they will fight much more courageously, selflessly and yet carefully – and much like the Spartans fighting the Persians – will be able to defeat significantly larger armies if comparably armed (and this almost never would be the case – the volunteer troops will be armed much better than their statist opponents)
  6. Almost, all offensive wars can be avoided. A warmonger will not be able to muster as many volunteers to risk their lives in order to facilitate the plunder from which they themselves cannot benefit. Obviously there will always be those that choose to risk their lives and limbs to try and invade foreign lands, but a situation where sensible persons can simply ignore a call to arms by a lunatic warmonger is much preferable to one where a soldier risks being thrown in prison for disobeying orders.

Socio-cultural arguments

  1. Historically, men and especially young men have been treated as cannon fodder to fulfill the expansionist ambitions of the old and the elite. Yet, men as a gender are often blamed for all wars (along with everything that is evil around the world). Once wars were outsourced to professional armies, the value of the man – in society as a whole has definitely declined. Young women no longer grow up looking upon men as valuable and necessary members of society whose self-less sacrifice they would need in case of an invasion, nor do they rise up to the occasion and pick up a rifle when need arises. Despite feminist fantasies, men still fulfill this part in statist armies in disproportionately higher percentages than women do. What has changed is that men overall have been robbed of the social credit, instead allocating them to those wearing the uniforms. Nevermind, that the boy next door will be drafted and whisked off to war if need be.. This has paved the way for some feminist man-haters to start talking in terms of “Do we really need men?” – a trend I personally deem to be anti-human.
  2. Participation in a fully voluntary fighting force, being voluntary – means that pacifists or those people who deem the war as unethical or not beneficial to themselves, can refrain from participating in the war.  Thus those participating in the war cannot be blamed for forcing unwilling to fight on their behalf.

Authors notes: I submit to you all the above from the top of my head. I will keep updating this blog post as ideas come to me, so please post your questions, comments and suggestions to add to it. The only comment I will not take seriously are declarative accusations of “utopianism”. If you think I am being utopian – PLEASE be explicit as to why it will fail. I would also suggest gaining some familiarity of the history of asymmetric warfare throughout history, the economics of warfare (prosperous cultures are capable of supporting better well equipped armies), specifically the cases where the right to keep and bear arms was respected to a higher degree. If you cannot explain/reason it – maybe you don’t have any basis for your accusation – on the other hand, if you do, I am willing to admit that I could be 100% wrong and would appreciate your wise contribution. I will also post a list of books for those interested in this subject soon.

Any suggestions to this list are also welcome.


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October 29, 2009

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