Chapter 18: WAR PARTY ECONOMICS & MORALITY
WHAT THRIVES AND WHAT DIES DURING WAR?
by Mark Thornton - lewrockwell.com - Jan 19, 2002
[Dr. Mark Thornton, author of ECONOMICS OF PROBITION, teaches economics at Columbus State University and is a senior faculty member, Mises Inst.]
It has often been claimed that war is good because it brings out the human traits of courage, bravery, and patriotism. War makes for exciting times, stretches our endurance, and allows us to achieve our destiny. War can even get us out of economic depressions. Nothing could be further from the truth!
War is what animals do to each other. It is deadly and destructive. It prevents us from building and achieving our goals, and brings man down to the level of the brute animal. [Thus does the bible refer to man's government as the Beast - LK] It destroys cooperation and trade, and substitutes force for peaceful, voluntary interaction. Personal and family bonds are broken while property rights are ignored and trampled upon. Tasteful art, literature, music, and culture in general are pushed asunder or replaced with primitive and barbaric substitutes. Police power, economic interventionism, and nationalism thrive. Inflation is what makes war possible, but it makes normal economic life a nightmare. War is for the health of the State, not the wellbeing of humanity.
Can the United State be properly labeled a participant in the animalistic and barbaric behavior of total war? No, not really. It would be more correct to say that the United States has been on the cutting edge in adopting the ideology of total war. We were one of its first practitioners, and one of the leading developers of its methods.
General William Tecumseh Sherman and his fellow Union generals practiced the intentional genocide of total war during the so-called "Civil War." He explicitly stated that he wanted to exterminate the antebellum planter class of the South. However, he originally developed and perfected his techniques during the war on the Seminoles in Florida years before. His methods there included destroying homes, crops, and food stores; poisoning water supplies - and killing women and children, all methods the Union Army would continue to use throughout the 19th century.
WWI was certainly total war at its worst, and so was WWII. Hitler, Churchill, and Roosevelt all condoned continuous and indiscriminant bombing of civilians. Truman authorized the incineration of more than a quarter of a million civilians, mostly women and children. You can try to argue that these actions were efficient, effective, or necessary, but you cannot deny that they were barbaric. We don't like to think of ourselves as barbaric, and perhaps we are not the most barbaric of nations, but we are barbaric in war nonetheless.
Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises showed that the only policy consistent with humanity is peace. He showed that war is the result of interventionism, protectionism, and the welfare state. He further shows us that peace can only be achieved with a consistent ideology and a persistent policy of laissez faire.
One precautionary note: when describing the effects of war, it is important to distinguish between war and recession. Even though their causes are intermingled and they are both bad from an economic point of view, it is important to keep the two separate.
General Effects of War
Privacy; Knowledge; Market; Liberty; Freedom; Entrepreneurs; Labor; Citizens; Savings; Conservation; Capital; Excellence; Technology; Culture; Sound Money; Family; Babies; Health; Society; Life
Deceit; Propaganda; Government; Power; Security; Politicians; Bureaucracies; Special Interests; Consumption; Destruction; Depreciation; Ersatz; Cannibalization; Survival; Inflation; Prostitution; Bombs; Famine; Insanity; Death
The Case Of Four Economies
Main Street Economy: Land, Labor, and Capital Harmed By War
Real estate and Insurance
Art and Entertainment
Airlines and capital intensive industries
Manufacturing and Non-defense capital goods
The Unregulated Economy: Technology and Entrepreneurship Harmed By War
The Death Economy: Benefits From the Destruction of People, Peace, and Privacy
Spies (CIA, FBI, etc.)
Government and Taxes
The News Media
The Devil Economy: Benefits From Government and War
Oil Service Companies
Pharmaceutical and Healthcare
The Perfect War
While the battle against Osama Bin Ladin seems like a small war, it's actually the perfect war for the government. It's in a faraway place not easily accessible for media coverage. The opposition is small and poorly equipped so they don't represent much of a threat. They are also spread out (and the enemy is even poorly defined - terrorists?) so that great quantities of resources can be used up in chasing down Bin Laudin and his gang in many countries around the globe. Even their clothing makes them look elusive and therefore provides a good excuse for not being able to catch them.
The White House has announced that they expect the war to last for six more years (although most Americans now see the war as over). It's also perfect in the sense that the terrorist hit the American homeland and killed innocent citizens. If only one of twelve federal bureaucracies had done their job [in preventing the 9-11 attacks], this calamity could have been avoided in the first place.
Oddly enough the tragedy provides the government with a rationale for all sorts of new interventions and, while also producing the support and patriotism necessary to extract the great quantities of resources from the economy and to subvert a whole host of liberties and freedoms. To top it off, the timing of the war was excellent because the economy had sunk so far into recession that even government statistics revealed the truth. Nothing trumps a recession like a good war and the popularity ratings of President Bush and government in general are sky high. It's almost too perfect.
The Lasting Effects of War
One of the best sources on the role of war in increasing the size of government is Robert Higg's book, Crisis and Leviathan he is also the person who showed that WWII did not get us out of the Great Depression. Higgs shows that crises such as war and depression provide an impetus for governments to grow dramatically. After the crisis is over government shrinks but does not return to its previous level, but maintains higher taxes, higher levels of spending, and reduced levels of rights and privacy.
When this war ends, does anyone think that airport security will be privatized or that the Office of Homeland Security will be disbanded? Higgs described the growth of government as a "ratchet effect" where government grows tremendously during crisis and never fully retracts when the crisis is over.
One writer for the New York Times understands Higg's connection between War and Big Government and it makes him happy. He asked, is it really Guns vs. Butter? Do we really get fewer social programs when the government spends more on defense? No he says, we can have more of both when it comes to government and war. WWI gave us pervasive government regulation of the economy and "this cooperative approach to regulation survived." WWII saw the expansion of the income tax from 4 million taxpayers to 44 million taxpayers. And to save us from nuclear attack, the interstate highway system was built during the Cold War. It cost a bundle, but the Times writer notes gleefully "an entire industry of restaurants and motels were built up along these roads." I suppose that they could also argue that the interstates did indeed save us from those Russian missiles. And let's just take a minute to think of all the tangible benefits we received from our battle to beat the Russians to the moon. Tang.
The New York Times writer is concerned that there may be significant barriers to starting new domestic programs in this war, but concludes with confidence because recent polling data shows that public trust in government has reversed its 30 year slide and that the airport security bill was passed, what he dubs "a massive public works program," which enlarged the federal workforce and "even included a tax increase - called a passenger fee." Almost drunk with joy, the Times writer concludes that given the nature of this war that it would be possible to start new programs in medical research, health care, food safety, computer technology, law enforcement, unemployment insurance, transportation, energy production, and education.
"While the programs would be launched under the banner of the military effort, they could create a permanent government presence in areas unimaginable on September 10, 2001."
Two Examples of What Thrives
The Office of Homeland Security
The most tangible increase in government is the Office of Homeland Security, which nobody in Washington questioned the establishment of, but will surely continue to grow in size, power, and influence over time. It will spend billions if not trillions of dollars over the coming years and Greenspan has the inflationary spickets going on full.
I bring to your attention the cover story of the February 2002 Free Market where economist Bob Higgs asks poignantly, what about the massive Department of Defense? "If it does not defend our homeland, what does it defend?" Despite trillions of dollars, the Department of Defense could not even defend its own headquarters and now admits that it is so ill-prepared for looming threats that it will require endless billions to purchase every weapon system on the shelf and develop new ones. This admission of complete vulnerability should make Bush's missile shield a higher priority on the federal "to do" list.
Addiction, Mental Disability, Divorce
War is a great fount of social problems. The Civil War caused countless people, both soldiers and civilians, to be broken mentally or physically, and of course financially. Many were left addicted to drugs and alcohol. WWI killed many American soldiers and put many more into Veterans hospitals due to mental and physical incapacity. WWII did the same, as did the Korean War. Vietnam is famous for all the drug use and prostitution, with many veterans never fully reintegrated into society. This all cost money but the human cost is incalculable. But soldiers don't have to go to war to cause social problems. Just go to any military base and you will see it surrounded by prostitutes, drug dealers, seedy bars and hotels, not to mention tattoo parlors and pawn shops.
Two Examples of What Dies
Technology and War
Because new weapons seem to figure so crucially in the outcomes of battles and war, historians have often been mislead to the notion that war causes technology to move forward. However, in my research on the American Civil War, I have found that war was not a boon to technology. In fact, before the war, American was a font of new technology and in the massive spread of its use. Henry David Thoreau might have been the first person to use the phrase "Yankee Ingenuity" in 1843.
The war itself did not advance science and technology at all. Historians agree that the war provided no impetus in science, knowledge or technology. Robert Bruce concluded that the "Civil War was not only not affected by applied science but also was itself a distinct detriment to basic science." Even in military technology, very few new things were invented. The Gatling gun was invented, but was not put to much use. Submarine technology existed before the war, and the CSS Hunley was only the first submarine to make a successful attack.
Culture: The Case of Poetry
I consulted an old edition of the Oxford Book of American Verse and found that not a single poet in the collection was born during a war year. Contributors mostly lived during the 19th and early 20th century, but there were no poets born in the Civil War decade until 1869. I believe that the death and destruction of that war reduced the population in such a way that it simply did not provide the opportunity for that generation to contribute much in cultural areas. In fact there is a large gap between the birth of Emily Dickinson in 1830 and Edgar Lee Masters in 1869 filled only by the birth of Sidney Lanier in 1842.
I believe this gap is explained in large part by the fact that the war killed so many, killed the spirits of many more, and left the remainder of society with a tremendous burden to carry. I also consulted a list of American poets mostly from the 20th century and found that of the first 200 on the list, seven females were born during war years and one male (who has published virtually nothing). I would have expected about three times that many had the average number of poets been born during war years.
In summary, government, inflation, and bad behavior thrive during war, while the economy, culture, and our standard of living dies. No matter what the statistics say, a nation cannot achieve a higher standard of living while it is at war. War turns everything on its head, and diminishes us.
THEY WERE WRONG
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. - lewrockwell.com - Dec 21, 2001
In those days following Thanksgiving when the Taliban fell, the War Party enjoyed their greatest successes, and they didn't hesitate to rub our noses in it. Ha, ha, ha, they chortled, the people who warned of quagmire and failure were wrong. The Taliban was not invulnerable after all. The vaunted Islamic warriors fled for the hills for fear of the mighty air war waged by the U.S., and so victory is ours, with very few casualties of the kind that matter (meaning U.S. casualties).
It turns out, however, that the War Party was too smug too soon. None of the top officials of the Taliban have been captured. Al-Qaeda is still on the loose. Above all, Bin Laden and his coterie got away. Even the Pentagon admits that it is "anyone's guess" where he is. If the goal was to hammer the parties said to be guilty for 9-11, it hasn't worked. Even by their own standards, the war has not exacted justice but has only destroyed.
True, the Taliban no longer runs Afghanistan. But no one claims that the Taliban was directly responsible for any events of 9-11. Overthrowing that regime was not the primary point of the military intervention. To put the best spin on the outcome, the U.S. celebrated the advent of rock music and women's rights in Afghanistan (while remaining silent about the absence of such rights in other Islamic states, in particular former Soviet states now serving as military staging grounds).
But the ostensible point of the intervention was to get Bin Laden and his organization. If that is not achieved, what was the point of the war? To put a gaggle of tribal warlords, some left over from Soviet days, in charge of the country? That's all we really have to show for the war so far, that and a lot of civilian corpses and burned up liberties.
As a result, the War Party is changing its targets. "As for bin Laden, we shouldn't be too picky about timing," writes National Review's Rich Lowry, adherent of the doctrine of Pentagon Infallibility. "It doesn't matter too much whether he is killed before or after Saddam Hussein." Oh yeah? Just because Lowry says it doesn't make it so.
And say what you want about Saddam, he had nothing to do with September 11. In fact, as the leader of what used to be one of the most liberal states in the Arab world, he has always been a bitter opponent of radical Islam and Bin Laden in particular. Bin Laden's attitude toward Saddam duplicates the U.S. position: Saddam is an illegitimate leader who should be overthrown. The attempt to turn this war from one of retaliation into a general war against Islam completely changes the public rationale for why the U.S. is waging this war in the first place.
Having failed to accomplish its stated aims of exacting justice, the War Party is simply changing the stated goal. This is akin to the changed rationale of the Welfare State after the 1970s, when its advocates announced that their goal was not to eradicate poverty so much as to redistribute wealth from the rich. It's called defining your goal by the outcome, whatever it is, like the child on the playground who always declares after any embarrassment: "I meant to do that."
In the same way, the new rationale for this war is not to punish the evildoers who plotted the destruction of the World Trade Center; it is to eradicate states that the U.S. doesn't like: in other words, behaving like an empire.
Whenever I write about this topic, I receive a flurry of emails demanding to know: what is your alternative? The answer can be summed up in a single, very unfashionable word: diplomacy, the practice of resolving international disputes through adroit and tactful negotiation as an alternative to destructive war.
In diplomacy, there are no ultimatums or non-negotiable demands. There are proposals, counter-proposals, and rounds of give and take, ideally conducted by sober men and women, and all based on the belief that keeping the peace is better for all parties than going to war. While diplomacy proceeds, the peace is kept, trading continues, and normal relations among states remain. This is why civilized states always prefer diplomacy to violence in resolving disputes even with uncivilized states.
Hours after the attacks on 9-11, the U.S. theorized that Bin Laden was behind them. The Bush administration demanded that the government of Afghanistan hand him over. It's not at all clear that the Taliban could have done so if it wanted to, but before it even tried, the Taliban made two requests that are entirely in accord with traditional diplomatic practice: first, it wanted evidence that Bin Laden was involved, and second, it wanted Bin Laden tried in an international court, not in a U.S. kangaroo court. The second demand suggests that the Taliban was not fundamentally opposed to handing him over, provided that the evidence that he was involved was forthcoming.
What if the U.S. had worked to gather evidence and turn it over to the Taliban? At least in doing so, it would have developed a solid case against him and thereby persuaded fence-sitters to come over to the U.S. side. It could have worked to rally world opinion in a way that would have made it far more difficult for Bin Laden to escape. A trial in international court would have been the opportunity to expose him for all the world to see.
The costs of war would have been entirely avoided: Afghanistan wouldn't look like the surface of the moon, tens or hundreds of millions in tax dollars would have been saved, the dead American soldiers would still be alive, we would have stood a better chance of retaining civil liberties at home, we would not have inspired terrorists of the future and thousands of "collateral-damage" civilians would not have been killed. In any case, we wouldn't be worse off than we are today.
But diplomacy was ruled out the minute everyone concluded that September 11 was an act of war rather than a multiple hijacking that ended in horrendous murder. War is a license for the state to do whatever it wishes; the congressional resolution empowering Bush said as much. It means ruling out a diplomatic solution, which means ruling out peace.
What if Bin Laden is captured tomorrow? He should be put on trial, as the diplomatic tradition would dictate, not executed on the spot as the War Party demands. The Nuremberg Trials helped drive home the moral strictures that bind states in peace and war, and established the principle that obeying orders is not a morally licit excuse for rampant criminality. Similarly, the McVeigh trial highlighted the horror of ideologically driven violence. A trial for terrorists would help reassert ancient codes of ethics in times when states and terrorists disregard them.
Our dictum is summed up by Ludwig von Mises: "Whoever wants peace among nations must seek to limit the state and its influence most strictly." The War Party says roughly the opposite: "We want war, so there should be no limits on the state and its influence." And look what the War Party has done to us as compared with what they have done to make the world a safer place. So far they have achieved none of their stated objectives while having destroyed so much. It is they, and not us, who should be hanging their heads in shame.
IRAQ AND MORAL CORRUPTION
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. - lewrockwell.com - Jun 11, 2005
For years people will debate the real reasons the U.S. invaded Iraq. Was it an honest mistake, based on the belief that the Hussein regime was hiding weapons? Was it revenge for political disobedience? Was it about oil or regional control, Bush's place in history, or bolstering the U.S. military budget? Maybe it was only to satisfy the post-9-11 blood lust.
Given the mixed-up world of half-truths, lies, and duplicity that inhere in all war ambitions, these tantalizing questions may never be finally resolved, even by the most objective observers, of which there are few.
But this much we do know with apodictic certainty: virtually nothing in Iraq has gone as the U.S. envisioned it. It is a calamity that might not quantitatively equal Vietnam in terms of the loss of life, but it is qualitatively equal to any of the great war failures in world history.
The Bush administration fanaticized about using shock and awe to "decapitate" the Iraqi regime, and then - King Midas-like - touching the country to make it prosperous, civil, and - most importantly, compliant. The Iraqi government fell quickly, but 27 months later, a complicated and bloody chaos reigns.
What we have in Iraq today is the very definition of barbarism: martial law, puppet government, civil war, daily bloodshed, spreading poverty and disease, and no end in sight.
Economic conditions are miserable. The numbers showing GPD growth are a hoax, propped up by reconstruction aid that lands in the pockets of American contractors. Despite the promise of privatization, the economy remains controlled and largely nationalized, and the legal regime is arbitrary and changing. This environment attracts no productive capital investment. A business that moves to Iraq today is on the take, looking for loot. Meanwhile, the country's oil exports are spotty and unpredictable due to bad management and unrelenting sabotage.
The war is sowing and reaping hatred throughout the region, drawing recruits into terrorist armies, and expanding anti-Americanism. Whatever regime in Iraq earns the imprimatur of the U.S. will be ipso facto loathed by the Iraqi resistance. Whatever regime is supported by the Sunnis will be opposed by the Shiites and vice versa, with further complications added by the Kurds and gradations among religious and ethnic attachments that Americans can't hope to understand.
Details aside, the existence of the resistance is not hard to explain. That comes with invasion and occupation. The success of the resistance is not a mystery either. A private army using guerilla tactics can succeed over the long term where conventional government armies fail.
Incredibly, the Bush administration doesn't seem to comprehend any of this. From the beginning, it has placed all its hopes on the glorious results that flow from the application of power and violence. This represents a deep form of intellectual corruption that has afflicted the American right wing since the early days of the Cold War, when an entire movement put its love for liberty on the shelf and acculturated itself to the merits of bombs and military socialism.
One might have hoped that the end of the Cold War would have reversed the tendency, but it did not. Never have Republicans been more slavishly devoted to their Party and its partisan (not principled) agenda. The right has shown itself willing to sell what remains of its soul to keep the opposition out of power. Thus does it back the egregious Iraq War, along with all its debt, demolition, and death.
The homefront has suffered too: some $200 billion in taxpayers' money spent, 1,700 dead Americans, as many as 38,000 wounded, along with the high cultural costs of missing dads, skyrocketing divorce rates among the enlisted, and another generation trained in the idea that mass killing by the state is good and moral. The Iraqi dead approach 100,000.
I mentioned earlier that the Iraq failure has many precedents. Consider the Soviet failure in Afghanistan. The ostensible goal of the Russian government - which invaded the country by citing security concerns - was to replace a backward religious regime with an enlightened one that brought rights to all, guaranteed a higher standard of living, and put the country on the path to progress.
Of course we all saw through these lies. To us, the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was a transparent and brutal exercise of empire. It was evidence of the moral rot in the Kremlin. In the end, the Soviets controlled only the ground underneath their tank treads. It was the last hurrah of an evil empire.
Americans need to face the reality that most of the world sees our nation as the new evil empire, and many people in the Gulf region are dedicated to making sure that the Iraq War is the last hurrah for American militarism. How tragic to admit that the analogy is not entirely implausible.
"For what shall it profit a man," asked the first century philosopher whom Bush calls his favorite, "if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"
__Isn't this also true of a country?
ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES OF UN SANCTIONS
by Mark Thornton - lewrockwell.com - Sep 6, 2002
While researching the economics of the Union blockade of the Confederacy, I came across a working paper from the United Nations' Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, written by a Mr. Marc Bosuyt. (I was doing a google search looking for modern equivalents and came up with the Reign of Terror and the Sanctions against Iraq and Cuba!) The working paper examines the legality and efficiency of sanctions, as well as the history of sanctions. The report raises serious questions regarding the legality and efficiency of many UN Sanctions. Here are a couple of excerpts from this United Nations report regarding the sanctions against Iraq.
The sanctions against Iraq are the most comprehensive, total sanctions that have ever been imposed on a country. The situation at present is extremely grave. The transportation, power and communication infrastructures were decimated during the Gulf war, and have not been rebuilt owing to the sanctions. The industrial sector is also in shambles and agricultural production has suffered greatly. But most alarming is the health crisis that has erupted since the imposition of the sanctions. (p. 15)
As has been documented by United Nations agencies, NGOs, humanitarian and human rights organizations, researchers and political leaders, the sanctions upon Iraq have produced a humanitarian disaster comparable to the worst catastrophes of the past decades. There is broad controversy and little hard evidence concerning the exact number of deaths directly attributable to the sanctions; estimates range from half a million to a million and a half, with the majority of the dead being children. It should be emphasized that much of the controversy around the number of deaths is only serving to obfuscate the fact that any deaths at all caused by the sanctions regime indicate grave breaches of humanitarian law and are unacceptable. (p. 16)
In 1999, after conducting the first surveys since 1991 of child and maternal mortality in Iraq, UNICEF concluded that in the heavily-populated southern and central parts of the country, children under five are dying at more than twice the rate they were 10 years ago. An expert on the effects of sanctions on civilians states that "the underlying causes of these excess deaths include contaminated water, lack of high quality foods, inadequate breastfeeding, poor weaning practices, and inadequate supplies in the curative health-care system". The lack of food due to sanctions translated into a 32 per cent drop in per capita calorie intake compared to before the Gulf war. According to the Government of Iraq, by 1997, only half of the water treatment capacity of the country was operational. (p. 16)
Owing to the lack of medical supplies, it was estimated that, by 1997, 30 per cent of hospital beds were out of use, 75 per cent of all hospital equipment did not work and 25 per cent of Iraq's 1,305 health centres were closed. A recent Security Council-appointed panel summarized the health and sanitation situation as follows:
In marked contrast to the prevailing situation prior to the events of 1990-1991, the infant mortality rates in Iraq today are among the highest in the world, low infant birth weight affects at least 23 per cent of all births, chronic malnutrition affects every fourth child under five years of age, only 41 per cent of the population have regular access to clean water, 83 per cent of all schools need substantial repairs. The ICRC states that the Iraqi health-care system is today in a decrepit state. UNDP calculates that it would take 7 billion U.S. dollars to rehabilitate the power sector country-wide to its 1990 capacity. (page 17)
The outcry against the sanctions on Iraq has come from all sides. From within the United Nations, the Secretary-General himself has been at the forefront of the criticism, levelling serious charges against the sanctions regime in his report to the Security Council of 10 March 2000 (S/2000/208) and stating two weeks later that "the Council should seek every opportunity to alleviate the suffering of the population, who after all are not the intended targets of sanctions". The sanctions have led to the resignation of three United Nations officials, two this year alone. First, Denis Halliday, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, resigned in September 1998, declaring: "We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral." Hans von Sponeck, Halliday's successor as Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, resigned on 13 February 2000, explaining that he could not any longer be associated with a programme that prolonged the sufferings of the people and which had no chance to meet even the basic needs of the civilian population. Two days later, Jutta Burghardt, head of the World Food Programme in Iraq, also resigned, stating "I fully support what Mr. von Sponeck is saying". (p. 17-18)
The sanctions regime against Iraq is unequivocally illegal under existing international humanitarian law and human rights law. Some would go as far as making a charge of genocide. (p. 18)
Normally, I am not a fan of the United Nations, and I do favor the use of sanctions over outright military conflict, but as this report shows, many sanctions including those against Iraq, Cuba and others, are of dubious legality or effectiveness. In a study by Hufbauer and Schott (soon to be updated to include the 1990s), only 1/4 to 1/3 of the 116 sanctions imposed between 1914 and 1990 resulted in some policy change and that the more ambitious the sanctions were, the more likely they were to fail. Also, the study found that in about 70% of the 116 cases, the United States was the primary initiator of the sanctions.
THE FOURTH U.S. REPUBLIC: ONE POSSIBLE FUTURE
by Ed Cobb - lewrockwell.com - Sep 21, 2001
[Ed Cobb is a printer in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.]
Following is the text of the lecture delivered on September 11, 2051, at the first meeting of the year's Introduction to American History class at the Rockwell School of History and Free Trade of Rothbard University. It was delivered by Instructor Emeritus Ed Cobb who is so old that he is allowed to teach out of nostalgia despite this lack of any serious scholarly credentials.
Good morning, class.
Historians divide the story of the American nation into four republics. Today this view is commonly accepted as self-evident but such was not always the case. As recently as 50 years ago most Americans thought in terms of one republic. Of course, we see that view as simplistic.
Now let's briefly review the outlines of the first three American republics and then discuss our current era, the Fourth Republic.
The first American era began with the founding. That story, its ideals and aspirations and its failings are intimately familiar to each of you seated in this lecture hall today. (As an aside, let me point out that your grandparents were not taught much about our founding and what makes America what she is, which was no small part of the problem with the Third Republic.)
America had created something new and there was no blueprint to follow. We see the First Republic as a time of learning. The founders made mistakes and had amazing successes, with accepting slavery for as long as they did being their most obvious error. But at the same time, the spirit of human freedom that was unleashed in America was becoming the most powerful civic force ever seen on the planet.
The Second Republic was born in the War Between the States. Today it is impossible to comprehend the reverence in which Abraham Lincoln, the president who fathered the Second Republic by denying the South its clear right to secede, was once held in this country. Not long ago most Americans credited him with abolishing slavery, which we know he did in only a limited fashion and as a political expedient, and ignored his centralization of power and disregard for the Bill of Rights. You will find it hard to believe but Americans once called him "Honest Abe" without irony. Today that nickname is spoken in the same tone we use when we say "Tricky Dicky" or "Slick Willie."
There is some debate regarding the true beginning of the Third Republic, the Imperial phase of the American story. Many historians argue for Franklin Roosevelt as the founder of the Empire. It is undoubtedly true that he was the most successful of the imperial presidents. He established our permanent military presence around the globe. He grew the influence of government over the day-to-day lives of Americans to proportions that were just as unimaginable before his time as they are to us today.
But the honor, if it can be called honor, of founding the American Empire falls to Woodrow Wilson. Under Wilson, America sent troops to fight in a European War that had no relevance to American national interests. To this day no one really understands how or why it broke out. During that war, he limited the rights of Americans to criticize his actions in ways that would impress even "Honest Abe." Wilson also masterminded the Treaty of Versailles, the provisions of which so oppressed Germany and so depressed its economy that it led directly to the rise to power of the Nazis under Adolph Hitler.
Hitler and the Nazis then became the target of FDR's wrath. Their destruction enabled the rise of Stalin and the Soviet Empire whose defeat in the Cold War led to the rise of the Jihad of the early 21st Century. But I am getting ahead of myself. We will cover all of that in detail as the semester progresses.
Another innovation of Emperor Wilson's was The League of Nations. Luckily, America was still sufficiently sane that she refused to be dragged into membership in this early experiment in global government. But he planted the seed that eventually grew into the United Nations and we all know how badly that turned out. By the way, as I was listening to the radio in my office before class a report came over that the last UN delegate still at large was captured today and is now in custody, an auspicious omen for the start of the new semester.
The Third Republic, the American Empire, ended fifty years ago today when terrorists of the Jihad massacred innocent civilians on American soil. These were difficult times for the American people. We sustained horrible losses in savage acts of guerilla warfare in our own backyard. The people of America wanted justice. They wanted an end to terrorism. Luckily that is not all they wanted. They wanted to know why, why had it happened? That turned out to be the key.
You see, through all the changes in the American government the basic character of the American people had never changed. It was in 2001 essentially as it had been in 1776 and as it is today. By their nature, Americans are generous and friendly and they love liberty. Loving their own liberty, Americans wish liberty to everyone else. At the same time they would prefer to mind their own business and let others do the same.
Gradually, over the years since the founding of the First Republic, a distance had grown up between the aspirations of the American people and the actions of the American government. By the time of the final years of the imperial phase, the gap had grown so large as to be irreconcilable. It even had a name: BED, or Bipolar Empire Disease.
The elites who ruled the American Empire (politicians, establishment media, military-industrial complex) were enamored of their imperial power and privilege. They stood at one pole. Most of them were no longer truly American in the way that the average person on the street was American. The real people stood at the opposite pole. America was faced with the choice of going one way or the other: Republic or Empire.
The BED gap is personified in the last emperor, William J. Clinton, the "American Caligula." Clinton never held an actual job. He lived his entire life on the money of taxpaying Americans in homes they provided for him. He was a serial abuser of women who somehow, unbelievably, managed to get away with it by saying he had a right to a private life. Clinton was responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people in Serbia, Iraq, Sudan and other places that, even after worldwide peace was established, he was forced to live out his days in a bunker deep in the Ozark Mountains. For extra credit, research why that bunker was called Casa Grande. The fact that William J. Clinton was elected to the imperial presidency twice is perhaps the most telling proof of the sickness of empire and of the vast distance that had developed between the best that lives in the American people and what their leadership had become, what the Empire had become.
The founding father of our current era, the Fourth Republic, President George W. Bush presents an interesting case. He was routinely ridiculed by the princes of the media elite. It is hard for us to imagine this treatment today knowing what he accomplished but it is true. They feared him because they knew that he was not one of them. He saw through them and knew that the Empire had no clothes. Unlike Clinton, Bush had worked in business and understood how markets work and how wealth is created. And unlike Clinton's failed, hand-picked successor, a man named Albert Gore, he had lived among real people outside the Imperial City. And he had actually finished graduate school.
This Gore fellow is an interesting footnote. Few even recognize the name Gore today except as the first name of one of the nation's greatest writers. In early September of 2001 there were reports that he was planning a political comeback and then no more was ever heard of him. He joined Judge Crater and Jimmy Hoffa as historic oddities who simply vanished.
We will study the years-long War on Terrorism and Bush's masterful management of the worldwide coalition that prosecuted that war and virtually eliminated that threat while minimizing the loss of innocent human life. We will concentrate on the answer to the question of why the initial attack had happened and on America's response to that answer.
This will bring us into some of the most interesting and challenging days in our history. Among them will be The Return when, having subdued global terrorism, President Bush ended our worldwide military presence - and effectively ended the Empire - by bringing all U.S. troops back within our own borders. His speech citing George Washington's warning against foreign alliances is an American classic. Then we will look at the start of today's era of global free trade when he ended all American trade sanctions and offered to drop all trade barriers with any nation that would do the same. And when we look at the difficult days of the Great Departure, when all illegal aliens were returned to their homelands and the Great Wall of the Southwest was built, we will see Bush at his best, firm in his resolve to save the American Republic.
There are many more topics, students. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Howard Lutnick of Cantor Fitzgerald for his work during the first 25 years of this century in bringing attention to the natural peacemaking qualities of business and wealth creation. It is largely because of him that we all recognize free trade as the source of today's global cooperation and tranquility. Then there was Jesse Jackson's winning of the Prize for Economics, acknowledging his personal success in getting rich by helping poor people.
We will review the Hollywood Boycott, when average American people decided they were mad as hell and weren't going to buy the depraved products of the entertainment elite any longer, thus putting an end to the wealth and power of the most decadent people in the world. And finally, the end of all federal taxation in 2010 by Bush's successor followed by his dismantling of 85% of the Imperial Bureaucracy. By these two acts President J.C. Watts freed the true genius of the American people for creating and exporting liberty and wealth and earned his place in the pantheon of our greatest presidents.
It all seems inevitable now but, in truth, it was not. Had the decisions made by George W. Bush between 2001 and 2009 gone a different way any number of alternative American futures might have emerged. More Empire abroad and a police state at home until it all collapsed as Rome had collapsed. A full-scale global shooting war with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons depopulating and poisoning a planet that returned to the Stone Age. Instead, the world lives in peace and prosperity today because of President Bush's decisions. Welcome to 2051, America.
WHEN A PRO-LIFE PRESIDENT KILLS
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. - lewrockwell.com - Nov 28, 2001
"We should not as a society grow life to destroy it," said President Bush in response to the news that a Massachusetts company had cloned a human embryo. Though Bush says that's "exactly what's taking place," scientists interviewed dispute that there is any cloning going on.
As has become the norm with these bioethics issues, no one can even agree on the essential facts of the case. Larry Goldstein of the University of California at San Diego said the company "induced human eggs to undergo a couple of rounds of divisions. What they made was not human. I don't know what they made, but they're not really embryos."
Human life or no, Bush is clearly concerned. So let's talk about some other forms of life that are currently under some degree of stress, namely life in the suburbs of Khanabad, Afghanistan. We are not talking embryos or embryo-like objects. These are full-grown adults and their children. No scientists dispute that these are people. No one disputes that life is being destroyed. What's in dispute is the justification. What Bush says that science must not do, he is more than willing to do under the guise of war.
The other day, American cluster bombs fell in this area and killed at least 100 unarmed civilians. These facts have been confirmed by many Western observers. One man affected is Juma Khan of Charikari, husband and father of six. Make that widower and father of one 11-year-old daughter named Gulshan who has severe head injuries but is still breathing, thank God. A bomb hit their house during the breakfast hour of 8am. It killed five of his children and nine other family members, including his brother and his brother's children.
"I was just sitting there. The next thing I knew, people were digging me out of the rubble," Mr. Khan told the Independent. In the pages of the Wall Street Journal, this is just war and we have to buck up to face it, and then escalate. But to Khan, this was his wife, his children, his brother, and his nieces and nephews - all that really matters in the world.
Who is responsible? The pilot who dropped the bombs? Maybe. But there will be no prosecutions. It's not even clear that there are channels for such things. Despite the platitudes about sparing innocents heard early in this war, there is no outcry or even admission of wrongdoing.
Besides, the pilot was following orders. Who was giving the orders? Sure, the generals, but on whose authority are they operating? The Joint Chiefs of Staff, but who empowers them? There's only one man: George W. Bush, the man who just decried cloning on grounds that it represents an attack on life.
Bush is willing to use all his now-considerable power to try to stop the division of human embryos, and isn't going to let any platitudes about the "progress of science" stop him. And yet here is a case where he has full power to stop the destruction of life right now. One word and it's done. And yet he does nothing. Far from it: he orders more bombing in more countries, using violence to achieve his political ends.
It strikes me that here we have a very interesting case of human psychology. As a man, Bush wouldn't hurt anyone, particularly not innocent people. As president, he believes it is his responsibility to defend the right to life. But as commander-in-chief, he can in good conscience oversee the wholesale slaughter of innocents and lose no sleep. He can smile, laugh, and enjoy 85 percent popularity.
Of course, many thinkers have exposed the immorality of the State and its wars, including Frederic Bastiat, Albert Jay Nock, H.L. Mencken, Betrand de Jouvenel, Herbert Spencer, Franz Oppenheimer, and Murray N. Rothbard, among many others. Their writings provide brilliant insight into how the State "thinks," and its exaltation of itself and its interests over everything else on earth.
These intellectuals show, for example, that the State purports to punish theft and murder while making theft and murder the very essence of its domestic and foreign policy. The State claims to make and uphold the law, yet exempts itself from punishment when it transgresses that law. It claims to punish evil doers, yet its own actions, in war and the regular conduct of domestic policy, inspire and motivate evil doers to copy the State's ways. And when it comes to actually punishing crime, it hits crime against itself far more severely than crimes against its citizens.
All this is clear. But what can we say about a man like Bush, a decent fellow who loves his family, who goes to church, who probably entered public life with the most sincere motivations. How does he sleep and pray knowing that his decisions as president are tearing off the heads and ripping open the bellies of innocents? Does he blame the terrorists for making him do this? Perhaps, but that only takes him so far. Under no standard of justice is killing non-combatants in another nation a proper retaliation for the killing of non-combatants in our nation.
There's no cracking some mysteries of the human heart, but I think the answer has something to do with the ideology of public service, and particularly the mythology of the moral burden of the presidency. For generations, every historian of note has held up the most mass-murdering of presidents for public adulation. The "moral burden" of the presidency amounts to doing very immoral things, under the cover of statesmanship, and not letting it affect one's sense of well being.
"The evil that men do lives after them," Shakespeare has Mark Antony say. "The good is oft interred with their bones." But with US presidents, it's usually precisely the opposite.
Can all the top historians be wrong? Yes, certainly. But it takes a special kind of intellect and moral courage to reach this conclusion. You have to be an extremely independent thinker. If you are like Bush, a conventional sort of guy, you are perfectly willing to believe the conventional wisdom: that what a president does in wartime is not mass murder but rather statesmanship, that leaders of great nations are not held to the same standard of right and wrong that binds the rest of us.
That is why it is more urgent than ever to underscore the essential idea of the liberal tradition, that morality is universal and that the State is not exempt from it. The religious dimension to that idea says that God is no respecter of persons, that the same standard will someday be used to judge us all. The social-political implication is that we should not grow life in order to destroy it, by any means, whether science or war. Only the tradition that applies that view consistently can restrain the State, and it must be taught to a new generation.
FOUR REASONS WE SHOULD ABOLISH THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
by Brad Edmonds - www.lewrockwell.com - February 10, 2004
4. As the military is a government outfit, it can never be efficient. Indeed, as Ludwig von Mises showed, the U.S. military, being a purely socialist government monopoly, can never know how much money it should have or spend, can never have a good idea how much its operations should cost. Right now, the U.S. defense budget is over $1,400 for each man, woman, and child in the U.S.. The private sector could provide a deterrent, enough to prevent any threat of foreign invasion, for probably 1/10 of that - which, remember, would still amount to $40 billion. No government agency can ever know what its costs should be; it is a forcible monopoly, and never can face bankruptcy, competition, or loss of customers.
For the most part, the military as we have it is unconstitutional, as have been most of its actions since 1812 (in which war most of the work was done by privateers anyway). The private sector would do a far better job for far less money, as the individual Ross Perot proved in practical terms. The only impact the standing military has on our freedom is to take it away. And the military will eternally waste money because it cannot be governed by market forces, cannot ever know what its costs should be, cannot know what value it should return to stakeholders, and will never have an incentive to do a good job efficiently. In short, just as with any government service such as education or welfare services, it can never work well. This military must be abolished.
FRAMING THE DEBATE ON WMD
by Bob Murphy - www.lewrockwell.com - July 19, 2003
... As former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter has been pointing out in speeches and columns: What if it turns out that Iraq was, in fact, disarmed? What if it transpires that the UN weapons inspectors had succeeded in their mandate, and that the Iraqi government had complied with its obligation? The consequences and ramifications of such a finding are many, and few are trivial. The entire justification for this war will be thrown into doubt... .[I]f there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there is no material breach [of UN resolutions]. No matter how attractive regime change and liberation might be, one will have trouble finding a legal basis for military intervention under international law citing this as the reason.
... What's really amusing (or horrifying) about this is the reaction of the prowar crowd. When the issue of the forgery first surfaced, I was (in my naïveté) quite shocked by it. It seemed inconceivable to me that (1) the Bush Administration would rely on a crude forgery to justify an invasion of another country, and that (2) they would actually get away with it.
On the first point, let's be sure we realize just how bad the forged documents were. It's not as if it took painstaking analysis with an electron microscope to discover that they weren't legit. No, the reason the documents have been referred to as "crude forgeries" is that, for example, experts say the signature of the President of Niger is obviously not his own. There's also the problem that the President of Niger refers to powers under a constitution that did not exist at the time of alleged writing. Additionally, a letter dated October 10, 2000, describing the "protocol of understanding" for the uranium export to Iraq, is signed by a foreign minister of Niger, who had been deposed a decade earlier. What is even more ludicrous, this particular letter was stamped with a date of receipt in September 2000. (In other words, this particular piece of evidence was somehow penned after it was mailed.)
At the very least, then, dozens of people in the CIA should be immediately fired for not checking up on this. Even if they truly had no intent to deceive, these analysts are still grossly incompetent. The very best excuse you could make is that they were busy working on other projects at the time, and didn't bother to check, say, that the signature of the President of Niger looked like the signature of the President of Niger. But even if we bend over this far for them, these analysts should still be fired for not allocating their time properly. After all, what could be more important than verifying documents that justify going to war?
[Can pro-warriors understand people's concerns about high level public officials and gov employees who are incompetent? including Congress's incompetence in not declaring war, but nodding off on it?]
And now I move on to the second point: What happens in American politics if you rely on a crude forgery to justify starting a war? Not too much, it turns out. Even if you get caught red-handed, you can always count on a mass of sycophant apologists to defend you.
... In conclusion, let me reiterate that I am not claiming Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. I am not an expert on these issues, and can only analyze the evidence and arguments reported by others. However, I do feel qualified to point out when someone is caught in a lie, and I can tell when an orgy of apologists try to cloud the issue. Those who opposed the war cannot let the debate be framed the way the warhawks are trying to do. Until weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq, and have been verified by independent experts, the U.S. invasion remains immoral and illegal, on the very criteria President Bush himself laid out for it.
Bush's Defenders and WMD - July 23, 2003
... Whatever Saul Singer or other proponents of American military intervention may think of the decision, President Bush unequivocally based his case for war on Saddam's alleged possession (and yes, further development of) weapons of mass destruction. You can't demand that someone disarm to avert war, if the tyrant in question has no weapons on him.
Make no mistake: If no weapons of mass destruction turn up in Iraq, then President Bush's case for war falls apart on the very grounds he laid out for it. Moreover, it will then be unambiguously clear that Bush and his administration consistently lied to the American people to gain their support for an invasion of another country. If this is not grounds for impeachment, I don't know what is.
I DON'T OWE THE MILITARY ANYTHING
by Brad Edmonds - www.lewrockwell.com - January 29, 2004
... I still don't owe the military anything, and my case is based on two facts: (1) That these men and women served does not create a positive obligation on my part to pay for their medical care or anything else (it is dishonorable, by the way, when women are involved in any way in combat; chivalrous men would not have women serve except in administrative and medical positions, far away from combat). (2) The military has failed in its duty to protect our freedoms.
With regard to (1): Most, probably nearly all, in the military entered for personal reasons, not just to "protect our freedoms." I entered the CIA for adventure, an income, and federal benefits. This would apply to most, particularly those in the most dangerous and glorified jobs (Seals, Rangers, etc.). I did not ask these people to serve, just as nobody asked me to serve in the CIA; and the only people whose report of self-sacrifice I believe are those who accept salaries far below their potentials. How many Wharton MBA or Harvard law graduates run to the military? I'm prepared to accept the self-sacrifice testimony of careerists in the Salvation Army and the YMCA. Anyone else enjoys too many personal benefits for me to accept much of the "selfless" claim.
With regard to (2), I have three questions:
If the military is supposed to be defending our freedoms in the U.S., why is all the action in other countries? The only foreign action the U.S. has seen is Pearl Harbor, into which the Japanese were goaded by FDR with his full knowledge and intent, as has been declassified only recently; and 9/11, which was most plausibly retaliation for 40 years of bombing women and children in the Middle East. I would be more willing to believe that the military was about defending our freedoms, if they would limit themselves to defending our borders, and if they would do so successfully. Remember, on 9/11, the military couldn't even defend the Pentagon.
It is much more plausible that the military is merely a tool for Congress and the White House to enact their foreign-policy desires. "Defending American interests abroad" explains the last 200 years far better than "defending freedoms at home." Unfortunately, Congress and the White House lost track of the fact that entangling alliances with none, and free trade with all, furthers individual Americans' interests more successfully than the policy we've embraced since Jefferson: Entangling alliances with whomever, free trade only with those with whom we have entangling alliances.
Second question: If the military has done such a great job of defending our freedoms at home, why do we need a Department of Homeland Security? Wasn't the Department of Defense supposed to provide defense? Instead, the Department of Fatherland Defense is an open, if unwitting, admission that the Department of Defense is in reality the Department of Offense, going abroad to force Congressional and White House foreign policy on whomever they want, whether the foreign party is willing or not. Just as one example: Hussein is accused of killing some 185,000 of his own countrymen. The Sudan is accused of killing perhaps 2 million. Why select Hussein for regime change? The 9/11 connection and WMDs (the only ones of which Hussein ever had he was given by the U.S. to begin with) have both proven false. Oil interests are a much more plausible explanation.
Finally, if the military were doing such a great job of defending our freedom, why do we have so much less of it than we had in 1787? In 1865? In 1912? In 1932? In 1960? Our freedoms, particularly our property rights (specifically, our right to our own earnings) have been eroded dramatically. Our tax burden, approaching 50% for those of us who pay taxes, is monstrously larger than it was in each of those other years. The military has done nothing to keep Congress and the White House from treating us as chattel slaves. Again, that the military exists for the benefit of the White House and members of Congress explains military events and outcomes of the last 200 years far better than "defending our freedom" does.
An additional note: It is by this point uncontroversial that our freedoms would have been better defended without a standing military. The founders knew it; and Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto knew it, saying, "You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass." He didn't say you should not, or that it would be costly or difficult. He said "you cannot." The gun rights we had then have only been eroded since, hence the military has done nothing for the real power of the U.S. to defend itself.
I'm sorry that so many honorable military men and women have been misled. I'm sorry that so many believe they fought for our freedoms. I'm sorry that a smaller, but significant, percentage of those believe that I personally owe them an involuntarily-taken chunk of my income. Morally, I do not owe them this. I did not ask them to do what they did; they already have been, and are being, paid; I believe my freedom has only been eroded, not enhanced, by their presence; and I believe my actual personal safety is more threatened by their existence, not less, as a result of how they have been used by Congress and the White House.
I don't idolize, but I do admire those 99% of the members of the armed forces who have served honorably. But I owe them nothing.
FOUR REASONS WE SHOULD ABOLISH THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
by Brad Edmonds - www.lewrockwell.com - February 10, 2004
To address the common claim by neoconservatives that we owe our freedom to the men and women of the U.S. military, I've written recently that we don't owe the military anything of the sort. While many soldiers, airmen, etc. died in combat believing they were defending our freedom, they were misguided in this belief. The "for our freedom" claim is false because our freedoms were won by the founders and written into law by them, hence a military created afterward could have had nothing to do with that; the freedoms then created have only eroded over time, and the military did not prevent this (and could not, not being part of the legislative process); the military has never been necessary to prevent our freedoms being taken by other countries, as historians available all over the web are now making clear; and the military over the last century has only executed the adventurous whims of individual congressmen and presidents, and in so doing has been the muscle behind needlessly making the rest of the world hate us.
Aside from looking at the past, there are compelling reasons we should abolish all government military forces now.
1. Any standing military force aside from the Navy is unconstitutional. The Constitution provides for funding of armies only two years at a time - even the typical four-year commitment for ROTC cadets and new enlistees is thus illegal, as presumably it could not be known four years in advance that there would still be a standing Army or Air Force. Many things the federal government does today are unconstitutional, but this is no reason not to continue to consider the Constitution an authoritative document.
2. The private sector could provide heavy-weapons regional defense better than the government. I neglected to mention in recent articles, but included in my "abolishing government" series, that insurers would most likely take up this task. Insurers have the resources and incentive already, and unlike the government's military, if an insurer caused "collateral damage," the insurer would be held responsible, with no protection from lawsuits. Additionally, an insurer would be required to succeed in protecting its customers, which our military isn't; and do at least as good a job of that for the dollar as the next insurer. By contrast, in today's government military, drill instructors are required to be "sensitive" rather than effective; gays and women share close quarters with men, even in combat, to the detriment of combat effectiveness; materiel is often purchased from the lowest bidder (unless the bidder represents a token minority contractor the Pentagon needs, in which case a toilet seat can cost hundreds of dollars); and in general our government military is a playground for the social-engineering initiatives of leftists in Congress, and is not dedicated primarily to its mission. The private sector, were it allowed to provide regional defense without government interference, would be more efficient, more effective, safer, and would never have incentive to engage in social engineering, nor in murderous foreign-policy adventurism and the consequent creation of bitter enemies around the world.
3. Even if the military were both efficient and constitutional, a standing military is a threat to our liberty, as has been proven in U.S. history. The ultimate test of liberty is secession. Even Lincoln himself agreed before he became president that secession is a natural right. What made a slave a slave was that he could not secede from his owner's governance and go into business for himself. What makes the states and all their citizens slaves to the union today is that we are not allowed to secede and govern ourselves. The U.S. military, in the only action it ever took that directly affected American liberty, prevented it - prevented the secession of several states by killing 300,000 of their citizens, then over several years enforcing draconian martial law over the survivors.
MIRACLE OF PEACE Copyright © 2005 by Lloyd Kinder - LKINDR@Gmail.com