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Post 100

Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 3:07pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

You said: "Either you wage war by trying to keep innocent casualties to a minimum  - not future ones, present ones - or you don't."

Am I correct in taking this to mean that one of your guiding principles, if not the most important one, about whether to engage in war (nuclear or other) with a country (regime) is what might happen to the civilians on the enemy's side?
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I want to state that we do not necessarily have to use nuclear bombs on the countries David or I mentioned but we need to be willing to do so. If it has been determined by someone knowledgeable in field of warfare (military person I would imagine) that we stand the strong likelihood of American soldier casualties with a ground assault but can eliminate that possibility by bombing that location, I am all for bombing. That includes even if there might be civilians (even a significant amount) around the bombing targets.

My guiding principle and I hope the guiding principle of the people involved in commanding the military is what is the most effective way to win a war, battle without any (or very minimum) American soldier casualties as possible.

In my opinion the concern of civilians/"innocents" living within an enemy regime should be very low on the military's value hierarchy when considering an attack, especially in relation to our soldiers, even just one of them. 

Aquinas


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Post 101

Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 5:16pmSanction this postReply
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Aquinas,
Am I correct in taking this to mean that one of your guiding principles, if not the most important one, about whether to engage in war (nuclear or other) with a country (regime) is what might happen to the civilians on the enemy's side?
Thanks for asking! That has been rare in this debate. Yes, I do believe preservation of innocent human life, even non-American citizen innocent human life, should be a guiding principle in any military engagement.

You also said.
My guiding principle and I hope the guiding principle of the people involved in commanding the military is what is the most effective way to win a war, battle without any (or very minimum) American soldier casualties as possible.
Yes, I agree with this. Discovering and executing the most effective way to win with minimum (and especially no) friendly armed force casualties should be a guiding principle in any engagement - and I will even extend that to damage to property.

Don't forget that I am a hawk.

Which of the two principles are more important? This is where we get to a case-by-case basis and pay highly trained personnel to make those calls. And they are always heart-breaking calls, I don't care who you are - unless you are a Nazi-type sadist.

In a much earlier post on a piece of scum that received undue media attention earlier for shooting off his mouth, I made the following comment (I write from memory, so a word or two might be different). It was with respect to whether the US should have invaded Iraq as a consequence of 9-11 and my support of Bush's invasion policy.

"My attitude is that if you are an aggressor and attact me with intent to kill, I will kick your ass. I will kick your cousin's ass. And I will kick the ass of your whole damn family until your people stop growling at me."

I value human life so very dearly, especially innocents and soldiers, both foreigh and American. If I could in some manner stop all war I would. My benevolent sense of life simply refuses to be limited to a single political arena or turn into patriotic jingo. I am a part of the human species before I am an American.

I am an individual human being, with everything that implies.

I want to stress that I am also a fierce American patriot. Fierce. Over 30 years outside this country will do that to you.

As I stated, all military engagements are complicated. Simplistic approaches have always been used for practical matters, like keeping cannon fodder happy and making unspeakable atrocities become accepted by the public.

Nuking is part of our arsenal. It's destructive capacity is total and undoable. If needed we should use it. But - now here is where I think we disagree - ONLY as a last resort.

Michael


Post 102

Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 9:04pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

Would you agree that our disagreement on this thread mainly concerns: 1) when (not whether?) it is appropriate to use nuclear weapons on states that sponsor terrorism and 2) whether or not civilians of enemy regimes are "innocent" and 3) if these civilians should be a factor in the military's determination of where and how to strike?

Aquinas


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Post 103

Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 9:47pmSanction this postReply
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Hey Aquinas!

I just saw your post go up, so I will answer it now. Almost like messaging.  //;-)

You almost got where I am at. So I will go through all your points. (I normally don't do this kind of argument - I call it the I Said You Said approach - but here I think it will be useful to highlight an idea or two):
1) when (not whether?) it is appropriate to use nuclear weapons on states that sponsor terrorism
When the government's involvement of such sponsorship has been proven, yes, we agree This is a when, not a whether. I still maintain the last resort position. Afghanistan comes to mind as a good example where it might have been needed.
2) whether or not civilians of enemy regimes are "innocent"
This is tricky because of the package concept of "civilians." Many civilians will be innocent, many will not be. That is why using nukes on them needs responsible case-by-case analysis by the leaders and advisors of our armed forces and all pertinent advisors to the President.
3) if these civilians should be a factor in the military's determination of where and how to strike?
They should always be a factor. I mean that literally. They should be one of the items considered - not necessarily a deterrent. Simply ignoring loss of civilian life is irresponsible, but ignoring loss of innocent civilian life is a monstrous evil by any standard.

As I stated, we pay highly trained people to do this. I am, unlike most people apparently, EXTREMELY PROUD of the way we kicked Saddam's ass and destroyed his military machine with new concepts like "surgical bombing" and so forth, which kept all human loss to a minimum and finished the job in record time (both times). Wars normally drag on for years.

Clean up's a bitch this time though.

One of the most important things that happened, which is not being too much talked about, is that we took out THE NUMBER ONE HERO over there. That has done more good in more countries to undermine terrorism than any nuke ever could. Now a new one needs to be put in place that is pro-reason. If we don't do it, another Islamic fanatic will pop up.

War on something like terrorism is a slower war because there are cultural issues to fight. 

Or should we have nuked Ireland and other European countries for their terrorists? Not our problem? Well how about the home-grown fanatics in our own country who did blow up stuff? Nuke 'em because they might have friends and families ("non-innocent civilians") - and forget about the innocents? Maybe that could even scare our own citizens into not cutting up. Keep 'em in line.

Enough semi-joking..

I personally think the USA is doing one hell of a great job overseas. Iraq is problematic, but it is no Vietnam.

Michael

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 5/01, 5:02pm)


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Post 104

Sunday, May 1, 2005 - 3:34pmSanction this postReply
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Glad to see this thread returning to the core issues. I would have answered Aquinas's questions #2 and #3 as MSK had, so I'll expand more on #1 and tie in Objectivism with 'Just War Theory' later.

What has not been addressed is what the value of weapon is in a war.

Values of a weapon (from a defensive war standpoint):

1) Deterrence - Your possession of the weapon stops the fight before it starts.
2) Effectivity - It does what it does, at less cost to you than to the aggressor continuing to attack. (Cost here is meant generally, not just money). This means you will not lose a war of attrition.
3) Efficiency - It destroys the target, and nothing but the target. No surprises, no side-effects, no lingering after-effects.

Nuclear weapons rate big on #1, but poor on #2 and #3. The picture gets even bleaker - terrorist organizations are not states, so they have less to lose. The power of nuclear weapons to deter suicidal psychopaths is questionable at best.

David E. has mentioned (in trying to clarify what he meant by 'razing') in post 80:
I am talking about bombing (nuking if necessary) the industrial machine and centers (population, if necessary) where the current regime rules from - not random or "indiscriminate" cities.

Considering that the biggest coventional weapons [the BLU-82] have a blast damage radius of half a mile, and deliver shock waves for a few more, the use of nuclear weapons would hardly be indicated for industrial centers.

In any case, single-detonation bombs are less effective, pound for pound, than cluster bombs (where multiple explosive charges are dispersed, then detonated). Even old-fashioned carpet bombing is more effective in this scenario.

The bombing of industrial centers would be called for in cases of 'total war', meaning, the entire machinery of the state is being used as an instrument of war. The only certain candidate for this is North Korea. If international pressure on Iran doesn't move the theocratic government there from pursuing nuclear development, then it could join the list.

As for population centers (cities): There is no country that exists where the majority of the population supports terrorism. That's right, NONE. So nuclear weapons are not indicated here either.

____________________________

'Just War' and Objectivism


Objectivism holds that minarchism - the minimum necessary government - is the best for preserving 'rule of law recognizing individual rights' [ROLRIR].

It is obvious that the ability of the state to wage war is most damaging to ROLRIR.

When the citizens support minarchy, the state should be given the least opportunity to expand its powers.

It follows then, logically, that when war is necessary, that objectivists support the minimum necessary war, not the maximum possible war.

Post 105

Sunday, May 1, 2005 - 8:06pmSanction this postReply
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It seems that I may be more in step with the nuke advocates in this thread than I originally thought - at least perhaps in general principle, but certainly not in its application.  Elmore, Aquinas & company seem to be saying that if US military experts determine that a nuclear attack of some sort is what's needed to best accomplish our goals, than they should carry out such an attack.   OK, fine, I'll give you that for now.  I just simply don't see how a nuke attack would create any sort of net benefit for the US in its current efforts against Islamists. 

I presume that America's overall goal is to decisively eliminate the threat posed by radical Islamists, right?  The war hawks seek to do this without any action(s) that could be construed as appeasement or victory in the eye of the enemy.  This translates into a strategy of 'let's just keep killing them until they're either all dead, or those remaining submit and give up'.   So if we agree that decisive elimination of the Islamist threat is the overall goal, and we're following the hawkish path towards that end, then it makes sense that our actions should seek to destroy more Islamic terrorists than we create, right?  The tricky aspect of this conflict is that we have a major superwar in an all out war with something other than another nation state.  The enemy is dispersed throughout civilian populations worldwide (including in the US), and therefore any country with a Muslim population is a potential theater of operation.  Muslims generally  fall into of the following subsets:

1. those who actively participate in, aid and abet Islamist paramilitary operations (a minority); 

2. passive supporters who don't participate in Jihad but gladly look the other way (a larger minority);

3. those who sympathize with the Arab grievances but disagree with terrorist methods to address them (an even larger group, perhaps the largest);

4. those who seek to secularize Islam (a very tiny minority).      

It's hard to see how a nuclear attack would do anything other than sway vast amounts of group 2 to group 1, and move more group 3 members up to group 2.  If we can agree that the only true elimination of the terrorist threat is when the Arab world as a whole begins to embrace Enlightenment-type values, we have to make sure that group 3 remains the predominant viewpoint - much better to have 5% of the Islamic world plotting our demise than 95%.  Especially when you consider that millions of Muslims live in Western countries including America.  We obviously wouldn't do any nuking there (I would hope, anyway), so that would basically leave police-state like conditions as the only viable option, not exactly my cup of tea...


Post 106

Sunday, May 1, 2005 - 11:05pmSanction this postReply
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I agree with Robert B. and the others who have pointed out the folly and immorality of indiscriminately i) lobbing nuclear weapons around the Middle East, of ii) leveling entire countries which contain terrorists, and of iii) -unnecessarily- targeting civilians or entire cities which contain people not supporting the terrorists in Iraq (which may or may not have been the case in Fallujah a year ago.

The thing that irritates me greatly about this 100-plus post thread, however, is the poor attention to detail of the very side I agree with. I have now listened to the Yaron Brook video touted by Robert as advocating the "deliberate targeting of civilians for destruction":

http://movies.ziaspace.com/Ayn.wmv

Yaron Brook only says one can attack the civilians WHO SUPPORT THE TERRORISTS. He does not advocate using nuclear weapons UNLESS NECESSARY. And he gives Hiroshima as an example of when it is necessary. Same thing for the Tufts speech thing, plus that is a student newspaper at third hand, so you can't trust it not to omit qualifications. If you claim Brook said otherwise, quote his -exact words- dammit! And the sentences before and after so we get the full context.

If your comeback is well, he says it elsewhere, then apologize for getting it wrong here. And then quote the exact words of that. (Remember the principle about Oists being willing to admit mistakes?) I'm perfectly willing to admit the possibility Brook was more irresponsible elsewhere, or one of the ARI op eds was. (In fact I seem to remember something along those lines.)

But it ain't here - in the item being discussed. And I don't want to demonize anyone, ARI or anyone else, without chapter and verse citations.

It's really very sloppy. And unfair.

Post 107

Monday, May 2, 2005 - 3:47amSanction this postReply
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"There is no country that exists where the majority of the population supports terrorism." Ė num++ 

Thatís incorrect. Iíve seen polls that show there are many Islamic countries where the majority of people that support terrorism. The majority in many countries support the deliberate targeting of civilians in Israel by suicide bombers, for example. After 9/11, in several countries, 80% approved of the attack (a number quoted so often in television and internet venues that most people knew about the number then but seem to forget about it now, why?). As late as 2003, the Pew organization showed that bin Laden was one of the three most respected men in 9 Islamic countries (Arafat and Prince Abdullah took the other spots).

 

As for the effectiveness of killing civilians, the terrorists hold this to be the most effective means of fighting. They are telling you what they would fear most. Thus, while they are willing to die, one can assume they would hate most to see their families die. Deliberately killing the extended families of terrorists would immediately stop such attacks.

 

Finally, Islam is a warrior religion that celebrates conquest. A Muslims who brings vast destruction and defeat to his people brings shame. The vast destruction of Japan transformed that warrior culture into a peaceful country.

 

That being said, I donít advocate targeting civilians, not because it wouldnít be effective, but primarily because there are many other appropriate methods that are effective.

(Edited by Jason Pappas on 5/02, 4:28am)


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Post 108

Monday, May 2, 2005 - 5:35amSanction this postReply
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"Yaron Brook only says one can attack the civilians WHO SUPPORT THE TERRORISTS. He does not advocate using nuclear weapons UNLESS NECESSARY."

True about nuclear weapons, the only reference he made to it was concerning Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the speech I saw personally he mentioned nuclear weapons in the same cop-out deferral-to-authority way that some people here have. He advocates a major strike on Iran, including decimating Tehran - and said he'd leave it to 'US military experts' as to whether nuclear or conventional weapons would be a more efficient means to destroy it. To be fair to Yaron Brook, the discussion in this thread about lunatics supporting unprovoked nuclear strikes has not been because of him; it was because of a post from David Elmore who, sad to say, makes Brook look like a dove.

However, Yaron clearly does advocate attacking civilians regardless whether the individuals support terrorists. On the video, he advocated Sherman's attacking the civilians of the CSA and he said "I would like to see the United States turn Fallujah into dust." At his 3/17 speech at Georgia Tech he touted levelling a non-Fallujah city as a parting show of force before invading Iran. His Iranian proposal, in addition to obliterating Tehran, included destroying road, electricity, water and other infrastructure to take the rest of the country 'back to the stone age' (he praisingly referenced Sherman here too, an effective way to bring things home to an Atlanta audience).

He is absolutely advocating attacking civilians other than those who support terrorists - unless you subscribe to a purely collectivist notion that everyone in a country is somehow guilty for the actions of any of their countrymen.


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Post 109

Monday, May 2, 2005 - 8:04amSanction this postReply
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Thank you, Aaron.

Michael


Post 110

Monday, May 2, 2005 - 8:44amSanction this postReply
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Yes, thank you, Aaron. Brook's remarks in a number of venues make it abundantly clear that he is arguing for the specific targeting of population centers as such.

Post 111

Monday, May 2, 2005 - 12:07pmSanction this postReply
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Jason P.:
Thatís incorrect. Iíve seen polls that show there are many Islamic countries where the majority of people that support terrorism. The majority in many countries support the deliberate targeting of civilians in Israel by suicide bombers, for example. After 9/11, in several countries, 80% approved of the attack (a number quoted so often in television and internet venues that most people knew about the number then but seem to forget about it now, why?).

Please tell me these are not telephone, internet, or television-based polls. Such surveys are notoriously unreliable. And Palestine is not a country.

I based my statements mostly on this:
What counts as terrorism? The view on the Arab street

I take this to be as objective a study as I can find. Tables 1 and 2 are disturbing, but when it comes to the baseline question (the killing of civilians) in Table 3, it shows the majority disapproving of it.

The opinions that are expressed regarding "civilians' support for terrorism" will always be colored by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But if one were to ask Arabs whether they support specifically the "Grand Bin Laden Agenda" (worldwide jihad contra Western Civilization), I don't think it will gain a majority, far from it. Even the states that are nearest to such an agenda (Iran and Syria) rule their citizens by inciting fear, not by mustering popular support.

A reasonably level-headed perspective on this matter (what's really the problem with the Middle East) can be gleaned from Fareed Zakaria's What Bush Got Right. I don't agree with everything the author says (I think Bush was right in snubbing Germany and France), but on what the Arab-on-the-street thinks about, he gets it (less geopolitics, more self-interested local reforms).

If you can provide links to objectively done surveys that contradict the one I cited above, I'm willing to change my mind (and place that country on the "majority supports terrorism" list). Making a distinction between the Palestinian rooted terrorists and Global-jihad terrorists would help a lot, since Dr. Brook has already extended his arguments to Iraq and Iran.

Another thing...
The vast destruction of Japan transformed that warrior culture into a peaceful country.
This is still all non-sequitir to me. The former USSR was warrior like, Mao's China was warrior like, and New Zealand's Maori are warrior like. The first two brought themselves to their knees and the third has lost virtually all their territory. Russia is now non-expansionist; China is still militant; and the Maori are well... still Maori.

It is not really the "vast destruction" of Japan that did it, only the destruction of an antiquated imperial political machinery. In modern times with smart-bomb technology, the two need not be the same anymore.

And yes, we both don't advocate targetting civilians. BTW, Bin Laden's family repudiates him.

____________________

And for the 3rd straight post, thanks Aaron. I was willing to give Dr. Brook the benefit of the doubt in my post [0], but after your posts [3 and now 108], his position on this matter is now clear... and clearly mistaken.

Post 112

Monday, May 2, 2005 - 1:50pmSanction this postReply
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That survey was relatively useless, num++. It has the usual two-faced responses of approving terrorist groups but refusing to outright approve the targeting of civilians when asked point blank. This is typical. Similar two-faced statements were made after 9/11. I take approval for Hamas, Islamic Jihad Ė and the rest Ė as proof for support of these organization's most well-known acts: the targeting of civilians for slaughter.

Unfortunately, the links I have of the Pew organization and others have expired (I have them on my website but they are now useless). Again, I take respect for bin Laden and support for the terror organizations as proof. You want a full confession. I use inference.

Finally, on Japan, I donít understand why you give counter examples to the converse of what I said. I noted how apocalyptic destruction can be effective in changing a warrior culture. I didnít say changing a warrior culture requires apocalyptic destruction. As a matter of fact, I ended my post ruling out such means in the current conflict.


Post 113

Monday, May 2, 2005 - 3:01pmSanction this postReply
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Got this report from PEW. Is this the one? I will read this in detail (and try searching for others) and comment more later.

Edited due to bad eyesight.
(Edited by num++
on 5/02, 3:13pm)


Post 114

Monday, May 2, 2005 - 4:35pmSanction this postReply
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That wasnít the report but it is interesting. The report I read was from the spring of 2002. There is also a Pew study from late 2001. The results vary somewhat but there is widespread support, directly or by implication, for suicide bombers that target civilians. And there is great respect for bin Laden. Despite all this, I still take Daniel Pipesí figure of 10-15% for the level of militant Islam among the Muslims as a whole. But to explain why I do that Iíd have to write several pages to describe what I see and how Iíve come to these conclusions. Thanks for the links.

 


Post 115

Tuesday, May 3, 2005 - 1:08pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks for citing Daniel Pipes here. I do agree with his assessment of Militant Islam in this article. I was already writing a longish post (clarifying terrorism and its 'civilian support'), but since we're basically in agreement, I'll just leave that and save my fingers from carpal-tunnel-syndrome (it was getting THAT long).

Post 116

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 8:03pmSanction this postReply
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David Elmore wrote:
>Does it matter what the rest of the world thinks of us if we annihilate (yes,
>there's that dastardly macho bravado word again) despots, their regimes
>and terrorist cells? No. It is altogether fitting and proper for a moral nation.

"We" as in a group of people including neither yourself, nor your audience. Choose a different pronoun. There are specific individuals doing the annihilation. Or are you a collectivist? You are using sloppy language to disguise sloppy thinking. Let's translate your thought into a coherent expression: "I wish to require all you persons in the military to wage total, unlimited war against despotism in my behalf. Regretfully, I will be unable to attend the event, though I will probably be able to occasionally view it on my television. Also, to various random individuals around the world: I wish to kill you. Everyone, please accept my condolences."

There, now that I've cleaned it up a little, I hope your point is more clear. Actually, the last sentence is putting words in your mouth as you seem rather more fond of presenting an image of complete callousness and disregard for non-american life. However, I could be misunderstanding you and would not want to accuse you of impoliteness. Anything but that. To summarize your position: you like to agitate for other people's sons to do your dirty work for you.

Michael Stuart Kelly wrote:
>Many civilians will be innocent, many will not be. That is why using nukes
>on them needs responsible case-by-case analysis by the leaders and
>advisors of our armed forces and all pertinent advisors to the President.

In other words: "Various wise and responsible residents of a swamp in Maryland ought to decide at their discretion when to aggress against and violate the rights of various residents of other localities. They are, in fact, morally at liberty to slaughter them wholesale."

Oh, what a statesman you are. Michael of the Moderate Middle. "Hi, I'm a hawk, but I civilian value life, but don't get me wrong, I'm all for nuking them, but only when necessary." Caution must be our watchword. Perhaps institute a sensible waiting period. Proper committee procedure must be followed, because if it is, the Grande Ruler and His Trusted Counsellours will surely never lead anyone astray.

All of your posts are grounded in delusions totally divorced from reality. You want a grand model army to remake the world in your own proscribed way. Historical facts pose no barrier, logical absurdity no impediment, philosophical inconsistency gets not even a consideration, in your relentless drive to support war and the modern nation state. Practical problems to the Great Vision? Those are matters to be solved by our angels in the form of men. Plato's Republic at last! Rah rah rah for total dicatatorial power!

If you believe in the absolute unequivocal rights of the individual,...well, I don't even have the will to go into it. Did anyone here ever actually read Atlas Shrugged? Because I did. Does anyone here actually care about true freedom? (Freedom means doing whatever non-aggressive activity one pleases unimpeded. Isn't it sad I must explain the definition?) Because I do. I do care. It boggles my mind why in the world any of you consider yourselves objectivists. It makes no sense. You would have all made out great back in the day writing speeches for Woodrow Wilson. This entire thread has presupposed an enormous, parasitic, unconstitutional standing army. You all have various ideas about the manner in which the members of this army ought to scurry about accomplishing your various objectives. But where in the Objectivist Gospel does it say there should be a huge, coercive, ruling class with millions of soldiers to do their bidding? And by what set of premises do we decide that nationalist socialist military bureaucracies are well suited to spread "freedom" to the world, by conquering them. Or, in the case of those more strident, by obliterating them. Apply a little skepticism please. Apply a little logic. The D.C. swamplords are not acting out of love and compassion for the downtrodden masses. Wake up!

I am quite aware I am the only one on this board who feels this way. Anyone against aggressive mass-murder is a Sadaamite, right Perigo? Just wanted to inject the Sadaamite point of view.

Post 117

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 8:35pmSanction this postReply
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John Wiltbank wrote: "But where in the Objectivist Gospel does it say there should be a huge, coercive, ruling class with millions of soldiers to do their bidding?"

I, AQUINAS HEARD, OF MARIETTA, GEORGIA WANT O RULE THE WORLD OR HAVE YOU PEONS DO MY BIDDING. WHERE IS THAT BUTTON FOR ME TO PRESS SO THAT I
CAN NUKE THE WORLD.
HAAAHAHA

NO RULING CLASS HERE, JUST ME ALONE
HAAAHAHA

John, give me a break.


Post 118

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 9:05pmSanction this postReply
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John,
I don't think you are the only one on this board who thinks this way.  I'm not one of them, but welcome to the conversation.  This should be interesting.

I'm not fond of Wilsonian democracy, but I look with favor on Jacksonian.
("Don't mess with me and mine, and I won't mess with you and yours.")

But here's my problem. 

They (Saddam, years before al Qaeda got famous, them later) messed with me and mine.  And, what do you know?, for once the goddamned U.S. government actually did something I asked them to do.  They (Bush and crew) did something about it.

Damndest thing, isn't it?

(By the way, since you asked, I've read Atlas Shrugged six or eight times.  Liked it a lot.)


Post 119

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 9:39pmSanction this postReply
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John-

Welcome. I actually sympathize with a lot of your views, though the sarcastic approach is a bit heavy. I recommend saving the anger to spread out in bits and pieces throughout more posts. This thread has also had its dead horse beaten into individual subatomic particles, so it's probably best to jump in on another fresher thread.


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