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A challenge to Yaron Brook

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Here is Jack Wakeland's view of Brook's argument. Its interesting, allthough I think he has exagerated Brook's views. Also, he did not mention Brook by name but I think its clear who he was talking about.

http://tiadaily.infopop.cc/eve/ubb.x?a=tpc...9192#7020009192

You may need to register. But I'll exerpt the relative parts:

"I’ve grown tired of hearing arguments from good Objectivists (and even a few great ones) that the Muslims have given us sufficient provocation to morally justify a campaign of total war that would break the will of the entire Arab race for a generation...

Even if it is a war without rules, we are in a limited war with a Muslim minority spread throughout the world, mixed in with a majority that bears no material culpability for what the minority has done...

The majority are either oppressed by a local dictator or are terrorized into silence by the minority of militants among them, or both. For a generation or more they, like we, ignored the seriousness of the threat to life posed by the militants. The majority haven't been our enemies. They are, in fact, our strongest potential allies in this war. The moment we are able to suppress or kill the miniscule armed militant minority that lives in their midst, the majority will switch sides and police up the survivors, ending the conflict...

Force is righteous only when it is retaliatory. It is retaliatory only when it is aimed against those who have initiated it and only when it is proportional to (or focused on) the rational purposes of self-defense. The fact that innocents may be cut down in the crossfire does not justify targeting them.* Only if no militarily practical alternative exists, it is moral to do so..."

The last paragraph quoted is in direct contrast to Brook's views. Brook adamantly disagrees with the proportionality of Just War theory. He also does not agree with Wakeland's views of "innocents."

I have no peace of mind with this issue. When I heard Brook's speech, I loved the non-comprimising aspect of it. And now Wakeland has forced me to question it. Emotionally, I like the argument for total war, but emotions are not tools of cognition. Perhaps Wakeland has a point. And maybe only a military specialist can truly know the extent of force needed. Maybe a philosophically enlightened civilian can only know broad points of policy and not such details. Once again I have confusion on this issue.

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Jack Wakeland seems to have a difference in ethics from Yaron Brook. This is apart from strategy, but purely moral, when he states:

Three hundred thousand Islamists (or three million) out of 1.2 billion helping to kill three thousand Americans does NOT justify the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children across the Muslim world.
and

he fact that innocents may be cut down in the crossfire does not justify targeting them.* Only if no militarily practical alternative exists, it is moral to do so.

So what is his moral argument? He claims that these actions are morally unjustified, but I only see him deny the total war theory on practical grounds rather than ethical (afterward).

Otherwise, this is purely an technical argument on deciding what is most practical. He claims that the Muslims in the Middle East that hate America are our "potential allies", thus it would be wrong to hurt them.

Even if it is a war without rules, we are in a limited war with a Muslim minority spread throughout the world, mixed in with a majority that bears no material culpability for what the minority has done.

This is the fundamental difference between Yaron Brook's position and his. What the Morality of War lecture talked about was that a government is absolutely one's representitive whether you like it or not. You will suffer from the actions of your government if you do not bring it down.

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For me this issue doesn't seem all that hard: Ayn Rand and the Founding Fathers favored "isolationism" while Leonard Peikoff and Yaron Brook favor "nuke 'em til they glow!" Neither view is correct. We need to seperate the good from the evil, and the relatively innocent from the pretty darn guilty. When it comes to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, etc. let's surgically target the leadership, major supports, and basic infrastructure of their dictatorial government, military, party, and religion and then BOMB THE SHIT out of them! :) But it's vitally important for us to minimize civilian casualities and collateral damage here. That way we can convert light, implicit, tacit enemies into real and solid friends and allies. Those "innocent civilians" Peikoff and Brook denigrate and play "blame the victim'" upon really are at least somewhat innocent. Certainly their kids are. :huh:

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I generally agree with Wakeland. I have tried to make similar arguments in other threads here, to little avail.

This is the fundamental difference between Yaron Brook's position and his. What the Morality of War lecture talked about was that a government is absolutely one's representitive whether you like it or not. You will suffer from the actions of your government if you do not bring it down.

How can a government be your representative if you did not freely choose it and do not have the power to oppose it? I have no problem with collateral civilian casualties that occur as a result of our attacking an enemy's government and military. But I don't agree that everyone in an entire country is equally the enemy just because their government attacked us. Dictatorial governments are more like criminal gangs than legitimate governments, and should be treated accordingly. They represent only themselves; the people they control are not responsible for their actions.

(I am probably not going to say much more on this issue, as I have little time for fruitless arguments.)

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When I heard Brook's speech, I loved the non-comprimising aspect of it. And now Wakeland has forced me to question it. Emotionally, I like the argument for total war, but emotions are not tools of cognition.

There is nothing wrong with the non-compromising aspect of Dr. Brook's speech; you needn't worry about your positive emotions regarding it because they are grounded in rational premises. What Mr. Wakeland disputes is NOT the non-compromising aspect but the identity of the enemy. Dr. Brook thinks that everyone who belongs to an Islamic culture is an enemy, while in Mr. Wakeland's view the enemies are a small subset of that. This difference of opinion about who is the enemy is what leads to the difference of opinion about how to conduct the war.

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Here is my response to Jack at the TIA forum:

If in some dark future America was to find itself in a war of SURVIVAL with Islam – a nuclear war – then all the methods of total war would be permissible: raising entire cities to the ground with hydrogen bombs, interning all Muslims in America,
But – and this is an IMPORTANT measure of degree – we haven’t come anywhere near reaching the point of total war in our conflict with Islam.

Jack, there can be no doubt that if the Islamic terrorists get their hands on a nuclear weapon, they will do everything in their power to detonate it in the middle of Manhattan. If that fact does not mean that we are in a war for survival against Islam, then what does? Must we wait for the mushroom cloud and 5 million vaporized Americans before we know for sure?

The official slogan of the Iranian government is "Death to America". They are building nuclear weapons and delivery systems. How do you propose to stop them?

Iran is four times the size of Iraq, with three times the population and literally hundreds if not thousands of sites where nuclear development may be taking place. In all probability the nuclear development sites are adjacent (or under) dense civilian populations. Why should a single U.S. soldier surrender his life for the sake of saving those Iranian civilians, when we have the option of annihilating the entire area with nuclear weapons instead?

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But I don't agree that everyone in an entire country is equally the enemy just because their government attacked us.

Godless, I think you're arguing against a strawman here.

Brook states in his speech that there are people living under enemy governments who are innocent. They are people who actively resist the government, are attempting to leave that country, or people who would like to resist the government but cannot (I'm thinking very old people here); of course, children are on the list as well.

Yaron Brook explicitly stated in his speech that the U.S. government benefits in no way by targeting such people. However, since these people usually live in the midst of those who explicitly or implicitly support the enemy, they will end up feeling the force of the U.S. military. If they are rational people, they will understand the position that the U.S. is in, and curse the enemy government who caused such force to be necessary.

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The consensus opinion in America today -- by that of the right and the left -- is that which is articulated by high-quality thinker/writer Mid-East expert Daniel Pipes: islam is not a problem but radical islam is. I beg to differ. Still, I don't favor the Peikoff/Brook doctrine of leveling whole cities and nations if there's even a half-way decent alternative here. Admittedly, my view is rather contradictory...

Of one thing I feel sure: George Bush and Tony Blair are lying and badly hurting us when they say islam is a "religion of peace" and a normal type religion, philosophy, and way of life. Islam was created in the Dark Ages and never had a Reformation. Thus it's two giant levels of evil worse than our christian and jewish based Western culture. And because almost all moslems live in dicatorships, these folks are a whopping three orders of magnitude lower in civilization. That's a lot! In many ways, they're wild animals worthy of extinction. They're simply too dangerous to try to deal with rationally. So our conduct in future towards these "innocent civilians" can rightly be rather rough. This is the moral and practical foreign policy.

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The way we attack a country is contextual and it depends on the kind of people that the country has. We would not attack iran the same way we would attack N. Korea, why?

Becuase there is a huge pro-american anti-islamic thocracy movement in iran and we would not benefit in annihilating massive ammounts of people that are for US.

If we attacked N . Korea how would we fight them off? How would we treat the people? Very differently since in N. Korea the people have been Brainwashed to believe that america is the worst evil on earth, do you think there would ever be a chance of winning "the hearts and minds" of these people or getting thier support even though they are "innocent", would these innocents fight us? I say yes, so annihilating them would be the moral and practical thing to do if we went to war, they may be "innocent" now, but they wont be for long. Same thing goes for other countries in the middle east.

John Boyd described strategy as connecting yourself to as many centers of power as possible, while isolating one's enemy from as many centers of power as possible.

The population in iran IS a center of power we SHOULD connect ourselves too, we should treat them well. And if we have to go to war with any other country we should look for any groups of people that also support us in the same way.

The solution for this is to get as much human intelligence as possible to know WHAT to attack and HOW to attack it.

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I generally agree with Wakeland. I have tried to make similar arguments in other threads here, to little avail.

How can a government be your representative if you did not freely choose it and do not have the power to oppose it? I have no problem with collateral civilian casualties that occur as a result of our attacking an enemy's government and military. But I don't agree that everyone in an entire country is equally the enemy just because their government attacked us. Dictatorial governments are more like criminal gangs than legitimate governments, and should be treated accordingly. They represent only themselves; the people they control are not responsible for their actions.

(I am probably not going to say much more on this issue, as I have little time for fruitless arguments.)

The only reason they have power is because the citizens give it to them. They would be nothing without the citizens.

Why would you think it's okay to kill civilians when attacking military targets, but think it's not okay to kill civilians to completely break the will of the enemy and bring a quick victory and a fall of the enemy government? Both methods are means to destroy the regime. It almost seems like your view is unprincipled--on one hand killing civilians is alright, and the other it is not.

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The way we attack a country is contextual and it depends on the kind of people that the country has. We would not attack iran the same way we would attack N. Korea, why?

Becuase there is a huge pro-american anti-islamic thocracy movement in iran and we would not benefit in annihilating massive ammounts of people that are for US.

If we attacked N . Korea how would we fight them off? How would we treat the people?  Very differently since in N. Korea the people have been Brainwashed to believe that america is the worst evil on earth, do you think there would ever be a chance of winning "the hearts and minds" of these people or getting thier support even though they are "innocent", would these innocents fight us?  I say yes, so annihilating them would be the moral and practical thing to do if we went to war, they may be "innocent" now, but they wont be for long. Same thing goes for other countries in the middle east.

John Boyd described strategy as connecting yourself to as  many centers of power as possible, while isolating one's enemy from as many centers of power as possible.

The population in iran IS a center of power we SHOULD connect ourselves too, we should treat them well. And if we have to go to war with any other country we should look for any groups of people that also support us in the same way.

The solution for this is to get as much human intelligence as possible to know WHAT to attack and HOW to attack it.

The point of war is not to win the hearts and minds of the citizens; it is to eliminate the threat that the country poses. We should not re build or reform. We should take them out with as few causualties as possible on our side, then leave.

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How can a government be your representative if you did not freely choose it and do not have the power to oppose it?

Making believe that Ayn Rand did not answer that question, and making believe that that answer has not already been given to you, will not change the facts.

(I am probably not going to say much more on this issue, as I have little time for fruitless arguments.)

Regarding your fruitless arguments, very true.

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Since I missed the streaming audio download, I guess I'll need to spring for Brook's audio tape at some point. I really think this is the most important political issue our country is facing at this time. Here's my two cents based only on what I have heard:

1) NEGOTIATION - By negotiating with our avowed enemies (I am assuming here that "they" are, in fact, enemies) in an effort to gain a peaceful resolution, we may risk suffering the practical consequences of a moral failure. Meaning: it is wrong and therefore will not work. Fallujah was a microcosm of this: while we were negotiating with the locals, people were being kidnapped, tortured, and beheaded in hidden rooms in that very city. It makes me sick to think we waited too long for those people. We need to be sure we are not being played, and are not simply abetting an intractable enemy.

2) PEACEFUL REVOLUTION - Yes, there are good people mixed in with the bad, and subjugated by the bad, such as in Iran. We can hope for grass-roots change in that country (I certainly never thought I'd live to see the Berlin wall come down the way it did), but again, we have to be careful not to wait until it's too late. That's the tough question: when is "too late"?

3) INNOCENTS - One of Brook's premises seems to simply be that when you wage war, you should wage war. You don't deliberately target innocent people, but you cannot let your fear of hurting innocents keep you from doing what must be done. It's not so much that they do not matter, it's that they have become unwilling instruments of the authoritarian power, and sometimes, there is simply no way they can be saved. Again, you have to decide when you have reached that point.

Also, while not everyone here agrees even on basic principles, some of the discussion lacks the context to allow a proper assessment of the arguments, and really should be about that context. For example saying "Bomb all Muslims" and "Don't kill any innocents" might not be contradictory, provided the context is different. In the former case, assume that all Muslims live under dictatorships that must be destroyed, and in the latter, assume that all Muslims (and others) live under dictatorships that can be brought down by less drastic means. Then the discussion needs to be: which is actually the case? This is by no means self-evident or so cut and dried that it need not be stated.

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Since I missed the streaming audio download, I guess I'll need to spring for Brook's audio tape at some point. I really think this is the most important political issue our country is facing at this time. Here's my two cents based only on what I have heard:

1) NEGOTIATION - By negotiating with our avowed enemies (I am assuming here that "they" are, in fact, enemies) in an effort to gain a peaceful resolution, we may risk suffering the practical consequences of a moral failure. Meaning: it is wrong and therefore will not work. Fallujah was a microcosm of this: while we were negotiating with the locals, people were being kidnapped, tortured, and beheaded in hidden rooms in that very city. It makes me sick to think we waited too long for those people. We need to be sure we are not being played, and are not simply abetting an intractable enemy.

2) PEACEFUL REVOLUTION - Yes, there are good people mixed in with the bad, and subjugated by the bad, such as in Iran. We can hope for grass-roots change in that country (I certainly never thought I'd live to see the Berlin wall come down the way it did), but again, we have to be careful not to wait until it's too late. That's the tough question: when is "too late"?

3) INNOCENTS - One of Brook's premises seems to simply be that when you wage war, you should wage war. You don't deliberately target innocent people, but you cannot let your fear of hurting innocents keep you from doing what must be done. It's not so much that they do not matter, it's that they have become unwilling instruments of the authoritarian power, and sometimes, there is simply no way they can be saved. Again, you have to decide when you have reached that point.

Also, while not everyone here agrees even on basic principles, some of the discussion lacks the context to allow a proper assessment of the arguments, and really should be about that context. For example saying "Bomb all Muslims" and "Don't kill any innocents" might not be contradictory, provided the context is different. In the former case, assume that all Muslims live under dictatorships that must be destroyed, and in the latter, assume that all Muslims (and others) live under dictatorships that can be brought down by less drastic means. Then the discussion needs to be: which is actually the case? This is by no means self-evident or so cut and dried that it need not be stated.

Actually Brook states that it is useful to target civilians, as it breaks the will of the enemy.

capmag.com dollars and crosses

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The point of war is not to win the hearts and minds of the citizens; it is to eliminate the threat that the country poses. We should not re build or reform. We should take them out with as few causualties as possible on our side, then leave.

I never said it was the goal, but it is good strategy to position yourself in a way to better attack your enemys, that where allies and potential allies come in.

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Godless, I think you're arguing against a strawman here. 

Brook states in his speech that there are people living under enemy governments who are innocent.  They are people who actively resist the government, are attempting to leave that country, or people who would like to resist the government but cannot (I'm thinking very old people here); of course, children are on the list as well. 

I don't agree with his argument about who is innocent. But I have explained that elsewhere so I am not going to go through it all again.

I also have serious doubts about both the practicality and ethics of attacking civilians in order to "break the will of the enemy." It is especially dubious when used against a dictatorship in which the people targeted do not support their government anyway. If anything, it would make them more likely to support their government in fighting against the outside attacker.

Ayn Rand said that "The source of the government's authority is 'the consent of the governed.' This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government as such has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose." (Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p. 332, italics omitted) A dictatorship does not have this authority and thus is not an agent or representative of the people it rules.

Now once again it is legitimate for us to defend ourselves against dictatorships, even if it means innocent civilians are accidentally killed. The fault for that lies with the dictatorship, not us. But that is a separate issue from deliberately targeting civilians.

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Dr. Brook thinks that everyone who belongs to an Islamic culture is an enemy,

Did he actually say that? Does he think every Muslim on Earth should be shot on sight, including presumably US citizens? Are fundamentalist Christians next? After all, they share many beliefs.

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I don't think the principle of "will-breaking" (i.e., terrorism) should determine whether - or how much - force should be brought to bear on enemy civilians. The decider is the value of American life, i.e., the American soldier. If one soldier may perish unnecessarily in some strike plan, that plan is no good.

So, why don't U.S. government officials see this truth more clearly? What are the facts that make this position contentious in their minds apart from a faulty epistemology?

I believe it has to do with guilt arising from the altruistic protection of Western businesses who deal with corrupt governments, thereby strengthening the dictatorships and dooming any internal opposition to evil.

I am speaking here specifically of the US (and Western) sanction of the oil cartel OPEC and all of its tributaries. When an Elf or Shell or Exxon-Mobil agrees to "share" its profits with the gangsters who rule the "oil-producing" nations, they are arming these governments, who use the money to buy weapons (to eliminate dissidents) or fund terrorists (to destroy America).

So, in countries where a freedom-loving opposition exists, their fight is now much harder. In the past, a government could be toppled almost solely by internal opposition, since such a government usually did not have the enormous sums that crude oil "profit-sharing" has made available.

Western governments ought to reclaim their absolute rights to the oil produced by their citizens, and refuse any payments to rights-denying governments.

Because of the present sanction of dictatorships, the heroes in bondage (and that is what it is) are sacrificed. This then leads, logically, to American life being sacrificed: September 11. The roots of a tree cannot ignore the handiwork of any of its branches.

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I dont even know what we are discussing anymore, the way we treat civilians depends on the intelligence we have about them. We wont try to "brake the enemys will" by attacking civilians we KNOW support us.

I think the issue now is about potential allies and actual friends, should we put the lives of our soldiers above the lives of people that will potentially support us to save soldiers lives? I say yes, our soldiers are always above anyone else.

This is about the GRADIENT OF FRIENDLIES that we have, on one end we have our SOLDIERS and on the other we have POTENTIAL ALLIES, of course we are gonne treat our soldiers better and protoect them more than anyone else.

NO guerrilla army can maintain itself withought support from the local population and that fact should determine how we treat the civilians in those areas.We should ask ourselves is this community where the fighters live FUNDAMENTALLY for US or AGAINST US and then act accordingly.

If you want to know how to fight them just study maneuver warfare then.

Did he actually say that? Does he think every Muslim on Earth should be shot on sight, including presumably US citizens? Are fundamentalist Christians next? After all, they share many beliefs.
No he didnt say that, he said that all the people in the enemy nation are targets.

And that all islam as a religion and like all religions it is a threat.

I also have serious doubts about both the practicality and ethics of attacking civilians in order to "break the will of the enemy." It is especially dubious when used against a dictatorship in which the people targeted do not support their government anyway. If anything, it would make them more likely to support their government in fighting against the outside attacker.

IT IS IRRELEVANT, look at my example i gave above with N. Korea, do you think it matters that they are innocent?

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Godless Capitalist:

With all due respect to Betsy’s sensibilities, you, sir, are evading the issue.

I have expended considerable time, effort and study in an attempt to impart the knowledge of this subject to you. You repay me by evading my answers. Instead, you continue to spread your ignorance and irrationality in another thread, leaving my answers to you here, in Post #17 and Post #28, unchallenged. Let me quote the relevant passage from Post #28:

(Post #28, thread: “in our Name”? -- Political Philosophy Forum)

I think it absurd to say people are not responsible for their government. . .

As I explained in post #17:

Rights are moral sanctions to positive action. Meaning, your right to life not only grants you the moral sanction to life, your right to life requires that you take positive action in order to live.

Your right to liberty requires that you take action if you don’t have it. The only thing that can prevent you from being free is force, so in order to be free, that force must be removed. Whose responsibility do you think it is to remove that force?

You seem to be hung-up on the question of responsibility and freedom of choice. We all have freedom of choice, it is part of our nature as men. The basic choice we each face every day is: life or death. To choose death would be irrational, to choose life requires that we do something in order to live. The choice facing those who live under the thumb of a dictator is: freedom or slavery. To choose slavery would be irrational, to choose freedom requires that you do something in order to be free.

There are many ways to fight for this freedom either actively or passively, the easiest and perhaps most rational way is to leave. You can’t be serious with the “Berlin Wall”! How long was the border between East and West Germany?

We could argue about what makes one morally responsible for their government’s actions and what percentage of a given population is truly innocent, but that won’t change the fact that a people are responsible to suffer the consequences of their government’s actions. As you have already implied: it was moral to drop the two A-bombs on Japan.

If you disagree with anything in the passages above please quote it appropriately and tell me why you think I am in error. Your best opportunity for success, and where I would welcome input from other Objectivists, may be my assertion that: you must take action in order to secure your liberty; under the principle that rights are moral sanctions to positive action. It seems simple to me now, but, in relation to this issue, it was the hardest concept for me to integrate.

Dictatorial governments are more like criminal gangs than legitimate governments, and should be treated accordingly.

I agree with you here. But in the very next sentence you run afoul.

They represent only themselves; the people they control are not responsible for their actions.

You have previously conceded that a people are responsible to suffer the consequences of the actions of their government. So the relevant question here is: whose responsibility is it to secure the liberty of an enslaved or threatened people if not their own?

In a final attempt to enlighten, allow me to analogize:

A criminal with a gun breaks into your house. He warns you not to alert the police and threatens to kill you unless you feed him. He likes it at your house and decides to stay. What would you do?

Perhaps initially you comply with his demands but what if he stayed for weeks or months or years? Would you resist at all? Would you attempt to subdue him or escape? Would it be rational to go about your business as if nothing was wrong?

And now, Godless Capitalist, I implore you, without any further evasion, answer these questions, ask specific questions challenging my premises or concede that your understanding of this issue requires further study.

However, I must warn you: post your ignorant assertions on this issue in an attempt to pass them off as knowledge again and I will be compelled to inform the appropriate authorities.

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I liked this lecture, and generally agreed with the main thrust of Yaron Brook's argument. I was, however, surprised about omissions of scholarly nature (intentional or unintentional, I don't know). For example, he didn't give the official name to the philosophy of war he was proposing. At first he did the right thing, explaining the process of war run by rules and regulations, giving it the historically appropriate title, "just war" theory, and explaining why it's wrong. But then he began to describe the opposite, the "total war" theory, which was the philosophy of war he personally endorsed and suggested be accepted by the Administration. Yet Brook never once called his theory by that name, making it seem as if it was just his personal view rather than a well known strategy in the history of war. "Just war" and "total war" are the only two major theories that I know of. I don't think there are others of any similar significance, or prominence, so it isn'tas if the latter was just some marginal set of ideas, easily overlooked.

Another thing I was surprised by was Brook's necessary link between morality of bombing civilians and the moral imperative to do so. At one point in the speech he said that he his argument aimed solely to prove that such action was morally allowed; what is strange, however, is that everywhere else in the speech he not only said that it is moral to bomb civilians, but also argued that not to bomb them would be necessarily immoral and a case of altruism.

And that's the third thing that surprised me in the speech: Brook's wholesale condemnation of "just war" theory as necessarily stemming from altruism. Maybe today it is, but that's not the point. He did not draw any distinctions between the practice of the theory today and its practice throughout the ages, making it seem as if this theory has always stemmed from altruistic premises. By doing that he seems to have ignored history: the Ancient Greeks practiced "just war" but were some of the most selfish people in history.

The speech also had no mention of the empirical evidence of "just war" strategy working, implying that no such historical evidence existed and that such a strategy was, by definition, flawed and doomed to failure. Although he is right that this strategy is futile, I strongly disagree with his implication that the choice between the two philosophies of war is obvious and that there's no argument worth considering that can be made for the other side. A few years ago I've read an excellent book advocating "just war" theory on practical grounds alone, and pointing to many successful "just wars" throughout history, such as the campaigns of Frederick the Great of Prussia in the 18th century.

Still, as I said, I support the "total war" theory, the philosophy of war Yaron Brook endorsed but left nameless, and hope that his advice is followed by our politicians.

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Godless Capitalist: [...]

And now, Godless Capitalist, I implore you, without any further evasion, answer these questions, ask specific questions challenging my premises or concede that your understanding of this issue requires further study.

However, I must warn you: post your ignorant assertions on this issue in an attempt to pass them off as knowledge again and I will be compelled to inform the appropriate authorities.

I am puzzled by this. First, are ObjectivismOnline.net members obligated to respond to another member's queries? Second, what rule do you think GC has broken that would justify reporting him to the moderators?

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I am going to attempt to tackle this thread, before it gets much larger...

And maybe only a military specialist can truly know the extent of force needed. Maybe a philosophically enlightened civilian can only know broad points of policy and not such details. Once again I have confusion on this issue.

FYI: Yaron Brook served in the Israeli army.

I generally agree with Wakeland. I have tried to make similar arguments in other threads here, to little avail.

How can a government be your representative if you did not freely choose it and do not have the power to oppose it? I have no problem with collateral civilian casualties that occur as a result of our attacking an enemy's government and military. But I don't agree that everyone in an entire country is equally the enemy just because their government attacked us. Dictatorial governments are more like criminal gangs than legitimate governments, and should be treated accordingly. They represent only themselves; the people they control are not responsible for their actions.

(I am probably not going to say much more on this issue, as I have little time for fruitless arguments.)

If you are not actively opposing your government then you are silently sanctioning it. Some might say, "well Bush was elected president so why aren't you moving to another country?" and my response to that would have to be that I think there is no place better to live than America and that I am fighting for change in word and deed in the most free country on Earth. People in Objectivism who are looking to forward Ayn Rand's ideas in the public area and change the intellectual culture of this country are excellent examples of ardent opposition to our current government. The point is that if you are not acting to change something which you disagree with than your apathy and silence is your sanction.

I also have serious doubts about both the practicality and ethics of attacking civilians in order to "break the will of the enemy."

If you want to speak of an unpracticable idea, you have found one. Tell me, how do you suggest we fight a war where we are told we may not kill a man until he has convinced us that he is an enemy? How is it that you expect soldiers to seperate the innocent from the thuggish representatives of their dictatorship? When that soldier askes a man, at gunpoint, whether he is friend or foe how honest an answer can he expect to recieve? Although Islam is an anti-life religion, you better believe that man will lie to save his life, be let free, and kill our American boy as any enemy would.

As far as strategy, what viable options have been presented other than Total War, and how could they be implemented? More likely than not, those options are already being used by President Bush and to no avail. The reality is that American soldiers are still dying and the threat we set out to fight still exists. For an excellent example of Just War Theory at it's "finest" turn on the evening news.

Did he actually say that? Does he think every Muslim on Earth should be shot on sight, including presumably US citizens? Are fundamentalist Christians next? After all, they share many beliefs.

I think it would be appropriate for the US citizens who believe in Islam to live in the kind of world their ideas uphold, I do not see why they have any right to the benefits of freedom, capitalism, justice, etc. when they uphold a dogma that seeks to topple each of these values. Bad ideas are a much greater threat than you seem to be acknowledging here. I believe the linguistic meaning of the word "Islam" is "submission" (I did not check that, but I think Yarron Brook spoke of it in his lecture). I would send the Muslims back to the middle east and the Christian back to the Dark Ages, were it possible. :D

I don't think the principle of "will-breaking" (i.e., terrorism) should determine whether - or how much - force should be brought to bear on enemy civilians.  The decider is the value of American life, i.e., the American soldier.  If one soldier may perish unnecessarily in some strike plan, that plan is no good.

I think you may be making an error in equating will-breaking with terrorism. When you fight a war you fight to win; will-breaking, civilian killing, city levelling, and all. There can not be some half-way point. We can not be so concerned about protecting human life, regardless of the values those independent minds hold, that we forget what the objective of a war is. It is to win, and if that is not the objective then the war should not be fought to begin with.

If there are a great majority of freedom-loving Iraqi's, Ukrainians, South Korean's, Chinese, Afghani's, they really have two options. Either they can sanction their government and the way they live (explicitly or simply through their apathy) or they can fight against it, as the founding fathers of our country fought for theirs. Those in our enemy countries who yearn for freedom have the oppurtunity to be benefactor's to mankind in the same way George Washington, John Locke, and many more great men are the benefactors of our lives. These heroic men did not fight because they were interested in being heroes. The spoke out and fought because they refused to live in a world where men were reduced to slavery, dogma, economic misery, political injustice and more.

Was it terrorism when the Union fighters burned and destroyed hundreds of thousands of square miles of private property in the Confederate States?

Was it terrorism when America carpet bombed parts of Europe in WW2?

Was it terrorism when America dropped an atomic bomb or Hiroshima, or Nagasaki following the attack on Pearl Harbor?

Was it terrorism when America bombed Afghanistan following 9/11?

No, it was war. It was total war; and the good guys won.

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Elle,

I agreed with your post except for the following section:

I think it would be appropriate for the US citizens who believe in Islam to live in the kind of world their ideas uphold, I do not see why they have any right to the benefits of freedom, capitalism, justice, etc. when they uphold a dogma that seeks to topple each of these values. Bad ideas are a much greater threat than you seem to be acknowledging here. I believe the linguistic meaning of the word "Islam" is "submission" (I did not check that, but I think Yarron Brook spoke of it in his lecture). I would send the Muslims back to the middle east and the Christian back to the Dark Ages, were it possible

In a free country, people are guranteed "the benefits of freedom, capitalism, justice, etc." regardless of what beliefs they subscribe to. Even people who have beliefs antithetical to those that make individual rights possible are guranteed protection of their individual rights.

These rights are only revoked when an individual initiates force against another individual.

While I'm all for actively monitoring U.S. citizens who practice Islam, I believe it would be an injustice to force them to leave the country because of their beliefs.

But, let me know if I misinterpreted what you were saying.

---------------------

FC,

I heard the speech a couple of weeks ago and have not had the chance to read it or relisten to it. However, I don't remember Brook stating that it was morally imperative in all wars to bomb civilians.

What he did say was morally imperative was implementing the most effective and efficient methods to achieve victory. In the examples he gave, bombing civilians was one of the most effective ways of destroying the enemy without risking American soldiers lives. Thus, in these cases, it was morally imperative to follow this course of action, since anything else would needlessly and altruistically sacrifice American lives.

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