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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10496/withered-garland-of-war/

Withered Garland of War

August 20, 2009 by

The contributors to this outstanding volume have grasped a simple but unfashionable truth: war is a great evil. It entails horrible suffering and death on a large scale, and it has served as the principal means for the rise of the tyrannical state.

Why then, do wars take place? So far as the wars of the United States, the chief subject of the book, are concerned, the contributors place the main blame on intellectuals and power-hungry politicians, often in the service of “merchants of death.” FULL ARTICLE

{ 14 comments }

Mark K August 20, 2009 at 8:39 am

Watching Bush launch his pre-emptive war in Iraq, and the interminable occupation that inevitably followed, opened my mind to the folly of war. Reading libertarian writings such as the book cited above, has completely changed my view of the ‘goodness’ of war.

I also read a book by Buchanan which pointed out that the two world wars that Churchill was so excited to pursue resulted in England’s loss of empire and permanent relegation to the role of a minor state–with socialism turning it into a dystopia. A pair of pyhrric victories indeed…

As we permanently prop up puppet governments in Afghanistan and Iraq with the full blessing of the media, republican, and democrat parties (including a president who campaigned on the promise of ending war), its hard to imagine a time more ripe for pondering the tragic dysfunction of our own cultural and political institutions.

Brad August 20, 2009 at 9:23 am

It seems obvious to me after several decades of reading about WWII, the build up toward it and the “appeasements” that were made, even from the “historical victors” perspective, that France and England only got involved once it became likely that they would lose economic hegemony in Europe and elsewhere. It wasn’t for the Jews, or for sterile paper alliances, it was about maintaining the order that the previous century’s imperialism had made.

When all the roads were heading favorably in their direction, imperialism suddenly became passe and late comers to the trough weren’t going to be tolerated, especially if it tipped the scales in someone else’s favor. It is why WWI was fought, which led head on to WWII (and Korea and Vietnam). Of course I think that there was also an element that aggression in Asia or Africa was one thing, but to do it in Europe itself was intolerable – “really bad form old boy, don’t you know”.

If there were any “principled” reason for fighting WWII it was by those who were communistic or some other highly left socialist concept. The remainder were fascistic statists in their own right, fighting for rank within the ever burgeoning nationalistic statism. Of course the cannon fodder, as in all wars, are those who are fighting for Mom, Suzie, apple pie, and God.

Barry Loberfeld August 20, 2009 at 11:09 am

RE “Watching Bush launch his pre-emptive war in Iraq”:

Military preemption — the “Bush Doctrine” — is nothing but global gun control. The Commander in Chief has turned the U.S. military into Handgun Control, Int. and intends to use it to disarm every rogue nation out there: first, Afghanistan; now, Iraq; next, Iran, North Korea, and God knows where else. And what about all the terrorist cells that don’t provide us with an identifiable “Japan” to target? How will any of this prevent a monster from walking across our border and unstopping a jar of anthrax in a major city? How can we pretend that the military can disarm every rogue in the world any more than the police can disarm every rogue in the country?

FROM HERE

EconAndre August 20, 2009 at 11:18 am

An interesting detail in 1940 was that Stalin wanted to join the Axis as the fourth member, but Hitler was too selfish to let him in, and thus hated his co-totalitarian neighbor, the USSR, even though the two systems were quite similar in character. So maybe Axis’s can only have three members?

geoih August 20, 2009 at 12:51 pm

“Well, however badly off the ex-slaves, were they not at least free? No doubt; but very likely slavery would have soon ended without the need for war. After all, slavery was brought to an end peacefully everywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, except Haiti.”

Arguing this counter-factual (slavery would have ended without the war) is pointless. There is plenty of slavery in the world still today. You’ve heard of North Korea. Was to population of the Soviet Union enslaved? If the chains are held by a government instead of a single individual, does that make you any less enslaved? There is no evidence that slavery will automatically disappear on it’s own.

Lincoln’s war might have been started for all of the wrong reasons, been horrific and costly (as all wars are), and started us down the path to the imperial federal government we have today, but it did free the slaves.

Using the antebellum south to promote libertarianism will always be a losing argument because of one word, slavery. All of the other advantages of that society pale to insignificance against this single blemish. Trying to use collective cost-benefit analysis will rarely be persuasive.

Mark K August 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm

The quote did qualify to the western hemisphere, but the fact of the matter is that all european-cultured countries except our own ended slavery without a civil war. Are we to say that because ending slavery was an unintended side-effect of the civil war, we ought to embrace war rather than diplomacy because sometimes it has really good unintended side effects? It strikes me that is the reductio absurdem of of your chain of reasoning.

2nd Amendment August 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Geoih,

What ? You think you are not a slave of the US government ?

Try not paying taxes, try buying military weapons, try smoking a joint in front of a police officer, try withdrawing more than $10,000 in cash, try to deposit $10,000 or more in cash, try saying exactly what you think of the government or the president.
Try making major home improvements on your property without a permit.

We give almost half our incomes to the government and we have almost no freedoms.

I’m sorry but Abraham Lincoln failed, there are not 300,000,000 slaves in the USA and about 6 Billion slaves in the world !

2nd Amendment August 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Geoih,

What ? You think you are not a slave of the US government ?

Try not paying taxes, try buying military weapons, try smoking a joint in front of a police officer, try withdrawing more than $10,000 in cash, try to deposit $10,000 or more in cash, try saying exactly what you think of the government or the president.
Try making major home improvements on your property without a permit.

We give almost half our incomes to the government and we have almost no freedoms.

I’m sorry but Abraham Lincoln failed, there is NOW 300,000,000 slaves in the USA and about 6 Billion slaves in the world !

(I meant NOW)

Russ August 20, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Barry Loberfeld wrote:

“…How can we pretend that the military can disarm every rogue in the world any more than the police can disarm every rogue in the country?”

According to this logic, we should not try to fight crime, even with ancap PDAs. After all, they can’t stop them all, right? This would seem to be a reductio ad absurdem to me.

Also, regarding gun control. I’m opposed to gun control in general, but we don’t give guns to those in prisons or mental institutions. If, say, Iranians, are crazy for believing that starting Armageddon would be good because it would accelerate the coming of the Mahdi, then maybe we should take away their nukes just like we make sure that psychotics don’t have guns.

gene August 20, 2009 at 6:44 pm

nice article!

Russ, it is war not Iran that created nukes.

geoih August 20, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Quote from Mark K: “Are we to say that because ending slavery was an unintended side-effect of the civil war, we ought to embrace war rather than diplomacy because sometimes it has really good unintended side effects?”

No. My point is, because of the stigma of slavery, using the antebellum south and the Civil War as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, respectively, to promote libertarianism will always be a political and emotional loser in any argument other then the most academic. If one of the goals of this blog and the Mises Institute is to affect a change toward liberty in America, then using this example is, at best, wasting time, at worst, counter productive.

geoih August 20, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Quote from 2nd Amendment: “What ? You think you are not a slave of the US government ?”

No, but I am thankful I don’t live in North Korea (yet).

Russ August 20, 2009 at 8:36 pm

gene wrote:

“…Russ, it is war not Iran that created nukes.”

So what? The military, unlike us armchair philosophers, have to deal with the real world. Three aspect of the real world are 1) nukes are out there; 2) crazy people are out there; 3) crazy people plus nukes is a bad combination. Where those nukes originally came from is irrelevant.

gene August 23, 2009 at 7:51 pm

It is the military, unlike us armchair philosophers, that creates the real world you are talking about.

To say that where the weapons came from is irrelevant, is to say that handing a psycho an automatic weapon is irrelevant.

Everything in the “real” world is relevant, if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be real. Nukes are a product and a tool of war. Without wars, there would never be nukes.

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