A while ago - OK, quite a while ago. Over a month ago to precise - a thoughtful reader commented in response to my post "No, I Don't Support the Troops." David wrote:
"I'm moderately sympathetic to your perspective, although I have a caveat and a question: do you believe that the military itself should not exist? Or perhaps, that individual defense should be carried out entirely by private security? Or something along those lines? Or, perhaps, do you believe that any form of military, government-controlled or otherwise, is unnecessary?"
My short answer is that I have no problem with militaries existing, so long as they do not operate as a monopoly, or as an agency of a monopoly body. People certainly have a right to defend themselves and their loved ones, and they certainly have a right to become very proficient at doing so, just as they have the right to hire others to perform this job for them, and indeed to form groups that provide defense for others.
But that's not exactly what the US military, or pretty much any state-sanctioned military in the world, does, is it? If we're honest about it, we have to admit that our country's military is an aggressive force on the world stage, and as such actually puts US citizens in more danger than it would if it were doing nothing at all. I believe that the reason for this is that there cannot be any real accountability where there is monopoly.
When people have no choice as to who to buy services from, when service providers face no competition, those service providers have little incentive to meet the needs and wants of their "customers." This applies in the area of defense as with any other service. Add to this that the "customers" cannot even opt out of paying for the "service", and what we have is near zero accountability. Not only will the service provider not lose business to competitors, it will continue to be funded no matter how badly it "serves" its customers, for the simple reason that that funding is taken from its customers against their will and at gunpoint. All the incentive to produce what others want and need in an efficient manner that happens in a market economy disappears when compulsion enters.
Do I believe that "...that individual defense should be carried out entirely by private security? Or something along those lines?"
I am wary of making declarations that anything should be done a certain way. I've studied and observed markets for long enough to recognize that some of the biggest developments are ones that I (nor most people) never saw coming. Yes, I do have ideas about how defense ought to or could be provided - but I also know that there are many other solutions that I haven't personally imagined. So I'm not going to say precisely how I think defense should be handled, but I will say, categorically, how it should not: It should not be handled through compulsion, through any kind of monopoly state, any kind of unaccountable agency or any kind of involuntary arrangements. To do so is both morally wrong and - as I think is obvious by now, but apparently not to everyone - counterproductive and ends up serving only the ends of those who are in charge of the involuntary apparatus.
So the question is not whether a military - government-controlled or otherwise - is unnecessary. Maybe a military is necessary in order to protect people, maybe it is not. The real question facing Americans is: Is a state-run and funded military capable of performing the tasks that we have been taught since Kindergarten are its purpose? To protect and defend the people who live in this country? And if it's not capable of doing that - as I believe it is not - then what do we need to do about that?