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Post 0

Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 4:39amSanction this postReply
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David,
A good article but I would like to take issue on just a couple of points:

There is an increasing perception that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary, of little if any long term benefit to the west, and may in fact result in greater support for fundamentalist groups like Al Quaeda (This argument has been made in Objectivist terms most notably by Chris Sciabarra - that is of course largely a seperate issue but for the record, I personally more or less embrace Chris's position).
In that case, Spanish votes would have been left with the perception that Aznar's support for an unneccessary war had provoked the weekend's atrocities. In case I am misunderstood - I am not inferring any justification whatsoever of the atrocities, I'm simply trying to look at this from the perspective of the Spanish voters.

As to the early reports of ETA responsibility, the trouble is that the government *appear* to have repeatedly hammered the message out over and over again that ETA was to blame, before eventually
conceding Islamic involvement. Regardless of how much the government *actually* knew, it is not difficult to see that the Spanish people may have felt that there had been some attempt to cover up the
Islamic involvement. Couple this with the general perception discussed above and I don't think its difficult to understand why the Spaniards turned on Aznar.

Regards,
MH




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Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 3:08amSanction this postReply
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Good article!

I couldn't believe it this morning when I saw on the news that instead of any "down with Al Qaeda" messages, mourners and protesters for the victims in Madrid were brandishing "down with Aznar" signs. If anything earns Linz's "sick fuck" it is those Spanish that have responded to the attacks in this way. Some have tried to defend this by saying that Spain is a young democracy and does not know how to react, and that people are angry with the Government for lying. Those are the excuses of fucking cowards that cannot face the facts of the matter. There is one imminent “real enemy” to unite against. That is Al Qaeda.




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Post 2

Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 5:38amSanction this postReply
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MH: thanks for your criticism. You are right on some points ;-).

Firstly, you're right that Spaniard's considered the war to be "unnecessary". *They* were, of course, wrong. This *was* a necessary war for Spain. It was necessary for Spain for the same reasons as it was necessary for it's NATO allies, the USA, and UK (not to mention those excorable Germans and French...). Saddam, by his actions and words had proved himself to be a threat to his own people, his neighbours and arguably (and this is where I have to respect the opinions of the likes of Sciabarra and yourself) to the USA/Europe and western civilisation itself through it's purported links to Al Qaeda, Palestine bombers and other (?) terrorist groups.

Secondly, you are also right that many Spaniards considered that Aznar tried to "cover up". That's not the impression I received by watching government spokesmen on TV in the 48 hours after the attack. They at no time ruled out that this was an Al Qaeda attack, and as information pointing towards Al Qaeda came forth, this was released with no more than a few hours delay (reasonable to ensure accuracy).

One important point to add to this whole nasty story is Spanish Anti-Americanism. Many Spaniards, and particularly socialists, are fervently and instinctively anti-American. If it had been Germany and France wanting to intervene in Iraq, and  UK/USA wanting out, this affair would have looked quite different. In fact, this is exactly what happened in Bosnia, if I remember correctly. At that time rabid anti-American lefties here scolded America for its lack of compassion in failing to intervene rapidly! Go figure!




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Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 9:43amSanction this postReply
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Christopher Hitchens also had a fine column in today's Slate on this subject:  http://slate.msn.com/id/2097138

Also, for commentary on whether the Iraq war will exacerbate the al Qaeda problem:  http://slate.msn.com/id/2078162




Post 4

Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 11:15amSanction this postReply
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Excellent article! You are right on every point. But let me add a few more:

The Spanish appeasement will be a major source of Islamist recruitment. Such a double victory will attract new converts to the movement. One of the main purposes of Al Qaeda’s attack is to successfully demonstrate its ability to inflict harm and humiliation on the enemy. Spain’s capitulation just adds to the "power of terrorism". Expect a pick-up in terrorism down the line.

Spain will most likely be a major target. Expect terrorist demands for the release of their comrades. Expect the targeting of international facilities and air flights in Spain. In the past two years we have seen attacks on French tankers, foreign assets in Turkey, and Australians (long before they joined the war). Contrary to popular opinion, Muslims don't distinguish between Infidels.

Israel has proven that when you reward a terrorist - like Yasser Arafat - you only get more terrorism.

Expect an attack in Italy. They are vulnerable and their population may vote out the current leader in any case.

Finally, notice that with France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, and perhaps Italy, Western Continental Europe is becoming "isolationist". But notice that Eastern Europe is solidly on board. They need to know that America will be there for them. If Russia becomes a threat again, Eastern Europe needs our help while Western Europe will parasitically benefit from our protection of Eastern Europe.

Rick

PS The Spanish vote was close. Don't give up on them in the long run.



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Post 5

Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 7:35pmSanction this postReply
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According to the article, (the government of) Spain had an "obligation" to (force its citizens to) bear some of the costs of the Iraq war because that's what allied governments expected.  According to the author's post, it was "necessary" for the Spanish government to force citizens to participate in the war because Saddam was "arguably" a threat to them.

I don't find these lines of reasoning persuasive at all.  I say:

1. Spanish citizens had no moral obligation to do anything whatsoever to alleviate the suffering of Iraqis or ease the burden of U.S. troops or meet the demands of "allies."  A government exists to protect its citizens interests, not obey alleged obligations or duties to other countries or international bodies.

2. It was not in Spain's interests to go to war (as the author himself seemed to hint at).  The war was going to be fought anyway.  Saddam was going to be overthrown anyway.  The Spanish had virtually nothing to gain by participating and a lot potentially to lose.  The Madrid bombings may have been a direct consequence of the government's war commitments. 

3. I don't think Saddam had any sort of plot in the works to bomb Spain of all places (let alone any other civilized country). You can come up with some potential reasons why waging war in Iraq could have or might have turned out to be in Spain's interests, but to say that it was "necessary" is an abuse of words and their meaning.  Pro or con, the war was optional.

4. Necessary wars are fought in response to clear and indisputable threats, not "arguable" or conjectured ones.

5. International Islamic terrorist rings indisputably threaten people in most parts of the world.

6. No major international terrorist attacks have been carried out by Saddam or Iraqis.

7. Waging war on Iraq did nothing to discourage or weaken Islamic terrorists.

8. Pro-Iraq war fanatics will never be disuaded from their position.  Costs don't matter to them.  They'll never put a dollar figure or a body count representing how much it's worth to them.  They don't think in terms of costs and benefits/consequences.  To them, it's a "necessary" moral mission.  They are emotionally vested in it.  Consequently, even when most of the predictions made by anti-war advocates come true (no WMDs found, inordinate costs, heavy casualties, fueling Islamic rage/emboldening Islamic militants, hordes of new terrorists mobilizing and attacking within Iraq, terrorists carrying out retaliatory attacks against the U.S. and/or U.S. allies, etc.), the war mongers never take into account new evidence or reexamine their position.  And most of them never will.

9. While it is always morally optional to stand up to a bully, whether he be of the schoolyard variety or a brutal dictator, it is not always wise or useful.  If I see some thug beating up some person I don't know or care about, I intervene at my own discretion, understanding that it may be risky to do so.  I could shoot him dead and save his victim only to be hunted down by his gang of followers, who are hell-bent on retaliation against me and my family.  I'm not going to risk my life or my family for the sake of a single act of justice on behalf of someone else.  When  a bully is doing horrible things to someone else but isn't directly threatening you, a policy of non-intervention may be the only one that is consistent with the goal of self-defense.  When and if and how you do intervene is optional.  The world is filled with horrific injustices, most of which you ought not try to (and realistically can't) do anything about except condemn in moral terms.

10. It is the responsibility of a government to arrest/kill/deter terrorists who threaten the lives of its citizens.  Given that it's likely that the recent attacks in Spain were carried out by foreign-born Islamic jihadists, it seems that the Spanish government should have kept the resources it dumped into Iraq in Spain -- specifically, to efforts aimed at keeping terrorist invaders out of the country and capturing those already operating in Spain.  I wrote an article about this very issue a few months ago: "Ushering In Civilization's Destroyers" (http://freeradical.co.nz/content/58/Destroyers.html).

-Logan
 www.individualistvoice.com




Post 6

Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 10:30pmSanction this postReply
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1)It's the government's job to protect its citizens against external threats
2)The government doesn't do its job
3) The government has its ass kicked out

You don't even need to argue - though you could - that the Spanish government put its citizens in harm's way unnecessarily.

What is so hard to understand about this?

- Daniel



Post 7

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 12:43amSanction this postReply
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Copied & pasted from the SOLO Yahoo Forum:

Comments interpolated below. Logan's segments *with* arrows, Linz' without:

> From: "Logan Feys"
> Reply-To: SOLO_forum@yahoogroups.com
> Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004 23:33:25 -0500
> To:
> Subject: RE: [SOLO] Re: Giving in to the Terrorists: Spain says, "You Win" to
> Al Qaeda
>
>
> According to the article, (the government of) Spain had an "obligation"
> to (force its citizens to) bear some of the costs of the Iraq war
> because that's what allied governments expected. According to the
> author's post, it was "necessary" for the Spanish government to force
> citizens to participate in the war because Saddam was "arguably" a
> threat to them.
>
> I don't find these lines of reasoning persuasive at all. I say:
>
> 1. Spanish citizens had no moral obligation to do anything whatsoever to
> alleviate the suffering of Iraqis or ease the burden of U.S. troops or
> meet the demands of "allies." A government exists to protect its
> citizens interests, not obey alleged obligations or duties to other
> countries or international bodies.

____________________________________

Protecting the interests of its citizens will often, properly, lead a government to enter coalitions with other governments. The government of New Zealand, for instance, used to be part of a formal deal (ANZUS) with that of
the United States, because it knew that being part of such a coalition would deter a potential aggressor (e.g. in this time of Islamic revival, Indonesia) in the first instance, & lead him to be blown out of the water by the U.S. in the second, should he actually *commit* aggression.
Quisling/Chamberlain/Saddamite mentalities in NZ's socialist governments have torn that agreement up.

The commitment of the Spanish government to help out in Iraq was *not* the result of a formal coalition, but of an honourable acknowledgement that America's effort to topple an unspeakable despot Hussein was a desirable
project worthy of a friend's support.

__________________________________________


> 2. It was not in Spain's interests to go to war (as the author himself
> seemed to hint at). The war was going to be fought anyway. Saddam was
> going to be overthrown anyway.

_________________________________________

Not if the Saddamites had their way! Talk about stealing premises!!

_________________________________________


The Spanish had virtually nothing to
> gain by participating and a lot potentially to lose. The Madrid
> bombings may have been a direct consequence of the government's war
> commitments.

________________________________________

Oh. So don't help a friend out in deposing a despot lest that despot's
soul-mates get angry? Jesus Christ!!

________________________________________

>
> 3. I don't think Saddam had any sort of plot in the works to bomb Spain
> of all places (let alone any other civilized country). You can come up
> with some potential reasons why waging war in Iraq could have or might
> have turned out to be in Spain's interests, but to say that it was
> "necessary" is an abuse of words and their meaning. Pro or con, the war
> was optional.

________________________________________

And the honourable option was to help.

_______________________________________

>
> 4. Necessary wars are fought in response to clear and indisputable
> threats, not "arguable" or conjectured ones.

______________________________________

For reasons previously canvassed, but clearly not absorbed, there was absolutely no reason to give Saddam the benefit of a smidgeon of doubt.

________________________________________

>
> 5. International Islamic terrorist rings indisputably threaten people in
> most parts of the world.

________________________________________

Yeah, well, better not upset them, huh? We might rile them, & run the risk
of being bombed ourselves. Let's just let them bomb away, & cower in the
shadows while they do so, in the hope they won't notice us.

_____________________________________

>
> 6. No major international terrorist attacks have been carried out by
> Saddam or Iraqis.

______________________________________

As yet. But the citizens of Kuwait, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis tortured/gassed by Saddam, about which unfortunates the Saddamites couldn't give a toss, might argue that this is hardly the point, were they
alive to do so.

_______________________________________

>
> 7. Waging war on Iraq did nothing to discourage or weaken Islamic
> terrorists.

________________________________________

It removed a vainglorious Islamic Attila who, as it turned out, was not quite the threat he was thought to be *only* because he'd been neutralised — in the face of opposition from Saddamites!!! - ten years earlier. The fact
that action against one piece of maggot-shit doesn't "discourage or weaken" *all* pieces of maggot-shit doesn't invalidate the action. The fallacy of Rationalism again!!

________________________________________________
> 8. Pro-Iraq war fanatics will never be disuaded from their position.
> Costs don't matter to them. They'll never put a dollar figure or a body
> count representing how much it's worth to them. They don't think in
> terms of costs and benefits/consequences. To them, it's a "necessary"
> moral mission. They are emotionally vested in it. Consequently, even
> when most of the predictions made by anti-war advocates come true (no
> WMDs found, inordinate costs, heavy casualties, fueling Islamic
> rage/emboldening Islamic militants, hordes of new terrorists mobilizing
> and attacking within Iraq, terrorists carrying out retaliatory attacks
> against the U.S. and/or U.S. allies, etc.), the war mongers never take
> into account new evidence or reexamine their position. And most of them
> never will.

________________________________________________

Hahahaha! This is *really* rich. Saddamites who couldn't give a fuck about Saddam's half a million victims suddenly getting all righteous about body-counts. 600 American soldiers? News for the Saddamites: when young Americans *volunteer* for military service, they *know* they might be called upon to lay down their lives overseas, deposing despots. Thank God for people like them, as opposed to chin-dripping weaklings who refuse to face up to the fact that the fight against tyranny *always* entails casualties.
Those young men & women knew it, & were staunch. Bless them for ever. If this makes me a "war-monger" then I wear the label with pride. Rather that than be an abject, simpering traitor waving a white flag at the first intimation of enemy anger.

________________________________________________

>
> 9. While it is always morally optional to stand up to a bully, whether
> he be of the schoolyard variety or a brutal dictator, it is not always
> wise or useful. If I see some thug beating up some person I don't know
> or care about, I intervene at my own discretion, understanding that it
> may be risky to do so. I could shoot him dead and save his victim only
> to be hunted down by his gang of followers, who are hell-bent on
> retaliation against me and my family. I'm not going to risk my life or
> my family for the sake of a single act of justice on behalf of someone
> else. When a bully is doing horrible things to someone else but isn't
> directly threatening you, a policy of non-intervention may be the only
> one that is consistent with the goal of self-defense. When and if and
> how you do intervene is optional. The world is filled with horrific
> injustices, most of which you ought not try to (and realistically can't)
> do anything about except condemn in moral terms.

________________________________________________


The world is filled with cowards devoid of the slightest notion of loyalty to one's values & one's friends. Cowards who think that self-preservation at *any* cost is a virtue. Thank God the Founding Fathers weren't like that!

"You have preserved three qualities of character which were typical at the time of America's birth, but are virtually non-existent today: earnestness - dedication - a sense of honour."

- Ayn Rand, address to West Point Military Academy.

Guess she *should* have told them to dissemble & go home, lest they annoy some pieces of terrorist maggot-shit.

Linz



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Post 8

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 6:12amSanction this postReply
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Oh for heaven's sake Linz!!!

With respect, Objectivists who opposed this invasion are not "Saddamites". You seem to be stuck in a false alternative - you think everyone has to be either for the invasion or for Saddam. Speaking for myself, given the full context of the world situation at the time, I think there were much better alternative solutions for dealing with Saddam (in the same way that Rand, given the full context at that time, opposed an invasion of the Soviet Union and suggested alternative approaches).

Opposition to the invasion does not indicate support for Saddam, or a lack of concern for those who suffered under him (any more than Rand's opposition to an invasion of the Soviet Union indicated support for communism on her part!). Quite frankly I find both those insinuations deeply objectionable.

Chris Sciabarra's case against the invasion was part of a wider argument that the US's interventionist foreign policy of the past 50 or so years must be reversed. Without that foreign policy, Saddam would probably never have gained any WMD to begin with - in what way is that "Saddamite"??

Also - Saddam wasn't running an Islamic regime as such, he was a secular socialist who bin Laden wanted to get rid of. All of this and more has been fully explained by Chris, Russ Madden and others, and in far more eloquent terms than I have managed here.

MH




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Post 9

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 11:10amSanction this postReply
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MH: "Chris Sciabarra's case against the invasion was part of a wider argument that the US's interventionist foreign policy of the past 50 or so years must be reversed. Without that foreign policy, Saddam would probably never have gained any WMD to begin with - in what way is that 'Saddamite'??"

Because it's used as an excuse for inertia re Saddam *now*. Past errors disqualify one from *not* making an error in the present. And I couldn't care less if Saddamites find my description of them "objectionable." I find Saddamism more objectionable than I can say. Saddam would have loved to read all the stuff on this site that succoured him.



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Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 1:03pmSanction this postReply
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Linz you know damn well that Chris's wider theory is in a sense peripheral to the case against invasion (which is of course not the same thing as a case for "inertia").

The argument against invasion is mainly a question of tactics. The argument is not that we should've done nothing, not that we should've been blind to the suffering he caused, the argument is simply that given the wider context of the global situation in 2003, he could have been dealt with more effectively in ways other than an invasion.

MH




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Post 11

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 11:45amSanction this postReply
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Matthew,

Thank you for injecting a dose of sanity into this debate!

I certainly have nothing ideologically in common with the raging, hate-filled, left-wing mobs who happen to be opposed to the Iraq war...and happen to be for abortion rights...and happen to wear socks and breathe oxygen. 

Lindsay has never offered or suggested a coherent definition of "Saddamite" -- because, obviously, he can't.  It's what Ayn Rand would have identified as an "anti-concept."  It's employed in an effort to insult and belittle and intimidate people with whom he disagrees.  I could just as logically call Linz a "Castroite" or a "Mugabeite" for failing to give any material support to wars aimed at overthrowing various other dictators and preferring instead to pursue other values.  But I won't, because it's a ridiculous (and meaningless) charge.

I've heard little from war supporters other than emotional appeals, including moral posturing (perfected by Bush), patriotic/collectivistic sloganeering (perfected by ARI), and childish name calling (perfected by some people on this forum).  When they do try to make reasonable points, they are points that we all agree on anyway (yes, Saddam was evil; yes, he tortured and gassed and oppressed millions of people; yes, the Iraqis deserve to have their own  government).

What I have never heard is a single rational reason why some young man in Kansas should want to leave his family and all he values behind and sacrifice his life for people in Iraq.  I have never heard pro-war advocates suggest an appropriate amount that the government should be able to extort from its citizens in order to wage the war.  How much money is too much?  $200 billion?  $500 billion?  Half the country's GDP?  What value do you place (and more importantly, what value should we all be FORCED to place) on the overthrow of a single dictator?  What is the country getting for the government's "investment" in Iraq?  Greater safety and security?  Tell that to the Spaniards.

I would willingly risk my life to fight off an invader in my homeland or overthrow a tyrannical government ruling over me.  That's what the American Revolution was about.  Imagine how absurd it would be for General Washington to take American soldiers into battle against some Persian autocrat thousands of miles away.

Before the income tax, it was very difficult for the government to wage unnecessary foreign wars and lanch nation-building activities.  I suspect that Iraq war supporters would be very disappointed if the income tax were repealed.  If the U.S. military had to rely on voluntary means of support (along with perhaps modest tariffs and exises), it would probably be relegated to only a defensive role.  Wow, what a novel concept for government!

-Logan
www.individualistvoice.com




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Post 12

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 2:37pmSanction this postReply
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First, good article David.

Now I want to talk about a few issues in this conversation.

Logan's point number 2 and 9 come off like he's upholding the freeloader problem as a moral ideal.  Opposing evil is dangerous, so why not just let others do it?  It's not in the interest of any specific person to oppose evil, so hopefully there are some altruists out there that will do it for us.  I'm trying to figure out how this is supposed to be a manifestation of Objectivism.

It's true that in any particular situation, it might be more dangerous to oppose evil right then and there, when you're unprepared and alone.  Better to rally your friends together, or call the police, or create a neighborhood watch program.  You reduce the total risk by improving your odds of taking out the bad guys.  That's easy enough, and compatible with Objectivism.  But Logan's message seems to be that we shouldn't oppose evil, especially if it'll piss other evil people off.  Better to let them run amock killing whoever they want.  If they don't personally attack us, we shouldn't respond?

And this brings me to Matthew's point about 50 years of interventionist foreign policy.  It's easy enough to point out that the policies of past had unintended consequences, but what was the alternatives?  Given this "libertarian" view of never getting involved unless your country is immediately at risk, how would the world look?  Would we have let the Soviet Union blaze a trail across Western Europe?  Would we let all of our allies down, because some Soviet leader says "we don't have any problems with the US, we just want to conquer and enslave these other countries".  And that's just the Russians.  Israel would be wiped off the face of the earth.  Who knows how extreme the Islamic countries would be, or if they would conquer the not-so-extreme ones.  And would it make us safer?  Would they suddenly like the US, despite the fact that it's not Islamic?  I don't think so.  If the alternative policy is really cower in fear because someone might get angry and retaliate, I think I'd prefer the last 50 years of foreign policy, thank you.

And this leads to my next point.  What's the goal of the terrorists?  The "Saddamites" seem to think it's merely retribution for past aggressions, implying justified actions, and then go off to say that it's really not justified.  I take this to mean that Al Qaeda is just "going a little too far".  And the Saddamites only care what the US did to cause this.  That we're dealing with suicidal maniacs hell-bent on world domination doesn't bother them.  Saddamites think "if we just left them alone, we could all just get along".  Good luck with that.

And what's all this talk about Al Qaeda being on such bad terms with Saddam?  Correct me if I'm wrong, but the current theory is that Al Qaeda just attacked Spain, and their justification for it was the war in Iraq.  You can't have it both ways.  Either the attack on Iraq upset Al Qaeda, or it didn't.  Either it was a blow to their side of this war, or the don't care.  The fact that they're retaliating for it should make everyone question the belief that their was no connection between them.

Matthew's last point was that, tactically, the war on Iraq wasn't the best idea.  I think there's room for disagreement on whether that war should have happened.  But I don't consider cowering in fear, and trying never to upset religious fanatics, as a proper tactic.  And that's what this argument always comes down to.  It has nothing to do with whether we should have attacked someone else, or funded Saddam's enemies, or any other course of action that might work to destroy the terrorists.  The argument always comes down to whether we should do anything at all.  The suggested alternative is always "non-intervention" so we don't hurt their feelings and make them angry.  And this is always because of the fundamental difference in view on the cause of terrorism.  Is it all the fault of the US, or not?  Those who try to "explain" terrorism by pointing at the US can only see one possible solution.  Stop the US.  Those of us who see religious nuts willing to kill themselves in a holy war to spread Islam don't see it that way.




Post 13

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 2:44pmSanction this postReply
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Logan: thanks for your comments above in both posts.

Linz answered your arguments to my satisfaction for your first post. Yes, he does get a little worked up and literary with the Saddamite thing. Can't say I blame him :-). It is an emotional issue. I for one respect the fact that he does not hide his anger under a veil of scholarly bullshit and have been impressed sufficiently that he has the philosophical firepower to back up his sometimes scandolous or overly allegorical claims. Others just don't give him that credit. Saddamite bastards!

Anyway, Logan, to answer your second post:

I certainly have nothing ideologically in common with the raging, hate-filled, left-wing mobs who happen to be opposed to the Iraq war...and happen to be for abortion rights...and happen to wear socks and breathe oxygen. 
ok.

Lindsay has never offered or suggested a coherent definition of "Saddamite" -- because, obviously, he can't.  It's what Ayn Rand would have identified as an "anti-concept."  It's employed in an effort to insult and belittle and intimidate people with whom he disagrees.  I could just as logically call Linz a "Castroite" or a "Mugabeite" for failing to give any material support to wars aimed at overthrowing various other dictators and preferring instead to pursue other values.  But I won't, because it's a ridiculous (and meaningless) charge.
Reread http://www.solohq.com/Articles/Perigo/Saddams_Succours.shtml. Three paragraphs pretty well define what he refers to as Saddamites.

I've heard little from war supporters other than emotional appeals, including moral posturing (perfected by Bush), patriotic/collectivistic sloganeering (perfected by ARI), and childish name calling (perfected by some people on this forum).  When they do try to make reasonable points, they are points that we all agree on anyway (yes, Saddam was evil; yes, he tortured and gassed and oppressed millions of people; yes, the Iraqis deserve to have their own  government).
Government's role is to defend the rights of its citizens. Saddam had been proved by his past actions and words to be a) A threat to Iraq's citizens b) A threat to Iraq's neighbours (Kuwait, Israel) and c) offering moral, financial and logistical support to terrorists in Palestine Territories, and (I do not honestly know whether this is proven) possibly to al Qaeda. It was a fair assessment to assume that he and groups that he aided could and would have wrought similar damage upon the USA and it's allies if allowed him to develop the means. Or are you saying that preemptive force is NEVER justified?

What I have never heard is a single rational reason why some young man in Kansas should want to leave his family and all he values behind and sacrifice his life for people in Iraq.  I have never heard pro-war advocates suggest an appropriate amount that the government should be able to extort from its citizens in order to wage the war.  How much money is too much?  $200 billion?  $500 billion?  Half the country's GDP?  What value do you place (and more importantly, what value should we all be FORCED to place) on the overthrow of a single dictator?  What is the country getting for the government's "investment" in Iraq?  Greater safety and security? 

Firstly, that young man from Kansas KNEW that he was getting into the armed forces NOT the Texan Knitting Association. He did so voluntarily. He would want to do so because he wanted to prevent future 9/11's and 3/11's. All strength to him for that free, brave, and honourable decision. He would recognise that giving in to terrorists and despots, in short throwing down ones arms and saying "lets be friends" is NOT, a viable option in an imperfect world. How much money? I would love, like you, to live in a world in which government was funded voluntarily. The answer would then come from patriots debating like you and I are right now with their personal property. We do NOT live in such a world, and judgment, nasty "grey" judgement if you like, must be taken as to what is affordable.

"Tell that to the Spaniards".
 NOW THAT makes me angry! Don't you get the parallel I make between ETA and al Qaeda?! If you *must* place the blame on someone apart from the despicable sub-human dredge that DID the bombing, then try the German and French (to name but two countries) COWARDS who did NOT resist. Too LITTLE resistance, not too much. Al Qaeda benefited from a fractured opposition.

I would willingly risk my life to fight off an invader in my homeland or overthrow a tyrannical government ruling over me.  That's what the American Revolution was about.  Imagine how absurd it would be for General Washington to take American soldiers into battle against some Persian autocrat thousands of miles away.
Good for you. Your life, your call.

Your metaphor is not valid, however. In Washington's time it took months to get from Persia to the Americas, and planes to fly into buildings were damn hard to come by. In short, it was a world in which international borders WERE borders, by restraints of geography, time and knowledge.

Before the income tax, it was very difficult for the government to wage unnecessary foreign wars and lanch nation-building activities.  I suspect that Iraq war supporters would be very disappointed if the income tax were repealed.  If the U.S. military had to rely on voluntary means of support (along with perhaps modest tariffs and exises), it would probably be relegated to only a defensive role.  Wow, what a novel concept for government!
Ditto. Invalid comparison. But we are in agreement that voluntary taxation would change the equation. Neither you nor I can, unfortunately, know what the outcome would have been as to whether a truly libertarian society would have provided sufficient funds to remove Saddam.





Post 14

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 2:50pmSanction this postReply
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Joe: . We crossed posts so I just wanted to thank you for one point you make that hadn't been raised in my article or this thread to date. It is extremely important:
And what's all this talk about Al Qaeda being on such bad terms with Saddam?  Correct me if I'm wrong, but the current theory is that Al Qaeda just attacked Spain, and their justification for it was the war in Iraq.  You can't have it both ways.  Either the attack on Iraq upset Al Qaeda, or it didn't.  Either it was a blow to their side of this war, or the don't care.  The fact that they're retaliating for it should make everyone question the belief that their was no connection between them.
EXACTLY!




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Post 15

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 5:26pmSanction this postReply
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Joe, thank you for your response to issues raised in my previous posts.

Regarding the last 50 years of foreign policy, my whole point is that cowering and doing nothing is not the only alternative to invading threats. I think you and Linz are making the same error here. World War II for instance wasn't a straight choice between forming an alliance with Stalin and fighting Hitler on the one hand or doing nothing on the other. One possible alternative might have been to do nothing in the short term, let Hitler and Stalin destroy each other, and then finish off the survivor if he was still deemed a threat.

Some possible alternatives regarding Iraq might have been direct containment, a total blockade, supporting any "enlightened" elements in Iraq seeking to genuinely liberalise (i.e. westernise) the culture, assassinating Saddam, or some combination of the above. I'm not saying any particular one of these options would have been successful - each one raised questions and problems of implementation which outside the scope of this debate. The point I am making is that there were alternatives.

Regarding the goal of the terrorists - it does seem to me that al Quaeda were motivated in part by previous US policies in the Middle East. This based on the fact that bin Laden made statements to that effect. However, as far as I am concerned, this does not justify al Queda's barbaric actions, and I certainly don't think that my seeking to understand their motivations means that I am trying to justify them. Two wrongs don't make a right. To draw an analogy, most of my British friends understand the IRA and UDA's reasons and motivations for their terrorist campaigns, but do not think that these groups are justified in their actions (the exception to this would be a couple of dickwad socialist acquaintances who do think the IRA are some kind of heroes).

Regarding Saddam and the terrorists - al Quaeda is an Islamic fundamentalist group. They didn't want Saddam running Iraq, but they don't want the US there either. Make no mistake though - Saddam and bin Laden probably hate each other almost as much as they hate the west. I'm not 100% on this but I seem to remember there being a news report at the time of Saddam's capture that some papers had been intercepted in which Saddam instructed his followers in the resistance not to work with al Quaeda due to the vastly differing agendas, I'll try and look that up on the web.

MH

(Edited by Matthew Humphreys on 3/17, 5:28pm)




Post 16

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 3:52pmSanction this postReply
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> Either the attack on Iraq upset Al Qaeda, or it didn't.
> Either it was a blow to their side of this war, or the don't
> care.

Or, it could be that removing Saddam has created a temporary power vacuum in Iraq, & Al Qa'eda are attempting to ensure that whatever fills that vacuum is a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy. They're fighting to get the U.S.A. out alright - but *not* because of any sympathy towards Hussein, but because they want to install their very own vile murderous regime.

W.r.t. the whole 'Saddamite' issue - I guess I'm a Saddamite myself, but the only points I disagree on are:

- that Iraq represented a meaningful threat to the U.S.A.

- that in the absence of such a threat, there are other legitimate reasons (e.g. removing an illegitimate dictatorship) for using the US military




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Post 17

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 8:35pmSanction this postReply
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I suggested earlier that Spain’s participation in the Iraq war may have come at the cost of its security.  This made David angry.  But it’s a matter of objective fact, not me.  Either Spain’s involvement led to the Madrid terrorist attacks or it didn’t.  Maybe I am wrong and the attacks would have happened anyway.  But there’s no reason to be angry at me for merely trying to identify the facts of the situation.

 

Perhaps he read into my statements and surmised that I believe that causation=justification.  I in no way intend to imply that the terrorists were “justified” in doing what they did, merely that they did have motivations for carrying out the attacks, just as the 9-11 hijackers had motivations.  (None of them were legitimate, of course.)

 

If a young women ventures out into a rough neighborhood late at night all by herself wearing nothing but a bikini, she’s made herself a target.  If she’s kidnapped and raped, it would be a horrible act of evil for which there is no justification…but it wouldn’t be surprising.  And even though the police should focus their efforts on apprehending the thugs responsible, it doesn’t change the fact that the woman behaved in a provocative manner that made her a likely victim.  That’s just reality.

 

The U.S. government has made Americans likely victims of Islamic terrorists.  I think the same can be said of Spain's government.  That's just reality. 

 

Islamic thugs should be arrested or killed whenever they threaten an innocent life.  But it doesn’t mean that governments should go out of their way to provoke Muslims.  They’re dangerous…and should be treated like dangerous wild animals.  You figure out what makes them attack.  You avoid needlessly provoking them into attacking you. But you sure as hell better be prepared to respond with lethal force if they do.  You show them that you intend to avoid crossing paths with them but that you refuse to be a victim.  That's how you deal with bullies/criminals/terrorists/dictatorships.

 

-Logan

 




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Post 18

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 10:24pmSanction this postReply
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I'm disappointed to see that Mr. Executive Director also wants to talk about "Saddamites."  One can't achieve clarity about an issue by filling one's mind with crude anti-concepts that take the place of legitimate concepts and thoughts. 

Joe did bring up the issue of altruism.  As far as I'm concerned, the U.S. sacrifice of 500+ lives and the spending of more money than the entire GDP of most countries to liberate the Iraqis is altruistic.  "Look at the people celebrating the dismantling of the statue of Saddam!  Isn't that great and inspiring?"  Yes, actually, it was a great moment for those Iraqis.  That can't be denied.  I don't object to the end that was achieved.  If the U.S. government sent billions of dollars of humanitarian aid to feed and care for impoverished and ill people around the world, I wouldn't object to the end either.  I would object to the means and the costs.  I'd be accused of taking food away from hungry children...and wanting to return Saddam to power.  If life were as simple as embracing every noble sounding end, then I'd be for every government program and every Ameircan war ever conceived...and the world would be an impoverished, enslaved, hell under the weight of government coercion.

The government doesn't want us to pay any attention to the means, the costs.  If the media showed us images of each soldier's death...if they showed us images of the IRS seizing people's businesses, cars, homes...if they could show in concrete terms what all the billions spent on Iraq could buy here...if people understood what this war really cost in terms of lives, money, and liberty, then support for it would crater.

It's amazing how people let the activities of the welfare/warfare state control what they think about.  For years, Saddam wasn't on the minds of most Americans or most Objectivists.  Suddenly, Bush decides he wants to wage war on Iraq.  And suddenly people fall in line to oppose the enemy that Bush has identified.  It could have been a war on Iran or Sudan or Saudi Arabia or Syria or Libya or Somalia or Morocco or N. Korea or Cuba or Venezuela or Zimbabwe.  But it happened to be Iraq. 

Pro-war advocates accuse war abstainers of succoring to Saddam but not to any of those other awful regimes that Bush has chosen NOT to attack.  Why?  Are their views limited by what's in the news and what comes out of politicians' mouths?  The only position consistent with waging war on Iraq would be total warfare on all of the above-mentioned rogue regimes (and more).  But unfortunately for the war hawks, there just aren't enough American bodies to go around. 

A consistent foreign policy that is actually workable would be to refrain from war unless and until the country is attacked OR an imminent threat is posed.  Now that we see how pathetic Saddam's regime really was, there can be no reasonable argument that he ever posed an imminent threat to U.S. citizens.  Saddam was a threat to his citizens, and the U.S. government was and is a threat to its citizens -- more of a threat than Saddam ever was and more of a threat now than it was before the war commenced.

I should stop beating this dead horse.  The hardcore war moralists won't be persuaded of anything.  I do think there is room for reasonable disagreement, however.  Surely, some war supporters are reasonable and would be willing to draw a line in terms of money/lives/liberties/adverse-consequenes that, if crossed, would cause them to modify their position.

-Logan




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Post 19

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 11:07pmSanction this postReply
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Matthew,

I'm not falling for the error you speak of.  I know that there are alternatives to direct invasion.  Also, there's questions of whether it is really that necessary.  I don't fault those kind of argument.  What I'm saying is, those aren't the arguments being made!

The "Saddamites" only want non-intervention.  As has been suggested over and over, "it might piss off the terrorists".  Do you think any of your alternative policies would have a different effect?  If the goal is to not piss of the terrorists, any intervention or resistance would piss them off.  Talking about alternatives is a smoke screen.  No alternatives meet the criteria of quiet appeasement.

Again, this all boils down to whether terrorism is caused by US foreign policy.  Everything then revolves around not pissing off these uptight religious nuts any more. 

As for Saddam and al Qaeda being enemies, I just don't buy it.  The whole Arab world twisted and contorted the news during the Iraq war.  It wasn't just Saddam's henchmen, it was near-universal.  They all hoped for the US to get defeated, and stood by their man.  And even before that, they spend decades down-playing the brutality of Iraq's regime.  When Iraqi's finally pulled down that statue, and cheered in the streets, the Arab world was shocked.  Over and over, the evidence piles up that within the Arab world they might fight for power, but they stand together in opposition to the Western world.

And I have to say, I really dislike that whole "explaining things, not justifying them" routine.  Logan gave an example of a woman in a rough neighborhood.  But if, after that resulting tragedy, Objectivists kept saying "Well, she did go into the rough neighborhood, after all", I'd be pissed.  And that's what I see going on here.  There are concessions that maybe it isn't entirely the fault of the US when pushed, but there's a constant focus on that one issue.  And the suggested alternative is non-intervention.  This alternative only makes sense if the sole cause is the US past policy.  Take the two facts together, and it seems pretty clear that the blame is not on the terrorists, but on the US.  Or to go with Logan's analogy, the "remedy" is to tell women not to go to this "rough" neighborhood, and all thoughts of arresting the thugs and cleaning up the neighborhood are dismissed.  The message would be pretty clear.




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