10th May 2011
A much cheaper way to combat terrorism
Andrea Millen Rich has added up The Cost of Getting Bin Laden:
- a total of 4,452 American soldiers have been killed in action in Iraq
- a total of 1,566 U.S. troops killed in action in Afghanistan
- the direct taxpayer cost of both wars had eclipsed $1.1 trillion
- hundreds of billions have also been spent on homeland security and intelligence gathering efforts (the federal government revealed that it was spending more than $80 billion a year on intelligence gathering—more than twice the pre-9/11 amount. Tthe proposed budget for homeland security efforts in the coming fiscal year will top $71 billion)
- the government has trampled the First, Fourth, Fifth Sixth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments—all in the name of safeguarding our nation from itself.
- callous invasions of their privacy via intrusive pat-downs and obscene full-body scans at the country’s airports
Hans-Hermann Hoppe argued in The Myth of National Defense (ed. Hoppe, Von Mises Institute) that government monopoly over defence is ineffective and expensive. As illustration, even though US defence budgets are quite large, they have proved ineffective in protecting US interests. The US defence and policy machine keeps asking for more money but delivers ever less security. Hoppe believes that the World Trade towers attacks could have been prevented merely by allowing pilots carry a pistol costing $50. The $400 billion defence budget couldn’t prevent 9/11.
Hoppe's argument is interesting but, as I show in DOF, it doesn't lead to the conclusions he arrives at. However, there is something that a state (e.g. USA) can do at a low cost to dramatically increased security – through persuasion and winning people's minds.
Thus, the other day (4 May 2010) I wrote on Facebook that "They are often extremely naive and even stupid, these Americans. I also think their doctrine of national self-interest has been a BAD doctrine. The national self-interest is best served in the longer term through supporting GOOD, not evil. Each time they support a dictator, they harm America in the long run."
This holds good for the British as well. When they supported Jinnah's demand for partition on religous grounds, they mixed religion and politics, went against their own liberal tradition, and created the monster of Pakistan that is now almost uncontrollable, and has become the hub centre for terrorism across the entire world.
For years I've been advocating abolition of foreign aid and its replacement with EQUAL AND HONEST relationships across all nations. That means looking at long-term self-interest, not just the short-term. This means focusing on (a) promotion of liberty and good governance across the world, and (b) calling a spade a spade (e.g. not supporting dictators). It also means NEVER giving charity unless there is desperate need.
- Aid strengthens totalitarian dictators and increases genocides and global terrorism.
- Genuine well-wishers of the poor should therefore stop all charitable work and become equal partners and friends of the poor. They can, as part of this role, teach poor nations about freedom and good governance. Taking this approach is not only ethical, cheaper, and far more effective, it will also ultimately protect the West from terrorism.
- it is crucial that Western nations do not directly teach poorer nations; for that could be interpreted as racist arrogance. Freedom must be promoted through poor nations’ own nationals.
There is no doubt in my mind that many effective and cheap methods exist to promote freedom and good governance. They will work invariably better than hard, brutal actions that the West often undertakes without thinking through the long term consequences. If nothing else, these cheaper (but slower) approaches should be part of a mix of strategies. [Note, I'm not against hard brutal actions in principle. They may have a place as well, but should not be seen to be the primary method of engagement]
Currently the fist rules, the handshake is missing. There is no genuine goodwill. That can't work.