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The Morality Of War

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Dr. Yaron Brook's recent public lecture, "The Morality of War", is available for free at ARI's Website. Here is a quick blurb about the speech:

In this passionately reasoned lecture, Dr. Brook explains why America's war is being sabotaged. He blames the moral code of Altruism—embodied in the "just-war" theory—that drives Washington's battle plans. It is this code of warfare that explains why victory is within our reach, but consciously forfeited.
I hope those who believe Bush's war policy is better than nothing will listen to this speech. In the Q&A Dr. Brook retracts his previous, hesitant endorsement of the Iraq War. He nows argues that the way we have fought in Iraq (and Afghanistan) is worse than doing nothing.

I also found an article ("Well-educated, no-nonsense fanatics among us") on the talk in The Orange County Register's local section. I have copied the article below.

Note: You need to register (for free) at both sites to gain access to the material.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Well-educated, no-nonsense fanatics among us

By FRANK MICKADEIT

The Orange County Register

You don't expect to go to a lecture titled "The Morality of War" and find 300 people complaining Bush isn't being brutal enough in Iraq, but there they were in a grand meeting room at the Irvine Hyatt.

If you're accustomed to seeing the issue framed as whether the war should have been prosecuted at all, it's a shock to enter an environment in which a learned man in a nice suit is ripping Bush for not nuking Fallujah back to the Stone Age, and a lot of intelligent-looking guys with beards are nodding their heads "right on."

These are adherents of the late philosopher Ayn Rand, and they were gathered Thursday night to hear Yaron Brook, president of the Irvine- based Ayn Rand Institute, speak on the failure of the U.S. military's application of Just War Theory to bring the international terrorist community to its knees.

Rand said placing one's self- interest first was the key to a happy, moral life. Altruism and belief in the Divine, she said, are corrupting concepts with no rational basis.

Randists might be fanatics, but they are well-educated, no-nonsense fanatics – engineers, computer programmers and entrepreneurs. (Brook is a Ph.D., businessman, Middle East expert and former Israeli intelligence officer.)And they are our fanatics. They live here among us, drinking from the same municipal water systems and marrying our daughters. (Brook, I found out, resides a short mortar round from me.)

Does this sound like one of my sarcastic rants? Sorry. I'm merely trying to convey the utter disconnect between how the mass media and the Bush-Kerry campaigns have framed this war and how these intellectuals perceive it.

Just War Theory has evolved, but, among other things, it says to only go to war as a last resort and to spare civilians even if it means sacrificing your own troops.

Bush and the Pentagon neo- cons follow this, Brook says, and it has deprived the U.S. of the will to fight the kind of all- out war that's necessary. Think of how unthinkable the firebombing of German cities and the A-bombs on Japan seem today, he says, but then also think how those tactics not only brought World War II to an end but through their sheer terror turned two brutal enemies into quivering models of democracy.

There were a few naysayers at the Hyatt the other night, but not enough to drown the spirit of egoism that rippled through the room as Brook wrought his own shock and awe campaign. Highlights:

"If, once all the facts are rationally evaluated, it is found that directly bombing civilian populations or torturing POWs will save American lives, then it is moral – morally mandatory – (emphasis his) to do so."

"If nuclear or chemical weapons are the most efficient way ... they are absolutely appropriate."

"If flattening Fallujah is the best way to end the insurgency – then Fallujah should be flattened." (Applause.)

"We need not sit idly by as North Korea and Iran build nuclear weapons. ... A pre- emptive strike is justified if the nation involved is an objective threat."

Brook has virtually no hope that Bush or Kerry will root out terrorism. He believes Americans are destined for more terrorist tragedy in the years to come. His goal is to gradually change the thinking about Just War Theory through such lectures.

I can't tango with these brainiacs. But I knew one educated, God-fearing man who did bomb the hell out of the Germans, then spent the next 50 years thinking about it. His conclusion was similar to Brook's.

"War is war," my dad would say on one of the rare occasions he'd talk about his missions. We didn't need Ph.D.s to know what he meant.

(Brook's speech and information about Ayn Rand events are available at www.aynrand.org.)

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This is a very good lecture concerning the evil of the "just war theory."

But he makes some historical mistakes about occupations. US troops were killed in insurgencies after WWII. The attacks died out as the US handed more power(non-military) over to locals(also fear the Americans would go home and let the USSR take over).

Robert E. Lee stopped a guerrilla war from starting because of how Grant and Sherman treating him and his troops at appomattox and the plans to let the south back into the Union. Lee pledged to Grant " his whole efforts to pacifying the country and bringing the people back to the Union." Jefferson Davis and most of the military was planning a guerrilla war. Lee's word stopped them. This was after Sherman pretty much won the war with his march to the sea.

Also the Russians in Afghanistan and Chechnya and the French in Algeria proves the the "fist in the face" form of occupation does not work.

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This is a very good lecture concerning the evil of the "just war theory."

But he makes some historical mistakes about occupations. US troops were killed in insurgencies after WWII. The attacks died out as the US handed more power(non-military) over to locals(also fear the Americans would go home and let the USSR take over).

Perhaps you can point me to a source for your assertion. I did a quick search on the Internet and found this article, which sides with Brook's assessment of the post-WWII environment in Japan and Germany.

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Also the Russians in Afghanistan and Chechnya and the French in Algeria proves the the "fist in the face" form of occupation does not work.

See this is why i think its important to study military theory, im trying to find out which is the right way to handle this war, the strong hand approach or softhand.

These are the arguments ive heard for and against the strong hand approauch:

Most of these tactics are attrition warfare whcih seeks to destroy thr enemy physically, the alternative is maneuver warfare which attempts to callapse the enemy mentally(attack his mind), this means less destruction and less deaths on BOTH sides.

-"Finally, the seminar revisited its ongoing discussion of two models, the “escalation model” and the “de-escalation model.” It was generally agreed that success in Fourth Generation war comes not from escalation, but from de-escalation. However, the discussion this time led us away from seeing these as opposites to visualizing them as a continuum. In a Fourth Generation war in a place like Afghanistan or Iraq, American forces might simultaneously be de-escalating against some local elements while escalating against others."

http://www.defense-and-society.org/fcs/lind_4_08_04.htm

-If you use to much force you will create more enemys and the loss of the local populations support(it is essential to bring them to your side) ,"if it isolates us from the population, it works against us."

-"In the Axis occupation of the Balkans during World War II, the Italians in many ways were more effective than the Germans. The key to their success is that they did not want to fight. On Cyprus, the U.N. commander rated the Argentine battalion as more effective than the British or the Austrians because the Argentines did not want to fight. What lessons can U.S. forces draw from this? "

-Killing to many people can cause you to lose on the moral level, which will destroy your support from allies and the wolrd which is essential in winning this kind of war.

-"What “wins” at the tactical and physical levels may lose at the

operational, strategic, mental and moral levels, where 4GW is decided.

Martin van Creveld argues that one reason the British have not lost in Northern Ireland is that the British Army has taken more casualties than it has inflicted. This is something the Second Generation American military has great trouble grasping, because it defines success in terms of comparative attrition rates. "

-If you lose on the moral level it may even destroy cohesion in your own military and population

-wide spread destruction can sow the seeds of future conflict.

-It is good to win with the fewest casualites possible on each side.

- The stronghand approach may get more people killed in the long run

-"How U.S. forces conduct themselves after the battle may be as important in

4GW as how they fight the battle.

-"What the Marine Corps calls “cultural intelligence” is of vital importance

in 4GW, and it must go down to the lowest rank. In Iraq, the Marines seemed to grasp this much better than the U.S. Army. "

-"What can the U.S. military learn from cops? Our reserve and National

Guard units include lots of cops; are we taking advantage of what they know?"

-"The Marines threw away the opportunity to de-escalate the fighting with the Sunnis in Fallujah and instead have raised the intensity of anti-Americanism there. For months, the Marines trained for de-escalation. But because of one minor incident of barely tactical importance, the killing of four American contractors, the de-escalation strategy was thrown out the window and replaced by an all-out assault on an Iraqi city. The Marines may have been given no choice by the White House, but it also looks as if their own training did not go very deep; the Plain Dealer quoted a Marine battalion commander in Fallujah as saying, “What is coming is the destruction of anti-coalition forces in Fallujah. They have two choices: Submit or die.” That is hardly the language of de-escalation. "

http://www.defense-and-society.org/fcs/lind_archive.htm

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Dr. Yaron Brook's recent public lecture, "The Morality of War", is available for free at ARI's Website. Here is a quick blurb about the speech:

"If nuclear or chemical weapons are the most efficient way ... they are absolutely appropriate."

Hey, don't we have some sort of "efficient" chemical or bomb that will wipe out all those nasty initiators of force and leave the non-initiators unharmed?

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Hey, don't we have some sort of "efficient" chemical or bomb that will wipe out all those nasty initiators of force and leave the non-initiators unharmed?

Yes, its called walking up to them and blowing their brains out, but you need lots of intelligence for that.

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I have heard that 7-8 Hz is the resonant frequency of the organs of the body so sound waves at that frequency can kill or seriously damage one's body. Is this true? If it is, then why aren't such weapons used.

Heres info on non-lethal weapons, you knwo we arent aloowed to use tear gas in warfarebecuase its a chemical weapon....what a shame.

http://www.sftt.org/cgi-bin/csNews/csNews....tch%202004%2edb

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Heres info on non-lethal weapons, you knwo we arent aloowed to use tear gas in warfarebecuase its a chemical weapon....what a shame.

http://www.sftt.org/cgi-bin/csNews/csNews....tch%202004%2edb

Thank you. :)

However if such weapons get into the hands of criminals and if they find some way to make the weapons lethal then, the can perform mass murder without anyone knowing who did it or assassinate some distant person like the article said.

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The WWII example is from an article from, I think, Victor Davis Hanson comparing past occupations. I'll have to check his site or NRO for which one. But I'm sure you know what happened to Patton. The Civil War info is from April 1865 by Jay Winik.

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SOMETHING I DID NOT KNOW, another reason to love the french.

On the question of whether we should just level the places where the insurgents hide or actually try to get support from the local population i found this little bit of info that was intersting.

"But it is not only Marine lives John Poole is concerned about. He wants Marines to wage war in such a way as to spare enemy lives as well, military and civilian.

Some may view this as unmilitary softness. In fact, it reflects a profound understanding of the art of war. Colonel John Boyd, the greatest American military theorist of the 20th century, observed that war is waged at three levels: the physical, the mental and the moral. The physical level — killing people and blowing things up — is the least powerful level. The mental level, where maneuver warfare is largely waged — getting inside the other guy’s head — is more powerful than the physical. But the moral level is the most powerful level of all. It is here that guerrilla war is waged, and it is here that sparing enemy lives can pay great dividends. An enemy whose homes are bombed, families killed and soldiers slaughtered gets angry. He wants revenge. The conflict becomes a blood feud, and it cannot be settled until our blood is spilled along with his.

In contrast, a war of maneuver that is relatively bloodless makes peace easier. After the 1940 campaign, the Germans found the French population [to be] largely indifferent and seldom hostile. Part of the reason is that the German Blitzkrieg inflicted little physical damage on France. In contrast, the Allied campaign to retake France in 1944, with its typical American emphasis on bombing and mass firepower, inflicted tremendous damage. Not infrequently, German troops had to protect shot-down Allied aircrews from enraged French civilians — a point which German propaganda used to good effect."

http://members.aol.com/posteritypress/ombcbhtm.htm#FOREWORD

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I just finished listening to the lecture and most of the Q&A. I found the discussion interesting, informative and, for the most part, I am unable to disagree with it.

The one point that Dr. Brook made that I'm having serious trouble with is the notion that all civilians are morally legitimate targets in war. The justification for this, if I understood it correctly, was that since the government, any government, is the representative of all its people, its actions reflect, morally, on each individual person under its jurisdiction. Each individual, therefore, is morally culpable and therefore open to attack when their government precipitates an otherwise just war/invasion. (By "just war" in this case, I mean objectively justified, not the kind of war Dr. Brook described as consistent with so-called "just war theory.")

The problem is that this seems to contradict everything Ayn Rand had to say about the moral standing of an individual. Morality is a matter of choice. There are no collective choices or actions, only the choices and actions of individuals. The moral choice of any individual has no impact on the moral standing of any other individual. Why does this change when the individuals in question are those in charge of governing, whether put there by legitimate means or otherwise? Are the victims of oppression to be held morally responsible for the actions of their oppressors? I'm not saying that we should be concerned with the lives of their civilians at the expense of the lives of our own troops, just that I don't find this particular argument tenable. Am I just missing something something here?

I know Dr. Brook quoted Miss Rand on this point, though I don't remember exactly where it was from; if anybody knows and can point me to the original source, I'd appreciate it.

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Yeah,and especially in the middle east, where people dont really have an allegiance to the goverment since its a relatively new thing there. The people over there have bigger allegiance to their tribe or family, not the goverment.

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Evangelical Capitalist,

Below is the section of Brook's speech you had a problem with. Even if you do everything within your power to protest your government's attack on an innocent nation, that nation has every moral right to retaliate and kill you if need be. You have no choice but to suffer the consequences your government forced on you. You cannot demand that the free nation sacrifices itself to spare you.

Now let's now examine how the purpose of war, preservation of American individual rights, applies to significant decisions one must make in any war. For example, since I have advocated the protection of individual rights, what about the rights of enemy civilians? Isn't killing them unjust? Doesn't it amount to murdering innocent victims?

No. The citizens of enemy regimes, those that initiate or threaten to initiate force against Americans have no rights. When a government wages war, to quote Ayn Rand, "it does so in the name of all of its citizens; whether they are all guilty of innocent is here irrelevent. Their government is their agent and their spokesman."

Anyone involved, by choice or not, in the initiation of force against an innocent nation is thereby outside the principle of individual rights. Just as an individual criminal forfeit his rights, so do the leaders, soldiers, and civilians of criminal nations. For the most part, a country's citizens are not merely innocent bystanders to the crimes of their regimes. They are responsible for the actions of their governments unless that have taken active steps to object, resist, change, or go underground.

If you object to the way Bush is conducting the war, but you say nothing -- you don't object to statements of support for him, or write letters to the editor, or give speeches, you are morally responsible with him -- for his actions and their consequences. Indeed, even if you do object, you have no option but to suffer the consequences of his actions.

If some future US president initiated force against another country, that country, acting in self-defense, would have every right to kill you and me -- even if we objected to the president's actions. This is why understanding and being involved in what is going on in politics is a selfish obligation.

Now this is also true of a dictatorship. If one does not fight the domestic oppression -- resist it in hiding or in public -- one cannot claim innocence. One is implicitly supporting the regime. If a man chooses to go about his daily life, as if all is fine, while people are being slaughtered all around him, and while his rights are being violated, then he shares in the responsibility for the bloodshed and for his own imprisonment. If his country attacks another, he has no right to object when he is punished for his government's actions.

Now most citizens of enemy regimes are far from being innocents. Any moral imperative to spare non-combatants is unjust. In war, the wife of the drafted soldier is as morally legitimate a target as the solder himself.

What then about the truly innocent? The freedom fighters, the dissendents, which are always a small minority in any country. Insofar as they can be isolated, without military cost, they should not be killed. It is unjust, anti-selfish to senselessly kill the innocent. And it is a value to have more rational, pro-American people in the world. But insofar as they cannot be isolated, they are threats. Since sparing their lives means sacrificing ours, and we should kill then without moral hesitation.

Now such was the case with the French resistance during World War II. Any true freedom fighter understands the nature of our situation, supports our cause, hopes for the best, and blames his government and fellow citizens for the danger he is placed in. All casualties in war are the sole responsibility of those who made the war necessary, including the agressive civilian base of support, not the responsibility of those acting in self defence.

Now note how Sherman's success in destroying this base of support in the South shortened the Civil War dramatically. The question of whom to target is a question of strictly military principle. All that morality has to say about whether in any particular conflict one should strike primarily at the government's leadership, or whether civilians should be targeted, or whether both should be targeted: do whatever will hasten complete victory or minimizing American casualties.

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...

Below is the section of Brook's speech ...

Oakes, thank you for this partial transcription. Did you write the transcription yourself -- from an audio file -- or did you copy the text from a website somewhere?

I would very much like to see a transcript not only of Dr. Brooke's lecture but also of the relevant one from Dr. Peikoff on choosing a candidate. Is text available for either one?

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Oakes, thank you for this partial transcription. Did you write the transcription yourself -- from an audio file -- or did you copy the text from a website somewhere?

I would very much like to see a transcript not only of Dr. Brooke's lecture but also of the relevant one from Dr. Peikoff on choosing a candidate. Is text available for either one?

I wrote it myself. It probably would have been smarter for me to look for a transcript somewhere first, but I don't think there is any.

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I know Dr. Brook quoted Miss Rand on this point, though I don't remember exactly where it was from; if anybody knows and can point me to the original source, I'd appreciate it.

I think this is what Dr. Brook was referring to.

Q: What should be done about the killing of innocent people in war?

AR: This is a major reason people should be concerned about the nature of their government. If by neglect, ignorance, or helplessness, they couldn't overturn their bad government and choose a better one, then they have to pay the price for the sins of their government—as all of us are paying for the sins of ours.

At the risk of taking a comment out of context and misconstruing what was said in his talk, I have one concern: In justifying war with Iran, one of Brook's points is that "[iran] is the spiritual Fatherland of the ideology that drives the terrorists". This is the same kind of justification that many used to justify the use of force against Communism.

Before I go on, I want to note that I see objectively serious threats, plans, and conspiracies to use force against us as pefectly valid justifications, and that I understand this to be the bulk of Brook's statements.

Still, I think that to use force against an ideology is against one's self-interest. It leads to the cessation of thought, not the discovery of truth. Jefferson Davis put it something like: "A question settled by force of arms remains forever unsettled."

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At the risk of taking a comment out of context and misconstruing what was said in his talk, I have one concern: In justifying war with Iran, one of Brook's points is that "[iran]is the spiritual Fatherland of the ideology that drives the terrorists". This is the same kind of justification that many used to justify the use of force against Communism.

Well thats a great reason to go to war with them, your assertion doesnt make sence. Thats like saying america is the fatherland of capitalism even though they dont act like capitalists, if they dont act like something then are they capitalistst?

YOU are what YOU do,thery are the the spiritual fatherland of the islamists and they act accordingly, thats why they should be attacked.If they said they were islamists and then just sat arround all day doing nothing, would they be islamists then? If they did that they wouldnt be islamists they would just be hypocrits and brooks im sure woudlnt give a crap about iran at all.

Like Peikoff said, this is a war of two levels on the ground level(the actuall war) and on the ideological level, you fight ideas with ideas you fight force with force. You cant ignore the reason why they use force

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Below is the section of Brook's speech...

I'd like to echo BurgessLau's "thanks" for posting this.

In war, the wife of the drafted soldier is as morally legitimate a target as the solder himself.

In the context of the talk and years of study of Ayn Rand this statement is clear and profoundly true.

But how can we possibly convince the average person of it's truth ?

It seems that we should not begin with the above quote.

But then again, it might shock them into a discussion ?

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See this is why i think its important to study military theory, im trying to find out which is the right way to handle this war, the strong hand approach or softhand.

Brook seems pretty clear on his support for a "strong hand" approach. He uses the examples from WWII to show that while it may not engender much support from the local population, it soundly defeats any opposition and insurgency.

I don't want to downplay the significance of military theory, but from a big-picture perspective, it looks to me like all this terminology about "soft hand", "fourth generation", "assymetrical", "low-intensity", etc. is just a fancy way to try to recommend waging war without waging war; like having your cake and eating it, too.

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Brook seems pretty clear on his support for a "strong hand" approach. He uses the examples from WWII to show that while it may not engender much support from the local population, it soundly defeats any opposition and insurgency.

I don't want to downplay the significance of military theory, but from a big-picture perspective, it looks to me like all this terminology about "soft hand", "fourth generation", "assymetrical", "low-intensity", etc. is just a fancy way to try to recommend waging war without waging war; like having your cake and eating it, too.

Well youre wrong, this is a generational shift in warfare. Its like going out to war and putting your soldiers in line and column after the invention of the machinegun, its retarded. War has changed. Everybody is trying to fight this war as if it were WW II.

Look at vietnam, we bombed the crap out of that coutry becuase we were trying to fight it like WWII.And we put tons of restrictions on our soldiers and trained them for the WRONG KIND OF WAR. ....And again another example of how ground troops are more effective than just bombibg the crap out of somebody.

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Mr. Brook says, in effect, "kill all the innocents" in dictatorships if the nation in question is an enemy of a semi-free nation. This sounds very immoral and injust to me. What if the semi-free state like America has vastly helped prop up the dictatorship like Iraq? What if in the past we recognized them diplomatically, sold them weapons, traded with them, gave them charity, and utterly failed to morally condemn and tell the truth about their horrific dictatorship? In wartime should all the terribly-suffering masses just be slaughtered wholesale?

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