What is the Real Defense of Liberty?
by Jeff Wright, December 4, 2002 (posted)
After reading out of the LP platform, it is obvious that it is a wholly inadequate response. The military defense policy to be offered by the LP for the United States is a complicated exercise even given the philosophical simplicity of the Libertarian defense posture. For that reason, the necessity of a much more direct approach is absolutely implied, while leaving aside for the moment the final implementation details. That should come appropriately from any properly enunciated policy.
The National Platform in its current state is rooted in individualistic, anti-war thinking from the 60s and 70s not in actual comprehensive national defense requirements. The current platform deals primarily with the immediate necessity of continuing to contain the nuclear beast. This writer completely agrees with that as a starting place for shaping the force structure of the US. For at least the next five decades a continually modified deterrence posture needs to be maintained as nuclear force reductions are achieved, evidenced by the current fait accompli and tacit acceptance of abandonment of the 1972 ABM treaty by the principals.
However, the attention being paid to any "missile shield" is misplaced and ill-advised for the near term future, even from the testing standpoint. Standard deterrence and the disproportionate nuclear response capability of the US will work as a clear check valve on "rogue" or nominally hostile nation-states well into the foreseeable future. Nuclear national security efforts, with regard to nation-states, need to focus on non-proliferation and close intelligence monitoring of nuclear-capable nations that could be our present or future adversaries. There is no room for "blanket," one-size-fits-all policies here. State and Defense offices must work closely together in conjunction with National Technical Means from all associated agencies to focus on keeping close track of adversaries, without active interference, unless an actual National Security Finding can establish direct and immediate threat.
Other than Russia and a couple others in the original Commonwealth of States that broke up out of the Soviet Union, there is no adversarial nation-state that presents a credible proportionate threat to the US in the nuclear arena. China, in its best week, might be able to launch a couple more than a "bakers dozen" missiles capable of reaching US soil. Those warheads delivered could do devastating damage to a equal number of targets in North America. However, China's leadership retains knowledge that easily more than a hundred will land on their soil in response.
North Korea couldn't get a nuclear payload to the US with even one nuclear missile. Chemical or biologic payloads are even more problematic for them, even if the missile actually flies that far. Their exceedingly poor national economy will be incapable of funding 10 missiles for another decade, if then.
What about Iraq? There isn't enough of Iraq's infrastructure left to worry much about and the rest of that may soon disappear after we finish in Afghanistan. They have no delivery capability much beyond their own borders and that’s iffy. Who else is out there? The Indians and Pakistanis? They care a lot more about taking each other out. With any capability they build, intercontinental range is not even in their thinking. Anyone else? Why waste 40 or 50 billion that can be used so much better to meet more real and immediate threats?
Beyond that, US defense policy of any philosophy has to deal with a raft of conventional and non-conventional threats. Conventional threats can be dealt with on a proportionate and actual threat assessment basis. Non-conventional and Asymmetric threats have to be dealt with on a very flexible and evolving basis to stay current with changes in hostile actions against the US. However, regional defensive requirements of the countries involved have to be understood much better than currently apparent in State and Defense policy. Conventional threat response needs to be scaled down dramatically where we maintain the ability to respond with more than twice the immediate force of our adversaries in any particular region, especially if those areas of conflict present no clear and present danger to US geographic territory or truly vital interest.
Particularly with the advent of the C17 and associated, large-scale integrated logistics, airborne surveillance and control, and naval projections of power, the US needs to concentrate much more on quick, highly adaptable off-shore response capability. It is in our long-range, compelling interest to reduce our reliance on foreign soil-based US defenses to the maximum extent. Expenditures saved from foreign soil bases can first be directly applied to insure appropriate projections of power where and when necessary via offshore capability.
It is clear that some immediate management of the overall non-conventional and asymmetric threats can be obtained by beginning to remove US presence from some of the 142 nations where it currently exists both overtly and covertly. This is a strategic move. Currently there are too many targets of opportunity granted to the enemies of the Republic where there is no consequent benefit to the US for the risk involved with our presence. In fact, the opportunities those military and diplomatic/intelligence bases continue to give our opponents to draw us into regional or localized conflicts remains very high. Beirut and east Africa should come to mind here. Saudi Arabia and all other land based mid-east presence should be next in our thinking. It is apparent that central Asia is going to be the next focus of the energy security issue anyway.
To the nay-sayers of this type of "pullback," their position is nonsense. In order to manage the actual central threats to the long term survivability and integrity of our Republic, we cannot corrupt the management of our security with the "confusing data" generated against decision-making with US presence and vulnerability in too many regions and countries of the world. Part of the existing problem with US defense posture is the inability to explain it clearly to the American public that pays for it. How could they? It is not defensible.
However, one trap must be avoided. That is, perceiving the need of realigning our defense structure along purely proportional economic criteria. There is yet no evidence that can be offered by any Libertarian policy study or research that says a final Libertarian defense infrastructure will cost less than the current one. Comprehensive requirements of a workable Defense structure have not been articulated by the LP or any of its think tanks. Until those requirements are fully articulated and priced, there can be no assumption of reduced defense expenditures. Further, until those exercises are completed, no attempt to develop any ‘market-based’ solutions can be contemplated. It will simply not be known until then which defense functions must remain with government and which, if any, can be privatized.
Future Libertarian policy makers should not handicap themselves by cutting budgets before defining all the requirements and "re-pricing" the new defense structure to be provided. It should also not be forgotten that expense efficiencies in most corporate structures come after a structure is in place and begins "live" testing. There is no libertarian budget limit to national defense, unless one believes that national defense itself is illegitimate. If so, that position needs to be articulated in conjunction with this framework and justified. If not justified, it should be rejected.
In addition, any draw-down of forces worldwide must be accomplished, in conjunction with their replacement, by a true and credible US-centric defense policy that leaves no dangerous "vacuums." Leaving complete power vacuums around the globe could quickly draw our nation back into wars of actual defense. Likewise, withdrawal of forces must not be blind to resource and economic infrastructure needs of our nation in order to function. Like it or not, Libertarian defense policy has to exist in the realist world of economic empire created by the globalist/military/industrialist structure of the last few decades. We cannot swerve to miss one iceberg on the starboard side of the ship of state without being aware of the iceberg to port. Libertarians are very good at this kind of narrow vision, to our detriment. Only after a consistent and proven LP defense policy is in place and working can a real restructuring of the current global model of US economic empire be approached. Corporations will have to learn to take on the full risk/reward of their commerce in foreign countries without resort to US defense of their corporate interest. Protection of trade routes is one thing, protection of corporate assets within another sovereign nation, by ones military force, quite another.
The difference in an LP defense policy should be in its efficiency and efficacy in supplying a lasting and true defensive posture to present the world, something not presented for 50 years by the ruling Reps/Dems. Some of which is understandable. The outcome of WWII left too many inviting vacuums for the US to flow into and created too many enormous engineering tasks to defeat perceived and real threats from the expanse of world communism. These two coincidental problems made it easy for our leadership to divert from concentrating on the discipline of continuing the improvement of our own Republic, and the maintenance of freedom and liberty, even within our own borders. In fact, that diversion has become the fundamental problem in the myopia that lead to the events of 9/11.
Hopefully, the eyeshades will be off for awhile and the people are ready to entertain much more creative solutions than have been proposed for several decades. However, it will require a much larger effort by Libertarian thinkers than in the past. Libertarians as yet have no realistic and credible proposals to offer for comprehensive national defense using strictly Libertarian views of defense and warfare.
In concert with this, there can be no question that our Allies with means need to apply more of those means to their own defense, both in conventional and non-conventional areas. For those that would protest, a simple quid pro quo can be stated. If they wish to remain directly in the US defense sphere, than they must present and pass, through their legislative body or head of government, a proposal to Petition for Territorial Status with Intent to Seek Statehood in the United States. The Petition for Territorial Status must present the complete plan for submission to Organization for Statehood and a specific timetable. Continuity of US presence in that country will be directly aligned with the submitted plan.
The statehood option needs to be discussed in much greater detail and the implications to comprehensive defense structures and postures better understood. There has been a tendency to assume, for several decades, that we are no longer adding states to the United States. The final addition of Hawaii and Alaska was based on WWII and cold war thinking. Based on what criteria has the United States adopted this posture as permanent policy? Why are we not promoting the entrance of additional states into the Union wherever freedom-loving people wish to join? That would seem to greatly simplify our current baseless global adventurism and foreign policy. It even has a much more legitimate ring to it. This writer does not believe that most of the founder's (and those responsible for subsequent maintenance of the Republic) vision was truncated in that fashion. If the basic creed of "all men are created equal...." carries objective substance, than free people everywhere should be able to join our system voluntarily and on an ongoing basis. That is, once the same criteria are met as that required of all existing states in organization and with the recognition of the supremacy of Constitutional law.
One last piece of food for thought. It is in the interests of the LP for a newly articulated National Security and Defense Policy to loudly declare how the disconnect between our smoke and mirrors national security, invoked by such artifice as the USA PATRIOT Act, and our real national defense have occurred on the watch of the Reps/Dems. Particularly how our current failures of national defense have allowed the Congress and Administration to introduce methods of oppression rather than enhancements to our real security. The concept of “Rome burns while Nero (Reps/Dems) fiddles” has to leap out of this platform revision with four legs.
These are just a few areas that this writer believes a credible LP defense policy structure for addition to the platform needs to be addressed. Specific recommendations for Naval, Air and Land-based forces,weapon systems and types, C3I systems and internal security measures await. The framework above can continue to be broken down into levels of finer granularity, until the beginnings of implementation details can fleshed out. The response to asymmetric threats alone, and their implications for internal security in conjunction with maintenance of fundamental freedoms, could occupy the committee for quite awhile.
The necessity of this discussion is long overdue as evidenced by the state of the Platform language. But it needs to move forward now. One of the reasons Libertarians are not perceived as credible is because the party has never articulated a real defense policy structure that abides by Libertarian philosophies. Libertarians have not been very thoughtful in this area. That must change.