The only legitimate function of the state is to protect citizens against those who initiate force or fraud. That means the provision of the armed services to protect us from external aggressors, the operation of local police forces to protect us from domestic aggressors, and a court system to try those accused of aggression and punish those found guilty.Some libertarians go further and argue that no functions of the state are "legitimate", including defence services. I have ordered my copy of Hans-Hermann Hoppe's new book, which examines this position:
With eleven chapters by top libertarian scholars on all aspects of defense, this book edited by Hans-Hermann Hoppe represents an ambitious attempt to extend the idea of free enterprise to the provision of security services. It argues that "national defense" as provided by government is a myth not unlike the myth of socialism itself. Defense services are more viably privatized and replaced by the market provision of security.I do find myself to be very impressed with the arguments that I have read so far in favour of a completely Anarcho-Capitalist society, but it's fair to say that it's not about to occur in the immediate future! In the meantime defence services are provided by the state, and it's making a lousy job of it:
Yesterday, Lieutenant Colonel James Cowan, the commanding officer of the Black Watch, one of the regiments in the thick of the fighting, told The Scotsman that the shortage of equipment in the Gulf was due to the government’s unwillingness to commit to war until all possible alternatives had been explored, while the regiment’s quartermaster during the conflict criticised the shortage of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection suits and equipment.Yes, "criminal" is the correct word. Whatever else emerges from the Hutton Report, it is obvious that Messrs Blair and Hoon have been utterly derelict in their duty to our military personnel. If for no other reason, Blair and Hoon should go, hanging their heads in shame.
Despite government assertions that the purpose of the war was to remove Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, British units were sent to the Gulf without enough NBC protection suits to go round, without equipment to decontaminate vehicles after an attack, and with unusable detection equipment intended to provide early warning of an attack.
While both men said it was important to keep complaints about other equipment shortages in perspective, they said that future problems could be avoided by a return to a system where essential items were held in stockpiles, rather than being purchased at the last minute.
Other senior military figures went even further, calling the failure to supply soldiers with adequate NBC gear "criminal".