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Selling weapons to known Terrorism-sponsoring countries

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How do you maintain the moral status of Western countries not playing an active role in supporting Islamic Fundamentalist activities today?

 

I mean, if you are selling weapons to a country like Saudi Arabia, of whom you claim to know from secret intelligence that it is supporting terrorist activities behind your back, what makes you less of a cause for terrorist attacks than the regime itself?

 

In other words: If Saudi Arabia could be bombed for sponsoring terrorists, why couldn't the U.S. be bombed for supporting Saudi Arabia?

 

We are not even talking about supporting a lesser enemy to fight a bigger one here, but about directly supporting the main one.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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I think the term "indiscriminate killing" should be thrown out as being so vague as to be worthless. When a truly crazy persons goes on a rampage, we might describe it as "indiscriminate killing", but

The Bin Laden family are not terrorists, they're a prominent Arab family with business interests across the Middle East. Osama bin Laden has been disowned by his family, and officially stripped of his

How do you maintain the moral status of Western countries not playing an active role in supporting Islamic Fundamentalist activities today?   I mean, if you are selling weapons to a country like Sau

DiscoveryJoy,

You seem to be saying that by selling weapons to evil regimes we are culpable. I would agree. However nothing justifies indiscriminate killing.

 

Okay, but how does the idea of "nothing justifies indiscriminate killing" fit to the idea that a war of self-defense, must be fought "regardless of how many innocent civilians are caught in the line of fire or are deliberate targets of that fire" (Peikoff in America Versus Americans, see at about 19:10):

 

http://dotsub.com/view/4f3d0005-bbf1-41b6-87ea-34afba3da114

 

???

 

Also note how I am stressing deliberate here for an obvious reason.

 

I could as well have asked: How does the idea of "nothing justifies indiscriminate killing" fit to Hiroshima, Nagasaki or Dresden, something Objectivists claim to be fully moral?

 

If one truly believes in "nothing justifies indiscriminate killing", one would have to declare all these examples I just mentioned as evil. But as it seems according to "America versus Americans", something does justify it.

 

If one believes the U.S. is culpable in the worst sense (and what does "culpable" really mean? Do you mean "punishable" or just "acting irresponsible"?), then how isn't an indiscriminate attack on the U.S. just like another Hiroshima?

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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...indiscriminate killing ...

I think the term "indiscriminate killing" should be thrown out as being so vague as to be worthless. When a truly crazy persons goes on a rampage, we might describe it as "indiscriminate killing", but when a group like (say) ISIS goes through a town and slaughters every Shia in sight it would not strictly qualify as "indiscriminate", even though we might use the term loosely. If they are discriminating in avoiding the killing of Sunni, and only kill Shia, it would not strictly be "indiscriminate".

Morally, we should ask: what is the correct criteria that we should use to discriminate?

Edited by softwareNerd
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Peikoff is wrong there, in my opinion. Rand was clear that retaliatory force should be directed against those who initiated it. Rand is logically coherent. If you kill innocent people to make it easier to kill your enemies, you are treating those people as means to an end. You are intentionally initiating force against them, sacrificing them for your own sake. That is evil, I think. Rand argued force initiation was evil. Peikoff cannot add an animal farmesque "unless its people in countries we are afraid of".

I don't think the bombing of hiroshima or nagasaki was moral either. For the same reasons. Study history. Japan was nuked to scare the Russians.

Indescriminate attacks, where force is not retaliatory, not objectively utilised, would be completely morally unjustified.

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Peikoff is wrong there, in my opinion. Rand was clear that retaliatory force should be directed against those who initiated it. Rand is logically coherent. If you kill innocent people to make it easier to kill your enemies, you are treating those people as means to an end. You are intentionally initiating force against them, sacrificing them for your own sake. That is evil, I think. Rand argued force initiation was evil. Peikoff cannot add an animal farmesque "unless its people in countries we are afraid of".

I don't think the bombing of hiroshima or nagasaki was moral either. For the same reasons. Study history. Japan was nuked to scare the Russians.

Indescriminate attacks, where force is not retaliatory, not objectively utilised, would be completely morally unjustified.

 

Initiation of force, according to Rand, is evil, yes. But you are not "intentionally initiating" force against innocents, you are just redirecting the force that has already been initiated against you, in order to make it stop as fast as possible and with the least further casualties on your side:

So I think that's still consistent, since only the initiation of force is evil and you are not initiating.

 

Japan at the time was by far the bigger threat to America than Russia. Not nuking Japan would have made an invasion of Japan necessary to stop the war. This would have cost more American lives. Not nuking Japan and also not invading it either would have meant an ongoing of the war. That would have also cost more American lives. Hence it was necessary to nuke Japan and therefore moral. Plus, the blood of every single Japanese is on the hands of the Japanese government, since they initiated the aggression.

 

What I am summarizing here is sometimes expressed by Objectivists with the words "Morality ends where a gun begins.". I think it's even wrong to put it that way. The choice to defend yourself is still a moral choice. So morality doesn't end there, to the contrary, there couldn't be a more crucial point where it is needed. What are you saying if you claim that "morality ends where a gun begins"? That you can no longer be moral when someone threatens you. That by defending yourself by force you sink to the status of a wild animal that makes you as bad as the one who threatens you. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I think there is a misuse of the whole term of morality in that sentence. Maybe it's kindness that ends when a gun begins, but certainly not morality. Morality certainly continues, probably even sparks where a gun begins.

 

 

 

Another remark on that treating-people-as-a-means-to-an-end thing: Objectivism doesn't hold altruism or intrinsicism as a first principle. The first principle is egoism, i.e. "What is good for me?" It is not about placing the welfare of others above your own because "they are an end in themselves". Under Objectivism, everyone is the end to his own self. At least that's how I understand it. So if there is force involved which someone started, there is the possibility that you have to choose between yourself or other people while these two are mutually exclusive. You might have to throw the hot potato that someone put in your hand away quickly, even if it has to land in someone else's hand with so many people around you. But you shouldn't forget that it's not your damn potato.

And even if not under force, I also wouldn't know when we ever treat other people "as an end in themselves". I think we treat people as means to an end all the time. I use the guy at the counter in the supermarket as a payment collector on a daily basis. I also use the service woman at my bank as an information producer, let's say on a monthly basis. I could go on and on. And last but not least, according to Adam Smith: The baker bakes the bread.....you know the story ^_^

And even when we want to achieve a positive result for the other person, it is also for our own pleasure, e.g. of seeing the person flourish (like we enjoy watering flowers or feeding birds), or for expressing that we share and approve of some important aspect of their minds.

It's probably only Kant who thinks otherwise.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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Miss Rand also said "A country may be held responsible for the actions of its government and it may be guilty of an evil (such as starting a war)—but then it is a public, not a private, matter and the entire country has to bear the burden of paying reparations for it."

 

Or to rephrase another line out of Galt's Speech:

"It is only as retaliation that force may be used and only against the man [country] who starts its use. No, I [we] do not share his [their] evil or sink to his [their] concept of morality: I [We] merely grant him his [them their] choice, destruction, the only destruction he [they] had the right to choose: his [their] own.

 

Edited

Edited by dream_weaver
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I disagree with your interpretation.

Rands saying... "I swear..." contradicts you. I will not ask you to live for my sake. We are traders.

 

Err...I think you are missing the point here. The innocent Japanese isn't asked to live for the American's sake, if he is truly innocent. Nobody says that as an innocent Japanese you should stay in Hiroshima to make sure the bomb really hits you. To the contrary: You should run! If you can't run, but you have a bazooka, you should shoot down the bomber to save your own life and hope that the next plane goes to another city instead, so the war can still be ended. Or hope that the Americans (with no bomb left to bomb your city) have to invade so that, again, the war can still be ended. Whatever. It doesn't mean you hate the bomber. You hate your government and the people that support it. You hate the government that forced the American bomber to try to bomb you in your city, which, in turn, forced you to shoot down the bomber. That's the full context. Your business of maintaining your life continues, as well as the American's business of maintaining his life does.

 

But this is war. Force has been thrown into the game by an aggressor. Therefore each of us has to shrug it off from himself in a way that minimizes harm to himself in the long run. That may mean innocent people hurting each other without any innocent to blame - if there is no other direction to shrug. As it is the situation with the American bomber versus the innocent Japanese. Both act morally. And none intents to live for the sake of the other, nor does he ask the other to live for his own. The American bomber does not believe that the innocent Japanese shouldn't try to shoot him. And the innocent Japanese does not believe that the American bomber should not try to bomb him in his city. They just both agree that they must fight it out. "Should" is always glued to an individual's necessity, there is no abstract "should happen" separate from the individuals involved.

 

So I don't think that Rand's "I swear..."-phrase contradicts me. It continues to be fully applied by both of the parties involved.

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Miss Rand also said "A country may be held responsible for the actions of its government and it may be guilty of an evil (such as starting a war)—but then it is a public, not a private, matter and the entire country has to bear the burden of paying reparations for it."

 

Or to rephrase another line out of Galt's Speech:

"It is only as retaliation that force may be used and only against the man [country] who starts its use. No, I [we] do not share his [their] evil or sink to his [their] concept of morality: I [We] merely grant him his [them their] choice, destruction, the only destruction he [they] had the right to choose: his [their] own.

 

Edited

 

Not so sure about how to apply justice to the concept of reparations. If war is over, the force is averted, that's part one. Now it's getting back what has been taken from you from those that took it from you. The question is whether you have a right to demand this at the expense of innocent individuals. Okay, you could say of those, who choose to continue to live under that state. But after the war, the state usually is no more. But there's still the people who had made the state and whose guilt doesn't go away. So there's someone that can rightfully be exploited of whom you have a right to get it from. But since the war is over, there would now have to be an increased readiness to identify those that actually supported the defeated state and those that did not? And exclude the latter from the reparations?

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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What I am summarizing here is sometimes expressed by Objectivists with the words "Morality ends where a gun begins.". I think it's even wrong to put it that way. The choice to defend yourself is still a moral choice. So morality doesn't end there, to the contrary, there couldn't be a more crucial point where it is needed. What are you saying if you claim that "morality ends where a gun begins"? That you can no longer be moral when someone threatens you. That by defending yourself by force you sink to the status of a wild animal that makes you as bad as the one who threatens you. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I think there is a misuse of the whole term of morality in that sentence. Maybe it's kindness that ends when a gun begins, but certainly not morality. Morality certainly continues, probably even sparks where a gun begins.

 

I think you've misunderstood the context of that famous phrase. In no way does it imply that defending yourself makes you as bad as the person who threatens you. It's just a short pithy way to explain the idea that physical coercion, to the degree that it is used against you, limits your ability to think rationally and manifest your thoughts in action. In other words, it limits your ability to act morally.

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Not so sure about how to apply justice to the concept of reparations. If war is over, the force is averted, that's part one. Now it's getting back what has been taken from you from those that took it from you. The question is whether you have a right to demand this at the expense of innocent individuals. Okay, you could say of those, who choose to continue to live under that state. But after the war, the state usually is no more. But there's still the people who had made the state and whose guilt doesn't go away. So there's someone that can rightfully be exploited of whom you have a right to get it from. But since the war is over, there would now have to be an increased readiness to identify those that actually supported the defeated state and those that did not? And exclude the latter from the reparations?

A fuller context of the excerpt from that letter: 

There is no such thing as a collective guilt. A country may be held responsible for the actions of its government and it may be guilty of an evil (such as starting a war)—but then it is a public, not a private, matter and the entire country has to bear the burden of paying reparations for it. The notion of random individuals paying for the sins of an entire country, is an unspeakable modern atrocity.

She was writing with regard to reparations for 200 years of slavery in America, so the idea of paying reparations wouldn't apply in the context of war here.

Edited by dream_weaver
typo
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Or to rephrase another line out of Galt's Speech:

"It is only as retaliation that force may be used and only against the man [country] who starts its use. No, I [we] do not share his [their] evil or sink to his [their] concept of morality: I [We] merely grant him his [them their] choice, destruction, the only destruction he [they] had the right to choose: his [their] own.

 

Edited

 

I could even leave it at the original version, in order not to look like a collectivist. So what do we get? You still need to use force in retaliation. Only against the man who starts its use.

 

What does force "against" person X mean? It means force that is directly or indirectly directed at person X's geographic location in order to hurt person X.

Who is the individual man or the individual men that started its use? The Japanese Emperor and those who keep him in power by supporting or accepting him, by continuing to exist under his rule and not fighting him. Which has to be a significant part of the population, otherwise he could not exist.

Okay. So now you know the men you may use force against - as retaliation.

Where are those people? Can you pinpoint them one by one? I cannot pinpoint them, but they are definately in that territory. And the highest concentration is in the big cities. That's as accurate as I can be without risking my own life.

So what's the best geographical object you must choose as a military target? The entire population within that territory.

So who does this target involve, i.o.w. whom do you deliberately attack? Anyone within that territory, guilty or innocent (which I cannot tell for any particular one of them).

Are you not using force against innocents then? If force "against" innocents means force that is directly or indirectly directed at the innocents geographic location in order to hurt innocents, then clearly No.

Are you using force against the guilty then? If force "against" the guilty means force that is directly or indirectly directed at the guilty's geographic location in order to hurt the guilty, then clearly Yes.

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Say for example:

Government has a monopoly on force.

Is willing to use it against its own people and other peoples.

A proportion of the local population cannot prevent the government from going to war even though they want to

Why don't we help them not kill them.

 

If there is a practical way of helping them, then yes. One that does not sacrifice our own lives. But that's not always possible.

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Oso - are you at war with individuals who have not initiated force? You're not claiming their deaths are an accident. You want to kill them because it makes it easier to kill your enemy. That's the philosophy of sacrifice. You can keep it.

 

Sacrifice is to give up something and expect something less or nothing in return.

 

If victory over your deadly enemy is a higher value for you than their lives, then you're not sacrificing.

 

If your life is a higher value to you than theirs, then you're not sacrificing.

 

If their life is a higher value to you than your's then you are sacrificing. And that's the philosophy of sacrifice.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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I think you've misunderstood the context of that famous phrase. In no way does it imply that defending yourself makes you as bad as the person who threatens you. It's just a short pithy way to explain the idea that physical coercion, to the degree that it is used against you, limits your ability to think rationally and manifest your thoughts in action. In other words, it limits your ability to act morally.

 

I see your point. "Limits your ability" is fair enough. "Ends", on the other hand, seems to be to strong a word to me. As you said, the ability is just limited. But not ended. And also all the more crucial.

 

I also believe that unfortunately, followers of Kant could easily misuse this to mean that the essence of morality is only about the luxury of having primary concern for others all the time, which you can do in good times. But if you are under coercion by a gun (or any other kind of trouble), this just turns into a luxury you cannot afford.

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The value of innocent people's lives are higher than the value of the lives of my enemies. By killing innocents I would be killing people of value and that is self-defeating. I value those people, I don't want to kill them just so I can kill my enemies.

 

I agree with the first sentence. The point, however, is, that the value of your own life is also higher than the value of other innocent people's lives. By not killing innocents you would allow your enemy to kill you and that is self-defeating. You value your life, you don't want to die just so you can save innocent people.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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I could even leave it at the original version, in order not to look like a collectivist. So what do we get? You still need to use force in retaliation. Only against the man who starts its use.

 

<snip>

 

It started that way, but given war as a public, rather than private concern, We, as a country, go to war; I, as an individual, may have to take up arms.

 

That subtlety is picked up in life as the standard of value here too. My life to our lives in this country, versus holding the country responsible for initiating the war or being killed while trying to read the minds or intent of each individual within its borders. 

 

I think it was Forrest E. Morgan, Major USAF in his book Living the Martial Way where he states succinctly this paraphrased recollection: "The time for morality is either before or after the war. During, it is kill or be killed." 

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