Hello again, David. I checked your profile, and you’re a decade older than I. That’s fortunate, for that means neither of us have to consider generational context or go into great detail to educate the other as might be necessary with someone much younger than ourselves.

Libertarianism

First off, I note that you are a libertarian. Libertarianism sounds great in theory — it really does — but as far as I can tell, in the real world it works every bit as well as its polar opposite: communism i.e. not very well at all. Both libertarianism and communism would work wonderfully if and only if everyone was of the same mindset. Problem is, any significant population of humans has always been comprised of individuals whose mindsets run the gamut from stoic rock-ribbed individualists to overly-sensitive lemmings and everything in between.

This isn’t a minor point. The proof lay in the fact that all of the most successful nations today (in terms of security, safety, rights, and freedoms) are the first-world democracies, all of which have three things in common: “big government”, high effective taxes, and strong regulation…and those three factors are what libertarians seem to hate the most. But if all the most successful governments have those three factors and have remained on top of the world’s socioeconomic heap for generations (as has been the case since the 1950's), then it would seem that libertarians are arguing against sustained success.

What’s more, every single one of those most-successful nations are significantly socialized (if to varying extents), including America and Australia. You yourself must know how socialized Australia is, but are you really any less free than I am here in America? Of course not. On a side note, I’ve been to both Perth and Hobart twice and loved them both. I’ve often encouraged my family to move to Oz, preferably to the Melbourne area. That, and the climate in Hobart is very much like here in Seattle.

But I digress. There are nations that are rather libertarian in nature (though not by design), specifically, the third-world democracies. The one I have the most experience in is the Philippines, where I have a house and several-score extended family members. There, despite what you hear about Duterte, the government itself is rather weak and certainly limited, taxes are relatively low (and often unenforceable), and regulation is enforced pretty much only when bribes are not forthcoming. As a result of the low taxation, the civil servants are poorly paid, and so must often depend on those bribes to provide food, shelter, and clothing for their own families; thus the endemic corruption.

In other words, while there is certainly corruption in the first-world democracies whose systems embody what libertarians seem to detest the most, the weak governments and low taxation rates of third-world democracies pretty much guarantee endemic corruption to a level that we never experience in our first-world nations.

Strategic competition et al

I am saying that strategic competition, the concept of strategic adversaries, & the practices of strategic intelligence are illegitimate & insane.

Strategic competition is insane? Surely. But if, say, the “five-eyes nations” you referred to decided to stop competing, it’s not unlike a boxing match where one guy decides to stop fighting, but still must endure the punches from the other guy.

You can see this for yourself with how Trump (whom I deeply despise as a coward and a narcissistic idiot) has effectively withdrawn America from competing in Asia, not only by pulling America out of the TPP trade pact, but also by trying to charge our allies in Japan and S. Korea much more for our bases there. As a direct result, the Philippines has just ended the system of military cooperation we’ve held with them since WWII and is opening itself up to China.

In other words, nature abhors a vacuum. If we don’t compete, sure, we might save a few tax dollars…but that vacuum is still there, and it will be filled by those who will compete. And no amount of philosophical rhetoric will stop them.

There are no circumstances, including strategic or commercial competition, in which concealment of ‘secrets’ serve human interests.

I suspect the winners of the battles of Midway, Kursk, Moscow, Taranto, the Atlantic, and the air war over Britain would strongly disagree with that statement, for secrecy and intel were what enabled all those victories. What’s more, those who fought without the possibility of concealment of intentions or movement (e.g. Gallipoli) would certainly have something to say on the matter.

The examples outside combat are legion as well. How many times during the Cold War did we in the West receive intelligence that enabled us to know what was going on behind the Iron Curtain? You must know that if we had not kept the identities of our sources secret, that those sources who were not summarily imprisoned or executed would have become immediately and permanently silent.

Even within nations, if a whistleblower speaks up, he’s risking his career and possibly more. When a scientist pointed out that George W. Bush was wrong (or lying) about yellowcake being produced by South Africa for Iraq, his career was ruined and his wife was exposed as a CIA officer, and her exposure also exposed the entire operation she’d been involved in. Even today, the whistleblower who brought to light Trump’s extortion of the president of The Ukraine must keep his identity secret — otherwise, he and his family are in very real physical danger. I very nearly lost my career in the Navy for whistleblowing about asbestos in our engine room. It didn’t matter that I saved a lot of lives — what mattered was that I had embarrassed my department head. In retrospect, it would have been very nice indeed to have kept my identity secret.

What I’m getting at is that as with libertarianism, your rhetoric sounds good in theory, but in the real world, it runs up against human faults such as pride, arrogance, hubris, fear, and paranoia, and when one knows that exposing a secret will result in very real danger to one’s career, health, or family, one begins to see that keeping a whistleblower’s identity secret is a very good thing indeed.

Manning, Snowden, Assange & the supporting staffs & structures at Wikileaks, along with brave investigative journalists & reporters of conflict, are indeed heroes

Are the people of Russia and China as free as you and me? I don’t think so. But they are the ones to whom Snowden gave great advantage. Manning’s actions almost certainly endangered innocents in many nations, particularly in dictatorships where the people knew that the moment the government found out they were communicating with the Americans, that their lives and those of their families were forfeit.

You may abhor the fact that there is strategic competition, but wishes aren’t horses, and beggars won’t ride. If we don’t compete, if we abandon our efforts to maintain the socioeconomic supremacy of the first-world democracies, then we will have left a vacuum that will be filled by those who see such high-minded rhetoric as a golden opportunity to enforce their wills on the rest of us.

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Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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