Trident Is An Expensive Instrument Of Terror

The individual liberty of human beings stands above everything else. It is the mantra of all enemies of liberty to deny this simple judgement. They will tell you that there are others things, that are greater than the individual. Therefore, in the name if this greater good, individual liberty can be sacrificed. Ideas of what this greater good is supposed to be, come in various shapes and forms, from welfare statism to national greatness. In British politics there is currently a debate to renew financing a particularly pernicious instrument of collectivism. I am talking about Trident – the nuclear weapons of the UK.

Nuclear weapons are not weapons that are able to defend liberty. A nuclear weapon is a giant tool of destruction. It is an instrument of terror. It is not used to shoot at an attacking soldier, but to target civilian populations on a massive scale. Of course there are many weapons that can be used this way. Some of them as just as immoral as nuclear weapons. But nuclear weapons can ONLY be used this way. They are therefore inherently immoral.

There is no imaginable scenario in which killing innocent civilians is not very problematic. I have written about this recently in this piece. Most of the time it is completely inexcusable. But terrorism, meaning the deliberate targeting of civilians, in order to spread fear, is always criminal. Terrorists use, as justification for their actions, the achievement of a greater good. In the name of this greater good some civilians dying is argued to be acceptable. The ability to spread terror is the only possible argument to have nuclear weapons. Even if someone were to try to use them differently, other weapons would be much more suitable for this purpose. So the only reason why a state might want to have nuclear weapons is to be able to engage in acts of terror on a gigantic scale. And that is exactly how they have been used historically.

The best argument for nuclear weapons is to have them so that they do not need to be used. This argument almost sounds like it is really an instrument of peace. However, this is not very believable. A threat is only useful if there is a real possibility that it can be executed. That means having nuclear weapons automatically entails that there is a situation in which they will be used. Since they cannot possibly be morally used, this is simply too risky and also way too expensive. After all, let us not forget, this is a very expensive dust catcher, paid for with stolen money.

In addition, nuclear weapons are often used to bully other states. When a state has nuclear weapons, it can afford to put sanctions on unwanted regimes without fearing their retaliation. Power corrupts and makes people do stupid things. In this case they prevent states from cooperating. Why cooperate when you have this giant tool of terror that your opponent does not have. In other words, nuclear weapons are used to make new enemies. It is like so often with government programs, they are solving problems that would not exist without them.

This is often used as the main argument in favour of nuclear weapons. Yes they are evil, yes they are expensive, but as long as other states have them, we better have them as well. Otherwise we will be the ones who get bullied. This might be an argument, if we were some kind of tyrant with a lot of enemies. However, the biggest advantage of free societies is their economic power. It is difficult to bully people that have a lot of economic power. And why would someone bully them unless they bully you. It is far more profitable to do business with them. The only risk is that we are losing our freedom at home, because we are more and more behaving like a giant socialist empire. This problem however cannot be solved with nuclear weapons.

I am also not arguing for complete pacifism. It is certainly useful to be able to fight back in case someone else picks a fight with you. But it is perfectly possible to scare off potential invaders with more moral weapons. The best army is a well organised militia anyway. And the best protection of invasion is to trade with everyone. We really do not need to spend a lot of money on unproductive tools of terror. Nuclear weapons are expensive, they are inherently immoral and they cause more trouble than they solve. Let us get rid of them.

War Is The Enemy Of Liberty

Admittedly, I have very little faith in violence as a problem solving tool in general. But I am not a pacifist. I do believe there is a time to fight back. If someone shoots at you, you certainly have every right to shoot back in order to avert the attack. In that sense, I really wish at least some people in the crowd that became the target of terrorists in Paris had a gun to shoot back. Even I admit that that would probably have prevented more damage and therefore to some degree solved the problem.

But we live in a world in which individuals have given up the control over their lives to Leviathan. And in Paris we could see what happens when you trust the state with your security. This however is unfortunately not the conclusion that many people have drawn from the events. The state knows how to distract the public from its own failures. There were no questions asked whether the state is the right institution for the security job. Instead the only question that was debated was how much more power do we now have to give to the state so that it can effectively deal with the problem. Bizarrely, it is rarely noticed that giving the state more power did not solve the problem last time, in fact it made it worse. And yet, once again it is concluded that this time it will work. Einstein’s definition of stupidity, trying something again and again and expecting a different outcome.

But that is the society we live in and so once again Leviathan’s big hour has come. The government has decided to solve the problem with the absolute worst government program imaginable: War. They are planning to bomb the IS. This is indeed the worst possible ‘solution’ for a number of reasons. First of all it is a moral disaster. Bombing areas in which innocent civilians are living is never morally acceptable. I am a libertarian. I believe in the maximum possible Liberty for individual human beings. That is why I reject the idea that individuals can be forced into the service of a higher good like a society. And the worst possible sacrifice to demand from a human being for a greater good is to die for it. So if you are killing innocent people in a bombing attack, then what are you fighting for? Certainly not individual liberty. That has been killed with the innocent that died.

People who support bombing areas with civilians essentially accept the moral code of terrorists. They too believe that it is acceptable to kill innocent people if only it serves a greater good. War is the arch enemy of Liberty and the health of the state. If we ever want to live in a freer society it has to be number one priority to keep the state out of wars. This is also the tradition of classical liberalism. Many classical liberals were first and foremost anti war activists. War not only completely abolishes the Liberty of those who die in it, it also makes the state more powerful in every other aspect. War sucks a lot of resources out of the productive economy into the unproductive war economy. War can only destroy it cannot build anything. It destroys not just material things and people but also morality itself. Suddenly things that seemed morally unacceptable, like killing and torture become acceptable. War also kills the political debate. People are forced to take sides. Either you are with us or you are with them. This regularly even forces state critical voices to rally behind the flag or at the very least to shut up. In order to win the war we are told that we need to surrender a lot of our other freedoms to the state. Big surveillance institutions, high taxation, capital controls, inflation, immigration controls etc. are created in war times and then more often than not never abolished afterwards.

And these are just the obvious libertarian objections to war. It also does not work from a very statist point of view. The reason the government is now supposed to fight the IS is because the last couple of wars that were supposed to solve the security problem have backfired big time. Politicians don’t like you to know about this, but the IS is of course a product of our disastrous foreign policy in the region. And at the moment, two big supporters of the IS, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, are our best allies in the region. We are essentially helping the IS to fight Assad. Officially of course we are just helping the moderate opposition to Assad. The problem is this army of moderate Assad enemies does not exist. It is pure propaganda. The people that fight Assad are the IS and Al Nursra, the being essentially Al Qaida. So 14 years after the war on Terror started, we are now allies of Al Qaida against secular forces.

One could be surprised by this, if only one were to ignore what states do in general. They more often than not end up creating the opposite results of their intentions. The war on drugs has created more problems with drugs, the war on poverty more poverty. Of course the war on terror was always doomed to create more terror. And now we have a war on the IS. The IS is probably popping some champagne bottles (or whatever muslims do in this situation). Unlike western politicians, I am sure they can figure out what is coming: more IS.

It is impossible to win a war against a guerrilla army by bombing them. If you want to finish off the IS you will need to go in with lots of ground troops. But if the government did that, we would see a lot of dead western soldiers. That is because if you are fighting in the streets of a city, all your military superiority does not matter that much anymore. In that case people would see a bit more clearly what kind of nasty business war really is. And I bet, once that becomes clear, people will not support it anymore.

I am not a pacifist, but I am against state militarism. I do believe that if you want to fight for something, you have to do it yourself. If you believe that the IS is a threat to you, then fine, go ahead, take a gun and fight them. But don’t do it in my name and with my money. That is not to say that I like the IS. I think the portrayal of them as crazy savages is probably quite accurate. However, where I am, I do not feel particularly threatened by the IS. I do however feel threatened by the UK government. So I will not give the latter any more power in order to make me safe. I would be a lot more safe if the government would not try to keep me safe. And of course if you believe that that is the honest intention of the these people anyway, I have a bridge to sell you.

Three Reasons Why Neutralism Is The Best Foreign Policy

One of the attractive features of capitalism is that those in political power will actually do more for their people when they do less. The idea of a centrally planned economy where everything from price to distribution is determined by the government may have noble goals for committing to such a social arrangement but ultimately it will do much more harm to its cause and to its people than if it left those choices be determined by free individuals.

However, doing nothing when it comes to international relations can be very costly indeed. Sometimes what is needed for the protection of the people and the market within which they operate is, for example, a pre-emptive attack or alliance with one country against another who is deemed as a threat to security.

But, and an incredibly significant but, is that those very same people who are appointed to act on your behalf and protect you can use your tax and your country’s military resources to do the exact opposite. So where in the past neutrality might not have been an option, ever since the balance of powers of superpowers and international relations becoming less about ‘hard’ war and more about ‘soft’ war, it is now an extremely attractive prospect. In fact those who are most interventionist in their foreign policy seem to keep digging a larger hole for themselves.
One very good example of this is western intervention in the Middle East. They support- monetarily or militarily- dictators or terrorists group and later have to further intervene to fix the even larger problem erupted from their intervention. It reflects the same problems we have with domestic intervention: you intervene and you have to intervene more to fix the new arising problems in endless chain of interventions with ever increasing costs.

Switzerland who has a neutral foreign policy does not have to really deal with Islamic terrorism. They never had a 9/11 nor a 7/7. The Islamic radical preachers might mention Switzerland in a general speech about an envisioned world dominated by Shari’a but it does not get the specific hatred and recognition that the US or UK do for, in their eyes, ‘invading our lands and killing our people’. Recruiting people to kill themselves- literally speaking- is a hard campaign but made much easier when you can emotionally move someone’s soul with ‘your brothers and sisters are dying and you’re doing nothing about it!’.

This is all notwithstanding that the people behind much of these terrorists groups are not, for example, Iran but our best friends such as Saudi and Qatar. The US and UK have never had a problem with dictators and terrorists so long as they promote what they perceive as their interests. And it is this idea of thinking that they can make things better by intervening that has led to such poor foreign policy.

And what else is good about neutralism? You wouldn’t guess this one but it’s bad for the capitalists! Military corporations, oil companies and lobby groups cannot use the country’s resources and taxpayers’ money for their own ends.

So that was a lengthy preface but without further ado, here is a list of why neutralism is the best foreign policy:

  1. Security: Neutralism leads to less enemies and less possibility of war. It doesn’t guarantee security but it sure is a better strategy for attaining it than intervening, invading, killing, imposing sanctions etc.
  2. Inexpensive: No need to overspend on the military. No need to have ambassadors to negotiate as the Iranians and the west have done recently. No need to have a bureaucracy to determine the ‘right’ foreign policy which almost always turns out to be the wrong one for which you’ll need an even bigger bureaucracy. Of course, all of this means lower taxes.
  3. Moral: The central principle of libertarianism is that you are free to act as you wish so long as you harm no one else. Switzerland has much less blood on its hand than the US or UK. Surely they would justify their actions but most people know, and even some politicians have conceded to this, that interventionists policies have not worked. Given this is the case the blood of hundreds and thousands of innocent people including women and children is something all of us should be concerned about when choosing our foreign policy.





Border crossing image © Kecko