Tag Archive | military

Libertarians and America-centrism

If there is one thing that nearly everyone who has studied the matter agrees on, it’s that United States global dominance is on the executioner’s block and cannot last forever. This has been said by Ron Paul, who repeatedly pointed out that the militaristic propping up of the USD is unsustainable, but libertarians are not the only people saying such things. It’s well-known that, around 2030, China will have passed the United States economically, and by 2040 technologically and militarily. Regardless of the angle we take–whether internal collapse or external excellence–the conclusion is inevitable: the U.S.’s enjoyment of its time as “the world’s only superpower” is coming to a close.

Earlier today, I defended points made by Libertarian Party Vice Chair Arvin Vohra (who routinely #triggers people who want to call themselves “libertarians” without actually abiding libertarian ideology, as well as those who cry “Muh marketing!” and threaten to take their ball and go home) by asserting that it really doesn’t matter whether Americans find Arvin’s statements palatable or not. He’s right. And the consequences of everyone else being wrong (e.g., the collapse of the USD and American military dominance) will happen whether people find his message agreeable or not.

In fact, the most common whine directed at Arvin is that he’s right, but they wish he would be more diplomatic in expressing it. They assert (without evidence) that statements like his are the reason the LP isn’t taken seriously, are the reason the LP doesn’t win elections, and are the reason the party’s membership is waning. These statements are made entirely without evidence and in full disregard of the obvious facts that the LP didn’t win elections long before Arvin came along.

The most glaring omission from such stupid statements like “This is the reason liberty will never be popular–Arvin is making unpopular statements” is probably the most American-centric thing a person can say. It’s true that Arvin’s statements are not typically popular among Americans, but Americans make up less than five percent of the world’s population. It’s absolutely stupid to act like that five percent is “all there is” or that the 5% are the only people who matter. It’s exactly that kind of attitude that makes people hate Americans–that horrific short-sightedness that cares only about what other Americans think, so much so that the speaker apparently isn’t aware that most of the world’s population isn’t American.

Are Arvin’s statements about the military unpopular? In America, maybe. We really don’t know. There’s been no study of that, so it’s impossible to make any credible analysis. Not much of the American population even pays attention to Arvin, and, of those who do, roughly half seem to be supporters. The other half, strangely, seem to follow him just to argue with everything he says. Being extremely generous, no more than 5% of the American population even knows who Arvin is, so even if we assume that half of those vehemently oppose Arvin, what we’re left with is half of 5% of 5% of 7,000,000,000. So even with unrealistically high numbers, no more than 8,750,000 of the seven billion people on the planet could possibly turn from libertarianism because of Arvin. And, again, since we’re using stupidly generous numbers, 8,750,000 of the seven billion people would also be turned to libertarianism because of Arvin.

And this is only in the United States. How do you think people in Pakistan react when an American political leader boldly speaks out against the crimes committed by the American military in Middle Eastern countries? How do the people of Russia react? The people of China? Half of Americans might get deeply upset that Arvin dared point out that the American military murders people, but the vast majority of Earthlings fiercely nod and agree–having seen and felt the sting of American bombs falling on their cities.

We can’t just zoom in on the United States and pretend like the rest of the world doesn’t matter–it most certainly does. And I know people would say, “But the American Libertarian Party isn’t running for election in the rest of the world! So it doesn’t really matter what they think in this regard!”

That’s wrong, though.

We are running for election with the rest of the world, and it’s an election for survival, peace, prosperity, and forgiveness.

The United States doesn’t exist in a bubble. And while it currently doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks, every indication is that we have only two or three more decades of this being the case, after which it won’t matter what America thinks. It’s hard to overstate the impact that being overtaken militarily, technologically, and economically will have, but, for the first time since its inception, the United States will truly be vulnerable to foreign aggression. And we won’t have the infrastructure, money, technology, industry, or military might to do anything about it.

The rest of the world is watching us put our vast industrial and technological might to use by picking on countries that can’t possibly pose a threat to us. They’re not happy about this. Even our oldest allies, like Canada, Australia, and the UK, aren’t happy with American hegemony these days. Saudi Arabia may be the only country in the Middle East that isn’t deeply pissed off at the United States. China certainly isn’t pleased with us, and neither is Russia. In fact, Russia drew a line in the sand around Assad and refused to let us topple him as we had done to so many in the past. That’s how fed up Russia is with our bullshit.

We have created lots of enemies, and many of them are eagerly waiting on the edge of the darkness, hungrily licking their lips and hoping for our defenses to fall, wishing to see us taken down a peg. And here’s the bad news: that is going to happen. There are only two ways of avoiding it, and we won’t pursue either course of action.

The best way of avoiding it is to stop the hegemony. Let cryptocurrencies thrive, withdraw all of our troops, and, at the very least, return to being a Constitutional Republic of limited government and pro-liberty. It would be even better if we went the Minarchist route, beyond classical liberalism, and best if we went full anarchism. All of these actions would create genuine prosperity, which would make us excellent trading partners, and which would in turn drastically reduce people’s reasons to want to see us destroyed. Because, of course, the thing about using might to enforce one’s position is that might fades, and, when it does, the previous ruler is overtaken and defeated. Look at Rome, Mongolia, the British Empire, and countless others, and know, without a doubt, that their people once thought that it would be impossible for their place as the rulers of the world to be challenged. We have the chance–but maybe not the time–to stop ruling with might, and to instead rule with peace, friendship, and liberty. We can lead the world not by bombing everyone and fighting countless indefinite wars, but by being loving and peaceful, and inspiring people to come to our land and enjoy the most freedom to be had anywhere on the planet.

The other, more immoral, way is to pre-emptively attack China before they can overtake us. I fear this is the route that we will ultimately go, probably around 2024 or 2026, when it is painfully obvious that, if nothing is done China will overtake us. I don’t think most Americans will be able to tolerate that, not when so many Libertarian Americans view the world in such American-centric terms that they don’t understand that “popularity in America” isn’t the same as “popularity.”

The United States is part of the world. It isn’t above the rest of the world, it’s not greater than the rest of the world, and it has no right to bully the rest of the world. We need to come down from our high horse now, not when we are knocked from it by competing countries that have overtaken us. The criminal who stops committing his crimes and apologizes before he is caught is forgiven to an infinitely greater extent than the criminal who only stops and apologizes after he is apprehended. And by the standards of almost everyone, the United States’ actions especially of the last 60 years have been indisputably criminal. Bombing hospitals, weddings, and the like…? We cannot hide from this. And one day–very soon–we will be punishable.

Thoughts on Trump’s Military Ban of Transgender/Transsexual People

To steal a line from Will Coley:

Oh no! Transgender and transsexual people are no longer allowed to murder brown people in foreign countries!

We should ban everyone from joining the military.

Meanwhile, transgender and transsexual people in prisons and jails continue to serve sentences in their birth sex’s cell block, where they are raped hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of times, and this grievous issue continues to go ignored, because the average trans person can’t pretend to be a victim of that. Instead, they’ll focus on the lesser issues of bathrooms and military service, because all they want is to cry about being a victim, and fighting for trans prisoners doesn’t allow them to pretend to be victims.

Conscription: The Bane of Self-Ownership

It’s been a while since the United States implemented conscription–what we now call “The Draft” since we’ve turned it into the lottery that no one wants to win–and there remains a lot of negativity attached to it. The last time there was any serious talk about conscription was during George W. Bush’s presidency, and my father was so convinced that the draft was imminent that he routinely suggested that I go ahead and sign up. The high school had just required us to take the ASFAB, and I scored very highly, which caused Army Reserve recruiters to pester me pretty extensively. When the recruiter insisted twice that there were no reserve units deployed to Iraq, my father thankfully made him leave.

I don’t know whether my father ever served in the military or not. Through most of my life he insisted that he fought in the Vietnam War, and my sister and I realized as adults that this couldn’t possibly be true. He said that he had been drafted out of high school into the Navy. I don’t know enough about the draft to know whether conscripts served in other branches, and I don’t really care, but he asserts that his recruiter told him he would be able to choose a submarine as his assignment, only to ultimately not be able to. Who knows? Nothing my father says is ever really true. At best, it’s a lie with a bit of lean toward the truth.

When I went through a difficult patch around 20 years old, I contacted the Navy about recruiting. Much to my dismay, I had to again take the stupid ASFAB, as well as a Navy-only code-breaking thing at the end, and it took all day even though I finished the test in about two hours. That’s the worst part of any standardized test. Just hand me the test and let me leave when I’m done. Don’t make me sit around for five hours waiting on other people to finish.

There were a few oddities, though. First, it was my intention to enter the nuclear research program. I hadn’t yet entered college, but one half-truth after the other led to the realization that, unless I had a BA, then I was going to enter the service at the lowest possible rank–which, not being arrogant, is a tremendous waste for someone of my talents. Handing me a gun and sending me to the frontline is probably the least effective way to put me to use–and yes, I realize that the Navy doesn’t really fight on the front. That’s not the point. However, I had a BA, then I would have no need or desire to enter the military.

The $5,000 signing bonus didn’t sound particularly appealing. That buys a ten year old car. I’m sorry, but if I’m signing my literal life over to you and essentially becoming your slave for a period of time, and if this gives you the right to basically tell me to go and die, then five grand isn’t going to cut it. Not by a long shot. Up that to fifty grand, and then we can talk.

It was hilarious, though, how the recruiter kept going on and on about how much money he makes by being in the service. In fact, he stopped by the bank while taking us to take the ASFAB, and made quite a show of transferring one thousand dollars from one account to another. I don’t know if the other kids bought it or not, but it was clearly a scripted piece of bullshit. After the test, he said he would treat us to lunch, at which point he began looking around the car for change, and then ordered us each two things from the dollar menu at McDonald’s. What a farce. I’ve taken clients to lunch before, and it has never crossed my mind to take them to McDonald’s, scrounge around for change, and then tell them to order from the dollar menu and drink a cup of free water. Coming after his display of how much money he has, it was really funny. No doubt, he had no more or less money than any average person–probably less, really–and the accounts he manipulated at the bank were official navy accounts for exactly that purpose: impressing impressionable teens.

The main killer, though, was when it turned out that I was qualified to join the nuclear program, but was told that I couldn’t apply to it until after I was in boot camp, at which point the decision would be made about whether I would be accepted.

Yeah, no. I’m not doing that.

They might fool people who aren’t qualified to join nuclear research programs with that sort of thing, but not me. I can tell you exactly how that would have played out. “You didn’t get accepted. Now march, maggot!”

At the moment, the American military is completely voluntary, and that’s a good thing–if there’s going to be a military, then at least it’s voluntary. I’m not particularly fond of the recruiting tactics, though. I hate that many young men and women just have no real options for making a better future for themselves than joining the military. I hate that recruiters know that and use it to their advantage by targeting poor and minority communities. One of the few Michael Moore documentaries worth a shit is the one where he confronts some recruiters on this sort of predatory behavior.

It’s voluntary at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Conscription, however, isn’t a tool to protect the country. This is common sense, and it takes only a moment to think about it. It’s common knowledge that, immediately after Pearl Harbor, countless people joined the military. This is exactly what we’d expect if the United States–or any country, actually–was attacked by a foreign power. Just imagine what would happen if Russia stormed the beaches of California. Conscription wouldn’t be necessary to fill the ranks. We’d have people rushing out to California with guns loaded in their trucks without even bothering to enlist, they’d be so willing and so anxious to protect their country.

Conscription only serves the purpose of making people go and fight wars they don’t want to fight.

While there are pacifists, cowards, and sympathizers in all countries, if people want to fight, then they will volunteer to. That’s what it means to want something, after all. It’s readily apparent, and historically documented, that one of the things that make people want to fight is a foreign attack against their homeland. So while pacifists, cowards, and sympathizers wouldn’t want to fight, most people would, and I’m not seeing much benefit from making pacifists, cowards, and sympathizers fight. In fact, they’d probably do more harm than good.

Arguing this point with a friend a few years ago, he replied, “Yeah, but then they’d have to be sent through boot camp and trained, so there would be a delay…”

What a remarkable thing to say. That delay will exist whether the enemy attacks and people volunteer, or whether the enemy attacks and people are drafted. The only way to prevent that is to have a perpetual conscription requirement, which some people have campaigned for, where every adult must spend 2 years in the military or Peace Corps or something. I’m obviously not a fan of such an idea.

The very idea is stomach-churning. By what right does the government kidnap me, put a gun in my hand, and tell me to go and die? Shouldn’t I be the person who gets to make the determination that a cause is worth fighting for? Why does the government get to make that decision for me? So let’s call it what it is: enslavement. Literal enslavement, at that.

If the government needs soldiers, then the government has two options. It can either enslave people against their will, or it can offer people more stuff to enlist. If the government really wanted my service, they could have upped their bonus to fifty thousand dollars. However, force is what people use when they don’t want to compete. So instead of competing with non-dangerous employment by offering me a better wage and better signing bonus, the government chooses instead to circumvent that whole process and simply kidnap and enslave me.

If it ever so happened that the government needed more soldiers, they wouldn’t take the obvious route of offering people more money and more perks. They may make some token effort of doing this–raising the signing bonus to $5500, for example, as though an extra $500 will entice many more people to risk their lives for Uncle Sam–but they wouldn’t put any serious effort into it. Why should they? They hold the ultimate trump card: force. They don’t have to compete with free market jobs if they don’t want to, and they don’t have to expend much effort trying to compete, because they can just force people to join.

It’s bad enough that the state enslaves us through taxation and steals a sizable chunk of the fruits of our labors for itself. Conscription, however, allows the state to take 100% of our labor and to dictate exactly what that labor is. Maybe it’s digging trenches in Europe and fighting people who haven’t done anything to you. Maybe it’s taking and abandoning one hill after another in Vietnam, where success is measured in body count rather than territory. With conscription, you belong to the state. Your life belongs to the state, and it can effectively order you to end your life.

Now American society is asking whether women and transgender people should be required to sign up for selective service. Obviously, the answer is “No.” Instead of asking whether this archaic vestige of state supremacy should be expanded, we should be pointing out that it has no place in anything that calls itself a free country. If the cause of a war is just to a person, then that person will enlist to fight it. If the cause is not just, then they won’t. We cannot steal this agency from people. Their lives don’t belong to us or to the government. We don’t get to tell them to go die for a cause they don’t think is just. We don’t get to kidnap and enslave them.

Sure, we have an all volunteer military right now. But we’re only one major terrorist attack away from throwing that away, and tradition won’t stop people when the cards are down. Other people generally have few qualms about throwing away other people’s lives. The draft isn’t just some idea. It’s an omnipresent threat to every American, that we are never more than a moment away from becoming slaves to the government, and being sent to die in other parts of the world. It must be abolished. We do not belong to the government, and our lives are not its to throw away.