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Captain Richard Phillips Rescued!

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Trebor
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Why (isn't economic power a legitimate branch of the government's monopoly on the use of force)

?

Because the government could then legitimately tell me who I can and cannot trade with.

Neither. The government should protect the rights of Americans and those within its jurisdiction.

But what does that mean? Are Americans traveling in Europe protected by the Constitution? If they are accused of crimes, will they be afforded Constitutional due process? Should they? As an American citizen, should I be able to call upon the US military to protect me wherever I go?

That's the position of anarchists, only applied to foreign trade, instead of all trade. It would fail and be anti-Objectivist for the same reasons anarchy within our borders would.

Anarchy already exists in these areas - there is no government in fact. Furthermore, in areas where there are governments incapable or unwilling to enforce law, there is no practical government and anarchy reigns. My point is that if no government exists to govern these areas, and there isn't, then any force used in defense of some other can't be construed as self-defense - it can only be construed as the force of a hired gun.

A has no rights. (because he already engaged in the violation of someone's rights) An initiation of force is only possible against someone who hasn't already used violence. Initiating force against a criminal is a contradiction in terms.

Okay, then I have a moral right to kill someone using force against anyone else?

Do you have a moral case against self-defense (which is what the US gov. is doing, defending its citizens) or even vigilante-ism, if that's what you wish to call it, in a lawless, ungoverned area?

Absolutely not. If I understand it correctly, the purpose of having the government handle someone's defense is so that government maintains its monopoly on retaliatory force. This is proper where a government exists, but what about where governments don't exist? Who has a monopoly on the use of force?

You haven't explained how it is immoral to defend American citizens and their rights. (whoever is doing the defending actually, let alone their own government)

I'm trying to establish the boundaries of that protection and explore the problems those boundaries present. Is the government's obligation to protect American citizens and their rights boundless?

I didn't claim it was immoral for the government to act so; quite the opposite.

Sorry, I misunderstood you. I read your quote to mean, "Since the government does other immoral things, this one little immoral action is no big deal."

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Fixing those problems could take decades, and the U.S. already tried intervening — 17 years ago in a failed humanitarian mission that ended with helicopters shot down and dead US soldiers dragged through Mogadishu's sand-swept streets.

Expect to see the left play up the "disaster" our last involvement in Somalia was. Rangers that know their history will point out that the Battle of Mogadishu was a US victory, and the most one-sided fire fight in history. 19 US Soldiers killed compared to thousands of armed somalis killed. Even with a land option as opposed to the better idea of carpet bombing the shore, we could clear out all the ports in a week.

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Because the government could then legitimately tell me who I can and cannot trade with.

How so? We have embargoes now, and they're not stopping you from trading with anyone else, are they?

(btw., I support embargoes only in cases when they don't constitute initiation of force: for instance, by trading with NK, a person is automatically not only participating in the enslavement of the North Korean people, but they are also automatically supplying the enemy; those are both outside someone's rights, and warrant a government response. An embargo is simply a preventive measure against any such automatically criminal activity)

But what does that mean? Are Americans traveling in Europe protected by the Constitution? If they are accused of crimes, will they be afforded Constitutional due process? Should they?

Constitutional due process isn't an objective right.

(It also wouldn't be practical for the US to try and meddle with European justice-it is unclear that the US could do a much better job anyway, plus the consequences of alienating Europe's governments would be devastating far beyond the minor abuses an American may be subjected to now)

As an American citizen, should I be able to call upon the US military to protect me wherever I go?

No. I like the military command structure just the way it is. But it should protect you whenever possible, and advise you against traveling to places it won't venture into just to save you.

International waters should definitely stay fully accessible and safe to Americans and our military. Ensuring that they do is absolutely in our best interest, just as ensuring that the Saudi and Iraqi oil fields stay open for business is.

Anarchy already exists in these areas - there is no government in fact. Furthermore, in areas where there are governments incapable or unwilling to enforce law, there is no practical government and anarchy reigns. My point is that if no government exists to govern these areas, and there isn't, then any force used in defense of some other can't be construed as self-defense - it can only be construed as the force of a hired gun.

You're wilfully ignoring the relationship between the US government and its citizens, to make a point.

But even if there was no relationship, good and evil would still exist even in an anarchy, and the act you're describing (person A jumping in to defend person B ), is easily defendable as perfectly moral.

Okay, then I have a moral right to kill someone using force against anyone else?

Outside the jurisdiction of an objective government, where no other justice is possible, absolutely.

Absolutely not. If I understand it correctly, the purpose of having the government handle someone's defense is so that government maintains its monopoly on retaliatory force. This is proper where a government exists, but what about where governments don't exist? Who has a monopoly on the use of force?

No one. The only entity with a monopoly on retributive force is a legitimate government. In an anarchy, justice isn't objective, and an individual has no obligation or interest to provide objective justice to anyone else (unless it is indirectly, through forming a brand new, legitimate government).

In an anarchy, the moral thing to do is to defend yourself and to prevent threats against yourself and your "gang", by whatever means are most practical.

I'm trying to establish the boundaries of that protection and explore the problems those boundaries present. Is the government's obligation to protect American citizens and their rights boundless?

No, that obligation is bound by reality, available resources, benefits vs. costs, international relations, etc.

It is not bound though by any moral or political obligation the US gov. may have to the human race, or the rights of nations, as a collective. It has no such obligations.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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I'm not sure I buy that. If there's anyone who knows the importance of proper terms, and is careful about using them, it's Ms. Rand.

She was only "using improper terms" if you take her statement out of context. The only alternative to what I said is that she purposefully used the word "we" in order to mean that she herself was partially taking credit for the achievments of the oil companies, and that it was she herself who had been robbed. Given what I know about Ayn Rand's philosophy, I do not believe that this is what she meant. Being precise in writing is very different from being precise in a spoken conversation.

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How so? We have embargoes now, and they're not stopping you from trading with anyone else, are they?

Yes, they're stopping me from trading with North Korea and Cuba, among others. The government has put a gun to my head and said, "Don't trade with Cuba, or else."

(btw., I support embargoes only in cases when they don't constitute initiation of force: for instance, by trading with NK, a person is automatically not only participating in the enslavement of the North Korean people, but they are also automatically supplying the enemy; those are both outside someone's rights, and warrant a government response. An embargo is simply a preventive measure against any such automatically criminal activity)

Were I to sell, for example, corn to North Korea, how would I be initiating force against anyone? The US government itself initiates force against its citizens - should we also not trade with anyone in the US, or with the US government?

Constitutional due process isn't an objective right.

(It also wouldn't be practical for the US to try and meddle with European justice-it is unclear that the US could do a much better job anyway, plus the consequences of alienating Europe's governments would be devastating far beyond the minor abuses an American may be subjected to now)

No. I like the military command structure just the way it is. But it should protect you whenever possible, and advise you against traveling to places it won't venture into just to save you.

International waters should definitely stay fully accessible and safe to Americans and our military. Ensuring that they do is absolutely in our best interest, just as ensuring that the Saudi and Iraqi oil fields stay open for business is.

I'm not sure what you're arguing here. It seems you're arguing a government should only protect its citizens rights when "practical," or when it's convenient or in the best interests of the government.

You're wilfully ignoring the relationship between the US government and its citizens, to make a point.

But even if there was no relationship, good and evil would still exist even in an anarchy, and the act you're describing (person A jumping in to defend person B ), is easily defendable as perfectly moral.

What relationship am I ignoring? I'm certainly not ignoring the fact that the US government must protect the rights of its citizens. This entire conversation has been an attempt at defining the limits of that relationship. I'm still not sure if it's limited, or unlimited.

Outside the jurisdiction of an objective government, where no other justice is possible, absolutely.

No one. The only entity with a monopoly on retributive force is a legitimate government. In an anarchy, justice isn't objective, and an individual has no obligation or interest to provide objective justice to anyone else (unless it is indirectly, through forming a brand new, legitimate government).

In an anarchy, the moral thing to do is to defend yourself and to prevent threats against yourself and your "gang", by whatever means are most practical.

Are there any objective governments?

Regardless, so, if there is no objective government then everyone has the same moral right to use force against anyone who has initiated force against some third party?

No, that obligation is bound by reality, available resources, benefits vs. costs, international relations, etc.

It is not bound though by any moral or political obligation the US gov. may have to the human race, or the rights of nations, as a collective. It has no such obligations.

So, if some government functionary evaluates protecting your right to life would cost more than all benefits, the government can, and should, choose not to protect your right to life?

She was only "using improper terms" if you take her statement out of context. The only alternative to what I said is that she purposefully used the word "we" in order to mean that she herself was partially taking credit for the achievments of the oil companies, and that it was she herself who had been robbed. Given what I know about Ayn Rand's philosophy, I do not believe that this is what she meant. Being precise in writing is very different from being precise in a spoken conversation.

What would have been so difficult in saying, "It's not their oil. It belongs to the companies which developed the land. The Saudis stole that property from its rightful owners - the companies which brought that technology and capital to Saudi Arabia."

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Somali pirates have declared war on the united States, vowing to intercept America ships and slaughter their crews. If this isn't taken seriously, then it will continue to escalate.

"We will seek out the Americans and if we capture them we will slaughter them," said a 25-year-old pirate based in the Somali port of Harardhere who gave only his first name, Ismail.

"We will target their ships because we know their flags. Last night, an American-flagged ship escaped us by a whisker. We have showered them with rocket-propelled grenades," boasted Ismail, who did not take part in the attack.

Next thing you know, we will be appeasing them by offering them riches -- it's the modern way.

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Yes, they're stopping me from trading with North Korea and Cuba, among others. The government has put a gun to my head and said, "Don't trade with Cuba, or else."

I support the negotiated lifting of the Cuban embargo, so let's set that aside for another day.

You sound like your rights are being violated. Why do you have the right to trade with North Korea?

The US government itself initiates force against its citizens - should we also not trade with anyone in the US, or with the US government?

I'm hoping you understand the difference between the US and NK. I think you do, but in the off chance that you don't, I learned not to attempt to explain it. It would be pointless to emphasize the differences, beyond the clarity of the obvious facts.

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I support the negotiated lifting of the Cuban embargo, so let's set that aside for another day.

You sound like your rights are being violated. Why do you have the right to trade with North Korea?

Why do I not? Do I not have the right to trade with whomever I wish?

I'm hoping you understand the difference between the US and NK. I think you do, but in the off chance that you don't, I learned not to attempt to explain it. It would be pointless to emphasize the differences, beyond the clarity of the obvious facts.

There are many differences between the US and NK, but the only one you mentioned was that the government of NK initiates force against its citizens. I take it that's not the only criteria for initiating force against citizens so they don't trade with any nation the government doesn't like? What other criteria are there?

Jake, should the government have the moral right to use force in order to prevent me from trading with anyone if I've not initiated force in any way?

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Why do I not? Do I not have the right to trade with whomever I wish?

No.

Jake, should the government have the moral right to use force in order to prevent me from trading with anyone if I've not initiated force in any way?

Yes, because attempting to trade with some people is in itself an initiation of force, against the government. (when there's a legitimate law barring those people from trading with anyone) And that should be the end of my answer, since your rule about "a right to trade with everyone on the planet" is a floating abstraction. I asked why, and you give no answer.

The purpose of an embargo isn't to prevent you from trading with someone. It is meant to prevent the target of the embargo (NK) from trading with anyone, or to at least limit their trade. The US government has the right to destroy NK, or isolate it, the best it can.

Your rights are not affected any more than they would be when the government sends a criminal to prison. Does your rule stand up to the scrutiny of the concrete question: Do you have the right to trade with someone who's in prison? Does the gov. have the right to stop you from trading with someone who's in prison?

You're initiating force when you attempt to trade with someone in prison, or with someone who's under an embargo. The government has the right to use force to stop you in both cases( and in many other cases).

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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You're initiating force when you attempt to trade with someone in prison, or with someone who's under an embargo. The government has the right to use force to stop you in both cases( and in many other cases).

Okay, I get it now. You've convinced me on embargoes.

I'd like to return to my original question: What objective principle extends American government protection throughout the globe?

You answered, "Individual rights."

If I understand what you've written, you're not only arguing the US government has a responsibility to protect the individual rights of American citizens, but also that any free nation has a moral right to retaliate against those who have initiated force. Do I have that correct?

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If I understand what you've written, you're not only arguing the US government has a responsibility to protect the individual rights of American citizens, but also that any free nation has a moral right to retaliate against those who have initiated force. Do I have that correct?

I'd phrase it this way: In the absence of objective justice, the next best thing is the right thing to do.

So not just a nation, but any person has the right to deter or avenge a crime, as long as there's no government providing objective justice to punish that crime.

I don't mean that free nations have an obligation to punish all crime that goes unpunished in the world, just that they have a right to. An ethical system which forbade such a right would be protecting (and sanctioning) crimes.

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I'd phrase it this way: In the absence of objective justice, the next best thing is the right thing to do.

So not just a nation, but any person has the right to deter or avenge a crime, as long as there's no government providing objective justice to punish that crime.

Okay, that was going to be my next question: Couldn't anyone claim the right to deter or avenge a crime? Since that appears to be the case, anyone could have claimed the right to come to the aid of the Maersk - even a private navy? I think you would disagree with this since you qualified your statement with "as long as there's no government providing objective justice to punish that crime." So, I think our disagreement would be with that qualification; what constitutes a "government providing objective justice?"

The current situation is an appropriate case in point. Here are the facts as I understand them:

1) A ship flying an American flag, and registered in the US, was sailing in international waters.

2) The ship was hijacked - in other words, hijackers initiated force against US citizens.

Since there is no such thing as an "international government," there is no government "providing objective justice to punish that crime (hijacking)." Yes, there are a multitude of governments which could provide objective justice, but what determines which one gets to? And since objective justice isn't something confined to governments - since anyone could provide objective justice - why must governments be the ones to act? Wouldn't anyone capable of providing objective justice have the right to provide it?

Now, I understand why governments are necessary:

If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules.

This is the task of a government—of a proper government—its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government.

A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws.

Men institute governments so one objective code of rules protects their rights. However,

A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area.
(Both quotes are here.)

When an American travels, there may be another institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce its rules of social conduct. It won't be a proper government, but it will be a government with the exclusive right to use retaliatory physical force. How could the US government claim a right to use retaliatory physical force when some other government has a monopoly on force for that geographical region? What principle gives the US the moral right to protect its citizens' individual rights when they are out of its geographical area? How could the US have protected US oil corporations' property from Saudi Arabia?

That is not the case we have with the Maersk. With the Maersk we have Americans traveling to a place where no government exists - no government "holds exclusive power to enforce certain rules." No men have instituted any government, in the geographical area in question, so that one objective code of rules protects their rights. We can agree the US government has the right to use force since there is no government, but is it obligated to do so?

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Here's an interesting article on the pirates and the fact that nobody really knows what to do about them since most attacks are occurring in international waters. Even if they are captured in the act, in many cases there is no law covering their actions for many countries, so they can be let go, which seems strange to say the least. I would say that each trade ship going through that region would have the absolute right to self-defense and could arm themselves against piracy on the high seas. The international problem as explained to me is that most countries do not want armed ships coming into their ports. In this case, then, it seems that unarmed ships are sitting ducks to the pirates, and have to use evasive maneuvers to escape them, if they have that capability. This only goes to show that if the right to self-defense is not upheld, then those initiating force have the upper hand.

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News:

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — NATO forces rescued 20 fishermen from pirates who launched the latest attack in the Gulf of Aden on Saturday, but let the Somali hijackers go because they had no authority to arrest them.

... ...

Seven Somali pirates were briefly detained, but they were soon released because "NATO does not have any detainment policy," Fernandes said. Another reason the pirates could not be arrested: they were seized by Dutch nationals and the pirates, the victims and the ship were not Dutch, he said.

... ...

Pirates plucked from the sea by foreign militaries are being tried abroad. French soldiers take pirates who have attacked French citizens to Paris; pirates who have attacked other nations are hauled to Kenya, such as the 11 seized Wednesday when the French navy found them stalking a Lebanese-owned ship. India took 24 suspects to Yemen, since half were from there. The Dutch took five suspects to Rotterdam, where they probably will be tried next month under a 17th-century law against "sea robbery."

Edited by softwareNerd
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Evidently, some of the ships operating along the coast of Somalia are arming themselves in case of pirate attack, using private security forces and in this case Israelis!

"Cmdr. Ciro Pinto told Italian state radio that six men in a small white speed boat approached the Msc Melody and opened fire Saturday night, but retreated after the Israeli security officers aboard the cruise ship returned fire."

I also received an email from someone detailing the American Navy rescue efforts of Captain Phillips. In that email it was claimed that the Navy was told by Obama to not open fire until the FBI arrived to negotiate. However, there is a standing order on the high seas to shoot to kill in instances where a Navy captain thinks lives are in danger, and when the pirates held a gun to the head of Captain Phillips, the US Navy opened fire.

So, evidently, some people -- real men -- know how to deal with these pirates; and it is only our politically correct "public servants" who want to play patty-cake with these evil men.

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I also received an email from someone detailing the American Navy rescue efforts of Captain Phillips. In that email it was claimed that the Navy was told by Obama to not open fire until the FBI arrived to negotiate. However, there is a standing order on the high seas to shoot to kill in instances where a Navy captain thinks lives are in danger, and when the pirates held a gun to the head of Captain Phillips, the US Navy opened fire.

Don't be so quick to believe that, a lot of that sort of news gets started in the same rumor mills that try to peddle the idea that Obama's birth certificate is actually from Kenya.

Little Green Footballs on this, (not exactly a liberal site...)

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