The relationship between war and liberty may never be put more succinctly than Randolph Bourne's timeless quote, "War is the health of the state." For anyone concerned with the preservation of individual liberty, the state must always be viewed as a mortal enemy. As Mises put it, "government is the negation of liberty." What too many fail to understand however, particularly on the right is that war is not merely an aberration of government, it is the culmination of its very ethos: violent aggression. As it is the health of the state, it is likewise the eventual death of a free society. Should we choose to ignore this, we do so at our own peril.
A free society is impossible under an empire. Even the most just war you can imagine is a disaster for liberty and prosperity, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out. An unjust war amounts to murder, mayhem, and mass destruction. And a perpetual state of war guarantees that liberty will never be achieved. James Madison said it very well:
'Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and ... degeneracy of manners and of morals.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.'