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Justification for war in the Middle-East

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In general, don't agree with that, because the mafia that collects protection money could also claim that those who pay have conceded the mafia's right to collect. I agree that estoppel and time-based limitation a valid legal approach, but I don't think it applies in this case. By the same reasoning of estoppel, one could make the case that the U.S. allowed the middle-eastern countries to expropriate oil on the implicit understanding that they would allow the supply to flow to the U.S.

That's a good point. However...

It is not need that makes it right, it is the simple fact that much of that oil is ours.

When did we buy the mineral rights to Saudi Arabia? Seriously - how is it *our* oil, when its under *their* land?

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It's imperative to consider the situation in 2002 when the invasion was debated.

We'd been attacked by a non-state actor, al Qaida, which was supported by a state, Afghanistan, which together had less resources than Iraq did. Meanwhile Iraq was under UN sanctions imposed since August of 1990. Saddam had spent years concealing materiel and forbidding full access to weapons inspectors. He had been firing at US and other allied aircraft, without doing any damage. he had supported some terrorist operations, mostly directed at Israel (an ally os the US), but some directed at America. France and Russia were loudly proclaiming the sanctions were useless and should be lifted, even if Saddam still had chemical or biological weapons.

Another thing to keep in mind is that almost no one ever believes the US will seriously undertake military operations. Back in the first Gulf War in 1991, Saddam loudly proclaimed Iraq was not Panama (which Bush Sr. had invaded in 89 to remove Noriega). Later on, the Taliban just as loudly proclaimed they were not Iraq. No doubts Saddam in 2002 was sure Iraq was not Afghanistan (even if not being Panama had not helped him before).

Keeping the sanctions in place would have been hard. Without even sanctions Saddam could move ahead and acquire WMDs, if he dind't already have them. Every major intelligence service believed he did have some, because inspectors had been kicked out and kept out since 1998 or so. Additionally it was known Saddam was looking for raw nuclear materials.

Two possible outcomes of this situation are:

1) The sanctions are lifted and Saddam enlarges his WMD stocks. This puts powerful weapons in the hands of a madman with a grudge against America in particular and the West in general, not to mention Israel and even the Muslim countries that fought against him in 1991. This is clearly a very bad situation rife with potential threats against the US and her allies. A man with terrorist connections who openly supported terror operations against Israel.

2) The sancions are not lifted. Saddam retains some WMDs and has terrorist connections. He could use some of his stocks (and these small stocks were found post-invastion) to supply terrorists with nerve gas or, possibly, even radiological materials. This is not a good situation, either.

So I do see justification to move against Iraq. The way the invasion was handled was mostly all right. the plan for afterwards was severely flawed and altruistic, true. One can question whether even invading Iraq was necessary, but it clearly was legitimate. Saddam's Iraq posed a big potential threat that had to be dealt with.

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We initiated the force against Iraq by launching a military invasion.

No nation which does not respect individual rights of it's citizens has any right to self defense. We did not 'initiate force' against Saddam's Iraq, we responded to the perpetual initiation of force Saddam's Iraq has launched against millions of people, including US citizens and military personal, and US allies, over many decades. One does not 'initiate force' against a homicidal kidnapper by shooting him because the homicidal kidnapper has merely not yet gotten around to attacking them. Any assault on any invidividual civil liberty against any human on the planet is an assault on the concept of individual civil liberties, and just as I do not need to wait for a murderer to attack me I do not need to wait for a murderous tyrant to attack *me* to act in self defense, nor do I need wait for a murderous tyranny to attack my nation or my allies in order to act in a reasonable manner against it (even though Iraq did attack our allies)

The libertarian mantra of only responding with force when directly attacked is murderously suicidal, and if enacted would have led to the immediate demise of the United States to the Soviet Union, who would have merely attacked every single nation BUT the US, until the US posed no significant threat. A mad man progressing uniformly down a line of prisoners, exectuing one after other, need not actually shoot ME, nor need to actually initiate the flight of a bullet toward my head in order for me to shoot him, in self defense. Nor do we need to wait for a murderous tyranny to actually send a battleship steaming up the hudson in order to act in self defense.

Were we asked to retaliate?

Do you need to wait for a rape victim to ask for help before you proceed to help them?

Do we, as a nation, have the moral authority to act as a police force for crimes committed in other nations or by other nations against their own citizens?

"other nations" Amazing that you lump Iraq as a 'nation' in with Canada or the United States. No nation which does not respect the invididual rights of it's citizens is a just nation, and they should be called nothing other than hostage zones, as that is exactly what they are. Only to the extent with which nations respect the rights of citizens do they deserve thier 'rights' as a nation to be respected. Yes we have the moral authority to act as a police force if we deem it in our long term rational self interest in another area which is held hostage by a murderous tyrant. No we do not have that authority in a nation of people with freedom of speech, civil liberties, and the right to emmigrate.

If we have that right, why can't Canada invade us for, say, Guantanamo Bay, or Waco, or Ruby Ridge?

If the Soviet Union invaded Canada instead of Afghanastan, would would we have a right to respond? Why? They did not attack "us"

Do we have a moral obligation to act on behalf of a third party? To sacrifice our own troops for the sake of others?

We do not have the obligation, but we do have the moral authority. Any assault on any civil liberty on any human in the world is an assault on the very concept of civil liberties.

From Rearden's courtroom speech

I could say to you that you do not serve the public good - that nobody's good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices - that when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the right of all, and a public of rightless creatures is doomed to destruction.

Are we saying that altruism justifies this monstrosity we've created in Iraq?

No, long term rational self interest justifies the effort in Iraq.

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When did we buy the mineral rights to Saudi Arabia? Seriously - how is it *our* oil, when its under *their* land?
I think that using the terms "us" and "them" makes this fuzzy. I know it is not my oil, because neither I nor anyone from whom I inherited went to Saudi Arabia and prospected for oil, etc. However, neither does that oil belong to the desert tribes that happened to be roaming around the vicinity when the oil was discovered. Legitimately, it belongs to those who discovered it.

History is a mix of all sorts of good and evil, so I doubt one is going to entangle the claims today. For instance, while the nomads had no business charging protection money to allow people to drill in their vicinity, it is also true that drillers used the racket to keep other drillers out. On balance, the oil should have been the rightful property of some of the big oil companies, based in Europe and the U.S. Instead, the poor tribes of the Arabian peninsular have been allowed to get away with robbing western assets. And, some wayward cousins have used that ill-gotten wealth to fund the teaching of an extremist form of Islam, that led up to the WTC.

It is perfectly legitimate for the U.S. to remove the Saudi government and take over, or to replace it with a government that is more friendly. Again, I'm not suggesting that this is the most practical approach at the present time, just that it would be morally legitimate.

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Matus1976 - I can find no rational counterargument to your logic. I must, therefore, concede that yes, we did not initiate the force, and yes, we had the moral authority.

I am, however, still convinced that it was not the right decision.

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I believe taking action was justified, and I'll let those who have already done so make the case. I think they make a good one.

I do take issue with this, TMK:

If anyone can explain to me why the trillions of dollars we have pissed away on this moronic endeavor could not have been saved but for the price of one bullet from one talented sniper, I'll be amazed.

Yes, Saddam was a piece of human waste. I don't think anyone will seriously argue that having him gone is a bad thing. But we could have popped him, left, and saved a whole lot of lives. This war business is nonsense and a pure waste. Even the guys who've been over there know it. I've talked to enough of them, they get how they've been gamed. It's a damned disgrace to this country.

Do you honestly think any *ONE* sniper had enough talent to take out Saddam? Who is this magic man? Steve Rogers, perhaps? It took the entire US invasion force nearly nine months to get the guy.

It wasn't just Saddam Hussein that was the issue here, it was the Ba'athist government. Would you have preferred one of Saddam's sons take over? I'm not saying that they would have necessarily survived the power struggle and emerged as king of the hill. But whoever did emerge would have inherited government structures already primed for war with the country's neighbors and its own people. If action was taken, it needed to be against the whole regime.

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I am, however, still convinced that it was not the right decision.

What specifically did you think wasn't the right decision? The removal of Saddam, his government, and their weapons which they were shooting at us and threatening us and our allies with, or the actions after that where we stuck around and attempted "nation building?" Because if you mean the latter I don't think anyone here is arguing against you on that.

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No nation which does not respect individual rights of it's citizens has any right to self defense. We did not 'initiate force' against Saddam's Iraq, we responded to the perpetual initiation of force Saddam's Iraq has launched against millions of people, including US citizens and military personal, and US allies, over many decades. One does not 'initiate force' against a homicidal kidnapper by shooting him because the homicidal kidnapper has merely not yet gotten around to attacking them. Any assault on any invidividual civil liberty against any human on the planet is an assault on the concept of individual civil liberties, and just as I do not need to wait for a murderer to attack me I do not need to wait for a murderous tyrant to attack *me* to act in self defense, nor do I need wait for a murderous tyranny to attack my nation or my allies in order to act in a reasonable manner against it (even though Iraq did attack our allies)

The libertarian mantra of only responding with force when directly attacked is murderously suicidal, and if enacted would have led to the immediate demise of the United States to the Soviet Union, who would have merely attacked every single nation BUT the US, until the US posed no significant threat. A mad man progressing uniformly down a line of prisoners, exectuing one after other, need not actually shoot ME, nor need to actually initiate the flight of a bullet toward my head in order for me to shoot him, in self defense. Nor do we need to wait for a murderous tyranny to actually send a battleship steaming up the hudson in order to act in self defense.

So, when do we take out Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and all the brutal dictatorship-ran countries in Eastern Europe, Africa and South America?

How many American lives and dollars do you propose we sacrifice for each of these countries? Should it be an even number for each one, or should we take them by a case-by-case basis?

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What specifically did you think wasn't the right decision? The removal of Saddam, his government, and their weapons which they were shooting at us and threatening us and our allies with, or the actions after that where we stuck around and attempted "nation building?" Because if you mean the latter I don't think anyone here is arguing against you on that.

The alternative would have been, what, go in, destroy the Iraqi government, and leave? Once we set foot on the road, we were on the turnpike, there were no moral exits. We are the ones who upset the way of life for an entire country by taking out its Government. We are responsible by our own actions for the lives of those we interfered with.

As atrocious as it is now, leaving before the job is done would be worse than what we've got going on now.

So what was the wrong decision? Going in there in the first place!

We may have had the moral authority - but hey, cause and effect - we went in, now we're stuck in a quagmire. Maybe we shouldn't have been in such a hurry to exercise our moral authority in the manner in which we did.

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The alternative would have been, what, go in, destroy the Iraqi government, and leave? Once we set foot on the road, we were on the turnpike, there were no moral exits. We are the ones who upset the way of life for an entire country by taking out its Government. We are responsible by our own actions for the lives of those we interfered with.

Not so. Upon toppling a dictatorship we have no moral obligation to do anything besides to say to them in no uncertain terms: "don't do it again, or the bombs will fall on you."

The idea that we must stick around and help them is altruism and nation-building, an entirely separate concept from the invasion itself.

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Not so. Upon toppling a dictatorship we have no moral obligation to do anything besides to say to them in no uncertain terms: "don't do it again, or the bombs will fall on you."

The idea that we must stick around and help them is altruism and nation-building, an entirely separate concept from the invasion itself.

So we're not responsible for the results of our actions after we interfere and totally uproot an entrenched way of life?

This is surreal

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To expand on this, the "way of life" of a dictatorship which harms and threatens both its own citizens and other nations is not a "way of life" which has a right to exist. Therefore, we gain no moral obligation from removing it. A dictatorship is, in many senses - illegitimate. Once you understand just how deeply that concept goes, I think the rest may fall into place for you.

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Matus1976 - I can find no rational counterargument to your logic. I must, therefore, concede that yes, we did not initiate the force, and yes, we had the moral authority.

I am, however, still convinced that it was not the right decision.

Greebo thanks for your comment, and your response is understandable. Whether or not we had the moral authority and if it was an initiation of force is an entirely different question than whether it was the best thing to do and in our long term rational self interest, I made the case for the moral authority and that it was self defense, however I did not make the case for it being in our long term rational self interest.

I outline most of my points on this aspect in my essay "Reflections on the Iraq War". I was also recently invited to speak in front of the Navy War College's Strategic Studies Group and spent nearly an hour with many of it's members, including two navy captains, a retired admiral, and some top scientists from the SSG presenting this as the necessary over arching foriegn policy of the next few decades that the west (not just the US) ought to adopt.

from - http://www.matus1976.com/politics/reflections_iraq_war.html

In the Middle East, the situation is the worst of the entire world. Instead of raising standards of living, the massive oil fields under the nations of the Middle East have done nothing but prop up murderously oppressive regimes, which through their indoctrination, brutality, oppression, and religious fanaticism promulgate the worst, though not all, of terrorism the world faces today. The nations of the Middle East, while embracing the technology of industrial age, are culturally still in the dark ages; where violence and intimidation are the accumulation of wealth, where beheading and honor killings are the currency, and where centuries old conflicts between long dead ancestors define their goals.

People living in these nations hate their governments, and so hate whoever they perceive as helping their governments and love who ever their governments hate. Consider in Iran, where the brutal Shia controlled government insists that the United States is Satan and the greatest evil of the earth, the people however, who hate their government because of its oppressive policies, love the US. Iran has one of the strongest pro-US movements in the Middle East. Conversely, Saudi Arabia, which is considered a friend of the US, bred most of the terrorists which attacked America on 9/11. In Saudi Arabia, one of the strictest and most controlling nations of the world, the people perceive the US as a friend of their government (with a lot of just cause to consider as much) and since they hate their government, they also hate the US.

Concurrently, three other important factors need to be considered. The Law of Accelerating Returns, the Doomsday Curve, and the Fermi Paradox. The Law of Accelerating Returns, as Identified by author and inventor Ray Kurzweil, is the description of the fact that technology advances in not only an exponential curve, but an exponentially increasing exponential curve. The familiar Moores law, which describes and predicts the performance increase of computer processors, extends backwards accurately following this curve all the way to Charles Babbages counting machines. In fact all technology follows these very similar curves, from memory storage to genome sequencing to transportation costs per mile traveled. Kurzweil argues convincingly that this growth in technological progress will only become more and more rapid. Consider the technological innovations from 1800-1900 and then compare that with 1900-2000. One can only wonder at the marvels that will come about from 2000-2100.

But along with those marvels come threats, which is why author and political commentator Robert Wrights suggests we take our bitter medicine early in his article A Real War on Terrorism that is, we stem the growing tide of fundamentalist terrorism earlier rather than later, because if we wait, individual intelligent motivated people will be able to kill hundreds or thousands of other people. This tendency is accurately described in The Doomsday Curve and perhaps disturbingly evidenced in the Fermi Paradox. That is, as technology increases, fewer and fewer individuals are able to kill more and more people with less and less effort, and subsequently, at some point in time, a single individual may be able to, either intentionally or even accidentally, wipe out the entire human race. This very idea may be the answer to the Fermi Paradox; the question of why, in a 14 billion year old galaxy of 400 billion stars where if even one single technologically advanced civilization had arisen in the last 5 billion years it would have spread to every single star system in the galaxy, we find none anywhere we look. It could be that life is extra ordinarily rare, or it could be undetectable, or it could be that it almost always tends to destroy itself. The Doomsday curve and Law of Accelerating Returns makes this last scenario disturbingly plausible, but more importantly it is the only scenario which requires action. It is why I am an adamant supporter of the Lifeboat Foundation and also why I support the Iraq War.

At first, the two may seem disconnected, but the effort undertaken in Iraq is not explicitly one directed at punishing Saddam Hussein or securing oil supplies (though both are relevant) The longer term overarching goal of the Iraq war is to create a starting point of liberal democracies in the Middle East. Every single majority Arab or Islam nation is a brutal and murderous totalitarian regime, with the notable exceptions now of Iraq and Afghanistan. Refer to the CIA World Fact Book or the non partisan Freedom House to learn about the nature of the governments which rule these people. Neighboring regimes know that if a stable democracy is formed in Iraq then their own people will want the same, and thus it is in the best interest of every totalitarian two bit thug in the Middle East to do whatever they can to make sure Iraq fails. This is why thousands and thousands of Insurgents are pouring in from every surrounding nation and bombing and killing Iraqis, why a recently kidnapped Taxi Cab driver thought he had been transferred to Syria, and why the terrorist attacks are focused on creating a destabilizing civil war, intentionally targeting ethnic divisions to instigate even more sectarian violence. An Iraq in chaos is not something people who have lived their whole life in Iraq want, but it is something that every other Middle Eastern tyrant does want.

All of this should raise a great deal of concern in the minds of rational men. To assert that sitting back and doing nothing in the middle east would bring about peace, is completely egregious and flies in the face of all the historical trends of the nations which hold a majority Arab .. Islam culture and would almost certainly lead to a major, probably nuclear level, terrorist event.

These dictators have *no right* to rule these people, they have *no right* to be called a nation, when they dont grant their own people the basics of individual rights. They have *no right* to *self defense* when they dont grant it to their own people. Only a government formed from the informed consent of its people has any legitimacy and only when it respects the most fundamental rights of humans, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, does it earn any respect. To the extent at which governments protect the rights of its citizens it is legitimate, to the extent at which it takes them away, it is illegitimate. A clear dividing line, I feel, is that of free speech, because once a governments does not allow its citizens to speak, it leaves them *no possible peaceful way to change it* The abdication of free speech is the first and most basic identifier to illegitimate governments. The only nation in the Middle East which allows free speech is Israel.

Something must be done about these nations (which I put in brackets because they do not deserve even cursory official recognition) for their people, but most importantly for us, because these nations are the hotbed of everything that might destroy humanity. Something must be done not just because human lives have value and I want them to be able to live in a world where no one is imprisoned for ideas or executed because they want to live, but also because it is in our best interest to see a safe, stable, free world. Democracies (liberal constitutional democracies with market based economies) do not go to war with one another, they commit the least internal violence, see the longest median and mean life spans, the lowest infant mortality rates, and create through their free exchange of information all the great technology the people of the world enjoy today. Brutal oppression, the dictatorships and theocracies of the world, do nothing but breed murderous hatred and complete and utter intolerance, where merely being offended is justification enough to murder.

See, for example, some photos from the March For Peace organized in response to the Danish publication of offensive cartoons. http://www.snopes.com/photos/politics/muslimprotest.asp You would be hard pressed to find similarly violent sentiments expressed even at a Neo-Nazi rally, and it takes little stretching of the imagination to consider sentiments such as these in the minds of motivated intelligent dedicated individuals leading to hundreds, thousands, or millions of deaths.

So one must naturally ask, if it was necessary to take a first major step in the Middle East, was Iraq the best choice? A lot of evidence would suggest that either Iran or Saudi Arabia would be a better choice because of the brutally oppressive nature and the religious extremism of the regimes. However, one could just as easily argue that had coalition forces attacked a religious Islam nation, then it would have been much easier for inhabitants of that nation to interpret this as a war of Christainity vs Islam, and not one of Civilization vs Barbarous terrorism. But none of have a crystal ball and we can never be sure exactly how things will turn out. We had a military history with Iraq, and Iraq was up for retribution for violating the UN Resolutions applied to it to end the first Gulf War. Saddam Hussein was a murderous tyrant, even if he was a secular one, and certainly did have and use chemical weapons, as residents of Halabja would attest to. For these reasons Iraq constituted one of the best cases that could be built to start the change in the Middle East. While it is certainly debatable which Middle Eastern hostage taker was the best to start with, there is no doubt that the change needed to start with one of them, and sooner rather than later.

From a humanitarian perspective, the Iraq war was the right thing to do. From a current geo-political perspective, the Iraq war was also the right thing to do. And from a long term self interested view, the Iraq war was, again, the right thing to do. People who care about the rights and lives of individuals in the world should support it. People who selfishly want to live in a safe stable world should also want it.

Yet people who profess both object to it because some mystical precognitive psychic power only they posses makes them feel like it is a bad idea. The same people who take 6 years to buy a car and 30 years to buy a house expect a successful stable democracy to pop into existence in a few months. The same people that call for us to jump into the middle of a civil war in the Sudan worry about us getting embroiled in one in Iraq. And the the same people that point to lessons we should have learned from Vietnam are completely oblivious to the fact that we WON the Vietnam War two years before Saigon fell, that the Nobel peace prize was given to Kissinger and a North Vietnamese general for negotiating a peace, that after the democratically controlled congress made it illegal to support, either militarily or materially, any nation in Indochina, they regurgitated defeat from the jaws of victory, and that, worst of all, more people died in the 6 months following the fall of Saigon than had died in the entire Vietnam War and the North Vietnamese government was eventually responsible for 4.5 million more murders in the subsequent years.

The western world, which is the richest, freest, and most militarily powerful part of the world, sits idly by while half the world is brutally oppressed by murderous tyrants and dictators. Am I advocating invasion after invasion on humanitarian grounds? No, I am advocating a system of long term rational self interest. These types of nations are the root of all the instability in the world political sphere, they are the primary causes of wars, famines, the spreading of infectious diseases, and the murderously oppression which breeds terrorism. In a world where rapid technological growth will eventual enable one person to kill millions, billions, or even wipe out the whole human race, we need to take our bitter medicine early and immediately turn the tide of these trends before they culminate in the extinction of our race. Only when the whole of humanity joins a modern civilization based on individual rights and property will it become reasonable to look forward to the day when we see a progressively smaller and smaller state, when there is no need of armies, and finally when we will see an and to war and to all internal violence.

See R.J Rummels web site Power Kills at http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/welcome.html

The Law of Accelerating Returns - http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1

The Doomsday Curve - http://www.doomsdaycurve.com/

The Fermi Paradox - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox

Robert Wrights article A Real War on Terrorism - http://www.slate.com/id/2070210/entry/2070211/

The Lifeboat Foundation - www.lifeboat.com

CIA World Fact Book - https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/

Freedom House - http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?p...5&year=2005

Edited by Matus1976
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What specifically did you think wasn't the right decision? The removal of Saddam, his government, and their weapons which they were shooting at us and threatening us and our allies with, or the actions after that where we stuck around and attempted "nation building?" Because if you mean the latter I don't think anyone here is arguing against you on that.

I will certainly argue that the 'nation building' or attempted as such was the right decision, though it has been executed without serious flaws in my opinion.

To start, no liberal democracy has ever been at war with another liberal democracy, and these totalitarian despots are the root of all the wars in the world. A world of liberal constitutional democracies and market economies is absolutely in our long term rational best interest. See R.J. Rummels "Power Kills" site.

Also, these nations, which control information and markets, are the primary breeding grounds for all major infectious diseases and famines as well, if a major viral infection rises and spreads to wipe out a significant portion of the worlds population, it will come from one of these nations and will be lied even beyond the point when it becomes absurd, and their incompetent and heavily controlled medical infrastructures will do nothing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, which through trans continental flights could easily spread across the global, causing not only a global economic collapse, but possibly the end of civilization and even human life (as a collapse of industrial civilization will seal our fate to later existential threats, asteroid impacts, caldera eruptions, etc) The Spanish flu of the early 1900's killed almost 50 million people, and they had no trans continental flights back then (nor antibiotics, but an antibiotic resistant strain is ever more plausible)

Most importantly, a successful market democracy in the middle east will undermine the whole political structure and historical narrative which has crippled all of that region. It will simultaneously prove the nature of the filth the middle eastern tyrants are spewing and, in the long term, undermine the growth of the most serious breed of murderous terrorism which these despotic tyrants promulgate through indoctrination and near totalitarian control. As technological growth accelerates, fewer and fewer individuals will be able to kill more and more people with ever less effort and resources. As such, we need to embark on the best long term rational plan to rid the world of this kind of murderous terrorism, and the single biggest source of it is the totalitarian middle east. Iraq, as a shining beacon of democracy and freedom in the middle of the Arab sea of tyranny and oppression will make tremendous strides in that direction, and the dictators of the middle east know this, which is why they do what they can to destabilize Iraq.

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So, when do we take out Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and all the brutal dictatorship-ran countries in Eastern Europe, Africa and South America?

How many American lives and dollars do you propose we sacrifice for each of these countries? Should it be an even number for each one, or should we take them by a case-by-case basis?

You must always deal the best blow you can against the worst enemy you face with your available resources.

The greatest enemy we face is Islamic terrorism right now (in a few decades, it will probably be nihilistic terrorists of the Ted Kaczynski type) Our over arching foreign policy stance should be to cultivate the growth of rule of law, constitutional liberal democracy, and market based economies in every nation in the world. The western world, which is the freest, richest, and most militarily powerful part would see little serious threat from these nations if military action was taken and targeted specifically against the upper echelons of their brutal governments. The longer we wait, the more damage these nations will be able to do. Imagine if all of Nato and the UN was involved in providing security in Iraq and not just the US and it's few allies. The situation would have been much different, but the EU is crippled by moral relativism.

We need an alliance of pro western liberal constitutional democracies, not the cess pool of tyrants that is the UN, and then a '12 step' program to push all the despotic 'nations' of the world toward these reforms. Such a program could include things like sanctions, tarrifs, strategic targeted military attacks, attaching internal NGO's to foreign aide, demanding full access to international monitoring groups with the threat of strategic military strikes, etc, each with a progressive level of force ultimately culminating in an outright invasion and war crime trials for the despots and their immediate ruling parties. If done properly, wars and deaths might be avoided, but the serious threat of force must always be present. Or perhaps we need only take out one of these ruling parties of these nations, the worst, say Burma or North Korea, to demonstrate the resolve. Others will follow suit. All ready the actions in Iraq have had serious repercussions in other middle eastern nations, a primary example being Libya abandoning it's nuclear program and revealing just what it's been doing with North Korea.

How long would you propose we bury our head in the sand? In a world of trans continental flights, nuclear bombs, and a coming world of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and synthetic life forms, I really don't think that's a good idea.

How much money do you propose we spend on a police force which stops murderers and rapists in your neighborhood? Clearly a reasonable amount of effort can be discerned to promulgate liberty and progress in your local region, and so a reasonable amount of effort could be decided to promulgate it throughout the world. Both are in your long term rational best interest.

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I will certainly argue that the 'nation building' or attempted as such was the right decision

Well, that was unexpected.

To start, no liberal democracy has ever been at war with another liberal democracy

I'm going to have to start off by saying that The United States of America is not a "democracy" and you do your cause a disservice by spreading the use of that obfuscation. We are a Constitutional Republic, sir, and don't forget it.

But on "nation-building." What do you mean by the term? I think the term is inseparable from the Wilsonian and now Neo-Conservative idea that we ought to altruistically "build" nations at our national expense.

these totalitarian despots are the root of all the wars in the world

No doubt, but there are plenty of African hell-holes which pose us no threat. The key is to identify the enemies of America and to eliminate them. What is most important is to understand that our enemies are ideological in nature and no fight is possible without first identifying this fact.

Suppose that we knocked down Iraq and left. Some might argue this would create a power vacuum which could be filled with a hostile regime. But why would a hostile regime fill this vacuum? Because an ideological enemy - Islamism - exists in practically all of Iraq's neighbors. The key is not to "nation build" Iraq over decades and decades of spilt blood and squandered treasure into something immune to this, but rather to swiftly and irrevocably eliminate Islamism from the governments of Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Then continue to knock down each next largest source of Islamism until it is dead as a movement. At that point it doesn't much matter what kind of nation Iraq becomes because:

1) Islamism will be dead - so it won't be another Islamist nation.

2) All non-Islamist thugs will have learned what happens to any government who so much as breathes a word in threat to America.

The only undermining of the history and political narrative of the region that we need engage in is one of force - of demonstrating our power to wipe out anyone so foolish as to threaten us. A rights-respecting civilization is not something that the majority there will understand for centuries at least. A lesson of force is something that they will understand immediately. Especially if we defeat the ideological movement which fuels them.

Edited by Inspector
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The alternative would have been, what, go in, destroy the Iraqi government, and leave? Once we set foot on the road, we were on the turnpike, there were no moral exits. We are the ones who upset the way of life for an entire country by taking out its Government. We are responsible by our own actions for the lives of those we interfered with.

In a previous post, you acknowledged that you no longer believe eradicating Saddam Hussein's Baathist dictatorship was an initiation of force. However here, you seem to insinuate that taking this action put the U.S. "on [a] turnpike [with] no moral exits." Thus, it seems as if you are claiming that it was immoral for the U.S. to destroy Saddam's regime. By what standard?

I can certainly see how destroying Saddam's regime was a poor strategic move, even if we assume that it was done properly. I cannot see the circumstances under which this strategy as a whole is immoral.

More generally, I find your reasoning a little alarming. Suppose that the police kill a murderous mafia don and his cronies in an armed confrontation. Does this mean that the taxpaying citizens are now responsible for supporting the wives and children of the gangsters who were killed? It seems that if we apply your reasoning above consistently, we are responsible "by our own actions for the lives of those we interfered with" and therefore, we are responsible to the mafia widows and their kids.

Anyway, rest assured that I am not opposed to the idea of post-war reconstruction at the end of an armed conflict so long as it is done properly. If the right ideas and political infrastructure are installed, then what was formerly a threatening nation could be converted into a benign trading partner and an ally of liberty. The post-WWII occupation of Japan I think is an excellent example of what can go right, if post-war occupation is done correctly. The current situation in Iraq is an example of what can go drastically wrong.

I will leave the discussion of financing such a post-war occupation aside, which in an ideal perfectly free society, would be funded through voluntary means.

Edited by DarkWaters
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Well, that was unexpected.

I'm going to have to start off by saying that The United States of America is not a "democracy" and you do your cause a disservice by spreading the use of that obfuscation. We are a Constitutional Republic, sir, and don't forget it.

Yes I am well aware of that, I do not feel like writing "constitutional liberal republic with representative electoral government and market based economy" every time. Liberal constitutional democracy is a common phrasing used to signify a representative government which also has rule of law and protections for rights of individuals against mob democracy. A "constitutional republic" also does not clarify the situation enough - it says nothing of the market, for starters, or whether the constitutional protections are islamic or enlightenment values of the west. You do your cause a disservice by not extending a modicum of intellectual honesty toward me or my points. If you insist on assuming I am an idiot and basing your points of discussion on that I see no point in discussions with you.

But on "nation-building." What do you mean by the term? I think the term is inseparable from the Wilsonian and now Neo-Conservative idea that we ought to altruistically "build" nations at our national expense.

I don't care to move into that topic yet. Before we discuss how best to promulgate liberty, you should first agree that should be our goal. Do you think the promulgation of constitutional liberal representative governments with market based economies (see, its really annoying to write that whole thing out every time) ought to be a primary driving force in our foreign policy or not? Do you agree that technological growth is rapidly accelerating and fewer individuals are able to kill more and more people with less and less resources with every passing year? Do you agree that despotic totalitarian socialist prison states make the world and us less safe by their mere existence or not?

No doubt, but there are plenty of African hell-holes which pose us no threat. The key is to identify the enemies of America and to eliminate them. What is most important is to understand that our enemies are ideological in nature and no fight is possible without first identifying this fact.

I do not disagree. The greatest idealogical and thus real threat we face right now is that of islamic fundamentalist fueled terrorism, 2nd to that, the threat of totalitarian dictatorships on global economic stability and infectious diseases. It so happens that islamic fundamentalist fueled terrorism is most commonly promulgated by totalitarian dictatorships, and most of them are centered in the middle east. How do you propose to wage idealogical war against prison states which kill you and your family for speaking your mind?

African hell holes pose little long term threat right now, but they probably will in the future. Most are directly propped up by the competing interests of other shitty dictatorships, many of which are islamic fundamentalist middle eastern nations.

We must always deal the best blow we can against the worst enemy we face with the resources and oppurtunities available.

Suppose that we knocked down Iraq and left. Some might argue this would create a power vacuum which could be filled with a hostile regime. But why would a hostile regime fill this vacuum? Because an ideological enemy - Islamism - exists in practically all of Iraq's neighbors. The key is not to "nation build" Iraq over decades and decades of spilt blood and squandered treasure into something immune to this, but rather to swiftly and irrevocably eliminate Islamism from the governments of Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Then continue to knock down each next largest source of Islamism until it is dead as a movement. At that point it doesn't much matter what kind of nation Iraq becomes because:

Well unfortunately I am not privy to this crystal ball that allows you to so accurately see into the future. Do you by chance have a track record of accurately predicting the outcome of complex geo-political events such as these and fuels your confidence in this assessment? Perhaps these new hostile regimes will be perpetually propped up, embroiling us in a 'range of the moment' never ending battle against the same enemy over and over again for decades to come. Perhaps expending a bit of effort in 'nation building' will undermine the entrenchment of the next 'hostile' regime, which we would otherwise be fighting, over and over again. So instead of 'nation building' in order to prevent hostile regimes from coming to power (and creating a free republic with it's requisite market and products that would directly benefit our lives) you would prefer fighting, over and over again, which new hostile regime fills the power vacuum?

The only undermining of the history and political narrative of the region that we need engage in is one of force - of demonstrating our power to wipe out anyone so foolish as to threaten us.

I agree there, but we might disagree on the extent of force used (I adovcate strategic attacks against government officials and things critical to the functioning of the police state) What do you suggest?

A rights-respecting civilization is not something that the majority there will understand for centuries at least.

How do you know this, that crystal ball again? South Koreans had no history of freedom and an oppresive cultural tradition and evolved into a liberal market democracy in a few decades with absolutely no international assistance or direction in that manner, and is now one of the richest nations on the planet, and certainly a very free one.

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You do your cause a disservice by not extending a modicum of intellectual honesty toward me or my points. If you insist on assuming I am an idiot and basing your points of discussion on that I see no point in discussions with you.

Now first off where did you get the idea that I hadn't? I didn't accuse you of not knowing the difference - I said you were spreading the popular usage of an obfuscatory term. An anti-concept, if you will. This isn't calling you an idiot. I recognized that you are trying to act in the furtherance of a good cause, I simply said that you do that cause a disservice by using that word in that way.

Yes I am well aware of that, I do not feel like writing "constitutional liberal republic with representative electoral government and market based economy" every time. Liberal constitutional democracy is a common phrasing used to signify a representative government which also has rule of law and protections for rights of individuals against mob democracy.

Yes, it is common today - but why is that? 80 years ago the difference was commonly known and clear (see the 1928 US Army training manual) - certainly to the founding fathers it was clear, as they openly and frequently denounced "democracy." The very fact that you have to specify that by "republic" you mean "rights-protecting republic" is another product of the leftist-"progressive" use of the hijacking of words. When you yourself use and spread a leftist anti-concept in the "conventional" sense you are acting to destroy not only the English language but also to legitimize their cause and its goals.

If you don't believe me, then look at President Bush's actions vis-a-vis "Democracy." In "Palestine," he has established precisely that: a democracy in the original and correct sense which has elected Hizbullah to power.

As to the difficulty in phrasing, I would argue it would be worth any such difficulty to avoid serving this vicious leftist anti-concept, but I don't think it's necessary to engage in lingual spaghetti. Here are a few examples of articles which speak on the topic concisely. They would be good examples to emulate. (note especially the identification that "'Democracy' is the most dangerous term in the American political lexicon.")

Do you think the promulgation of constitutional liberal representative governments with market based economies (see, its really annoying to write that whole thing out every time) ought to be a primary driving force in our foreign policy or not?

No, as I made quite clear I think the primary driving force in our foreign policy ought to be the destruction of our enemies (with the recognition that our enemies are ideological in nature).

Do you agree that technological growth is rapidly accelerating and fewer individuals are able to kill more and more people with less and less resources with every passing year?

Yes, actually.

Do you agree that despotic totalitarian socialist prison states make the world and us less safe by their mere existence or not?

In a very general sense, yes. But this isn't to say that the rest of your argument follows. The contrap

I do not disagree. The greatest idealogical and thus real threat we face right now is that of islamic fundamentalist fueled terrorism, 2nd to that, the threat of totalitarian dictatorships on global economic stability and infectious diseases.

In a very concrete sense, I suppose that Islamism is the most immediate threat we face. But I'd say that in a very real sense, the greatest threat we face is China and the resurgence of a belligerent and totalitarian Russia - both of whom watch with delight as we deconstruct our military to fight small-scale police actions and downsize the supposedly obsolete capability of warfighting. Of course the latter is fueled by our so-far helplessness in the face of the former, so we do agree at least that elimination of the former is our most immediate concern.

It so happens that islamic fundamentalist fueled terrorism is most commonly promulgated by totalitarian dictatorships, and most of them are centered in the middle east.

It more than so happens - Islamism as a movement could not exist without state support.

How do you propose to wage idealogical war against prison states which kill you and your family for speaking your mind?

By eliminating state entities which support Islamism.

African hell holes pose little long term threat right now, but they probably will in the future. Most are directly propped up by the competing interests of other shitty dictatorships, many of which are islamic fundamentalist middle eastern nations.

Which again brings us to the fact of the ideological movement of Islamism as our central enemy.

Well unfortunately I am not privy to this crystal ball that allows you to so accurately see into the future. Do you by chance have a track record of accurately predicting the outcome of complex geo-political events such as these and fuels your confidence in this assessment?

Yes, historically ideas are the primary movers, and ideologies have spread most effectively with state support. The contrapositive is also true historically, with the elimination of state support being key to their removal.

Perhaps these new hostile regimes will be perpetually propped up, embroiling us in a 'range of the moment' never ending battle against the same enemy over and over again for decades to come. Perhaps expending a bit of effort in 'nation building' will undermine the entrenchment of the next 'hostile' regime, which we would otherwise be fighting, over and over again.

I'm not completely against "sticking around" as it were, if the goal is the eradication of state support for the ideology of Islamism, rather than nation building as such. Military presence or absence isn't the essential point of my argument - it's the goal of that presence. The thing is, in Iraq there wasn't a state Islam entity - and one only formed because of

1) Our own failure to outlaw its creation by force

2) The fact of Iraq's neighbors, which are State Islamists, who we won't fight

In a vacuum, the threat of a dictatorship such as Iraq's would not require us to nation build them in order to remove the threat to us - it is only because of the existence of our ideological enemy in the region that the situation was not as simple as knocking down Saddam and leaving. Where I take exception to your position is that you seem to see a need to remain there, not as a reaction to the nature of the regional and ideological war which we fight, but as such - it seems you say it wouldn't ever be a proper policy to knock out the dictatorship without nation building afterwards.

I agree there, but we might disagree on the extent of force used (I adovcate strategic attacks against government officials and things critical to the functioning of the police state) What do you suggest?

I'm skeptical of the idea that an ideological movement can be defeated while sparing its adherents of the consequences of war. Key to the transformation of Japan was the fact that we visited defeat on them. Had we surgically removed the Imperial Government as you propose, I do not believe we would have been as successful. See John Lewis's explanation of the requirement of prostrate surrender in The Moral Goodness of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima.

Interestingly, Iraq enjoyed no such popular support of their government, and so a surgical removal would have served just fine, had the matter been as simple as a secular dictatorship.

I suppose my short answer would be that it depends on the regime.

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Interesting stuff, guys.

Matus, could you confirm this, please?

(bold mine)

I will certainly argue that the 'nation building' or attempted as such was the right decision, though it has been executed without serious flaws in my opinion.

Anyway, perhaps this thread should be split again, as it has trailed off topic.

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