Limiting War through Good Boundaries:
Secrecy, Independence, Basing, ROE Cards, Declarations, Enemy Governments, Productivity
September 24, 2021
In peace, individuals can protect themselves from other individuals in self-defense. In war, individuals in nations can protect themselves from other nations’ governments in self-defense.
Although assertive self-defense is moral, self-defense during peace avoids casualties that self-defense through war causes, so peace is better. War should be kept to an absolute minimum.
War is minimized by maintaining good boundaries.
Secrecy about weapons should be maintained to the maximum extent possible.
Weapons should be funded in secret.
Weapons should be researched in secret, in rapid design cycles like if we were currently threatened in existential war. Weapons should be tested in secret.
Weapons should be produced in secret, very infrequently and in very-small numbers. Producing weapons costs a great deal, locks into place rapidly-aging technology, and increases the chance of disclosures to enemies, which enable enemy governments to much-more-rapidly counter the advantages that a given weapon provides temporarily. Producing weapons also leaves fewer resources under the control of customers, which reduces productivity—keeping us from maximally limiting war (as described later).
As much as possible, weapons should be deployed in secret and used in secret. If a weapon would work but leave no trace that would identify it, that weapon would be hard to counter.
Acting independently and unilaterally in war is USA government people’s power and duty.
Treaties on war would unconstitutionally delegate to other nations’ governments at least some of USA government people’s power and duty to (as described later) enact rules-of-engagement cards, declare war, command the USA military, and eliminate enemy governments.
War-by-committee would diffuse responsibility and accountability. This perversely would make it easier for government people to choose to go to war now in order to more-assuredly get help from ally government people if needed later .
War-by-committee perversely also would make it certain that the most risk-averse governments’ people would use the veto power they have in practice—to restrict manpower, to restrict rules of engagement, to restrict terms of surrender—in exactly the ways that in each case would place our people in heightened danger both in current wars and in future wars.
Refusing to act independently and unilaterally in war would lessen the protection of our people’s life, liberty, and property  from other nations’ governments.
Forward basing exposes our people to attacks and to threats of rapid escalation to war.
Forward basing’s deterrence value is vastly oversold.
Basing inside one’s own nation makes one’s own people’s life, liberty, and property more secure from an initial attack. So basing inside our own nation makes sense for our government, and basing inside their own nations makes sense for other nations’ governments.
And for a world power, every bit of basing that its government builds up in other nations strongly incentivizes the other nations’ governments to build up less that would make their own people secure from an initial attack.
Also, the key challenge for enemies in the long run has never been winning new ground, but rather holding the ground initially won. The keys to victory have been local intelligence, irregular forces, and adequate weaponry. Ultimately a nation’s people are secured when they and any allies produce the best final insurgency.
Rules-of-engagement cards are job aids for the job of eliminating the enemy government, as discussed later, while minimizing deprivations of our people’s life, liberty, and property.
Rules of engagement in the form of lengthy texts are not job aids for troops, they are cover for political actors. They are badly suited for use by troops, and this makes them dangerous to troops. They should never exist.
ROE cards must provide straightforward decisionmaking that keeps our people safe. When milliseconds mean life or death, our people’s decisions must be clear and quick. These decisions must be backed by the entire national government, command, and justice system.
To make the ROE-card decisions simple, first there must be suitable boundary conditions . Weapon-free zones must be declared, which normally should encompass entire nations. No-approach buffer zones must be declared around military installations and equipment on land, on water, and in the air.
Congresses must pass regulations establishing these boundary conditions, and then must take advantage of these boundary conditions to pass suitable ROE cards, so that together these regulations  protect our people’s safety first.
Presidents must uphold their oaths to protect the Constitution ,  by refusing to command troops  in offensive war unconstitutionally—without constitutional boundary conditions and ROE cards that protect our troops.
Presidents must void existing executively-decreed rules of engagement that unconstitutionally don’t protect our troops. Presidents must institute boundary conditions and ROE cards that do protect our troops temporarily. And presidents must insistently press congresses to constitutionally pass boundary conditions and ROE cards that protect our troops permanently going forward.
Declarations of war  are the due process required before the USA government can constitutionally take offensive action to deprive persons of life, liberty, or property  through war.
When war has not been declared by the USA but an enemy attacks, of course, troops have the constitutional power to defend themselves and us.
Congresses must pass declarations of war before presidents command troops in offensive operations.
Presidents must uphold their oaths to protect the Constitution by refusing to command troops in offensive war unconstitutionally—without suitable boundary conditions, ROE cards, and declarations of war that congresses have passed and that presidents have signed and supported.
Enemy governments are what threaten to deprive our people of life, liberty, and property.
Enemy governments that would attack us are more coercive than our government. Typically they deprive their people of life, liberty, and property in peacetime, and, through conscription, in war.
Enemy governments are what we should declare war against. Enemy governments’ conscripts and other people are not the decisionmaking enemies, they are additional people who are threatened by the enemy governments but who unfortunately are forced to stand in the way, to some extent, of our eliminating the enemy governments. Our core enemies are the decisionmaking enemy governments.
When enemy governments force us to defend our people from them, we conduct war against them morally only if we have as our objective to eliminate the enemy governments, including their supplier governments, eliminating their current and future threats to our people .
Adequate resistance prevents defeat. Superior productivity brings victory. Greatly-superior productivity prevents attack.
The USA was attacked in World War II when the allies’ GDP as a ratio of the axis powers’ GDP fell to 2.0. The allies won World War II when the allies’ GDP as a ratio of the axis powers’ GDP rose to 5.1 .
Freer nations outproduce coercive nations , so it is within the unilateral control of the freer nations’ governments to keep their people freer to grow this ratio, preventing enemy attacks. If the freer’ nations governments are held to good boundaries.
The key is to prevent, or at least to snap out of, prolonged bouts of government coercion like those that caused the Great Depression and kept it going , by freeing people to each work out what they can do best for themselves. Leave people free to price their labor at prices that will sell and to price their products at prices that will sell, and people will end crises as quickly as crises can be ended  and will add more value as quickly as possible, moving us ever closer towards enduring peace.
In short, the way to peace is to choose the government people who will leave people the freest.
Throughout all these considerations about war, our pressing need is to be represented by people who can maintain specific good boundaries, and to make sure that these people maintain these good boundaries:
We have met our enemy and it is our governments. We can limit this enemy ourselves. Peace is almost entirely in our own hands, always.
James Anthony is the author of The Constitution Needs a Good Party: Good Government Comes from Good Boundaries and rConstitution Papers: Offsetting Powers Secure Our Rights. He has written articles in rConstitution.us, American Greatness, Foundation for Economic Education, American Thinker, and The Federalist. Mr. Anthony is an experienced chemical engineer with a master’s in mechanical engineering.