national defense It is a plain *fact, but one that *statists ought to dwell upon, that *states start all wars instead of merely defending their *nations or territories (and they murder even more of their own *subjects than die in war; see *democide). States have, particularly since the start of the previous century, a tendency to bring about the mass killing of conscripts and civilians and general destruction. Yet states are also an Achilles’ heel with a single center of control that can be more easily attacked and defeated: once the capital is taken the war is usually ended (assuming that it is an uncontested seat of *power rather than a capital that barely rules antagonistic factions). *Anarchies lack this weakness and hence, famously, superpower USA-state could not defeat North Vietnam (albeit that its hands were tied by threats from China and the USSR if it invaded the North) nor superpower USSR-state defeat *Afghanistan (albeit that there was external support in both cases and that the anarchic defenses were not reflected in the official *politics). Henry Kissinger (1923- ) admitted that conventional troops have special difficulties defeating a guerilla force: “The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerilla wins if he does not lose.”

How could unaided anarchies raise enough money voluntarily (i.e., without *tax-*extortion) to pay for the expense of even defense? Public subscriptions could fund relatively cheap mercenaries and bounties (see *assassination) to deal directly with bellicose foreign statesmen themselves, hence seriously deterring them in the first place once this is realized, instead of the wholesale bloody and destructive statist approach to war. However, some *nuclear weapons might also be an investment, as a last resort; possibly small enough to be aimed at, or smuggled into, military targets of the aggressor state; hence not attacking the *country as such. Nuclear weapons are the only things that seem to stop the USA-state from invading wherever it likes. If used, these weapons will undoubtedly kill some innocent people (although the state does rely on popular support) and so will not be deontologically *libertarian. But if they are all that can restrain some *aggressive states then perhaps they are necessary and *consequentially libertarian or, better, the threat alone will deter.

*Imperialism was loss-making. Aggressive war never pays financially in the long run compared to *free trade (there can be a short-run gain if the aggressor is sufficiently ruthless, but the destructive *economic effect is eventually global). Free trade also results in global *market networks, which tends to abolish identifiable separate sides and make military attacks even more uneconomic. A world without states would have no one that could start a war. If state national defense is necessary at all, it is only while other states exist.

See *just war theory; *World War I; *World War II.

A Dictionary of Libertarianism