War is the quintessential undertaking of the state, especially the modern centralized nation-state of the past five or six centuries. Indeed, the relationship between the two is encapsulated in the aphorism, “War made the state, and the state made war.” Because libertarians distrust the state and fear its capacity to diminish or destroy individuals' rights to life, liberty, and property, they have taken a special interest in war. “War is the health of the state,” writer Randolph Bourne famously declared during World War I. For the most part, libertarians have taken that declaration to heart as a warning against ill-founded support for the state's war-making, whatever its announced rationale.

No single libertarian position exists on war. Anarchist libertarians, who oppose the state's very existence, naturally oppose ...

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