"The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do." ~ Eric Hoffer
Colonel David Hackworth RIP and Observations on Collective Defense
David Hackworth had a noble spirit and (he realized after the fact) he was used by evil men for immoral purposes.
The trouble with "natural" warriors like Hack (and I believe they do exist) is that under statist governance, they are used for aggression abroad and repression at home and not for defense or to respond to natural disasters or other emergencies.
I think that the militia style of defense and emergency response is the only form of military organization that is compatible with the existence of individual freedom and life in a liberty-based society.
A standing military force invariably takes on a life of its own in the political and bureaucratic sense of things. Just like Frankenstein's Monster, it corrupts or even destroys that which was created to defend and protect. Cincinnatus style citizen-soldiers are the only morally proper kind of military organization in my view.
This is not meant to be a scholarly work, so I beg the readers' indulgence if I get few details wrong here. What I want to comment on is the concept rather than the details. To wit:
Costa Rica has had no army as such since its modern political foundation following the 1948 revolution, which overthrew the last dictator to rule her. Unlike all of her neighbors who at various times have had military-led coups followed by long, dark periods of brutal repression and decades-long rule by juntas of military officers, this sort of thing is unknown and very unlikely in a place that has no army. Costa Ricans don't have to worry about coups and so can spend the money that would otherwise go to arm and pay soldiers for one of the best national health services in the Western hemisphere instead.
Brazil suffered for three decades under military rulers, and Paraguay for 48 years. Argentina was led into a pointless war with England in 1981 over a sparsely populated island with more sheep than people in 1981 by its junta. Chile is still suffering from the human rights abuses under Generalissimo Pinochet's 20-year reign. Venezuela 's rule by ex-General Chavez seems to be going badly as of late as well. Then there is always Castro.
I believe as a matter of philosophical principle that voluntary defense is the only morally just form of military organization. If people are unwilling to defend their homes and families against foreign aggression, criminals, bandits, or natural disasters, then they have decided that what they have is not worth defending.
By 'defend' I intend the actual personal sense of the term. This means every guy who is able to drops whatever he is doing and goes and fills sand bags by the river, or helps dig through quake rubble for survivors, searches for lost children, or takes up a rifle to keep looters, bandits or any other violent aggressors out of their towns and neighborhoods. To me, that is collective defense. This is the best part and essence of what a community should be about.
In America today, we have this all backward. The Ohio National Guard should be helping with flood relief on the Ohio River and the California National Guard should be standing by in case of forest fires and earthquakes. This is what militias should be for and about. Instead, they are used as cannon fodder for imperialist or mercantile war adventures as proposed by the Washington elites.
A good first step would be to dump the 'National Guard' designation.
Territorial Militiamen from North Dakota should exist for the defense and assistance of North Dakotans and nothing else. AIPAC, the neo-cons, and all the rest of the puppeteer classes will then have to find another source of easy and cheap cannon fodder, which would be a good thing as well.
I have many friends, both men and women, who abhor all things military. However, I have very few doubts that all but the few extreme pacifists among them would, if the chips were down, do what was necessary to protect themselves, their families, and communities from aggression, or aid and assist their neighbors and community from the perils of nature.
My maternal grandfather fits this mold. He served in combat in the Pacific theatre in World War II. He returned home (I am told) a changed man. An avid deer and bird hunter before the war, he has never held or fired a weapon since. He knows war first hand (not from films or books) and he has said 'never again' to all that. But he told me once in the clearest terms that if needed, if in some improbable way Minnesota were under duress or attack, he'd take up a rifle and head out to defend her. Moreover, I believe he would too. He served in the local volunteer fire department for 36 years until he had to retire from it due to his age and health.
The soul of a Cincinnatus lives in him. As it did in David Hackworth and as it does in the real defenders among us. The uniformed killers and brutes as seen in places like Wounded Knee, My Lai, Abu Ghraib, and at the rest of the massacres and atrocities everywhere on this blood-soaked planet were all in the thrall of Ares.
Hackworth, my gramps, and I hope myself have all escaped from the ugly and dark netherworld of Ares, guided by the light of reason, compassion, and intelligent self-interest, of which all of us are capable. We aren't pacifists or warmongers, we'll defend what and when we need to, and will be guided by our rational faculties and not by emotional appeals to nationalism or rage against the 'other' as defined and projected by national elites.