Another Aggressive War


by Sean Gabb

What happens in Libya is none of our business. Its ruler may be a bloodstained dictator. He may be the only alternative to a radical Islamic takeover. He may be both. But that is not our concern.

We are now effectively at was with Libya. The people there will not benefit from this. They will not be grateful. For us, the results will be more dead soldiers and a further radicalisation of the Moslems who live in England. It will not bring down the price of oil.

I welcome spending cuts on “defence”. I wish the whole of the army and air force could be shut down and replaced by a citizen militia. By removing any means for stupid and evil politicians like David Cameron to puff themselves up, nothing would tend to make this country saver.

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34 responses to “Another Aggressive War

  1. Perhaps there could be a case for doing something at sometime, but I tend to agree with you insofar as I see everything effective that is done, every vigorous prosecution of goals done by those with the power to do them, is almost always to the disadvantage of the ordinary guy, and always to the advantage of a profiteering elite. (The real one, not the one, the front, that they set up for people to throw stones at.)
    Where is the outrage about Iran, or Sudan?
    And I think it goes further than simply, oil, as Galloway likes to shout about.
    If the west wanted oil there is buckets of the stuff on the Alaskan coast, drilled and capped, just waiting for someone to open the tap.
    The shortage of oil is part of the game.
    What is the game, I wonder?

  2. ‘We are now effectively at was with Libya.’ At war, surely? ;)

  3. So Bahrain is next?

  4. It is folly to have a foreign policy, as Cobden used to rightly hold. We need to end all international politics as part of political isolationism that was, & is, the classical liberal grand solution to the great problem of war. Free trade so no politics.

    See The Great Illusion (1910) Norman Angell for a good exposition of this solution.

  5. C H Ingoldby

    One of the things i find exasperating about Libertarians is their automatic assumption of a pose of unilaterateral disarmament in the face of any external threat or tyranny.

    To stand aside when people are rising up against a brutal despot and are then being slaughtered with heavy weapons is not principled, it is not ‘libertarian’, it is collusion.

    It might be justifiable collusion on realpolitik grounds, but it is collusion.

    On political principle as well as pragmatism, Libertarians should always be ready to fight, physically and brutally, against the enemies of liberty.

  6. C H Ingoldby

    Although, yes, these people being Arabs, we can be absolutely certain that there will be no gratitude, whatever we do.

    The world is not a perfect place, we must act accordingly.

  7. But that is not our concern.

    The principle of non-interference (UN Charta) is not comparable to the respect of private property since those who claim that principle do never fully respect the property rights of their citizens. In other words: It is not morally wrong, to treat Mr. Qaddafi in a way you may treat anyone you witness commiting a crime.

    For us, the results will be more dead soldiers and a further radicalisation of the Moslems who live in England.

    Actually, that’s not our concern. Our comrades frequently argue in this way, too: The rich (powerful) are responsible for the behaviour of the poor, because those are mere Turing machines. (Of course, they prefer sociological terms instead of computer terms to better veil their weired, counterintuitive assumptions on human nature.) Your morally justified actions never make anybody commit a crime. It’s always his own decision.

  8. While the world is yet full of nasty dictators, specifically-trained, spawned and then set loose on unsuspecting miserable peoples by Western LeftiNazis, a Foreign Policy is needed. It will be that these buggers are “foreign” towards the idea of normal consensual human contractual relationships, which is the way to behave (there ARE moral absolutes – they’re just not what the LeftiNazis think they are) and so they will have to go.

    People that willingly follow the trainee-dictator-career-path, by sitting at the feet of people like Terry Eagleton (who has never grown up) will just have to be forced to sit up and pay attention along with their mentors – who are by definition even worse, since they could have exercised their own free will to not train people to be tyrannists…but they failed.

    If that great and well-known peacemaker, Gerry Adams, had said that Ulster is not part of the UK but a foreign country trrying to liberate itself from tyrannical conservative English occupiers, aided by the Shining Path followers of progressivism, I wonder what we should have done?

  9. Of course, Gadaffi’s actions now are the product of one of the West’s great lost opportunities. The time to do him was just after the Lockerbie atrocity in 1988. The MSM’s attention was riveted on a number of small craters in hard Lowland-Scottish ground, made by living humans falling from 33,000 feet.

    The time to do Hitler was December 1932. But nobody listened then either. Sean’s latest novel could have been picturing an even more spectacularly successful and benign English Pax Britannica.

  10. We live in a world of States, not libertopia. We cannot judge the world by libertarian standards, the point I was making in the thread following Kevin Carson’s latest flight of fancy, below. If you try to formulate policy in a Statist situation by libertarian standards, you will fail, because you are not treating the world as it is, but as you wish it to be. You have to work with what other people are.

    I watched an interview with Bernard Lewis recently, and it got onto the subject of Gandhi; and Lewise said, quite rightly, that against a Stalin or a Hitler Gandhi’s strategy of peaceful resistance wouldn’t have lasted a week. You can’t beat a Stalin or a Hitler with protest. It doesn’t work that way.

    We are currently still in that phase of history where there are nation states. Many libertarians seem to at least implicitly prefer nation states (“down with the EU!” and “down with the UN!”) so in that case we must consider policy in nation state terms. That means sometimes fighting wars, with armies.

    Citizens militias in the modern world can only harrass an invader with a well funded, well organised, well equipped state army. A citizen’s militia might convince the invaders that it is not worth the effort, such that they will leave, but nobody should fool themselves that citizens with rifles can fight off an enemy with missiles, tanks and jet aircraft. It is not a rational strategy for national defence. This is not the eighteenth century any more. If the American revolutionary war were fought now; with citizens’ militias against the might of a government army, it would lose, and would lose quickly and catastrophically.

    Should we get involved in Libya? I don’t know. But the Libyan situation is a situation for armies and navies and air forces. Citizens militas are, in the modern world, a romantic folly. A libertarian England will need armed forces, and powerful ones at that, to defend the borders. Maybe we’ll one day have a libertarian globe- but bear in mind that is world government. A single, unitary state from pole to pole. All we can say is that we do not live there yet, and judging the now on some imaginary future ideal is not very pragmatic.

  11. I’m not arguing on purist libertarian grounds, but in terms of the English national interest. What happens in Libya may be important to Italy and to the United States, so far as its elites want to dominate the Middle East. It is of no legitimate concern to us. I don’t go so far as David in saying that we should have no foreign policy at all. On the other hand, we do currently have too much of one.

  12. Ian B,

    you’re throwing around some pretty big IFs in that statement of yours, such as:

    “If the American revolutionary war were fought now; with citizens’ militias against the might of a government army, it would lose, and would lose quickly and catastrophically.”

    You only have to look at Afghanistan to see that it’s not as easy as all that to defeat a militia type organisation, notwithstanding the overwhelming fire-power on the NATO side.

  13. C H Ingoldby

    Trooper Thomson, the Afghans do not have any kind of ‘citizens militia’.

    They have warring tribes, warlords and xenophobic, highly aggressive religious fundamentalism.

  14. Trooper, the Afghan militias/terrorists/freedom fighters/towelheads/whatever aren’t in any sense winning, and neither have they any hope of winning. They have a considerable ability to harrass, as I mentioned before, but are orders of magnitude too ill equipped to defeat the modern armies they are fighting. In the same way that the French resistance could annoy the Germans, but couldn’t hope to drive them off French soil. That took a massed invasion by another modern army.

    If you want to annoy your new masters, go with a militia. If you actually want to stop them becoming your new masters, you’re going to need an army, navy and air force that can repel the invasion. Rifles are bugger all use against carpet bombing.

  15. “They have warring tribes, warlords and xenophobic, highly aggressive religious fundamentalism.”

    Just wait till I’m Lord Protector of England!

  16. “Citizens militias in the modern world can only harrass an invader with a well funded, well organised, well equipped state army. A citizen’s militia might convince the invaders that it is not worth the effort, such that they will leave, but nobody should fool themselves that citizens with rifles can fight off an enemy with missiles, tanks and jet aircraft. It is not a rational strategy for national defence.”

    The only people who might want to invade England are the American, and they already run it. What other enemies have we that we haven’t raised up by our own stupid actions, and who might be up to invading?

  17. Ah, but you can’t change one variable and expect all the others to stay the same. The world’s a chaotic system.

    If the West in general were to abolish their armies and navies and air forces and nukes, what greedy eyes in other places might eye the riches of the libertarian economies within those now weakly defended borders? Remember, the basic rule of human coexistence for all of history has been resource theft. States grew up as a necessary means to provide not defence, but organised plunder.

    A citizens militia cannot run- for instance- aircraft carrier groups or jet air forces or tank battalions. Take all that away and the whole balance of power changes in the world. It’s not the lack of enemies we have now; it’s the question of what enemies we might have if our only defence were raggedy bands of riflemen. If the whole world were libertarian, we would not need any defence. Not even the riflemen.

    If one posits a world where we are libertarians and others are not, we will need a standing army and navy and air force, and jolly good ones too, I think. The primary purpose of which is to make other raggedy bands to scared to attack in the first place, rather than a militia who could just annoy them after they have arrived.

  18. Something you overlook is that I wished for the army and the airforce to be replaced by a citizen militia. I said nothing about the Royal Navy, on which I would lavish every penny needed for national defence. Navies are not very useful in themselves for oppressing native populations or interfering abroad. They are wonderful things for keeping an island free and independent.

  19. “I said nothing about the Royal Navy, on which I would lavish every penny needed for national defence”

    Agreed. But a Navy without air cover might be a tad vulnerable, don’t you think? Aircraft carriers are only a partial answer, being expensive, large, easy (relatively speaking) targets.

  20. Even at the end of WW2, carriers needed enormous “destroyer screens”, both for air defence and against sumbarines. Carriers are actually not very useful for large wars against seriously committed guys who can hit you. The Argentines, being fairly serious people with French weaponry and well-motivated, tried their best to hit our carriers and very nearly succeeded. Our shipping losses were, in my strategic view, unacceptably high.

    Many British libertarians seem to think that a libertarian polity would be left alone to stew in its own juice. I sya not. It will be immediately targetted, like a “shining city upon a hill” for attack by a very easily assembled “coalition of the willing” – which will include (a) all the dictators, (b) most of their scumbag toadies in the UN, (c) probably China in the short term but not later on (we must play for time) and (d) have weaponry supplied covertly to it by Russia, France and probably other EU nations behind everyone’s back.

  21. “The Argentines, being fairly serious people with French weaponry and well-motivated, tried their best to hit our carriers and very nearly succeeded. Our shipping losses were, in my strategic view, unacceptably high”

    Exactly! We were fortunate in that the Argentines had to operate what were by our standards, obsolete aircraft, at their maximum range. If the Falklands were 100 miles further west, the Task Force would have been in serious trouble, and the recapture of the islands might not have been possible.

    I’m rather doubtful about a Civilian Militia Army, but as an island nation, we definitely need a large Navy, AND a large Air Force.

    As regards the original post, involving ourselves in Libya is probably not terribly clever, and whatever the eventual outcome, as has already been said, no one will thank us for it.

  22. I would never spare the means for a fleet of super Dreadnoughts and whatever air cover was needed for home defence. But I don’t want any out of area capability. As for armies, if we ever needed more than a citizen militia at home, we’d already have lost. When was the last time an invader got into England with control of the seas and lost? The Armada never managed to land. The 1745 invasion was cut off by sea. In 1066, the Saxons had no fleet, and lost. In 1688, even if James hadn’t been a fool, there was still no stopping William once he had control of the sea approaches between Holland and Torbay.
    It’s time to let the Army Act lapse and to rely on our steel walls.

  23. “I would never spare the means for a fleet of super Dreadnoughts and whatever air cover was needed for home defence”

    The irony is, a properly funded navy and air force would almost certainly cost substantially less than the huge amounts currently spent on “welfare”.

    “As for armies, if we ever needed more than a citizen militia at home, we’d already have lost”

    That’s a fair point!

  24. The £80 billion p.a. on the NHS (approx), about £100 billion p.a. on “welfare”, and most of the “education” budget would, in five years, yield conservatively £200 billion per year savings when Sean has (on my advice) locked-down, shut and sold all the bureaucrats’ buildings and terminated all their staffs’ wages and pensions.
    £1 trillion over five years would substantially repair the last 65 years’ damage to our maritime and air Armed Forces, leaving enough over to fund a decent land army reserve.
    I learned today from a Marshall of the RAF (who shall remain nameless) that we are only going to keep 50 MBTs. Even he, an airman, was apalled at what the Army will have left.
    Holland has twenty times that.

  25. I believe the Navy has only 19 frigates/destroyers. It has been said, many times over the last 20 years or so, that we couldn’t repeat the Falklands operation now; with only 19 surface warships (not including minesweepers/layers etc) we’d be hard pressed to repeat the “Cod War” (remember that one?)

  26. C H Ingoldby

    Is anyone else confused by the paradox of politicians like Blair and Brown treating the armed forces with open contempt while simultaneously repeatedly acting like Generalissimos, sending the armed forces to fight all sorts of campaigns all over the place?

  27. Steven Northwood

    We have to maintain the RAF, and a fully capable Navy with Marines and Fleet Air Arm. But we could do very well with a TA-style civilian militia. It might well engender the right kind of ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ sentiment among the population. Although isn’t this also open to abuse? The current Army pay structure is pitiful. A person could probably make the same amount per year serving sandwiches at Subway, without having to risk their life.

  28. C H Ingoldby:

    In answer to your question – Yes!

  29. A modern blue water Navy entails aircraft carriers.

    The US Navy has an offshore air force, as well as having the Marines for its Army.

    Tony

  30. @Steven Northwood, Tony Hollick: You don’t need aircraft carriers for defense.

  31. “You don’t need aircraft carriers for defense”

    How can you guarantee that your surface warships will be operating within range of land based air cover? Even when acting defensively?

    Surface warships are vulnerable to air attack EVEN with adequate air cover. In my opinion, if a navy is to be effective (however it’s being used) some form of air cover is essential, and that means aircraft carriers, or through-deck cruisers, or whatever you want to call them.

  32. Armed forces without offensive capability have little or no defensive capability either.

  33. Defense mean repelling enemy attacks, not conquering his own country. You simply don’t have to go where land based air cover does not suffice. That’s why only offensive forces need long range capabilities.
    @Ian B: A counterexample is Japan.

  34. IIRC, Japan lost a war rather badly when their, by that time entirely defensive, armed forces were bypassed by dropping a fucking big bomb on them.