I take the standard libertarian view that coercing another person is (almost) always wrong. Many people extend that view of the wrongness of interpersonal violence to world affairs, where they think it wrong for one state to conquer another.
Perhaps where I differ from most people is that I think state on non-state violence is just as wrong as any other kind of violence. I do not believe states have “rights” to the territory that they control. Think about it. Why is it wrong to acquire power through force (i.e. invasion), but not to maintain it through force?
Take Russia’s actions in Chechnya. In an effort to put down a separatist rebellion, Russia shelled market places, shot up buses full of civilian refugees and basically destroyed the city of Grozny.
Does Russia have a right to do this? No!
Does it have any right to rule Chechnya at all? No!
Am I saying governments should let anyone leave who wants to? Maybe!
If the Chechens were to carve out their own state from Russia, I would still say that they don’t have a right to rule it. But neither did the Russians before them. And it may even turn out the Chechens are worse off in some respects after independence.
But ask yourself this key question: under what circumstances is Chechen independence so terrible that the Russians are justified in using large-scale state terrorism to prevent it?
This is my view of wars of independence in general.