Monday, November 10, 2008

The War on Terrorism

The so-called “War on Terrorism,” raises serious problems for the Non-Aggression Axiom. The most obvious is that the concept of “terrorism” connotes specific war strategies (e.g. suicide bombing) that many nations regard as immoral. Secondly, most acts of “terrorism” are executed by individuals and small groups (terrorist cells) and are not directly state-sponsored. These terrorist are usually members of decentralized, loosely- knit, (often) religious organizations that seek to upend established governments. Although many of these organizations are international they do not have “international leaders” that are comparable to presidents, prime ministers etc. As far as we know, Bin Laden encourages terrorist activity, finances a lot of it, and might even suggest targets. But he probably exercises very little control over his followers. As we fight the war on terrorism we mistakenly believe that if we kill or capture Bin Laden, the “War on Terrorism” will end and that his followers will surrender and sign a peace treaty. That’s the way wars between centralized nation states usually end, but not the way wars with decentralized groups will end. Many scholars, therefore, argue that a more effective strategy for fighting the “War on Terror” would be to approach it as a “War of Words,” an ideological struggle for the hearts and minds of future terrorists. That will entail spending much more on “words” than “weapons.” One way to control terrorism is to eliminate its main targets: free-standing nation states. Many of us peacenik libertarians look forward to a distant future where nation states are replaced by a single, international minimal government that focuses its energies on enforcing the non-aggression axiom, contracts, open markets, and borders. Can you imagine: a world without nation states: a Middle East without borders, a Europe without borders, an America without borders? Imagine a world where corporations compete without collusion, subsidies, tariff protection, or favorable tax status? Can you imagine a world order where we all rely on free markets to fulfill our wants and needs? Can you imagine a world where acts of terrorism are universally condemned and national armies are replaced by one single police force?

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