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36


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 36, February 1, 1998

The Campaign to Ban Land Mines

By Vin Suprynowicz
vin@lvrj.com

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 charities."
          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 minefield.
          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 both sides.
          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 ground.
          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 ago.
          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 vin@lvrj.com. 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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