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The National Security State

  • History of Liberty Seminar 2001

Tags Legal SystemWar and Foreign PolicyPolitical Theory

03/01/2004Robert Higgs

The warfare state does not want peace, it wants war. Conducting a permanent war requires three things. There must be an underlying convincing belief that the war is worthwhile. Some interest groups need to stand to gain money or power. And, crises need to provoke reliable and ongoing responses. World peace is not desirable.

After WWII, the US was a global superpower. Only the US had atomic weapons and could militarily dictate to the world. The onset of the Cold War (1950s-1970s) with Russia is blamed on many factors, but Raico’s essay on this issue is the best starting point. See Assessing the Presidency.

The National Security Act was passed in 1947. The CIA and DOD became shrouded in deep secrecy. Information was often fabricated. The Truman Doctrine in 1947 stated how America would act in the world.  An arms race was necessary. Massive global surveillance was necessary. Global deployment of troops was necessary. The Korean Action saved the warfare state because it paved the way for Congress to pay for defense spending. The Cold War cost $16 trillion. It was a substantial part of the American economy. Congressmen used the military budget as a giant slush fund for their districts.

Vietnam was responsible for a massive turning against the war until 1970 and war sentiment became  positive again with the hostage takings in Iran in the late 70s.

From the 2001 History of Liberty seminar.


Robert Higgs

Dr. Robert Higgs is retired and lives in Mexico. He was a senior fellow in political economy for the Independent Institute and longtime editor of The Independent Review; he was also a senior fellow of the Mises Institute. He is the 2007 recipient of the Gary G. Schlarbaum Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Cause of Liberty, and the 2015 Murray N. Rothbard Medal of Freedom.

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