L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 36, February 1, 1998
The Campaign to Ban Land Mines
By Vin Suprynowicz
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
"A well-regulated population being necessary to the
security of a police state, the right of the Government to
keep and destroy arms shall not be infringed."
We're instructed that the reason Mrs. Diana Spencer Windsor's
death is a tragedy for the entire civilized world is "because of her
The late "princess" -- who died following a traffic accident in
Paris last year -- did indeed take time to visit sick children and
AIDS sufferers. That's much to her credit, even if I'm old enough to
believe it's a tad unseemly to indulge one's charitable instincts in
the glare of the spotlight.
But the "charity" we hear most about was Mrs. Windsor's support
for the campaign to ban land mines.
The great Russian strategist Marshal Zhukov commented that he
expected to lose 10 percent of his men if he ordered them to cross a
minefield -- about the same percentage he expected to lose charging
across a field defended by a machine gun.
Therefore, he concluded that if men could be shot for cowardice
for refusing to charge a machine gun, the commander should have no
more qualms about ordering his men to advance rapidly across a known
Since commanders in the West are considerably daintier about
issuing such orders, land mines -- to this day -- are actually
considered more effective at slowing down an advancing enemy force,
than machine guns.
Land mines allow smaller nations and armies to successfully defend
prepared positions against larger forces -- or even to dissuade those
forces from attacking in the first place, sparing many casualties on
Germany deploys few if any mines to guard against invasion by the
Swiss. But tiny nations like Switzerland and Israel employ all they
can lay their hands on, and wisely so.
Now, the terrible thing about land mines is that they can remain
armed, years after hostilities have ceased. Thus, civilians not
infrequently are killed or maimed when they return to areas over which
wars were fought, months or even years before.
Indeed, the world would be a better place if there were fewer
mines. One step in this direction would be for powerful nations to
eliminate their standing armies -- always so much more willing to
conduct aggressive operations than civilian militias -- and stop
conquering their neighbors. England could set an example by granting
independence to the sovereign nations of Scotland, Ulster, and Wales.
In the meantime, it might indeed make sense to sign a convention
agreeing to develop land mines which either go inert, or (probably
better) automatically blow themselves up, after a fixed period in the
But attempting to ban mines entirely is not only plain goofy
(anyone with the motivation can make them in his garage, out of tin
cans, a handful of nails, and a couple of shotgun shells), but
presents the same problems as universal victim disarmament ... another
mental aberration which seems to have incubated largely in England.
Why were whole villages recently massacred in Rwanda, by men with
machetes? Because the private ownership of firearms for self-defense
has long been banned in that former British colony.
North Korea and Red China don't give a fig for earnest referenda
adopted in Oslo or Geneva. But should the United States Army ever be
ordered -- by mentally deficient nuevo-Chamberlains -- to remove all
our land mines from the Korean DMZ "as a good-faith example," with the
result that a desperate North Korean Army promptly seized South Korea,
would these do-gooders now campaigning for a "land-mine ban" take
personal responsibility for all the South Korean women raped, all the
South Korean professors and politicians and industrialists kidnapped,
jailed, or executed?
Of course not ... any more than they now accept blame for the
recent deaths of all the Rwandan families whom they disarmed, so long
They would merely wring their hands and pass another earnest
resolution, urging the Communists to accept Red Cross inspection of
their new South Korean labor camps.
If land mines were banned, after Syria conquered Israel, they
could then put the Israeli prime minister on trial for the "war crime"
of deploying land mines, couldn't they?
If Mrs. Windsor had wanted to make better use of those "charity"
funds, she could have built factories in undeveloped corners of the
world, where people need work. Or she could have bought them all
guns, to help guarantee their freedom.
That women now abed in England may choose to live vicariously
through such a star-crossed "princess" makes a certain amount of
sense. They are, after all, born into a society where a person with
the wrong accent, or skin color, can never hope to do more than dream
of a royal marriage, and dinner at the Ritz.
In America, however, we had long prided ourselves -- at least
until the recent ascent of the welfare-police state -- that anyone
could achieve wealth and prominence, based on nothing more than his or
her own labor and native intelligence.
That's why Americans don't need "princesses" ... right?
Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las
Vegas Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at
http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the
United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box
4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127. Vin's forthcoming book, a collection of
columns with the working title Send In The Waco Killers, will be
published this May by Huntington Press.
It is moral weakness, rather than villainy, that accounts for most of
the evil in the universe -- and feeble-hearted allies, far rather than
your most powerful enemies, who are likeliest to do you an injury you
cannot recover from.
-- Bretta Martyn
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