The Primary Problem With The War On Terror

What should we expect from The War Against Terror? Consider this:

Writers jailed in 2002 for political satire
After three years at Guantanamo, Afghan writers found to be no threat to United States

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Badr Zaman Badr and his brother Abdurrahim Muslim Dost relish writing a good joke that jabs a corrupt politician or distills the sufferings of fellow Afghans. Badr admires the political satires in “The Canterbury Tales” and “Gulliver’s Travels,” and Dost wrote some wicked lampoons in the 1990s, accusing Afghan mullahs of growing rich while preaching and organizing jihad. So in 2002, when the U.S. military shackled the writers and flew them to Guantanamo among prisoners whom Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared “the worst of the worst” violent terrorists, the brothers found life imitating farce.

For months, grim interrogators grilled them over a satirical article Dost had written in 1998, when the Clinton administration offered a $5-million reward for Osama bin Laden. Dost responded that Afghans put up 5 million Afghanis — equivalent to $113 — for the arrest of President Bill Clinton.

Given this, and scores of similar items, given the demonstrated failure of central planning in general, how can this government be expected to conduct a War On Terror any better than it conducts any other affair? Supporters of the Terror War need to answer this, or ignore it, in order to proceed.

Nobody’s answered it yet. And why not?

Because the honest, rational answer is that there’s no reason at all to expect the government to handle the Terror War any better than it handles any other matter. That’s an awkward admission to make if you’re a supporter of the War On Terror:

Yes, this government’s going to fuck the matter at hand up in a spectacular fashion, and likely enough will actually make whatever problem it supposedly started out to solve worse. Instead of fixing things, which it can’t do, it will create a self-perpetuating crisis managed by career bureaucrats whose primary motivations will be ensuring their continued employment and the steady growth of their mini-empires. Everything remotely connected with this will be deemed a national necessity and naysayers will be branded as unpatriotic. Dire pronouncements of doom will be forthcoming, based on rumors at best, at regular intervals or whenever the public starts to grow weary of the whole mess. Every election cycle, various candidates will make noises about “fixing” the matter, but their fixes will to a man involve increasing the budgets of the government agencies involved.

But you should support it anyway, because it’s all we’ve got.

I could be describing support for AmTrack. In fact it’s a pretty fair comparison, since to make either of them work right, you need to do one thing:

Solve the socialist calculation problem.

Except, oops, you can’t. How does it get decided where trains run or who gets bombed? Not a price system, with near-instant feedback of market demand, but central planning overlaid with political patronage. Socialized trains don’t work any better than socialized Terror Wars, which is why you get what we have now: the Afghani Jonathan Smith in jail for three years, and a rail organization that loses money on three dollar hot dogs.

Thus the primary problem with the War On Terror: socialism.

12 thoughts on “The Primary Problem With The War On Terror”

  1. i liked this article right up until the train analogy, which i don’t think holds. I’ve never used Amtrak so can’t comment on them, although i’ve always wondered why america seems to have so few major passenger rail routes when the geography looks ripe for them.The point is that the one thing socialism is good for is organising the trains. i took trains round russia and china and found that the train network was reliable, extensive and cheap. France too has a pretty good, socialized, train system. That’s in stark contrast to countries where trains are left to the free market, i can’t travel 100 miles by train in britain without standing for part of the journey or arriving more than half an hour late.
    no, the problem with the war on terror is that it is complete and utter non-sense. You can’t wage war on an abstract concept like “terror”. It’s not a proper war, yet government wants to act like it is, and accumulates power as if an enemy was actually in a position to occupy us.
    I don’t think the free market would have waged a better war against the germans than nation states managed in 1939 – 45. I think the free market would have tended towards appeasement in the interests of commerce.

  2. what crap. comparing war or national defense to “socialism” only makes sense if one is an anarchist. Most libertarians and minarchists understand that its better to have a monopoly of organized force rather than “competing” organized violence (i.e. civil war).

    prentending that “Nobody�s answered it yet” is disengenous, as there are loads of minarchist arguments for the state and national defense/military force. History is full of states defeating enemines using a monopoly of force (read a history book), and only an anarcho-cultist would choose to ignore this basic fact of reality. Did “central planning” mean the American Revolution was impossible?

    the “socialist calculation problem” is not a suicide pact, nor is it a religious creed.

  3. Y,

    what crap. comparing war or national defense to “socialism” only makes sense if one is an anarchist.

    Collectivism would be the more precise term. And anarchists tend to dominate this blog.

    Most libertarians and minarchists understand that its better to have a monopoly of organized force rather than “competing” organized violence (i.e. civil war).

    Don’t states compete in organized violence? Is the world in a condition of civil or general war? Why not if there is no world monopoly on violence?

  4. Wade,

    I’ve never used Amtrak so can’t comment on them, although i’ve always wondered why america seems to have so few major passenger rail routes when the geography looks ripe for them.

    Because a private passenger rail service in the US would be subsidizing their own competition, for one thing. Plus public transportation really, really sucks when compared to having a car. And if you can’t afford a car, then you take Greyhound. So there’s not really much of a market for it.

    The point is that the one thing socialism is good for is organising the trains. i took trains round russia and china and found that the train network was reliable, extensive and cheap. France too has a pretty good, socialized, train system. That’s in stark contrast to countries where trains are left to the free market, i can’t travel 100 miles by train in britain without standing for part of the journey or arriving more than half an hour late.

    The English rail system isn’t privately owned, it’s been “privatized”. That’s an important distinction, because “privatization” really means reducing or altering the collective ownership of a given thing rather than giving up governmental control over it. Hell, they even say that they’re “run along commercial lines“. The commies here in the States have done the same thing, “privatizing” and “deregulating” various things and then woe-is-me’ing when the whole works comes crashing down.

    You can’t wage war on an abstract concept like “terror”.

    That’s correct, but “The War Against Terror” is a brand. It’s a marketing slogan – propaganda. It doesn’t need to be coherent. Plug “Whatever action the government takes under the banner of conducting a Terror War” into this post and the reasoning remains sound.

    I don’t think the free market would have waged a better war against the germans than nation states managed in 1939 – 45. I think the free market would have tended towards appeasement in the interests of commerce.

    Maybe. And maybe Hitler would never have come to power if it weren’t for government intervention (i.e., the chain of consequences set in motion by the Treaty of Versailles). Go ahead and roll it back as far as you want, and what you’ll consistently find is government trying to cure its own symptoms. For example, was the American Revolution good or bad for the locals? Depends on what color their skin was.

    Trying to isolate one section of history and using that to “prove” the goodness of the State is akin to the Broken Window Fallacy: ‘What is seen and what is not seen’. What you see is Hitler being defeated. What you don’t see is Hitler coming to power in the first place. What you see is men proclaiming that all men are created equal. What you don’t see is them institutionalizing chattel slavery.

  5. Y.,

    prentending that “Nobody’s answered it yet” is disengenous,…

    Can you provide a citation of someone answering the question of why we ought to expect anything better from a government Terror War than from any other government activity in general?

    Did “central planning” mean the American Revolution was impossible?

    No, it just meant that it necesarily produced sub-optimal results. Collective farms produce food, you know.

    the “socialist calculation problem” is not a suicide pact, nor is it a religious creed.

    The law of gravity isn’t a suicide pact or a religious creed either. And you can remain in blissful ignorance of the laws of physics or the laws of economics, for a while.

    Eventually though you’re suddenly no longer as blissful as you were, although you may choose to remain ignorant.

  6. The point is that the one thing socialism is good for is organising the trains. i took trains round russia and china and found that the train network was reliable, extensive and cheap. France too has a pretty good, socialized, train system.

    wade, was it “good” for the people who had their wealth, free time, and life taken away to support those socialized train systems? Ends matter, but so do the means.

  7. wade:

    I don’t think the free market would have waged a better war against the germans than nation states managed in 1939 – 45.

    What do you mean by “a better war against the Germans”? What do you think makes a war effort better, as opposed to worse? And why do you think the war that Stalin’s USSR, the UK, the US, and France fought against Hitler’s Germany, counts as a better war than could have been fought without the involvement of the Allied nation-states?

  8. The precise reason we don’t have anarchotopia is because governments are better than the market at providing monopolies of force. Do you see any anarchotopias around?

    Jeebus, you would think you anarcho-cultists would actually read the canon source materials (Spooner, Nock, etc) and understand why states exist. But nooooo, keep harping the talking points like a good movementarian…

  9. The precise reason we don’t have anarchotopia is because governments are better than the market at providing monopolies of force.

    Well monopolies on force are usually coercive and unjust, so it doesn’t make sense to speak of the market as “providing” coercion anymore than to speak of it “providing” murder and rape. The thing you have in mind is protection.

  10. The precise reason we don’t have anarchotopia is because governments are better than the market at providing monopolies of force.

    Why are you being such a petulant child? You blatantly dodge the question about my being “disingenuous”, then proceed to post up more bogus bullshit under yet another transparent pseudonym. It isn’t like I can’t see your IP address, you know.

    So, stop being such a God-damned retard, pick a consistent nym, and answer the questions that are put to you rather than ducking and weaving like some kind of cheap Commie weasel. Because right now you’re presenting yourself as equivalent if not identical to a crazy bum posting screeds from the public library. Grow enough cojones and enough grey matter to be worth wasting my time on.

  11. Y, I’ve changed your fake name back to the one you used first in these comments. The rule at No Treason is that you get one nym only. If you want to change it to something else, let me know, but that’ll be the last time you can change it.

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