Sunday, November 11, 2012

Defense is not a Problem

Note: this was taken from another blog, but I cleaned up the language to be more tactful.
The link to the other blog will be at the bottom of this post.

Combat Leader’s Field Guide: 13th Edition- Barnes and Noble
World History as cited, Current events as Cited.

What is defense?

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary edition 11, 2011 defines ‘defend’ as

1 a: To drive danger or attack away from
Vi 1: to take action against attack or challenge

I imagine that when people talk about defense, they are referring mostly to the first definition in that they would prefer to drive danger away and not die or have their property destroyed. We will use this as our standard of defense, driving away or stopping attackers so that their damage to people or property is minimized.

Game Theory Summarized:

When two parties interact with each other there are several possible outcomes for a given scenario.
One party can win at the expense of another which is a zero sum game.
Both parties can benefit from the interaction which is a positive sum game.
Both parties can lose in the transaction which is a negative sum game.


One talking point which proves to be a difficult issue for statists and anarchists alike is as follows:

The state is necessary to organize defense against invasion from other States.

On the face of it this claim seems to actually be legitimate. We all know that States have an amazing ability to tax its people and use these funds to pump out astronomical amounts of military hardware.
Anarchists have been arguing against this for ages, and often without the requisite knowledge to deliver an intelligent response.  The answer relies upon understanding a certain degree of military science.  Not much, but enough to know how wars are fought and won. Once you understand this, you will understand why the statist concept of defense always fails and why individuals would be able to defend against reasonable threats just as well, if not better than States have in the past and do now.

What actions can one take in order to defend something? Well, for starters, the term 'defense' is never well defined.  Defense can be broken down into several operations, some of which aren’t even violent.

This action is taken after an enemy does harm to people or property. In this sense, strategies that involve retaliation are only really actions taken after defense in the protective sense has failed.  If you find yourself retaliating, you have failed to defend yourself. This is the difference between parrying or blocking a punch and getting punched in the face, and then punching someone back. We have all heard of the M.A.D. theory. This theory suggests that if two nuclear powers are enemies and attack each other, that they will both obliterate one another creating a negative sum game. However, this enables the absurd scenario of both countries being obliterated and yet claiming to have successfully defended themselves.  Furthermore, States often ‘retaliate’ against people that have nothing to do with attacks.

Cases in point: The sanctions placed on Iraq which killed 500k children -UN numbers
The entire Afghan and Iraq War can be seen as a ‘retaliation’ against the wrong people, which is really an attack.

Another example of this was North Korea’s shelling in Nov. 2010 of South Korean islands. The South Koreans then said they shelled back. However, for the people and property that was destroyed, the state failed to defend them.

An insurgency is a form of slow retaliation against an invading force. It can be effective, but the population invaded has to be large because of the high casualty rates of ragtag insurgents. There have been cases, however, where well-equipped and trained militias have successfully driven back invaders.

Although retaliation would likely be part of a sound defensive strategy, it fails to actually protect the people and property in question.


Your territory could be surrounded by water via natural geographical features or moat, dam, or river. One can build a fence or a mine field around territory. Tank traps and other vehicle barricades can be set up around facilities. Examples of this type of defense in the real world would be The Berlin Wall, Great Wall of China, Maginot Line, the Atlantic Wall, the walls separating Israel and Palestine, and the Demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.

You defend yourself from the elements by building a house that resists the weather. A military base can be located underground so that the ground on top of it resists bombardment by bombs and artillery. Armor on tanks and body armor on people resist bullets. This form of defense is more passive in that it is an obstacle that waits for enemies to encounter it.


This defense activity multiplies ones abilities by giving the defender prior knowledge, which means one can prepare ahead of time. It also allows you to prevent actions by being aware of the territory, blocking actions before they happen, knowing who’s who and what they are thinking. This is perhaps the most critical element of any defensive strategy. As we have seen in the Iraq and Afghan wars, even if you have all of the firepower in the world at your disposal it does you no good if you cannot locate and identify your enemy. However, when your enemy is known and located, you can defeat them with a relatively small amount of force. Examples of this are the CIA, Mossad, MI6, other intelligence agencies that are SUPPOSED to work behind the scenes to gain influence on behalf of a given state.


This is perhaps the most effective means of defense. The best fight is the fight you never have. Engaging in trade with a potential adversary such that a strike against you hurts the attacking party is one means of defense. Investing in businesses and buying lobbyists and funding elections of key people in countries that might antagonize you is another tactic. Assassinations of fiery upstarts who have a bone to pick with you might become necessary if it can be done with plausible deniability. And finally, in order to prevent a full blown conflict, if it is obvious that you are about to be attacked you can engage in a targeted strike to destroy your enemies supplies and preparations. Some of these activities might fall under espionage, but there are often genuine business ties with countries such that businessmen will try to put pressure on government to keep the peace.


This is perhaps the truest form of defense. Surveillance of borders or key areas is set up and manned. An intruder is seen and interceptor forces are sent to determine their intent and if necessary deal with them. Someone jumps over your fence and walks toward your house, and you confront them in the yard before they get to the house. This happens many times all over the world every day.

Universal Weaknesses of Defense

Defense in theory and practice has very serious problems. These problems are magnified when defense is centralized and these problems are easily and most often overlooked when statists debate with an anarchist on these issues.

For example, in a state, by taking money that could have been used to defend an individual or neighborhood and using it to defend something else, you leave that person and territory exposed. The claim of a state is that the state protects everyone, their property, and all of its sovereign territory, however this is impossible given its limited resources. What gets defended? Who gets defended? Why should one place or group be defended better than another? What is the best way to defend them?

Is it a coincidence that the answers to these questions usually have the prefix ‘government’ before them? Government installations must be defended, Government personnel must be evacuated to safe bunkers located in mountains with years of food and water at hand, and Government infrastructure, Bases, and Buildings must have a high concentration of Anti-Aircraft radar and missile batteries. Sorry suburbia!

When I see reels of the German troops pulling back out of the country side of Germany leaving the civilians who they are supposedly protecting and serving I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Those unfortunate Germans really believed that their Fuhrer would protect them and that all the money they had extracted from them was for their own good.

In any conflict it is often quickly made clear who soldiers really fight for. Retreat routes and rally points often tend to lead back to the capital city of any given government.

Opportunity Costs:

Money spent on one weapon system cannot be spent on another. With X amount of money, you can buy a destroyer, or 100 tanks, or 50 jet fighters, or 300 tactical missiles. What you spend on defense also takes away from what you can spend in other sectors. For example, you can build 4 Bridges for X amount of dollars or a submarine. Which is better and why? And once you make the decision you have to live with it because these types of assets are not generally liquid.

Can anyone say with a straight face that the US spends its defense dollars efficiently? The pentagon admits to losing track of billions of dollars, weapon systems cost many times more than they are projected to, weapon systems are paid for that simply don’t work and spending billions on technology that is obsolete before it is rolled out.  It’s not just me; a quick Google search on "military spending and waste" and many of THEIR OWN GENERALS and bureaucrats are sickened by the ridiculous amounts of waste and largesse. Does anyone remember the armor scandal where the troops, in the beginning of the invasion of ,were sent in with substandard equipment and Humvees that didn’t even have armor. Excuse me? The strongest military in the world sent their troops into battle without armored cars?

Finite Resources:

One cannot defend themselves from every conceivable threat. As we will go into later, the level of defense one procures must be determined by real threats if one wants to spend resources rationally.

Defense is Imperfect:

No matter how much defense you purchase you will never be completely safe. In this sense defense has a very large psychological component. No one is ever safe and there is an inherent risk of death in being alive. The question is what level of protection is desired against what specific set of threats.
There are always chinks in the armor, always places where one can find a weakness to attack. To suggest that somehow a small stateless territory would be able to defend itself against Moscow is clearly unrealistic. But at the same time, why would Moscow even bother to attack?

Defense is Relative:

In real terms, states determine their level of defense based on the threat they are likely to face. These threats are usually determined by whoever happens to be around them. And so for example, even though the Libyan army didn’t stand a chance against NATO, it would have put up a good fight against Egypt or Algeria or any of the bordering states.

Defense is Evolving:

There are different technology levels in the world of defense. These levels of technology are usually designated by the term generation. So a 3rd generation tank is less advanced relative to a 4th generation tank and so on. This means that the level of tech you procure should be adequate for the level of the threat you face. You don’t need F-22’s to fight the Egyptian air force. Furthermore, just because an enemy has fancy new gen weapons does not mean gen 1 countermeasures are not effective. Good ol’ fashioned RPGs can destroy just about any tank or APC out there.
Now that we have defined the topic lets discuss the weak arguments thrown against defense in an anarchist setting. By anarchist setting, we mean a territory with no central tax funded coercive organization that claims the exclusive ability and right to defend a given territory.

Claim: A state is necessary to defend a territory from state aggression.

While this does not show this to be false, it is important to note that there are plenty of examples whereby the state clearly failed its job of defense.  Throughout history, dozens and dozens of states, monarchies, communist territories, towns, villages, and cities have been invaded, conquered, and destroyed.

The form of government doesn’t matter, the military strength and capabilities of one force against another force does and to suggest otherwise is to betray ignorance of military science. In other words, as an example, and old lady with an aegis system and integrated air defense could shoot down Egypt’s entire air force if they decided to try to bomb whatever territory she had. Having a specific level of tech capable of countering a threat is more important than the form of government.
Case in point: Hezbollah vs. Israel 2006 war – feel free to YouTube this.

While the Lebanese army retreated and left its people to die like the cowards they are, Hezbollah stepped up to the plate and being well equipped, organized and trained and, KNOWING THE TERRAIN, they were able to score many kills and impede the progress of the Israeli incursion.
A militia using modern weapons was able to turn back a well-organized, trained, professional, well-funded, fully air and artillery supported mechanized enemy.

Another example:

The Mujahedeen war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. They were facing a professional army of half a million artillery and air-supported troops. However, when they were given stinger missiles they began to turn the tide. I dare say that if the Iraqi or Afghani insurgency had managed to acquire laser or wire guided anti-tank and anti-air systems we( the US) would have already ran away with our tail between our legs.

A militia with modern military hardware, specifically designed to counter air and ground threats would not be easy to defeat.

I believe that the capabilities of the people in a free territory where militias could arm themselves with modern weaponry would be better than that of a state because in a state, citizens are explicitly and forcefully prevented from acquiring weapons that they could then use to aid in defense of event their own neighborhoods. If neighborhoods and private citizens could own and train with military grade weapons, it would boost the capability of formally organized militias.

On the other hand, it doesn't really matter how you are organized, the US can invade anything in the world, state or territory, monarchy or communist nation, if it decides to commit just a fraction of its military power. So to suggest that a territory has to be able to defend itself against all possible threats isn't reasonable. It is a task that even the most highly developed countries cannot even come close to achieving. Indeed, by surveying world history and simply listing the invasions of one state by another, you can see that states have a poor record of territorial integrity.

Modern examples of this poor record would be the Russo Georgian war 2008 August.
The Georgian army ran with their tails between their legs, leaving their cities and civilians to fall to the Russian onslaught. The Georgians had effective weapons, but did not have the will to fight off the Russians.

Another example is the Iraq War where whole divisions just melted away and thousands of Uniforms were discovered. So, it turns out that after all those years of taxing the people, training, and funding, they gave up after a few days of fighting.

Claim: People won’t pay for defense

This assumes that people don’t just volunteer their own services or their own equipment to the fight. It also assumes everyone is blind as to the threats out there as well as the current level of military preparedness.

It assumes defense is directly funded and not built into contracts purchases, deals, and alternative financial arrangements. For example, a simple way to circumvent this problem would be for the members of a territory to start an endowment, similar to how Harvard and other large Universities have an endowment and with the interest and profits, pay for defense upgrades and acquisitions every year. In this way, as long as the endowment is managed well no one even has to pay. This is just one of many ways you could foot the bill. That method of funding would work for other property used in common like roads.

Acquisition of large defensive assets would be acquired the same way any other large assets are acquired by businesses or groups- leasing, loans, investment, bonds, and joint ventures. Saab group Leases their Griphen fighter jets to sovereign nations, for example, for ten years and includes servicing and training in the package.

As I illustrated above with the Georgian running home to the state capitol, the state enforces the worst free-rider problems when it comes to just about anything it touches. People live off of welfare and food stamps without paying it. People collect social security without paying in. Government employees and reps get better defense and protection in case of a real conflict at the expense of everyone else.

This free-rider non-problem highlights a real issues: the quality and level of defense depends on the will of the people.

Yes, I agree that if you have a group that is too dumb to organize any methods of general defense or if you have a group of pacifists who don’t believe in defense then yes, they will be invaded, raped, murdered, and so on. However, the fact that people talk about defense so much means that they care about it and before they even bother going forward with a project that tries to establish a stateless territory, their defensive plan would be in place. To suggest that somehow people will ignore the need to defend themselves implies that they are still in the statist mindset, in which case why would they be in a stateless territory to begin with?

Statist Critique : What if militias fight each other?

What if People within a military or government fight each other. It is called a coup de tat.
What if citizens fight each other? It is called a revolution.
What if Citizens rise up against the government? It’s called a rebellion.

Yes, conflicts occur and sometimes they are internal. They have occurred under all forms of government throughout time. This happens to states all the time and I do not see how this is a legitimate argument against the plausibility of a militia or citizen-based defense model.

Claim: Militias would not be strong enough to defend against a state

Relative to what specific threat?
Defense against what? Tanks, Airplanes? Aircraft Carriers?
No discussion about defense is worth having without first defining a specific threat.
Who is the enemy? A group of politicians, a rouge militia, a religious group of zealots, a state, a band of pirates? Terrorists? First you have to define the enemy.

What is the enemy’s strength, level of organization, capacity for war fighting? Asses the capabilities of the enemy so that you know what they can and cannot do to you. Every fighting force, even America, has a limit to its capability. In terms of fuel, food, ammo, and spare parts, oil, and general supplies, this capability can be converted into time. This time is how long the enemy can sustain a conflict. By knowing this one can calculate best and worst case scenarios. With this time in mind, you can focus on key elements the enemy is lacking and formulate a defense around survival for a period of time.

What is their intent? What do they want? It might be possible to avert a conflict all together if you understand the motivation for an armed conflict from the beginning.

Critique: A free territory can’t defend against an NBC attack

Ok, so I will concede that perhaps a small stateless territory might not be able to defend against a nuclear strike. (even though that is not necessarily true) So what? We would be in the company of 98% of the world’s countries and furthermore, the countries that can ‘defend’ against it can only retaliate. 98% of the world countries are still in existence and operating even though they can’t defend against NBC weapons or large scale invasions by technologically superior enemies.
Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons have no known widespread forms of defense. States do not defend against these in the sense we have defined. At best they can retaliate, but in terms of protecting people and property from these forms of attack state performance and plans are less than acceptable.  Individuals, however, can take steps to harden their houses, turning a basement into a bunker. They can store food and water and ammo to wait out the event. They can buy gas masks and air filtration systems, except where the government restricts the individual’s access to these things, OF Coarse. Meanwhile the state buys fences to quarantine infected areas and massive number of plastic coffins.

Defense Against Raids

A group of fighters comes across a border to destroy rape and pillage.

How states deal with this now:
The strongest state in the world, the US, cannot defend against raids of its southern border. Its northern border is basically undefended.

Surveillance and interception of any raiding parties would suffice. This really isn’t a difficult concept, where even neighborhood watches can call for backup upon witnessing someone’s house being broken into. Quick Reaction forces can be maintain similar to how a fire station has people always ready to respond to a fire.

Defense Against Invasion

A large, organized force wants to invade for whatever reason.

How states deal with it now:
Well, many of them fail.
We can look at WW1 and WW2 where many states fell like dominoes before the might of the Germans empire. So much for protecting your citizens and sovereign territory.  Look to the middle eastern and asian wars of the 20th century such as the Arab-Israeli war and their subsequent battles, India and Pakistani wars, Iraq-Iran War to see the cluster-fuck that is state protected sovereign land.
The US is not safe from invasion because of its border protection, it is safe because its neighbors do not desire to attack or invade it. Furthermore, millions of Americans with guns (though under-performing semi-autos) would rise to fight any invading force.

This same goes the other way around. Mexico and Canada would be powerless to defeat a US invasion, and yet we haven’t invaded them and they don’t seem worried about it.
Why would this be different for a free territory?

In recent history we have seen state after state talk and talk and then get invaded, many of them by the US or Russia or through some NATO action. Thinking you will have a free territory capable of repelling an American, Russian, or NATO attack isn't reasonable.

And again, so what if we can’t defeat America? No one alone can defeat America so this example is not fair. Its not like a territory that suddenly becomes stateless will  need to fend off all threats. Bolivia is not prepared to deal with an invasion or assault from a major European power and neither would a small free territory. There will be states that will be able to defeat us if they so choose, it is part of the risk of sovereignty. There is no state or territory or nation, including America, that cannot be destroyed.

Terrorism- Protect us from it PLEASE!

"People hate our sacrilegious way of life and want to destroy us."

This justification of terrorism is hard for me to swallow. As far as my research has suggested, terrorism is caused mainly by people motivated to retaliate for a specific act of aggression.

How states deal with it now:
Their people get blown up. Then the state takes their liberties and spy on them. Then the states invade a country that has nothing to do with said attacks.
Security solutions exist that could be applied to deterring terrorism assuming we were the target of terrorist attacks for some reason.

Infiltration: How do you protect yourself from infiltration or stop a state from rising?

How States do it now:
The only departments that do background checks well are CIA, FBI, and perhaps higher military security clearances. It is possible to easily penetrate just about any level of Gov. In fact, the government can get in trouble for asking what might otherwise be benign questions in their screening processes.

See the Church of Scientology’s Operation Snow White.
Individual organizations are free to do as much background research on new employees or members as they see fit. A free territory organized around anti-state members will violently oppose any state that tries to rise.

All of this is just to show how states do not defend their people, and indeed often lead to the destruction and death of their people from outside forces. To get into internal policing methods and policies would take another essay even though it is well known that a state’s internal policing is always against its own people and detrimental to everything from freedom to economic prosperity. When it is pointed out that states tax, jail, and force their citizens to abide my arbitrary rules it is usually not contested by serious thinkers.

On a Global scale, militaries are used against their own people probably just as often if not more often as they are used in conflict with other nations.

In closing I would say this:

The question of defense is not what form of government you have, if any, but the true question is, how can one secure defense contracts with the countries and companies that make the most advanced products.

Here is the link to the original:

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