Foreign Policy

In General

Farewell Address
September 19, 1796
by George Washington
"One of Washington’s greatest speeches in which he graciously retires from office, warns about the dangers of "overgrown Military establishments" and permanent foreign alliances, and urges extending commercial relations with foreign nations whilst avoiding political connections."

Foreign Policy
by Dr. Mary Ruwart
The good doctor answers tough questions about the foreign policy of a free country.

Foreign Policy and the Non-Aggression Principle: Conceptual Versus Perceptual Non-Aggression
by E. G. Ross

Foreign Relations for a Free Nation
by Richard O. Hammer
Thoughts on ambassadors, immigration policy, and a decentralized military defense for a free nation.

International Relations for a Free Nation
by Phil Jacobson
A "free nation" might have nationalities but no nation-state. International relations would then include relations among the nationalities within the free nation as well as external relations.

Liberal Foreign Policy
by Ludwig von Mises
"For the liberal, there is no opposition between domestic policy and foreign policy, and the question so often raised and exhaustively discussed, whether considerations of foreign policy take precedence over those of domestic policy or vice versa, is, in his eyes, an idle one. For liberalism is, from the very outset, a world-embracing political concept, and the same ideas that it seeks to realize within a limited area it holds to be valid also for the larger sphere of world politics. If the liberal makes a distinction between domestic and foreign policy, he does so solely for purposes of convenience and classification, to subdivide the vast domain of political problems into major types, and not because he is of the opinion that different principles are valid for each."

Libertarian Foreign Policy in the Hobbesian Crosshairs: A Reply to Bret Stephens
January 18, 2008
by Robert Higgs
"This is the true lesson of our history: war, preparation for war, and foreign military interventions have served for the most part not to protect us, as we are constantly told, but rather to sap our economic vitality and undermine our civil and economic liberties."

Notes on Foreign Relations Concerns in a Hypothetical Entrepreneurial (Landlease) Community
by Michael van Notten and Spencer Heath MacCallum
Foreign policy considerations for a mixed use, multiple tenant, income property operated as a long-term, managed investment.

A Paper Tiger for a Free Nation
by Roy Halliday
A proposal for a pseudo-government to act as the face of a free nation to the outside world.

The Role of Non-Government Actors in Shaping the Foreign Policy in a "Free Nation"
by Gordon Neal Diem
The media, businesses, financial institutions, philanthropic organizations, the clergy, the traveling public, and individual citizens all help to shape the foreign policy of a free nation.

U.S. Foreign Policy: Question All Assumptions
by Ivan Eland
"The USG’s propaganda machine excessively demonizes the motives of anyone or any country that takes actions the United States does not like and asserts that U.S. motives are only idealistic and pristine. No one in the Islamic world—or in the entire world, for that matter—believes the latter. The USG’s propagandistic “hoo-ha” is really meant for the American public, the only party that has been bamboozled into believing it."

What’s Wrong With Our Foreign Policy and What the Libertarian Party Can Do About It
by Karen Kwiatkowski
"For the LP to be useful and even powerful in shaping the future of freedom and peace in this country, it needs to stop looking to be a part of the upper crust, because that crust is going to crumble and sink, and in our lifetimes. Instead, we ought to do what we do best and that is to articulate the principles of freedom in a way that is relevant and understandable to the majority. That requires a long-term focus, a willingness to be true to the hard core principles of liberty and maintaining a dedication to the understanding that the state is always – always – anti-liberty, even if it is small, gathers less taxes, and allows us 'more freedom.'"

Where the Left Goes Wrong on Foreign Policy
by Murray N. Rothbard
Originally published in Inquiry, July 1982.
"Fortunately, there is little remaining of the old left’s adulation of Stalin, and it is difficult for anyone, even Russians, to get particularly excited about Brezhnev or whoever his stolid successor may be. But romantic revolutionaries like Castro and Ho Chi Minh are another story altogether, and, despite the salutary criticisms of Cuba by Ronald Radosh, we have seen numerous apologias by the left of the Castro regime, by Barnet and others of the Vietnamese regime, and, in earlier years, by Gareth Porter (an ex-IPSer) of the odious Pol Pot regime in Cambodia."

Whose Foreign Policy?
by Dmitry Chernikov
"Freedom means: let the common man decide for himself how he should act with respect to the French, the Iraqis, and the Japanese. What we need to do is destroy the government's ability to decide for all of us what our attitudes and relations with non-'Americans' should be. In other words, there should be no such thing as US 'foreign policy.'"

Economic Sanctions

The Disastrous Embargo on Cuba
April 14, 2009
by Doug Bandow
"It is time for policymakers to ask the simple question: If 50 years of embargo have not worked, why do they expect another decade or two or three of sanctions to work?"

Economic Warfare and Private Property Rights: Recent Episodes and Their Constitutionality
by Robert Higgs and Charlotte Twight
"While misguided economic warfare may be preferable to violent warfare, a third option—the alternative of peaceful dealings between American citizens and the rest of the world—should not be forgotten. For ordinary people, as opposed to their rulers, war is seldom the best course of action. Economic warfare has generally failed to serve the national interest. Nothing of genuine public importance has been gained; bad legal and political precedents have become established; a little more liberty has been lost."

The Evil of Sanctions
by Brian Cloughley
"When strong governments wish to impose their will on weaker regimes, they often resort to sanctions. The effects have included the death or debilitation of millions of innocent people."

The Evil of Sanctions
October 2, 2009
by Jacob Hornberger
"The sanctions, in combination with the Pentagon’s intentional destruction of Iraq’s water-and-sewage treatment facilities during the Persian Gulf War, brought massive death to the Iraqi people from infectious illnesses and diseases, especially among the children of the country."

Foreign Investment

Foreign Investment
April 1980
by Ludwig von Mises
"Capitalists have the tendency to move towards those countries in which there is plenty of labor available and in which labor is reasonable. And by the fact that they bring capital into these countries, they bring about a trend toward higher wage rates."

Should We Stop Selling Real Estate to Foreigners?
August 1989
by C. Brandon Crocker
"There is no basis for the fear that foreign real estate holdings threaten our sovereignty. And given that we have a free market in real estate, the charge that foreign purchases harm us economically also has no basis. We cannot be harmed if we freely exchange one asset for another which we view as having a better risk-adjusted rate of return. This simple fact of economics-that deals take place in a free market only when all parties involved believe them to be beneficial—applies to real estate just as it applies to all other assets."


America is becoming an imperial power Like it or not.
November 23, 2003
by John Keegan
"Forcibly, America is becoming an imperial if not an imperialist country. The attitude was exemplified by an encounter I had with a tall, lean, crew-cut young man I met in Washington. Our conversation went as follows: "Marine?" I asked. "Yes," he answered. "Have you been in Iraq?" "Afghanistan. Just got back." The exchange was straight out of Kipling. There is a lot more of that to come."

Can U.S. Foreign Policy Be Fixed?
January 4, 2011
by Laurence M. Vance
"It is time for the world’s policeman, fireman, security guard, social worker, and busybody to announce its retirement."

An Enlightened Foreign Policy
by R. J. Rummel
Chapter 8 of The Miracle That Is Freedom. He argues that American foreign policy should promote democracy.

Essays on American Empire
by Michael S. Rozeff
"The essays in this volume focus on the international decisions of the American empire, which attempt to extend the power and influence of the empire outside America. They focus on American foreign policies, the Middle East, and the alternatives of neutrality and defense. They explain some aspects of the American empire, examine its actions, question its rationales, dispute its benefits, point out its costs, and condemn its evils."

Liberalism and Colonialism
by Arthur Shenfield

Private-Property Strategy: What Iraq needs now.
September 18, 2003
by Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. & Lee Hoskins
"If the White House loses the peace, it will be for reasons wholly unrelated to the current political fracas over the reasons for America's invasion. The administration appears committed to maintaining a Leninist-style economic model for the Iraqi economy. Such a course will ensure the failure of Bush's Iraq policy."

Why We Must Stay in Iraq (or Not)
March 30, 2005
by Harry Browne
"Let me see if I have this right. Hundreds - if not thousands - more Americans will have to die, thousands more Iraqis will have to die, and we at home will have to cough up hundreds of billions of dollars more out of our pockets because a thoughtless, insensitive President decided to invade a foreign country without having the good sense to personally check the evidence justifying the invasion."


12 Reasons to leave the United Nations
June 15, 2003
by William F. Jasper
"1. The UN's basic philosophy is both anti-American and pro-totalitarian."

An Anti-Interventionist Looks at China
January 24, 2011
by John V. Walsh
"The U.S. must either content itself to be eclipsed by China in the economic and therefore military sphere if indeed China continues to be successful in developing – or prevent China from rising to the standard of living in Europe and the U.S. That is the meaning of the policy of “containing China.” Sadly, this policy also forecloses a win-win outcome whereby China, the U.S., and the entire globe prosper."

The Anti-interventionist Tradition: Leadership and Perceptions
by Justus D. Doenecke
"This essay concentrates upon those isolationists who feared that international commitments would end the American economic system as they knew it. War, so they believed, would inevitably bring into its wake a prohibitive national debt, massive labor monopolies, conscription of manpower and wealth, runaway inflation, unworkable price and wage controls—in short, a militarized society and a corporatist state. Not only would free enterprise, as such isolationists defined it, be destroyed beyond repair. The social order itself would break down."

Are We Isolationists? Yes and No
by Frank Chodorov
"One flaw in the America First program was a tendency toward protectionism; the anti-involvement became identified with "Buy American" slogans and with high tariffs — that is, with economic, rather than political, isolationism."

Beware putting all eggs in EU basket
June 12, 2003
by John Redwood
"The likely decline in the relative size of the EU economy, the shrinking of its importance in world trade, and the enthusiasm for high taxes should make us wary of hitching all our wagons to the EU. The US and Asia are the probable winners over the years ahead. While Mr Brown concentrates on whether there are enough similarities between the UK and euroland in the short term, we should remember these larger differences. The trends tell us to keep our options open, and to be friends with Asia and the US as they surge ahead."

Common Fallacies About Anti-Interventionism
Refuting the misconceptions

February 22, 2012
by Justin Raimondo
"The fallacies about anti-interventionism are legion, and refuting them all in a single column is just not possible, try as I might. Among the more absurd: anti-interventionists are “pacifists” (refuted by the above), “unpatriotic” (supporters of the Founders’ foreign policy are the real patriots), and heartless realists (although the interventionists’ heedlessness when it comes to the casualties of war is left unmentioned). These are all canards that have been refuted many times over, and yet they keep popping up whenever the War Party is on the march."

Entangling Alliances: For and Against
by Roderick T. Long
How should a free nation interact with foreign governments?

A Few Words on Non-Intervention
by John Stuart Mill

For a New Isolationism
by Murray N. Rothbard
"… I thought you might be interested in the enclosed article, ‘For a New Isolationism,’ which was, predictably, turned down by Bill Buckley. (Bill loftily though in friendly fashion declared that I should have refuted Burnham, W. H. Chamberlin, and Janeway; I think I did anyway, but even if I had specifically dealt with them, it is clear Bill would not have published it.) In this article, I don’t at all deal with the moral-libertarian reasons for pure isolationism such as I had treated in the 1954 Faith and Freedom symposium, but solely on the grounds of ‘national interest’ [thereby meeting] the Right-wingers on their own terms, with their own weapons."

by Frank Chodorov
"'Foreign policy' is the euphemism which covers up this inclination toward interventionism. About the only foreign policy consistent with the natural isolationism of a people would be one designed to prevent interference of a foreign power in the internal affairs of the country; that is, protection from invasion."

New Countries and the Case for Keeping One's Cards Close to One's Chest
by Spencer Heath MacCallum
A new free nation should keep a low profile.

Noninterventionism: Cornerstone of a Free Society
April 2, 2011
by Anthony Gregory
"A free society is impossible under an empire. Even the most just war you can imagine is a disaster for liberty and prosperity, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out. An unjust war amounts to murder, mayhem, and mass destruction. And a perpetual state of war guarantees that liberty will never be achieved."

Ostrich America?
by Chase Madar
"Of all the received ideas that clog America's foreign-policy discourse, none is more at variance with reality than the threat of so-called isolationism. We have never been more engaged with every corner of the world, yet we have never been lectured more often about the consequences of 'retreating within our borders.' The more countries we attack -- Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen -- the more dire warnings we get about national introversion. The specter of isolationism has never looked healthier."

The Real Aggressor
by Murray N. Rothbard
"If some Americans wish to liberate the people of China or Poland, let them raise a private expeditionary force and private finances to go over and attempt liberation – but let them not try to commit the United States, and as a result, myself, to any such scheme. For a second wrong simply will not make a right; we should not add to oppression at home in a hope to effect some sort of "liberation" elsewhere."

So-Called Isolationists Are the True Internationalists
March 11, 2009
by Doug Bandow
"Americans should be involved in the world. But they should reclaim America's tradition of nonintervention. Peace and prosperity should be Washington's goal. Promoting them represents genuine internationalism."

U.S. can sit back watch Europe implode
March 6, 2005
by Mark Steyn
"Europe's problems - its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed - are all of Europe's making. By some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025. Already, more people each week attend Friday prayers at British mosques than Sunday service at Christian churches - and in a country where Anglican bishops have permanent seats in the national legislature."

National Liberation

All Hail the Liberators
April 15, 2003
by Harry Browne
"But as we keep chipping away -- pointing out the inconsistencies, the ignorance of history, the hypocrisy, the lies, the dangers, the consequences -- we make steady progress. Someday soon someone with a chance to be President may have the courage to speak out against all the follies of American foreign policy. Someday soon Americans may grow tired of being the world's policemen."

Ignoring Reality in Iraq
December 19, 2004
by Ron Paul, MD
"The reality is that current-day Iraq contains three distinct groups of people who have been at odds with each other for generations. Pundits and politicians tell us that a civil war will erupt if the US military departs. Yet our insistence that Iraq remain one indivisible nation actually creates the conditions for civil war. Instead of an artificial, forced, nationalist unity between the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds, we should allow each group to seek self-government and choose voluntarily whether they wish to associate with a central government. We cannot impose democracy in Iraq any more than we can erase hundreds of years of Iraqi history."

Liberate America First
April 21, 2003
by James Ostrowski
"Freedom is a very simple concept. It means doing what you wish with what is yours. It takes years of post-graduate study under PhD’s to unlearn what freedom means. Freedom means that when you wake up in the morning, your life, liberty and property are yours to do with them what you will. Of course, that means that no one else’s life, liberty, or property is yours. That’s freedom. It’s real simple. It’s also a state of being I have never experienced. And I have no reason to believe that any Iraqi under American rule will ever experience it either."

The Real Aggressor
by Murray N. Rothbard
"If some Americans wish to liberate the people of China or Poland, let them raise a private expeditionary force and private finances to go over and attempt liberation – but let them not try to commit the United States, and as a result, myself, to any such scheme. For a second wrong simply will not make a right; we should not add to oppression at home in a hope to effect some sort of "liberation" elsewhere."

The Right of Self-Determination
by Ludwig von Mises
"The right of self-determination in regard to the question of membership in a state thus means: whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with. This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars."

War and Peace

Absolute Political Ethics
by Herbert Spencer
"When originally indicating the contrast, I spoke of "absolute political ethics, or that which ought to be, as distinguished from relative political ethics, or that which is at present the nearest practicable approach to it;" and had any attention been paid to this distinction, no controversy need have arisen. Here I have to add that the qualifications which relative political ethics sets forth vary with the type of the society, which is primarily determined by the extent to which defence against other societies is needful. Where international enmity is great and the social organization has to be adapted to warlike activities, the coercion of individuals by the State is such as almost to destroy their freedom of action and make them slaves of the State; and where this results from the necessities of defensive war (not offensive war, however), relative political ethics furnishes a warrant. Conversely, as militancy decreases, there is a diminished need both for that subordination of individuals which is necessitated by consolidating them into a fighting machine, and for that further subordination entailed by supplying this fighting machine with the necessaries of life; and as fast as this change goes on, the warrant for State-coercion which relative political ethics furnishes becomes less and less."

An Antiwar Credo
February 15, 2010
by Justin Raimondo
"As libertarians, we oppose the expansion and expression of State power in all its manifestations, but particularly when it comes to war. This is the ultimate expression of statism – that is, State worship – and one’s attitude toward it is decisive."

Anti-War Propaganda
More articles are linked to here in the Memory Hole.

Are Pro-War Libertarians Right?
May 25, 2003
by Robert Higgs
"In response, I would emphasize at the outset that it is wrong to take actions that kill and maim innocent people. Period. It's just wrong, whether one's ideological outlook be libertarian or anything else half civilized. The best face one might put on taking such actions is that by committing these wrongs even greater wrongs will be prevented. In the present case, making such a judgment with anything approaching well-grounded assurance calls for powers that none of us possesses."

Are Questions of War and Peace Merely One Issue Among Many for Libertarians?
by Robert Higgs
"Although I generally eschew quarrels with fellow libertarians over doctrinal matters – my crucial dispute is with the government, not with other libertarians – I draw the line at the question of war and peace. In my judgment this issue is fundamental; it well-nigh defines a genuine libertarian ideology. Professed libertarians who support an aggressive warfare state are, in effect, giving up the ship. They are making the same mistake that has long condemned conservatives to serving as de facto buttresses of Leviathan, no matter how much they might complain about high taxes and excessive regulation."

The Blinding Fog of War
June 1, 2009
by Roger Young
"I have no problem with people taking a day to remember family and friends slaughtered by the beast of war. What bothers me is the patriotic adornment, state glorification and celebration that accompanies a day better spent in quiet reflection, grieving and repentance."

Bombs fall on the evil and the innocent
March 22, 2011
by R Lee Wrights
"It is time for all Americans to stop making excuses for war, or justifying it with supposed good intentions. War is much easier to stop before it starts than after it has already begun. Is it not preferable to have a country filled with prosperous patriots, than to fill our cemeteries with dead heroes? Please join me in calling for real change in American - an end to all war, and bringing the troops home."

Books on War
by David Gordon
"The list is not confined to books that adopt a libertarian viewpoint. I have included historical works that question particular wars and various works of theology, philosophy, and political science as well."

Can a Principled Libertarian Go to War?
July 6, 2011
by Wendy McElroy
"How many bystanders am I justified in murdering in order to eliminate someone trying to kill me? If I abandon the principle of not harming innocents, what standard should I use to calculate how many innocent people I may murder in the process of protecting myself? As few as necessary? What if that number comes to 20, 1,000, 10,000? What if I know the assassin is in a particular movie theater — can I blow it up to ensure my safety? And if not, why not? Once I abandon the principle of not harming innocents, we are talking about math and utility, not ethics."

Can the Free Market Wage War?
August 14, 2009
by David Gordon
"Mises's contention is that, given German power, interventionism and anticapitalism are paltry and insufficient responses. Only capitalism, not half-hearted socialism, can defeat a total state."

The Claims for Total War Revisited
December 2002
by Joseph Stromberg
"In any case, it does not at all follow—even if Total War brings with it such benefits as shortening the war and saving unspecified people’s lives—that it could ever be moral to use the means to which Total Warriors are addicted. They will naturally say that with mass conscription, complex industrial economies, and the rest, no one can be asked to make a strict distinction between combatants and noncombatants or between military and civil production. As one authority put it in the 1920s: “To require aviators to single out the one class of persons and things from the other and to confine their attacks ‘exclusively’ to one of them will in many cases amount to an absolute prohibition of all bombardment” [my italics].
Precisely!—And where’s the problem?"

The Conquest of the United States by Spain
by William Graham Sumner
"My patriotism is of the kind which is outraged by the notion that the United States never was a great nation until in a petty three months’ campaign it knocked to pieces a poor, decrepit, bankrupt old state like Spain. To hold such an opinion as that is to abandon all American standards, to put shame and scorn on all that our ancestors tried to build up here, and to go over to the standards of which Spain is a representative."

The Crime That Cannot Be Wiped Away
by Laurence M. Vance
"The crime of unjustly killing another human being cannot be wiped away. No matter what his religion, skin color, ethnicity, or nationality. No matter who tells you to drop the bomb, launch the missile, throw the grenade, or pull the trigger. And no matter what kind of uniform you are wearing."

Democracy and War
by Ted Galen Carpenter
"In Power Kills: Democracy as a Method of Nonviolence, political scientist R.J. Rummel forcefully argues that democracies by nature are less warlike than non-democracies because they become adept at managing domestic conflict. Unfortunately, Rummel greatly overstates his case, ignoring numerous occasions when democracies have taken arms against each other and giving short shrift to “realist” strategic reasons for why they usually opt for peace."

Democracy and War: Rejoinder
by Ted Galen Carpenter
Rejoinder to Democracy and War: Reply.

Democracy and War: Reply
by R. J. Rummel
Reply to Democracy and War.

Democracies Are Less Warlike Than Other Regimes
by R. J. Rummel
"The degree to which a regime is democratic is inversely correlated with the severity of its wars, 1900-1987."

The Democratic Peace: A New Idea?
by R. J. Rummel
Political systems are quantitatively related to violence and war. Empirical research confirms that "those political systems that maximize and guarantee individual freedom (democracies) are least violent prone; those that maximize subordination of all individual behavior to state control (totalitarian systems) the most, whether socialist or not; and wars do not occur between democracies."

by R. J. Rummel
Empirical research supports the argument that democracy institutionalizes a means of nonviolent conflict resolution.

Democracy, Spontaneous Order and Peace: Implications for the Classical Liberal Critique of Democratic Politics
by Augustus diZerega
"The democratic peace hypothesis which states that democracies rarely or never go to war against one another and that democracies do not commit democide raises issues penetrating to the core of modern liberalism, classical and otherwise. If democracies are unique from other forms of government, as claims for their peacefulness towards citizens and one another suggest, then possibly the classical liberal and libertarian critique of democratic government needs re-examination. By separating liberal democracy from undemocratic states, the democratic peace hypothesis separates the classical liberal and libertarian critique of the state from a straight forward application to liberal democracy. The work of F. A. Hayek and Michael Polanyi holds the key to understanding the democratic peace, and thereby leads to rethinking the classical liberal and libertarian critique of politics. To jump ahead, democracies are spontaneous orders in Hayek's sense of the term. Consequently democracies are not states in the usual sense, and often do not act like them."

Dispatch the War Department
by Becky Akers
"Questioning the military's necessity puts us in good company, specifically that of the Founders. Many of them vehemently opposed a "standing" army (i.e. one that is professionally, permanently established and remains intact rather than disbanding after beating off an attack. That definition encompasses cops as well: the Founders would never have drawn the artificial distinction we do between a force that fights overseas and one that wars on its own citizens. Indeed, the Redcoats patrolling Boston in the 1760's and ’70's fulfilled the functions of modern police)."

The Economics Of War
November 1955
by Ludwig von Mises
"There is perfect agreement with regard to the fact that total war is an offshoot of aggressive nationalism. But this is merely circular reasoning. We call aggressive nationalism that ideology which makes for modern total war. Aggressive nationalism is the necessary derivative of the policies of intervention and national planning. While laissez faire eliminates the causes of international conflict, socialism and government interference with business create conflicts for which no peaceful solution can be found. While under free trade and freedom of migration no individual is concerned about the territorial size of his country, under the protective measures of economic nationalism nearly every citizen has a substantial interest in these territorial issues. The enlargement of the territory subject to the sovereignty of his own government means material improvement for him or at least relief from restrictions which a foreign government has imposed upon his well-being. What has transformed the limited war between royal armies into total war, the clash between peoples, is not technicalities of military art, but the substitution of the welfare state for the laissez-faire state."

The Effects of War on Liberty
by Anthony Gregory
"It is a wonder, then, that many who favor liberty, spontaneous order, voluntary human action, free trade and markets, and as little government as humanly and practically possible, do not see the full force of both the ethical and practical arguments against an interventionist foreign policy. In war, many friends of liberty have been tempted into siding with big government, with central planning, and with collectivist, rather than individualist, ethics. This exception to libertarian theory and ethics in the realm of foreign policy is a peculiar blind spot, and one that unfortunately has serious and negative implications for our work for liberty, since the warfare state has most likely been the biggest, most dangerous, most expansive and most disastrous government enterprise in modern American history."

The Enthusiastic Warbride
by Bill Buppert
"Whatever you learned in the government schools and university, on the History Channel and the ninety plus years of Hollywood celebrations of American war on the world . . . you have been lied to. War is the health and the wealth of the state."

Erasmus on War
by Desiderius Erasmus
"There is nothing more unnaturally wicked, more productive of misery, more extensively destructive, more obstinate in mischief, more unworthy of man, as formed by nature, much more of man professing Christianity. Yet, wonderful to relate! war is undertaken, and cruelly, savagely conducted, not only by unbelievers, but by Christians."

The Ethics of War: Hiroshima and Nagasaki After 50 Years
September 1995
by Gregory P. Pavlik
"Oddly enough, many apologists are conservatives, who should be the first to recognize that the essence of government is its monopoly on violence. This is a paramount consideration in their analysis of the role of the government in domestic affairs. Consistency demands that conservatives begin to apply their principles across the board—to foreign policy as well as domestic policy. The alternative is the road we now travel, and it leads to total war and the total state."

The Fallacy of Preemptive Violence
July 8, 2009
by Daniel Lakemacher
"Every day that I remain in the military against my will, my situation serves to dispel the myth that the American military today is an "all volunteer force." I do not report for duty by choice; I do so under the threat of imprisonment."

Fool Me Once . . .
May 2, 2005
by Harry Browne
"There probably never will be an authoritative body count. But we do know that it's at least in the tens of thousands of Iraqis - including thousands and thousands of civilians.
Who are we to condemn those people to death - just to fulfill the fantasy of an American President who knows virtually nothing about Iraq, its people, its culture, or its history?
And when did it become the business of the U.S. government to decide which foreign countries should have their governments violently deposed?"

Free Enterprise and War, a Dangerous Liaison
by Robert Higgs
"For conservatives who now claim to support both free enterprise and a U.S. war of conquest against Iraq, the lesson ought to be plain: they cannot foster free enterprise and support war—the greatest of all socialistic undertakings—at the same time. Unfortunately, it appears that once again they are willing to sacrifice free enterprise on the altar of Mars."

The Futility of War
by Ludwig von Mises
"What distinguishes man from animals is the insight into the advantages that can be derived from cooperation under the division of labor. Man curbs his innate instinct of aggression in order to cooperate with other human beings. The more he wants to improve his material well-being, the more he must expand the system of the division of labor. Concomitantly he must more and more restrict the sphere in which he resorts to military action. The emergence of the international division of labor requires the total abolition of war. Such is the essence of the laissez-faire philosophy of Manchester."

Given these requirements, a libertarian just war is virtually unimaginable.
by Wendy McElroy
"Does libertarianism include a theory by which a war such as the American Revolution can be viewed as fundamentally just, albeit with some unfortunate, but non-essential aspects? If so, what would be the requirements of a libertarian just war?"

The Humanitarian War Fallacy
March 2, 2010
by Predrag Rajsic
"Those who want to wage "humanitarian" wars need to first persuade us that they know the future. Then they need to persuade us that they know the objective value of individual humans' sufferings and deaths. Finally, they need to persuade us that some people's lives are less valuable than others."

Just War
by Murray N. Rothbard
"My own view of war can be put simply: a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them."

Just War? Moral Soldiers?
by Laurie Calhoun
"If tyrants and liberators alike can rally their troops by invoking the theory of just war, can the theory be all that good? If a soldier’s primary duty is to follow orders, is he any less responsible for his conduct?"

Killing in War
by David Gordon
"Jeff McMahan has written a genuinely revolutionary book. He has uncovered a flaw in standard just-war theory."

Libertarianism and International Violence
by R. J. Rummel
Empirical evidence indicates that the most libertarian states have no violence between themselves. The more libertarian two states are, the less their mutual violence. The more libertarian a state is, the less its foreign violence.

Libertarian Just War Theory
by Wendy McElroy
"To conclude: a libertarian just war would have to be declared in response to an act of aggression that could not be remedied by a lesser level of defensive violence. It would have to be declared by a State to whom people had assigned their rights of self defense. And the war could be declared on behalf of those assignees alone. Dissenters would have to be left in peace to defend themselves, or not. The declaration of war would be against the enemy State, but not against the enemy civilian population. And, finally, the war would have to be conducted with strategies and weaponry that would not knowingly involve damaging or killing innocent parties.
Given these requirements, a libertarian just war is virtually unimaginable."

Libertarian Propositions on Violence within and between Nations: A Test Against Published Research Results
by R. J. Rummel
"This article subjects the following propositions to systematic tests against the quantitative literature: that violence does not occur between libertarian states; that the more libertarian two states are the less violence there is between them; and that the more libertarian a state is the less it will be involved in foreign and domestic violence."

Libertarians Must Never Warm to the Warfare State
August 1977
by Murray N. Rothbard
"In short, libertarians must realize that just as, for them, liberty must be the highest political end, in the same way, peace and the avoidance of mass murder must be the highest end of foreign policy."

A Libertarian Theory of War
by Murray N. Rothbard
"This article is excerpted from "War, Peace, and the State," originally published in the Standard (April 1963). The full essay is included in Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays and The Myth of National Defense: Essays on the Theory and History of Security Production (2003), edited by Hans-Hermann Hoppe — now available in ePub."

Libertarians who reject state warfare are utopian?
by Wendy McElroy
"A hawk who claims the State can properly command the resources of its own citizens to invade or attack the citizens of another State confronts a very high bar of proof. And it is important to understand that the burden of proof is upon the hawk and not upon critics; in other words, the burden falls upon the person who advocates a process that kills non-combatants and not upon those who fundamentally object to the death of innocent human beings."

The Myth of 'Just' War
by Andrew Young
"War is an enterprise that denies the sanctity of human life, produces acts of extreme violence from men who believe they are not responsible for their actions, asks us to trust people who, throughout history, have lied to us about war, and, even when undertaken with the best of intentions, only leads to more violence. I believe it is time for the world to conclude that “just war” is an oxymoron before it is too late."

Peace and Freedom: Rothbard on War and Foreign Policy
May 9, 2003
by Stephen W. Carson
"At a time when many people's support of or opposition to the current war seems to be based on whether they "trust the President," it's a good time to consider a systematic approach to war and foreign policy based on principles that don't change depending on whether "our guy" is in the White House.
Building on medieval Just War theory, the libertarian theory of the State and the republican ideals of the Founders, Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995) developed just such a systematic approach."

Peace on Earth
December 1, 1994
by Robert Higgs
"Opponents of global interventionism are often smeared as “isolationists” and “appeasers.” Better to call them wise students of history. If we place a premium on human liberty and an unhampered market economy, there is no greater policy priority than staying out of war."

The Real Aggressor
by Murray N. Rothbard
". . . there always arises the difficulty of spotting the "real aggressor" in any particular war. When both sides are armed camps, when there are many provocations, secret treaties, deals and frontier incidents, the question of unraveling the actual starter of war, let alone who is the more morally wrong, becomes a matter for the careful research of future historians."

The Rise of Statism
by Murray N. Rothbard
"Crisis and Leviathan is a blockbuster of a book, one of the most important of the last decade. It is that rare and wondrous combination: scholarly and hard-hitting, lucidly written and libertarian as well."

Rudolph Rummel Talks About The Miracle of Liberty and Peace
by Rudolph Rummel
"Concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth. During this century's wars, there were some 38 million battle deaths, but almost four times more people – at least 170 million - were killed by governments for ethnic, racial, tribal, religious, or political reasons. I call this phenomenon democide, and it means that authoritarian and totalitarian governments are more deadly than war."

The Rule of Law: Towards Eliminating War and Democide
by R. J. Rummel
We live in a utilitarian age in which the natural law argument for individual rights is incomprehensible to many people. Fortunately, we have enough data on the consequences of democratic versus authoritarian and totalitarian regimes to conclude that democratic regimes do a better job of preserving human life. We can exploit this fact to encourage utilitarians around the world to favor democracy and individual freedom.

Sorry Folks, War is Actually Not Good For the Economy
by Andrew Syrios
"Wars are enormously destructive and shift resources from human needs, to human destruction."

The State
by Randolph Bourne
"War is the health of the State."

They fight and die
But not for their country.

April 28, 2005
by Unknown
"When we hear that soldiers fight for our country, we immediately think of their role guarding our borders, protecting us from invaders. Yet the U.S. has only been invaded twice, when Great Britain attempted to bring us back into the colonial fold during the War of 1812 and in 1846, when Mexico launched a brief incursion across the disputed Rio Grande. During the ensuing 158 years, no member of the U.S. military has fought or died while repelling an invader. 9/11 demonstrated that the Pentagon doesn't consider a foreign incursion a major threat; that's why they assigned 12 "ground-based" Air National Guard jets to guard the the entire country."

To Make War, Presidents Lie
October 1, 2002
by Robert Higgs
"When American presidents prepare for foreign wars, they lie. Surveying our history, we see a clear pattern. Since the end of the nineteenth century, if not earlier, presidents have misled the public about their motives and their intentions in going to war. The enormous losses of life, property, and liberty that Americans have sustained in wars have occurred in large part because of the public's unwarranted trust in what their leaders told them before leading them into war."

To the Antiwar Left
by Max Raskin
"Opposition to war must go beyond current incompetence and mismanagement; it must cut to the fundamental heart of what war is. Leftists have seen the group of murdering thieves behind the current regime, so why not go one step further and recognize that by nature the State is this tool for evil and it doesn’t matter how benevolent our dictator happens to be. This is the lesson of libertarianism."

The True Cost of the War
September 3, 2010
by Paul Craig Roberts
"President Obama did not speak of the cost to Iraqis of being "liberated." The uncounted Iraqi deaths, estimates of which range from 100,000 to 1,000,000, most being women and children, were not mentioned. Neither were the uncounted orphaned and maimed children, the four million displaced Iraqis, the flight from Iraq of the professional middle class, the homes, infrastructure, villages and towns destroyed, along with whatever remained of America's reputation."

U.S. Presidents and Those Who Kill for Them
July 2, 2010
by Laurence M. Vance
"What kind of a man operates a Predator drone for the military? What kind of a man tortures for the CIA? What kind of a man kills for the president? What is it that makes them any different from Stalin’s hangmen?
Contrast the modern-day soldier who is willing to kill for U.S. presidents with Benjamin Salmon (1889–1932)."

September 1981
by Ludwig von Mises
"Our age is full of conflicts which generate war. However, these conflicts do not spring from the operation of the unhampered market society. It is not capitalism that produces them, but precisely the anticapitalist policies designed to check the functioning of capitalism. They are an outgrowth of the various governments’ interference with business, of trade and migration barriers and discrimination against foreign labor, foreign products, and foreign capital."

by Paul Bonneau
"Countries can't war, any more than countries can think or feel. It's all just a collection of individuals, some who war, and some (most, actually) who don't war."

by Peter Kropotkin
"Each one labouring for all and all for each--that is the only talisman that can bring peace to the hearts of the nations that cry for peace with earnest entreaty but cannot win it, for the hurrying of the vultures that prey on the wealth of the world."

War and Foreign Policy
by Murray N. Rothbard
This essay is a chapter from For A New Liberty. "We come to the view that since modern air and missile weapons cannot be pinpoint-targeted to avoid harming civilians, their very existence must be condemned. And nuclear and air disarmament becomes a great and overriding good to be pursued for its own sake, more avidly even than the demunicipalization of garbage."

War and Justice
July 26, 2002
by Gene Callahan
"It would seem to me that libertarians, whether favoring a minimal state or no state, must always regard any State activity with the utmost skepticism, and all claims of "necessity" as claims that must be publicly demonstrated. Furthermore, if we do not hold the State to the core principle of libertarianism, not to initiate aggression, in just the same way we hold individuals to it, then libertarianism becomes absolutely meaningless."

War and Morality
October 9, 2005
by Lew Rockwell
"Of all forms of collectivist central planning, war is the most egregious. It is generated by the coercive force of taxation and monetary depreciation. Its means are economic regimentation and the violation of the freedom to associate and trade. Its ends are destruction and killing - crime on a mass scale."

War and Other Essays
by William Graham Sumner
"One of several collections of Sumner’s essays which were published in the early 20th century. This volume contains his famous essay on the Spanish-American War."

War: Collectivism at Its Worst
by Roy Halliday
This article was originally published in The Abolitionist: A Publication of the Radical Libertarian Alliance Vol. I, No. 11, February 1971, pp. 4-5. Roy Childs called it "a masterpiece" and got me to read it aloud to the other members of the Radical Libertarian Alliance. Murray Rothbard objected to the unrealistic restrictions it places on revolutionaries.

War Does Not Produce Prosperity
October 8, 2010
by Sheldon Richman
"Here is Keynesian economics taken to its logical end: government spending is so essential to restarting a stalled economy that a major war — with all its death and destruction — may be the only way to achieve the stimulation needed. It may go too far to say that Krugman and Feldstein would relish a war, but only by a little. They clearly believe that in the current circumstances, war is our only hope."

War Is Horrible, but . . .
by Robert Higgs
Rebuttals to common arguments for war.

War Is Murder
September 21, 2010
by Karen Kwiatkowski
"A spirit of brutality, righteous judgment, self-pity because we want so much to "to good" to the ungrateful, a spirit of hate, and a spirit of self-indulgence. That’s American foreign policy in a nutshell, and it’s not new."

War Is Sin
Jun 1, 2009
by Chris Hedges
"Those who return from war have learned something which is often incomprehensible to those who have stayed home. We are not a virtuous nation. God and fate have not blessed us above others. Victory is not assured. War is neither glorious nor noble. And we carry within us the capacity for evil we ascribe to those we fight."

Warmongering vs. the Sanctity of Life
by Laurence M. Vance
"Do adults have the same right to life as unborn children? Do foreigners have the same right to life as unborn American babies? Many pro-lifers don't think so. It is hypocrisy in the highest degree to talk about the sanctity of life, the evils of abortion, the horrors of partial-birth abortion, and to vocally claim that one is pro-life, but then turn around and show contempt for, or indifference to, the lives of adults and foreigners."

War or Liberty
A pamphlet from the Movement of the Libertarian Left.

War, Peace, and the State
by Joseph R. Stromberg
"This essay lists essential historical readings on wars (and related matters) which have involved or affected the United States (plural), starting in 1776. The framework is a Rothbardian one, in which wars are not sealed off from domestic politics, the ambitions of state bureaucrats, economic life and motives, and ideological currents. The perspective chosen is broadly "revisionist," although general works are included which will add to the reader’s overall knowledge of the subject."

War, Peace, and the State
by Murray N. Rothbard
"It has often been maintained, and especially by conservatives, that the development of the horrendous modern weapons of mass murder (nuclear weapons, rockets, germ warfare, etc.) is only a difference of degree rather than kind from the simpler weapons of an earlier era. Of course, one answer to this is that when the degree is the number of human lives, the difference is a very big one. But another answer that the libertarian is particularly equipped to give is that while the bow and arrow and even the rifle can be pinpointed, if the will be there, against actual criminals, modern nuclear weapons cannot. Here is a crucial difference in kind. Of course, the bow and arrow could be used for aggressive purposes, but it could also be pinpointed to use only against aggressors. Nuclear weapons, even "conventional" aerial bombs, cannot be. These weapons are ipso facto engines of indiscriminate mass destruction. (The only exception would be the extremely rare case where a mass of people who were all criminals inhabited a vast geographical area.) We must, therefore, conclude that the use of nuclear or similar weapons, or the threat thereof, is a sin and a crime against humanity for which there can be no justification."

War Prosperity: The Fallacy that Won’t Die
by Robert Higgs
"It is high time that we come to appreciate the distinction between the government spending, especially the war spending, that bulks up official GDP figures and the kinds of production that create genuine economic prosperity. As Ludwig von Mises wrote in the aftermath of World War I, 'war prosperity is like the prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings.'”

War, Secession, and Libertarianism
by Manuel Lora
"Unlike war, secession is legitimate, libertarian and – depending on the circumstances – can be a bloodless or mostly bloodless way to separate politically. Take a look at India, the several former Soviet bloc nations, and East Germany. Granted, there were statist efforts here as well, but these did not involve mass murder and mass taxation."

War’s Other Casualty
July 1, 1999
by Wendy McElroy
"In essence, Bourne addressed the moral consequences of war on a postwar society that had abandoned individualism in favor of “the herd-machinery.” He eloquently argued that postwar America would be morally, intellectually, and psychologically impoverished. By this observation, Bourne did not mean that peacetime America would struggle under the increased bureaucracy that never seems to roll back to prewar levels. Many historians have made this point. Bourne addressed the less tangible, though arguably more significant, costs of war. Post-1918 America, he predicted, would be burdened by intellectuals who had “forgotten that the real enemy is War rather than imperial Germany.” In converting World War I into a holy war, the intellectual and psychological groundwork was being laid for future instances of what he termed “the sport of the upper class”-global conflict."

What Is the Democratic Peace?
by R. J. Rummel
Democracy is a general method of nonviolence in that democracies do not make war on each other and democracies have the least severe foreign violence and war, the least severe collective domestic violence, and the least foreign and domestic democide.

What Liberals Can Learn from the War
October 14, 2003
by Harry Browne
"If liberals want to stop tyrannical adventures like the invasion of Iraq, they must do everything possible to whittle big government down to a small, limited, constitutional government. Not the "limited government" the Republicans pay homage to in campaign speeches and ignore in practice, but the constitutional straight-jacket envisioned by the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson."

What You're Not Supposed to Know about War
August 27, 2010
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
"It is a testament to the power of government propaganda that several generations of self-described conservatives have held as their core belief that war and militarism are consistent with limited, constitutional government. These conservatives think they are "defending freedom" by supporting every military adventure that the state concocts. They are not."

Why Libertarians Oppose War
by Jacob H. Huebert
"Libertarianism and war are not compatible. One reason why should be obvious: In war, governments commit legalized mass-murder. In modern warfare especially, war is not just waged among voluntary combatants, but kills, maims, and otherwise harms innocent people."

Would You Kill A Kid?
August 21, 2005
by Douglas Herman
"A young man (or his parents) needs to ask himself: Would I kill a kid to preserve my country? That question should be asked of all soldiers who enter the military. Just as important is the second question: How does killing a kid preserve my country? "

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This page was last updated on April 6, 2012.