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Halifax: The Holy Fool

I have recently read Andrew Roberts biography of Lord Halifax the pre-World War II British Foreign Secretary.

Mr Roberts’ book Halifax: The Holy Fox is considered the classic defence of Halifax from charges that he was simply the ‘yes man’ of the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and a pathetic ‘appeaser’ of Adolf Hitler (or in secret sympathy with the National Socialists).

However, as I read the book I was gripped with a violent dislike of Halifax.

Partly this was because Halifax was an example of a type of politician I dislike – politicians who claim to be Conservatives but who demand ever more statism ( yes I know there are a great many Conservatives like this). Indeed Halifax was so misguided that he even advocated more welfare schemes and subsidies even in the aftermath of World War I – when Britain was virtually bankrupt.

But there was more than this involved.

Halifax represented muddle in foreign policy – and my own my mind has a tendency to muddle in this area (hence the violence of dislike of him, it is a dislike for an element in my own mental make up).

There were two main polices to choose from in relation to Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. Either one could say that Britain would be best off staying out of European conflicts and just build up Britain’s own defences against the possibility that Germany might, at some future time, attack. Or Britain could decide that Nazi Germany was such a threat that war was inevitable – in which case a policy of preparing for offensive war should have been followed (building up offensive forces, developing aggressive alliances, looking for an excuse for war at a favourable time – such as when Germany reoccupied the Rhineland in 1936, when the German military was so unready for war that the troops were sent in without bullets and with orders to retreat if any British or French military forces attacked them, – and so on).

Instead British policy was utterly muddled – neither staying out of European affairs nor following a policy of preparing to destroy Nazi Germany. Chamberlain seems to have wanted to stay out of European conflicts (although he could not resist getting involved in the Continental disputes – for example first seeming to back Czechoslovakia and then making Britain look absurd when he backed down), but Halifax was an interventionist – he would not hear of walking away from European disputes and just preparing Britain’s own defences (in case they should ever be needed).

However, Halifax had no plan whatsoever for the military defeat of Germany. He demanded that Britain stand by Poland in the hope that this would deter Hitler – but even when this bluff was called Halifax still felt no need for any military plan to achieve victory.

Hitler would be removed by internal moves in the Nazi Regime (which shows no understanding of how a this sort of dictatorship works), or by a popular uprising (shades of Ike over Hungary in 1956 or George Bush over Iraq in 1991, first encourage a revolt and then stand shocked when it is crushed – real tyrants are not removed by popular revolts [that is Hollywood] only weaklings like Louis XVI or Nickolas II are removed in this way, a ruler who is prepared to slaughter the population of his nation has no reason to fear ‘the people’).

All Britain had to do was to declare war, make aggressive noises and move troops and material about – and all would be well.

Britain committed army and air force units to France – and when the Germans finally attacked (May 1940) lost large numbers of aircraft, tanks and other equipment (not to mention large numbers of men – in spite of the Dunkirk evacuation).

It is a classic example of a compromise being worse than either alternative. To go into war with no real military plan is surely, even to the most ardent supporter of war, worse than not going to war at all.

Nor was the folly of Halifax confined to policy towards Germany. Leaving aside India (where Halifax’s idea that gradual concessions would keep India within the Empire was absurd – but then any policy might have failed in India) there is the example of Halifax’s policy towards Japan.

Halifax followed a policy of normally (although not quite always) provoking Japan. No alliance with Japan was to be sought (it is often forgotten that it was Britain who turned its back on its ally Japan, not the other way round, way back in the early 1920’s) nor was there to be any acceptance of Japan’s desire to dominate Asia, however no real preparations to defend the British Empire against Japan were to be made.

This was because Halifax believed that Japan would do “everything short of war” in relation to Britain. Japan would not fight – and even if it did fight would not fight very well.

To believe this before Japan’s defeat of Russia in 1905 would have been understandable (although even then such a belief would have been based on dubious racial doctrines), but to believe it when Halifax believed it…

However, why do I say that something about Halifax reminds me of myself (and some other libertarians I know).

The reason is this. I am in two minds about foreign policy. On the one hand I have deep doubts about the ability of government to achieve anything positive, and I understand war to be the mother of government (it is both the reason that governments came into existence and one of the major reasons in history as to why statism grows) – such thoughts push me in the direction of non-interventionism.

However, there are also factors leading me in the direction of interventionism. I do not like socialist dictators (such as the ex-dictator of Iraq) – I dislike their torturing and killing of the local population and (if I am to be honest) I, at gut level, dislike their insulting Britain and the United States at least as much as I dislike their ‘human rights abuses’. People I do not know torturing and killing other people I do not know is something I condemn (even if I suspect that the people who are being tortured and killed would also be torturers and killers, if they had the chance) – but people insulting Britain or the United States or the West generally is what really makes me angry.

There is also the cultural factor. All my life the enemies of the wars of the United States that I have seen have been the leftists I have hated for as long as I can remember.

Some of my first memories are of watching the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations on television. The people I watched were not interested in peace – they waved red flags and chanted communist slogans. I hated them with an almost insane passion, my young mind longed to see helicopters come and drop napalm on them. An evil desire certainly – but remember how young I was (I was born in 1965) the young tend to be cruel and lacking in judgement.

The demonstrators reminded me of my enemies among the children and teachers at school who I thought of as doing everything they could to abuse and torment me (although as I am still alive and have both arms and legs and so on, this is clearly not true), I somehow associated such folk with the tax collectors and regulators who tormented my father (although this was not true either – as British government people did not tend to be Guardian readers in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s) and even with the businessmen who had cheated him (which was grand conspiracy theory indeed).

I suppose I could think up rationalizations for my emotions. After all government administrators are (even if they are card carrying members of the Conservative party) sort of ‘serving statism’ and therefore sort of on the some side as communist demonstrators (even if they are fighting each other). And corrupt businessmen that violate contracts are serving “the other side” almost as much as the sinister financial interests that have long owned pro-statist ‘capitalist’ newspapers such as the Financial Times.

But these are rationalizations for emotions. The fact remains that when (for example) I see anti war demonstrators the old anger and desire to see them dead comes back (it did not help that many of the antiwar demonstrators in Britain chant much the same thing and wave much the same flags and so on, as the 1960s – early 1970’s ones did) – as does the instinct to do the opposite of whatever they are demanding.

So I am very torn on overseas policy.

29 comments to Halifax: The Holy Fool

  • Julian Taylor

    You might want to also look at John Lukacs, ‘Five Days in London: May 1940’ which deals with the Churchill/Halifax debacle. What seemed obvious from that book was that had Halifax (the party’s favourite and the monarch’s choice) won the leadership election then we would most likely be speaking German now.

    “The smile of Michael Howard has the substance of the Cheshire cat, the menace of Uriah Heep and the sincerity of Bob Monkhouse.”

  • Verity

    Julian Taylor – You’re sure you’re not referring to Tony Blair?

  • Cydonia

    I sympathise with your aversion to leftists.

    However, I feel it is a mistake to eschew alliances because one loathes the views of potential allies.

    Ultimately if a war is not necessary for self-defence then the right thing to do is to oppose it, even if that means joining forces with a bunch of loathsome leftists. And who knows, in the process, some of them may even be persuaded to the virtues of libertarianism.


  • Guy Herbert

    Good point, Cydonia. If one couldn’t work with someone for a common goal unless one wholeheartedly agreed with them, few of the individualistic people found hanging around Samizdata would be able to make a living, never mind do politics.

  • HTY

    Foreign policy is not always solved by extreme solutions, though sometimes they’re called for. Paul condemns Halifax for his muddle. That should not be a condemnation for prudence. Halifax’s fault was in his analysis. He misread the situation frequently. In the 1930s, that was a deadly sin.

    As for Japan, Paul might consider the remarks of Churchill in his “The Second World War” where he faulted the end of the British alliance with Japan on US pressure.

    A strict policy of non-interventionism might’ve kept the US out of WWII a little longer. But then, Paul would be speaking German today. Nor is it clear that the US could remain at peace forever if Germany defeated the USSR and the British Empire and the Japanese defeated China. Caught between 2 inherently expansionist regimes, the US would have to fight on far worse conditions.

    Any lover of capitalism must resent FDR for his statist policies. But they must also concede that his gradual erosion of non-interventionism probably saved the world from the much more statist policies of the Third Reich.

    As for human rights violations abroad, any conscientious person must rebel at the idea of making peace with them. But that should not dictate a policy of constant interventions. The determinant for interventionism should remain at whether the despotic regime in question threatens one’s own country. Saddam Hussein was pursuing WMDs and was a state sponsor of terrorism. Robert Mugabe is neither.

  • Cydonia: “if a war is not necessary for self-defence”

    The problem is how do you define self-defense? If you think that the action against Saddam wasn’t based in what the US believed to be self-defense then you are forced to agree with the crazed conspiracy-theorists.

    It’s quite easy, either a) Iraq was a threat, if not imminent, which required dealing with or b) it was an opportunity to make money from oil/taxpayer-funded reconstruction. I’m going with a). b) is an absurd position.

    Once action has been taken you can then decide whether there were positive outcomes and it is patently obvious that for Iraqis the outcome is positive. This is the absurd position of the anti-war movement. It is one thing to argue against intervention before it takes place, but to remain protesting after the fact suggests that personal vanity and posturing, not any kind of principle, represent the primary motivation.

  • My reading of Halifax was that he was both high-minded, and mortally afraid of the consequences of confrontation. That post-WWI aversion to war was pathological, and shared by many politicians across Europe, most especially in France and Britain.

    Hence the “peace at all costs” mindset of both Halifax and others — a mindset which, when your spirit has been brutalized by Western Front-style slaughter, may be understandable.

    But it’s still not forgiveable.

  • Jacob

    When you find yourself in agreement with the commie-zombies, America haters like ANSWER you better check you premises rather that rush into aliances.
    There is an old saying: tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.

  • Shawn

    I was born the same year as Paul (1965) and I have exactly the same reaction to anti-war protesters as he describes. In fact, I have the same reaction to the anti-globalisation protesters as well.

    I have only recently come around to the libertarian view after many years of being a traditionalist conservative. The two issues I still tend to disagree with many libertarians on are foriegn policy, open borders and unregulated immigration. It is no accident that both of these issues, to my mind, are tied to the single issue of national security.

    Free and open societies, as far as they exist, are a very recent phenomenon in human history, and certainly not the norm in the world today. And such societies have many enemies, both poltically and culturally. Add to that the fact that the very freedom and openness of such societies can be used against them, as was demonstrated on Sept.11 in the U.S.

    It is for these reasons therefore that I am convinced that, while wrong on many other issues, the neo-conservatives are right about the need for an assertive and sometimes pre-emptive defense policy. Yes war is the health of the state, but non-interventionism is the health of the enemies of freedom. Allowing ideologies like communism and militant Islam to grow and expand unchecked would be a policy of slow but sure suicide.

    There is much about libertarianism I agree with. But I am still as likely to agree with a George.W and a Pim Fortuyn as I am with Hayek or Rand.

    I agree with Jacob too, that marching alongside the Marxist, anti-Western and Jew-hating people who made up the core of the recent anti-war protests is unacceptable. If your going to protest a war, at least have a seperate libertarian/conservative protest.

  • Steph

    Shawn, I can relate to the gut level dislike of the anti war protestors of the 1960s and the anti prosperity scum of today. The war protestors today seem to be cut from the same cloth, socialist scum and useful idiots.

    I have to say though I don’t see Ayn Rand as a soft on communism – no foreign policy type. Her position was that morally any free county had the right to invade any dictatorship. She did say countrys should be careful to look to their own intrests first and not invade every distatorships for altruistic reasons.

  • Shawn

    Steph, thanks for the clarification. I’m still getting to know Rand’s ideas, so I’m not totally familiar with everything she thought or stood for.

  • Quentin

    Halifax earned forgiveness by turning down the premiership in favour of Winston Churchill.

  • Cydonia


    “If your going to protest a war, at least have a seperate libertarian/conservative protest.”

    I agree, but this is pretty much what most (all?) anti-war libertarians do. Take a look at lewrockwell.com for anti-war sentiments from a hardcore libertarian crowd who wouldn’t be seen dead marching with anti-globalists and suchlike leftist morons.

  • Shawn

    Cydonia, yes I am familiar with the Lew Rockwell site. While I am happy that they would not march with the A.N.S.W.E.R Marxists, I disagree strongly with their stance on defense and foriegn policy.

  • Abby


    It was not FDR’s “gradual erosion of non-interventionism” which got the US into WWII.

    In fact, FDR campaigned for reelection on the promise that the US would stay out of the war in Europe. He even refused to sign a congressional resolution expressing “shock and concern” at the Holocaust which was just then getting into full swing.

    After Pearl Harbor, nothing in the world could have kept the American people from war with Japan — one of my grandfathers enlisted the very next day and demanded to be sent to the Pacific. Hitler’s subsequent declaration of war simply brought the full force of that fury down upon Germany as well. The rest is history.

    As proud as I am of the way the American people ultimately rose to the challenge of Hitler, I am not blind to the fact that FDR was no Churchill. If fact by comparison, Churchill makes everyone look bad, Hallifax, FDR and all the rest.

    You should look to Truman if you want to find the great American hero of that war — it is in the aftermath that we distinguished ourselves.

  • It is hard to assess Lord Halifax’s place in history. He did of course make some appalling blunders, but it is not so easy to see how they could have been avoided.

    Even a far sighted Foreign Secretary in the 1930’s would have had problems taking the British nation with him in making up it’s mind as to what course it should take. You only have to look at what happened to Churchill to see what happened to a politiical figure who pointed out the reality of the situation.

    Foreign policy is an area of government where the State has a legitimate role. Individuals can’t manage foreign policy on their own (much as I’d like to!). Deciding what IS the national interest, and the best way to advance it, is one of the hardest things in politics; which is why the best Foreign ministers and leaders tend to stick out like a sore thumb in our history books and those that don’t cut it, like Lord Halifax, get forgotten.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Frank McGahon wrote:

    It’s quite easy, either a) Iraq was a threat, if not imminent, which required dealing with or b) it was an opportunity to make money from oil/taxpayer-funded reconstruction. I’m going with a). b) is an absurd position.

    What I find ironic is that many of the people who believe choice B are now bitching that Bush et al. want to give money to Iraq for reconstruction.

    I wonder what the debt-forgiveness crowd thinks about the Senate decision to turn some of the money to loans instead of grants.

  • HTY


    The destroyer USS Reuben James was torpedoed by the Germans because it was shadowing that German submarine and relaying its coordinates to the British Admiralty. If that is not an unneutral act, I don’t know what is.

    That, of course, is not all. The transfer of the 50 destroyers can in no way be justified by international law as a neutral act. It was the transfer of weapons of war to a belligerent.

    I have hardly begun to exhaust the list of unneutral acts FDR committed.

    I never said that those unneutral acts led to the country to war. Pearl Harbor was the reason.

    However, Pearl Harbor was in response to US embargo of oil to Japan. A strict neutral policy would not have pointed to such an embargo.

    I think we can count on politicians to say anything to get elected and in 1940, FDR knew that the people were not ready for war.

    By no means am I arguing that the decision to fight was the wrong one. Indeed, my post was meant to suggest that a strict policy of non-intervention is not always to a country’s best interest. (“A strict policy of non-interventionism might’ve kept the US out of WWII a little longer…. Nor is it clear that the US could remain at peace forever if Germany defeated the USSR and the British Empire and the Japanese defeated China. Caught between 2 inherently expansionist regimes, the US would have to fight on far worse conditions.”) But objectivity in assessing history is necessary.

  • Kim Du Toits poit about the shadow that WWI cast over the foreign policy decisions of all nations.In Britain and France there was the day to day reality of the conflict,hardly a family had not suffered a member killed,lost or wounded.Europe’s economies were devastated and war had brought bloody revolution to Russia.It is difficult to believe any politician could have carried their country into a first strike against Germany.This is what Hitler exploited so ruthlessly.The US stayed out for the same reasons that held the European powers back.

  • Zathras

    I’m not without sympathy for the points Paul Marks makes, but I’m not sure what they have to do with one another.

    Halifax wasn’t muddled on foreign affairs by design. He was muddled because he was a mediocrity, and held office because the British class system tended to push people with his background into positions of great responsibility, whether or not they were able or wise enough to handle it, and did not reliably recognize or punish failure. Halifax could have — in fact he did — serve well in less responsible posts than Foreign Secretary or Viceroy, but these posts in the ’20s and ’30s demanded a man of vigor and vision, and Halifax had neither. Nor for that matter did most of his colleagues in the lamentable Baldwin and Chamberlain governments of the interwar period; yet Samuel Hoare, John Simon, and the execrable Horace Wilson, to name three, were again and again placed in positions where their limitations made a successful policy less likely.

    There is relevance today for Americans in the story of an entitled mediocrity like Halifax, in high office for no other reason than who his family was and how effectively he manipulated the political system in use in his time. During quiet times Americans have often preferred candidates who promised not to change or unsettle established orthodoxy, and many of these people are no more equal to the demands of great events than Halifax was.

  • Cobden Bright

    Although I loathe the “muddle” path of foreign policy, the choice is not always between the extremes of defensive isolationism and immediate counter-aggression. One can also follow a strategy of containment. For example, in the Cold War one could hardly pursue the confrontational path without very high risk; equally, pure isolationism would also have risked defeat in the long run. Containment was the chosen strategy, and it worked.

    By 1939 one could argue that declaring war to support Poland was a near suicidal decision. Britain was not equipped to defend herself properly, let alone fight a war on foreign soil. Only the fact of being an island, combined with some luck (e.g. the Nazis not pressing at Dunkirk), and Hitler not really viewing the UK as a major enemy (he thought we would negotiate an armistice and go neutral after France fell), resulted in the UK avoiding an invasion. Hitler had his chance in 1940, and missed it.

    Regarding the situation in the 30s, it is all too easy to have 20/20 hindsight. The fact is that almost everyone erred in favour of excessive pacifism, due to the rational fear of getting into another WWI. You cannot expect normal people who saw their friends and family blown to shreds in WWI to have anything other than a huge aversion to war. Of course Hitler was aware of this and took full advantage.

    Sadly this error was all too easy to make. We know now how bad the Nazis were, but in the 30s I suspect most people didn’t *really* believe Hitler would lead the world into a 2nd World War – most, like Chamberlain, believed he could be appeased, and that this was preferable to seeing huge numbers of soldiers and civilians dying in a full scale conflict.

    And few politicians are temperamentally suited to the strategic thinking necessary to arrive at such conclusions. It is no coincidence that Churchill – the main politician who saw what was happening – was a military man with a great knowledge of history and its military conflicts. His cold-bloodedness and lack of sentimentality was also important – Churchill had no aversion to sending young Brits to die, if he thought that was the optimal decision for Britain’s interests. Thus he not only saw the reality of the situation way in advance, but also had no reason to hide from it. I am sure some people saw the potential turn of events that Churchill did, but most probably found it too frightening to contemplate, and thus just pretended it was not a possibility.

    So one should not blame Halifax specifically – most of British society was pacifist at that time – but instead condemn human emotions and ignorance. In the 30s, the hope for a painless solution, combined with ignorance of strategy and history, clearly led people to delude themselves into thinking they could muddle through without having to fight a difficult and bloody war. It was human naivety and ignorance, specifically among the UK electorate and most of Westminster, that took Britain near to disaster, not one individual man.

  • Alexander Crawford

    Here’s a classic US Libertarian reason to oppose the recent ‘war’. It’s not for the President or executive to choose WHEN to war, and Congress is treading murky water by not simply declaring war as it should. The UN is used by the US executive to evade its constitutional responsibility to Congress regarding the declaration of war.

    That said.. I suport it in order to end 13 years of fiddling around unsuccessfully with faithless UN ‘allies’, and the open violation of the 1991 agreement by the Baathists in 1998. The US and UK have already spent over a decade bombing here and there in Iraq, and if invasion is the best way to NOT spend another 13 years there, fine.

    But the lessons of 1936 should be very carefully compared to that we need to learn today. Do not look further than the failure of the League of Nations. The US and UK designed it’s replacement, the UN, which served it’s purpose through the cold war. But now the era of the UN is over as well, yet because it is fairly inexpensive, we ironically find it’s not worth the hastle to abandon openly.

    Is the EU constitution going to be ratified by Britons? Because if not, what next? Will free trade be exiled from the markets of the continent as in the past? What role should Britain assume in the administration of international affairs and institutions currently being exploited and robbed by tin pot dictators, useless alien administrators, and cynical continental ‘relief’ organizations. Is the British establishment ready to look towards the future, or continue to wallow in ‘could have beens”?

    If the EU Constitutional experiment fails, what should Britians convince the US to do with the concentrated power we never really wanted in the first place?

  • Zathras: “There is relevance today for Americans in the story of an entitled mediocrity like Halifax, in high office for no other reason than who his family was and how effectively he manipulated the political system in use in his time.”

    Please feel free to provide me with examples. I can’t think of any “entitled” Americans at all.

    Now, political family ties are many: Albert Gore Jr., all the Kennedys, Mario and Andrew Cuomo, the Longs of Louisiana, Brown père et fils in California, the Rockefellers — all those jump to mind immediately.

    You will note, incidentally, that political dynasties tend to be more a province of the Democrat Party, rather than the sole exception for the Republicans.

  • Alexander Crawford

    Adam Smith on the colonial elites

    “…In all of them, indeed, as in all other free countries, the descendant of an old colony family is more respected than an upstart of equal merit and fortune; but he is only more respected, and he has no privileges by which he can be troublesome to his neighbours. Before the commencement of the present disturbances, the colony assemblies had not only the legislative but a part of the executive power. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, they elected the governor. In the other colonies they appointed the revenue officers who collected the taxes imposed by those respective assemblies, to whom those officers were immediately responsible. There is more equality, therefore, among the English colonists than among the inhabitants of the mother country. Their manners are more republican, and their governments, those of three of the provinces of New England in particular, have hitherto been more republican too. ”

    I certainly wouldn’t argue that there wasn’t a degree of ‘entitlement’ amoung the children of the rich and powerful in the US… but I don’t think it’s always a blessing to carry the ‘princling’ label in US politics, and it’s worse in some regions than it is in others (how many Kennedy’s are there anyway?). One of the best young leaders in the Democratic Party, Harold Ford Jr., got the House seat that his father held, and is a Democrat even a Libertarian would vote for…

    Zathras… I don’t think you quite grasp how monsterously gigantic the executive branch of the US federal government is… Bush Jr. is just a temporary figurehead for a very very well organized Republican National Party. It’d be a mistake to think he’s determining much policy himself so much as juggling sub-organizations and factions within his administration… any one of which is led by someone probably equally competent to be President as Bush.

    (Any bets on Condi Rice running in 2003 as Bush’s VP?)

  • Shawn

    “Any bets on Condi Rice running in 2003 as Bush’s VP?”

    I certainly hope so. I have a lot of respect for her and I would be quite happy with Condi as President in 2008.

  • R. C. Dean

    Here’s a classic US Libertarian reason to oppose the recent ‘war’. It’s not for the President or executive to choose WHEN to war, and Congress is treading murky water by not simply declaring war as it should. The UN is used by the US executive to evade its constitutional responsibility to Congress regarding the declaration of war.

    Rot. The US Congress twice “declared war” in the sense of authorizing the President to pursue armed aggression against Saddam Hussein. The first declaration of war came prior to the 1991 liberation of Kuwait, and was still in effect earlier this year as that war never ended. The second declaration happened about a year ago, and is currently causing lots of Democrat presidential candidates fits as they try to explain their vote for war.

    There is no Constitutional requirement that the magic words “declare war” be included in the relevant Congressional action, and no one can seriously argue that either resolution was not clear in its intent. Anti-war libertarians need to do better than that.

  • Alexander Crawford

    “There is no Constitutional requirement that the magic words “declare war” be included in the relevant Congressional action, and no one can seriously argue that either resolution was not clear in its intent. Anti-war libertarians need to do better than that.”

    Section I, Article 8.

    Federalist 26

    Regarding the practical fact of life that between the WPA, NATO Treaty, and UN, the separation of powers regarding the authority to commit the US to war is patently ignored… yeah, ok.

    Congress authorising the executive to committ forces to a UN action is in no way a legal declaration of war. That’s my point… In effect Congress gets to hide behind the UN instead of acting as Representatives who are responsible and accountable to their constituencies for taking us to war. I think there’s a reasonable objection to the idea that the US Federal government shouldn’t be obliged to adhere to the Constitutional proceedures laid out regarding our National committment to war. The idea that the Executive should be checked by the other two branches is due to a concern over the likely abuse of Executive authority with a standing army at its disposal (ware Caesar, Senators, before giving him Legions!) … how long until a foppish anti-military President is considered ‘unfit’ by the JCS and deposed? The whole point of the checks and balances is to guard against a usurption of legitimate representative goverment. The point of forbidding a standing army was to avoid the entrechment of a Military complex like the one we have today because every other time it happened in history the Military eventually turned into an empire or dictatorship.

  • Shawn

    Mr Crawford is right in one sense and wrong in another. He is right to say that there needs to be a much clearer adherence to the Constitution regarding declarations of war. He is also right that such declarations shoud be made by Congress alone, and they should be made specifically for the purpose of defending the United States and her allies. The U.N. should have no influence or authority whatsoever in this process, and in fact the U.S should cease its membership in this vile and morally corrupt organisation and order the U.N out of U.S soveriegn territory.

    However, he is wrong to say that this is a good reason to oppose the current war on terrorism. And yes, I include the military action against Iraq in that war. Osama bin Laden, along with a network of terrorist organisations and the states that support and fund them, has declared war against the U.S, her allies, and the West in general. We must defeat them. Defeating them is the only moral choice we have. The argument that if we had pursued a non-interventionist/isolationist policy in the last decades then we would not now be the target of terrorism is utterly false, and ignorant of the imperialist nature of Islamic fundamentalism and its stated intention of global domination.

    This was true of communism as well. Allowing the Soviet Union to expand unchecked would have been a policy of long term suicide for the United States. But the difference is that while containment was a valid strategy to use against the Soviet Empire, it is useless in the current war. Containment will not work with Al-Qaeda, HAMAS, Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad, or the various groups and states that support them and fund them, and use them as proxies to wage war against us. You cannot contain an organisation like Al-Qaeda, that uses asymmetrical tactics and small cell groups spread throughout the world.

    And the argument that we should have no standing army today is absurd. How is a nation supposed to defend itself against aggressors? In todays high tech world a soldier must be a highly trained proffessional. A military must have the arms, technology, and the ability to project power globally to defeat possible enemies. This requires a standing army. We do not live in the 18th or 19th centuries, when the only way to get to America was on a sailing ship, and when armies stood in open fields in bright uniforms and faced each other. We live in age of WMD’s, weapons that could easily fall in to hands of someone like OBL, and in an age where a state on the other side of the globe can wipe out thousands, even millions of our citizens through a proxy terrorist group.

  • Alexander Crawford


    I do not oppose the current “war on terrorism”. “terrorism’ is a tactic. Will we declare war on “kamikazis”? no. Furthermore, due to Treaty obligations, the US is obliged to maintain our standing army, and while in a perfect world I would like to see it reduced, we do not live in a perfect world.

    My point is that the US Congress, and not the US Executive, is the Constitutionally responsible authority for the “war on terror”, just as the US Senate is responsible for our Treaty obligations. (Strawman fallacies? heh). There is an important distinction between “opposing” the US taking military action against the foreign powers using proxies to attack the Republic, and “opposing” the Constitutional pretext used to justify said action. Good God… there’s something like a million spooks employed in the “intelligence community” in the US… They shouldn’t join the freaking CIA if they’re not willing to get their suits bloody. And the analysts are even worse.

    The Soviet Union (“Communists”) is a very interesting analogy. Perhaps because Islam is being used as a replacement ideology for “Socialism” in order for the SAME dumb fellow traveling jerks to attempt the National Front strategy yet again. The exception being that this time anachists/Libertarians aren’t falling for it.

    In the last three plus years since I last posted here, I have been in the field in four different continents (mainly as a type of auditor). I have tracked AQ affiliates. Cracked international banking finance chains. Hunted down black hat hackers over international borders (they annoyed the wrong Detroiter). And more. I do not work for the US government nor receive a dime from the Feds. And ironically, it has been Brits and Americans who have been the most intent on murdering me (or trying to get someone else to do it).

    As far as soldiering goes. I could have attended OCS and been a commissioned USMC officer in 1998-99. Instead the old men stuck me with physics and logics (which I suppose was the correct choice). In today’s high tech world a Marine is still a Marine. What is needed is specialists assigned to the SF and Delts who aren’t so obsessed with getting sued or funded that they hesitate to get the necessary information to those maniacs (and the SAS, SF, SEALS, and Delta’s are way crazier than any physicist) who can then go to it.

    Look up the 4GW strategy “open source” intelligence sites, and you will see for yourself.