Anti-war or anti-liberty

Within the libertarian community there is a sharp difference of opinion about involvement in wars in foreign countries. Some regard Jefferson’s statement of “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations–entangling alliances with none” as holy writ. Others, including myself, take a less absolute line.

There is agreement that wars are too often used as a pretext for high taxes, loss of freedom and distraction from domestic issues, and that libertarians are right to be very sceptical. But does that mean involvement in foreign wars is never  justified under any circumstances?

The conflict in Afghanistan is a case in point. Leaving aside issues about how the war is being prosecuted and what victory might look like, some say involvement is unjustified simply because it is a foreign war.   I regard that as contrary to libertarian philosophy, which places individual liberty ahead of the collectivism of national sovereignty.  Large numbers of individuals in Afghanistan, including virtually all women, are at grave danger of losing what remains of their freedom if the Taliban succeeds.

The following article from the Wall Street Journal describes the situation. The author is most likely a leftie, but I think her concerns should be shared by libertarians.  There are many in the world who suffer dreadfully from oppression and military action is rarely the solution, but  if the liberty of women in Afghanistan is not worth fighting for, what is?

The Taliban War on Women Continues

When 22-year-old Hossai was told to quit her job by the Taliban, she refused to be bullied. She was shot and killed.

By RACHEL REID

Kabul

Beware Taliban revisionism. You’re going to hear much more of it in the coming months as policy makers from Kabul to Washington seeking to reintegrate Taliban fighters try to explain why the enemy isn’t so bad after all. Bombs that slaughter civilians, acid attacks that disfigure school girls, assassinations of women in public life—all of this will be swept under the carpet.

In its place, a new narrative will be trotted out, one in which most of the fighters are “ten-dollar Talibs”—just in it for the money—or modern-day Robin Hoods fighting the injustices of their local government. While money or politics may indeed be the motivation for many low-level fighters, that doesn’t change the fact that too many Afghan women are experiencing the same kind of oppression today they faced under Taliban rule.

“We as Taliban warn you to stop working . . . otherwise we will take your life away. We will kill you in such a harsh way that no woman has so far been killed in that manner. This would become a good lesson for women like you who are working.” When Fatima K. received this letter she was terrified and left her job. Such messages—called night letters, since they are delivered after dark—are a common means of intimidation used by the Taliban.

When 22-year-old Hossai received similar threats by phone from a man saying he was with the Taliban in Kandahar, she refused to be bullied. She loved her job at the American development company DAI, and her salary supported her family. But one day in April Hossai was shot by an unknown gunman as she left her office. She died from her wounds.

A few days later another woman in Kandahar received a night letter. It demanded that she give up her job, or else she “will be considered an enemy of Islam and will be killed. In the same way that yesterday we have killed Hossai, whose name was on our list.” This woman has since stayed home.

These stories are seldom heard, but it’s not because they are rare. The victims are often too terrified to report such attacks to the authorities, or have little hope that anything will be done if they do. They can expect little or no protection from their government, which seems more willing to provide patronage to senior insurgents who switch sides than assist women at grave risk. When high-profile women are assassinated, their cases are not given the priority they deserve and their killers are rarely brought to justice. While men who run afoul of the Taliban are also attacked—particularly in Kandahar, where the murder rate in recent months has reached unprecedented heights—the situation for women is worse.

The reassurance offered by the Afghan and U.S. governments is that those Taliban who lay down arms through reintegration or reconciliation programs must accept the constitution, which enshrines equal rights for men and women. But given how often President Hamid Karzai has himself ignored the constitutional protections afforded to Afghan women—as when he approved the highly restrictive Shia family law in 2009—it is not clear why Taliban who return to the political mainstream would have any motivation to respect the rights of women.

Many women activists would prefer to see explicit guarantees put at the heart of negotiations with the Taliban. There are some rights that should be nonnegotiable: the right to work, to participate in political life, and to send their daughters to school. But when I spoke to Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, a founding member of the Taliban and its former ambassador to Pakistan, he did not inspire confidence that this would be possible.

Zaeef, who now resides in Kabul after a stint in Guantanamo, explained in our May meeting why he believes the freedoms won by Afghan women in recent years are “corrupting” them. “If you put a young adult man and woman in one room for some time, of course there will be some interactions, which is against Islam. This is like a virus here and it will spread,” he said to me.

I emerged from my conversation with Zaeef uncorrupted. As for my questions about what gender segregation might mean for mixed work environments, like the Afghan parliament where women make up 25% of the members, I got no straight answer.

The Afghan government should have women’s rights at the center of the reintegration programs. But the experience of the past nine years has been one of hasty deals and impunity for serious crimes. And with the need for an exit strategy weighing heavily on the minds of U.S. policy makers, there’s a strong chance that justice and principle will once again be sacrificed.

American officials are often tempted to deny their own influence by claiming that this will be an Afghan process. But since the U.S. will pay for most of it, this is not a credible position. Worse still, it flies in the face of repeated U.S. commitments to help protect and promote the rights of Afghan women. The U.S. should make clear that if reintegration and reconciliation results in less freedom for Afghan women and girls, American taxpayers will not foot the bill.

Ms. Reid is the Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch.

68 thoughts on “Anti-war or anti-liberty

  1. I agree that something should be done, but not by governments. As a Libertarian, I would support private actions to fight the Taliban, such as hiring mercenaries, or going to Afghanistan as part of a volunteer libertarian legion. If the Afghan Government had been serious about enforcing equality, I might even have tried enlisting in the Afghan Army- many people from around the world joined the British Forces against Hitler, before their countries got around to it!

  2. Another thought occurs to me- we could smuggle in arms to the women of Afghanistan! Female Libertarians could add weapons to the groceries they sell them, or arrange to smuggle them out to a better life abroad. None of these acts need governments behind them, except for asylum-seekers.

  3. This smacks to me of mission creep. The purpose of the invasion was to ensure that the place was no longer a haven for terrorists that would threaten us or our allies. It was not to reform an awful cultural bias against the rights of women. If the later is important and war is the right strategy then there is a long list of places we should be invading. Causes such as this one remind me of why we should stay out of wars were possible.

    On a separate note are we actually going to win in Afghanistan. If so then when?

  4. p.s. Here is an idea. Let’s invade Papua New Guinea because they imprison people for homosexual acts. And Bangladesh where rape in marriage is still lawful. If not then why not?

  5. Liberating whole societies from tyranny is mostly a matter of ideas, information, unbelievable personal sacrifices/hard work.

    If armchair social engineers feel strongly about the cause of people outside their personal sphere of influence living in social structures differing from ours they need to get their hands dirty risking their lives on the ground pamphleteering instead of the disingenuous moral lecturing in defense of transferring purchasing power from civil society to the military activism of government in support of their personal pet social engineering projects.

    No ‘libertarian’ can support this nonsense from a libertarian political ideology and it is an utter disgrace to the ideas of political individualism that they do. It must be condemned and forced out in order to maintain a consistent set of ideas and ideological differentiation from other ‘right wing’ belief systems.

  6. “actual libertarian views on international relations”

    ???

    How do you propose to fight State sanctioned terrorism Sukrit?

  7. I for one think Mitterand should have been executed for the Rainbow Warrior bombing.

    How is that NOT libertarian?

  8. “How do you propose to fight State sanctioned terrorism Sukrit?”

    You mean when the state fritters away your paycheck on guarding the smack?

    Geraldo Rivera talks to troops in Afganistan about the cultivation of opium poppies:

  9. so basically we need to go out and help people be free

    …through the extortion funded military.

    Yeah, I don’t think so.

  10. We should have been out of both wars by now. I think Kim Beazley’s timing was about right when he was coming in as Mark Latham’s defense man. We ought to have been out by then. Actually I would have said much earlier, but within the scope of our then alliance I think Beazley had the timing about right.

    Now we must not get in another fight alongside the Americans. No-ones minding the store anymore. They have hit advanced decrepitude. They are in a state of lawlessness.

    Early Rome was successful by making its wars BIG AND SHORT. Thats what we have to aim for. The capacity to wage wars that are big and short and get back to peace quickly. Look at the corruption that these wars have wrought on the Americans? Wars damage the culture, even of the victors, and this is the case whether or not the cause is just. Its true regardless of the validity or otherwise of the justification.

    Another reason for limiting our involvement to the shortest possible time period is that way you have your whoop-ass available, rather than being maintained in the field, hence your diplomacy is thereby more effective. You need to achieve 99.99% of what you have to achieve without violence. With the potential for violence but without the actual use of it.

    Further to the above war ought to be financed by spending cuts alone. Under no circumstances ought we borrow money to go to war. So we’ve got to ready ourselves for that prospect in advance, by slashing non-defense spending now.

  11. “I agree that something should be done, but not by governments. As a Libertarian, I would support private actions to fight the Taliban, such as hiring mercenaries, or going to Afghanistan as part of a volunteer libertarian legion.”

    One hopes you are not talking about some sort of “public-private-partnership” here. That would seem to be the worst of all arrangements. The most corrupting. More corrupting even then having areas of socialism. Private armies ought not be thought of as a reasonable solution to the problem of defense from foreign governments ….. until we have found a way to evolve private-genteel-justice. Genteel and somewhat excessively gentle even. Have a sphere of private justice that the enforcement grows out of.

    So supposing you have tax exemptions for mediation services, and this sits under the legacy legal system. And the insurance for this is all tax exempt and all the people who work for these outfits are all tax-exempt and so forth.

    Then supposing local reserve forces and others are used with strictly policing jobs but with full military resources except that they must use non-lethal weaponry. So you go from soldier to cop with a change of technology. As a cop you must waylay but not injure in the course of policing.

    Now something could grow out of that. Some sort of mercenary force could grow from this that wasn’t the hated private-public partnership, that was under some sort of moral law, and that was trained to work with precision and intensity, whether in the lethal or non-lethal arenas.

    The very fact that your caper, (((to detain, disarm, yet not injure people in the course of enforcement))) is so difficult, means that you would need the investment in resources, that would make more extreme operations possible.

  12. “There are many in the world who suffer dreadfully from oppression and military action is rarely the solution, but if the liberty of women in Afghanistan is not worth fighting for, what is?”

    They are probably worth fighting for. But the Americans are useless now. Not competent to execute policy leading to reasonable outcomes. And Australia lacks the resources to deal with Afghanistan. If we had been promoting hyper-secession and hyper-federalism as the panacea to intractable problems like this, then we would be in the position to secure a small province. Just one small sanctuary to where women who wanted to be safe and not treated like crap could be escorted to.

    One must match ends and means in war. We don’t have the means for this caper. And our allies are no good anymore. We have to get out. Our international position is not safe and we are basically wearing down and wearing out our boys and girls.

  13. I find the whole argument of war pointless. In a libertarian society those who wanted to fight would fight, those who wanted to fund it would fund it. If they kill innocent people they have to accept responsibility for their actions, even if they saved more people from death it does not relinquish them from responsibility. Afterall they do not have a responsibility to save other people.

  14. Afghanistan should have been a big and short war. The mission should have been to decapitate the Taliban leadership, not to incapacitate the Taliban. The former was a narrow achievable goal that would have set incentives regarding any future attacks on the west. The later was a fantasy entailing a protracted war leading to an embarrasing end.

  15. I reckon Terje’s spot on.
    Nuke, how about splitting the defence force into defence & foreign intervention?

  16. Harry, one hopes you haven’t misconstrued my point, which is that libertarians should be looking at non-government options to all these problems.
    Tinos, I am in favour of local militia for local defence, which gets around the Democracy conundrum. Too often, war simply fuels centralising democracies. To win wars, societies need to utilise more resources than their opponents. traditionally, this has meant including more people, by broadening the conscript base. A way to motivate such people, as a trade-off, has been to give them a greater say in government- i.e., wars foster mass democracies. Such wars also foster large, integrated, societies, run from the top down. With fully-armed local militia, which could train with their neighbours, we could escape this centralising tendency- we would still have the numbers, but with an allied command, not a united command.
    Thus, militia would always be defensive. If someone chose to move and join another group, it would be purely a private decision.

  17. Nuke: So you’re saying that Gillard should come out & announce that the defence force be disbanded with fighter jets, submarines etc given to local councils?

  18. I think this would stimulate defence research, so that we could all afford to buy cheaper smart missiles! In the Soviet-Afghan struggle, the Afghans won when they could get the missiles needed to shoot the Russian helicopters. And do we really need manned subs, or would robot submarines serve us better? Right now, the americans are doing a lot with unmanned drones. That is the way to go.

  19. It’s still part of an overall strategy.

    It’s the disincentive to occupy our country for example. The full timers punish State sponsored terrorism and agressor nations and deter symmetrical attack.

  20. Let’s not forget to invade China for their oppression of women and the 1-child policy.

    There is no logic to the proposition that unless you are willing to fight for all such causes, you shouldn’t fight for any.

    I happen to think those issues are not worth fighting for. But if you think the most basic rights of Afghan women are not worth fighting for, what is? Just your own survival, or something more?

  21. Nuke: We do really need manned subs, at least for the moment.

    “Thus, militia would always be defensive.”
    I don’t see how that followed. The militia would be just as offensive.

    “we could escape this centralising tendency”
    You need the coordination & economies of scale you get with a nation-wide force. I can’t see how Australia would be better defended by giving all the weaponry to local councils. Then there are the military bases.

  22. “But if you think the most basic rights of Afghan women are not worth fighting for, what is?”

    Stuff this leftist political correctness nonsense. It’s all talk. Good people don’t lie to themselves. There is a vast difference between being genuinely concerned about basic rights of Afghan women and surrendering your faculties of critical thinking to emotionally charged ideologically subversive propaganda. Just do, don’t preach.

  23. If voluntary defense and voluntary funding of defense is even possible its in no way possible in 2010. The private sector isn’t going to get space lasers to stop ICBM’s any time soon. No-ones going to go out there with nuclear weapons in a submarine based on donations in 2010.

    If its voluntary defense we want this implies a process of evolving such a setup.

    Now there is some rumor going around that local militias can be effective. This is not the least bit true. They are only effective against democracies that are being scuttled from within. The Americans had a tendency to lose wars after world war II because if China and Russia were supplying the Vietnamese (for example) it was socially unacceptable to mention it. They were beaten by stupidity and by foreign subversion.

    Local guerillas are next to useless unless supplied from the outside. The Americans could have won that war by simply setting up proxy wars all over the place against China, cutting off the supply lines from China to Vietnam, Sending a proxy army into North Vietnam to kill communist leadership, and capturing Chinese territory to force China to change its behavior.

    You never want to be fighting wars on your own turf. Thats failure right there. Or the turf of your allies. You have to push the violence onto the other guys turf, so your economy can function. There is a lot of loose talk here based on the failure of America in these guerilla war. I tell you its all nonsense. If we let China onto the continent, and she had us blockaded, any militias would be finished within weeks.

    The Chinese would simply go to one town. If the Militia didn’t surrender, she would slaughter everyone in that town. The first town that didn’t surrender would be treated well for awhile (strategic people murdered horribly but later in secret) and then all of us would give up.

    So any plans for voluntary defense have to be one hundred times more sophisticated then that. Because if we are occupied no-one will be helping us from the outside, and we cannot make our enemies go into the same ignorant denial as what the Americans were placed under.

    Any ideas of voluntary defense have to be a thing derived from a well-thought-out process of evolution that can be started right away, but that won’t be bearing that sort of fruit for maybe 50 years or more.

  24. Its going to be all for nought in Afghanistan. Iran got what it wanted by having enough influence to make Afghanistan an Islamic state. So our guys are there fighting for the creation of an Islamic state. Plus we are acting like its in our capacity to have Afghanistan as one nation. Had we been trying to help a lot of tiny provinces get statehood this may have been doable. And again we have a situation where there is the pretense that there isn’t outside funding. But of course there is. And the Sauds and others are never going to tire of paying goat-herders 10 dollars a day rather than 1 dollar a day to run around getting killed by our people. The fighting is quite literally senseless there.

    Are we willing to force the Sauds and Iranians to our will? No we don’t even want to talk about it. If you are not killing regime leadership its time to go home. And we are not willing to kill leadership in the funding countries. So we have to go home. Else we will kill everyone there for no reason. Every Pashtun we kill we say they are Taliban. Every Arab we kill we say they are Al Quaeda. Now this is just silly. If we want to stay it ought to be on the basis that we can set up a single sanctuary. Not make the whole country some sort of feminist paradise.

    Also we have allies that don’t deserve to be our allies anymore. Right now they are allowing all the drugs to be grown that can be grown and funneling them into the former Soviet Union. We could get into all sorts of strife over this, and simply because of our local weakness. If we want to help these girls we ought to be taking more of the females in as refugees. Because at least that is something we have a chance of controlling.

  25. In some ways, I can see what you mean. The Afghans needed help from outside before they could beat the soviets. But I still think we need to get away from standing armies, if we can. We don’t want to turn ourselves into war machines looking for enemies.
    Here’s another idea- have local militias, which meet in annual contests with their neighbours, and the winners train as an allied force together- a series of sporting contests based on marksmanship and war skills. These could form the basis of an army if we are invaded. Replace sports, surrogate war, with war training!

  26. Yeah of course we need to get away from standing armies. But you get the other guy away from standing armies by defeating them with your standing armies. A libertarian cannot admit that governments are by their nature wicked and then allow himself to be defeated by these wicked things.

    An expanded reservist force makes a lot of sense. And let the full-timers drift downward in size. The reason this makes sense is, that supposing your reservists are training and on duty for one twelve hour shift every 8 or 9 days. You would get plenty of people willing for this, if there was no subsidy for unemployment and education. And you could have massively more people ready for war, but only a few of them full-timers. That would come quite close to being a citizen army.

    Then you have the capacity to get all these people working, instead of one twelve hour shift every 8 or 9 times, you could go to 4 shifts every 8 days or 6 shifts every 9. Thats a sustainable workload. Only when you were ready to go for the killer strike would you need to have them work 18 hours every day. So comparatively you would have a more effective force. Since the idea is to be capable of big explosive efforts for big and short wars.

    And then you might evolve the voluntary army out of that in the way I described earlier. As an extension of the beginnings of your private justice. You got all these people, and all this equipment to be leased by private enforcement. And they would have to work with great skill and intensity. Since to apprehend a bunch of people who are armed, without hurting them. Well that would require helicopters, bullet-proof vehicles. Dragonskin body-armour. Helicoptors. The whole works. No easy task.

    But we cannot go into these political debates with this idea that we are going to be weak on defense. Anytime there is a power vacuum it does tend to get filled. Governments being inherently predatory.

  27. Yeah of course we need to get away from standing armies. But you get the other guy away from standing armies by defeating them with your standing armies. A libertarian cannot admit that governments are by their nature wicked and then allow himself to be defeated by these wicked things.

    An expanded reservist force makes a lot of sense. And let the full-timers drift downward in size. The reason this makes sense is, that supposing your reservists are training and on duty for one twelve hour shift every 8 or 9 days. You would get plenty of people willing for this, if there was no subsidy for unemployment and education. And you could have massively more people ready for war, but only a few of them full-timers. That would come quite close to being a citizen army.

    Then you have the capacity to get all these people working, instead of one twelve hour shift every 8 or 9 times, you could go to 4 shifts every 8 days or 6 shifts every 9. Thats a sustainable workload. Only when you were ready to go for the killer strike would you need to have them work 18 hours every day. So comparatively you would have a more effective force. Since the idea is to be capable of big explosive efforts for big and short wars.

    And then you might evolve the voluntary army out of that in the way I described earlier. As an extension of the beginnings of your private justice. You got all these people, and all this equipment to be leased by private enforcement. And they would have to work with great skill and intensity. Since to apprehend a bunch of people who are armed, without hurting them. Well that would require helicopters, bullet-proof vehicles. Dragonskin body-armour. Helicoptors. The whole works. No easy task.

    But we cannot go into these political debates with this idea that we are going to be weak on defense. Anytime there is a power vacuum it does tend to get filled. Governments being inherently predatory.

  28. “If voluntary defense and voluntary funding of defense is even possible its in no way possible in 2010. The private sector isn’t going to get space lasers to stop ICBM’s any time soon. ”

    David Freidman disagrees, and his argument is good.

  29. He showed that a small nation state or community could contract out even very powerful strategic defence. Deterrence is a strong force multiplier. The maxim that to secure peace you must prepare for war is applicable here. To say that only passivist libertarians are true libertarians is bullshit.

    I want a minimal state and I want it to do its job properly.

    I don’t know how to get into the chapter anymore.

    http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/Machinery_of_Freedom/MofF_Contents.html

  30. “David Freidman disagrees, and his argument is good.”

    No you are just being an idiot. Anyone who just chooses to name-drop, without making a logical argument, is obviously not really up to the discussion.

  31. “David Freidman disagrees, and his argument is good.”

    No you are just being an idiot mate. Anyone who substitutes name-dropping for a solid logical argument isn’t up to this sort of discussion.

  32. “He showed that a small nation state or community could contract out even very powerful strategic defence. Deterrence is a strong force multiplier. The maxim that to secure peace you must prepare for war is applicable here. To say that only passivist libertarians are true libertarians is bullshit.

    I want a minimal state and I want it to do its job properly.

    I don’t know how to get into the chapter anymore.”

    So you see you were just misrepresenting David here. Nothing in what you say above suggests we can defend from nuclear intimidation or foreign occupation without defense spending, from a standing start, right now in 2010. Which is what you implied.

    I’ve got absolutely no reason to believe that David Friedman disagrees with me on the basic or your mindless illogical say-so. And it wouldn’t matter if he did. Everything is in the transition strategy. If you cannot chart a course to the evolution of private defense, you are just going to have to give the argument away and accept the need for very strong defense spending and a massive reservist force.

    I think we can have that sort of evolution to private defense. I really do. But it doesn’t come from fools saying that David Friedman disagrees with me, and then it turns out you are shooting blanks.

  33. “Anyone who substitutes name-dropping for a solid logical argument isn’t up to this sort of discussion.”

    I never did. I referenced his argument and summarised it as well.

    Graeme – you’re meant to be banned here. Since you don’t believe in fair play, why should we let an illiterate whacko such as yourself on?

    “So you see you were just misrepresenting David here.”

    No.

    1. Learn to read and write.

    2. Get an education.

    3. Read Freidman instead of projecting your own putrid thought processes.

    4. Take time to understand what he is saying and accept that you’re dead wrong.

    “Everything is in the transition strategy.”

    Your standard ridiculous throwaway line when you assert how illiberal you want society to be, while then asserting no one else in Australia is a libertarian except for yourself, Gerry Jackson and Prodos.

    You’re even the odd one out there. You want to ban banking, set up aquaculture subsidies, have an medieval age based licensing system, discriminate against male refugees, oppose privatisation, support rendition, want to force us to use “liquified coal” and “diamond nanorods” as “money”, build useless fortresses in the desert and have an exponential rate of global warming…you belong in the rabid and incompetent wing of the Fox News Party.

    Buzz off.

  34. Yeah, unfortunately the problem with purely defensive militia in the year 2010 is that they just get massacred by air strikes.

    Tell that to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Militias seem to still do remarkably well. If you combined that determination with a coherent philosophy and the moral high ground they’d win the war.

    Not saying you don’t need air strikes, but your real military power – in terms of defending the nation rather than professional military actions as a political tool – comes from the militia. The US Founding Fathers got it right.

  35. “If you want peace, prepare for war.” A history student can point to many nations that took their security for granted and were taken over by communist dictators or Muslim theocrats.

    Another point: The millions of people who want to and like being liberated are often marginalized by the media.

  36. Ben,

    Not so for Panama. They had no military, and were quite successful. The military was their downfall, resulting in Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno…

  37. Iceland is a special case! It has nothing that anybody wants, and I don’t think it has any near neighbours! The Soviets might have wanted it as a base into North America, if they were going to invade- or simply to deny its’ bases to enemy fprces.
    Australia is full of minerals that are accessible, and one of our neighbours is populous. Indonesia is currently friendly, but can we just take that for granted?

  38. “You’re even the odd one out there. You want to ban banking, set up aquaculture subsidies, have an medieval age based licensing system, discriminate against male refugees, oppose privatisation, support rendition, want to force us to use “liquified coal” and “diamond nanorods” as “money”, build useless fortresses in the desert and have an exponential rate of global warming…you belong in the rabid and incompetent wing of the Fox News Party.”

    Part of sussing out you have a logic deficit is when you have to tell a massive string of lies just to keep your head above water.

    Nothing you have found of David Friedmans suggests that he disagrees with mu specific claim. We both think private defense can be evolved. But from this standing start of 2010, Australia is in no position to rely on the private sector for defense against subversion and nuclear intimidation.

    It won’t happen like that and we need smart people who could help show how these arrangements could evolve over time. Not idiots and liars putting words in peoples mouths.

    As to hiring mercenaries. Thats public-private-partnership. The very worst form of social arrangement. Not the most inefficient, but the most corrupting. Thats the beginning of the end of any nations freedom.

    Well yes you can hire mercenaries. But you must never be reliant on them. Such reliance spells your eventual doom. See Machiavelli for further details on that particular form of national suicide.

  39. Tell that to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Militias seem to still do remarkably well.

    Yeah, they are currently hiding in caves while their country is occupied by NATO.

    I don’t really see that as a massive military success.

  40. What I’m saying is that once you are occupation then whatever you were trying to defend is already gone. A guerilla militia may eventually force an occupying force out (as in Vietnam etc) but the damage has already been done by then. And it will take half a century for your country to recover from the damage of an occupation.

  41. But if guerrilla militia becomes the norm do you think invasion is going to be common?

  42. Over a long time scale yes – aggressors may forget the lessons of history. Both parties will suffer.

  43. Yobbo, the occupying forces are unable to move or leave while spending $1M per year for each Private soldier on the ground. If that’s success for a professional military then I’m confused.

  44. “50.But if guerrilla militia becomes the norm do you think invasion is going to be common?”

    Lets make this very clear. If you are relying on guerilla militia you will lose. There is no doubt about that. We here in the West aren’t winning since we haven’t defined the enemy and killed them. We are fighting goatherders and ring-ins. You win by figuring out whose death will create the peace of your choosing.

    But our potential enemies are not as stupid as us. Not as easily controllable but the intellectuals and the media. So if we were relying on a militia we will lose in a matter of weeks.

  45. Shem you want to get a few realities clear in your mind. Supposing you set up a miiitia training camp on a peninsula somewhere. Without a powerful navy you have just established a concentration camp for you and your families.

    We have to get away from this fantasy approach to national defense. Non-libertarians will laugh at us and they will be right to be laughing at us.

  46. “But our potential enemies are not as stupid as us.”

    I’m quite sure that goatherders etc are possibly as dumb as you.

  47. Yobbo, the occupying forces are unable to move or leave while spending $1M per year for each Private soldier on the ground. If that’s success for a professional military then I’m confused.

    Not sure what you are getting at here Michael. War rarely has big winners, just a bunch of losers. That doesn’t change the fact that being occupied is a disaster for any country, which is why most defense strategies plan on not letting that happen.

  48. Mark will you please get it together. The goatherders we are talking about lack all ability to practice strategic subversion of our culture. They cannot very ably assassinate Australians within Australia, in such a way as to control the zeitgeist of our nation. So how can we count them as our potential enemies?

    Potential enemies, and enemies proper, are those who if you can shake them down, make and honest friendship with them, or make them die, the problem goes away. Pashtun goatherders, lured by ten times their normal earnings, to get killed by our blokes, do not snugly fit into this category of “potential enemy.”

    But those providing the funds may well do.

    Everything about strategic thinking is counter-intuitive. So you need to learn stuff. I’m sorry about having to always go over the basics. I’d recommend Edward Luttwak first and then much later of course Angelo Codevilla.

    Now if militia’s are the answer they are something that needs to be evolved, not relied on. But if we get local firearms policy right, and combined with a very large reservist culture, then this is a huge potential cost to a superpower who has defeated our main force, should they wish to occupy. Thats a big cost if we can get that side of things right. That means in practice a sane and negotiated peace is likely.

    Sometimes a bit of bowing and scraping can be necessary in the final analysis. The problem with the last Prime Minister is that he had “mastered the art of pre-emptive surrender.”

  49. ???

    So you agree that they can be part of an overall strategy?

    Personally I think we should spend more on defence. We don’t spend enough and we’re obliged to fight with America, despite the benefits of that paituclar war.

    We don’t disagree. Why the umbrage? Where’s the love, brother?

  50. “So you agree that they can be part of an overall strategy?

    “they” THEY? Crap you are a sloppy thinker. To the point of being seriously handicapped if you don’t make a clear decision to define things carefully and spell out what you are saying. “They” I was talking about firearms policy and a larger reserve force. Perhaps the same or less of a full-time setup. I don’t see where militia fit into the defeating of a foreign power. I would certainly see it as a possibility in defending against tyranny from ones own government. Not sure how effective that could be.

    Anyway here is Edward Lutwak.

    About seven minutes in and the last ten minutes are particularly good.

  51. This essay confuses ethics with political philosohpy.

    I agree that the Afghani government was horrible. Getting rid of that government would have improved many peoples’ lives. It is nice to help people. I fully support the right of any human to help any other human in any way they can *that is voluntary*.

    That is the ethics.

    Now we can move on to political philosophy, and ask the question: when should our government be allowed to tell us what to do?

    The question in this instance is — should our government be able to force us to contrinbute to a project that will help the people of Afghanistan?

    Reasonable people will disagree about whether the government should be able to force us to contribute to welfare and foreign aid. There is majority support in Australia for some sort of forced redistribution. Personally, I am not sure that it is generally a good idea. I think that voluntary and community-based welfare projects are more effective, efficient, sustainable and better for society.

    Personally, I’m not sure that the invasion of Afghanistan is the most cost-effective way to improve the lives of Afghanis or improve the world. Personally, I would prefer to spend my money on other projects. Unfortunately, in a state-mandated foreign-aid scheme (such as the Afghani war) I don’t have that choice.

  52. John, if you become an Outlaw, or a Criminal, or a Scofflaw, you need not contribute to the war! Just sell taxfree marijuana to your customers without telling the police what you are doing, and you will be a free person! Or, come up with smell-proof plastic containers so sniffer dogs can’t detect anything, and sell these to the Outlaws, Criminals, and Scofflaws!
    What could be simpler?

  53. Once again John, your definition of any foreign war as “foreign aid” completely ignores the benefits that Australia reaps from the Anzus alliance, which greatly outweight the costs.

  54. I don’t know Sam. I think we should have a bigger defence force and we wouldn’t have to go to wars of questionable value.

    But – we deploy 3000 full timers and we get the nuclear armed US Navy and USAF for free.

  55. Once again Sam… the ANZUS alliance is a totally separate issue. And you know it.

    First, I was responding to David’s point, which was about foreign aid. Second, ANZUS didn’t require Australia to go to Afghanistan or Iraq. Third, America will make their defence decisions based on their strategic interest, not because they remember some nice action done decades earlier. Forth, naive spelt backwards is evian.

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