Thursday, September 12, 2013

War, Peace, and the State

In light of the recent controversy over whether the US should launch a war in Syria, I have decided to republish a piece from the late great Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995), one of the 20th century's greatest thinkers and economists, one of the greatest libertarians of all time, and an excellent writer. In 1963, he published an essay entitled "War, Peace and the State," which many hold to be the definitive libertarian essay on the issues of war and peace, along with "The Anatomy of the State" being viewed as the definitive libertarian statement on the State.

I have decided to republish this classic essay so that one can understand the libertarian theory of war, peace and the state and apply it consistently to all wars throughout modern day history. While it takes an anarcho-libertarian viewpoint (which I don't subscribe to as of now), it is valuable for libertarians of all kinds. It has been reprinted from

"War, Peace and the State"


Murray N. Rothbard

This article, which first appeared in The Standard for April 1963, is collected in Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays.

The libertarian movement has been chided by William F. Buckley, Jr., for failing to use its "strategic intelligence" in facing the major problems of our time. We have, indeed, been too often prone to "pursue our busy little seminars on whether or not to demunicipalize the garbage collectors" (as Buckley has contemptuously written), while ignoring and failing to apply libertarian theory to the most vital problem of our time: war and peace. There is a sense in which libertarians have been utopian rather than strategic in their thinking, with a tendency to divorce the ideal system which we envisage from the realities of the world in which we live. In short, too many of us have divorced theory from practice, and have then been content to hold the pure libertarian society as an abstract ideal for some remotely future time, while in the concrete world of today we follow unthinkingly the orthodox "conservative" line. To live liberty, to begin the hard but essential strategic struggle of changing the unsatisfactory world of today in the direction of our ideals, we must realize and demonstrate to the world that libertarian theory can be brought sharply to bear upon all of the world's crucial problems. By coming to grips with these problems, we can demonstrate that libertarianism is not just a beautiful ideal somewhere on Cloud Nine, but a tough-minded body of truths that enables us to take our stand and to cope with the whole host of issues of our day.

Let us then, by all means, use our strategic intelligence. Although, when he sees the result, Mr. Buckley might well wish that we had stayed in the realm of garbage collection. Let us construct a libertarian theory of war and peace.

The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence ("aggress") against another man's person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another.1 In short, no violence may be employed against a non-aggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.2

Let us set aside the more complex problem of the State for a while and consider simply relations between "private" individuals. Jones finds that he or his property is being invaded, aggressed against, by Smith. It is legitimate for Jones, as we have seen, to repel this invasion by defensive violence of his own. But now we come to a more knotty question: is it within the right of Jones to commit violence against innocent third parties as a corollary to his legitimate defense against Smith? To the libertarian, the answer must be clearly, no. Remember that 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 starving, or is doing it to save one's relatives, 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 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 must still label this aggression as a criminal act which B has the right to repel by violence.

To be more concrete, if Jones finds that his property is being stolen by Smith, he has the right to repel him and try to catch him; but he 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 of) a criminal aggressor as Smith is.

The application to problems of war and peace is already becoming evident. For while war in the narrower sense is a conflict between States, in the broader sense we may define it as the outbreak of open violence between people or groups of people. If Smith and a group of his 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 has no right, any more than does Smith, to aggress against anyone else in the course of his "just war": to steal others' property in order to finance his pursuit, to conscript others into his posse by use of violence, or to kill others in the course of his struggle to capture the Smith forces. If Jones should do any of these things, he becomes a criminal as fully as Smith, and he too becomes 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 others in the pursuit, Jones becomes more of a criminal than Smith, for such crimes against another person as enslavement and murder are surely far worse than theft. (For while theft injures the extension of another's personality, enslavement injures, and murder obliterates, that personality itself.)

Suppose that Jones, in the course of his "just war" against the ravages of Smith, should kill a few 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 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. 3

The libertarian's basic attitude toward war must then be: it is legitimate to use violence against criminals in defense of one's rights of person and property; it is completely impermissible to violate the rights of other innocent people. War, then, is only proper when the exercise of violence is rigorously limited to the individual criminals. 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.4 But another answer that the libertarian is particularly equipped to give 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 sin and a crime against humanity for which there can be no justification.

This is why the old cliché 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. And if we will indeed use our strategic intelligence, we will see that such disarmament is not only a good, but the highest political good that we can pursue 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 imminent. And the forestalling of massive annihilation is far more important, in truth, than the demunicipalization of garbage disposal, as worthwhile as that may be. Or are libertarians going to wax properly indignant about price control 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!

It is time now to bring the State into our discussion. The State is a group of people who have managed to acquire a virtual monopoly of the use of violence throughout a given territorial area. In particular, it has acquired a monopoly of aggressive violence, for States generally recognize the right of individuals to use violence (though not against States, of course) in self-defense.5  The State then uses this monopoly to wield power over the inhabitants of the area and to enjoy the material fruits of that power. The State, then, is the only organization in society that regularly and openly obtains its monetary revenues by the use of aggressive violence; all other individuals and organizations (except if delegated that right by the State) can obtain wealth only by peaceful production and by voluntary exchange of their respective products. This use of violence to obtain its revenue (called "taxation") is the keystone of State power. Upon this base the State erects a further structure of power over the individuals in its territory, regulating them, penalizing critics, subsidizing favorites, etc. The State also takes care to arrogate to itself the compulsory monopoly of various critical services needed by society, thus keeping the people in dependence upon the State for key services, keeping control of the vital command posts in society and also fostering among the public the myth that only the State can supply these goods and services. Thus the State is careful to monopolize police and judicial service, the ownership of roads and streets, the supply of money, and the postal service, and effectively to monopolize or control education, public utilities, transportation, and radio and television.
Now, since the State arrogates to itself the monopoly of violence over a territorial area, so long as its depredations and extortions go unresisted, there is said to be "peace" in the area, since the only violence is one-way, directed by the State downward against the 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 modern world, each land area is ruled over by a State organization, but there are 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. (It has always been a source of wonder, incidentally, to this writer how the same conservatives who denounce as lunatic any proposal for eliminating a monopoly of violence over a given territory and thus leaving private individuals without an overlord, should be equally insistent upon leaving States without an overlord to settle disputes between them. The former is always denounced as "crackpot anarchism"; the latter is hailed as preserving independence and "national sovereignty" from "world government.") 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, that is, in 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. One vital difference is the shift in geography. 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; that is, 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 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 combating 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 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.6 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 over its own people.7  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 generally financed voluntarily and may pinpoint their violence to the State rulers, and private conflicts may confine their violence to the actual criminals. The libertarian must, therefore, conclude that, while some revolutions and some private conflicts may be legitimate, State wars are always to be condemned.

Many libertarians 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." The reply to this would go as follows: "Yes, as you say, unfortunately States exist, each having a monopoly of violence over its territorial area." What then should be the attitude of the libertarian toward conflicts between these States? The libertarian should say, in effect, to the State: "All right, you exist, but as long as you exist 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. 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. 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 would 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 have an obligation to support this 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 it would be immoral and criminal for State A to tax people in country A and kill numerous innocents in country B in order to defend the property of the traveler or investor.8

It should also be pointed out that there is no defense against nuclear weapons (the only current "defense" is the threat of mutual annihilation) and, therefore, that the State cannot fulfill any sort of 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 peace treaty as quickly as physically possible. This objective, incidentally, is enshrined in the international law of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, that is, the ideal that no State could aggress against the territory of another – in short, the "peaceful coexistence" of States.9

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 on innocent civilians as much as possible. Old-fashioned international law had two excellent devices for this: the "laws of war," and the "laws of neutrality" or "neutrals' rights." The laws of neutrality are designed to keep any war that breaks out 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 blockade neutral trade with the enemy country. In short, the libertarian tries to induce neutral States to remain neutral in any inter-State conflict and to induce the warring States to observe fully the rights of neutral citizens. 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.10
In the modified form of prohibiting the bombardment of all cities not in the front line, this rule held in Western European wars in recent centuries until Britain launched the strategic bombing of civilians in World War II.  Now, of course, the entire concept is scarcely remembered, the very nature of nuclear war resting on the annihilation of civilians.
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 the overriding consideration for the libertarian is the condemnation of any State participation in war. Hence his policy is that of exerting pressure on all States not to start 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.
A neglected corollary to the libertarian policy of peaceful coexistence of States is the rigorous abstention from any foreign aid; that is, a policy of nonintervention between States (= "isolationism" = "neutralism"). For any aid given by State A to State B (1) increases tax aggression against the people of country A and (2) aggravates the suppression by State B of its own people. If there are any revolutionary groups in country B, then foreign aid intensifies this suppression all the more. Even foreign aid to a revolutionary group in B – more defensible because directed to a voluntary group opposing a State rather than a State oppressing the people – must be condemned as (at the very least) aggravating tax aggression at home.

Let us see how libertarian theory applies to the problem of imperialism, which may be defined as the aggression by State A over the people of country B, and the subsequent maintenance of this foreign rule. Revolution by the B people against the imperial rule of A is certainly legitimate, provided again that revolutionary fire be directed only against the rulers. It has often been maintained – even by libertarians – that Western imperialism over undeveloped countries should be supported as more watchful of property rights than any successor native government would be. The first reply is that judging what might follow the status quo is purely speculative, whereas existing imperialist rule is all too real and culpable. Moreover, the libertarian here begins his focus at the wrong end – at the alleged benefit of imperialism to the native. He should, on the contrary, concentrate first on 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 ground alone, the libertarian must condemn imperialism.11
Does opposition to all war mean that the libertarian can never countenance change – that he is consigning the world to a permanent freezing of unjust regimes? Certainly not. Suppose, for example, that the hypothetical state of "Waldavia" has attacked "Ruritania" and annexed the western part of the country. The Western Ruritanians now long to be reunited with their Ruritanian brethren. How is this to be achieved? There is, of course, the route of peaceful negotiation between the two powers, but suppose that the Waldavian imperialists prove adamant. Or, libertarian Waldavians can put pressure on their government 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 Ruritania's mounting a war against Waldavia. The legitimate routes 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 of volunteer personnel.12
We have seen throughout our discussion the crucial importance, in any present-day libertarian peace program, of the elimination of modern methods of mass annihilation. These weapons, against which there can be no defense, assure maximum aggression against civilians in any conflict with the clear prospect of the destruction of civilization and even of the human race itself. Highest priority on any libertarian agenda, therefore, must be pressure on all States to agree to general and complete disarmament down to police levels, with particular stress on nuclear disarmament. In short, if we are to use our strategic intelligence, we must conclude that the dismantling of the greatest menace that has ever confronted the life and liberty of the human race is indeed far more important than demunicipalizing the garbage service.

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, of course, 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 thatit is fighting for them. But all this should occasion no surprise; we see it in other walks of life. For which categories of crime does the State pursue and punish most intensely – those against private citizens or those against itself? The gravest crimes in the State's lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of person and property, but dangers to its own contentment: for example, treason, desertion of a soldier to the enemy, failure to register for the draft, conspiracy to overthrow the government. Murder is pursued haphazardly unless the victim be a policeman, or Gott soll hüten, an assassinated Chief of State; failure to pay a private debt is, if anything, almost encouraged, but income tax evasion is punished with utmost severity; counterfeiting the State's money is pursued far more relentlessly than forging private checks, etc. All this evidence demonstrates that the State is far more interested in preserving its own power than in defending the rights of private citizens.We cannot leave our topic without saying at least a word about the domestic tyranny that is the inevitable accompaniment of war. The great Randolph Bourne realized that "war is the health of the State."13  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. Society 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."

A final word about conscription: of all the ways in which war aggrandizes the State, this is perhaps the most flagrant and most despotic. But the most striking fact about conscription is the absurdity of the arguments put forward on its behalf. A man must be conscripted to defend his (or someone else's?) liberty against an evil State beyond the borders. Defend his liberty? How? By being coerced into an army whose very raison d'être is the expunging of liberty, the trampling on all the liberties of the person, the calculated and brutal dehumanization of the soldier and his transformation into an efficient engine of murder at the whim of his "commanding officer"?14 Can any conceivable foreign State do anything worse to him than what "his" army is now doing for his alleged benefit? Who is there, O Lord, to defend him against his "defenders"?

1 There are some libertarians who would go even further and say that no one should employ violence even in defending himself against violence. However, even such Tolstoyans, or "absolute pacifists," would concede the defender's right to employ defensive violence and would merely urge him not to exercise that right. They, therefore, do not disagree with our proposition. In the same way, a libertarian temperance advocate would not challenge a man's right to drink liquor, only his wisdom in exercising that right.
2 We shall not attempt to justify this axiom here. Most libertarians and even conservatives are familiar with the rule and even defend it; the problem is not so much in arriving at the rule as in fearlessly and consistently pursuing its numerous and often astounding implications.
3 Or, to bring up another famous antipacifist slogan, the question is not whether "we would be willing to use force to prevent the rape of our sister," but whether, to prevent that rape, we are willing to kill innocent people and perhaps even the sister herself.
4 William Buckley and other conservatives have propounded the curious moral doctrine that it is no worse to kill millions than it is to kill one man. The man who does either is, to be sure, a murderer; but surely it makes a huge difference how many people he kills. We may see this by phrasing the problem thus: after a man has already killed one person, does it make any difference whether he stops killing now or goes on a further rampage and kills many dozen more people? Obviously, it does.
5 Professor Robert L. Cunningham has defined the State as the institution with "a monopoly on initiating open physical coercion." Or, as Albert Jay Nock put it similarly if more caustically, "The State claims and exercises the monopoly of crime.... It forbids private murder, but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft, but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants."
6 An outstanding example of pinpointing by revolutionaries was the invariable practice of the Irish Republican Army, in its later years, of making sure that only British troops and British government property were attacked and that no innocent Irish civilians were injured. A guerrilla revolution not supported by the bulk of the people, of course, is far more likely to aggress against civilians.
7 If it be objected that a war could theoretically be financed solely by a State's lowering of nonwar expenditures, then the reply still holds that taxation remains greater than it could be without the war effect. Moreover, the purport of this article is that libertarians should be opposed to government expenditures whatever the field, war or nonwar.
8 There is another consideration which applies rather to "domestic" defense within a State's territory: the less the State can successfully defend the inhabitants of its area against attack by criminals, the more these inhabitants may come to learn the inefficiency of state operations, and the more they will turn to non-State methods of defense. Failure by the State to defend, therefore, has educative value for the public.
9 The international law mentioned in this paper is the old-fashioned libertarian law as had voluntarily emerged in previous centuries and has nothing to do with the modern statist accretion of "collective security." Collective security forces a maximum escalation of every local war into a worldwide war – the precise reversal of the libertarian objective of reducing the scope of any war as much as possible.
10 F.J.P. Veale, Advance to Barbarism (Appleton, Wis.: C.C. Nelson, 1953), p. 58.
11 Two other points about Western imperialism: first, its rule is not nearly so liberal or benevolent as many libertarians like to believe. The only property rights respected are those of the Europeans; the natives find their best lands stolen from them by the imperialists and their labor coerced by violence into working the vast landed estates acquired by this theft.
Second, another myth holds that the "gunboat diplomacy" of the turn of the century was a heroic libertarian action in defense of the property rights of Western investors in backward countries. Aside from our above strictures against going beyond any State's monopolized land area, it is overlooked that the bulk of gunboat moves were in defense, not of private investments, but of Western holders of government bonds. The Western powers coerced the smaller governments into increasing tax aggression on their own people, in order to pay off foreign bondholders. By no stretch of the imagination was this an action on behalf of private property – quite the contrary.
12 The Tolstoyan wing of the libertarian movement could urge the Western Ruritanians to engage in nonviolent revolution, for example, tax strikes, boycotts, mass refusal to obey government orders or a general strike – especially in arms factories. Cf. the work of the revolutionary Tolstoyan, Bartelemy De Ligt, The Conquest of Violence: An Essay On War and Revolution (New York: Dutton, 1938).
13 See Randolph Bourne, "Unfinished Fragment on the State," in Untimely Papers (New York: B.W. Huebsch, 1919).
14 To the old militarist taunt hurled against the pacifist: "Would you use force to prevent the rape of your sister?" the proper retort is: "Would you rape your sister if ordered to do so by your commanding officer?"

Military Unable to Stop Suicide Epidemic from Getting Worse

Apparently, the US military-industrial complex and the Pentagon are unable to decrease the epidemic of soldier suicides that are occurring, with 177 soldiers killing themselves, which is only one more than the 176 killed on war zones.

The Guardian reports: "Across all branches of the US military and the reserves, a similar disturbing trend was recorded. In all, 349 service members took their own lives in 2012, while a lesser number, 295, died in combat. Shocking though those figures are, they are as nothing compared with the statistic to which Busbee technically belongs. He had retired himself from the army just two months before he died, and so is officially recorded at death as a veteran – one of an astonishing 6,500 former military personnel who killed themselves in 2012, roughly equivalent to one every 80 minutes."

Is this what John Hagee and all the other conservative Christian Republicans want? Well, whether or not this is true (it isn't; they just want to "defend our freedoms" by growing the state through war), this is going to happen until these unjust wars stop. Perhaps the man who killed the overrated Chris Kyle had guilty feelings about his actions in the Iraq War. Perhaps the soldiers who commit suicide have guilty feelings about participating in the immoral, illegal and unconstitutional wars that the Bush administration started and that the Obama administration has continued (with the exception of Iraq, which Obama wanted to continue but was prevented from doing so due to a deadline set before).

The Lessons of 9/11: A Classic Speech by Ron Paul

On April 22, 2004, Ron Paul spoke before the House of Representatives on the lessons that 9/11 taught us and should teach us for ever and ever. In light of the recent anniversary of 9/11, I decided to publish this speech from Ron Paul, with all credit due to him.

Before the US House of Representatives, April 22, 2004
We are constantly admonished to remember the lessons of 9/11. Of course the real issue is not remembering, but rather knowing what the pertinent lesson of that sad day is.
The 9/11 Commission soon will release its report after months of fanfare by those whose reputations are at stake. The many hours and dollars spent on the investigation may well reveal little we don’t already know, while ignoring the most important lessons that should be learned from this egregious attack on our homeland. Common sense already tells us the tens of billions of dollars spent by government agencies, whose job it is to provide security and intelligence for our country, failed.
A full-fledged investigation into the bureaucracy may help us in the future, but one should never pretend that government bureaucracies can be made efficient. It is the very nature of bureaucracies to be inefficient. Spending an inordinate amount of time finger pointing will distract from the real lessons of 9/11. Which agency, which department, or which individual receives the most blame should not be the main purpose of the investigation.
Despite our serious failure to prevent the attacks, it’s disturbing to see how politicized the whole investigation has become. Which political party receives the greatest blame is a high stakes election-year event, and distracts from the real lessons ignored by both sides.
Everyone on the Commission assumes that 9/11 resulted from a lack of government action. No one in Washington has raised the question of whether our shortcomings, brought to light by 9/11, could have been a result of too much government. Possibly in the final report we will discuss this, but to date no one has questioned the assumption that we need more government and, of course — though elusive — a more efficient one.
The failure to understand the nature of the enemy who attacked us on 9/11, along with a pre-determined decision to initiate a pre-emptive war against Iraq, prompted our government to deceive the people into believing that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the attacks on New York and Washington. The majority of the American people still contend the war against Iraq was justified because of the events of 9/11. These misinterpretations have led to many U.S. military deaths and casualties, prompting a growing number of Americans to question the wisdom of our presence and purpose in a strange foreign land 6,000 miles from our shores.
The neo-conservative defenders of our policy in Iraq speak of the benefits that we have brought to the Iraqi people: removal of a violent dictator, liberation, democracy, and prosperity. If all this were true, the resistance against our occupation would not be growing. We ought to admit we have not been welcomed as liberators as was promised by the proponents of the war.
Though we hear much about the so-called “benefits” we have delivered to the Iraqi people and the Middle East, we hear little talk of the cost to the American people: lives lost, soldiers maimed for life, uncounted thousands sent home with diseased bodies and minds, billions of dollars consumed, and a major cloud placed over U.S. markets and the economy. Sharp political divisions, reminiscent of the 1960s, are arising at home.
Failing to understand why 9/11 happened and looking for a bureaucratic screw-up to explain the whole thing — while using the event to start an unprovoked war unrelated to 9/11 — have dramatically compounded the problems all Americans and the world face. Evidence has shown that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the guerilla attacks on New York and Washington, and since no weapons of mass destruction were found, other reasons are given for invading Iraq. The real reasons are either denied or ignored: oil, neo-conservative empire building, and our support for Israel over the Palestinians.
The proponents of the Iraqi war do not hesitate to impugn the character of those who point out the shortcomings of current policy, calling them unpatriotic and appeasers of terrorism. It is said that they are responsible for the growing armed resistance, and for the killing of American soldiers. It’s conveniently ignored that if the opponents of the current policy had prevailed, not one single American would have died nor would tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have suffered the same fate.
Al Qaeda and many new militant groups would not be enjoying a rapid growth in their ranks. By denying that our sanctions and bombs brought havoc to Iraq, it’s easy to play the patriot card and find a scapegoat to blame. We are never at fault and never responsible for bad outcomes of what many believe is, albeit well-intentioned, interference in the affairs of others 6,000 miles from our shores.
Pursuing our policy has boiled down to “testing our resolve.” It is said by many — even some who did not support the war — that now we have no choice but to “stay the course.” They argue that it’s a noble gesture to be courageous and continue no matter how difficult. But that should not be the issue. It is not a question of resolve, but rather a question of wise policy. If the policy is flawed and the world and our people are less safe for it, unshakable resolve is the opposite of what we need. Staying the course only makes sense when the difficult tasks are designed to protect our country and to thwart those who pose a direct threat to us. Wilsonian idealism of self-sacrifice to “make the world safe for democracy” should never be an excuse to wage preemptive war — especially since it almost never produces the desired results. There are always too many unintended consequences.
In our effort to change the political structure of Iraq, we continue alliances with dictators and even develop new ones with countries that are anything but democracies. We have a close alliance with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, many other Arab dictatorships, and a new one with Kadafi of Libya. This should raise questions about the credibility of our commitment to promoting democracy in Iraq — which even our own government wouldn’t tolerate.
Show me one neo-con that would accept a national election that put the radical Shiites in charge. As Secretary Rumsfeld said, it’s not going to happen. These same people are condemning the recent democratic decisions made in Spain. We should remember that since World War II, in 35 U.S. attempts to promote democracy around the world none have succeeded.
Promoters of war too often fail to contemplate the unintended consequences of an aggressive foreign policy. So far, the anti-war forces have not been surprised with the chaos that has now become Iraq, or Iran’s participation — but even they cannot know all the long-term shortcomings of such a policy.
In an eagerness to march on Baghdad, the neo-cons gloated — and I heard them — of the “shock and awe” that was about to hit the Iraqi people. It turns out that the real shock and awe is that we’re further from peace in Iraq than we were a year ago — and Secretary Rumsfeld admits his own surprise.
The only policy now offered is to escalate the war and avenge the deaths of American soldiers — if they kill 10 of our troops, we’ll kill 100 of theirs. Up until now, announcing the number of Iraqi deaths has been avoided purposely, but the new policy announces our success by the number of Iraqis killed. But the more we kill, the greater the incitement of the radical Islamic militants. The harder we try to impose our will on them, the greater the resistance becomes.
Amazingly, our occupation has done what was at one time thought to be impossible — it has united the Sunnis and Shiites against our presence. Although this is probably temporary, it is real and has deepened our problems in securing Iraq. The results are an escalation of the conflict and the requirement for more troops. This acceleration of the killing is called “pacification” — a bit of 1984 newspeak.
The removal of Saddam Hussein has created a stark irony. The willingness and intensity of the Iraqi people to fight for their homeland has increased many times over. Under Saddam Hussein, essentially no resistance occurred. Instead of jubilation and parades for the liberators, we face much greater and unified efforts to throw out all foreigners than when Saddam Hussein was in charge.
It’s not whether the Commission investigation of the causes of 9/11 is unwarranted; since the Commissioners are looking in the wrong places for answers, it’s whether much will be achieved.
I’m sure we will hear that the bureaucracy failed, whether it was the FBI, the CIA, the NSC, or all of them for failure to communicate with each other. This will not answer the question of why we were attacked and why our defenses were so poor. Even though 40 billion dollars are spent on intelligence gathering each year, the process failed us. It’s likely to be said that what we need is more money and more efficiency. Yet, that approach fails to recognize that depending on government agencies to be efficient is a risky assumption.
We should support efforts to make the intelligence agencies more effective, but one thing is certain: more money won’t help. Of the 40 billion dollars spent annually for intelligence, too much is spent on nation building and activities unrelated to justified surveillance.
There are two other lessons that must be learned if we hope to benefit by studying and trying to explain the disaster that hit us on 9/11. If we fail to learn them, we cannot be made safer and the opposite is more likely to occur.
The first point is to understand who assumes most of the responsibility for the security of our homes and businesses in a free society. It’s not the police. There are too few of them, and it’s not their job to stand guard outside our houses or places of business. More crime occurs in the inner city, where there are not only more police, but more restrictions on property owners’ rights to bear and use weapons if invaded by hoodlums. In safer rural areas, where every home has a gun and someone in it who is willing to use it is, there is no false dependency on the police protecting them, but full reliance on the owner’s responsibility to deal with any property violators. This understanding works rather well — at least better than in the inner cities where the understanding is totally different.
How does this apply to the 9/11 tragedies? The airline owners accepted the rules of the inner city rather than those of rural America. They all assumed that the government was in charge of airline security — and unfortunately, by law, it was. Not only were the airlines complacent about security, but the FAA dictated all the rules relating to potential hijacking. Chemical plants or armored truck companies that carry money make the opposite assumption, and private guns do a reasonably good job in providing security. Evidently we think more of our money and chemical plants than we do our passengers on airplanes.
The complacency of the airlines is one thing, but the intrusiveness of the FAA is another. Two specific regulations proved to be disastrous for dealing with the thugs who, without even a single gun, took over four airliners and created the havoc of 9/11. Both the prohibition against guns in cockpits and precise instructions that crews not resist hijackers contributed immensely to the horrors of 9/11.
Instead of immediately legalizing a natural right of personal self-defense guaranteed by an explicit Second Amendment freedom, we still do not have armed pilots in the sky. Instead of more responsibility being given to the airlines, the government has taken over the entire process. This has been encouraged by the airline owners, who seek subsidies and insurance protection. Of course, the nonsense of never resisting has been forever vetoed by all passengers.
Unfortunately, the biggest failure of our government will be ignored. I’m sure the Commission will not connect our foreign policy of interventionism — practiced by both major parties for over a hundred years — as an important reason 9/11 occurred. Instead, the claims will stand that the motivation behind 9/11 was our freedom, prosperity, and way of life. If this error persists, all the tinkering and money to improve the intelligence agencies will bear little fruit.
Over the years the entire psychology of national defense has been completely twisted. Very little attention had been directed toward protecting our national borders and providing homeland security.
Our attention, all too often, was and still is directed outward toward distant lands. Now a significant number of our troops are engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq. We’ve kept troops in Korea for over 50 years, and thousands of troops remain in Europe and in over 130 other countries. This twisted philosophy of ignoring national borders while pursuing an empire created a situation where Seoul, Korea, was better protected than Washington, DC, on 9/11. These priorities must change, but I’m certain the 9/11 Commission will not address this issue.
This misdirected policy has prompted the current protracted war in Iraq, which has gone on for 13 years with no end in sight. The al Qaeda attacks should not be used to justify more intervention; instead they should be seen as a guerilla attacks against us for what the Arabs and Muslim world see as our invasion and interference in their homelands. This cycle of escalation is rapidly spreading the confrontation worldwide between the Christian West and the Muslim East. With each escalation, the world becomes more dangerous. It is especially made worse when we retaliate against Muslims and Arabs who had nothing to do with 9/11 — as we have in Iraq — further confirming the suspicions of the Muslim masses that our goals are more about oil and occupation than they are about punishing those responsible for 9/11.
Those who claim that Iraq is another Vietnam are wrong. They can’t be the same. There are too many differences in time, place, and circumstance. But that doesn’t mean the Iraqi conflict cannot last longer, spread throughout the region and throughout the world — making it potentially much worse than what we suffered in Vietnam. In the first 6 years we were in Vietnam, we lost less than 500 troops. Over 700 have been killed in Iraq in just over a year.
Our failure to pursue al Qaeda and bin Laden in Pakistan and Afghanistan — and diverting resources to Iraq — have seriously compromised our ability to maintain a favorable world opinion of support and cooperation in this effort.
Instead, we have chaos in Iraq while the Islamists are being financed by a booming drug business from U.S.-occupied Afghanistan.
Continuing to deny that the attacks against us are related to our overall policy of foreign meddling through many years and many administrations, makes a victory over our enemies nearly impossible. Not understanding the true nature and motivation of those who have and will commit deadly attacks against us prevents a sensible policy from being pursued. Guerilla warriors, who are willing to risk and sacrifice everything as part of a war they see as defensive, are a far cry, philosophically, from a band of renegades who out of unprovoked hate seek to destroy us and kill themselves in the process. How we fight back depends on understanding these differences.
Of course, changing our foreign policy to one of no pre-emptive war, no nation building, no entangling alliances, no interference in the internal affairs of other nations, and trade and friendship with all who seek it, is no easy task.
The real obstacle, though, is to understand the motives behind our current policy of perpetual meddling in the affairs of others for more than a hundred years.
Understanding why both political parties agree on the principle of continuous foreign intervention is crucial. Those reasons are multiple and varied. They range from the persistent Wilsonian idealism of making the world safe for democracy to the belief that we must protect “our” oil.
Also contributing to this bi-partisan, foreign policy view is the notion that promoting world government is worthwhile. This involves support for the United Nations, NATO, control of the world’s resources through the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, NAFTA, FTAA, and the Law of the Sea Treaty — all of which gain the support of those sympathetic to the poor and socialism, while too often the benefits accrue to the well-connected international corporations and bankers sympathetic to economic fascism.
Sadly, in the process the people are forgotten, especially those who pay the taxes, those whose lives are sacrificed in no-win undeclared wars, and the unemployed and poor as the economic consequences of financing our foreign entanglements evolve.
Regardless of one’s enthusiasm or lack thereof for the war and the general policy of maintaining American troops in more than 130 countries, one cold fact soon must be recognized by all of us in Congress. The American people cannot afford it, and when the market finally recognizes the over commitment we’ve made, the results will not be pleasing to anyone.
A “guns and butter” policy was flawed in the 60s, and gave us interest rates of 21% in the 70s with high inflation rates. The current “guns and butter” policy is even more intense, and our economic infrastructure is more fragile than it was back then. These facts dictate our inability to continue this policy both internationally and domestically. It is true, an unshakable resolve to stay the course in Iraq, or any other hot spot, can be pursued for years. But when a country is adding to its future indebtedness by over 700 billion dollars per year it can only be done with great economic harm to all our citizens.
Huge deficits, financed by borrowing and Federal Reserve monetization, are an unsustainable policy and always lead to higher price inflation, higher interest rates, a continued erosion of the dollar’s value, and a faltering economy. Economic law dictates that the standard of living then must go down for all Americans — except for the privileged few who have an inside track on government largess — if this policy of profligate spending continues. Ultimately, the American people, especially the younger generation, will have to decide whether to languish with current policy or reject the notion that perpetual warfare and continued growth in entitlements should be pursued indefinitely.
I’m sure the Commission will not deal with the flaw in the foreign policy endorsed by both parties for these many decades. I hope the Commission tells us why members of the bin Laden family were permitted, immediately after 9/11, to leave the United States without interrogation, when no other commercial or private flights were allowed. That event should have been thoroughly studied and explained to the American people. We actually had a lot more reason to invade Saudi Arabia than we did Iraq in connection with 9/11, but that country, obviously no friend of democracy, remains an unchallenged ally of the United States with few questions asked.
I’m afraid the Commission will answer only a few questions while raising many new ones. Overall though, the Commission has been beneficial and provides some reassurance to those who believe we operate in a much too closed society. Fortunately, any administration, under the current system, still must respond to reasonable inquiries.

Inside a Guantanamo Bay Prison Tour

Molly Crabapple gives us a tour in the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which I find to be very insightful and shocking.

Says Crabapple:

Guantanamo Bay has the air of an imperial backwater. On a horseshoe of  Cuba, the United States turns its full military might to guarding 164 aging Muslim men. The president calls Gitmo a terrorist recruiting tool. In August, the Daily Mail reported that William Lietzau, the architect of Guantanamo's military commissions, told them that it should never have been built. And yet it remains, in the sun and razor wire, waiting for America to declare the war on terror over.
At its height, Guantanamo Bay's prisons held nearly 700 detainees. They are so called because no formal charges are leveled against them. They are neither criminals who can confront their accusers in court, nor POWs of any war that can end. In the words of former guard Brandon Neely, “Prisoners have rights. Detainees don't.”  
By the end of his second term, former President George W. Bush released more than 500 men—anyone from a country capable of the security measures the US demanded. Now,  164 remain, 84 of whom are OK’d to leave the base. Most are Yemenis, whom we won't repatriate for fear that they will, in a Gitmo cliché, “return to the battlefield” in a country where al Qaeda holds significant sway. The detainees' officially confirmed recidivism rate is 16.9 percent (the New America Foundation puts it at 4 percent) far below that of American criminals. But some politicians think that even one incident is too much.
Behind electrically locking doors, detainees have lived out a decade in legal limbo. They are banned from speaking to the press. Visiting journalists sign contracts saying they will ignore any attempt at communication, though detainees try. In 2009, Uighur prisoners crayoned  “America is double Hetler in injustice” [sic] on their prison-issued sketchpads. 
Gitmo spokesman Robert Durand told me that Geneva Conventions prevent me from speaking to the detainees. For them to be allowed interviews would make them a spectacle. Silencing them, it is implied, is for their own good. 
I would also link this article from Laurence Vance as well as another from Andy Worthington to join with Crabapple's journalism.

Tom DiLorenzo on The Logical Fallacy of American Exceptionalism

Tom DiLorenzo (the premier Lincoln revisionist of our time) at the LRC Blog has exposed the logical fallacies inherent within the doctrine of "American exceptionalism."

Says DiLorenzo:

For generations, American military intervention all over the world has not based its authority on the U.S. Constitution but on the political rhetoric of a railroad industry lawyer and lobbyist who suffered from myriad mental illnesses, namely, one Abe Lincoln.  (See the book, Lincoln’s Melancholy, for a description of Abe’s mental illnesses).  Lincoln himself claimed, in essence, that the only meaningful  part of the Declaration of Independence (a declaration of secession from the British empire) were the words “all men are created equal”.   From then on, the state and all of its parasitic minions and propagandists have endlessly made the case that it is Americans’ DUTY to see to it that ALL men everywhere deserve “equal freedom,” usually defined as some kind of “democracy.”  Hence Woodrow Wilson’s insane crusade “to make the world safe for democracy” by entering World War I, and all the never-ending wars “for democracy” since then.   The late Professor Mel Bradford called this “the rhetoric of continuing revolution” in his book, A Better Guide than Reason.  This was one of the most profound but simple statements from any intellectual in the twentieth century.   These jihadist-style American crusades of mass murder go under the rubric of “American exceptionalism,” one of the most arrogant and obnoxious phrases in the American language.
But this “American exceptionalism,” based on Lincolnite “all-men-are-created-equal lingo, is self contradictory.  How can WE be “exceptional” if ALL men — including Americans — are equal?  Equal means equal, does it not?  A more precise slogan would be “all men are created equal except for the statists and imperialists who run the U.S. government.”  This reminds one of how communism was sold in the name of egalitarianism and equality — except for the ruling class of politicians that lived the high life on the backs of the enslaved masses.