The hawk moth caterpillar’s head resembles that of a snake. This evolutionary innovation helps to defend the caterpillar from predators, such as birds and rodents, which are fooled into believing it is they who are susceptible to becoming prey.
The coral snake is one of the most venomous snakes in the United States, behind only rattlesnakes and water moccasins. Although their docile and secretive nature typically keeps them free from human contact, they pack venom toxic enough to kill a person in less than two hours. The milk snake, on the hand, is not venomous at all. But due to its close inhabitance to the coral snake, natural selection has provided the milk snake black, yellow, and red stripes that nearly match those of its venomous cousin. Displaying coral snake colors forces predators to think twice before taking their chances with the milk snake.
Frilled lizards, when threatened, spread out a mane of skin around their necks to appear larger and more formidable than they actually are. Before a predator realizes he’s been had, the frilled lizard escapes into a tree.
Clownfish, despite their miniscule size, swim towards and sometimes bite anything that gets too close to their anemone homes (I have come face to face with these courageous souls while snorkeling!). As predators are used to prey that darts away, they might decide to back down from the clown.
Even my adorable pet sugar glider Penelope has a means of scaring off attackers. Disturb her while she’s sleeping or try to grab her when she’s not in the mood to play, and she bellows a loud and horrible cry that would startle any hunter. This sound is called crabbing, and it’s just the worst.
These examples prove that creatures do not always require the capacity for overwhelming violence to survive and thrive in nature. While tusks, claws and poisonous barbs are a plus, persuading your competitors that you are not to be messed with is sufficient and sometimes even preferable. After all, an untouched porcupine is better off than an injured one whose quills have just taught a young lion to leave it alone next time.
President Trump has reportedly expressed interest in a little crabbing of his own. Via the Washington Post:
Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.
“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”
Trump’s idea has been met with harsh criticism from both the left and the right, and many are saying his Kim Jong-Un-like despotic tendencies are finally coming to bear.
(I’ll get back to North Korea later.)
In a vacuum, I would never support wasteful and statist nonsense like marching my nation’s brave men and women in uniform around as if they were pieces of property. I have more respect for our volunteer military than I do for just about anyone else, and I don’t need a parade to remind me of their importance. While I don’t know for sure, I imagine that the vast majority of America’s soldiers can feel the American people’s appreciation for them as is.
On the contrary, a peaceful display of military might could be a step towards a big Libertarian political victory: an anti-interventionist revolution.
As it stands, the United States spends roughly $600 billion a year on defense (the Trump administration has requested an increase to nearly $640 billion for the upcoming fiscal year). This represents about 3.3% of our annual GDP, which is a greater portion than any other first world nation. The US’s total military budget is greater than the next eight nations combined, most of whom are allies.
As Libertarian as I am, I do not mind spending more money than other nations on military dominance. I’m grateful that the world’s most powerful armed forces belongs to a nation that supports free speech, equal protections under the law, individual liberty, and the free market (though I certainly wish it supported these values more consistently). If Russia, China, North Korea, and the whole of the Middle East abolished their militaries tomorrow, I would still want the US to maintain an invincible army.
What bothers me most about my country’s military budget (and I assume most Libertarians would agree) is the chunk that is spent on overseas bases and missions. In 2017, the Pentagon spent $206 billion on “Operations and Maintenance” alone. The total sum of money spent abroad for military and defense purposes is likely much higher.
America has no right to police the world’s other nations, and with $20 trillion in debt to its name, it has no financial ability either.
Libertarians should tell President Trump that we’ll attend and cheer on his military parade under one simple condition: end the American empire, and bring our troops home. The fundamental benefits of this would be 1) freeing up some of the budget to return to taxpayers, pay off the debt, or have parades and 2) freeing foreign nations to handle their own business.
An added benefit of a military parade brings North Korea to mind. Michael Malice is an author with some expertise on the DPRK. A point he consistently makes in his writings, lectures, and interviews is that the Kim Jung-Un regime is not stupid or crazy, but efficient and evil. A few moments of critical thinking should reveal this to anyone as it would not make much sense for the only intact nation of the Soviet era to be run be dumb lunatics. Malice references a North Korean analogy that pits an anthill (North Korea) against an elephant (USA). Although the anthill is much smaller than the elephant, it can persuade the elephant to move anywhere it wants. While one must never lose sight of the unthinkable oppression suffered inside the North Korean concentration camp, one cannot help but respect how half of a peninsula with a population the size of Florida manages to keep the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations constantly on their toes.
I am not saying the US should adopt any of North Korea’s habits or seek to keep the world on edge. What I am getting at is that an American display of power (in North Korean fashion) could help foster global peace through strength. Instead of secretive meddling throughout the world that costs thousands of lives and billions of dollars, the US could be more honest about our potential for destruction without actually invading anyone. Perhaps Teddy Roosevelt’s speak softly and carry a big stick strategy could be outdone by boasting loudly and wielding a giant ax.