War Thoughts

This is a comment of mine on Samizdata last summer, which I think is worth posting:

The problem I see with the libertarian pro-war position is that libertarians don't have recourse to the most powerful argument for the war: that it made the world a better place. Non-libertarians can yammer on about freeing poor Iraqis who were crushed under the thumb of Saddam Hussein, and that's definitely a benefit. But Libertarians don't believe it is OK to steal money via taxes and spend it on other people. Hence they can't use this argument.

Instead, they must argue that Hussein's Iraq was a threat to the US. Not merely a threat, but such a direct threat that its worth initiating force to stop it. And enough a threat as to outweigh the invasion's huge negative consequences in lives and money on the US.

This argument doesn't seem so unreasonable for the Taliban. Or for North Korea (weapons merchant to the world's dictators). But I don't see how this can be justified for Iraq. Iraq had no WMD's, almost nothing to do with 9/11, and no real capability to hurt the USA. Yet we've already spent a hundred billion and a thousand American lives.

If we count Iraqi freedom on the ledger, maybe its worth it. But libertarians don't get to do that. They don't believe its OK to steal taxpayers money to fight for freedom. Libertarians only get to check whether the "such an immediate threat that it's worth attacking" criterion was fulfilled. I don't think it was anywhere near fulfilled for Iraq.

I also find it laughable that libertarians, who normally believe the government is notoriously incompetent at even simple tasks, are calling for it to handle a massive, complex, difficult, multilayered task like eliminating worldwide terrorism. I wish that poverty could be eliminated - but I don't trust the government to do it. Same for infectious disease, lack of education, and all the other things that make the world an imperfect place. Why is terrorism any different? Is it really so much worse than the other problems facing the world that it's worth putting resources into this horribly wasteful, inefficient, plodding piece of crap that is government?

(The cost and death numbers are higher since I posted that in the summer of 2004, of course.)

If a libertarian wants to defend the Iraq invasion, they'd better convert to a utilitarian or a consequentalist. In which case, they may turn out to be right about the war, but now I have a much better chance to sell them the whole consequentalist memeplex . Not a bad gambit.

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Well, if there were private

Well, if there were private firms of international mercenaries that specialized in overthrowing despotic regimes, you bet I'd be giving them more money than I would to food for starving third worlders... I bet the long-term gain would be better. (Though the short term gain might not be.)

In all (well, mostly ;) )seriousness, do such nonprofit charities exist? I've been supporting the war as a default, and I still do in the absence of a better alternative, but I'm sure a private firm could do a better job - plus we could give them money to go into darfur and zimbabwe if we wanted, which I'm sure the US will never do.

I believe the reasons for going to war were (and are) quite sound, and while the military is quite inefficent, I don't think we have a better instrument. But perhaps that's just because I haven't shed all of my initial conservatism yet.

Cheers,

If one is not a

If one is not a consequentialist, how does one account for the origin of rights? Do they come from Heaven?

Do they come from

Do they come from Heaven?

Well if by "Heaven" you mean "the source of all this libertarian stuff we like to blog about", then yeah sure. :sweat:

Seriously though, I believe those of the Rothbardian bent who aren't religious postulate some kind of essence or nature to man, of which rights and property are a part. Just as man has a physical nature requiring sustenance, vitamin C, and other foodstuffs to prevent starvation, man has a kind of "social nature" that involves behaving in certain ways toward others. That's my rough understanding of it anyway.

Excellent comment Patri, it

Excellent comment Patri, it really shows some of the holes in the arguments of the libertarians at Samizdata. How was your comment recieved?

Parents oppose promiscuity

Parents oppose promiscuity in teenagers.
Parents oppose child labor.
Therefore, promiscuity in teenagers=child labor.
Therefore, libertarians must support promiscuity in teenagers.

It doesn't make any sense here either, but at least Patri will like the conclusion.

Leftists oppose Republican

Leftists oppose Republican policies.
Leftists oppose freedom.
Therefore, Republican policies = freedom.
Therefore, libertarians must support Republican policies.

On the same principles

On the same principles stated here, how does one oppose child prostitution?

modified quote:

"Instead, they must argue that child prostitution was a threat to me, John Q. Libertarian. Not merely a threat, but such a direct threat that its worth initiating force to stop it."

"If we count child freedom from prostitution on the ledger, maybe its worth it. But libertarians don’t get to do that. They don’t believe its OK to steal taxpayers money to fight for freedom. Libertarians only get to check whether the “such an immediate threat that it’s worth attacking” criterion was fulfilled."

I'm a rule utilitarian and I

I'm a rule utilitarian and I am also a libertarian. Neither are incompatable.

Tom,

That would be one version of "natural rights" theory.

Constant - well, if the

Constant - well, if the child prostitution is happening in far off countries where we don't collect taxes, then I certainly would object to our government spending my resources on fighting it. And so would most libertarians, I think. The world is full of injustice - that doesn't make it OK to steal my money and go fight it. I can pick my own damned battles, thank you very much.

This doesn't mean libertarians are against child prostitution, they just don't want to be forced to pay for trying to fix all the bad things in the world.

Stefan - sweet argument!

A piece of the argument

A piece of the argument (feel free to steal this or build on it) is that we use the government-based military we have to solve problems like this because we haven't given ourselves any other tools. I'd sure prefer that I could send money to a private force that had a proposal about what to do to slow down the arab extremists. We can argue about effectiveness; we can argue about causes of the current situation. But the war in Iraq does seem to have distracted a large number of people who might otherwise have performed more attacks.

But the war in Iraq does

But the war in Iraq does seem to have distracted a large number of people who might otherwise have performed more attacks.

This strikes me as not quite right. At best, the war in Iraq has convinced people who might have attacked American targets that there efforts would be better directed against targets in Iraq. So on this line, it's not as if terrorist attacks simply stop; rather, they shift their aim.

If your sole function is to prevent attacks on _Americans_, then the war in Iraq may be effective at that (though given that attacks are still largely aimed at Americans who are in Iraq, it's not entirely clear that we've really prevented any more Americans from dying).

It's hard to see, though, how it is morally legitimate to prevent attacks on Americans by encouraging more attacks on Iraqis. After all, the wrongness of terrorism has to do with the fact that it attacks _innocents_, not with the fact that it attacks Americans. Blowing up an American is no better--but also no worse--than blowing up a Brit or a Spaniard or an Iraqi. An act that merely shifts targets has not accomplished any net benefit.

"But the war in Iraq does

"But the war in Iraq does seem to have distracted a large number of people who might otherwise have performed more attacks."

Or it may have encouraged people who were never even considering attacking anyone to engage in attack -- at least -- in Iraq.

I think that that it patently true of the aggrieved Sunni minority in Iraq of which some members are blowing Shiite Iraqis up only since the invasion and not prior to it. I also surmise that given all the civilians killed and wounded and/or whose property was destroyed, we have probably encouraged some groups to consider revenge against us when previously they had no such thinking.

It IS the case that there have been more attacks OUTSIDE of Iraq in the years since the invasion than during the same number previously. While they have not been happening on our soil (yet) it remains difficult to think that the "flypaper theory" is working. It is more like the "shit theory": you put down shit, you get more flies (as opposed to the flypaper ... yeah yeah you get it)

"well, if the child

"well, if the child prostitution is happening in far off countries where we don’t collect taxes, then I certainly would object to our government spending my resources on fighting it."

But the same logic seems to apply even nearby, and seems to aply to any use or abuse of children by their own parents, such as selling them into whatever.

modified quote:

“Instead, they must argue that a parent's abuse of his children down the street from me was a threat to me, John Q. Libertarian. Not merely a threat, but such a direct threat that its worth initiating force to stop it.”

“If we count child freedom from parental abuse on the ledger, maybe its worth it. But libertarians don’t get to do that. They don’t believe its OK to steal taxpayers money to fight for freedom. Libertarians only get to check whether the “such an immediate threat that it’s worth attacking” criterion was fulfilled.”

In anarcho-capitalism, an extreme version of don't-tax-Bob-to-defend-Carl, it seems that children with abusive parents really are up a creek.

And anyway the tax angle doesn't sway me. I happen not to want the Iraqis saved with my money, but what if I wanted them to be saved? Then would it not be equally legitimate for the government to use my tax money to save Iraqis, as it is to use it to protect me?

Furthermore, I think my tax money in the US is being used, on balance, to harm me. I am paying the salaries of my oppressors. I may be better off if the money is squandered in Iraq. Thus the Iraq war per se may represent an improvement of my condition as opposed to the opportunities that the government has foregone to wage it.

"But I don’t see how this

"But I don’t see how this can be justified for Iraq. Iraq had no WMD’s, almost nothing to do with 9/11, and no real capability to hurt the USA. Yet we’ve already spent a hundred billion and a thousand American lives."

As I understood it, Bush had and has an ambitious long-term plan to deal with terrorism by addressing its root causes, which are the backwards societies kept backwards by the backwards governments. Those who want Bush to get smart on terrorism by fixing the conditions that give rise to it instead of stupidly smacking down the terrorists one by one are getting their wish. This has been obvious for years now. Iraq is a domino. Those who apply a weed analogy to terrorism - that one must get them up by their roots and not merely hack at ther leaves - are getting their wish.

One reason I am suspicious of the weed analogies, of the root-causes approach, is that it is far too ambitious, far too optimistic about the human capacity to intentionally reshape whole societies. And of course, far too arrogant.. People are not weeds and what the practice-horticulture-on-people crowd want does not translate well into practice.

Ian, I believe the reasons

Ian,

I believe the reasons for going to war were (and are) quite sound, and while the military is quite inefficent, I don’t think we have a better instrument. But perhaps that’s just because I haven’t shed all of my initial conservatism yet.

If only the U.S. Constitution provided a means other than all-out war....

In anarcho-capitalism, an

In anarcho-capitalism, an extreme version of don’t-tax-Bob-to-defend-Carl, it seems that children with abusive parents really are up a creek.

Only if you assume people are so reluctant to spend money on saving abused children that it has to be taken from them forcibly. I for one am more optimistic, and think that concerned neighbors (or their paid agents) would choose to intervene in the most extreme cases of child abuse. It would probably be better than what we have now too, since the parents in the communities in question would take responsibility for doing it instead of state social services.

"Only if you assume people

"Only if you assume people are so reluctant to spend money on saving abused children that it has to be taken from them forcibly."

Not just that. It will be a question of who has legal rights, and rights are not trivially decided by whether someone is willing to spend a bit of cash. For example if someone is somewhat willing to spend money on saving children, hanging blacks, and gassing Jews, it does not follow that any of these projects will succeed.

If only the U.S.

If only the U.S. Constitution provided a means other than all-out war….

If we can't convince Congress to cut some pork, fix the tax code, or find out who leaks sensitive information; what in the world has convinced you that they would hire privateers???

Seriously, if someone brought this idea up in Congress, you'd be looking at soiled panties as far as the eye could see.

:twisted:

Hey, I wonder if there's a military orientated company who can provide security, food, and other basic necessities to warzones. As a matter of fact, the company would have to be an almost "private army". I wonder, if this company existed, how many would really donate/support it?

:idea::idea::idea::idea::idea:

How, exactly, do you spell 'Halliburtion' again?

Not just that. It will be a

Not just that. It will be a question of who has legal rights, and rights are not trivially decided by whether someone is willing to spend a bit of cash. For example if someone is somewhat willing to spend money on saving children, hanging blacks, and gassing Jews, it does not follow that any of these projects will succeed.

Judging by your previous comment it sounds like you're suggesting children won't have their rights recognized in certain ways. For example, in this case it's the right to be free from bodily assault you're worried that children won't possess. But most libertarians accept that parents are not literal owners of their children, able to torture and murder them as they please. For more about this debate you can read Rothbard's full argument here and Roderick Long's related remarks on the rights of the helpless and disabled here.

"Judging by your previous

"Judging by your previous comment it sounds like you’re suggesting children won’t have their rights recognized in certain ways. For example, in this case it’s the right to be free from bodily assault you’re worried that children won’t possess. But most libertarians accept that parents are not literal owners of their children, able to torture and murder them as they please."

The point is the contrast between belief and reality. Libertarians believe in freedom for Iraqis but not enough to free Iraqis. Ditto the child down the street. A system which implements Bob-does-not-pay-for-Carl's-freedom, such as an anarcho-capitalist one, may leave some holes. And it is what was being suggested in above blog entry (Americans do not pay to free Iraqis).

Anyway, to repeat my most basic point, the point of wrongdoing is the taking of taxes. Once the taxes are taken, the use of them to liberate Iraqis is not an additional wrong.

I did not read your links, only skimmed them, but they look like moral arguments. I am talking about practical reality. For example, the legal system produced by a private system of law creation and enforcement is going to be a product of economic forces, like prices, and will not be a product of armchair moral reflection. In particular, if someone tries to forcibly take a child away from what he deems an unworthy parent, he may call the parent abusive, but the parent will call him a kidnapper. Who will win in law? I think the law will be very strongly on the parent's side. The reason is that parents will opt for systems that safeguard against second-guessing by non-parents, and parents will feel much more strongly about keeping their own children than they will about empowering do-gooders to take others' children.

Doesn't anyone here know the

Doesn't anyone here know the controlling concept of power?

Power needs to fabricate new enemies every day in order to survive.

That will require more taxes until power eats itself.

Then a new batch of Power Junkies comes along and they start all over again.

Who will win in law? I think

Who will win in law? I think the law will be very strongly on the parent’s side. The reason is that parents will opt for systems that safeguard against second-guessing by non-parents, and parents will feel much more strongly about keeping their own children than they will about empowering do-gooders to take others’ children.

That's probably a good thing, since I think less rights will be violated that way.

The Baathists were

The Baathists were initiating force...against other Iraqis.

The "anti-war libertarian" can only make a case that there was no initiation if he claims that the NAP only applies to Americans...or that the Iraqis being enslaved were not humans. Both stink of racism and natioanlism.

" "Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation has the right to invade...any...slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent 'rights' of gang rulers. It is not a free nation's duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses. "

“The problem I see with

“The problem I see with the libertarian pro-war position is that libertarians don’t have recourse to the most powerful argument for the war: that it made the world a better place. Non-libertarians can yammer on about freeing poor Iraqis who were crushed under the thumb of Saddam Hussein, and that’s definitely a benefit. But Libertarians don’t believe it is OK to steal money via taxes and spend it on other people. Hence they can’t use this argument.“

If this is a problem then limited-government libertarians have always had this problem. Furthermore the problem extends to actual invasions of the U.S. After all, if New York is invaded by Islamofacists then why should non-New Yorkers pay for repelling the invasion.

Also your criteria for making the world a better place is very narrowly concieved. It’s not just the Iraqis that benefit from the removal of Saddam, we do too. In fact we wouldn’t be there if we didn’t think we got some benefit from it. Do you see us in Darfur? Making the world a better place for us is a powerful argument. It just so happens that a better place for us is also a better place for the common Iraqi.

The reverse argument is only more powerful for those who worship philanthropy. Also the question arises, “Popular with whom.”. Arguments from philanthrophy certainly will be more popular in leftist societies like those of europe, and certainly work better on the invadees, but were we put on this world to please them?
I also think that you too easily dismiss the idea that Saddam was involved in terrorism. There is plenty of evidence he was involved not only with supporting terrorism but working with Al Queda.

I have yet to find any political or philosophical system that isn't full of what appear to be logical holes. Switching to utilitarianism or consequentialism just leads to a different set of problems.

I don't see any valid moral objection to invading Iraq, only issues of "was it worth it". The same is true even when confronted with a armed robber, do you flee, fight or submit.

The Baathists were

The Baathists were initiating force…against other Iraqis.

People all over the world are initiating force against each other all the time. Does that make it right for you to forcibly take my money to go fight it? That's two wrongs trying to make a right.

Furthermore the problem extends to actual invasions of the U.S. After all, if New York is invaded by Islamofacists then why should non-New Yorkers pay for repelling the invasion.

Good point, Brian. Welcome to anarcho-capitalism :).

Also your criteria for making the world a better place is very narrowly concieved. It’s not just the Iraqis that benefit from the removal of Saddam, we do too. In fact we wouldn’t be there if we didn’t think we got some benefit from it.

Yes, of course. But look at it this way - the net gain including gain to Iraqi's is small/unclear enough that some people are questioning whether its positive. So if you take away the gain to Iraqi's, which seems like it would be the biggest and surest gain, it seems to me that it almost certainly brings the net to negative. It's not that benefit to Iraqi's is the only benefit, its that its the largest benefit. Without counting that, I think the argument that the war is a net benefit to us is very weak.

Let me add a less flippant

Let me add a less flippant reply to Brian's comment about Californian's defending New Yorkers. It seems reasonable to me to look at the USA as a large defense pact, in which we all contribute to a single army, which will defend any of us. It's a defense pact that we were forced to join, but its still true that the army spends money from west and east coasters alike.

Iraq is clearly not part of our mutual defense pact. They do not pay taxes to contribute to our standing army. So why should that army defend them? You might argue that once the money has been stolen, it might as well do some good, which is fine, except that our invasion has caused lots of extra money to be stolen. And not even stolen from those who its trying to help.

“Iraq is clearly not part

“Iraq is clearly not part of our mutual defense pact. They do not pay taxes to contribute to our standing army. So why should that army defend them?”

That’s not the way I see it. We weren’t defending them ... we were attacking them.

Only some of them, to

Only some of them, to "liberate" others of them. :dizzy:

Hey, not to badmouth

Hey, not to badmouth liberation, but there were *lots* of reasons we attacked - and I think most of them were and are sound.

...And contrary to some, I think that the WMD reason was and is one of the sound ones. :twisted: Perhaps I've been reading too much Christopher Hitchens.

Patri, I'm gonna have to

Patri,

I'm gonna have to agree with Constant and the namechangeling troll. Your moral arguments aren't against the war; they're against government. That's all well and good, but it doesn't deal with whether or not the war itself is moral. The only moral argument against the war itself - not its funding - that I find persuasive is the collateral damage argument.

As an example, I give money to Virginia Tech every year. I "support" this institution that takes money funded by coercive measures. I used the institution to get a degree. I hope the institution succeeds and flourishes and accomplishes its mission of educating people. I would prefer if the institution was completely funded by voluntary measures, but in the present day, it's not the case. I still support the institution, even if I disagree with how it's largely funded.

Similarly, by your own daily actions, your argument that one must be against the war if one is against government doesn't hold up under scrutiny. Do you use the USPS? Do you drink tap-water? Do you buy USDA certified food? Do you drive on public roads? Do you get your power from the monopoly provider? Do you take FDA approved drugs?

I'm pretty sure you're for privatizing the FDA. Yet until that happens, surely you use the FDA. Similarly, if one supports the actions of the war - whether it be for defense or for humanitarian reasons - they could very well be for privatizing military functions while at the same time supporting the use of the existing military for various ends.

I don't find the "war is wrong because it's funded by taxation" argument to be very persuasive.

Do you use the USPS? Do you

Do you use the USPS? Do you drink tap-water? Do you buy USDA certified food? Do you drive on public roads? Do you get your power from the monopoly provider? Do you take FDA approved drugs?

I would merely point out that you're comparing apples and oranges there. Initiating trade with the USPS is very different than driving on public roads or buying USDA certified food, which is in turn very different than working for the US Defense Dept weapons research division. In the case of buying USDA certified food for instance, you are trading with a private entity (the supermarket), and not the USDA. Same with driving on public roads; driving on a public road doesn't somehow imply that you accept taxation.

In the case of buying USDA

In the case of buying USDA certified food for instance, you are trading with a private entity (the supermarket), and not the USDA.

You're using the services of an entity - the USDA - funded by taxation just as someone who supports the war desires the use the services of an entity - the US military - funded by taxation.

Same with driving on public roads; driving on a public road doesn’t somehow imply that you accept taxation.

And similarly, neither does using the US military for defense or humanitarian measures somehow imply that one accepts taxation.

Same with driving on public

Same with driving on public roads; driving on a public road doesn’t somehow imply that you accept taxation.

No one said it did. The point is that rejecting taxation as a means of funding roads doesn't mean that you have to reject roads in general. Similarly, rejecting taxation as a means of funding military action doesn't mean that you have to reject military action in general.

This seems to be devolving

This seems to be devolving into an argument over terminology. I am making no claims to be making moral statements about the general idea of a war happening in Iraq. I am making moral statements about the specific war we are engaged in. When I say "the war" I mean "the war", not "A potential war that might happen some totally different way." Any accurate moral analysis will consider many things about the war - its effect on the innocent, its effect on the guilty, its funding, its long-term consequences, etc.

This specific war is one that is being undertaken by government, hence we can dis it for being done inefficiently, and for being funded with stolen money. To ignore those aspects is to be talking about something entirely different.

your argument that one must be against the war if one is against government doesn't hold up under scrutiny. Do you use the USPS? Do you drink tap-water? Do you buy USDA certified food? Do you drive on public roads? Do you get your power from the monopoly provider? Do you take FDA approved drugs?

Again, this seems to assume that I am arguing against military intervention in general. Which I'm not. Or arguing against military intervention in Iraq. Which I'm not. I'm arguing against *our* military intervention in Iraq. Analyzing it accurately needs to take into account its funding.

Similarly, if one supports the actions of the war - whether it be for defense or for humanitarian reasons - they could very well be for privatizing military functions while at the same time supporting the use of the existing military for various ends.

Using your examples above, supporting the invasion of Iraq seems more like supporting the existence of the USPS, and the USDA, and the FDA, not like using them. To support our invasion is to say "In the current world, with the current tools, it was better to invade than to not invade". Since the current invasion was taxpayer funded, that constitutes saying that, on net, you think it was a good thing to steal money from people on one continent to liberate people on another. That doesn't seem very libertarian. And its very different from saying "A privately-funded invasion of Iraq would be a good thing."

I can see someone being in favor of intervening with the current military and privatizing it. But the former belief, to me, makes them not a libertarian. They are saying that they support stealing money from some people to hire guys with guns to go fight someplace the government tells them. How is that libertarian? If they were a libertarian, they wouldn't support stealing my damned money.

Patri, Using your examples

Patri,

Using your examples above, supporting the invasion of Iraq seems more like supporting the existence of the USPS, and the USDA, and the FDA, not like using them. To support our invasion is to say “In the current world, with the current tools, it was better to invade than to not invade". Since the current invasion was taxpayer funded, that constitutes saying that, on net, you think it was a good thing to steal money from people on one continent to liberate people on another. That doesn’t seem very libertarian. And its very different from saying “A privately-funded invasion of Iraq would be a good thing.”

What's the difference between "supporting" something and "using" it?

Do you support the FDA?

What’s the difference

What’s the difference between “supporting” something and “using” it?

"Supporting" the FDA would include things like working for them, speaking in favor of them, or encouraging others to do the same. By contrast, someone in the supermarket reading food labels is "using" them.

I'm kind of lost though on where all this is going.

I use the FDA. I support

I use the FDA. I support Consumer Reports and epinions.

Use = make use of
Support = like that it exists, believe that it is a good thing

At least, that's what I meant by support. Another meaning of support would count anything you paid for as "supporting". But that's not what I meant.

Jonathan - I'm tempted to

Jonathan - I'm tempted to respond with a post, but let me make sure I understand you. You are saying that even if one would rather have a privatized military, that given that what we have is a public military, if a libertarian believes the end of Iraqi freedom is desirable, they can be in favor of using the public military to that end, even if it costs lots of taxpayer money?

Because I don't see how that is any different than supporting any other theft by taxation for a "good cause". Bill might wish that we had a private program for feeding the hungry, but if we don't, he thinks its good to have a government welfare system fudned by taxes. Bill might wish that we had good private agencies to determine which drugs are safe, but since we don't, he thinks its good to have the FDA. Bill might wish that we had private parks, but since we don't, he thinks the national park service is a good program. It seems to me that Bill is not a libertarian. A libertarian would say "The lack of a private alternative for helping someone does not make it OK for you to reach into my pocket and help them." They might also point out the self-perpetuating nature of such programs, since they block the rise of private alternatives.

How is the war on Iraq any different?

No, that's not my argument.

No, that's not my argument. My argument is that the current societal structure already exists - the Man already gots your money and has tanks and guns at his disposal. I'd rather he not exist at all, but within the context of the reality of him existing as I write this, I'd rather him do something good with those things. I can simultaneously argue that he ought not exist and argue that he be a good boy while he does exist. If a mugger takes my wallet, I'd prefer he feed his kids rather than spend it on booze.

Ah. good, because that's a

Ah. good, because that's a better argument :). Still wrong though, because this war has come with a big budget all to itself. It isn't just making use of the existing soldiers and tanks and guns and bombs, it has its own (gigantic) price tag.

If we could use the existing military resources to increase freedom without increasing the future military resources, I'd support that. But this is not such a case.

That may be the case, but

That may be the case, but that's now a consequential argument, not merely a moral one. I maintain that the argument against taxation is an argument against taxation, not everything that it funds.

I maintain that the argument

I maintain that the argument against taxation is an argument against taxation, not everything that it funds.

This seems nonsensical to me. If you think taxation is wrong, then doesn't that imply that you think that X, where X includes "I am funded by taxation", is wrong? I am saying "The US using taxation to fund an invasion of Iraq" is wrong. Tell me how someone can believe that "The US using taxation to fund an invasion of Iraq" is right while believing that taxation is wrong?

You can't separate it like that. I am talking about a *specific* war, a *specific* invasion, and one which *is* funded by taxes, and one which obviously was going to be funded by taxes. My claim is that this specific invasion is wrong because it is funded by taxes. How can you remove the fact that it is funded by taxes from that argument?

It's like if I say "Medicare is wrong, because its funded by taxes", and you say "But that's just an argument against taxation, not an argument against Medicare." The latter statement as a response to the former makes no sense to me - perhaps you can clarify.

“This specific war is one

“This specific war is one that is being undertaken by government, hence we can dis it for being done inefficiently, and for being funded with stolen money. To ignore those aspects is to be talking about something entirely different.”

I am sure the mail can be delivered more efficiently than the government can manage. I have good reasons for believing any system of voluntary exchange can be done more efficiently by markets. I don’t have such confidence when it comes to issues of force. I am certainly hard pressed to imagine a private army cutting throught the Iraqi forces as efficiently as the US army did with so few civilian and American losses. Maybe I lack imagination or maybe I don’t want to rely on imagination in cases such as this. Whatever the case a large portion of the expense of this war is the “rebuilding”. This is not something normally associated with govermental warfare and seems to be idiosyncratic to the US.

I know how anarchists imagine defense issues would be handled but I just don’t believe in it. I can’t prove it wouldn’t work but I haven’t seen any examples or proofs that it would. Besides there aren’t any protection agencies running about that are large enough to take on other than the smallest of conflicts.

However, I think warfare and security works a little different than voluntary cooperation. Strategies like cutting your nose off to spite your face, which can’t win in the marketplace seem to work in the realm of defense. Palesteinian leaders have made quite a profit in getting the average guy to blow himself up along with innocent civilians. How many billions did Arafat have in the banks when he died? How many corporate leaders (operating in non-defense free markets) have made that kind of money by getting their employees to commit self destructive spiteful acts?

There are many other things about warfare and security that just don’t operate the way markets do. As another example, I think the problem of free-ridership is much more pronounced in the area of defense then in say the delivery of the mail.
So as much as I’d like to be able to say I am sure that taxes are not the way to fund defense I cannot do so with any kind of intellectual honesty.

Note that when I talk about free markets I am not talking about a Hoppean sort of system either. I am not comfortable with the idea of racists running around buying up land from say “native americans” and then turning around and saying no non-white person can ever own that piece of land again. Or say a white supremacist buying up a private road and then banning any blacks from using it. I know that there the market provides financial disincentives to this but what if the racist values his racism more than his money?

It’s not merely discomfort on my part either. I think I have valid arguments for why one cannot set up such racists communities. So unlike some libertarians I don’t find the idea of peaceful racist communities compatible with libertarianism, unlike some.

These same arguments lead me to believe that I can forcably interfere with any sort of racist covenents, be they private or government sponsored.

Also I am not comfortable

Also I am not comfortable 'dissing' a war that is in progress when the other side is so obviously and out of scale morally inferior to the alternative.

Patri, This seems

Patri,

This seems nonsensical to me. If you think taxation is wrong, then doesn’t that imply that you think that X, where X includes “I am funded by taxation", is wrong? I am saying “The US using taxation to fund an invasion of Iraq” is wrong. Tell me how someone can believe that “The US using taxation to fund an invasion of Iraq” is right while believing that taxation is wrong?

Perhaps a different analogy will work. I think that, on average, most 13 year old kids probably aren't really ready to have sex. Some are, of course, and I'm with you in thinking that those that are ready should jump right in so to speak. But on average, I suspect that a 13 year old is not really ready for the realities of sex. In general, then, I would probably advise a 13 year old that s/he ought not have sex.

That said, I recognize that 13 year olds are in fact going to have sex. So given that they are going to have sex, I think that I very much ought to teach 13 year olds how to use a condom and that I probably ought to make sure that said 13 year olds have easy access to condoms.

Aren't these cases at least sort of analogous? I think that 13 year olds ought not have sex, but I also think that, given that they are going to have sex and that there's really not much that I can do about that right now, I ought to encourage them to make wise decisions about sex. Your position on taxation and paying for war would seem to be pretty analogous to the anti-sex ed crowd who claim that teaching about condom use is tantamount to supporting teen sex. I don't buy the claim when it's about teen sex, and I'm not really convinced that it's any more compelling when it's about taxes and just war theory.

I'm happy to say A

I'm happy to say A privately-funded invasion of Iraq would be a good thing. The point I made (apparently not very well) above is that one thing I'm unhappy about in the current state of affairs is that we as a society haven't left ourselves any tools to do invasions, if and when we believe it to be necessary, other than the tax-funded DOD.

At the time of the invasion, I think a good case had been made that Sadam was in violation of the UN rulings. His actions in the face of the inspectors made it seem quite likely that he had WMD. He refused to stand down, which was why it was possible to back the UN into making ultimatums it was unwilling to back up.

Now that we are there, it seems the height of folly to precipitously abandon the civilians to the chaos that arose in the wake of our poor planning.

"I can see someone being in favor of intervening with the current military and privatizing it. But the former belief, to me, makes them not a libertarian. They are saying that they support stealing money from some people [to fight a war]. How is that libertarian? If they were a libertarian, they wouldn't support stealing my damned money."

I don't support stealing money. But in extreme situations, you make do, and provide what restitution you can. The fact that the majority in this country both support a tax-funded military, and make private competition with the military illegal has tied our hands. If we ever agree that military action is imperative, the only tool available is that tax-funded military. It raises the bar for favoring action since we believe they are paid with stolen money, and we know that they will be less effective than a competitive entity, but I don't think we should believe that we are neutralized because that's the only tool we have.

How is it different from wanting to help the poor? Because there isn't a libertarian argument that that is an emergency.

Chris - I agree about

Chris - I agree about emergencies, which is why if you look at my original post, I said that libertarians would have to argue that Iraq was such an immediate danger that we needed to attack preemptively. Which is a much weaker argument than if you get to include the benefit to the Iraqi people. A utilitarian can weigh the benefit to Iraqi's against the cost to Americans. But a libertarian rejects stealing from A to help B as being moral.

I know that there the market

I know that there the market provides financial disincentives to this but what if the racist values his racism more than his money?

Then he's stupid and deserves the loss of profit and scorn he'll receive. Market disincentives and boycott are really all a moral person can hope for.

These same arguments lead me

These same arguments lead me to believe that I can forcably interfere with any sort of racist covenents, be they private or government sponsored.

You are correct that racism and rights-violations are related, but this is merely because things like hatred, prejudice and envy are related to violence. There's nothing special to racism in this regard. For example, you could imagine how patriarchy might contribute to rights-violations against women. Or xenophobia to war. But "A is a contributing factor to B" is not the same as "A equals B". As distasteful as one of these "peaceful racist communities" you imagine might be, no libertarian would have grounds to oppose them through violence unless they themselves initiate it, which I imagine in the real world would probably happen at some point (preaching racism and then denying responsibility when a "former member" of a group commits a crime is fairly common among hate groups).

"Then he’s stupid and

"Then he’s stupid and deserves the loss of profit and scorn he’ll receive."
The loss could be minimal with a minority and he might even be praised.

Market disincentives and boycott are really all a moral person can hope for.

So says you. In your other post you claim libertarians cannot initiate force. That is not completely true. They can do so in the case of fraud. There are also other situations that are not tantamount to the initiation of "violence" which are actionable. Some of these cover certain over racist acts that do not rise to the level of violence.

Do you believe that a libertarian can't do anything if a neighbor decides to peacefully store explosives in a place that endangers his neighbors property?