Economist and Libertarian Theorist David Friedman support for the American Foreign Legion Proposal

David Director Friedman is an economist, physicist, legal scholar, and libertarian theorist. He is known for his writings in market anarchist theory, which is the subject of his most popular book, The Machinery of Freedom (1973, revised 1989 and 2014). He has authored several other books and articles, including Price Theory: An Intermediate Text (1986), Law’s Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters (2000), Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life (1996), and Future Imperfect (2008). David Friedman is the son of economists Rose and Milton Friedman. His son, Patri Friedman, has also written about libertarian theory and market anarchism, particularly seasteading.

David Friedman commented on my proposal for a foreign legion for the United States in perpetual war.

I would prefer a foreign policy that didn’t get us into perpetual wars. But if we have them, there is something to be said for the proposal.

I offer one additional suggestion, inspired by the Roman example. A soldier who has served out a normal career in the foreign legion, say twenty years, gets U.S. citizenship when he retires. That should both lower the cost of the legion, since it’s an additional employment incentive, and provide benefits to both the existing citizens and the new ones.

I first made the case for an American foreign legion primarily based on it being more economical and effective than

1. training, arming and funding the forces of foreign governments

The United States provided $121 billion in military aid to various foreign countries. $25 billion to train and arm in Iraq and $26 billion to train and arm in Afghanistan. However, the corrupt and incompetent government in Iraq got rid of the well trained officers for loyalists

2. cheaper than using mercenaries and private military contractors

The US used about 200,000 military contractors at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
Two out of every three of the american forces in Afghanistan now are private military contractors
The Blackwater type contractors cost about $200,000 each. The French foreign legion pay starts at about $18000/yr and then can go to about $50,000-60,000 for experienced veteran officers.

Blackwater is no more but Dyncorp and Triple Canopy have expanded. According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 5,000 specialists have been contracted by the Iraqi government. They are currently working in the country as analysts, military trainers, security guards, translators and even cooks. Some 2,000 of them are Americans.

Private defense companies, such as Triple Canopy and Dyncorp International, have multibillion contracts in Iraq for years to come.

The problem with the Bill O’Reilly mercenary force proposal is that mercenaries have been used extensively and at 8 times the scale he proposes. The other problem is the high cost and oversight problem. Also, the size of the force matters. A large force of 250,000-350,000 is needed.

3. cheaper than regular US forces, although the American foreign legion would supplement regular US forces. The foreign legion would work closely with the US air force and navy and marines. The US has spent over $700 billion in Afghanitstan and $1 trillion in Iraq.

Why was there a massive desertion problem in the US trained Iraq army ?

Officers in the Iraqi army were purged of competent leaders and replaced with political cronies of Prime minister Malaki.
An Iraqi soldier could not trust there would be a competent leadership and a sustained and resolved campaign to defeat the enemy completely.
The US pulled out years ago and now has stated they will not send soldiers to fight the enemy in Iraq and Syria.
The Iraqi army could have Sunni sympathizers to ISIS who would inform on your identity so you have to think about protecting your family from later reprisals.

What If the USA had a dedicated commitment to a foreign legion ?

If the USA had a commitment to using a 150,000-500,000 strong foreign legion to keep the peace (pax americana) then how could this be different ? If the soldiers knew that they were part of long term commitment to bringing peace, stability and prosperity to the region, they would have belief in the cause that were fighting and dying.

The French foreign legion is commanded by French officers, it is also open to French citizens, who amounted to 24% of the recruits as of 2007. The Foreign Legion is today known as a unit whose training focuses not only on traditional military skills but also on its strong esprit de corps. As its men come from different countries with different cultures, this is a way to strengthen them enough to work as a team. Consequently, training is often described as not only physically challenging, but also very stressful psychologically. A soldier who becomes injured during a battle for France can immediately apply for French citizenship under a provision known as “Français par le sang versé” (“French by spilled blood”).

Foreign nationals may apply for naturalisation after three years of service in the French Foreign Legion. The French require five years in the foreign legion.

The French Foreign Legion has a distinguished military history.

The French Foreign Legion has been a major part of fighting in Afghanistan and was recognized for service in the first Gulf war.

A March 2011 Congressional report estimated spending related to the wars on terror through fiscal year 2011 at $1.2 trillion, and that spending through 2021 assuming a reduction to 45,000 troops would be $1.8 trillion. A June 2011 academic report covering additional areas of spending related to the war estimated it through 2011 at $2.7 trillion, and long term spending at $5.4 trillion including interest. Those estimates were before the new Iraq situation and before Syria.

The US has had major forces in the middle east in 1990, 1991, 1998, 2001 onwards.
The history of the middle east and the current situations means that the US will still be majorly involved for another decade and probably longer.

More involvement in the region for UN peacekeeping missions would be a more important long term role. Keep regions stable and enable economic development.

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