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Post 40

Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 3:18amSanction this postReply
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Duncan

Yes, his recognition of the evil of Al Qa'eda and their ilk places him head and shoulders above Kerry as a Presidential Candidate.

Quite.  So any blunders he has made are of a strategic/military/political nature, not a moral nature.  Kerry on the other hand has not demonstrated that he has the basic moral compass.  So how could anyone possibly allow him to be voted in (for instance, by voting Libertarian)?

Have you read 1984? Are you familiar with the slogan "War Is Peace"? Do you not see that the "War On Terror" is just Bush's higher-stakes replacement for the "War On Drugs"?

Yes, yes, and no.  The difference between the “War on Terrror” and the “War on Drugs” is that the war on drugs is an immoral quest. The war on terror, misnamed as it is, is an entirely moral endeavour. Likewise, in 1984 the wars were fake – the enemy was a fiction invented by the State.  Here, the enemy is not fictitious.

Cameron

Are you seriously suggesting that John Kerry doesn't think the atrocities of September 11 were wrong?

I don’t know the exact thought processes of John Kerry.  How could I be, he’s not upfront about his thinking. 

The point I’m making is that the election boils down to a very clear issue about the morality of American values.  Did the US have the moral right to go into Iraq or not, a question which in my view goes straight to the heart of whether you understand whether 9/11 was right or wrong.  Yes, that’s a package deal (not a straw man), but elections are a package deal, whether you like it or not.  Anyone voting Kerry would also be endorsing Michael Moore, the BBC, Kofi Annan and ultimately, Saddam and OBL, precisely as you suggest.  Hence my statement refers to “Kerry, and his ilk”.

If I were to defend a literal interpretation of my statement as it applies to Kerry (which I don’t think should be necessary given the context I've just provided), then I would say that he does not see the moral legitimacy of attacking Iraq (and hence by implication, the rights and wrongs of 9/11), which is why he is always bleating on about bringing the UN and the European “allies” into the fold.  I have seen him argue that bringing in more allies would be a good strategic move because it would enhance the US’ intelligence capabilities, which is true as a strategic point.  But by being intentionally unclear Kerry is also tapping into a package deal of his own, which is the belief that bringing in the UN would provide moral legitimacy where currently there is none.



 











Post 41

Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 4:52amSanction this postReply
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Amazing post by Linz!

I agree with all of his 5 points in reference to the War against Islamo-Fascism. His arguments are well stated, rational and passionate. Unfortunately, trying to tie this topic to the one on basic civilty is apples and oranges.

There is a vast difference between the outright appeasement crowd (that deserves all the derision that Linz or anyone else heaps on them!) and those that are in favor of defending Western Civilization but do not agree that Iraq was the intelligent or correct course in that defense. Personally I believe it was correct, and Linz's point number 1 and 2 cover the rationale perfectly.

George




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Post 42

Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 11:50amSanction this postReply
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MH,

I, for one, hope we haven't seen the last of your posts at SoloHQ. I enjoy reading them and enjoy seeing your smiling face. Please stick around.




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Post 43

Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 1:50pmSanction this postReply
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Tim,

> Quite. So any blunders he has made are of a
> strategic/military/political nature, not a moral nature.
> Kerry on the other hand has not demonstrated that he has
> the basic moral compass. So how could anyone possibly
> allow him to be voted in (for instance, by voting
> Libertarian)?

The argument that voting Libertarian would make a Kerry victory more likely holds some water; but such tactical voting is not what is being discussed.

I would be *very* happy to write an article on this topic to open it up for further discussion, as tactical voting is an issue that effects Libertarian parties all around the world, including here in NZ.

> Yes, yes, and no. The difference between the “War on
> Terrror” and the “War on Drugs” is that the war on drugs
> is an immoral quest. The war on terror, misnamed as it is,
> is an entirely moral endeavour. Likewise, in 1984 the wars
> were fake – the enemy was a fiction invented by the State.
> Here, the enemy is not fictitious.

No, it's worse - the enemy is an abstraction.

TERRORISM IS A MILITARY TACTIC, NOT AN ENEMY!

In declaring a 'War on Terrorism', Bush might have well have declared a 'War on Sniping' or a 'War on Suppressive Fire'. Terrorism is just another weapon in the arsenal of any military force, and it's been used to great effect to demoralise the will to fight of enemies of the U.S.A. in the past.

What Bush *should* have done is declared a war on those would would use terrorism *or any other military tactic* against the U.S.A. E.g. against Al Qa'eda, the Taleban, Iraq, North Korea, Iran. A war like *that* could be declared, could be approved and controlled by Congress, and most importantly could be fought decisively, and concluded cleanly.

At first glance, this appears like a subtle & irrelevant issue of semantics, but it's not. It is the difference between a real war, and a way of manipulating the citizenry to cede more and more power to the Government, just like the War on Drugs.

Make no mistake, this is the new War on Drugs, and they've learned from the mistakes they made during the last one.



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Post 44

Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 4:23amSanction this postReply
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Linz, you sound jolly cross? I love this site and I find the tone of this debate uncharacteristic of the impressive standards normally encountered. I fuck off whenever I can, I find it invigorating! Matthew deserves a better reply.                                           You have created something truly magnificent and my respect for you is undimmed,it is just foolish to damage relations in this way. (By the way, if you knew a little about the state of British forces in 1939 you would know how important the time bought by Chamberlains piece of paper was to the  re-equipment of fighter command with Hurricane Mk IIs and the first operational Spitfire and Radar squadrons.)He was a desperatly ill man and Winston paid tribute to him later(when his position was more secure.)

Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.




Post 45

Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 4:57amSanction this postReply
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For the record,

1) I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq.  I think that the dynamics of the region are too complex for an invasion, even if well motivated, to fix by a disposal of Saddam, who actually suppressed Islamists and just anted to remain in power,
2) and that in the absence of a clear and present danger to the US people, war was not justified, which is part of the reason why the US has to fight the war with its hands tied behind its back (anyone think that if Iraq had really attacked America, we would care about civilians and militants?)
3) I think that the threat of Islamic terrorism is more verbal than real (people who are powerless say all kinds of crazy things), and I think that most people who disagree are being unrealistic about what is going on and the military capabilities of the terrorists, though I can understand their fears.
4) 9/11 was a evil incident deserving retaliation and I fully supported the war in Afghanistan.  However, 9/11 was in many ways a fluke (how many times are you going to successfully hijack planes, hit skyscrapers and kill thousands of people?).
5) the precedent set by the Bush government in distorting intelligence to suit its goals and the implications of such a policy of mass deception are being underappreciated by many Americans.

Moreover, I know fairly well what my beliefs are based upon and I am willing to listening to opposing evidence so that if I should be contradicted by new facts, I can modify my opinion.

That said, I'd like to make a quick point about "refutation". 

It's hard to refute complex arguments which are based on many things including judgements, values, perspectives etc.  The world is a very complex system, and any viewpoint you have will only capture a part of it, and your own values will be attached to that viewpoint.

What I find sad is that many people continue to confuse conflicting ideologies with conflicting facts. 

1) You cannot refute an interpretation of facts (ideology) unless you know what kinds of facts would refute it, and when debating, these facts are best specified by the ideologist, who even when new facts contradicting him are found, is more likely to refuse to change his mind rather than admit that the new facts show he is wrong. 

Example: Some people based a good part of their argument for the War on Iraq on Saddam's possession of WMD.  Does the fact that Saddam didn't have any WMD programs change their mind?  No, because there are other facts that they can point to rather than change their minds, or point to distinctions that they can make within the known facts to continue to hold on to their viewpoint.  Most political arguments are like that - the system of thought is too complex for one fact to trump it all.

2) Even if your ideology is consistent, to the degree that it is depends on speculative ideas about how the facts should be interpreted, it should always be moderated with skepticism because your interpretation could be WRONG, because there could be facts not in your possession that would make your interpretation clearly wrong.

3)  Because the world is very complex, even people who are wrong are basing their views on some facts.  What is interesting is that their interpretation of the facts may even have some merit, even if they systematically differ from your interpretation. 

4) It is quite possible that even if all the logic is on your side, you may be wrong about the TRUTH of a singular fact, because you are missing lots of key evidence.

The War on Terror affects us all.  None of us is in a direct position to know exactly what is influencing the policy makers.  I understand hard decisions must be made.

Even with my initial opposition to the War in Iraq, it is not impossible for me to imagine scenarios under which Iraq has a long term prosperous future (and under which it does not).  There are arguments as to whether it made sense to continue to contain Saddam, and even the UN Inspectors like Blix who are trying to act all good were a good part of the reason why America thought Saddam had weapons - they never gave Saddam a clean bill even when he had one. 

I do not believe that the war in Iraq was all bad, but I just think that some of the key goals could have been achieved differently, some goals were misguided, and that most people who live in dictatorships tend to know how the political system works, even it is a terrible life.

Look at the effects of DU on pregnancies and babies in Iraq.  That might not mean a lot to some people, but it means a lot to me.

I cannot doubt that Saddam was an evil tyrant.  I just hope that this Iraq adventure works out, though the culture is so steeped in Islam and there are too many warring factions for my hopes to be my better judgment.




Post 46

Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 5:36amSanction this postReply
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Let's consider Linz's points.  And let us consider what a possible "refutation" of them would be:

1.  This is not a part of "Just War" theory, but I know it is generally accepted in Objectivist circles. 

Refutation (A): No one I know has reconciled this position with the libertarian view of limited government convincingly and explained what rights governments (and the citizens/"slaves" who end up as collateral damage) do and do not have before arriving at this position.

Refutation (B): American followed something like this principle in liberating Cuba and the Phillipines from Spain in the late 1890s.  We know how Cuba thanked America for it and we know that the Phillipines is a thriving democracy today.  What is far more important in understanding a country is the quality of its culture (as exuded by its citizens).  That tells you far more about the country than who actually runs it, though they are not always loosely correlated.

2) Refutation (A):  Saddam had allowed weapons inspectors into Iraq and had cooperated with inspectors and allowed them to visit EVERY SINGLE site mentioned by CIA intelligence, who had so much evidence that they had to FORGE evidence (remember Niger?).  Saddam had many defectors who confirmed he had dismanted his weapons programs.  Many CIA experts before the war said that no weapons would be found.  The best estimates of inspectors like Scott Ritter was that Saddam had next to nothing at worst and nothing at best.

Point of interest: Saddam lived directly beneath Iran and had lots of Islamo-terrorists around him who hated the secular aspects of his government (Christians could actually celebrate their holidays in Iraq and were members of Saddam's cabinet).  Would it be in his best interests to advertise his impotence to enemies in an obsequious way?

3) Refutation (A):
If this was really a fight over civilizations, why is Switzerland not being bombed by the Islamists?  Or Japan, which is in many ways far more Western than the US?  Or North Korea?

Point of interest: The war is apocalyptic only in the sense that the US doesn't have deep petroleum reserves and needs some level of control and stability in the largest producing petroleum region in the world.  This is why the US has a military presence in the Middle East.  If Africa had the same problems, the US would be there too.  I think that the Islamists are crazy, but they derive most of their support from the tangible effects and necessities of having the US soldiers there.  That is the only way extremists hijack the views of the majority - when they express a view that others are sympathetic with (because the others see some of what they agree are the tangible effects of those policies, but are unwilling to fight like the extremists).

4) No refutation - I agree that political action can, but need not take into account the past - what is most important is the interests involved.

Point of Interest: Most people making the argument do not argue that Saddam should not be taken out because he was helped by the US in the past.  The point is that US helping a country uphold a dictatorship might be generally a bad policy and the US should evaluate the consequences of these acts in future.

5) Point of Interest:  I would have thought that the more meaningful question was not whether Chamberlain was an appeaser or not, but whether it was in Britain's interests to fight WW2 or not.  Britain was obligated by certain pacts to do declare war on Germany, as was Germany was to declare war on the US after the US declared war on Japan. 

Point of Interest: A lot of ink has been spilled over whether Chamberlain was really an appeaser (an appeaser who built up the military systems and national defence that Churchill had ready to fight WW2 with).  I leave people who have the time to do the reading and research.

If you want citations, I can find citations or articles or books or historians to defend whatever I have written.  Oh, what an unreasonable Saddam-hugger (I prefer that to Saddamite, but I guess I have no choice...) I am...




Post 47

Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 10:41amSanction this postReply
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Orion:
Persons of reason...

Ah, a politically correct distinction. Of course, you must have have also read my quoting Rand's "Men of intellect" not once, but twice. If you were genuinely offended by my use of 'men', be assured that I meant it in the same spirit as Rand (and Perigo too, in his "New Enlightened Men" article) did.

As for my stance in Iraq, I repeat - the US war in Iraq is morally justified. Personally, I would have liked that Bush Sr. finished Saddam off in 1991. As it happened, his moral vacillation just gave the tyrant more time to kill thousands more Iraqis, and necessitated a permanent heightened military presence in Saudi Arabia, which gave us the lord of the 'demonic chimpanzees'.

As for Bin Laden and the terrorist lot of them, they should be pursued and killed. Period.

I asked you how you could objectively justify your concept of "ethical sadism". I am surprised Ms. Branden was unsuccessful in ridding you of it in personal correspondence. And that concept of yours is where we really diverge. You proffered this explanation:
Yes, this is the only way for them [terrorists] to empathize with what their victims went through. And I'm sure that the pursuit of empathy is a warm and fuzzy concept that you won't argue, is perhaps the most important of human endeavors?


This point I would like to make very clear. I choose who to emphatize with and when. I do not care care one whit if I can get terrorists to "emphatize" with their victims . They haven't then and I don't expect them to do now. I am under no moral obligation that I should. People who opt to force this 'empathy' are under the silly notion that there is a value to be earned and kept in doing so. There is none, lest one wants the corrupting hedonism of SADISM.

So, I am not a navel-gazing Vulcan who does not "give a runny shit about the actual value of what they've destroyed". I do know what I value, and what I don't.



Post 48

Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 7:41pmSanction this postReply
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num++,

Point One:

I am not "offended" by your comment about "men of reason"... I'm not foaming at the mouth or anything.  What's more, my restating your phrase as persons of reason has nothing to do with the politics behind the use of the term "persons", but everything to do with the objective truth and accuracy behind using the terms "persons". 

After all, females truly can be rational, albeit they come from a different set of circumstances, and thus their logic derives different conclusions because it starts with different premises.... that is, except for those females -- like their irresponsible male counterparts -- who don't care to use logic.

Point Two:

You said this:
I asked you how you could objectively justify your concept of "ethical sadism". I am surprised Ms. Branden was unsuccessful in ridding you of it in personal correspondence.
Please explain how you claim to know what Ms. Branden and I did or did not discuss in any personal correspondence we may or may not have had.

Point Three:

Your point about the irrelevance of achieving empathy in victimizers is well taken.  My stance on this is merely my own preference, and not something I would support as a universal mandate, even if I could. 




Post 49

Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - 9:53amSanction this postReply
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Duncan, I could not - upon reading it - let your post 43 slip by without comment. Your words deserve critical analysis. You have uncovered something which deserves rational scrutiny - regarding genesis, appeal, and consequence. Thanks for shining light on an oft-overlooked perspective.

"You can't ever get too much perspective."

Ed



Post 50

Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - 1:16pmSanction this postReply
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After investigative efforts, I have narrowed down the possible applications for the Global War on Terror (the "GWT").

1) it is restricted to the inhabitants of planet Earth only (any others would appear to be exempt)

2) it is restricted to those persons & practices which can be viewed from a perspective as "terrifying"

3) there is still no explicit standard by which to judge/profile those who have been nominated as "terrifying" - in order to set up a much-needed objective hierarchy of terror (OHT).

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 11/03, 1:18pm)




Post 51

Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - 2:02pmSanction this postReply
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Perchance, Bin Laden is the new Emmanuel Goldstein? Just show his face and you will scare the sheep back to the shephard. Never mind that, as the style of his latest speech shows, he is clearly a has-been. If he still had the power to actually harm us, he wouldnt bother attempting to persuade us, but would get off his duff and do it.
(Edited by Robert Bisno on 11/03, 2:03pm)




Post 52

Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - 10:31amSanction this postReply
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Orion:

Point One:
The latter part first. I have no argument that "females truly can be rational" (as can males). Who would? You can check an earlier post of mine in the "Shortest Book" joke thread. I consider the murder of another rational woman, Hypatia (and the subsequent burning of the Library of Alexandria), one of the greatest tragedies of civilization.

On the former part: You stated that you prefer "the objective truth and accuracy behind using the terms "persons" ."

Again, no argument. However, if you would like to acquaint yourself with the objective truth and accuracy behind using the terms 'men' for 'persons', you may want to read Against the Theory of "Sexist Language" which can find here:

http://www.friesian.com/language.htm

From the quoted introduction:
...the words "man" and "he" -- now avoided as if they were worse than obscenities -- have been replaced by the neuter "person" and by grammatically confusing, cumbersome, or offensive variants of "he/she" or "she" alone as the pronoun of general reference.

Since it was never even remotely in doubt that when used as a general referent, the male pronoun included females, this change was never designed to prevent confusion. The change has, on the contrary, often created confusion. Its purpose is solely ideological.
Point Two:
You say:
Please explain how you claim to know what Ms. Branden and I did or did not discuss in any personal correspondence we may or may not have had.
From her previous post [#14] on this thread:
Orion, you[r] blood-thirstiness is appalling.
To which you replied... [Post 15]
It may be bloodthirstiness, but reluctant at that... I take no shame in showing appropriate extremes of emotion...
To which she replied... [Post 18] (bold fonts mine)
You know -- through our personal correspondence -- that my criticism has nothing to do with emotional expressiveness

One sentence restatement (of the obvious!):
Ms. Branden's criticism of your bloodthirstiness, via personal correspondence, has nothing to do with emotional expressiveness.

Bloodthirstiness, sadism... you can make the necessary inference. And she also wrote this three months ago (from http://www.solohq.com/Forum/ArticleDiscussions/0703.shtml#14):
Orion, it won't wash. You wrote: "an ethical sadist is one who yes, does enjoy causing suffering -- but only of unethical sadists."

"Ethical sadism" is a contradiction in terms. By definition,a sadist is a person who enjoys causing suffering. Period. Sadism is pathology. It is no more reasonable to speak of "ethical sadism" than of "ethical child-molestation."

There might be arguments in favor of torturing an enemy in order to obtain vital information from him -- but there can be no justification for "enjoying" the process -- for taking pleasure in the inflicting of suffering as an end in itself. Such enjoyment is perversion, not morality.
So you see, I really am surprised that her criticism hasn't made you abandon "ethical sadism".

Point Three: Notice, this is the only material point of mine from Post 23 regarding you.
Your point about the irrelevance of achieving empathy in victimizers is well taken...

... but not well enough. It is relevant for the underlying value which is its premise (which is sadism, not balance). And we should always, "cough", check our premises.

It is also relevant because I find myself in agreement with you on many issues like fleshing out "facilitate" in your NIOF piece, and the ridiculousness of Michael Moore. And on less important things like cheese and Lawrence of Arabia. So, for the 3rd time, I really am surprised.... and from an Objectivist at that!

PS: We may also disagree on another matter. Jeremy Rifkin is a pretentious statist nutcase. Take anything he says with a bucket of salt.



Post 53

Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - 1:20pmSanction this postReply
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Next Level :  I have a few refutations to add to your comments

1) I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq.  I think that the dynamics of the region are too complex for an invasion, even if well motivated, to fix by a disposal of Saddam, who actually suppressed Islamists and just anted to remain in power
You fail to understand the real reason for the invasion.  The clear and real danger to people is nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists.  Iran is well on the way to nuclear activity.  Its a two pronged approach.  Iraq had designs, plans and potential implementations towards nuclear bombs.  They had biological weapons and the residents in some parts of North Iraq were exposed to these.  Iran is in the same direction although much more advanced.  From a strategic point of view, the taking of Iraq gives two advantages.  Firstly the introduction to democracy and secondly it is at Iran's doorstep.

2) and that in the absence of a clear and present danger to the US people, war was not justified, which is part of the reason why the US has to fight the war with its hands tied behind its back (anyone think that if Iraq had really attacked America, we would care about civilians and militants?)

9/11 demonstrated that Islamic terrorists are a very big threat and in the best possible interests of our society, we must ensure that they never, never get their hands on WOMD.

Who attacked America on 9/11.  The result was the invasion of Afghanistan and look what has been done to help civilians there. (recent election comes to mind).  If you think that the US wouldn't care about civilians, your image of the USA is so barbaric, it is beyond what the reality is.

3) I think that the threat of Islamic terrorism is more verbal than real (people who are powerless say all kinds of crazy things), and I think that most people who disagree are being unrealistic about what is going on and the military capabilities of the terrorists, though I can understand their fears.

Hijackings, bombings, barbaric decaptitations, torture,  9/11 - at what point do you smell the coffee?

4) 9/11 was a evil incident deserving retaliation and I fully supported the war in Afghanistan.  However, 9/11 was in many ways a fluke (how many times are you going to successfully hijack planes, hit skyscrapers and kill thousands of people?).

So let us believe that it was a lucky break and crawl back under our idealistic rocks?  I suppose when a nuclear device is smuggled into the USA, in a shipping container - that will be a fluke as well. 

5) the precedent set by the Bush government in distorting intelligence to suit its goals and the implications of such a policy of mass deception are being underappreciated by many Americans.

(I really have to stop pulling my hair out at this comment).  Intelligence is open to public forum and debate?  Information you have found out from the enemey is information you want to hide from your enemey.  Releasing it to the world will allow your enemy to be aware of what you know, therefore they can be better prepared.   Mass deception of Americans ?  Well, lets leave the generalisations to the media and the length of the attention span of Mr Joe Average.

Example: Some people based a good part of their argument for the War on Iraq on Saddam's possession of WMD.  Does the fact that Saddam didn't have any WMD programs change their mind?

That is because WMD is not the reason why the West went into Iraq.  Sadam was not clever enough and he was very cleverly out gunned.  ( you should give credit to our military - we are now neighbours with Iran ).  As for Scott Ritter, I have read his book.  Scott is convinced that Sadam had WMD.
Sadam co-operated with the inspectors as much as a turkey would at Christmas time.

If this was really a fight over civilizations, why is Switzerland not being bombed by the Islamists?  Or Japan, which is in many ways far more Western than the US?  Or North Korea?

Which would receive the biggest impact?  They are terrorists, they live by terror.

Point of interest: The war is apocalyptic only in the sense that the US doesn't have deep petroleum reserves and needs some level of control and stability in the largest producing petroleum region in the world.  This is why the US has a military presence in the Middle East.  If Africa had the same problems, the US would be there too
 
Very little of Iraqi oil goes to the USA.  France (ELF), Germany and Russia are the main players and you should also note their threat of veto. 
Yes, there are US troops in Africa on the Sinai pennisula.

Point of Interest: Most people making the argument do not argue that Saddam should not be taken out because he was helped by the US in the past.  The point is that US helping a country uphold a dictatorship might be generally a bad policy and the US should evaluate the consequences of these acts in future.

It is easy to have a crystal ball and to look back at history with benefit of hindsight.  At this time it was an extremely good idea and a widespread popular move.

In WW2, there was a momentous effort from the US to help a dictatorship.  The USA and UK propped up Russia and even though the eventual result was the cold war, the winning of WW2 was paramount.




Post 54

Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - 5:09pmSanction this postReply
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Sorry I didn't get back to this thread earlier.

Duncan, I honestly can't say whether Chris or you is a Saddamite by that definition or not.  The examples I gave are more clear cut.  As much as I've read Chris' comments in the past, I still have no idea what his position is.  It's obvious he's against it, as well as nation building, but the rest escapes me.  His "radical legacy" comments just say that foreign policy is affected by domestic.  No surprise there.  What conclusion do you draw from it?  I don't know how he gets from point A to point B.  A lack of a reason for opposing the Iraq war is probably it's own kind of "Saddamite".

As for your statement, it's not clear either.  You're last bit says "but who *don't* agree that the invasion of Iraq was in the defence of the U.S.A.".  That could mean a million different things.  Do you think we only have a right to invade if the country in question has the power to destroy or conquer the US?  Or does it mean that they weren't a threat at all to any of our citizens here or elsewhere (say, in Israel being blown up by Palestinian murderers who they fund).  The first is a terrible standard, since anyone can kill any American citizen or bomb any American city they want to and we wouldn't be justified in stopping them since they don't have the power to actually beat us entirely.  The second standard is obviously met.  Those are the two logical possible standards when talking about defense.  If you mean it, you must be somewhere in-between?

And then there are other questions.  Do we really not have the right to defend an ally?  Do we not have the right to stop a dictator from murdering his people?

But if I had to take you on the words you've given, I would say that you are saying that it is immoral of the US to invade anywhere that isn't a direct threat to our country (first standard), and so you're against invading Iraq, not because you think there's something better that needs to be done, but because you find it morally wrong on principle (whatever principle).  That would be a kind of Saddamite.  Something like "War only when annihilation is the only alternative" Saddamite.

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume your position is a bit more nuanced than you've said.

Jonathon Visser, I'm glad you like SoloHQ and the many fine contributers we have here.  I also agree with you that civility is a good thing..  And there is not civility/passion dichotomy, in the sense that they don't have to be opposed.  Of course if someone is just mistaken, you try to be polite and correct them.  And Lindsay's previous post did just that. 

I do think, when dealing with an enemy, that civility undermines your position.  If someone came in to murder you and your family, treating them with respect and dignity is not the proper response.  Civility is a value, but not in every context.

It's true that MH isn't an enemy.  But on the other hand, he was rude himself.  I think it's a form of injustice to continue being polite to someone who's attacking you.  Did Lindsay go too far?  I think so.  As I said, attacks mean more when someone is close to you.  But is him counter-attacking an injustice in itself?  No.




Post 55

Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - 6:03pmSanction this postReply
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Joe,

My position is "war only if the target country has attacked, or supported attacks on, the U.S.A."

Thus, I am opposed to the war against Iraq because of an absence of any such evidence. Hussein certainly had no plans to attack the U.S.A. and, as far as anyone is aware, no plans to support Al Qa'eda or others in doing so.

My argument is that the invasion wasn't a justifiable use of the U.S. military. This is an important difference between my position and that of the hand-wringers who complain about American 'imperialism' and Iraq being a 'sovereign nation'. Hussein was a dictator who had no right to rule, and America had the moral right (but not imperative, as has been stated) to invade Iraq. I only oppose the invasion of Iraq because I consider it a misuse of resources that are supposed to be reserved for the defense of the U.S.A.

Please don't mistake my position for pacifism or similar; had there been a shred of evidence for Iraq as being a threat to America, I would given the policy of war against Iraq my utmost support.

E.g. consider my position on Afghanistan - it certainly *wasn't* in a position to annihilate the U.S.A., but the Taleban *did* commit an act of war by harbouring Al Qa'eda, so the invasion of Afhanistan *was* justified and continues to have my full suppport. The fact that the people of Afghanistan may come out of it as a constitutional democracy is just icing as far as I'm concerned.

Nonetheless, your mention of Hussein bankrolling Hamas has me interested. Such support would be grounds for the war against Iraq given either or both of the following:

1. that funding an attack against an ally (Israel) is justification for military action by the U.S.A.

2. that Hamas has acted against America in the past, or has the intention of doing so in the future

The second is pretty obvious, but the first opens up an whole new can of worms - the issue of "trade with all, ties with none".

*Is* the defense of Israel a justified use of the U.S. military? If so (and I've only been giving this thought since reading your reply, so I haven't reached a decision) - then I'm more than happy to reverse my original position, and give my wholehearted support to the war against Iraq.




Post 56

Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - 6:47pmSanction this postReply
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Duncan, good comments.

Another clarification to make is what is an attack on the US.  Does it have to be on US soil?  For instance, Iraq had been firing missles at the US planes for about a decade prior to the Iraq war.  And how about threats?  There was no secret about Hussein hating us and claiming to stand up to us.  At what point does his reassurances that he will destroy us all become a threat?  The point being that there are obvious cases, and not so obvious cases.  That was my real point about him funding terrorists.  Terrorists kill innocent people.  And that could be Americans too.  If they blow up an Israeli coffee shop with an American in it, do we have grounds to attack?  That's the big problem with funding terrorism (which he absolutely did, even if they can't trace it to a specific group).  They're not attacking military targets. They're killing innocent bystanders.  Does the US government have the right or obligation to do something about it?

I also wrote a FreeRad article a bit back about "Unseen Violations".  If someone prevents you from trading with someone else, are they violating your rights?  What if they only exert force against the other person?  An attack on potential trading partners had identical results as an attack on us.  Our freedom to trade is violated.  The question then is, how interconnected are our rights?  If they don't actually shoot at us, can they still violate our rights?  And does the government then have the obligation to protect those rights?

Next, is the question of whether we can use our military to defend another country.  "Trade with all, ties with none".  I think there's some merit in it, but there's some problems.  The founding fathers could talk like that because they were an ocean away from the enemies.  The Europeans found out something else.  If you let one group conquer other groups, they eventually get too strong to resist.  They tried a couple of things. 

One principle is the balance of power.  You don't let a thug get too much power, and if you have to come to the aid of other countries to ensure your own safety, you do it.  I think the principle applies to us as well, although obviously even if Iraq conquers a few neighbors they won't have the means to conquer us.  But they may have the means to do damage to us.

Another principle they used was stability.  It didn't work very well, since they wouldn't allow citizens to revolt against their governments.  But the point, I think, is to not allow countries to go and conquer others.  That's bad because they can then use that power to become more of a threat.

The wider principle is to get involved early so the cost is minimized.  Don't wait until you have no chance to fight back, or the damage will be huge.

Bush's principle of preemptive strike is an attempt at putting this principle in action.  It says we shouldn't wait for them to move, if we know they will.  Ignore for now the argument of whether he applied it correctly in Iraq.  I'm just connecting the idea to the wider principle.

Now take a look at what we have today.  Instead of blanket alliances between two countries, we have defensive alliances.  If France goes on a rampage and invades a country, and they respond with force, we are under no obligation to help them.  Just as they didn't help us in Iraq.  I imagine we could even oppose them.  Is this bad?  The founding fathers said so, but practiced the opposite.  They formed a union between the 13 original states.  Obviously they found strength in numbers to be valuable.  What they didn't find valuable was allying themselves with war-mongers on the continent that would drag them into worthless wars where they had nothing to gain.

Short answer is, I think it is okay to go to the defense of others.  I could go on with other kinds of principles. 

If a murderer is willing to kill his own citizens so easily, how can you expect him to be peaceful with you.  He does what he can get away with.

If you let democracies die and despots take over, the world becomes less safe, not more safe.

And more.  I mentioned some of it in my Foreign Policy article.

The thing to keep in mind for all of this is that we're talking about principles here, not rules.  We can see that there are benefits and costs to all of these actions.  Finding the right one can be difficult.  But if you view it from the point of view of "thou shalt not...", you end up with a philosophy, as Nathaniel Branden says in the latest FreeRad, that tells you where a moral person commits suicide.




Post 57

Thursday, November 4, 2004 - 1:01amSanction this postReply
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num++,

You said this:
Since it was never even remotely in doubt that when used as a general referent, the male pronoun included females
You can cite this all you like, that don't make it true... furthermore, since neither sex has a monopoly on the capacity for objectivity/truth, my use of the term "persons" instead of your term "men" is not some sort of snivelling PC cave-in as you wished to imply (and yes, you indeed did, so kindly don't waste your energy trying to convince me otherwise), but rather an effort to be fully accurate and truthful by using a more accurate choice of word.

Then you said this:
Ms. Branden's criticism of your bloodthirstiness, via personal correspondence
Let me just make it clear -- since you still haven't caught what I'm trying to point out here -- what I mean by "personal correspondence":  I thought it was obvious that I was confronting you about somehow having read our private SOLO emails.  When you say that you have read our "personal correspondence", that means our SOLO emails, since what is posted in the forums is public correspondence, not private.
 
Already I have pointed out two points of contention between you and I, that result from your imprecision of language.  Therefore, your indignation towards me is, to be terminologically precise, presumptuous.

Also, you said this:
... but not well enough. It is relevant for the underlying value which is its premise (which is sadism, not balance). And we should always, "cough", check our premises.
Actually, it's of no concern whatsoever to me that I meet your slanted criteria for correctness "well enough".  The truth is that -- while I "well-received" your point about the irrelevance of achieving empathy in one's victimizers --  I did not and still do not agree with it whatsoever... nor will I likely ever agree with it.  So it gives me a wry pleasure to deprive you of a potential source of vanity-based amusement, by leaving you standing there in your ringmaster's outfit and hoop in your hand, with no chihuahua to jump through it.

Finally, Ms. Branden can post these sorts of comments, but I simply will not agree with them:
Orion, it won't wash. You wrote: "an ethical sadist is one who yes, does enjoy causing suffering -- but only of unethical sadists."

"Ethical sadism" is a contradiction in terms. By definition,a sadist is a person who enjoys causing suffering. Period. Sadism is pathology. It is no more reasonable to speak of "ethical sadism" than of "ethical child-molestation."

There might be arguments in favor of torturing an enemy in order to obtain vital information from him -- but there can be no justification for "enjoying" the process -- for taking pleasure in the inflicting of suffering as an end in itself. Such enjoyment is perversion, not morality.
While she is correct in saying that sadism causes suffering.  Period., sadism is not pathology if it serves a worthwhile cause in the advancement of justice and the horrification of the truly evil.  Any claims of "incontrovertible truth" that sadism is never appropriate, will never be met with agreement by me... but it's interesting to me to see such personal feelings presented as absolute, impartial truths.

(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 11/04, 1:05am)




Post 58

Thursday, November 4, 2004 - 1:08amSanction this postReply
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Joe: “Brendan, don't you ever get tired of being wrong?  "Sadly, as history has shown, the tactic works – Lindsay has everyone dancing to his tune as they scramble to escape the smear".  Yeah...MH obviously was trying to avoid it.  And all of the people on this thread are obviously jumping to conform.  I guess you're just so much smarter than everyone else, you're the only one who's willing to stand up to Lindsay.”

No and no, but I do have a different perspective, and I do take care to read and understand what is actually written in posts. I never claimed anyone was jumping to conform to Lindsay, I said they were dancing to his tune.

And they are. There’s a debate at present over who is and is not a “Saddamite”, as in the “I have a Dream Thread”, where with a perfectly straight face you dissect the different types and degrees of “Saddamite”.

This is utterly bizarre and shouldn’t be happening on a site ostensibly devoted to rational discourse. The term Saddamite is not informative. It’s a smear whose only purpose is to bludgeon and cower opposition to the Iraq war.

Brendan

(Edited by Brendan on 11/04, 1:43am)




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Post 59

Thursday, November 4, 2004 - 1:41amSanction this postReply
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Brendan, I'm glad you don't get tired of being wrong.  It's obviously a necessary skill for you.  Nice tap dance, though.  I wondered how you'd change the meaning of the phrase to sneak out of it.

Oh, and just because it's a smear word doesn't mean it's not informative.  For instance, I could call you a troll, and I think people would know what I was talking about.




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