Does a Stronger Military Make Us Safer? – Learn Liberty

Does a Stronger Military Make Us Safer? – Learn Liberty


JAN TING: Are you in favor of abolishing the
U.S. military given the fact that you’re so committed to never using it? Isn’t that the
logical outcome of what you’re saying? BRYAN CAPLAN: The answer is a definite maybe.
Here’s what I would say. It is often the case that countries have military problems because
they have a military. The Soviet Union was at risk because the Red Army was powerful.
When the Red Army collapsed, the Soviet Union became safer, because they were no longer
terrifying and frightening and terrifying other countries. Other countries were no longer
scared for their lives. It is easy – it is often possible for unilateral disarmament
even to reduce the risk that a country faces. And note that it doesn’t specifically require
that you have democracies on the other side. Communist China was still on the Soviet border.
They disarmed. They did not get a sneak attack from communist China. As a general rule, being
better armed does not always make you safer. It often makes you less safe, because it provokes
other countries, angers them. So I would say it is a very good idea for the U.S. to greatly
reduce its military spending and at least see what happens. I think that it’s quite
likely that we could get an outcome as good as what the Swiss have: namely, since no one
is scared of them, nobody bothers them.

99 comments

  1. Hmmm. Does working out make you healthier? Does studying make you smarter? Does being a social butterfly create more opportunities for you? Does learning how to fight make you personally safer? Does understanding how money can be put to work for you make you financially more secure?

    Uh DUH! The answer is YES to all these things. So having a strong military might not make YOU , personally safer, but it DAMN WELL will make it safer for the citizens of the nation.

  2. Non sequitur. Having a stronger military is not analogous to any of those things. Having a stronger military means that there is a higher probability that people will conspire to get you into their wars, making your citizens LESS safe. This is what happens. 9/11 didn't happen to Switzerland.

  3. Ahmedinijad has nothing to to with Sheikh Mohammed. When someone does something and claims responsibility you should take that reason seriously. Why lie about the reason? They wanted the US to stop doing something, if they don't tell the US what it is, then clearly 9/11 would have been useless to them.

  4. But the US isn't in the position of any of these nations. Even without a military the US would be far harder to invade than any of these places. In any case Iraq had one of the largest militaries in the world, Indo-China was owned by France which also had a large military, some of which was still active. Frances large military was arguably the cause of it's invasion in WWI, which led to the defeat of Germany, revaunchist Nazi policies and therefore the invasion of Indo-china.

  5. Yeah you can't march on water. Learn some logistics. Any force China could land across the Pacific would be taken out by Californian shopkeepers who mistook them for Triads. Which isn't that much of a mistake considering the origins of the Communist party.

  6. 9/11 hasn't happened in switzerland because the swiss actively decide WHO they select to be citizens of their nation, unlike the U.S. which takes ppl from countries n cultures that don't mesh with ours, The swiss have a standing army of all citizens because everyone has to serve n once their service is complete they keep and maintain their service rifle(assault weapon) at home, the swiss have a higher level of education than the U.S. pop so threats r not blindly ignored as is the case in U.S.

  7. You are walking down the street at night. Someone is walking towards you from up the road. If they look dangerous you are more likely to physically react to a perceived threat (i.e them reaching into their pocket for what may be a knife), but if they were a little old kind grandma you are unlikely to even think about hitting them unless they are hitting you, correct?

  8. Yes, when a murderer gives reasons for his murders that's probably why he committed the murders. "if you're willing to commit mass murder, you are crazy" – I agree, and the mass murderers Bush and Obama and all of those in their administrations are also crazy for the same reason. Ahmedinijad never denied the Holocaust and never stated that Israel should be wiped off the map. I am not naive, but you are an ignorant fool.

  9. Radical Islam calls for a world under Sharia Law, Islamic Supremacy, and the Death/Subjugation of the West and Israel. US involvement overseas is a convenient excuse, which enables them to "justify" their actions. They've been chanting "Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to the West" and burning our flag for a looong time. They will continue to do so if America pulls out all the troops. I don't think the US should get involved in Syria at all, but Radical Islam is not US-Troops dependent.

  10. I urge you, do a quick google search for "Ahmedinijad denies the holocaust." The first result i found was an interview with Piers Morgan where he CLEARLY denies the holocaust and says Israel should be "wiped off the map." Do your research buddy. If you really think these people are rational, you're kidding yourself. we avoided nuclear war during The cold war because of mutually assured destruction. Iran and Radical Islam believes in no such thing.

  11. You need to do your research. From the general lack of intelligence contained within your posts I will conclude that you do not speak Arabic and cannot understand it. The alleged quote from Ahmadinejad you keep referring to was an intentional mistranslation. He has never said any such thing. The Iranians, according to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, are "rational actors". Also, Iran is Shia, the radicals are Sunni Wahhabis. The ones Obama is arming in Syria.

  12. it's mind boggling that you seek to justify the words and actions of such a monster when there is so much evidence to the contrary. Either way, our argument as I understand can be summed up: You believe The Radical Islamic people of the world are rational and humane, and therefore if USA would remove all the troops, their quest to dismantle America and the West would cease. I believe Radical Islam seeks to destroy America, Israel, and the West and impose Sharia Law regardless of US interference.

  13. Ahmadinejad is not a monster. The Iranians did not invade a country in 2003 and kill hundreds of thousands of people. That was the US. I have never said that radical Muslims were rational or humane. I pointed out that Iranians are Shia, not Sunni Wahhabis (the "radicals" you refer to), and, according to General Dempsey (the highest ranking general in the US military) Iranians are "rational actors". Violence, principally initiated and fueled by the US, breeds radicalism in the Middle East.

  14. Anyone who wants to kill an entire country of people is a radical in my book. Just because Iranians are not "sunni wahhabis", doesn't change the fact that Iran has publicly stated its intent for the destruction of Israel. Anyone who wants to murder 7.968 million people is a radical. you said "Violence, principally initiated and fueled by the US, breeds radicalism in the Middle East." This might be true for some small percentage. But Radicals Want to kill America, regardless of their activities.

  15. Note that sales taxes are still theft/extortion, just like property taxes and income taxes. The difference is that consumers are not the direct victims of theft, but rather the businesses that are forced to collect sales taxes are. When you go to the store and are asked to pay an extra percent as a sales tax, your property rights are not being violated. Rather, the store that is being threatened into giving a certain percentage of the money it makes to the government is the victim of theft.

  16. Ahmadinejad has never stated that he wants to destroy Israel or murder all Israelis. As I already pointed out that alleged statement was an intentional mistranslation. And, again, violence breeds radicalism.

  17. i guess we must agree to disagree. I do believe violence perpetuates violence, but I just don't believe violence breeds radical islam. I think America's "evils" are a nice excuse to justify terrorism, but at its very core, terrorism is not out to destory america. its out to destroy american values and liberty, and submit the whole world under sharia law. for more info about mahmoud's anti-semitic views see, wikipedia's /wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel

  18. Just like a lib to call it fallacious(a lie in pompous speak) without challenging with some facts. Might was well call me racist while ur at it too.

  19. every country should have a military, america and china are perfect examples of ridiculously over sized military's. In war, numbers alone confer no advantage, a smaller highly trained, highly equipped military is more important then a massive giant, adequately equipped, adequately trained military.

  20. "it does not make every citizen a victim of theft by gov't"

    Right, although it does threaten to make every member of society a victim of theft by government since the government is effectively threatening every person in society by telling them that no matter who they are, if they set up a business and try to sell stuff it will aggress against them and force them to give them money.

  21. Pointing out that your comment is fallacious is not the same as calling it a lie. A fallacy is not a lie. A fallacy is an illogical statement. You had no facts in your comment anyway, only conjecture.

  22. So all of my statements are a fallacy? Conjecture happens when an unproven statement is made. My statements have been proven by me to me. by me to others. Is there a mathematical formula to prove them? no. Only empirical evidence. Only history. Only nature. I think that make my statements pretty solid .
    What do you have to refute them? Conjecture!

  23. Not true. Case in point being Syria and Libya. A much larger standing military would have prevented America's( my country's) intrusion due to the potential of having to enter a full scale conflict rather than lob a few cruise missiles and send in the rebels to take over.

  24. Ummm. What about a massive, highly trained, highly equipped military? If the outcome is decided by training and technology, which among advanced societies may be similar, how does having a large military not give one country an edge over the other?

  25. Maybe we should have just pursued disarmament during WWII instead of cutting off Japanese oil shipments, and then we wouldn't have been attacked at Pearl Harbor. Safer!! Half the of the entire world would be speaking German today, possibly including our country since we would have been so weak, but hey, at least we would have the comforting illusion of being safer for a short time!

    We don't live in a vacuum… This is surprisingly lazy and specious logic coming from "Learn Liberty".

  26. LOL 1:17 No one scared of the Swiss? By Federal law all Swiss male citizens must own a gun and all citizens must serve in the armed forces. That's why no one messes with the Swiss, everyone is afraid of them; if attacked they know they'll get shot at by every man, woman and child.

  27. No one is scared of the swiss. They do not have aircraft carriars in every part of the ocean, they do not have a drone program, they do not have nukes pointed at every countries, they do not have nuclear submarines roaming the depths of the oceans waiting for mutually assured destruction. I agree criminals are scared of the Swiss, but not nations.

  28. Then again, if Japan didn't have the imperialistic mind set and invade China, Korea, Taiwan, and many other Pacific countries, maybe they wouldn't have pissed off so many people in power. Remember, we cut off their oil because they were destroying the pacific. But the reasons for them being imperialistic dates farther back when America forcefully opened their ports and treated them like shit.

  29. I think its a strong nuclear armament, that stops mayor invasions and mayor wars from happening. Not UN, not "nice talks", not "universal human rights" declarations, not "geneva convention". When bad or radical people got to power in a pre-nuclear era, mayor conflict between superpowers was eventually guaranteed. It was only a question of when, not if. And these conflicts, unlike "war on terror" or stuff often led to tens of millions of deaths. So prayse the nuclear armament!

  30. in war numbers alone confer no advantage, strategy and tactics are far more important then numbers….countless battles and wars throughout history have shown us this, vietnam is a perfect example of this, the americans along with there allies had an overwhelming force, better weapons, air support, artillary support, tanks, and ships and still could not subdue the NV, general vo nguyen giap of NV was a very smart man, who used tactics and strategy to win, no overwhelming fire power and numbers.

  31. A strong military is a symptom of national issues. It's equivalent to a body compensating for its inefficiency or vulnerabilities by having a stronger immune system.

    The military is good at training its people to be better, more efficient, more considerate workers. What it's terrible at is setting priorities. There seems to be more resources dedicated to invasion and domination than improving living conditions.

  32. Apparently, decentralizing the means of defense allows for increased response time to danger, as well as preventing any particular group from having a significant advantage.

  33. The problem is that the whole peninsula is holy land to the Muslims, including Iraq. As long as troops are still over there incentive is still there. Bin Laden and Al-Qaida stated clearly, even before 9/11, that their plan to attack Americans was a response to ongoing US policies.

  34. (1) the stationing of US troops in Saudi Arabia and throughout, (2) the embargo of food and medicine that had so far killed over a million Iraqis, and (3) support of Israeli persecution of Palestinians, (4) The U.S. consistently supports Middle East dictators. Bin Laden also stated explicitly that his goal was to get a reaction from the United States government that would bankrupt the empire. And it’s working.

  35. With these grievances Bin Laden has created a loose tangle of alliances that hate US Foreign Policy by focusing on specific grievances that resonated with his Muslim audience.

  36. In fact, an interesting note is Ayatollah Khomeini [the Supreme Leader of Iran from 1979 to 1989] tried over the course of a decade to instigate a jihad [holy war] against America on account of our wickedness, our entertainment, our women in the workplace, and the like. It was a complete flop. No one wanted to bomb themselves over R-rated movies or anything of decadence of the West.

  37. Then what stops you and a hundred others from volunteering to fight overseas? You have to wait for government to tell you when to do it? Many volunteered from various countries to fight in the Spanish Civil War without, the governments of their perspective countries embroiling the entire populations into war.

  38. Sounds like you're ignoring the reasons that a 'strong military' can increase the risk a country faces (explained in the video)/

  39. In either event, that still entails the disarming of the standing army. Of which I actually greatly agree with you.

    The founders of the United States also agreed – enacting that the single greatest defense of any nation is a well-armed population.

  40. learnliberty is living under a rock or what? they should just stick to economics, and leave the defense to the conservatives.

  41. Why was it ok for Japan to attack us due to our economic sanctions on them, but it was not ok for the US to attack Iran in 1953 due to them nationalizing their oil industries?

    Both scenarios have a country using means to hurt another country economically, so why the flip flop libertarians?

  42. Not to mention the terrain that the Swiss occupy and are trained to fight in. Unless a major power had a reason to invade it, no one would want to tackle such an endeavor without sustaining heavy casualties.

  43. Ever play the Strategy Game, World in Conflict? A "What If" about Russia invading the US using cargo ships that simply looked like ordinary trade ships in 1989.

    Its very possible for a country to invade us, especially with the untrustworthy dictators in the countires to our south…..this Learn Liberty video makes me sad….

  44. @LearnLiberty
    "There was a proposal at the Constitutional Convention to limit the standing army for the country to 5,000 men. George Washington sarcastically agreed with this proposal as long as a stipulation was added that no invading army could number more than 3,000 troops!"
    I am disappointed that LearnLiberty has left this unchallenged idiocy up. I would love to debate Doctor Caplan on this issue. His points are laughably erroneous as to undermine LearnLiberty's credibility. Fail.

  45. Well, I will say that Switzerland has some things that other countries will want (like wealth), but you do have a point. That said, Switzerland has several things going for it:
    1) Practically EVERYONE is armed.
    2) Military service is MANDATORY for all males in Switzerland.
    3) and being surrounded by mountains does not hurt.
    Doctor Caplan should stick to things that he is a subject matter expert on. If I had been debating him, I would have destroyed him point by point.

  46. Unilateral disarmament still seems stupid in my view. Despite Prof. Caplan's worries, the U.S. has not been attacked in a long time, but that could change if we keep starting (or stoking) fires of war around the world and unilaterally disarming ourselves. We're going to have to care enough about restoring our constitution to take it beyond youtube 🙂

  47. the swiss are fine because their country one has little to no strategic value and two Switzerland is so mountainous and rugged that any invading army would have huge logistical problems and lastly all male citizens have at least one rifle in their home and an obligation to defend their country. that's why no one bothers Switzerland.

  48. WWII was caused by a chain of events rooted in the punitive nature of the Versailles treaty. Without that, there would not have been a WWII. WWI was caused because of entangling alliances, which is joining up to make a bigger army. So both examples are proofs for this video, not proofs against it.

  49. I like how the logic of greatly reducing the military for only defensive reasons will somehow lead to the complete dissolution of the military. That is completely idiotic and has never happened.
    Besides we have crap ton of Nukes and two oceans to see a large scale attack from, only Canada or Mexico could actually even attempt to invade. Removing ourselves from forcing our beliefs down other countries would also lessen the likelihood of a terrorist attack.

  50. As somebody from switzerland I can tell you that the army model absolutly usless in todays world. Most people would probebly not show up, most people dont actually have the gun at home anymore. The army is not organised to handle such cases. We no longer have so many functioning bunkers or any of those things. The swiss army is often called 'green holyday' because people can once a year go there do drink and still get payed.

  51. No. A strong global military presence is necessary to lay the foundations of the global industrial property based market system.America took this role post WW2. Without the military global capitalism and hence capitalism itself couldn't exist. This is why Ron Paul was laughed at during the presidential debates by both democrats and republicans on matters of foreign policy. Your little free market (in this case "free trade") theories aren't applicable to reality.

  52. America isn't "forcing our beliefs" down other throats they're forcing the expansion of the industrial property based market system. Geopolitical strategy involving the military is 95% economic. Why do you think- pre WW2 the USA brought its entire NAVY to Japan with the threat of "open up your markets to the west or be destroyed"? Why? Because capitalism can't expand and thus exist on a voluntary basis. Market expansion comes at the end of a gun barrel.

  53. "Market expansion comes at the end of a gun barrel."

    False. International trade had been carried out for centuries via the Silk Road, Indian Ocean trade, etc. before any sort of European mercantilism or any where else for that matter. Post-da Gama, the Portuguese were essentially considered glorified pirates. In these expeditions, European monarchs learned from ex-states like Srivijaya that domination of the seas was essential to maintaining a simultaneously wealthy and stable government.

  54. (post1)It always amazes me when you people compare global industrial property based market relations to simply "making and trading things". As if capitalist market expansion is just one happy white elephant gift exchange. Some people have been peacefully trading goods since the first signs of civilization arose but this has absolutely nothing to do with the dynamics of the global industrial property based market system. Nothing at all. Zilch.

  55. (2) Globalization ie, allocating the worlds resources into the industrial property based market system was absolutely required in order to maintain profits. No system before capitalism has had that requirement. Sure, trade was prosperous to the various pre-capitalist/industrial societies that took part but not a requirement for making profits in large scale commodity production. Since immediate and future profits depended on expansion this couldn't be left to whim,chance or voluntary interaction

  56. (3) Part of the reason why the USA had a military policy of "containing" the threat of communism wasn't because communists were going to invade the US it was because the spread of socialist states threatened to cut off the capitalist wests (NATO countries) involuntary/coercive access to the worlds resources. Now that Soviet Russia and China are now open to capitalist relations the Middle East and Africa is the last bastion of market expansion and where is our military at the moment?

  57. (4) Eventually the need for ever expanding markets/profit will severely limit capitalism's productive forces and quality of life even in the western first world will drastically decline for many many people. These specific inner contradictions will hopefully spark enough indignation to the point where we can implement a different system that doesn't rely on ever expanding profits at the expense of everything in it's path. And with the end of capitalism people will still trade goods.

  58. This isn't the 18'th century anymore. Wars arent being fought between competing nations invading each other they were, after WW2, fought to secure capitalism's role as the only viable economic system on earth. With the fall of "communism" now wars are fought to secure western supremacy as to not even give any other system a chance of developing and threatening capital's global primacy. There's so much about the world people don't understand and it's no accident.

  59. You're absolutely right about the modern global economy resulting from the consolidation of industrialization and mercantilism into an era of imperialism that continues to this day. As before, state sponsorship and economic protections are essential to the integrity of the status quo. (Neo)mercantilism is indeed a market based system, however the difference is that "we" (libertarians) advocate a market system that restrains rulers rather than the other way around.

  60. I never used the term mercantilism. I'm also aware you "libertarians" advocate little to no state intervention. The theories you advocate can only exist in your heads. Capitalism exists now the only way it can exist. Capital arose the only way it could (via coercion). Private property is maintained the only way it can be (via force). Market expansion is taking place the only way it can (via force). Your entire ideology is a waste of time.

  61. (2) Libertarian theory is useful only to small capitalists who can't compete with larger capitalists who blame state intervention for stifling competition and for larger capitalists to employ when they're seeking to pay less taxes/attack social programs. Everyone who actually understand the system knows capitalism can't be voluntary and or exist without state intervention which is why Ron Paul was laughed out of the presidential debates.

  62. "Capital arose the only way it could (via coercion)."

    Given the characterization of this argument, it's likely safe to assume that by "capital," you obviously mean it in the way Marx termed it (ie. products of labor rented out to individuals/workers) that derive a profit outside of labor consisting as exploitation that can't be maintained without coercion. There are many (libertarian) critiques of this viewpoint (some are worse than others admittedly).

  63. " Because capitalism can't expand and thus exist on a voluntary basis. Market expansion comes at the end of a gun barrel. "

    not true at all

    where do you all get these ideas?

  64. "but this has absolutely nothing to do with the dynamics of the global industrial property based market system"

    blah bu blah bu blah blah blah

    the question was how does capitalism expand

    not whatever that 5 word 50 pound phrase you used referred to

  65. I think the reason the guy gives to disband the military males no sense but
    many of the founders were against a large standing military

  66. is there any real threat that Russia is about to invade anybody?

    I don't think so

    out of that list of countries Russia is the only one that could beat America

    China isn't about to attack anyone and the rest are too small to beat America

    The threats made recently are just idol ones

  67. has Russia made any threats toward the US.?

    I don't think so.so if they haven't how are they a threat to America?

    The real war ended in 1945

    the cold war ended in the 90's

    if there is no war how can they be our enemy?

    and if they have made no threats toward us how can they be a threat to us?

    the cold war ended at least 15 years ago

    yet the defense budget is still at cold war levels

    this can't be justified

  68. "If you want to be blind to the fact of China's expansion &Russia's aggressive stance to the US"

    what have you pointed to to demonstrate Russia's aggressive stance toward America(not NATO)?
    so far I don't see any evidence of any aggression in that regard

    it looks like you are trying to create a conflict where there isn't one

    the cold war was the war between the two countries where the goal was to build the biggest and strongest military

    that war ended when the USSR was dissolved

  69. the cold war was the war between the two countries where the goal was to build the biggest and strongest military

    that war ended when the USSR was dissolved

    and even if you say that Russia could continue it they didn't continue to build their military and neither did America

  70. and even if you say that Russia could continue it they didn't continue to build their military and neither did America

    that means the cold war is over

    update your outdated information

  71. Mack, Nazi Germany was a direct result of U.S. interventionism and our standing army during the first world. Really we were just cleaning up the problem we created.

  72. In 20 years we will rue the day we decided to be so weak under Obama.  He took us down economically, so much so that we must reduce our military:  while the world increases theirs. 

  73. The Swiss aren't disarmed or low on military power. This sounds like conflation of the existence of a strong military with interventionist actions that utilize a military.

  74. The reason why the soviet military caused the collapse of that union is not because people were afraid of it. But because it was trying to match the US and bankrupted itself.

  75. Because the Switzerland isn't very important. The reason why it hasn't been invaded is because it's fucking mountains.

  76. Yes millitarized foreign policy doesn't make us safer, but a well armed citizenry makes us safer and secure. Remember the United States hasn't been invaded in nearly two hundred years, and we have the highest number of guns per capital. Also the Japanese said they didn't invade the United States during ww2 because the United States public was well armed. The second amendment is our defense and Homeland security.

  77. Good point: being heavily armed actually provokes aggressors. The French were heavily armed, more so than Germany, prior to 1939 and sure enough AH became an aggressor.

  78. a lot of your videos end with a "click here for more stuff" that has nothing to click on and does nothing..

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