How Freedom Can Be the BEST Defence
Sounds speculative. Even fantastical
But history shows that freedom may offer a greater deterrent to invasion than a powerful military establishment
You’re walking off an international flight into the terminal, passport in hand.
But something rather strange happens: you don’t see any immigration or customs officers. Indeed, you see no official types of any kind.
No one seems to be interested in looking at your passport; let alone stamping it.
Perhaps you must get your luggage first. But as you come down to the baggage carousels you don’t see any barrier between you and the outside world. You can pick up your bags and walk straight out of the terminal off an international flight into a taxi.
Which is exactly what you do.
Welcome to Freelandia. Where there are no restrictions on immigration or travel; where the borders are imaginary lines in the dirt and the fences (if any) are on the other side of that border.
Anyone can, and does, enter Freelandia at will. Indeed, thousands of people cross into Freelandia every day . . . to go to work.
With no one guarding its borders, what's to stop a hostile government just marching its military into Freelandia and taking over?
Actually, the chances of this happening, while not zero, are far lower than you probably think.
To understand how and why, let’s first consider—
Why Would Country A Invade Country B . . .?
Most wars begin for a combination of reasons including:
1. Preemptive “self-defence”
2. To annihilate an enemy
3. In retaliation to being attacked
4. Treaty obligations to aid allies who have been attacked
5. To gain a warm water port or similar geographic benefit
6. Lebensraum: Hitler’s supposed goal in invading eastern Europe and Russia to get more “living space” for Aryans
8. To extend your power, reclaim “your” land (as in Russia’s occupation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine)
9. Religion or ideology: “kill the infidels”/“spread THE Word”
Freelandia is a place where the role of government is restricted to the provision of police, law courts, and defence (or even less)—and its revenue comes from fees for service. Zero taxation! Where everything (aside from government offices) is privately owned. Even the roads.
Its minimal armed forces are restricted solely to the defence of its borders; it has no “entangling alliances”; and none of its military is stationed overseas fomenting hate or 9/11s.
Its government’s budget is so low that it simply does not have the means to attack another country. Nor does it have any reason to do so, as the sole purpose of its government is to protect the rights of its residents.
So the first four reasons for an invasion simply cannot apply.
If your country borders Freelandia (and your government is rational) the fifth doesn’t apply either. Freelandia has no tariffs or other barriers to trade, so Freelandia’s ports, airports, roads, trains, and other infrastructure are all freely available to your country’s commerce.
While that eliminates the most common reasons for declaring war against another country, it does not eliminate them all. “Lebensraum,” loot, extending your power, reclaiming “your” land, or “killing the infidels”—all the non-rational “reasons”—remain.
So imagine you, as the supreme commander of your country’s war machine, are tasked by your government to invade Freelandia. . . .
You figure this will be quite an easy task. As a peaceful country, with tiny armed forces compared to your massive arsenal, you expect to meet hardly any opposition.
But as your navy blockades Freelandia’s ports, your air force knocks out the few military targets, and your army sweeps into Freelandia, you are surprised by the number of unexpected problems you face.
First, it turns out that a large majority of Freelandia’s people own guns and other weapons and know how to use them. In some sectors there seems to be a fairly well-organized militia which meets your forces with an effective guerilla-style resistance.
Your soldiers are afraid to go out at night: they rarely all come back.
History offers many examples the “guerilla strategy” trumping powerful military forces: Vietnam (first the French, then the Americans), Afghanistan, and the American Revolution where one British soldier complained that American riflemen:
Guerrillas, of course, are usually less well-equipped than professional soldiers. But over time weaponry, strategy, and tactics improve on both sides, often but not always resulting in defeat for the professionals.
In some parts of Freelandia, such resistance is minimal and easy to eliminate. But although you have effectively occupied such areas, you discover that the people of Freelandia are unused to taking orders from their own government, let alone yours. You achieve little cooperation from such government offices as do exist: even most of the police and many other officials have taken their weapons and joined the resistance. Your army is now bogged down attempting to create a governmental structure in the face of a sullen, non-cooperative, hostile populace, whose Gandhi-style tactics are driving your soldiers crazy.
While your army is starting to melt away.
As happened when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968 to end the “Prague Spring,” your soldiers are often met by Freelandians carrying flowers. With the difference that they’re telling your soldiers all they have to do is throw off their uniforms and walk away into the hinterland where they can be free. And due to Freelandia’s prosperity, possibly earn more money than their army’s generals get paid—without the ever-present threat of “dying for their country.”
The many conscripts in your army are the first to hot foot it. But they’re not alone. Slowly but surely, given the choice between being wounded or worse, or living in peace and prosperity, even some of your NCOs and junior officers have deserted.
It’s as though a disease is decimating your ranks. The “disease” of freedom.
This Has Happened Before
This exact scenario has happened before, though on a limited scale.
In the war between Russia and Finland in 1940, one tactic the Finns used with great effect was to set up loudspeakers along the front line and broadcast messages to the Russian troops inviting them to cross over and be free.
The Russian foot soldier had a choice: if he tried to escape the war zone by retreating back into Russia, he would be shot by a commissar. While if he could get across to the Finnish side without being shot by his comrades he would be free.
Many Russians made the obvious decision.
Unfortunately, such a defence strategy won’t always work. Like the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg when Nazi Germany invaded, smaller countries don’t have wide open spaces where people can disappear.
It would be effective in larger countries, especially those with natural defences like oceans (examples include the USA, Canada, Mexico, and island countries like Australia and New Zealand) and those bordered by smaller countries with weak militaries—Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. Even Russia and China are possible (if highly unlikely) candidates.
Meanwhile, you find you’ve generated new enemies at home: small groups of “SAS/Special Forces”-types (mostly militia) have infiltrated your country’s territory, and are targeting anyone in uniform, and politicians from president/prime minister to mayors and city councillors. And surprisingly, some of your own citizens are supporting those infiltrators; especially people along the border with Freelandia who have suddenly lost their jobs.
So now part of your army has to stay at home to weed out the so-called “terrorists.”
While your invasion has also spurred Freelandia’s weapon and drone makers to produce low-cost bazookas and mortars and stealth “kamikaze drones” which explode on impact, mostly on your fighter planes and bombers sitting on the ground.
And even on the presidential palace, your houses of parliament, and other government targets, resulting in your “President for Life” (if he’s still alive) and his officials (if they’re still alive) beginning to question the wisdom of attacking Freelandia.
The Key to Victory
The ultimate objective of an invasion and the key to victory is to cow the people and take over the government.
When the United States and its allies occupied Japan at the end of World War II, General Douglas MacArthur became de facto emperor. After months of chaos, Japanese bureaucrats, police, and other functionaries came back to work—now under the direction of the occupiers. In effect, “emperor” MacArthur took over as the head of the Japanese government.
The Americans drafted and imposed a new constitution modelled on that of the United States, which replaced the Prussian-inspired Meiji constitution. The Japanese emperor became a figurehead; and the famous Article Nine outlawed war as an instrument of government policy, and prohibited a standing army.
A similar process occurred in Europe at the end of the war. West Germany was initially divided into American, French, and British zones. In May 1949, the three western zones were unified to the Federal Republic of Germany, its political system modelled on western democracy. The Soviets followed suit in its eastern zone of occupation, establishing the German Democratic Republic in October 1949—as a Soviet-style communist state. As happened in all the other Soviet-occupied eastern European states.
In all cases, the political transformation imposed by the occupiers was made easier by their ability to simply take over the direction of the existing governmental structures.
Unfortunately for you, Freelandia’s government is minimal and its culture is the total opposite of yours: Freelandian government officials do not order their citizens around—unless they have committed a criminal act.
Which is how most of them view you.
So, taking over Freelandia’s government doesn’t help you very much at all. Especially when most officials have simply (from your perspective) “deserted.”
You now face the difficult task of creating a government apparatus virtually from scratch to rule people who have no desire to be ruled.
Another complication is that your invasion has earned you the hostility of Freelandia’s trading partners. Some of them are even threatening that their navies will escort their cargo ships into Freelandian ports—unless you withdraw.
Your only real option is to carpet bomb Freelandia’s cities into submission, and use Nazi-style terror tactics, like shooting 10 or 20 random people for every dead soldier, to cow the population. Resulting in such devastation that the “prize” of victory would turn into a chimera. Unless your objective is “lebensraum”: then does it matter if you simply wipe out Freelandia’s population?
What Saved Switzerland from the Nazis
In World War II, Switzerland remained free despite being completely surrounded by the Axis forces of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and their allies.
Hitler had promised the Swiss that he would respect their neutrality. But this was just a political ploy. In June 1941, Hitler stated his opinion on Switzerland quite plainly:
In reality, the Nazis planned an invasion of Switzerland, named Operation Tannenbaum. It was to be a joint German-Italian operation to invade Switzerland simultaneously from the south and the north. The country would then be divided up on language lines between Germany, Italy, and Vichy France.
But Operation Tannenbaum was shelved. No doubt had Germany defeated the allies, it would have been revived.
One obstacle was undoubtedly Switzerland’s double-barrelled defence strategy.
First: its mountainous territory, combined with the fact that every adult male was a reserve member of the armed forces, made any invasion expensive to the invaders (though not impossible).
Afghanistan has been invaded dozens of times, by Persia, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British, Russians, and Americans (among others)—but rarely with success.
Most notably, three superpowers attempted—and failed—to take over the country.
The British were thrown out three times: in 1838–1842, 1878–1880 and 1919.
Soviet Russia made three attempts: 1929, 1930, and 1979.
The United States and its allies invaded in October 2001—and 20 years later simply “gave up” trying to coopt the “uncooperative” Afghans—and withdrew.A journalist friend of mine suggested—after flying across the country—that the key to the successive failures to conquer Afghanistan lay in its mountainous territory. The invader must conquer one town or village at a time. While the resistance, with its relatively primitive weaponry, retreats to the mountains above the valley, making the occupying soldiers easy targets.
The Swiss “Money Haven”
Switzerland’s second defensive “barrel” was equally if not more important: Swiss bank secrecy made it an easily accessible haven for the ill-gotten gains of the many corrupt Nazi and Fascist officials, who no doubt argued vociferously against attacking Switzerland as both too expensive and really unnecessary. We can be sure that Goering (who stored part of his massive art collection looted from Europe’s museums in Switzerland), among others, argued with Hitler along these lines:
One index of Switzerland’s financial usefulness to Allies and Axis alike was as a source of convertible currencies: the Swiss National Bank purchased over 1.7 billion Swiss francs worth of gold between September 1, 1939, and June 30, 1945, (about US$1.65 billion, or over 47 million ounces at $35 per ounce) from all major warring parties, except Russia, for francs, dollars, marks, pounds, and other tradeable currencies.
Freelandia: the Ultimate Money Haven
Similarly, Freelandia (should it ever exist) would be a money haven. Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands plus similar tax havens all rolled into one.
Like the United States in the 19th century, the world’s poor believe it’s a place where the streets are paved with gold where they’ll be welcomed with open arms.
While the world’s rich are attracted by its prosperity, its status as a giant tax-haven, and as the preferred destination for safeguarding (and hiding) assets of all kinds.
It’s easy to imagine that nearly every dictator, tyrant, and corrupt official from everywhere in the world would have a secret Freelandian bank account to hide his or her ill-gotten gains.
Just as generals would fear their armies would disintegrate once they reached Freelandian shores; and the last thing those corrupt officials would want is to have their hidden money exposed—and probably confiscated by their “Supreme Leader.”
Freelandia’s Threat to Statism
The government and people of Freelandia have made it clear that all people are welcome. Including soldiers who (having shed their uniforms) are free to go anywhere and do anything they like.
Open borders would attract a “brain drain” of the “best and brightest” from all over the world, generating a massive increase in total wealth.
Just as happened in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, inspiring the inscription on New York’s Statue of Liberty:
Consider Hong Kong—the place on the planet that used to be the closest to the ideal of Freelandia.
In June, 2020, China extended its “National Security Law” to Hong Kong. And began jailing “dissidents.”
Had Freelandia existed today, you can bet there’d have been a mass exodus from Hong Kong: both the poor and the rich could flee to freedom. Whatever their passport. The only restriction being the price of a one-way ticket. (Or a boat to Taiwan.)
The only way statist countries can keep their population from “voting with their feet” is by erecting “Berlin-type walls,” complete with minefields and machine guns.
Or: by relaxing their taxes, regulations, and other interventions so their people won’t want to leave.
If not, Freelandia would spread the “virus” of freedom more effectively than the Western world’s current (and totally ineffective) strategy of “spreading democracy and nation building.”
With tens or hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world fleeing statism to freedom in Freelandia every year, there’d be a massive annual increase in the number of Freelandians willing to fight for their freedoms.
Resulting in a massive increase in Freelandia’s wealth.
And an equal and opposite decline in the prosperity of those countries suffering from the “brain drain.”
“Politics, sex, corruption, blackmail, lies . . . and that’s just the first three pages!”
As teenagers, Alison and Derek were lovers—but chose opposite directions which tore them apart.Now adults, the pursuit of their incompatible dreams turns them into enemies who must deny their love for each other. But the real-world consequences of their actions bring them together in an alliance of mutual self-preservation—and cause them both to question their every belief.
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“Worthy of Ayn Rand . . . a spell-binding adventure ”
“Multiple plots, action great . . . and a nice touch of sex.”
 Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (London: Head of Zeus, 2017), p66.
 Leitz, Christian, Nazi Germany and Neutral Europe during the Second World War, (Manchester University Press, 2000) page 14.
 The term “brain drain” originated in Britain, describing the exodus of of Brits which began after World War II. And continued: an estimated 4.7 million Brits (around 7.5% of Britain’s population) who emigrated in the 20 years to 2011 (around 200,000 in Los Angeles alone).