Would A Libertarian Military Be More Lethal?

This is the question that military attorney David French asks and answers over at National Review:

I’m noticing military libertarianism increasing, not decreasing, among the more politically aware and engaged officers and enlisted […]

Frustration with bureaucracy and deep skepticism of nation-building and foreign entanglements should not be confused with weakness or wishful thinking […] Military libertarians tend to know how savage our enemy is. Moreover, they have no hesitancy to use overwhelming force in defense of the nation. After all, national defense is a core function of government even in a more libertarian state. In my (admittedly anecdotal) experience, thoughtful military libertarians tend to advocate something we haven’t really tried in our more than decade-long fight against Islamic jihad — the relatively brief application of truly overwhelming destructive force against identified enemies.

That’s why I wonder if a libertarian military might be more lethal, even on smaller budgets. A trimmed-down bureaucracy, an increased emphasis on the destructive rather than nation-building capabilities of the force under arms, and doctrines designed to inflict maximum (non-nuclear) destruction on enemy forces rather than transforming and democratizing communities — all of this could add up to a more lethal (yet smaller) military.

Indeed. What do you think? I know I’ve made this argument plenty of times before, and it has basically been the standard minarchist line on foreign policy since the Enlightenment, yet somehow this seems to be a new concept for not only libertarians but others as well?

I don’t get it. How have we not been able to communicate this idea more effectively over the years?

I understand that rent seeking plays an important role in our failure, as does the fact that our arguments must compete with demagogues, but I don’t fully see why the libertarian foreign policy argument isn’t more understandable.

One thing that French forgets to mention is that the threat of facing an American military that no longer cares about winning the hearts and minds of its enemies will also contribute to a decline in wars. The inability to connect this implication – that of a more peaceful world – with a leaner, meaner American military force also baffles me.

Here is the relevant reddit thread on the link in question.

Update: Over the next month or so, I’m going to disaggregate a dialogue about foreign policy that I had with Dr Delacroix in 2011. It is different from the earlier dialogue on foreign policy that we held.

4 thoughts on “Would A Libertarian Military Be More Lethal?

Please keep it civil

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s