I wrote this on LewRockwell.com in April 2011 in response to Obama’s then-criminal war in Libya, and I believe this applies to the current situation with Obama bombing Syria. (Barack Obomber, that is.)
The Planned Chaos of National Security Socialism: Time to Give the Central Planners a Dishonorable Discharge
April 15, 2011
With Peace Prize Laureate Barack Obama’s new war of Orwellian peaceful violence in Libya, this is yet another reminder of why socialism and central planning in security is a bad idea. The conservatives who are the most outspoken opponents of “socialism” are the true socialists: It is they who cherish national security socialism, the public or State ownership of the means of production in national security, a central-planning monopoly in territorial protection.
Americans and foreign peoples have suffered time and again because of the moral hazard of any form of socialism, from what Ludwig von Mises would call socialism’s “planned chaos,” in this case the planned chaos of socialized national security. The State’s inherently immoral and counter-productive scheme of usurping a people’s right of self-defense has allowed the State to be responsible for the most egregious crimes against humanity, especially in the American “Civil War,” in two World Wars, in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other parts of the world.
And now Libya. Some are already predicting that Obama’s war in Libya will backfire, with a possible Gaddafi revenge attack similar to the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. Given that socialists and central planners tend to not learn from history, this Obama Libya war looks like another textbook study of planned chaos, similar to George W. Bush’s Iraq.
Former President Bush’s planned chaos in Iraq had effected in the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, widespread destruction of the country, and the establishment of a repressive, pro-Iranian Islamic Sharia Law in Iraq.
Even further than merely a Gaddafi revenge attack against the U.S., Obama may possibly be arming Libyan rebels including members of al Qaeda, a stated enemy of the United States especially since 9/11.
And Syria and Mexico may be next on the list for the inept security socialists.
One only needs to step back and view the history of America’s security blunders in a broad sense. For example, if America did not have a centralized national security monopoly in Washington, and instead allowed open competition in the field of security and required that all individuals follow the rule of law, would President Wilson have risked entering the U.S. into World War I, especially knowing that the War was already ending with treaties already in the works? Would President Lincoln have waged war against the Southern States, targeted thousands of innocent civilians and destroyed entire cities, had there been actual legal and market-based financial consequences applied to Lincoln for such aggressions?
Government bureaucrats, holding a monopoly in territorial protection and lacking incentives to improve performance, do not tend to pay attention to past mistakes and are not held accountable for their transgressions.
Some further questions to ask include these: Would the U.S. government’s agents of the Pentagon or CIA have deliberately radicalized Muslims in Afghanistan during Afghanistan’s 1980s war with Russia, had the U.S. government actually paid attention to the consequences of its CIA-led coup in Iran in 1953? Those consequences were the decades of Iranian anti-Americanism, the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution and the taking of American hostages in Iran.
Also, would the U.S. government have initiated wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s had its monopolists learned from the consequences, throughout the 1990s, of their first war in Iraq of 1991?
Why do the Washington security monopolists repeatedly make Americans less safe with schemes of intrusions and provocations abroad? One possible explanation is the inherently flawed nature of any central planning monopoly.
The comparison of government provision of national security to a hypothetical private security provision may sound absurd to some people. However, it is necessary to point out that, instead of being an economically sound system, the current government monopoly is a political system, in which congressmen and senators’ reelection campaigns (and campaign finances and contributions) are a part of the equation, along with the federal government’s uncoordinated defense bureaucracy and the politically-connected private-sector military contractors.
The current centralized national security monopoly is without competition and profit/loss motives to genuinely provide the most efficient, high quality service at the lowest cost to the consumers. Under the current socialism, the real motive turns into a “breaking windows” scheme to justify an ever-increasing bureaucracy combined with its corporatist colluders.
To illustrate those points, one can study economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s comparison of America’s democratic public ownership of a centralized government to the monarchies of the past. Unlike a monarchy in which the king owns the country’s territory and has a long-term interest in its capital value, in democracies the rulers are “temporary caretakers”:
(The) temporary and interchangeable democratic caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his advantage. He owns its current use but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. Instead, it makes exploitation shortsighted (present-oriented) and uncalculated, i.e., carried out without regard for the value of the capital stock.
Hoppe further notes:
…a private government owner (a monarch) will want to avoid exploiting his subjects so heavily, for instance, as to reduce his future earnings potential to such an extent that the present value of his estate actually falls. Instead, in order to preserve or possibly even enhance the value of his personal property, he will systematically restrain himself in his exploitation policies….. In distinct contrast…. public government ownership will result in continual capital consumption. Instead of maintaining or even enhancing the value of the government estate, as a private owner would tend to do, a government’s temporary caretaker will quickly use up as much of the government resources as possible….
The system of government monopolies, funded largely by coercive taxation and a central bank’s creation of money without genuine value, inherently encourages the irresponsibility of deficit-spending and public debt. The scheme also does not impose punishments for the temporary caretakers’ domestic or foreign aggressions with their misuse of governmental apparatus.
In economic terms, because of government bureaucrats’ lack of competitive incentives and profit/loss motive, government’s central planners cannot take individual market factors into account, making economic calculations impossible. Government monopolists engage in political calculations rather than economic ones. And government’s central planners seem as incapable of understanding the morals and ethics of civil liberties and property rights in foreign relations as they do in domestic policy. Hence, the “planned chaos” and blowback of each and every fiasco of the U.S. government’s national security socialism scheme.
Because of this socialist government monopoly in territorial security and armed force, the bureaucrats act more in their own political self-interests and have tended to act more aggressively, because there are no punishments of their aggressions and short-sightedness. In contrast, there would be punishments, economic and legal, applied to private industries who engage in acts of fraud or deceit (e.g. going to war based on lies, fabricated information and propaganda), trespass on the property of others (e.g. placing military bases and stationing troops on other countries’ territories despite the objections of those territories’ populations), or cause deaths of civilians and destruction of property.
Last year’s Washington Post series, Top Secret America (Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) on this scheme informed Americans about how the current national security socialism has turned into a tax-redistributive racket. (And it did so by the turn of the 20th Century, no less.) As more private industries became connected with the State, their profiting from other Americans’ labor and productivity via the redistributive apparatus of taxation has replaced the principles of private property rights, economic freedom and the rule of law. The U.S. government’s provocations abroad have become justifications for the continued expansion of the parasitic military-industrial-complex.
And in the past several decades especially, Washington’s “security experts” have repeatedly demonstrated that their schemes have more to do with the expansion of the State than with the protection of 300 million Americans. The central planners have turned to extremes – such as, in their TSA, their PATRIOT Act and other policies that have grossly damaged individuals’ rights to due process and presumption of innocence – rather than face the truth that it is the U.S. government’s intrusive and violent foreign policy that has provoked terrorism against the U.S.
The apparatus of the State’s socialization and monopoly of territorial protection has provided a structure of power over others. Unfortunately, that power seems to attract those with less moral character but with more desire for that power, and with a lack of inhibition to exercise that power. The system has encouraged the agents of the State to become increasingly aggressive in their use of governmental apparatus to wield that power, as they have zealously seized on opportunities to expand the size and power of the State especially through their demagogic manipulations of the public’s fears and anxieties. Private security firms could not do that, for they must act under the rule of law.
For example, in 1990, former President George H.W. Bush used the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait as a means to further expand the U.S. government’s military and other government apparatus in the Middle East. There were also questionable corporate special interests, such as Henry Kissinger’s Kuwait connection, involved in Bush’s 1991 Persian Gulf War against Iraq, a country that was of no threat to the U.S. The propaganda campaign that was used to persuade the American people to support the war was extensive. 12 Years later, Bush’s son George W. Bush also employed a major propaganda campaign to convince the American people to start another war against Iraq.
Governments, with a monopoly over territorial security, have also employed false flag operations as a means of manipulating the fears and anxieties of their countries’ inhabitants, for the purpose of further expanding their State apparatus and power.
Even now, with President Obama’s continuation and expansion of the Bush wars overseas, the U.S. military bureaucrats have become even more zealous in their attempts to justify further expansions of the U.S. government abroad, despite their constant failures and ineptitude. Now, they have been illegally employing the use of psy-ops, or “psychological operations,” on U.S. senators to get congressional support to increase troops and funding for the failing wars.
Psy-ops are generally used on foreign government agents or diplomats to influence their emotions and decisions to become favorable to one’s own ends. Psy-ops are often used on the enemy during times of war; given that the senators being targeted in those operations represent the American people, it gives the appearance that the U.S. government perceives Americans as the enemy. This is usually what happens when a government – through its monopolistic power – grows in its size and power, and its existence becomes more self-serving.
The zeal of U.S. government officials has been exposed now in broad daylight, in their treatment of PFC Bradley Manning, the Army soldier accused of leaking thousands of classified documents exposing alleged U.S. war crimes and U.S. diplomatic incompetence and buffoonery. None of the leaks are said to have posed a threat to any U.S. soldier overseas or to Americans in the U.S. The military has been holding Manning for months in isolation, employing extreme psychological distress, as well as forced prolonged nudity. As I have mentioned, only sick degenerates would treat another human being that way. The officials are really using Manning as an example, a means of threatening others who may consider heroic whistleblowing acts.
Throughout the past century we have seen one example after another, one senseless war after another, millions of deaths and ruined lives, of how the socialist monopoly of national security and its planned chaos have gone against our security, as well as against our freedom and prosperity.
In 19th Century economist Gustave de Molinari’s comparison of government-monopolized security and the private production of security, Molinari noted,
Under the rule of free competition, war between the producers of security entirely loses its justification. Why would they make war? To conquer consumers? But the consumers would not allow themselves to be conquered. They would be careful not to allow themselves to be protected by men who would unscrupulously attack the persons and property of their rivals.
If private security firms used their armaments, coercion against others and deceit for the purpose of acting aggressively against neighbors or foreigners (for reasons other than “defense” of their clients or fellow territorial inhabitants), that would land them in jail. In fact, because of the invasiveness, enslavements and trespasses inherent in all forms of socialism – not just national security socialism – there logically could not be actual rule of law. Can anyone seriously claim that the U.S. government has been acting under the rule of law?
In fact, we have seen, time and again, how the central planning monopolists of the State are continuously rewarded for their failures, and for their crimes as well.
There need to be legal and competitive incentives to ensure the efficiency and productivity of any service to others. Why? Because of human nature. There need to be market-oriented punishments for failure to achieve, such as bankruptcy and termination of employment or contracts. And there need to be legal punishments applied to those who criminally misuse armed forces. Otherwise, if failures and crimes are allowed to continue without punishments, that is ipso-facto rewarding those failures and crimes, a consequence inherent in a compulsory monopoly in which the citizenry are forced to patronize the one provider of a service – in this case, that of territorial protection, or national security.
For further information on the private alternative to national security socialism, please read No More Military Socialism by Murray Rothbard, Foreign Aggression by Morris and Linda Tannehill, The Private Production of Defense (pdf) by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, The Myth of National Defense (pdf) also by Hoppe, and The Myth of Efficient Government Service by Rothbard.
But for those who are still skeptical of the notion of privatization of security, and who are not as concerned as I am regarding the growing intrusiveness of the State and its hired guns into our lives and liberty, perhaps an acceptable alternative could be decentralization. Eliminate the U.S. federal government’s centralized monopoly in territorial security and allow each U.S. state to control its own self-protection. Doing so would reduce the possibility that any one state would aggress against others, or against foreigners, for such aggressions would be met with harsh punishments from surrounding states. Additionally, with renewed independence and sovereignty, each state’s inhabitants would be better able to “vote with their feet,” which, given the one monopolistic choice we currently have with Washington, most Americans are not able to do.
Finally, there are those who are concerned that without a centralized National Security monopoly in Washington, that it would be easier for foreign governments to invade the U.S. But those are unfounded fears. If, for example, China were to invade the U.S. with the goal of occupying and taking over America, a likely scenario given how indebted the U.S. is to China and increasingly less likely to pay what is owed, most Americans would readily take up arms to protect themselves, their families and their properties. This situation, however, can be easily avoided by ending the Federal Reserve’s compulsory monopoly in the production of money and allowing for competing currencies, and outlawing Congressional deficit-spending and public debts.