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How does one apply O'ism to the Iraq War?

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[MODERATOR'S NOTE: Thesweetscience is very new to Objectivism. I have placed this thread in the Basic Questions section as a reminder to viewers that his questions should be approached accordingly. The main issue here is how to solve philosophical problems. The main issue here is not to rehash pro's and con's of the war in Iraq, a subject treated voluminously in other threads. I will drop posts that do not address the central issue here: How a person new to Objectivism should go about applying the little he knows to particular problems.]

I am a student of Objectivism so forgive me for not knowing the answers to these questions. But, from what I have read about Objectivism the war seems to contradict Ayn Rand's principles for the following reasons.

1. Ayn Rand was against the initiation of the use of force.

2. The war is altruistic, we are sacrificing ourselved for the sake of others who do not share our values or our principles. An Islamic government is sure to be installed.

3. The dishonesty used by our leaders to sell the war to us. Primarily I am referring to the way it was implied that somehow Iraq was involved in 9/11. But, this could also be expanded to the WMD myth.

Please point out the flaws in my reasoning.

Bobby

Edited by BurgessLau
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I am a student of Objectivism so forgive me for not knowing the answers to these questions. But, from what I have read about Objectivism the war seems to contradict Ayn Rand's principles for the following reasons.

[...]

Please point out the flaws in my reasoning.

1. Bobby, the questions you have asked -- as particular questions -- are very difficult. Objectivists disagree about the particulars. Long chains of reasoning, always subject to breakdown, and greatly varying levels of background knowledge, lead to different conclusions. Questions?

2. A second lesson to learn is always do a search of the topics in this forum. If you do, you will see that this subject has been discussed to the point of near exhaustion. Read them before pursing the particulars of your topic here. Instead I hope you will gain from general comments about how to apply Objectivism to issues in your life.

I can suggest some general guidelines. I will try to do so in the process of addressing some of the broad questions you have asked.

3. My first question for you is: Why did you pick this topic? Is it the most important unresolved issue in your life? If not by that criterion, then by what criterion? A major part of Objectivism is that it is a hierarchical philosophy. Some issues are more fundamental than others. Fundamental issues explain derivative issues. Therefore, knowing the fundamentals will be very helpful. True -- and perhaps this is what you are doing here -- one way to test one's knowledge of the fundamentals is to try to apply them to particular situations.

4. I have one last point, before opening this up to others for their general comments about how a person new to Objectivism can learn principles and apply them to the most important issues in his life. My last point is to always ask yourself, "What is my evidence for this?" For example, if you have concluded that the Bush administration has been dishonest, you should then ask yourself such questions as:

a. What do I mean by dishonest? (You can start by examining "Honesty" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.)

b. What evidence do I have that the Bush administration was dishonest? Is the evidence conclusive or only suggestive?

c. If the Bush administration was dishonest -- wholly or in part -- would that itself undermine the whole War on Terrorism or the battles in Iraq?

Questions?

Edited by BurgessLau
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3. My first question for you is: Why did you pick this topic? Is it the most important unresolved issue in your life? If not by that criterion, then by what criterion? A major part of Objectivism is that it is a hierarchical philosophy. Some issues are more fundamental than others. Fundamental issues explain derivative issues. Therefore, knowing the fundamentals will be very helpful. True -- and perhaps this is what you are doing here -- one way to test one's knowledge of the fundamentals is to try to apply them to particular situations.

I chose this topic because from what I "knew" about Objectivism it seemed that the war was wrong. After reading a few posts here I noticed that many here favored the war. I want to know where my breakdown in thinking is.

a. What do I mean by dishonest? (You can start by examining "Honesty" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.)

b. What evidence do I have that the Bush administration was dishonest? Is the evidence conclusive or only suggestive?

c. If the Bush administration was dishonest -- wholly or in part -- would that itself undermine the whole War on Terrorism or the battles in Iraq?

I mean dishonesty in its most common sense. I think they(the Bush administration) knew that Iraq wasn't involved in 9/11. Yet they used subjectivism and implied that they were. As for WMDs, that is more debatable, did they know or didn't they? But, in this case there were inspectors on the ground in Iraq so it seems that the initiation of force was unwarranted.

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From what I know of Rand's personal opinions. She opposed WWI (positive about this one), WWII (60% sure), and the Vietnam War(positive). So I think its fair to say that Rand wasn't quite the war hawk that modern day Objectivists are.

Nimble, how does you answer help solve the problem of this thread: learning to apply philosophy to particular problems?

As an exercise in that direction, what is your evidence for saying that Ayn Rand opposed World War II?

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I have yet to see an Objectivist who thinks that the Bush administration is properly executing the war in the best possible way. Yet, I have also not seen one who thinks that there should not be a war at all. Clearly, we ARE at war.

Perhaps your mistake is in assuming that we agree with Bush's execuation of the war? Read the threads to see what we all think is the proper method. Then maybe your apparant contradiction will disappear.

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But, from what I have read about Objectivism the war seems to contradict Ayn Rand's principles for the following reasons.

1. Ayn Rand was against the initiation of the use of force.

Inspector -- above, in post 7 -- is right. He suggests gathering more facts and checking the premises of your argument. Following is another premise you might re-examine.

In my interpretation of your argument, item 1 above implies that the current War on Terrorism is an initiation of force. Is my interpretation correct?

If so, how do you think the principle of not initiating force applies to the War on states that sponsor terrorism? This would be an example of deduction, applying a general statement to a narrower circumstance.

Edited by BurgessLau
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In my interpretation of your argument, item 1 above implies that the current War on Terrorism is an initiation of force. Is my interpretation correct?

If so, how do you think the principle of not initiating force applies to the War on states that sponsor terrorism? This would be an example of deduction, applying a general statement to a narrower circumstance.

The term "War on Terrorism" is problematic for me in this arguement. It didn't really apply to Iraq until we attacked it.

The terrorists have made Iraq a front for the war, but it wasn't that way prior to the day we invaded.

Saddam Hussein although a despot, had a secular government. Bin Laden himself criticized him on many occassion. The only thing in common between Bin Laden and Hussein was a mutual hatred of the United States.

I wholeheartedly believe that taking action against Afghanistan was justified. And I believe we must protect ourselves against terrorists. But, I do not believe those arguements apply to Iraq, unless you wish to accept the premise that Iraq was involved in 9/11 and was an imminent threat to the US.

Bobby

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I chose this topic because from what I "knew" about Objectivism it seemed that the war was wrong. After reading a few posts here I noticed that many here favored the war. I want to know where my breakdown in thinking is.

I mean dishonesty in its most common sense. I think they(the Bush administration) knew that Iraq wasn't involved in 9/11. Yet they used subjectivism and implied that they were. As for WMDs, that is more debatable, did they know or didn't they? But, in this case there were inspectors on the ground in Iraq so it seems that the initiation of force was unwarranted.

To call a President, especially in a time of war, a liar--you must present real evidence. You have so far presented no evidence, but only the usual leftist assumptions (yawn!). If you have, in fact, no evidence for such serious claims- you are acting dishonorably. In general liberalism (watered down socialism) and Objectivism are anti-thetical. Indeed, it may be your own premises that are "subjective" free floating and otherwise cut off from reality.

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Oh, to further clarify on point 1: Yes, Ayn Rand was against the initiation of force. The question to ask is whether we the war against Iraq to be an initiation of force on the part of the US.

From what I have heard of the major people here, none of us consider the US invasion of Iraq to be an initiation of force, but rather a justified retaliatory response. What exactly Iraq did to be considered an initiator of force is something that would require a more detailed answer, and I suggest you read the threads for that.

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To call a President, especially in a time of war, a liar--you must present real evidence. You have so far presented no evidence, but only the usual leftist assumptions (yawn!). If you have, in fact, no evidence for such serious claims- you  are acting dishonorably. In general liberalism (watered down socialism) and Objectivism are anti-thetical. Indeed, it may be your own premises that are "subjective"  free floating and otherwise cut off from reality.

I believe that the specific examples I gave are "real evidence".

"These al Qaeda affiliates, based in Baghdad, now coordinate the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network, and they've been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months," said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in his presentation to the U.N. Security Council.

George Tenet said, "Iraq has, in the past, provided training in document forgery and bomb-making to al Qaeda. It has also provided training in poisons and gases to two al Qaeda associates"

According to the 9/11 report there was no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al Qaeda.

According to a Harris poll in late April, a plurality of Americans, 49 percent to 36 percent, believe "clear evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda has been found."

Why do Americans believe it? I think the answer is in the way in which this war was "sold".

These aren't leftist assumptions. This is objective reality.

Bobby

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2. A second lesson to learn is always do a search of the topics in this forum. If you do, you will see that this subject has been discussed to the point of near exhaustion. Read them before pursing the particulars of your topic here. Instead I hope you will gain from general comments about how to apply Objectivism to issues in your life.

Bobby,

I and others in this thread have rightly advised you to read the other threads on the topics of the War on Terrorism, including the battles in Iraq, before making arguments for or against the War, such as it is. Remember, the purpose of this thread is to discuss how to use an example, from current events, to learn more about the philosophy.

1. Which other threads on the war have you studied so far?

2. What questions do you have about how to approach such a problem? In other words, what questions do you have about methods you might use?

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According to a Harris poll in late April, a plurality of Americans, 49 percent to 36 percent, believe "clear evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda has been found."

Why do Americans believe it? I think the answer is in the way in which this war was "sold".

These aren't leftist assumptions. This is objective reality.

You charged earlier that the Bush administration was dishonest -- and you defined that as lying, basically. What evidence have you provided that all the individuals in the administration knowingly told falsehoods, and were not merely mistaken in their assessment of the scattered "intelligence" information they had received over the years?

The issue here is method, congruent with the purpose of this thread. What method would you use to decide whether or not a whole organization was lying -- rather than stumbling and bumbling its way pragmatically from one situation to another, guided by wishful thinking (which is what dishonesty means in Objectivism)?

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One of the more complex aspect of Objectivism that I have discovered is the distinction between the coercive acts of governments against another, and an individual against another.

Initiating force against an immoral individual is a violation of his rights. The reason is that, insofar as this immoral individual himself has not initiated force, he retains all of his rights.

On the other hand, using force to oust a government which has no legitimate claim to sovereignty is not an initiation of force. The reason is that governments who persistently, systematically and extensively violate individual rights act against their sole purpose and thereby abdicate any claim to sovereignty. (read "Collectivized Ethics" by Ayn Rand in The Virtue of Selfishness and the "Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776")

Why don't you read Ayn Rand's essays "Man's Rights", "The Nature of Government" and "Collectivized Ethics" in The Virtue of Selfishness in addition to the numerous threads in which the Iraq war and the War on Terror in general have been discussed.

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Bobby,

I and others in this thread have rightly advised you to read the other threads on the topics of the War on Terrorism, including the battles in Iraq, before making arguments for or against the War, such as it is. Remember, the purpose of this thread is to discuss how to use an example, from current events, to learn more about the philosophy.

1. Which other threads on the war have you studied so far?

2. What questions do you have about how to approach such a problem? In other words, what questions do you have about methods you might use?

I have not reviewed any posts other than those dealing with election 2004. Could you please provide me with some links that I can study?

Bobby

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These aren't leftist assumptions. This is objective reality.

Keep in mind that we are at war with more than just al Qaeda. Al Qaeda committed the largest terrorist act against us, but over the last 20+ years, we've been attacked several times by different terrorist organizations, and have done nothing about it. Now we've decided to do something.

This is a war against all Islamic Terrorists, and the nations that support them, not just al Qaeda. Bush has been very clear on this point, even if he hasn't been too effective in following through.

Also, if you read Bush's speech just before we attacked Iraq, you will see all of the reasons outlined right there. In fact here is the speech.

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You charged earlier that the Bush administration was dishonest -- and you defined that as lying, basically. What evidence have you provided that all the individuals in the administration knowingly told falsehoods, and were not merely mistaken in their assessment of the scattered "intelligence" information they had received over the years?

The issue here is method, congruent with the purpose of this thread. What method would you use to decide whether or not a whole organization was lying -- rather than stumbling and bumbling its way pragmatically from one situation to another, guided by wishful thinking (which is what dishonesty means in Objectivism)?

In reading Peikoff I came across a passage that I think it appropriate. This is not verbatim but. "Something is either true, arbitrary or it is false". I believe that I accused the Bush administration of "misleading" or being "dishonest".

If they made a claim and that claim turned out to be false, was that not misleading? Was it not dishonest?

Bobby

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Nimble, how does you answer help solve the problem of this thread: learning to apply philosophy to particular problems?

As an exercise in that direction, what is your evidence for saying that Ayn Rand opposed World War II?

I said 60% sure first of all. Meaning I am not certain. Secondly, I over heard it mentioned briefly in a post-lecture discussion at the U of M objectivist club. I never questioned it, or cared to look into it. I made it clear that I was not certain, but trusted the fellow objectivist enough to mention it here.

I was under the impression that Ayn Rand was not a war hawk like modern objectivists or an isolationist, but rather a NON_INTERVENTIONALIST.

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I said 60% sure first of all. Meaning I am not certain. Secondly, I over heard it mentioned briefly in a post-lecture discussion at the U of M objectivist club. I never questioned it, or cared to look into it. I made it clear that I was not certain, but trusted the fellow objectivist enough to mention it here.

I was under the impression that Ayn Rand was not a war hawk like modern objectivists or an isolationist, but rather a NON_INTERVENTIONALIST.

[boldface emphasis added.]

Given all these doubtful methods -- such as relying on "impressions" and hearsay -- how does your post above help solve the main problems of this thread, that is, how to learn more about philosophy and learn more about better methods of dealing with problems of philosophy applied to current events?

Further, if you haven't cared enough to look into the issue, why are you posting your "impressions" in this thread?

Still further, I recommend using Tom Rexton's post (at 415 pm today) as a model. He answers a main problem of this thread, by offering philosophical insights, and he recommends specific sources in Ayn Rand's writings, that is, in Objectivism itself.

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Keep in mind that we are at war with more than just al Qaeda.

Thales, what point would you offer as an answer to the main problems of this thread -- that is, how to learn more about philosophy and about better methods of thinking, in applying philosophy to particular issues? Keep in mind that the purpose of this thread is not to rehash this controversy.

Also, might you suggest some links to other threads, as Thesweetscience has requested of all of us, in post 16?

Edited by BurgessLau
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In reading Peikoff I came across a passage that I think it appropriate. This is not verbatim but. "Something is either true, arbitrary or it is false". I believe that I accused the Bush administration of "misleading" or being "dishonest".

If they made a claim and that claim turned out to be false, was that not misleading? Was it not dishonest?

Yes, it would be misleading -- but was it dishonest? If I sincerely believe X, then tell you that X happened, but it didn't, then I have misled you; but if I didn't do it knowingly, am I dishonest? No, sir, not by either your (conventional) definition of dishonesty (lying) or by the Objectivist definition (evading the facts of reality, which may or may not lead to lying).

The methodological point here is that one must understand the concepts involved (such as honesty and what it entails) and then know the facts of a particular situation -- for example, did the Bush administration knowingly provide false information to the world? Or did they make an error in relying on mostly shaky "intelligence"? Or were they dishonest in the Objectivist meaning -- which is the one you should use in this forum, once you have understood it -- in other words, did the leaders of the Bush administration evade facts that contradicted their wishful-thinking assessment?

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Thales, what point would you offer as an answer to the main problems of this thread -- that is, how to learn more about philosophy and about better methods of thinking, in applying philosophy to particular issues? Keep in mind that the purpose of this thread is not to rehash this controversy.

Oops, sorry.

To answer your question, I apply philosophy according to its fundamental principles. For instance, when dealing with political issues, individual rights are the benchmark. However, if rights theory alone can't easily answer a question, then I step back to a more fundamental theory, such as ethical egoism, and then back again to logic and concept formation if that isn't enough. Iows, I step back to broader and more encompassing principles, which under gird the principle I'm applying.

This all comes after you have a formulated philosophy, which, of course, Objectivism provides.

Also, might you suggest some links to other threads, as Thesweetscience has requested of all of us, in post 16?

I'm not sure which threads would be helpful there. There have been many discussions on the War. I'm not sure how well they relate to the WMD issue, as opposed to the altruistic war issue. However, one man who often enters such discussion is the person who goes by the name of MisterSwig. Look his name up and you're sure to find many threads on the war. Jake Wakeland has had a few long and thoughtful postings, IIRC.

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In reading Peikoff I came across a passage that I think it appropriate. This is not verbatim but. "Something is either true, arbitrary or it is false". I believe that I accused the Bush administration of "misleading" or being "dishonest".

If they made a claim and that claim turned out to be false, was that not misleading? Was it not dishonest?

Bobby

Not at all. Dishonesty is "knowingly" telling a lie. If I make a statement based on the best relevant information and the statement turns out to be false, that's not lying, that's making a mistake. Not to understand such a basic distinction is astonishing.

Now, neither the British commission nor the Senate nor the 9-ll commisions found any evidence what so ever that the President or any of his administration "knowingly" lied about the reasons for going to war. OK?

Your (and the left's) use of the term "misleading", however, is truly "intentionally" misleading. This is pure political slight-of-hand, specifically through equivocation. You libs begin by saying the president mislead in the sense of "took us somewhere we shouldn't have gone"-and then use it, and hope it is misunderstood, in the more usual sense of to deceive or lie. Once again, slimey and dishonorable. Of course, none of this nonsense worked, so why the rehash here?

It's getting old. Old like, for example the word "Quagmire". (Not to get too far from the point, but it 's always seemed very funny to me that this was the Lefties favorite new word this last year--aparently a word meaning anything the President and his administration did successfully. But what struck me as really funny was that they never used it in reference to their beloved Democratic party as it sunk deeper and deeper into its own mud.)

This is a great President. What he did for the Iraqi people as well as the Afganis is wonderful. What he's done for the country is wonderful. The recent election confirmed this as will History.

We are, thank god, historic witnesses to the twilight of the liberal.

And I'm done with this thread.

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