Friday, April 22, 2005

John Lewis' Homeland Defense - The Lessons from History

ARI has put up a free link to John Lewis' public talk on the historical experience with homeland defense (registration required). I found the example of Sherman's march during the American Civil war of particular interest (scroll to minute 43:35).

In addition to his main thesis, there are a couple of other worthwhile side notes that come out of the talk. For example, many people ask: "If you had a truly capitalist society, how could you be sure that people would fund the minimal but essential government functions?" Personally I don't think there is any question that if people recognized the value of a free society that they wouldn't contribute voluntarily to its infrastructure -- but for those with such doubts, John offers an historical example where Romans funded a war effort voluntarily, even on top of the taxes they were already paying (minute 27:30).

During the Q&A (not recorded) John makes an excellent observation in response to the perennial criticism presented by most appeasers: "By waging war, don't we just make our enemy hate us more and perpetuate a cycle of unending violence?" He notes that we annihilated Japan and Germany during WWII, while we mollycoddled Cuba and North Korea in the second half of the 20th century. By the appeaser's claim, we should be at mortal war with the former group and in joyous partnership with the latter. Facts just don't bear out arguments for appeasement....

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