Friday, May 05, 2006


Can the Military be Decentrally Organized?

Chris' recent posts got me thinking about this question. When it comes to domestic affairs, I agree with him that central planning ussually winds up busted. But what military affairs? Can one effectivley organize a military, or conduct a war, without central planners?

Or to narrow the question "can a military be organized with less central planning than we currently have in the Untied States?" Or an even narrower question, "can our war-time military complete its goal of forcing its will on the enemy effectively with less central planning?"

What about going so far as to "privatize" the military? Would a for-profit army do well on the battlefield, respect the human rights of its enemies, AND protect the rights of American citizens?

I think a privatized military could be very effective. However, if individuals were worried about the rights and liberties of our enemies (to an extent) then this might be problematic.

Actually it is essentially the problem of modern warfare: moderated assault.

Since the military is restricted from over-exerting their powers on penalty of death, a private firm would likely not have this sort of authority and control to limit the violence (theft, murder, and rape) of its soldiers.

Then again, are mercanaries that are told not to act with excessive violence, capable of limiting themselves without coercive power. I don't know what the empirical evidence says on this subject?

Yah it seems like the real answer to this question relies on empirical evidence of human behavior and the institutional infastructure surrounding a "for-profit" army.

How would we prevent this private army from looting and raping its enemies at the end of a battle? Just as important, how would we keep a standing army from turning on its own citizens and looting them? Especially if times were tough in war-ing business?
Is this a defensive army or an offensive one? Oh, but we already have a name for a decentralized defensive army: insurgents. Or, more "offensive": terrorists. And in Switzerland: assassins.
We also have a name for a decentralized offensive army: pirate.
The reason for the pejorative nature of these terms is who does the naming, large centralized governments.
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