Harry Browne on Defense

Government role should be to keep us out of war

War is justified by blurring the distinction between foreign rulers and their subjects. Our politicians cite the sins of foreign rulers, and then ask us to join in killing their downtrodden subjects. The politicians want us to forget that wars kill innocent people. They talk about teaching a foreign dictator a lesson, but the dictator never gets hurt.

Like the Founding Fathers, Libertarians know that war is the first resort of political scoundrels, but the last resort of a free people. Libertarians know that the government’s role isn’t to police the world-or even to win wars. Government’s role is to keep us out of wars-and to protect us from foreign enemies, not create them.

How would a Libertarian government assure our safety? Our foreign policy would be very simple: We are always ready to defend ourselves, but we threaten no one.

Source: The Great Libertarian Offer, p.114-116 Sep 9, 2000

Gays in the army OK; irrelevant to military service

Q: What is your position on gays in the military?

A: Well, I have to tell you, the only time in the 1996 campaign or in this campaign that I have been stumped for an answer was when I was speaking before a gay and lesbian group. The question of allowing gays in the military came up. And the reason I was stumped was that it had never occurred to me that anybody in the world would ever want to serve in the military. I spent three years in the Army, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be in the Army. But I believe that anybody that’s in the military should be treated on the basis of what he does and not on the basis of what he is. As long as he does not cause harm to other people, as long as he does not intrude on the proper function of the military, then it doesn’t matter whether he is gay or she is lesbian or he or she is heterosexual. So obviously there should not be any limitations based on sexual orientation.

Source: PlanetOut interview ( Jul 7, 2000

We have strong offense & weak defense-switch it

Today we have a strong national offense (the ability to blow any country to smithereens) & a weak national defense (the inability to defend against any two-bit dictator who gets his hands on a nuclear missile). We should have just the opposite. When we do, we will have a much more efficient defense-with a much smaller cost & a much less complex system.
Source: E-mail correspondence from the candidate Jan 27, 2000

Fund SDI, pay, & readiness; cut CIA & everything else

Browne would adjust funding as follows:
Source: 2000 NPAT Jan 13, 2000

Deploy SDI; no need to fight spread of nukes

Source: 2000 NPAT Jan 13, 2000

Keep out of wars, rather than police the world

Like the Founding Fathers, Libertarians know that war is the first resort of political scoundrels, but the last resort of a free people. Libertarians know that government’s role isn’t to police the world -- or even to win wars. Government’s role is to keep us out of wars -- and protect us from foreign enemies, not run around the world creating them.
Source: “World Safe” 5/16/99 May 16, 1999

Build missile defense by private reward system

A Libertarian President would make sure we have a defense against incoming missiles -- a defense designed not by foot-dragging politicians (who will never complete the task), but by private firms competing to win a large reward.
Source: “World Safe” 5/16/99 May 16, 1999

If US is attacked, target the dictator, not people

If America truly were threatened by an aggressor (unlike today), a Libertarian President would target the dictator -- not his innocent subjects. He would warn the dictator that any aggressive act would prompt the posting of a mega-reward for the death of the dictator -- a reward payable to anyone anywhere, including the dictator’s guards and wives.
Source: “World Safe” 5/16/99 May 16, 1999

Focus on defense against missiles and invasions

In a Libertarian America, you will no longer fear that your children will fight in a foreign war, or that terrorists will target your city. A Libertarian government will mind its own business, quit making enemies abroad, and rely for peace on a strong defense against both missiles and invasion, rather than by threatening potential attackers with massive retaliation.
Source: “What Do You Want” 5/16/9 May 31, 1998

De-fund CIA; decrease R&D for new weapons.

Browne would eliminate funding for many components of the Department of Defense and for the CIA, as well as for “defending foreign countries.” Browne would “greatly decrease funding for military hardware and for research & development of new weapons.” Browne would maintain the funding status for pay for active duty personnel.
Source: Project Vote Smart, 1996, May 1, 1996

Avoid arms trade; promote peace by free trade

We can do more for world peace by providing free trade, by refusing to meddle in other countries’ affairs, and by not arming the participants in disputes. And if we reduce our federal government dramatically, the resulting prosperity will inspire other countries to do the same -- and the smaller their governments, the less likely that they will threaten world peace.
Source: (X-ref Foreign Policy) Project Vote Smart, 1996 May 1, 1996

Politician’s wars are heroic; real war is death & killing

The politicians’ stirring phrases are meant to keep our eyes averted from the reality of war - to make us imagine heroic young men marching in parades, winning glorious battles, and bringing peace and democracy to the world. But war is something quite different from that. It is your children dying before they’re even fully adults. It is your brothers and sisters being taught to kill other people - and to hate people who are just like themselves and who don’t want to kill anyone either.
Source: Excerpts from Why Govt Doesn’t Work: “What is War?” Jul 2, 1995

Wars have historically established nothing

Politicians always justify war as being necessary for the greater good. They speak movingly of giving one’s life for one’s country. But it’s always someone else’s life they’re talking about.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.140 Jul 2, 1995

6-point plan to get government out of war programs

    There is so much we can do to avoid war-to assure that America’s youth never go to war again, and that our lives and homes are secure against foreign attack:
  1. End all loans & giveaways to foreign governments & international agencies. Stopping giveaways keeps our government from taking sides in foreign disputes.
  2. Get out of all alliances, treaties, & international organizations. America doesn’t need to be a joiner to have good relations with the rest of the world.
  3. End all arms sales by the government.
  4. Open our markets to goods & services from all over the world. Nothing could do more to give foreign people a vested interest in keeping the peace with us.
  5. When a foreign leader threatens the US, announce that carrying out any warlike act against us will lead to a multi-million-dollar reward for his assassination.
  6. Establish a defense that protects against missiles launched from anywhere in the world-a system built by private companies competing for a reward.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.158 Jul 2, 1995

Other candidates on Defense: Harry Browne on other issues:
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