The Myth of National Defense

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Thu, 11 Dec 2003 13:00:00 GMT
From kaba:
"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under." -- H.L. Mencken

Syed Saleem Shahzad at Asia Times - On the precipice in Afghanistan - think the war is over in Afghanistan? Think we won? Think again. [grabbe]

Associated Press via Sierra Times - DEFIANCE: Two Officers Killed in S.C. Standoff - Two dead nazis is way too few. What went wrong? [sierra]

ABBEVILLE, S.C. - A father and son angered by a state plan to seize some of their land for a highway killed two officers who went to their home, setting off a 13-hour standoff and a "horrendous gunfight," authorities and neighbors said.

The Bixby family had decided that they would defend their land to the death, authorities say.

Camille Bains at - U.S. refugee who smokes pot to fight rare cancer loses bid to stay in Canada - If his appeals are denied, Steve Kubby will be evicted from Canada. If he returns to the United States, the drug nazis will jail him, and he will likely die within 4 days when he is denied the medicine (cannabis sativa, aka marijuana) that keeps his adrenal cancer under control. [unknown]

Steve Farrell at The Albany (NY) Times Union - Police camera could generate town revenue - subtle, but good, satire. So subtle that whoever titled it at the TU missed Mr. Farrell's meaning. He is not advocating speed trap cameras. Exactly the opposite. Entire letter below:

Police camera could generate town revenue

First published: Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Colonie Police Department is underestimating the value of the speed trap with camera idea. Why limit it to just speeding?

A well-placed camera could not only catch the speeder but also could be used to check seat belt compliance, unregistered vehicles, uninspected vehicles, bald tires and possibly catch an underage teenager with tobacco products.

The revenue generated by writing multiple tickets would allow for the purchase of even more cameras to be placed throughout the town, to eliminate all infractions. Then we could rename our town Camelot.



Anne Gearan at Associated Press via Yahoo! News - Key Parts of Campaign Finance Law Upheld - after failing to uphold the second amendment, the Supremes went on to cut another chunk out of the first. Figures. I reiterate my demand in Traitors All, which I wrote shortly after the Campaign Finance "Reform" bill was passed by the senate. I demand that every Congress Critter who voted for this abortion resign, that they all be tried for conspiring to deny our civil rights, and then jailed. [smith2004]

Hans-Hermann Hoppe at The Ludwig von Mises Institute - The Myth of National Defense - an introduction to Mr. Hoppe's new book (which he edited, but for which he wrote only the introduction and one essay), The Myth of National Defense ($25). [lew]

More than 200 years after the Declaration of Independence, it seems appropriate to raise the question whether governments have in fact done what they were designed to do, or if experience or theory has provided us with grounds to consider other possibly more effective guards for our future security.

The present volume aims to provide an answer to this fundamental question.

In fact, this question has recently assumed new urgency through the events of September 11, 2001. Governments are supposed to protect us from terrorism. Yet what has been the U.S. government's role in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?

The U.S. government commands a "defense" budget of $400 billion per annum, a sum equal to the combined annual defense budgets of the next 24 biggest government spenders. It employs a worldwide network of spies and informants. However, it was unable to prevent commercial airliners from being hijacked and used as missiles against prominent civilian and military targets.

Worse, the U.S. government did not only fail to prevent the disaster of September 11, it actually contributed to the likelihood of such an event. In pursuing an interventionist foreign policy (taking the form of economic sanctions, troops stationed in more than 100 countries, relentless bombings, propping up despotic regimes, taking sides in irresolvable land and ethnic disputes, and otherwise attempting political and military management of whole areas of the globe), the government provided the very motivation for foreign terrorists and made the U.S. their prime target.

Moreover, how was it possible that men armed with no more than box cutters could inflict the terrible damage they did? Obviously, this was possible only because the government prohibited airlines and pilots from protecting their own property by force of arms, thus rendering every commercial airline vulnerable and unprotected against hijackers. A $50 pistol in the cockpit could have done what $400 billion in the hands of government were unable to do.

Lew Rockwell at - The National Defense Myth - a review of Mr. Hoppe's new book. [lew]

Donald Rumsfeld puts on a good face for the public, but an internal memo revealed by MSNBC shows startling confusion. "We lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror," he writes. "Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get'?"

There you have it: a typical government program. Hundreds of billions down the drain, and nothing to show for it but confusion. Imagine a private business admitting that it doesn't know if it is making profits or losses. Imagine blowing through a trillion dollars and not knowing whether you actually accomplished anything at all. That private firm would be doomed, but the warfare state just keeps chugging along.

Later in the memo, Rumsfeld asks obliquely: "Do we need a new organization?" In a word, yes, and it shouldn't be government.


The bias in favor of government provision of defense, and the taboo about other alternatives, has been, of course, entrenched, for hundreds, even thousands, of years. And certainly since Hobbes, just about every political philosopher has conjured up nightmare scenarios about the consequences of life without government defense, while ignoring the reality of the actual nightmare of government provision. As Hoppe writes, "the first person to provide a systematic explanation for the apparent failure of governments as security producers" was 19th century thinker Gustave de Molinari. In our own time, the only people doing serious work on this subject, perhaps the most important of our time, are the Austro-libertarians."

Government failure, yes, but private defense? Before you say this is an outlandish idea, remember that just about everything else done in the private sector sounds, at some level, implausible. What if I told you that oil needs to be extracted from the bottom of the ocean, converted and refined into gasoline, and then made available to every American not far from his house, on demand and at the price of bottled water?

It seems impossible. The first impulse might be to say that we need a government program to manage such a thing, but the non-intuitive reality is that government could never do such a thing on its own. Only the private sector can manage to coordinate the thousands of processes essential to such an undertaking.


Habits of mind are hard to break. Sometimes radical intellectual surgery is the only way. That is precisely what this book does. So rather than email me your outrage at my lack of patriotism, or inform me of my failure to understand the sacrifices that our military men and women have made in the service of freedom, do something more constructive. Get this book and read it to discover why socialism in defense of the nation works no better than socialism in any other area of life.

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