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Quotes on Power

About the book Crisis and Leviathan

Center on Peace & Liberty Defense

Contents:

Introduction:

Classical liberalism derives from individualism. Each individual owns his or her own life and energies and is therefore entitled to conduct that life according to his or her own judgment, consistent with the like liberty of others. From this foundation emerges the institutions of individual rights, private property, free trade, and the rule of law. Essential is the right of self-defense: if one owns one’s life, one has the right to defend it against aggression. This is the basic argument for the right to keep and bear arms, and against gun control.

Groups, including societies, also have the prerogative to defend themselves. Groups are collections of individuals. There are no group rights per se, but individuals, who do have rights, are free to pool their resources and cooperate for their defense. Groups can have no rights not possessed by individuals. If an individual does not have the right to expropriate others to provide for his or her own defense, no group can have that right either. Group defense must be consistent with individual rights.

Governments, which have a monopoly on the “legitimate” use of force in a particular area, have traditionally and ultimately been justified on the need for collective defense, which, it is said, cannot otherwise be provided. Since a provider of collective defense cannot discriminate between those who pay for it and those who don’t, it is argued, taxation and even conscription via government are justified to prevent free riders. In rebuttal it has been said that government itself presents a host of insidious free rider and other problems that may be worse than the one it set out to solve.

Another danger inherent in “national defense” is its tendency to exploit crises to enlarge and extend the coercive power of government—particularly executive power—to areas far removed from actual defense. If preparation for war has rationalized permanent new, intrusive powers, actual wars have magnified this process many times. The very logic of national defense weakens the checks on power that normally operate in domestic policy matters. For example, a skeptic about the fiscal viability of Social Security could not be plausibly silenced by the president’s claim that classified information shows the system to be sound.

Yet this routinely occurs in matters of national defense. The CIA’s budget is classified. The activities of the National Security Agency are covert. Military plans, unless leaked, are secret. The potential for dangerous politically motivated mischief and wrongdoing is rife, and such episodes are often not unearthed until years later—if at all. The United States went to war with Spain in 1898 after an explosion aboard the Maine—which may have been caused by a bad boiler. The War in Vietnam was precipitated by an attack on American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin—which never occurred. U.S. participation in World War II followed the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor—which was the not-unexpected culmination of U.S. economic warfare against Japan. Even during the Cold War, Soviet activities were construed by U.S. officials so as to justify the expansion of their power to tax and regulate the American people. This was essentially the analysis offered by Midwest Republicans such as Senator Robert Taft and Congressman Howard Buffett.

The upshot is that even in a constitutionally limited republic, national defense can serve to anesthetize the people’s wariness of, and hence to relax the constraints on, power. As H.L. Mencken put it, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” In the name of national defense, the federal government financed schools, built highways, and did other things only tenuously linked to true security. This tendency to expand government authority is encouraged by the facile dismissal and even silencing of critics as alarmists whose activities give aid and comfort to the nation’s enemies.

Also, click here for Bibliography for Crisis and Leviathan.

Cold War:

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Consequences of Interventionism:

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Vidal, Gore. Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2002.

—. Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2002.

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Defense Industry/Complex:

Adams, Gordon. The Politics of Defense Contracting: The Iron Triangle. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1982.

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—. “A Broader Definition of Defense Pork is Needed.” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, November 3, 1997.

—. “Can Military Reform Be Salvaged?”, Northwest Florida Daily News, July 1, 2001.

—. “Can the Pentagon Be Run Like a Business?”, Issues in Science & Technology (National Academy in Science), Spring 2002.

—. “Defense Reform is Dead,” Black News (Columbia, SC), August 30, 2001.

—. “Enshrining the ‘Reagan Legacy’ Could Cost Taxpayer's Plenty.” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute.

—. “Hike Military Funding? Lining the Pockets of the Defense Bureaucracy.” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, September 23, 1998.

—. “Holiday Cheer at the Pentagon.” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, January 8, 1999.

—. “Hopelessly Flawed Osprey Lives to Fly Another Day,” Defense News, June 4, 2001.

—. “Military Increase Will Delay Reforms,” State News Sunday (Dover, DE), May 5, 2002.

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Defense Waste:

Eland, Ivan. “America Doesn’t Need Three New Fighter Planes,” Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, April 5, 1999.

—. “Higher Defense Spending Would Be a Huge Waste of Money.” Salt Lake Tribune, November 23, 1997.

—. “The Marines’ Osprey Is a Taxpayer Albatross,” Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2001.

—. “Putting the Pentagon on a Low-Fat Diet,” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, November 3, 1997.

—. “Security Spending Hikes: Real Improvements or Bureaucratic Largesse?” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute.

—. “Vanquish the Crusader,” United Press International, May 17, 2002.

—. “Weaponry or Waste?”, Gaston Gazette, February 4, 2001.

—. “We’ve Earned a Peace Dividend,” Orange County Register,” July 1998.

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—. “U.S. National Security: Illusions versus Realities.” Oakland, Calif.: The Independent Institute, June 30, 2002.

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General:

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History:

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Barnes, Harry Elmer. “The Public Stake in Revisionism,” Rampart Journal of Individualist Studies (Summer 1967).

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—. “Why We Still Have a War Economy,” Reason, April 1977.

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Cobane, Craig T. “Review of the book For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush, by Christopher Andrew,” The Independent Review, Vol. I, No. 3 (Winter 1997), pp. 456-459.

Denson, John V. “A Century of War,” Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Earle, Edward Mead. Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ Press, 1943.

Eland, Ivan. “Review of the book The Political Economy of NATO: Past, Present and into the 21st Century by Todd Sandler and Keith Hartley,” The Independent Review, Vol. V, No. 2 (Fall 2000), pp. 303-306.

—. “Media Coverage of the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of Vietnam Rewrites History.” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute.

Hamlin, Charles H. The War Myth in United States History. New York: Vanguard Press, 1927.

Higgs, Robert. “Camelot and the Bushies: Some Disturbing Parallels.” Oakland, Calif.: The Independent Institute, March 7, 2003.

—. “From Central Planning to the Market: The American Transition, 1945-1947,” The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 59, No. 3 (September 1999).

—. “World War II and the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex,” Freedom Daily, May 1995.

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Kennedy, Paul. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.

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Marshall, Jonathan V. To Have and Have Not: Southeast Asian Raw Materials and the Origins of the Pacific War. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1995.

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—. Revisionist Viewpoints: Essays in a Dissident Historical Tradition. Colorado Springs: Ralph Myles, 1971.

—. The Saga of Hog Island: And Other Essays in Inconvenient History. Colorado Springs: Ralph Myles, 1977.

Mead, Walter Russell. Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World. New York: Alfred Knopf, 2001.

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Raico, Ralph. “American Foreign Policy: The Turning Point, 1898–1919,” Future of Freedom Foundation, February 1995.

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Winks, Robin W. Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1996.

Yergin, Daniel. “The Arms Zealots,” Harper’s, June 1977, pp. 64-776.

Nuclear Weapons:

Cohen, Avner and Steven Lee. Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity: The Fundamental Questions. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, 1986.

Eland, Ivan. “Aggressive Nuclear Policy: Enhancing or Detracting from U.S. Security?” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute.

—. “Are U.S. Government Efforts in Counterproliferation Counterproductive?” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, July 28, 1999.

—. “Chinese Nuclear Espionage: Is the Hysteria Warranted?” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, June 3, 1999.

—. “George W. Bush’s Vision for Nuclear Security: Vestiges of the Cold War.” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, June 1, 2000.

—. “A ‘Grand Deal’ on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: A Faustian Bargain.” Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, September 16, 1999.

—. “Nuclear Rapport with India, Pakistan Beats Hostility,” Houston Chronicle, May 1998.

Feiveson, Harold and Bruce Blair. The Nuclear Turning Point: A Blueprint for Deep Cuts and De-Alerting of Nuclear Weapons. Washington: Brookings Institution, 1999.

Fletcher, Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II. No High Ground. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1983.

Ford, John C. “The Hydrogen Bombing of Cities,” in William J. Nagle, ed., Morality and Modern Warfare. Baltimore, MD: Helicon Press, 1960, pp. 98-103.

—. “The Morality of Obliteration Bombing,” Theological Studies, Vol. 4 (1944), p. 261.

Higgs, Robert. “Can Nuclear Weapons Be Scrapped?” Oakland, Calif.: The Independent Institute, May 9, 1997.

Kennan, George F. The Nuclear Delusion: Soviet-American Relations in the Atomic Age. New York: Random House, 1983.

Krepon, Michael. Cooperative Threat Reduction, Missile Defense, and the Nuclear Future. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

Lindsay, James M. Congress and Nuclear Weapons. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Mueller, John. “The Essential Irrelevance of Nuclear Weapons,” International Security, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Fall 1988), pp. 55-79.

—.