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Everything posted by MisterSwig

  1. What behavior? Your "act of deception" has no substance, no details, no context. Your basic error is thinking that you've offered an example worth analyzing.
  2. It looks like Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is convinced of this theory now, that Pelosi is timing the release of the articles to hurt Bernie Sanders. In the second half of the video, he calls it the "dirty little secret that nobody is talking about." Unfortunately we can't pry open Pelosi's head and uncover her true motive for delaying the Senate trial. But the rift between the Establishment Dems and the Democratic Socialists does seem to be widening. Sanders is now openly criticizing Biden's past support for the Iraq War and AOC is refusing to pay her DCCC dues. Also, CNN published an op-ed suggesting that Sanders and AOC don't have the "guts" to leave the Party and run as Democratic Socialists. Perhaps it's the Establishment that lacks the guts to expel the socialists, and that's the real problem here.
  3. A few days ago Dr. Yaron Brook gave us his livestreamed opinion on the killing of Qasem Soleimani. https://youtu.be/wyP2Crtv93A In the video, he begins by calling the killing a good thing, but ends by calling it insignificant. "Let me just say good riddance. I'll say that the killing of Soleimani is both a good thing, a commendable thing--it's good to get rid of evil and to destroy evil--and, at the end of the day, fairly meaningless. And so in terms of the long-run, in terms of the Middle East, in terms of U.S. strategy, in terms of 4D chess, it will have very little impact on where things go, very little positive impact on where things go, and is, at the end of the day, not a strategic decision." (2:20) Then, at 3:40, Brook further refers to the killing as "insignificant in the big picture." I find this to be an odd belief, especially since Brook spends the next several minutes detailing how impactful Soleimani actually was to the long-run, and to the Middle East and America. He provides much evidence for the fact that this popular Iranian general was very influential throughout Iran and the Fertile Crescent. Soleimani, he tells us, was a "major force in destabilizing the Middle East and attacking the interests of the United States." (12:00) How odd, then, that Brook considers this man's death to be insignificant and of little or no strategic importance! More strangely, Brook also describes the "insignificant" killing as a serious act. "This is the first act of any kind of serious act against the Iranian regime that any administration has taken in decades--maybe ever." (18:18) Note that I have not misquoted Brook. Indeed he actually said "the first act of any kind of serious act." And, if you watch the video, you can see him pause a bit just before using the word "act" the second time. Perhaps he couldn't bring himself to call the killing an act of serious significance or importance, which would have been more consistent with typical language and sentiment, but of course less consistent with his initial thesis. Despite Brook's word choice, shouldn't this particular point count as evidence for the killing's strategic significance, rather than its insignificance? The attack on Soleimani represents a dramatic change in America's posture against Iran. After decades of relative unseriousness and tolerance, we are finally taking them very seriously and hitting them where it hurts. We literally made the Iranian leader and his people weep as a nation while mourning their fallen commander. Brook considers the killing a "serious act against the Iranian regime." Yet, at the same time, he argues that it was "not an attack on Iran." It wasn't an attack on Iran, he claims, because it didn't occur on Iranian soil. (14:54) Somebody should tell this to Iran, because they seem to think that we attacked them. Indeed, equating a nation of people with their land and soil is a misguided premise, the sort used to argue for ethno-nationalism. Only here it's used to belittle a serious, self-defensive action. It's used to suggest that striking Iran's top general is somehow insignificant, in part because we didn't kill him within Iran's territorial boundaries. But in the big picture, does it much matter where we kill such a person, especially if it's done in a recognized war zone? I wonder whether such questions interest Dr. Brook. He claims that "all we can do is assassinate one of [Iran's] generals" and that this is "a sign of weakness, a pathetic response to a regime that has been flaunting their willingness to kill Americans…attack American interests…" (17:02) So, if assassinating the enemy's top commander is, itself, a sign of weakness, why should Brook care whether it's done on Iranian soil or not? It seems that Brook's real problem is not with the location of the hit, but with the choice of target itself. He thinks we are playing a never-ending game of whack-a-mole with the enemy's military leaders. Soleimani's death, he reiterates, is "fairly meaningless" and "changes nothing." (12:48) In this regard, he notes that Iran has already replaced Soleimani with another general to oversee the Quds force, and he therefore insists that "nothing about Iran has changed." (14:20) First, it's simply not true that "all we can do is assassinate one of [Iran's] generals." It's not true politically or militarily. And with Trump it's not even true in terms of our president's willingness to retaliate with disproportionate force. In addition to killing Soleimani, let's not forget that Trump started this recent, retaliatory campaign by bombing Iran's proxy militia bases in Iraq. Also, along with Soleimani, he killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the founder and leader of Kata'ib Hezbollah. So, at minimum, Brook should maintain the full scope of what Trump has accomplished so far. Second, Brook implies that Iran is relatively strong, while we are relatively weak, because they flaunt their willingness to kill Americans and attack our interests. But didn't Trump just do the same thing to them? Didn't he just kill Iranians and attack their interests? Are we now weak for starting to do that which makes our enemy strong? And third, the fact of military succession should not render the fact of Soleimani's death insignificant. Leaders get replaced. Things get replaced. This doesn't mean that the precipitating events were therefore "fairly meaningless." Their significance depends on their value to those affected. To Iran, Soleimani's death means the disheartening loss of a powerful and popular general. To America, it means "the first act of any kind of serious [importance] against the Iranian regime that any administration has taken in decades--maybe ever." Brook belittles America's achievement by placing it against the enormous backdrop of his own imagination. He has a grand vision of victory, his big picture, his ideal war. And in that giant wall fresco, in a tiny spot in one of the corners, is the killing of Soleimani. What, you ask, is the featured subject dominating the middle of Brook's painting? It's the assassinations of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his ruling clerics. Brook dreams of the pro-Western revolution that will spring forth in Iran after we eliminate its current political-religious leadership. (19:15) Ah, yes, that will be a glorious day indeed! Unfortunately, it's still pure fantasy. And it's poor ethics to judge the value of something based on its relation to fantasy over reality. Besides, aren't political-religious leaders also replaceable, like military ones? Nations the size of Iran have no shortage of trained officers, politicians and clerics. And let's not delude ourselves into believing that if not for the Ayatollah and his men, the Iranian Parliament would stop chanting "Death to America!" every chance they get. Who in Iran can challenge the armies of the totalitarians? Shouldn't we first diminish the fighting spirit and muscle of those military forces, thereby giving resistance groups more of a fighting chance? Doing this will also make Iran less willing and capable of attacking our soldiers in the field. Brook criticizes Trump for not making regime change the goal in Iran. But regime change cannot guarantee victory. It should be an afterthought, for when we have the enemy on its knees. Our war goal should be nothing less than the capitulation or elimination of the enemy. And that requires us first to identify and name the enemy. By killing Soleimani and attacking Kata'ib Hezbollah, Trump not only issued a first, serious strike against our immediate foe, he also generally exposed the greater threat to the West. By provoking widespread reactions around the globe, the world has now more clearly witnessed the nations, the governments, the groups, and the individuals who support and sympathize with Soleimani and the Islamic totalitarians of Iran. Wittingly or unwittingly, Trump ordered the cause that produced this effect, simply by killing the enemy's champions in the field of battle. If we are to solidify the political and military alliance against Islamic totalitarians, we must continue to attack Iran's champions and thereby expose and highlight the nature of this evil for all to see and understand clearly. More important than changing the regime in Iran is producing a lasting victory against the Islamic jihadists, and to accomplish that we must avoid generating too much sympathy for them among our reasonable allies. We must avoid advancing beyond our global support system. None of this so-called 4D chess strategy really concerns Brook anyway. If he can't paint his ideal scenario onto reality, then he loses interest in the real battlefield situation. "Let me be clear, I am not suggesting we fight a war with Iran today, with this president and with the kind of ideas that our military has in their heads." (24:55) Okay, if not today, when is the right time for war with Iran? If not this president, which one? If not these military ideas, whose? Brook wishes to wait at shore for fantastic factors that are unseen and long overdue. Maybe we should instead climb aboard the best boat we have and set sail. Along the way we might offer a few strategic ideas of our own to the captain and crew. Perhaps we'll find Brook's imaginary friends stranded at sea somewhere. Despite past hawkish rhetoric, Brook now balks at the idea of a war with Iran. "There's no point in fighting a war that you're not interested in winning. There's no point in fighting a war that you're gonna lose." (24:55) How does Brook know that the Trump administration is not interested in winning? Oh, right, because Trump hasn't yet made regime change a key goal, and winning, according to Brook, requires regime change. But a disagreement over strategy doesn't equal lack of interest in winning. There is more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes. And Trump probably thinks he has the best strategy to get the job done. As far as there being no point in fighting when you will lose, that's merely Brookian hyperbole, based on his belief that Trump and America have no interest in winning. For, even Brook agrees that America would crush Iran's military in a real war. What he probably means, then, is that there's no point in attacking Iran unless the ultimate goal is to change the regime. And here he should be reminded of the enormous value in combining self-defensive actions with siege tactics. If Superman were attacked by Dennis the Menace, should he level the kid's entire house and risk becoming the monster of the story? Or when kicked in the shins, should he lock Dennis in his room until the boy promises to change his wicked ways? The moral here isn't to handle a menace with kid gloves. The point is to handle it in a way that doesn't turn the menace into the victim, and you into the menace. Iran needs to change its ways, but also America needs to remain the beloved hero, if it's going to maintain its "maximum pressure" siege of Iran. If, by crushing Dennis under the rubble of his home, we are made the villain in this epic, then we might as well retreat from the Middle East and start repainting the walls of our Fortress of Solitude.
  4. I believe it comes from author David Goodhart relating to Brexit.
  5. Not because it's complicated, which it is. But because this thread isn't about Saudi Arabia. I'll gladly get into it on another thread if you want to start one.
  6. Do you want Trump to reveal the plan to win the war? I can't tell what you want. Should he reveal in advance which sites he'll bomb and when? Troop movements? Supply lines? How much detail do you expect to be made public?
  7. Yes, it's called war. War is the strategy of last resort. If talking doesn't work, you either run away or fight. Chess is pure fighting. It's war. The objective is to make the enemy submit. These are means to the end. Of course you typically need to gather intelligence on the enemy, especially when it's a complicated fight with another nation. But you gather intelligence to make it easier to destroy your enemy's things and ultimately win the war. You're mistaking short-term means or tactics for the long-term goal or end which the tactics serve.
  8. I'm glad that Trump is willing to go after Iran. And if we ever stop Iran's militant jihad, maybe he'll turn his attention to Saudi Arabia. Perhaps making an example of Iran will make it easier to reach a diplomatic solution to the problem of Saudi Arabia. But if your purpose is merely to point to some seeming hypocrisy in America's foreign relations, then I'll remind you that Trump didn't create America's relationships with Saudi Arabia and Iran. He's mostly dealing with a hand dealt long before his time, and geopolitics is a very complicated and confusing game to play, I'm sure. So, rather than focus on the problems Trump hasn't fixed, maybe we should support him when he actually does something positive and encourage him to continue moving in that direction.
  9. Are you holding out hope for a political solution with Iran? The long-term strategy in war is to break more of the other guy's stuff until he surrenders or dies. What exactly are you asking for: battle plans?
  10. What does this mean? Who is more comfortable? I was already comfortable with such a thing. It doesn't sound like you were already comfortable with the killing, if you thought it was "possibly a negative."
  11. Appear to whom? Trump is going to need the open or tacit approval of Congress and our allies in order to bomb Iran. Whether or not we are in reality justified, we need to at least appear justified in this action--to reasonable Americans and other nations of influence. If we can't even appear justified, then what's the point in proving it with evidence? Opponents will accuse us of faking the evidence again, like with Iraq. The appearance needs to be clear and undeniable. Now, I don't know the secret strategy, of course. But if subduing Iran is indeed the end goal, it makes sense that a plan has been generally in the works for some time, before Trump even. We've established a widespread presence and power in the Middle East, and now we're ramping up the conflict with Iran. It seems that we have mostly isolated them politically, and now we're working on them militarily. Such things don't happen by accident.
  12. One thing I've liked about Trump since before the election is his restraint when asked to reveal his views on political or military strategy. He keeps these things confidential. He understands that it's not wise to tell the enemy what you're planning to do. Also, he says that he'll listen to his trusted military and political advisors. This is perhaps his best quality, and I'm certainly not going to fault him for it. I don't expect the president to blab about a secret strategy just to prove there is one. The fact that Trump has gotten us to this point where we, as a nation, are mostly comfortable with killing a high-level Iranian commander, this is a credit to Trump's leadership and an indication of his general strategy of maximum pressure. By pulling out of the nuclear deal and increasing sanctions, he has caused Iran to become more belligerent and violent toward us, making us appear more justified in escalating our responses. Trump doesn't need to have such strategic thinking skills himself. He just needs to have the will to recognize and enact a better strategy when it's presented to him.
  13. I praise him for having the will to hit such an important member of the Iranian regime.
  14. God, I hope not. I hope he's letting a smart general or two provide the strategic military thinking.
  15. https://www.npr.org/2020/01/03/793202192/as-impeachment-trial-looms-sen-susan-collins-faces-scrutiny-in-congress-and-at-h The attempts to deflect attention from Trump's positives are silly.
  16. It looks like we might finally have a president who's willing to "face the real character and conduct of the Iranian regime."
  17. MisterSwig

    Santa Claus

    I agree. I speak to kids honestly. Lying to them imposes and/or reinforces a shift in their focal orientation from objective reality to subjective fantasy.
  18. To the extent a philosophy is true, its ideas don't need to be transmitted from the top down. They can be gleaned from the bottom up as well, because each individual can see reality for himself and come to the same true conclusion as the philosopher. Lesser minds might need some help in focusing on the right aspects of reality, articulating observations, and systematizing principles, but ultimately reality is the great teacher. Common sense doesn't come from the ivory tower. It rises from the common experience of man.
  19. Of course it does. It goes where the crew sails it. Not so. We're talking about humans. Humans are individuals. They make choices. They must choose which ship to board and act as its ballast. And so the quality of the ballast matters. Let's consider a more realistic example. Joe is a miner looking for a mining job. There are two mining operations in town. Company A will pay Joe according to how much he produces himself. Company B will pay him an equal share of profits no matter how much he produces himself. The choice Joe makes represents his small part in the grand battle between individualism and collectivism, whether or not he understands it at that level. Maybe he just understands that he'll make more money at Company A because he's a hard worker. That's okay. He doesn't need to understand what the owner of Company A understands: that treating people like individuals will attract the hardest workers; and that his competition will attract the low-quality workers by treating them like a collection of equal parts in a machine. The Company A ship will sail perfectly with the best ballast, while the B ship, with its lousy ballast, will probably sink in the first storm it encounters.
  20. We do have one person here who thinks that most of us are "dumb as hell." Does that count?
  21. I think this relates to a very basic similarity among political systems, which is the motive of maintaining or creating order versus permitting chaos. The Catholics were trying to keep a brand of Catholic order, the Soviets wanted a Soviet-style order. If you accept that order is preferable to chaos, then almost any political system is better than none, even tribalism. Arbitrary, malevolent dictatorships, I think, would be the exception, because they're essentially like chaos. That similarity, however, is not the only criteria for judging political systems. We differentiate the systems by their other features, and so some are better than others and represent a more rational kind of order-keeping.
  22. Even if you accept Rand's metaphor of human ballast, such ballast is not of one mind, as long as there is more than one choice to be made. There is ballast for the socialists and ballast for the capitalists. A nation is not one ship. It's a fleet that either remains together or separates. So this ballast is not inconsequential. It determines which ships stay upright, and which ships lose their balance, forcing the crews to board another ship or perish in the sea.
  23. Is that because people who disagree with you hold collectivist positions? None of the statements you quoted imply collectivism. It seems you have a problem with general propositions.
  24. What are you talking about? Quote me saying something that sounds collectivistic. Right now you're just making a baseless assertion.
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