Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Skut

On Ron Paul and Awlaki

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to make a fundamental and clear statement about the rights of man. The rights are fundamental because all Congressional acts are subservient to them and clear because, unlike the complex legal code, the basic rights were intended to be known by all.

Having lived through war, the Founders recognized that during war, it is necessary to suspend the normal function of law, as "law" is a concept that is only possible in civil society. But they also recognized the danger of allowing any exception that would lead to the violation of rights. So, they provided strict limits: the President is the Commander in Chief, but he may only act with the consent of Congress, and that consent expires after two years. Furthermore, Congress has the power to issue letters of Marque and Reprisal, which authorizes specific individuals to attack specific groups and bring them to admiralty courts. In both cases, enemies were to be explicitly identified by Congress and enjoyed the protection of the rules of war.

We may argue about how practical these principles are and how earnestly they were followed from the start, but it is worth considering how grossly they are violated in the so-called "war on terror" going on today:

There is no actual war: "Terror" is an emotion, not a group of people. Therefore, no actual "war" (which requires clearly identified parties) is possible. This makes a congressional declaration of war impossible.

There is no enemy: The Constitution provides for Letters of Marque and Reprisal in cases where a war is not possible or desirable. But there is no enemy in the "war on terror." "Al Qaeda" is a quasi-mythical entity which has more existence as an entity in the minds of those who hate/fear and/or admire it than as a physical organization of material command and support. Most of its "followers" are non-violent. Many more advocate violence (not admirable but not an act of war) than practice it. Many of those killed as "terrorists" have only some vague emotional bond with its ideology, others none at all. Certainly there is no physical network in which all such individual can be proven to be involved.

Killings are extra-judicial: The executive branch has created a new category of enemy: the "unlawful combatant." This person is exempt from both civil protections as well as the rules of war. (By the way, the purpose of so-called "rules of war" is not to protect the enemy, as in any conflict at least one party is by definition willing to violate rights. Their purpose is enable peaceful coexistence possible afterward. By contrast, the historical purpose of disregarding the laws of war is to dehumanize the enemy and thus make post-conflict peaceful coexistence impossible.)

No one is off limits: in a war, combatants and non-combatants are clearly defined, and non-combatants are off-limits. While this is never perfectly practiced, at least the enemy and the conflict are clearly identified and so are violations can be exposed. But by identifying an emotion as the enemy, no end to the conflict is possible, and no one is off-limits.

For example, the U.S. government has no problem killing its own citizens without any judicial process for advocating violence outside of the country. That is a crime within U.S. territory, but not an act of war when conducted abroad, so it violates both the legal rights of U.S. citizens and the sovereignty of other nations.

Most "terrorists" tried in the U.S. since 9/11 were actually recruited and provided with their targets and plots by the FBI. They are not guilty of plotting any attack, as the government did that for them, but of the emotion of hate and/or the desire to spread fear in the public. In fact it is the U.S. government that terrorizes the public by finding peaceful but angry people and training them to be terrorists - and then prosecuting them for the same thing.

Guilt is tautological: While the "war on terror" is nominally against "terrorism," it is actually defined not in terms of any particular action, but by the potential emotion created in the (hypothetical) victim. The ultimate result is that anyone may be imprisoned or assassinated for the sole reason that something they thing did scared someone. Until there is a fundamental change to human nature, no end is possible for such a conflict.

Why was Anwar al-Awlaki (and his 16-year old son) killed? Because he is a terrorist. How do we know that? Because he is dead. If he were not guilty, he would not have been assassinated. No legal proof is needed because this is a military decision, and military decisions are outside the realm of civil law. Why is killing unarmed U.S. citizens for their violent rhetoric a military matter? Because we're in a "war on terror" and fear is now an act of war.

Conclusion:

The ultimate purpose of making an emotion the enemy is to take the rules of military action (which are properly outside the realm of civil law) out of the limited context of war and allow them to be applied to anyone. Thus is justified endless war, unchecked expansion of the power and size of the state, and a total end round around Constitutional checks on the State's power to violate individual rights.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...

So, they provided strict limits: the President is the Commander in Chief, but he may only act with the consent of Congress, and that consent expires after two years.

Do you have a citation for the assertion that Congressional consent to make war expires after two years? Because it is not in the Constitution, I just checked. There is clause about not funding the armed forces for more than two years but annual budgets conform with that restriction. It is not now nor has it ever been the practice for a new Congress to reauthorize a war or other military action authorized by a previous Congress. In fact the one instance of Congress withdrawing its consent was the repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of 1964 in 1971, an explicit act of legislation repudiating the previous consent.

Furthermore, Congress has the power to issue letters of Marque and Reprisal, which authorizes specific individuals to attack specific groups and bring them to admiralty courts. In both cases, enemies were to be explicitly identified by Congress and enjoyed the protection of the rules of war. We may argue about how practical these principles are and how earnestly they were followed from the start, but it is worth considering how grossly they are violated in the so-called "war on terror" going on today:

This entire screed is against the "War on Terror". It does a good job describing the absurdity of a war on an emotion. However, "War on Terror" was only ever an inept Bush slogan and all this refutation does is document that Bush had bad speechwriters (Karl Rove). In point of fact the text of the actual legislation passed by Congress does an adequate job of identifying who the President is directed to use force against, and excluding others.

September 18, 2001

Public Law 107-40 [s. J. RES. 23]

107th CONGRESS

SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

This is not an authorization to use force against any and all terrorists just because they are terrorists. Nor is it restricted to terrorists, as the military action in Afghanistan is justified by the fact that Afghanistan harbored Al Qaeda and Bin Laden and refused to turn him over. Although there is no convenient single country named and no single concept was used, the act does refer to the specific set of people related to the attacks of September 11, 2001: those nations, organizations, or persons that planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.

There is no actual war: "Terror" is an emotion, not a group of people. Therefore, no actual "war" (which requires clearly identified parties) is possible. This makes a congressional declaration of war impossible.
This is a great refutation of inept propaganda, but not of the actual legislation authorizing the use of force.

There is no enemy: The Constitution provides for Letters of Marque and Reprisal in cases where a war is not possible or desirable. But there is no enemy in the "war on terror." "Al Qaeda" is a quasi-mythical entity which has more existence as an entity in the minds of those who hate/fear and/or admire it than as a physical organization of material command and support. Most of its "followers" are non-violent. Many more advocate violence (not admirable but not an act of war) than practice it. Many of those killed as "terrorists" have only some vague emotional bond with its ideology, others none at all. Certainly there is no physical network in which all such individual can be proven to be involved.

A quasi-mythical entity? So all of the following events are completely unrelated, and cannot be attributed to a common cause or common operational or financial network? From http://en.wikipedia....l-Qaeda_attacks

Not listed here is Nidal Hassan's shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, encouraged by Awlaki personally.

I cannot follow how anyone can refuse to make the necessary integration here, and it is necessary in the logical sense.

Killings are extra-judicial: The executive branch has created a new category of enemy: the "unlawful combatant." This person is exempt from both civil protections as well as the rules of war. (By the way, the purpose of so-called "rules of war" is not to protect the enemy, as in any conflict at least one party is by definition willing to violate rights. Their purpose is enable peaceful coexistence possible afterward. By contrast, the historical purpose of disregarding the laws of war is to dehumanize the enemy and thus make post-conflict peaceful coexistence impossible.)

Consider for a moment that there is no such person as an Al Qaeda non-combatant. Non-combatants exist because when countries go to war the entire population of a country is at war whether each individual wants to be or not. But nobody is born into Al Qaeda, and the only reason to ever join is to participate in Al Qaeda's version of jihad, the war on the West. There will never be an afterward, only the complete destruction of Al Qaeda. That's how they want it, each and every individual Al Qaeda recruit rejects peaceful coexistence or they would not be in Al Qaeda.

No one is off limits: in a war, combatants and non-combatants are clearly defined, and non-combatants are off-limits. While this is never perfectly practiced, at least the enemy and the conflict are clearly identified and so are violations can be exposed. But by identifying an emotion as the enemy, no end to the conflict is possible, and no one is off-limits. For example, the U.S. government has no problem killing its own citizens without any judicial process for advocating violence outside of the country. That is a crime within U.S. territory, but not an act of war when conducted abroad, so it violates both the legal rights of U.S. citizens and the sovereignty of other nations.
The enemy is not an emotion but those nations, organizations, or persons that planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons. A U.S. citizen can join that organization now known as Al Qaeda, and several have. That makes them participants in the military action, not criminals. There are no non-combatants in Al Qaeda.

Guilt is tautological: While the "war on terror" is nominally against "terrorism," it is actually defined not in terms of any particular action,
"War on Terror" is a slogan. The war is actually upon those nations, organizations, or persons that planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.

Conclusion: The ultimate purpose of making an emotion the enemy
This is paranoia. Positing an ultimate purpose, rather than an ultimate result, is to engage in conspiracy theorizing. The idea the George Bush or Karl Rove had that end in mind as an explicit purpose, even secretly, is not credible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

American citizen or not, an enemy combatant has no rights to a trial in a criminal court. If you are at war with the USA you have drawn your line in the sand. Citizenship is not some magical shield that can trump justice.

And how do we know he was an "enemy combatant"? All we know is that he was a spiritual advisor to someone who attempted a terrorist attack and that he edited a jihadi magazine. He was not killed in a firefight with US troops, he was taken out.

What will you say when (and if) they start killing people who are smuggling weed in defiance of their "war on drugs"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If he has actually sponsored laws saying that we should be chasing down our enemies, and if he comes up with a good set of processes under which we should be doing so, then he doesn't seem to talk about those in his sound-bites and TV debates.

His foreign policy views and the related subjects are far more fleshed out by him in his books than what you will get from debates and interview soundbites. I dare say if you read his books withouthaving seen a single tv appearance of his you would view his foreign policy views much differently than someone that has only seen him on tv/congress.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What will you say when (and if) they start killing people who are smuggling weed in defiance of their "war on drugs"?

That's the second time you posted that question. The "war on drugs" is not a legitimate war.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's the second time you posted that question. The "war on drugs" is not a legitimate war.

I'm not suggesting you'd support the state murdering drug dealers/smugglers. I am pointing out that this is why we have due process; we can't trust government to restrain itself.

Edited by rebelconservative

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×