In lieu of composing part four of my Essay on Property, I am going to offer a few thoughts on America’s latest (ill-advised) military adventure. Not all of the thoughts are my own. I will turn first to one of America’s greatest Generals and her first President:
“The Constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore, no offensive expedition of any importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.”
And some additional wise words from another great American General and President:
“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.”
And, finally, this more succinct summing up from a lesser known officer, Major General Smedley Butler, who wrote a book entitled “War is a Racket.”
Yes, General, it most certainly is. It most certainly is. And, if a libertarian is anything, first and foremost, it is an opponent of war. One of its greatest thinkers, Dr. Murray Rothbury, often berated his fellow activists for their obsession with little things, like the privatization of roads or fire departments, over issues of war and peace. He believed that war was the greatest enemy of the people, their lives and their freedoms.
Moreover, war is the biggest “government program” out there, and the one laced with the most corruption and outright fraud. It benefits large corporations and banks and causes the greatest pain and suffering to the poor and minority populations, whether they be the soldiers who fight or the civilians who get in the way. It is used as an excuse to crackdown on freedom of speech and the press and to jail those who dissent. War is the “health of the state,” a phrase coined by writer Randolph Bourne nearly 100 years ago. Beware of any politician who claims to want “small government” but an aggressive foreign policy.
Yes, armies and (and civilians) do unspeakably evil things in war. But the greatest criminals are the kings, prime ministers, dictators and Presidents who order these things to be done. The only truly just war would be one fought hand to hand between those leaders alone. They want a fight. I will give them Thunderdome. Now that would be entertainment!
Just to be clear, I condemn not only the strike last night on Syria but the drone strikes that escalated under the previous administration and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Not one of these actions has made the American people safer or the world a better place. Every death leaves a mother or father or sister or brother or village or clan more determined that the United States and all it represents is evil. It is time to stop the madness and leave these shattered nations, in war or peace, to sort out their lives. We can’t fix this. All we can do is make it more broken. So, Mr. President, if you truly want to “drain the swamp,” then end this madness. You do have that power. If you have the courage.