Art Carden  

Why Should We Go To War With [Name]?

What I've Been Writing Lately:... Motivated Numeracy and the Enl...

A few years ago--I think this was at Division of Labour--I asked readers to go to, spin for a Random country, and then make the case for war with that country. With the prospect of military adventures in Syria on the horizon, it's a good time to play again! So here's how you play.

1. Spin for a Random Country.

2. If you already know a lot about that country, explain why we should bomb it.

3. If you don't already know a lot about that country, read the country's Wikipedia page and CIA World Factbook page. Then explain why we should bomb it.

My Random Country: San Marino (CIA World Factbook Page here).

Military action against San Marino is justified because the state was an unjust haven for 19th-century centralizers who sought to unify Italian regions over and above the protests of citizens of those regions. They achieved their "independence" by making a deal with the Italian centralizers that gives them special privileges relative to Italians in non-sovereign regions. By toppling the San Marino regime, we might be able to set in motion a process by which Italy can again decentralize and whereby we can right the 19th-century wrongs of unification.

Because after all, how do you know there weren't grievous wrongs committed that we must right?

It's fun for the whole family! Spin and explain in the comments section!

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (17 to date)
RPLong writes:

I drew the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is almost too easy. My argument would run something like this...

Since the late 1990s, the armed conflicts surrounding DRC have been arguably the single most destabilizing force on the African continent. It has precipitated an unprecidented human rights disaster spanning a dozen different countries. As we all know, failed states - especially those in the middle east and Africa - are active breeding grounds for al Qaeda, and the resulting impacts always make their way to Egypt, Israel, Malaysia, etc. Thus, regional political instability has a direct impact on US homeland security.

American economic interests are at stake, as Congo's rich natural resources are subject to ongoing entrprises within the American extractive industries. [Either the current government or the rebel forces] has assured us that they will honor existing treaties and trade agreements with the United States and work with our interests and the United Nations to hold free and democratic elections as soon as they defeat [either the evil administration or the evil insurgents].

We also claim to have evidence that [the side we want to bomb] has weapons of mass destruction, but as usual we have to bomb the country to find out what that evidence is.

Once we finish a targeted, peaceful, non-quagmire bombing of the DRC, they will serve as a model of freedom and democracy throughout the region.

How did I do?

Hazel Meade writes:


1. It's a colony of the British Empire, and even still has a lieutentant governor appointed by the Queen - a monarch! We need to show them what true Democracy looks like.

2. Oppression of native peoples including forced indoctrination and abuse of native children in white schools.

3. As a former British colony, they really ought to be part of the United States, anyway. if it wasn't for the loyalists they would be.

4. They hate us anyway, judging by the state media. We need to invade before one of them launches a terrorist attack.

5. They have lots and lots of natural resources, including oil. Especially oil.

6. Their health refugees keep buying up US medical services, which puts a strain on the US medical system and causes prices to go up.

7. They are undercutting prescription drug prices by selling generic versions of patented drugs.

ivvenalis writes:

My random country: Antarctica

The use of force is justified in order to prevent further environmental damage from "scientific" installations operated by repressive regimes such as Argentina, Russia, and Japan. Some of these are likely merely present as cover for large-scale mineral extraction operations, with the costs imposed by a hostile climate neutralized by the lack of environmental regulations. There already exists a large hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica as a result of the emission of various wastes from these sites, which threatens animal populations such as penguins and certain seals whose only habitat is the southernmost continent. While airstrikes may be able to halt further abuses, most likely boots on the ground will be required to repair the ozone hole and ensure that local inhabitants are re-integrated peacefully in previously occupied areas.

Although not perhaps a solid casus belli at this time, the lopsided sex ratio at foreign settlements is likely the result of the systematic killing of female infants as well as the sexist exclusion of women immigrants. As part of the democratic reconstruction of these areas, it will likely be necessary to ensure that each Station Reconstruction Team includes at least one Female Engagement Liaison who can advise local women on health, education, and political activism as part of an integrated, multiagency effort to establish women's rights as a fundamental part of the new Antarctica.

Jon Murphy writes:

Saint Kitts and Nevis...

Well, this is a tough one...uh...piracy, I guess? They had pirates in the 1800's. Probably still do. So, uh...bomb them?

I'm sorry, I got nothing. This is tough

robert writes:

[Comment removed for supplying false email address. Email the to request restoring your comment. We'd be happy to publish your comment. A valid email address is nevertheless required to post comments on EconLog and EconTalk.--Econlib Ed.]

Hunter writes:

I don't have much either. I got Palau. Best I can do is that we have to bomb their fishing fleet to avoid depleation of marine resources.

Zac Gochenour writes:

My country: Brazil

Let me count the ways.

1. Brazil is the world's 7th largest economy. They have abundant natural resources. Those resources could be ours.

2. It is widely known that local government corruption is prevalent in Brazil. We need to punish these petty bureaucrats for their blatant disregard for the rule of law.

3. Brazil initially adopted a neutral position in WWI and their participation in WWII was reluctant at best. We need to make them pay for their cold indifference and isolationism.

4. The Brazilian national football team is the world's most successful, winning the World Cup a record five times. Are the rest of us really going to let this stand?

5. Brazil's armed forces are the largest in Latin America. Isn't that a little too close for comfort?

6. Brazil won its independence from our allies, the Portuguese. Thousands of brave Portuguese soldiers died from this terrorist action. Will we not avenge our fallen comrades?

7. The history of Brazilian politics is littered with dictatorships and coups. It is only a matter of time before it happens again. We need to make sure democracy is in Brazil to stay.

Maybe the better question is: why not go to war with Brazil? Come on, give me just one reason.

Aaron Zierman writes:

Venezuela -

I would have started with the necessity of removing the evil pseudo-dictator Hugo (Chavez, not the award recently given to my favorite author Brandon Sanderson). Alas, he has fallen and another puppet (Maduro) has taken his place.

Still, the political quagmire of Venezuela is rife with corruption and must be removed.

Venezuela also must be bombed to aid in the War on Drugs. Venezuela is a major producer of cocaine. This cannot be tolerated. For our children.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly: Oil. Need I say more? I will! To ensure the security of the American oil supply, we simply cannot leave it to chance in the hands of enemies like Venezuela. Again, for our children!

The outcome of our actions against Venezuela will ensure American hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. It will keep the oil flowing. It will help win the Great Drug War.

Let's do this. Now. For our children...

(Tongue in cheek syndrome)

Max writes:

Togo? Seriously? That doesn't even sound like a real place.

After googling, I see that it is located in Africa. I'm sure there are some human rights abuses we could rectify, or maybe rigged elections that call for a restoration of democracy?

Boom. Wiki says: "Faure Gnassingbé won re-election in the March 2010 presidential election, taking 61% of the vote against Jean-Pierre Fabre from the UFC, who had been backed by an opposition coalition called FRAC (Republican Front for Change).[17] Though the March 2010 election was largely peaceful, electoral observers noted "procedural errors" and technical problems, and the opposition did not recognize the results, claiming irregularities had affected the outcome.[18][19] Periodic protests followed the election.[20] In May 2010, long-time opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio announced that he would enter into a power-sharing deal with the government, a coalition arrangement which provides the UFC with eight ministerial posts.[21][22] In June, 2012, electoral reforms prompted protesters to take to the street in Lomé for several days; protesters sought a return to the 1992 constitution that would re-establish presidential term limits.[23] July, 2012, saw the surprise resignation of the prime minister, Gilbert Houngbo.[24] Days later, the commerce minister, Kwesi Ahoomey-Zunu, was named to lead the new government. In the same month, the home of opposition leader Jean Pierre Fabre was raided by security forces, and thousands of protesters again rallied publicly against the government crackdown.[25]"

This game is too easy.

MikeDC writes:

Turing Test Opportunity!

Seriously, I'm going to have to play the straight man to this one, because I guess I'm just that much of a contrarian, and say that at the very least, we should specify what we mean by "war".

In every other instance, libertarians strive to look at the individual, rather than the collective state. E.g., we should allow immigration from, say, Mexico, because most Mexicans are nice productive people who would benefit us by being our neighbors and by being more fully integrated into our economy.

Thus, I think when libertarians discuss warfare, we need to stop talking about it in the most generic possible terms, and specify who and what we should or shouldn't be waging war on.

So, I spun for a country and got Laos.
Actually, a pretty interesting case. We should use all military and intelligence apparatus at our disposal to identify and kill the senior membership of the Laotian communist party if they do not agree to a rapid and internationally supervised transition to a free government.
1. Laos is one of the few legitimately totalitarian communist states left.
2. It's small enough that nobody's really going to lift much of a finger to help them.
3. The US eventually, as a humanitarian measure, accepting several thousand Hmong refugees, who would likely have been killed in the mid-90s, had they been handed back to the Laotian government as the Clinton administration initially attempted to do.
Battle plan:
Assuming the Laotian government doesn't begin opening up, simply wait several months. Plan, do recon, and train. Then send in special forces to conduct a surprise attack on the regime assets we've identified. Infiltrate by boat, attack nearly simultaneously, supported by air-power, then helicopter out within a few hours.

If it doesn't work, tell them it can happen again at any time in the future, and if they don't like it, they'd better reduce their "enjoying the fruits of being the vanguard of the proletariat" budgets and get used to living in drafty underground bunkers.

Garrett M. Petersen writes:

Zimbabwe. What can I say? Since it gained its independence in 1980, the country has been ruled by Robert Mugabe, who has held power through rigged elections, violence, and intimidation of political opponents. The Mugabe regime has run the Zimbabwean economy into the ground through a disastrous land redistribution campaign, the hyperinflation of the Zimbabwe dollar, and ongoing regime uncertainty. The people of Zimbabwe must be liberated from Mugabe's tyrannical reign, and a strategic bombing campaign is the most cost-effective and humane way to liberate them.

HH writes:

Afghanistan (really?)-

According to Paul Krugman and Keynesian demand siders everywhere, we should just start a war and employment will immediately rise and output will return to trend within months. This also seems to implies that after the war, the reverse should happen.

Therefore, because we are winding down the war in Afghanistan it's their fault unemployment is at 7.3%! Thus, as a permanent solution to unemployment forever, I advocate permanent war against this country. Let's bomb the crap out of them and get this economy moving again!!!

Chris H writes:


These guys just have it coming to them. We'll start with it's historical problems.

Switzerland has a long history of exporting mercenaries who have perpetuated warfare across Europe. They still export these mercenaries to the Vatican, which is a theocratic government dedicated to spreading it's ideology across the planet and established as an independent state by fascists.

But the Swiss ties to fascism go even deeper! During the Second World War they traded with and helped support the Nazi war effort! They have never been made to pay any sort of reparation for this heinous support of Hitler's regime. (ooc: I got to go to Godwin's Law for this one!)

But you might be saying "Oh Chris H! All that is in the past! Switzerland is a reformed country and not a threat to the world now!" Wrong! Switzerland is a country notorious for it's secret and shady banking sector. With the difficulties in outside observation of the system they could be keeping safe the assets of terrorists and organized criminal syndicates!

But perhaps all this could be forgiven...if Switzerland wasn't a known human rights violator! Their ban on minarets in 2009 is a clear attack on religious freedom (even the French with their burka bans have called this "religious oppression")! Switzerland has clearly lost it's right to be considered a free country and it's citizens must be liberated from their tyrannical leaders (who, given that they have strong direct democracy traditions, are the Swiss citizens themselves)! A new democratic government must be put in place that won't listen to the people!

Though there isn't an obvious rebel faction to take over, the United States military should still be able to defeat the evil Swiss army (which still practices conscription!). Leaving Switzerland in it's current state may even spread instability to three of the biggest nations in the EU (Germany, France, and Italy). If we aren't willing to act to ensure the safety of those allies then no other US ally on the planet will feel our promises of protection will be honored!

Invade Switzerland! Preserve Religious Freedom! Oppose Mercenaries! Prevent The Funding Of Terrorists! And Save Our NATO Allies!

KS writes:


This obscure kingdom in the southern Pacific is an intolerable menace to the American way of life. The current monarch King Tupou VI survived demonstrations against the royal family's anti-democratic accumulation of power. It is the moral duty of the United States to remove this despot and bring greater democracy to the people of Tonga.

This war is not only the duty of the United States, it is also a geopolitical imperative given China's growing influence in Tonga. The Chinese have spent millions of dollars in foreign aid in a blatant attempt to purchase the allegiance of the Tongan royal family. However, given Tonga's small population and the recent wave of Chinese immigration, China's true intentions could be far more nefarious. Tonga would serve as a valuable staging area to invade the US territories of American Samoa and the Solomon Islands. Clearly, the risks of innaction are great.

In contrast, the risks of military action are low since this defenseless nation lacks any noteworthy military assets. We must attack this defenseless nation before it becomes a base for the Chinese military.

Will P. writes:


Nope. Bad hand, time to redraw.

Tracy W writes:

Hmm, on reading this it strikes me that there's a sharp difference in quality between the arguments for intervening in Syria or the DRC and the arguments for the other given countries. Murdering innocent people in large and ongoing numbers is more serious than the other violations of human rights mentioned, and intervening about things that happened years ago.
The stronger implicit arguments here are the lack of reason to hope that intervention will help in DRC or Syria.

Ak Mike writes:

Anyone remember Randy Newman's song Political Science?

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