War, Empire, and the Military

vance_war_empire_militaryIntroduction to Laurence M. Vance, War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy (Vance Publications, 2014), 528 pgs.

These essays, although organized under seven headings, have one underlying theme: opposition to the warfare state that robs us of our liberty, our money, and in some cases our life. Conservatives who decry the welfare state while supporting the warfare state are terribly inconsistent. The two are inseparable. Libertarians who are opposed to war on principle, but support the state’s bogus “war on terrorism,” even as they remain silent about the U.S. global empire, are likewise contradictory.

Most of these 127 essays were published on the premier anti‑state, anti‑war, pro-market website, LewRockwell.com, during the period from January 2, 2004, to June 1, 2013. The vast majority of them first appeared on and were written exclusively for that website. LewRockwell.com is the brainchild of Lew Rockwell, the founder and chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala., and a leading opponent of the central state, its wars, and its socialism. Most of the rest of the essays were originally published by the Future of Freedom Foundation, whose founder and president is the equally courageous Jacob Hornberger.

Forty-four of the essays contained in this work originally appeared in the second edition of the author’s book Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, published in 2008. Nine of them appeared there and in the book’s first edition, published in 2005. In addition to essays relating to Christianity and war and Christianity and the military, that book also included essays on war and peace, the military, the war in Iraq, other wars, and the U.S. global empire. Although a third edition was planned, two things served to redirect my intentions.

Because the second edition had already grown in size to seventy-nine essays in 432 pages and I had written so much on these subjects since its publication early in 2008, a third edition would just be too large of a book if I tried to include everything I had written on these subjects since the publication of the second edition. Additionally, since one part of the book and much additional material consisted of essays with a decidedly Christian theme, while the other part of the book and much additional material was more secular in nature, it seemed best to organize the existing and new material along these themes. So, instead of issuing an unwieldy one volume third edition, I opted to collect all of the former material into War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism, and issue the latter material in a companion volume titled War, Militarism, and Empire: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Each essay is reprinted verbatim, with the exception of the correction of a few minor errors. It should be noted, however, that the original spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are followed in all quotations. Because they were published on the Internet, most of the essays originally contained numerous links to documentation and further information on the Web that the reader could click on if he desired. Because this feature is not possible in a printed format, the reader is encouraged to consult the online versions of each essay at LewRockwell.com or FFF.org where they are archived. Many of the essays also originally included pictures, which, for space considerations, are not included here.

Although many of these essays reference contemporary events, the principles discussed in all of them are timeless: war, militarism, empire, interventionism, and the warfare state. The essays in each chapter are listed in their order of publication. Each chapter as well as its individual essays can be read in any order, with the exception of the essays on “The U.S. Global Empire” in chapter 6, which are better read chronologically.

In chapter 1, “War and Peace,” the evils of war and warmongers and the benefits of peace are examined. In chapter 2, “The Military,” the evils of standing armies and militarism are discussed, including a critical look at the U.S. military. In chapter 3, “The War in Iraq,” the wickedness of the Iraq War is exposed. In chapter 4, “World War II,” the “good war” is shown to be not so good after all. In chapter 5, “Other Wars,” the evils of war and the warfare state are chronicled in specific wars: the Crimean War (1854–1856), the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), World War I (1914–1918), the Persian Gulf War (1990–1991), and the war in Afghanistan (2001–). In chapter 6, “The U.S. Global Empire,” the beginnings, growth, extent, nature, and consequences of the U.S. empire of bases and troops are revealed and critiqued. In chapter 7, “U.S. Foreign Policy,” the belligerence, recklessness, and follies of U.S. foreign policy are laid bare.

The books listed at the close under “For Further Reading” include not only some of the more important books referenced in the essays, but other recommended works that relate in some way to war, the military, the U.S. global empire, and U.S. foreign policy. Most of them are available from Amazon.com. The inclusion of any book should not be taken as a blanket endorsement of everything contained in the book or anything else written by the author.

It is my desire in all of these essays to show, as Randolph Bourne said many years ago, that “war is the health of the state.”