Angola. Vietnam. Mayaguez. Cuba. Rhodesia. Israel. Chile. NATO. SALT.…What should U.S. foreign policy be or have been? Many libertarians have a ready answer: isolationist. The commonly invoked, and unclear, notion of isolationism is thus a good take-off point in considering a sound libertarian evaluation of current and prospective U.S. foreign policy.
Let's consider three distinct isolationist demands. This will allow a more sensitive survey of relevant considerations than would be possible if isolationism were characterized in some single sense.
- Defensive military action by the U.S. government should be taken only on behalf of U.S. citizens residing within the U.S. territory or U.S. citizens' holdings lying within U.S. territory.
- In its defensive military measures the U.S. government should proceed unilaterally—entering no alliances or compacts with any other state (or protective institution).
- Defensive military action by the U.S. government should take place only within or within the vicinity of U.S. territory.
The first demand should not be confused with the third, for what counts is the location of threatened persons or their property versus the location of the defensive activity. Whereas the third demand rules out any operation within the territory of a distant aggressor, the first simply rules out operations (even within U.S. territory?) on behalf of U.S. citizens in or investing in the territories staked out by other states. Nor are the second and third demands identical. Some, but not all, military actions outside the vicinity of the U.S. might involve alliances or compacts; and some, but not all, alliances might require U.S. action outside the vicinity of its territory.
Often isolationist demands pass under the label "noninterventionist." This confuses matters. Interventionism has to do with getting involved in the affairs of countries that are not aggressing against the intervener's citizens for the purpose of arranging things within or among those countries in ways pleasing to the intervener. The demand that the United States be neither a world policeman nor a do-gooder busybody is a very modest one and does not establish the isolationist demands. For these put forward restrictions on when, how, or where the government should act against governments that are, or are alleged to be, aggressing against U.S. citizens.
The isolationist recommendations could be argued for along three distinct lines. According to the first, the free-market, private protective agency is the libertarian paradigm of a force-wielding organization and such an organization would be isolationist (in the senses embodied in some or all of the isolationist demands). The second line of argument is the limited governmentalist's counterpart to the first. It asserts that the strictly limited state is the libertarian paradigm of a force-wielding organization and that such an organization would be isolationist. The clincher is the same in either case: to press isolationist demands upon the current U.S. government is merely to insist that it become more like the libertarian paradigm. Isolationism is taken to be part of the ideal package, and for that reason its adoption by today's U.S. state is seen as desirable. (Even though we may not find any particular person explicitly and consciously arguing just along either of these lines, they lurk behind many libertarians' remarks about foreign policy.)
In contrast, there is a third line of argument that does not see isolationism as characteristic of the paradigmatically legitimate organization. Instead, it is urged upon the existing state because, roughly, given the nature of this particular state and the world today, isolationism is our best bet for maintaining our rights while not violating the rights of others. The third line of argument requires spelling out some general principle of permissible defense which, when applied to the current United States, requires isolationism. The first two, on the other hand, apply a general principle of isolationism to current policy.
What of the soundness of these three arguments?
FREE-MARKET ANARCHISM AND ISOLATIONISM
The notion of isolationism and its various demands are tied so tightly to the notion of state territories that it is at least close to unintelligible to speak of free-market protective agencies being isolationist. True, a given private agency competing with other nonterritorial agencies in the business of selling genuine protective services might adopt the policy of not offering to protect its clients when they traveled to or invest in areas far from that agency's base of operations. But this could not be described as the agency's refusing to protect what was outside of its territory—unless we define an agency's territory as the totality of areas in which it is prepared to protect. But if we do, then every agency, indeed every state, will automatically and necessarily be isolationist!
Besides, no agency would be required to protect only what is relatively near its base of operations. Some agencies might specialize in the protection of persons or property in exotic locales. It's easy to imagine, for instance, an organization headquartered in New York which specialized in protecting developers of oil fields from nasty nationalizers. A private protection agency would be free to take on charity cases. The Stonehead Agency might seek a profitable media-advertising image through providing (free to them) protection for Easter Islanders against Peruvian incursions. A private protective conglomerate might have operations scattered all over the world even though its headquarters and a majority of its customers were located within what is now the United States. Such an agency might, for instance, sell protection against terrorists in Ireland or Munich.
Furthermore, it is evident that free-market agencies could and likely would make all sorts of alliances—including alliances among agencies scattered all over the world. Among these would be the crucial alliances against the proverbial bandit agencies and alliances to maintain weapon systems that agencies might not be able to afford individually.
Nor is there any principle requiring an agency to conduct its genuinely defensive or restitutive actions solely in the vicinity of its clients or their property. If my protective agency can defend me in my home only by sending a platoon of its (private) marines around the world to destroy the installation of the mad scientist who has it in for me, they have every right to send that platoon.
Clearly, then, we can not demand isolationism as a necessary characteristic of free-market anarchism's paradigm force-wielding institution.
LIMITED GOVERNMENT AND ISOLATIONISM
Does the ideal of limited government—an organization that holds a monopoly on the sale of protective services within a given territory but only engages in protective activities—point to a policy of isolationism? Certainly isolationist demands are more intelligible within this ideal than within the free-market anarchist ideal. Nevertheless, the second and third isolationist demands can readily be dismissed here, too. There is no general reason why the defensive activities of a limited government must be confined to the vicinity of its territory. Just as in the case of market defense firms, its troops may legitimately strike at the distant home-base of an aggressor. Nor is there any general reason why a limited government could not enter into defensive alliances with other states. If, for each of two governments, defense against attack upon their citizens by a third power would be permissible, then surely coordinated defense against an attack by this third party upon both of them would be permissible. Further, each would be free to compact with others for assurances of defensive aid should one of them be attacked. The principles involved here are exactly the same as those which would allow coordination among private defense agencies.
A limited government, too, with the appropriately defined consent of its citizens, would be free to take on charity cases and free to lower its cost to its primary clientele by taking on additional contract work. Its citizens would be free (like the shareholders of corporations) to mandate that the government provide its services to the Easter Islanders or that it seek revenues as a subcontractor for other (at least relatively libertarian) governments.
What of the first demand—that defense be provided for citizens or their property only when they are within the territory of the state? On one version of what a limited libertarian government would be, there is a plausible rationale for this first (and most modest) isolationist demand. Focusing just on the protection of property, suppose that the limited monopoly government offers a particular level of protection to the property of those who reside within its territory in return for fees that are proportionate to the value of their property. Such a fee system, combined with the prohibition of alternative protectors, would amount to a forced subsidy from those whose property was relatively inexpensive to protect to those whose property was relatively expensive to protect.
One way for the monopoly government to avoid perpetrating such a subsidy would be for it to refuse to offer protection for property whose cost of protection is significantly higher than the average. If we assume that high-cost-of-protection properties are those within the territories of (certain?) other governments, we can conclude that the ideal limited government would not offer to protect the property of its citizens which was located within the territory of (certain?) other states.
Still, this argument is based on a special conception of how a limited government would operate. If we instead suppose that its fees were based upon the cost of protection (and not merely on the value of what is protected), then the specter of forced subsidy is removed without requiring that government to accede to the first isolationist demand.
We must conclude that neither of the competing libertarian ideals require the adoption of isolationism. There is no high, sacred, libertarian principle of isolationism.
Defensivism*, not isolationism, is the general principle by which force-wielding organizations should relate to others. The question should not be, Is this action/policy truly isolationist? Rather, the question should be, Is this action/policy an implementation of legitimate defense? And here enters the third line of argument for isolationism—that, given the nature of this particular state and the world today, isolationism is our best bet for maintaining our rights while not violating the rights of others. Within this line there are three approaches. The first two, rather heavy-handed arguments for isolationism, focus on the legitimacy of the present U.S. state, the third on its legitimate defense policy.
According to the first approach, since the U.S. state is illegitimate, our program should be to whittle it down to nothing, to abolish each and every of its undertakings. Isolationism is merely a partial expression of this abolitionism. But the question at hand is: Given that there is a U.S. state (and other states), what would be the best policy for it? And if this is the question we are assuming that our answer will cite some state-implemented policy. We are assuming that being state-implemented as such will not disqualify a policy. So merely indicating that interventionism is state- implemented is hardly sufficient, within the context of this question, for showing that it is wrong. (Of course, the argument might just come down to the insistence that nothing should exist that would not exist in a libertarian world. But if this were the argument, then it is evident that at least the free-market anarchist would have to come out against state isolationism. For there would be no state isolationism within a libertarian world as he conceives it. And even the limited governmentalist would come out against state isolationism. For there is nothing inherently isolationist about the ideal of a limited libertarian state.)
The second approach is that defensive military measures should be abolished because they are tax-supported. But if we are assuming the existence of a U.S. government and asking what policies are best adopted by it, then we are assuming that some tax-supported activities will go on (and some will be judged as most suitable for adoption). Within this context, the fact that an activity is tax-supported cannot be a reason for abolishing it, and we must evaluate activities on other grounds—according to some criterion of legitimate defense per se.
Of course, as libertarians we want the cessation of all (nonrestitutive) forced exchanges and transfers. So there are two dimensions along which change must occur. First, the activities of force-wielding institutions that are carried on with the resources they control must be made to conform to libertarian principles. Second, the activities through which these institutions obtain resources must be made to conform to libertarian principles. In demanding a libertarian foreign policy we are demanding change along the first dimension. Roughly, we are demanding that the resources con-trolled by a particular force-wielding institution be employed by it only in the permissible defense of those persons it represents. We are pressing a demand that is different in character from, and independent of, the tax (i.e., the second dimension) issue.
The fact that the demand for libertarian employment of resources would also be pressed upon institutions that came by their resources legitimately shows that we cannot substitute for this first demand the separate (and equally important) demand that resources be legitimately obtained. Certainly it would be absurd to demand libertarian restrictions upon the employment of resources that force-wielding institutions control without also demanding an end to the violation of rights involved in taxation. But this second change, having to do with the acquisition of resources and not essentially with the character of their subsequent use, is best not thought of as a foreign policy change.
The anti-tax point as an argument for isolationism leads us away from the question at hand, namely, what defensive measures are best adopted by the tax-collecting U.S. government. More important, it misleadingly suggests that, vis-a-vis large-scale defense programs, what libertarians demand is simply the absence of each and every sort of activity that is currently financed through compulsory payments.
One must add, however, that there is an important causal connection between the way in which the state obtains its resources and the uses to which they are put. The tax-collecting state is vastly more free in how it will employ the resources it obtains than is any protective institution that has to support its activities through the sale of these activities as services to persons who are free to decline to purchase them. This is another reason why the demand for legitimate defensive use of those resources must be accompanied by (but not replaced by) the demand for the legitimate acquisition of those resources.
Further, the conclusion here is a limited one: citing the impermissibility of taxation cannot, in one fell swoop, settle what the foreign policy of the United States should be. Yet, this outcome does not preclude one from invoking the disvalue of higher taxes or of forced subsidies through taxes (in cash or kind—i.e., the draft) in subsequent foreign policy evaluations.
Finally, it is sometimes asserted (the third approach) that isolationism follows from the libertarian restriction of force to defensive ends. In a Libertarian Party position paper, Joseph Stromberg says, "Since our philosophy calls for the use of force only in self-defense against those who violate the rights of individuals to their life, liberty and justly acquired property, Libertarian principles call on the American government to restrict its use of force in international relations to repelling actual attacks on the United States itself."
Now consider these questions: Does it follow from the defense restriction that the rights of U.S. citizens which are exercised outside U.S. territory may not be protected? Does it follow that force may not be used to defend the rights of persons in other lands who authorize and pay for this defense? That the U.S. government may not enter alliances for the purpose of deterring attacks on the United States itself? That attacks may be "repelled," in the sense of counteracted, only within (the vicinity of) U.S. territory? Obviously the answer to each of these questions is no.
So isolationism hardly follows from libertarian defense principles as such. Of course, a correct view of permissible defense may, in combination with other reasons and evidence, sustain one or more isolationist demands. But this should be the subject of investigation, not prophesy.
It would be a wonderful thing to have a fully developed and well-founded theory of legitimate defense. Unhappily, we don't. Yet a number of questions related to such a theory can be raised, and certain directions for such a theory can be suggested.
A theory of permissible defense requires an answer to the question, What may a person, or his duly authorized agent, do in the legitimate defense of his rights? Roughly, it seems that a person may do or have cause to have done to an aggressor whatever will least invasively prevent the aggressor from (further) violating the rights of that person. Yet this principle cannot be entirely correct. For according to it, if I could prevent another from unintentionally trespassing on the corner of my lawn only by killing him, I would be morally free to kill him. Furthermore, and more importantly, the principle as stated says nothing about the effect of one's defensive activities on innocent third parties, a problem that casts doubt on some defensive activities.
Imagine these situations: I can defend my continued possession of my automobile (my arm, my life) only by blowing up the whole city in which the person who is set on taking my car (my arm, my life) resides; I can stop an invasion only by blowing up enemy headquarters, including its population of innocent conscripts; I can stop an invasion only by firing through the lines of hostages which the genuine aggressors are using as shields. Note that a very high percentage of defensive activities will impose risks on some innocent bystanders and that in anything like a defensive war innocent bystanders or shields are certain to be impoverished, maimed, and killed. Those who, in arguments for isolationism, invoke the specter of innocent victims seem to be holding that actions which produce such victims cannot be legitimately defensive. Is this true?
Would necessary maimings and killings of innocent bystanders (necessary if one's rights were to be defended against some aggressor) be violations of rights? If so, is there an absolute moral prohibition against such defensive acts? Should one (group) suffer many violations of rights rather than offer a defense that would itself violate any rights? Or is it a matter of how many innocents' rights would be violated compared to how many rights the defense would protect?
Not having in hand a theory to solve these queries, we can yet compare cases, making plausible the permissibility of killing (injuring) innocent bystanders if this is necessary to prevent oneself from being killed (injured? robbed?). Suppose that Joe Blow informs you that if you do not permit him to kill you, he will kill Mary Doe. It is clear that in this situation you may permissibly decline to be killed even though you know that this refusal will result in Doe's death. Suppose, alternatively, that Blow is about to shoot you to death and that your only means of survival is to fire through (and thereby kill) Doe.
In both cases, it is Blow's activity that requires that your saving yourself involves Doe's death. The only difference is that in the second case Blow's activity (shielding himself with Doe) precedes your saving yourself, while in the first case his activity (executing Doe) succeeds your saving yourself. The temporal difference isn't capable of making a moral difference between the two cases. Hence, if saving yourself in the first case is permissible, then so is saving yourself in the second case where you shoot through Doe.
Permissible defense, then, may involve the infliction of harm or even death upon innocents. How much harm to innocents? If we say, "the least harmful act that accomplishes the defense," we stray from our tentative principles of permissible defense. For we will sometimes be endorsing a defensive act that is more harmful to the aggressor than the least invasive act against him necessary to protect the defender. This can be justified, however, along these lines: if we must choose between defensive actions, both of which would protect ourselves but which vary in the harm they would inflict on the aggressor and on innocents, we can think of ourselves as, within a limited range, acting also for the innocents. One in effect says to the innocents: "Given the mess created by the aggressor, I am going to defend myself by one of two actions. One of these acts (firing through your chest to maim the aggressor) is worse for you than the other (firing through your arm to kill the aggressor). You have the right to authorize me to minimize the harmful fall-out of the aggressor's threat. I presume you make such authorization. I accept it. And, therefore, in your name I will defend myself by means of the action that, while more invasive of the aggressor than my other alternative, is less harmful to you."
Tentatively, then, the principle of permissible defense, revised, runs like this: A person may defend his rights or cause his rights to be defended by invasive means if that defense is the least invasive measure against the aggressor which minimizes harm to innocents while protecting that person's rights.
Of course, whenever injury to innocent parties is avoidable (without irreparable damage to the defender) the general background requirement against violating rights prohibits such injury. Moreover, in the real world, many of the beliefs on which we base our actions are uncertain, and in deciding on the permissibility of defensive measures this uncertainty would seem to favor innocent third parties. For, in general, we can be relatively certain that contemplated large-scale defensive measures will injure innocents, while the probability that such acts will better protect the defender than alternative measures is, at least, low.
Threats can be defused, for example, through negotiated settlement. If the overall prospects for the preservation of the rights of a given party under a negotiated settlement are better than or equal to the overall prospects through military action and the recourse to military action involves harm to innocents, then that recourse is unjustified. It may be, for instance, that all sorts of risks connected with mutual nuclear disarmament treaties or even the first steps of unilateral disarmament would be rational in the light of the risks of continued (or intensified) nuclear confrontation.
Let's now consider the first isolated demand—focusing only on the protection of property and omitting the protection of persons. Should the current U.S. government protect the rights of its citizens to holdings within the territories of other states? Doesn't such protection in fact involve forced subsidies? Until the time that an assortment of protection policies is offered to individuals—more extensive protection for greater fees, specialized protection for special fees—there can be no fully satisfactory answer to this question.
Perhaps the best interim answer with respect to the subsidy problem is that the government should be prepared to expend the same resources on protecting the rights to holdings in other countries as it is prepared to expend in protecting comparable holdings within the United States. On this policy, overseas investors would receive no more benefits than comparable domestic investors, but would not, through their taxes, automatically be subsidizing domestic investors. Foreign investors requiring relatively high-cost protection would have to make their own arrangements for it.
Yet there are numerous other factors that argue for the disengagement from protection of foreign investments. In the case of large-scale investments involving accords between U.S.-based companies and foreign states, the legitimacy of the resulting property holding will usually be dubious. More likely than not, the United States would be coming to the defense of some unholy alliance of local oppressors (or aspiring local oppressors) and their corporate partners. It is not uncommon for the U.S. government to protect "private" U.S. interests against an economically statist regime by becoming that regime's economic and military bed-mate. In the process, the United States becomes coauthor and abettor of the rights-violating activities of that regime.
A final policy alternative is direct military action. In principle, there would be no objection to a low-cost, surgically precise zapping by U.S. (volunteer) forces of the wicked Minister of Nationalization who is about to expropriate the property of the morally upright U.S.-based business. In principle what is done in such a case in no respect differs from what is done to the aspiring domestic thief. The question is, however, What would be the actual effect of authorizing the current U.S. state to perform such protective actions?
First, it is unlikely that the state's advisors would be able to discriminate between those who genuinely have a right to their foreign holdings and those who do not. Second, it is unlikely that those advisors would care about such discriminations. Their interest, rather, would be to stand behind certain types of government-corporate partnerships or to use this particular occasion to flex military muscle or to topple politicians who, on quite other matters, were being troublesome. Third, the state's advisors are likely to over-assess their power to effect the result they favor and to under-assess the chances of being caught up in a vastly more extensive, complicated, and, even from their own perspective, morally dubious operation than they first envision.
All these considerations, especially if subject to more systematic development, seem capable of warranting a general prohibition on military and current-style diplomatic action toward defending the holdings within other states of U.S. citizens.
Should the current U.S. government enter into military pacts with other states? Defending the rights of other peoples is not an appropriate end for U.S. policy. But perhaps agreeing to defend or defending the citizens of some other states would be an effective and permissible means of defending the rights of U.S. citizens. By so agreeing, the United States might secure the aid of those other states in defending U.S. citizens. Or by so defending, it might stave off a threat to its own citizens. The general principles here are the same as would legitimate two individuals agreeing to join forces against an aggressor or one individual aiding his neighbor in the repulsion of an aggressor.
A further possibility are pacts that merely provide the United States with additional means—for example, military bases—with which to defend its citizens. In favor of such pacts would be evidence that they contribute, especially in ways for which there are no alternatives, to the protection of individual rights in the United States against genuine foreign threats to these rights. Obviously if one thinks that there are no genuine threats, one will conclude that nothing speaks in favor of such pacts.
Unfortunately, it seems all too likely that a United States without a reliable nuclear deterrent defense would be subject to demands from the Soviet Union for incredible payments ("protection money"?) to buy our continued lives and freedoms. How would the United States react (how would the Soviet government expect it to react?) if, knowing that it had no nuclear deterrent defense, the Soviet Union demanded $500 billion in yearly tribute—the alternative being the city-by-city nuclear destruction of the country? Evidence, then, that a pact with another country contributes to a reliable nuclear deterrent is evidence in favor of such a pact.
Often isolationist-minded libertarians cite the Polaris submarine-missile system as the type of deterrent defense that would be sufficient for the United States. This sounds plausible. But suppose what is also plausible, namely, that at some technological point such a system would be vastly more reliable if there were scattered around the world, outside of U.S. territory, a number of special bases for such submarines. Suppose the United States were to rent the locations for such bases from the various states in whose territory they were. Would such pacts be impermissible even though maintaining a Polaris fleet without such bases would be allowable? Suppose that for an additional fee the United States were to induce these various states to protect the submarine bases against saboteurs? Would this addendum make the pacts improper on libertarian principles?
It is less easy to imagine a plausible case for conventional military bases or for alliances in support of conventional military operations. The argument for such pacts would have to invoke something like the domino theory, for example, that if Western Europe (plus Canada?) were to be subjugated by the Soviet Union, then the chances of the United States' suffering the same fate (or being subject to demands for immense tribute) would increase greatly—greatly enough to make the risks of such pacts rational. In connection with such an argument we would want to know what the Soviet Union would do in Europe without U.S. bases and pacts there and what they would be likely to do after that. We would want to know whether a Fortress America would be necessary and, if so, to what extent it would be technologically or economically feasible.
OBJECTIONS TO PACTS
Aside from failure to establish the need for them, there seem to be two sorts of considerations against military pacts. The first is the extent to which a pact would involve (perhaps inherently snowballing) support for rights-violating regimes. The second is the extent to which military association with another state might draw the United States into conflicts that it would otherwise have nothing to do with. In the past, assurances of U.S. military aid and cooperation have pretty clearly encouraged regimes both in the repression of their own population and in the pursuit of war-risking policies. Furthermore, the formation of military alliances may act as provocations of those against whom the alliances are directed. Even when provocation is not a factor, the increased risk to U.S. citizens from having our state militarily tied to another state may easily outweigh the value, if any, of having that state "on our side."
Two more points may be added here. First, in many instances—NATO is probably a good example—U.S. military pacts have been intimately tied to international statist economic arrangements. While in principle it may be possible to imagine pacts that were not employed as cards in statist economic games, it is doubtful that the actual decision-makers in any near-future U.S. state would, if allowed to continue such alliances, resist using them as pieces in a larger economic-political game. Second and more generally, there does exist a massive military-industrial complex. And every occasion of military production or activity, whether in itself justified or not, serves as a device for insuring and expanding the power of this complex—a power that, overall, massively misallocates resources, encroaches on people's rights, and increases the risks of avoidable war.
These are the various considerations that would count for or against any particular military pact for the current United States and for or against a general policy of disallowing all such pacts. Although it is likely that most pacts to which the United States is currently a party should be dissolved, this may not be true of each and every pact. Nor is it clear that a blanket disavowal of military pacts would be better than a policy of rational selection of (limited-purpose) pacts.
Almost everything that need be said with regard to the third isolationist demand—that U.S. military activity should be confined to the vicinity of U.S. territory—has been said in discussing the advisability of military cooperation with other states. There are all sorts of strong reasons against far-flung military operations, at least in the absence of clear evidence of the necessity of such operations for blocking genuine threats to the rights enjoyed within U.S. territory. But it is hardly self-sufficient that no activities far from this territory would be warranted. We need only recall the plausibility of the case for something like a Polaris submarine-missile system (with or even without extra-territorial bases).
Two other points should be made in connection with this third and most bold isolationist demand. First, the act of war that is threatened by any U.S. nuclear deterrent defense would occur far from U.S. territory. Second, in conventional warfare, there are very strong libertarian reasons for launching military missions deep within the aggressor's territory rather than at the point of his attack. For the morally unexceptionable defense is the one that strikes at the individuals responsible for the aggression—the generals and premiers cozily distant from the front—not at the innocent conscripts whom they have forced to cross our five-hundred-mile defensive limit (or whatever). Perhaps these points show that the third demand should be understood as only requiring that the original base for U.S. military operations be in the vicinity of U.S. territory. Scaled down in this way our judgment on the third demand will be closely tied to our judgment about the second demand.
Isolationism no more follows from libertarian ideals as a matter of principle than does interventionism. There is no quick or high road to isolationist conclusions. As libertarians we should be highly skeptical of calls for military preparation, organization, or action. For, as Spencer noted, "Only with the diminution of warlike activities and the conceptions appropriate to them, can men's minds become more receptive to the conceptions appropriate to the industrial [i.e., nonpolitical, contractual] state of which a cardinal one is the restriction of state-action."
Still, isolationist demands must be evaluated in the light of an adequate principle of permissible defense and a full appreciation and portrayal of all the factors present in today's world that would affect the need for and the quality and likely outcome of military and putatively defensive enterprises by the U.S. government. Only on the basis of well-formulated arguments embodying all these elements can isolationist demands, in whole or in part, be rationally accepted or rationally rejected.
Eric Mack teaches philosophy at Tulane University and is a contributing editor to REASON. He has published widely in scholarly journals.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Permissible Defense".