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My Name Is Vladimir

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  1. Fair enough, Inspector, but providing welfare and troops for Israel is not an "Objectivist view" unless someone can produce an essay or statement of some sort in which Ayn Rand promoted it. So, I think it's a legitimate thing to discuss here among Ayn Rand fans.
  2. I like the avatar, feirsome as it is.

  3. DarkWaters, 1. Then you disagree with eyewitnesses and high-ranking officials, including a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman who said: "It's ridiculous to say this was an accident. There was good weather, she was flying the U.S. flag and the planes and torpedo boats attacked over a long period of time. I think Congress should investigate the incident, even now." 2. Firstly, how does coming here to "argue with those who sympathize with Objectivist views" make me a troll? I thought that was the point of this forum, or is it only for people who agree with those views? Are those the only people you have "values to gain from"? Secondly, I will not concede that your views are "Objectivist." Objectivism is defined by the written works of Ayn Rand, none of which addresses Israel to my knowledge. Lastly, you violated an (unwritten?) rule of this board: Characterizing another person's views instead of letting them speak for themselves. Obviously, I do not believe the "U.S. should ultimately blame itself for Islamic terrorist attacks," and the fact that you think this indicates what little interest you have in understanding your opponent's views. 3. I still want to know how defending Israel makes us safer.
  4. Robert J. Kolker, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and the PLO were not threats to the United States, so it's inaccurate to say that Israel's enemies are our enemies. Yes, all of these entities have done barbaric things, but so have the Tamil Tigers, Abu Sayyaf, the Irish Republican Army, and the Janjaweed, but we don't send Americans to die in order to pacify them. DarkWaters, 1. Can we stop this manufactured outrage and just debate the substance of the issue? If it's condescending to ask what research you've done before this discussion, I'm guilty. But honestly, if this is enough to offend your sensibilities, you will have a very difficult time debating those you disagree with. It is a recurring theme for those who don't like a discussion to cry afoul of the other side's "tone" and leave in a righteous flurry. 2. They didn't need to sink the ship, they needed to destroy its antennas to prevent it from listening in on radio traffic (either regarding the Golan Heights or the POW executions, depend on which motive you believe) - and they did that. I should also point out that the ship did almost sink; the crewmen were making preparations to abandon ship on the remaining life rafts that hadn't been shot at by the Israelis. 3. I still want to know how defending Israel makes us safer.
  5. TheEgoist, 1. What sources have you read on Mossadeq other than Wikipedia? Here are two, one online and the other print: 2. You can't have it both ways regarding Iran and Egypt. You applaud our intervention in Iran to halt the spread of communism, but when our interventions caused Egypt to move closer to communism you brush it off. Unlike Iran, there weren't just unsubstantiated rumors of sympathies in Egypt - the Soviets actually began sending them arms, including SAMs to use against Israeli fighters. 3. You didn't explain how defending Israel protects America, you just stated that its the only one in that region that supports individual rights. So what? How would we be more vulnerable to attack if Israel was destroyed? DarkWaters, 1. In all your righteous indignation you failed to say whether or not I was right about my characterization of your research. So here's your chance to prove me wrong: How much did you know about the USS Liberty before I mentioned it, what sources did read before your first reply (other than Wikipedia and articles linked to it, like Mr. Oren's), and about how long did you spend? 2. To answer your objection to the alleged motive, the reason Israel would've wanted to keep the events leading up to the seizure of the Golan Heights secret was because of the cease-fire agreement they had with Syria. If Israel was known to be the aggressor, it would follow that they violated that agreement. They had no such agreement with Jordan or Egypt. There are other speculated motives as well. For example, Lt. James Ennes suggests it may have been done to cover up Israel's mass execution of Arab POWs just 13 miles away from the USS Liberty's position. 3. Mr. Oren at the pro-Israel think tank has his facts wrong. As the Lt. Commander I linked to notes, the fighter jets were unmarked, which actually violated international law. Combine that with the fact that they shot at the Liberty's life rafts as they were lowered, and jammed its radio communications, it seems like a pretty concerted effort to conceal the attack. 4. Sending U.S. troops into the Middle East on a peacekeeping mission isn't a jog through Central Park, it is a blatant sacrifice of American lives. As I asked of TheEgoist, I would love to hear your explanation of how defending Israel in general contributes to the safety of Americans.
  6. Everyone, Since all of you brought up Israel being an ally, I will address it first to avoid redundancy. Here are four basic points: 1. Welfare for Israel. Nobody disputes the massive amounts of economic and military aid we've given them. The total number, as I said, reaches about $100 billion, though in the first couple decades most of it was for infrastructure and food. Now, I don't understand how any Objectivist can justify such outright welfare. 2. USS Liberty. Contrary to DarkWaters' brief "research" on Wikipedia of the USS Liberty, which was observed by Israeli recon planes for several hours and then attacked by their fighter jets and torpedo boats, the investigations are widely believed to be cover-ups - read this for starters. If you want motive, how about this paper written by a Lt. Commander of the US Navy for Naval Law Review: 3. The Levon Affair. Even DarkWaters admits that the Levon Affair is "sketchy" and even calls it "bad" (!). The fact that nobody died is certainly not to their credit - one cannot assume that they didn't intend to hurt anyone by exploding bombs in a post office, two U.S. government libraries, and a British-owned movie theater. There is no excuse for a supposed "ally." And if you think this is ancient history, consider that the surviving members of saboteurs were given awards just a couple years ago. 4. Harassment of U.S. Marines. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to eject the PLO, ostensibly in response to the attempted assassination of their London ambassador, which the PLO was not responsible for. Reagan then sent 1800 Marines as peacekeepers, but as Time Magazine reports, Israel wasn't acting like much of an ally: DavidOdden, 1. So your argument for war is not past events, but the supposed threat they currently pose. I do not want to get into the subject in this thread, but maybe we can return to the subject some other time. 2. No, "Islamic fundamentalism" didn't cause all of the events I listed. Certainly that was the case in the hostage crisis, but the '83 bombings were motivated by Lebanese nationalism. It's not cowardly to point out the obvious fact that our altruistic policies made such attacks possible; the motivation of the attackers is a separate issue. The fact is, if we weren't over there (and we didn't need to be), they wouldn't have been able to hit us. TheEgoist, 1. You are totally wrong that it was "well-known that Mossadeq" was a communist sympathizer. The pro-communist Tudeh Party, who was outlawed by his regime, protested against him for being too bourgeois and pro-American. At one point he even ransacked their newspaper offices. 2. Wait, you just finished saying we needed to overthrow Mossadeq's regime because he was a communist sympathizer, but now when I mention that our meddling actually made Egypt come closer to the Soviet fold you say they weren't a major threat so it doesn't matter? Huh? 3. I never suggested that these countries were justified in their responses to our meddling, I'm just showing you the unintentional consequences that come. Our reneging on the promise to fund the Aswan Dam led to the Suez Crisis, and our involvement in the Yom Kippur War led to OPEC's embargo. 4. You say we "shouldn't [sic] left as soon as we needed to," but you're not addressing why we were there in there first place. Our Marines were sent as a peacekeeping buffer, supposedly to maintain order in the region. You think that's a justifiable use of American lives? 5. Why is it okay to sacrifice American lives for Israel, but not Saudi Arabia? I totally agree that the Saudis are several orders of magnitude more evil, but in what way does it protect America to defend a small sliver of land in the Mideast the size of New Jersey? DarkWaters, 1. No, I am not insinuating that Iran's evil was caused by our policies. As I told DavidOdden, all I'm claiming is that if we weren't over there (and we didn't need to be), they wouldn't have been able to hit us. 2. Of course the USS Vincennes incident was an accident, that's not my point. The list I provided was to show examples of unintended consequences of pointless interventions - in this cause, the accidental killing of 290 innocent men, women, and children.
  7. I've been thinking since my last discussion here and I'd like some feedback. Objectivists here have been adamant that we must attack Iran in retaliation to the '79 hostage crisis, '83 Lebanon bombings, and current support for anti-U.S. insurgents in Iraq. This is in spite of the fact that all of these events were made possible by an altruistic foreign policy, which you argue is a separate issue; retaliating and "winning" is obligatory so we don't confirm to men like bin Laden that we are paper tigers. Fine, understood. But let's pretend we could go back in time: Would you meddle in Mideast affairs as much as we have been for the last 60 years? Would you offer full support for Israel and send in US troops whenever they were in need? Our ultimate purpose in the Middle East since WWII has been to protect oil assets, both from Soviet meddling and internal disorder. Our unqualified support for Israel was initially for the former: to counter the increasing Soviet clout in neighboring Arab nations. Since its creation in 1948 we've sacrificed nearly $100 billion and hundreds of lives for them. This is even more damning when considering that Israel, who is quite socialist internally, has intentionally killed Americans on numerous occaisions (USS Liberty, the Lavon Affair, etc). To illustrate this better, here is a list I wrote of every major U.S. intervention in the Mideast between the end of WWII and the current occupations. Any sober assessment would be that each has led to more bad than good, and that just as when we meddle in the economy, meddling in the Mideast has created unintended consequences and leads to further interventions meant to fix past ones.
  8. Below is the relevant statement bin Laden made. I hadn't realized until now, but he also mentioned the Beirut bombing right before mentioning Mogadishu. I think that works in your favor more than mine as far as this debate goes. I need some time to think about it. If his obscene cockiness is not just an artifact of the translation, these words can make your case more compellingly than anything else. Source: DECLARATION OF WAR AGAINST THE AMERICANS OCCUPYING THE LAND OF THE TWO HOLY PLACES
  9. I think I've gone as far as possible on the subjects I'm discussing with DarkWaters so I'm going to focus on the one with Inspector. If anyone would like to chime in, feel free. 1. On the minor change from "invade" to "bomb," allow me to quote Dr. Peikoff: This goal cannot be achieved painlessly, by weaponry alone. It requires invasion by ground troops, who will be at serious risk, and perhaps a period of occupation. But nothing less will "end the state" that most cries out to be ended. You may disagree with him, of course, but it is certainly not the standard Objectivist position we can get rid of everything but the Air Force and just drop "cheap" bombs on our enemies. 2. Let's talk about percentages. A very tiny fraction of 1 percent of the American population died on 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, obviously, but 100% of it was threatened thereafter of being attacked. On the other hand, there is no indication at all that because your humanitarian force was attacked by Barlanders, they will ever target your non-military citizens. Therefore, bad comparison. 3. Let's talk about the "principle that nobody gets away with killing American citizens." Not only is it too late for that (we've gone 30 years without responding), but there is no indication that the 9/11 terrorists were at all emboldened by such lack of response. Unless you can point me to where they specifically cited it, this is all conjecture. The only thing bin Laden has cited to show we're a paper tiger is our action in Mogadishu.
  10. My apologies for the delayed response. DarkWaters, 1. As I told you in chat, I don't accept the WWII analogy because I think Jihadists are far more mystic and depraved than the Imperial Japanese. We'll just have to agree to disagree. 2. I looked back and I did indeed say our troops joined specifically for defending the constitution - that was bad wording. My intention was to say that that's their purpose, whether they know it or not. Here's the thing: Since you (correctly) point out that most service members don't explicitly join to protect the constitution, you must also accept that most don't explicitly join to engage in altruistic missions crippled with altruistic rules. If they signed a piece of paper agreeing to that, you'd have a point, but the mere fact that we have a "well-known history" of it does not imply universal acceptance. 3. You are wrong to say claim that it's moral to overthrow dictators like Saddam "as long as they do not wish to replace him with another brutal dictatorship." It is a well-established fact that Saddam did not pose a threat to us., and as Brook and Epstein said, a nation can morally go to war only for the purpose of self-defense. Inspector, Okay, let me try something different. I'm going to create a dialog between two people, and you tell me if I have it right. Alice: What is the purpose of the U.S. military? Bob: To protect U.S. citizens from foreign threats. Alice: What if they try to bring aid to starving Foolanders? Bob: They are contradicting their purpose. Alice: What if they are attacked by Barlanders in the process? Bob: Invade Barland. Alice: But Barland isn't a foreign threat to U.S. citizens. They only attack our military while we're in Fooland, which we shouldn't be in anyway! Bob: Ah, but they are a foreign threat to U.S. citizens, because military servicemen are U.S. citizens, too! Alice: Okay, but how are they a threat to the 99.999% of the U.S. population that isn't part of the specific military unit feeding starving Foolanders? Bob: In no way whatsoever. Alice: So you're going to initiate a war on Barland, potentially spending billions of dollars and killing hundreds of thousands of combatants and civilians, when they aren't even a threat to the vast majority of Americans? Bob: Yes. We can't let them get away with murdering our citizens. Does this characterize your views correctly?
  11. Inspector, 1. We've hit a dead end on the topic of retaliation, but I found your answer to my Mogadishu example very interesting; you said "it's a little late." Why would an event in 1993 be too late for retaliation, yet an event in 1979 or 1983 be ripe for it? Honestly, I think you guys are using these events as excuses to attack Iran, while your true reason is a misguided belief that they are the "center" of Islamic terrorism. 2. I am distressed to see how eager and willing you are to "flatten" entire cities and countries. You said so about the Soviet Union and you say so half-heartedly about Somalia. You justify the latter not based on any threat Somalis pose to Americans, but based on the fact that 18 Americans were killed during a UN-backed humanitarian nation-building mission. Welcome to Objectivism 2007 3. We certainly did not need to nuke Soviet Russia in order to avoid the Korean and Vietnam wars. There is a much easier way to not get involved: don't. Don't send troops overseas in meaningless proxy wars. DarkWaters, 1. Please let go of these World War II analogies. The Japanese were extremely Westernized and industrialized at this time, they were not mystics on the order that Islamists are. If you're fighting for God, and you believe martyrdom will secure your soul and those of your family, seeing Teheran vaporized will not discourage you, it will be a call to war. 2. You may not have noticed, but that "Libertarian fantasy" was a paraphrase of the first sentence of the oath all enlisters and officers take at the beginning of their service. Regardless, here's a simple way to show how wrong you are: If sending troops on an altruistic mission doesn't violate their rights, then restricting them with altruistic rules of engagement also doesn't violate their rights - after all, that's an "integral part of United States foreign policy" as well. Doesn't that mean you disagree with ARI?
  12. Inspector, 1. I'm going to have to quote this in full: Really? Are you explicitly saying that we should ignore all context and view the situation in a vacuum? The purpose of the military is national defense. If the military operates contrary to that purpose and is attacked in the process, retaliating would certainly bring vengeance for the fallen but would not serve national defense at all. Let me ask you something. During the Battle of Mogadishu, on which the movie Black Hawk Down is based, 18 American soldiers were killed and many others wounded. Why aren't you calling for an invasion of Somalia? Sure, it was an altruistic mission that didn't serve our national defense at all, but our citizens were murdered! Are you going to let that go unpunished? 2. For all our faults, we emerged from the Cold War without any casualties, excluding the pointless proxy wars we fought in Korea and Vietnam. Why, then, are you now saying "we could have annihilated them [soviet Russia] with little loss on our side" using nukes? Doesn't history already indicate that it wasn't necessary? 3. Regarding preventing the Soviets from gaining control of oil, this is a very complex topic. All I can say now is that fixed fortifications in unfriendly areas are not a good idea and most likely didn't do much to prevent Russia from invading the region. That isn't to say we should never intervene to prevent such a power from usurping resources, but keep in mind they already were the most resource-rich country on the planet. Such interventions need to be weighed by cost and benefit. DarkWaters, 1. What makes you think that a group confident in Allah's protection values their life in the first place? In other words, why would individuals willing to kill themselves care about your show of force in Iran? 2. I don't care if we have a "well-known history" of joining altruistic conflicts - our troops joined specifically to protect and defend the constitution of the United States. When we send them to be sacrificial lambs, their rights are being violated.
  13. Inspector, 1. On the contrary, the fact that they were murdered by Hezbollah in the course of an immoral intervention has everything to do with our response. If the initial intervention did not serve national defense, in what way would increasing the intervention into an all-out war serve it? The military does not exist primarily for self defense, it exists for national defense. Usually the two are the same thing, but not in this case. If you take the military out of its original context - national defense - any mistake you make will snowball into a larger, more costly, and more pointless war. Consider the Vietnam war, in which nearly 60,000 Americans were pointlessly slaughtered. The North Vietnamese did not have a "right" to kill them, but does that mean we should have stayed there and continued sending our men to die? 2. The historical events aren't as simple as you portray them, but I'll concede your general argument. Iran nationalized the oil fields previously owned by modern-day BP which violated their agreement, that point is certainly solid. I do not believe this justifies building embassies and military bases in this region, however. Thoyd Loki, 1. Saying "you either know next to nothing about a multitude of subjects, or you are being purposefully blind" is certainly a personal attack. 2. I understand you declared my beliefs in the form of a question, but afterwards you added the sentence "That is what you are saying." Check for yourself. 3. Did you not see me specifically call GWDS out for his posts? Try Post #27. As an aside, I think you were referring to his post at #26, since #28 is from Thales. 4. You ask why you're not allowed to invoke an event 28 years ago, when the Iranians were able to invoke the '53 coup 26 years later. Obviously, I do not think the Iranians were justified in '79 revolution - they replaced a corrupt monarchy with an even more corrupt theocracy. I call the hostage crisis morally ambiguous because US policy-makers were also partially responsible. There is no purpose in having embassies in such an irrational region of the world. 5. Contrary to your latest attempt to declare what I believe, Iran is not a "misunderstood little boy." I dare to bring nuance to this discussion, which your simplistic narrative may interpret as anti-American. I think the American government has largely been a force for good, but that doesn't stop be from criticizing it when it engages in altruistic foreign policy adventures. TheEgoist, What is your evidence that Iran is "the most prominent and the biggest trend setter" and "the largest exporter of Islamic Terrorism"? Are you not aware that Saudi Arabia is the source of all but two 9/11 hijackers, countless Islamic "charities" funding al Qaeda, and a network of Wahhabist schools? Why do they get off the hook solely because their leadership is not as obnoxious in public as Iran's? Additionally, if they are the threat you say they are, why haven't they been escalating their violence? They kidnapped 52 diplomats 30 years ago, aided a terrorist group who had a few scattered successes in the '80s, and are most likely aiding insurgents in Iraq today. They've only attacked us while we were over there - that's a far cry from saying they're a threat to the American people. DarkWaters, 1. Why would it "be a seriously [sic] blow to militant Islam as a whole"? I've been disputing this point all along, but many of you continue to respond by simply rephrasing the same statement. You can say they are similar in "philosophic essentials," but you could say the same thing about the fascist Nazis and the communist Soviets. That doesn't mean that crushing the Nazis automatically harms the Soviets. 2. Instead of telling me what I believe, I'd prefer you let me speak for myself. I do not believe any act against a U.S. soldier in Iraq is "excusable." I am nuanced enough to place blame on both the insurgents and US policy-makers. That does not mean the insurgents are "morally excused" in harming our troops. For more, please see the very top of this post where I respond to Inspector. 3. I do not think Saddam had any right to sovereignty, but at the same time we are violating our own troops' rights when we send them in an operation that is irrelevant to national defense. Therefore, the war in Iraq didn't violate Saddam's rights, it violated our troops' rights. Thales, 1. You may certainly say our enemies have "Islamacism [sic] at their base," but that does not prove they are a monolithic entity with a single goal. After all, I could say that the Nazis and Soviets have socialism or subjectivism at their base, but that does not mean they have the same goals, motivations, or interests. Indeed, they were at war with each other. Militant Muslims have plenty of common denominators, but that doesn't mean we can obliterate one instance of them (such as the Iranian government) and expect another instance to be weakened (such as al Qaeda). 2. Wait, so do you not oppose the Vietnam war or Operation Restore Hope in Somalia? Do you only take issue with the fact that we didn't "[give] them the tools to fight properly"? I obviously agree that the military doesn't exist to "engage in pillow fights," but it also doesn't exist to intervene wherever danger exists - again, that's humanitarianism. 3. I agree that original cause and method of fighting are separate things. An immoral original cause does not excuse Iran's proxy from killing American servicemen, but it does change what our response should be. For more on this, please see the very top of this post, where I respond to Inspector. 4. You quoted me saying "What makes 9/11 different is that there is a clear guilty party: al Qaeda." In response, you said "Iran is clearly guilty." I may be mistaken, but I thought you were saying Iran is clearly guilty of 9/11. If you are simply saying that retaliating in 1979 would have prevented 9/11, I'd like to hear your reasoning for that. When did bin Laden ever even mention the hostage crisis as proof that we are a paper tiger? 5. When I asked you why Iran has only attacked us while we were in the Middle East and not on our own soil, you responded saying "911 was a wake up call, I should think." Please clarify this; I do not understand the connection it has to my question. Iran may be "the biggest and baddest terrorist state" vis-a-vis attacks in the Middle East, but they've never so much as aided a terrorist attack on US soil.
  14. TheEgost, 1. In a way, attacking any nation - including a non-Islamic one like North Korea - could serve as an advertisement of our military might. But that attack can also serve the interest of a particular nation or group. Attacking Iraq served Iran greatly, for example, despite the show of force we showed during the initial invasion. Instead of arbitrarily bombing somebody to set an example, we should stop beating around the bush and go after those who actually attacked our citizens (al Qaeda). 2. As I said to DarkWaters, treating them like the centralized enemies of WWII is not a good idea. The Nazi ideology was intricately tied with the party in control of the German government; the name itself comes from the first two syllables of Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. It is not surprising that it died along with the German war machine.
  15. Inspector, 1. No, I do not think "Iran had the right to murder them," in fact I clarified that in my post prior to that: In the case of the '83 Beirut bombing, both sides hold partial guilt. 2. You are correct that our troops in Lebanon were not violating Iran's rights, but our policy-makers were certainly violating our troops' rights. Risking their for any reason beyond national defense is a violation of their rights. Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, also violated their rights. The proper response, however, is to stop our own mistake by not stationing them for purposes other than national defense. 3. The CIA's coup in 1953 did not "[defend] the property rights of our oil companies." That oil was still under Iranian control; it was just under "Western-friendly" Iranian control. In other words, our government had some influence over it. How is that in any way capitalist? DarkWaters, 1. If Sunnis and Shi'as are playing a game of one upmanship, destroying the Shi'a Iranian government would certainly help Sunnis "one up" them. 2. You acknowledge that Islam is not a monolithic whole, but then imply that militant Islam is. They don't have a single government, nor a single leader, nor a single flag, nor even a single religion. 3. I am definitely not saying "we should not take any military action in the Middle East because it will only make radical Islamists stronger." I am saying we should go after those who have attacked Americans - excluding casualties incurred during misguided foreign policy adventures. Right now, that means al Qaeda and anyone who substantially supports them. I certainly don't pretend that al Qaeda, the Iranian Government, Al Sadr's militia, etc, have nothing in common. However, Islam qua religion is a massive jumble of scripture, divine example, and retroactive revisions spread across hundreds of years, millions of people and dozens of governments. You cannot treat it like the highly centralized enemies of World War II. It isn't clear at all that killing one part of would harm another part.
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