Errors of War
"war on terror" has brought about not only a curtailment of the
Irrelevant Liberties, but also a great deal of mental confusion.
For example, there exist many otherwise intelligent people who believe
that "evil" can be "destroyed" with the help of overwhelming military
force. But evil is negative; it is a privation, an absence of good.
How does one destroy that which does not really exist? How can one
destroy an imperfection?
is by no means a spurious analogy. Consider the war on poverty.
For years the state tried to fight poverty with various coercive
redistribution schemes. It failed, because poverty is simply a lack
of wealth. It is not destruction that we must strive for; it is
creation of wealth. This creation is a slow and fragile process
of capital accumulation. By sabotaging the market economy the government
only slowed this process down.
about the war on drugs? One can agree that the use of certain drugs
by certain people under certain circumstances constitutes a vice.
But that is between them and God and their friends and families.
It is of no concern to the larger society. The drug war has ruined
countless lives both here and abroad. It has contributed mightily
to the growth of the Leviathan. Yet it failed utterly. The drug
warriors pretend that the absence of good, in this case unwillingness
to face reality, can be fought with Apache helicopters, prisons,
and deceptive propaganda rather than a good sermon and a fighting
general then, in order to "destroy evil" one must create good.
does this principle apply to the current war? First off, there can
be no comparison between a war and apprehending a criminal. Most
wars, and this one is no exception, involve the use of unjust
violence in "retaliation" for another instance of unjust violence.
This can quickly lead to escalation, which is precisely what the
government has been constantly warning us about. Yet the bloodthirsty
intellectuals and many of the conservative rank-and-file think that
"victory" is assured. They should take their eyes off the technological
terrors they've constructed and re-read their Sun Tzu:
7. You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack
places which are undefended. You can ensure the safety of your
defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.
Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not
know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent
does not know what to attack.
You may advance and be absolutely irresistible, if you make for
the enemy's weak points; you may retire and be safe from pursuit
if your movements are more rapid than those of the enemy.
For should the enemy strengthen his van, he will weaken his rear;
should he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; should
he strengthen his left, he will weaken his right; should he strengthen
his right, he will weaken his left. If he sends reinforcements
everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.
Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible
attacks; numerical strength, from compelling our adversary to
make these preparations against us.
So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at
what is weak.
He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and
thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.
seems that the terrorists know exactly what they are doing. Clearly,
the natural order works in a certain way. Crushing people consistently
fails to bring peace. There can never be a war to end all wars.
Something else is needed. But what?
answer is 100% free trade and strictly contractual relations with
the citizens of all countries. We have to show them how good laissez-faire
capitalism and international trade are so that they will think twice
before blowing themselves up. The quicker they are incorporated
into the international division of labor, the faster war and terrorism
will become costly and very unpopular. There will emerge powerful
business interests opposed to the disruption of trade inherent in
any war. Today, for example, perpetual peace with China is all but
assured given both countries' commitment to capitalism. Recently
somebody has come up with the idea that peace between Israel and
the Palestinians can be achieved by building a wall between them
and cutting off all contact. Going through with this will be a disaster,
because neither the Palestinians nor the Israelies will then have
anything to lose from each other's destruction. They need more trade
and more capitalism, not less.
need to recall that almost all products and services we buy are
made with the help of overseas capital or labor. Business negotiations
among very different people are routinely conducted without the
threat of nuclear war to back up the offers. We must come to appreciate
how truly awe-inspiring it is to do business with people whose culture
is profoundly different from our own. It is here in this perpetually
despised "cash nexus" that our common humanity is reaffirmed in
the most powerful way. It is the combination of self-interest and
goodwill toward men that free trade both manifests and encourages
that creates order and intelligibility and benevolence out of chaos
and fear in man's social life.
common error has to do with the much derided "moral equivalence".
How many times have we seen the slogan "God bless America!"? But
God's blessings are as a rule bestowed on those nations that are
unwavering in their adherence to the natural law. Should they disobey,
their past achievements will not save them from disaster. It is
not worth pointing out, for example, that the people who died in
the 9/11 attack did not deserve to be murdered. However, because
most Americans failed even to try to restrain the state whose
wild ambitions include managing the world with utter disregard for
the laws of both social cooperation and conscience, they
may not feign righteousness. They are utterly indifferent to their
duty as citizens continuously to force the state to respect economic
freedom at home and peace and self-determination of nations abroad
and then become outraged when people around them die violent deaths.
But maintaining a free, peaceful, and prosperous society requires
keen minds and constant struggle, lest it degenerates into a ruthless
welfare-warfare state with countless enemies. That struggle entails
a conscious commitment to the correct ideology and a willingness
to act on it. The fault, as always, lies not in our stars, but in
was amused by the recent incident with The National Review's
firing Ann "the Warrior Princess" Coulter for saying "We should
invade [the terrorists'] countries, kill their leaders, and convert
them to Christianity." They truth is, they are just as bloodthirsty
as she is, but being the neocons that they are, they have to call
for World War III while staying politically correct (which means
Christianity is a no-no).
corruption of the Western civilization is never more obvious when
its "defenders" tremble in anticipation of spreading it with fire
and sword. Persuading others of the superiority of the Western culture
is not even an option. Unfortunately, instead of the Western ideals
they will only spread destruction and the doctrine of might. This
evil that they sow we all shall reap. In abundance.
Chernikov [send him
mail] lives New York City.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com