This article was published in the Autumn 1994 issue of Formulations
by the Free Nation Foundation
Devil's Advocate: No Defense Needed
by Bobby Yates Emory

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Editor's note: As the title indicates, Bobby Emory is not himself a proponent of the position set out in this article, but he believes the position deserves to be presented and considered.

Defense is not needed, just an excuse
Military is its own excuse
Couldn't take over anyway
Relations with others


Defense is not needed, just an excuse

National defense is not a real requirement of a modern nation. It has been used as an excuse for increasing the power and scope of the state. Each state uses its neighbor's military as an excuse to build its own military.

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Military is its own excuse

Each state's military creates a rationalization for each of its neighbors to create a larger military. That larger military creates a rationalization for the first state to increase its military and around we go in a repetitive cycle until the productive energies of each state are used up in producing goods that do no one any good.

No military no response

If we do not create a military then we will not provoke a response from our neighbors. All that is necessary is to break the repetitive cycle. Even if other states have or acquire a military, if we do not other states will not be pushed into further escalation. If we do not have a military, we will not cause others to be fearful and we will not push them to conclude that a military is necessary.

Don't bother them, they won't bother us

Most wars are started by some state attacking another. If we can restrain ourselves from attacking our neighbors, we greatly reduce our chances that we will be attacked. Some wars have started because one nation thought another was going to attack. If we have no military, no one can think we might attack. None of Costa Rica's neighbors will ever decide Costa Rica is about to attack and launch a preemptive strike at Costa Rica because Costa Rica has no military.

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Couldn't take over anyway

If we didn't make it easy for aggressors, they would not be able to conquer and rule a territory.

If no structure in place no one can take over

If there is no governmental structure in place for ruling the residents of an area, aggressors will have a doubly difficult task. They will not only have to overcome the resistance of the residents, but also will have to create a structure from scratch. This caused the English hundreds of years delay in their attempt to conquer Ireland.

The aggressor's nightmare: an armed citizenry

Usually conquerors do not want to capture just a barren plot of ground. They want to capture the people and the material resources those people have created. If the residents are armed and prepared to defend their property, the aggressor is faced with a game that even statists can see is negative sum. This realization has led to the two most successful militaries in the world today. Switzerland has not been attacked in seven hundred years. Israel has never lost a war. Both require military training of most citizens and give them arms to take home. If we do not prevent our residents from acquiring arms, many of them will and we will have a voluntary defense based on the most successful models available.

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Relations with others

The best we can do to try to help other nations is to set them a good example and trade with them, not send troops to invade and to kill their residents. The best way we can deal with others is neutrality.

Example will spread to others

Just as we will be following the lead of other nations, so others will be inspired by our example. Most statists will not voluntarily give up any of the prerogatives of power, so the number following will be dependent on the ability of citizens to wrest control away from governing elites.

Export goods not war

If a nation trades widely with other nations, they will be hesitant to attack it. "World peace through world trade" may be a little overstated, but by helping each other economically, a side benefit will be less war. (This assumes no exclusionary tariffs and trade barriers, part of the causes of World War II.)


The smartest thing the founding fathers said was "Friendship with everyone, entangling alliances with no one." They realized the tragic consequences of being dragged into European wars and wanted to avoid it. Our foreign policy should be founded on their sterling example. If we do we eliminate one more reason the statists have for saddling us with an overbearing government and we greatly reduce our risk of being attacked. It has worked for seven hundred years for Switzerland in the middle of war after war.

Fewer excuses

If we will eliminate a government controlled military and allow our residents to defend themselves, we can eliminate an enormous burden on our society and simultaneously eliminate one of the statists' favorite excuses for destroying our freedoms. D

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