“End draft sign-up” (Tuesday, 12 January 1982)
Aspiring Generalissimo Secretary of State Alexander Haig fears that if Mr Reagan puts the kibosh on the draft we would be sending a “message of weakness” to the Soviet Union. Haig is absolutely wrong. An American rejection of involuntary servitude would send a clear message to the world.
Foremost, it would be a message of confidence in the traditions that Americans are supposed to embrace: freedom of choice, freedom of association, and freedom to live our lives. It would be a message of the strength of our convictions, and a sign of the strength of our national character, to state that a free America will never send slave troops to foreign misadventures in Vietnam or Afghanistan or El Salvador.
I have two young sons, and while they are not yet of draft age, as long as it is considered “natural” and “proper” for the government to do such things to our young men, there may very well come a time when they will be faced with a choice of induction, imprisonment, or emigration. For now I can only wish that Mr Reagan had stood firmly by his pledge to let draft registration die the whimpering death that it deserved.
update 171227: Thirty-five years on, my sons are approaching middle age and are statutorily safe, but my grandson (and, if the Axis of Lefties and Neocons gets its way, my granddaughter) may yet be exposed to potential induction. Also, Leviathan has indeed finally ventured out to squat over “The Graveyard of Empires.” Imperium delenda est!
“Inadequate defense” (Tuesday, 2 February 1982)
While otherwise masquerading as a penny-pinching president, Ronald Reagan has proposed a rearmament program with a price tag of thirteen hundred gigabucks ($1.3 trillion). The Reagan plan is wasteful, dangerous, and perhaps worst of all, inadequate.
To assume that threatening millions of civilians will deter a foreign power from striking first is to ignore the historical evidence that irrational and bloodthirsty governments have formed around irrational and bloodthirsty men (Abraham Lenin, Woodrow Stalin, Benito Delano Rooselini ). If such men were to rise to power in the USA or the USSR again, then the Russian and American people would have great and legitimate cause to fear.
The only rational defense against such a contingency is the barrier provided by an anti-ballistic missile system. The US abandoned its ABM program under the false premise that Mutually Assured Destruction provides a sufficient psychological barrier. This assumes that men are sane. The Soviets, meanwhile, have since improved their ABM capability.
Realistically, the only policy we can pursue is one of rejection of our role of world policeman, and unilateral rearmament.
If we are genuinely concerned about national security, we must:
— Deploy the ABM at once.
— Return the bill (about 50% of our “national defense” budget) for defending Western Europe and Japan to the Europeans and Japanese.
— Repudiate SALT and desist further capitulation to the Soviet Union.
— Remove all economic sanctions and lift trade restrictions from private and corporate enterprises, but let them insure their own risks.
— Kill the MX, B-1, Stealth bomber…
update 171227: Like most of the rest of The West, I overestimated the Soviet Union’s strength and longevity. In retrospect I guess I was a little too modest in my advocacy to cut US “defense” spending. On the other hand, efforts to “keep up with the Amerikanskis” may have contributed greatly to the final Soviet disintegration. We’re not allowed to conduct controlled experiments with history, so we can’t be sure.
“Opportunity and freedom” (Thursday, 18 February 1982)
Correspondent DI, in his February 4th letter (“Growth limits freedom”), has mistaken opportunity for freedom and privileges for rights.
To reconstruct his scenario of the lone pioneer, when the first settler reaches an uninhabited area he has the opportunity to exploit the natural domain to the full extent of his talents. When others settle in the neighborhood they recognize, through peaceful negotiation, the rights of the first settler to the property that he has developed. They too have a (diminished) opportunity to develop the free natural domain; it is their conditional privilege of having arrived sooner than others. They have no right, however, to invade previously claimed territory. The first settler’s opportunities are also diminished. He cannot now expand his territory as widely as he had once hoped, but he retains the right to conduct himself and his already established property as he sees fit.
Perhaps a simpler analogy will clarify the matter. We are all free to find gold nuggets in the wilderness, but only a few of us will have the good fortune to get to them first. Once found, they may be kept, spent, or given away as the finder chooses. The owner of property has the sole right to decide its fate.
The state Land Conservation and Development Commission and its cheerleaders, the 1000 Foes of Oregonians, seek not to regulate the acquisition of wealth from unclaimed property, but to restrict the peaceful, private pursuits of rightful property owners. The land is already claimed and lawfully held by the people. If a landowner chooses to subdivide and sell his property, it is his right. It is his property. He seeks not to trespass on others’ rights or freedom, he only asks that his be respected.
DI is quite correct if he suggests that overpopulation requires us to be more careful of our neighbors’ rights. Overpopulation deprives us of certain opportunities, but only aggression can deprive us of our freedom.