Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1.: Armament Control - Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War
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1.: Armament Control - Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War 
Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, edited with a Foreword by Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Indiana, 2011).
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It would be an illusion to assume that any nation today is prepared to abandon protectionism. As the ruling parties favor government interference with business and national planning, they cannot demolish the trade barriers erected by their own countries. Thus the incentives for war and conquest will not disappear. Every nation will have to be ready to repel aggression. War preparedness will be the only means of avoiding war. The old saying Si vis pacem para bellum1 will be true again.
But even the abolition of trade barriers would not safeguard peace if migration barriers were not abolished too. The comparatively overpopulated nations will hardly acquiesce in a state of affairs which results in a lower standard of living for them. On the other hand, it is obvious that no nation could, without imperiling its independence, open its frontiers to the citizens of totalitarian states aiming at conquest. Thus, we are forced to recognize that under present conditions no scheme can eliminate the root causes of war. Prospects are not bright for more friendly international relations in the coming postwar period.
It is even very doubtful whether it would be of any value at all to conclude a formal peace treaty with Germany after its defeat. Things have changed considerably in these last thirty years. International treaties in general, and especially peace treaties, are not what they used to be. This is not only the fault of those Germans who boast that treaties are but scraps of paper. The Allies too are not free from guilt.
One of the worst blunders committed by the Allied Powers in 1919 was the awkward arrangement of the peace negotiations. For centuries it had been the custom to conduct peace negotiations in accordance with the usages of gentlemen. The delegates of both parties, the victorious and the defeated, would meet as civilized people meet to conduct business. The victors neither humiliated nor insulted the vanquished; they treated them as gentlemen and equals. They discussed their mutual problems in quiet and polite language. Such were the age-old rules and observances of diplomacy.
The Allied Powers broke this usage. They took delight in treating the German delegates with contempt and insults. The delegates were confined in the houses assigned to them; guards were posted at the doors; no delegate had the right to leave the house. They were taken like prisoners from the railway station to their lodgings, and from the lodgings to the meeting hall, and back again in the same manner. When they entered the assembly room, the delegates of the victors answered their greetings with manifest disdain. No conversation between the German delegates and those of the victors was permitted. The Germans were handed a draft of the treaty and asked to return a written answer at a fixed date.
This conduct was inexcusable. If the Allies did not wish to comply with the old-established rule of international law requiring oral discussion between the delegates, they should have so informed the German Government in advance. The Germans could have been spared the sending of a delegation of eminent men. For the procedure chosen by the Allies a letter carrier would have sufficed as German delegate. But the successors of Talleyrand and Disraeli wished to enjoy their triumph to the full.
Even if the Allies had behaved in a less offensive way, of course the Treaty of Versailles would not have been essentially different. If a war results not in a stalemate but in one party’s victory, the peace treaty is always dictated. The vanquished agree to terms which they would not accept under other circumstances. The essence of a peace treaty is compulsion. The defeated yield because they are not in a position to continue the fight. A contract between citizens can be annulled by the courts if one of the parties can prove that it was forced to sign under duress. But these notions of civil law do not apply to treaties between sovereign nations. Here the law of the strongest still prevails.
German propaganda has confused these obvious matters. The German nationalists maintained the thesis that the Treaty of Versailles was null because it was dictated and not spontaneously accepted by Germany. The cession of Alsace-Lorraine, of the Polish provinces, and of northern Schleswig is invalid, they said, because Germany surrendered to coercion. But they were inconsistent enough not to apply the same argument to the treaties by which Prussia had acquired, since 1740, its provinces of Silesia, West Prussia, Posen, Saxony, Rhineland, Westphalia, and Schleswig-Holstein. They neglected to mention the fact that Prussia had conquered and annexed, without any treaty, the kingdom of Hanover, the electorate of Hessen, the duchy of Nassau, and the republic of Frankfurt. Out of the twelve provinces which in 1914 formed the kingdom of Prussia, nine were the spoils of successful wars between 1740 and 1866. Nor did the French, in 1871, surrender Alsace-Lorraine to the Reich of their own free will.
But you simply cannot argue with nationalists. The Germans are fully convinced that compulsion applied by them to other nations is fair and just, while compulsion applied to themselves is criminal. They will never acquiesce in a peace treaty that does not satisfy their appetite for more space. Whether they wage a new war of aggression will not depend on whether or not they have duly signed a peace treaty. It is vain to expect German nationalists to abide by the clauses of any treaty if conditions for a new assault seem propitious.
A new war is unavoidable if the United Nations do not succeed in establishing a world order preventing the Germans and their allies from rearming. As long as there is economic nationalism, the United Nations will have to watch their ramparts day and night.
The alliance of the victorious nations must be made lasting. Germany, Italy, and Japan must be totally disarmed. They must be deprived of the right to maintain armies, navies, or air fleets. A small police force, armed with rifles only, can be permitted to them. No kind of armament production should be tolerated. The guns and the ammunition for their policemen should be given to them by the United Nations. They should not be permitted to fly or build any planes. Commercial aviation in their countries should be operated by foreign companies using foreign planes and employing foreign pilots. But the main means to hinder their rearmament should be a strict control of imports on the part of the United Nations. No imports should be permitted to the aggressor nations if they dedicate a part of their production to armaments or if they try to pile up stocks of imported raw materials. Such a control could easily be established. Should any country, under the pretext of neutrality, not be prepared to coöperate unconditionally in this scheme, it would be necessary to apply the same methods against this country as well.
No ersatz production could frustrate the efficacy of this scheme. But if a change in technological possibilities imperils the working of the control system, it will be easy to force the country concerned to surrender. The prohibition of all food imports is a very effective weapon.
This is not a very pleasant solution of the problem, but it is the only one that could work satisfactorily, provided the victorious nations maintain their alliance after the war.
It is wrong to regard unilateral disarmament as unfair to the vanquished. If they do not plan new aggressions, they are not in need of arms. If they dream of new wars and are stopped by lack of arms, unilateral disarmament will favor them no less than the victorious nations. Even if they were to be deprived of the instruments to assault other peoples, their independence and their right to rule themselves would remain untouched.
We must see conditions as they really are, not as we want them to be. If this war does not result in making it forever impossible for the Germans to wage a new war, they will try, sooner or later, to kindle a new conflict. As the victorious nations will not concede them what they want, world hegemony, they will not renounce their aggressive plans so long as the two strategical advantages of high population figures and interior lines remain unchanged. Nazism would be resurrected in a new form and under a new name.
The peace settlement will further have to make special provisions for the punishment of those Nazis responsible for murdering and torturing innocent people. It will have to force the German nation to pay indemnities for the robberies committed by their rulers and mobs. This will not revive those murdered. It will be impossible, after the passage of years, to allot to every individual injured the fair amount of compensation. But it is of the greatest importance to hold the Germans answerable for all their acts. It would be absurd to allow all their atrocities to go unpunished. The Nazis would consider it both a success and a justification of their conduct. They would think: “After all, we have attained at least a partial success; we have reduced the population and the wealth of the † ‘inferior’ races; the main burden of this war falls on them, not on us.” It would be scandalous indeed if the Germans suffer less from the consequences of their aggression than those assaulted.
The Kellogg Pact outlawed war. Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, and Rumania signed this document. If there was any meaning at all in this compact, then it was that aggressors are guilty of an illegal act and must bear the responsibility for it. Those citizens of these nations who did not openly oppose the dictators cannot plead their innocence.
Every endeavor to make peace last will be futile unless people abandon spurious hero worship and cease to pity the defeated aggressor more than his victims. The cult of Napoleon I, almost universal in nineteenth-century Europe, was an insult to common sense. He certainly had no excuse for the invasions of Spain and Russia; he was not a martyr; he enjoyed infinitely more comfort in his exile in St. Helena than the many thousands he had caused to be maimed and mutilated. It was an outrage that those responsible for the violation of Belgian neutrality in 1914 escaped punishment. It gave a belated justification to their contemptuous description of treaties as scraps of waste paper. The attitude of public opinion—outside of France and Belgium—with regard to German reparations was a serious mistake. It encouraged German nationalism. These blunders must be avoided in the future.
[1. ][“If you want peace prepare for war.”—Ed.]