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Are We Spending Enough On Our Defense?

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So if “ramping up” was the rational policy in the 1940s, why isn’t it the rational policy today?

Do we have any military power in the world right now that is building up and attacking other countries or threatening ours? I said China would be the only one worth ramping up for. I am not going to say lets ramp up for a truckload of illegal immigrants that might be terrorists.

Is there any way we can say we’re sorry?

You would have to ask him.

And some say we actually blew up the WTC ourselves.

Unlike those that say we blew up the towers ourselves, there is proof to back up that we trained Bin Laden for the Afghanistan resistance.

If we’re going to fight Russia, we’re going to need a bigger army.

Ever hear of that thing called the cold war? The arms race? What good did building up our military forces do other than make Russia build up theirs and forcing us to respond in kind?

I guess that means you’ll have to use a proxy.

This would assume that right now there is a conflict going on that I felt threatened my values or my family or that the country could not handle with troops already present. Do not call into question whether I would be willing to fight or not, you do not know me enough or my values to go that route.

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From an earlier thread:

Ayn Rand once said, "Accept 80% taxation if you have to, in order to preserve a free society."...I'm all in favor of dismantling the welfare state and instituting a system of voluntary taxation. But we must first make sure that the United States stays around long enough for those reforms to be enacted.

Daedalus, as Lathanar pointed out the article actually says:

But as Ayn Rand memorably said at a party I attended in 1962, in response to complaints that "taxes are too high" (then 20%), "Pay 80% if you need it for defense."

Let's just assume that Rand in fact did say "Pay 80% if you need it for defense." When quoting her you added the word 'taxation' altering the context to suite your argument, i.e., attributing a justification for coercion to Rand.

Not only is this dishonest, but correlating increased spending with higher tax rates begs the question.

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Unlike those that say we blew up the towers ourselves, there is proof to back up that we trained Bin Laden for the Afghanistan resistance.

I'm tired of hearing that one. I was tired by October 2001. Please, do you have any proof?

America did train and finance a mostly islamic resistance against the Soviets. But what is your proof that the Savage King himslef directly received a penny of US money or a word of US training?

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America did train and finance a mostly islamic resistance against the Soviets. But what is your proof that the Savage King himslef directly received a penny of US money or a word of US training?
Here is the State Department response to that charge and here is the CIA response. Michel Chossudovsky in an online article peddling his book makes the claim citing an article by Hugh Davies (The Daily Telegraph (London) August 24, 1998). You can find similar statement here: '"We funded him, we and the Saudis", said Glynn Wood, professor of international policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies'. If we suppose that all US government agencies are liars, and that all reporters and academicians are liars, then I don't think there is any evidence one way or the other. However, the usual story is that he was indirectly manipulated and not directly funded -- of course he was not a CIA operative. I don't think that it matters one bit whether the US directly or indirectly trained or supported bin Laden, because it is beyond serious question that we trained the mujahidin future terrorists and thugs of Afghanistan who enabled the attack, and without whose aid, comfort and support the attack could not have happened.
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America did train and finance a mostly islamic resistance against the Soviets. But what is your proof that the Savage King himslef directly received a penny of US money or a word of US training?

I highly doubt he received any money at all, he was one of the movement's major funders. The CIA trained the ISI which in turned trained him. So did he receive instruction directly from the CIA? No, but the train the trainer program is the most effective way to create plausible deniability.

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If we suppose that all US government agencies are liars, and that all reporters and academicians are liars, then I don't think there is any evidence one way or the other. However, the usual story is that he was indirectly manipulated and not directly funded -- of course he was not a CIA operative.

You are aware the links you posted are mutually contradictory?

It's likely the CIA knew of Bin Laden during the Soviet years. Past that I have heard or read nothing that can prove a closer association, directly or indirectly.

The implication all over the place is that Bin Laden is like Noriega, trained purposefully by American agencies. I fail to see any evidence of that.

I don't think that it matters one bit whether the US directly or indirectly trained or supported bin Laden, because it is beyond serious question that we trained the mujahidin future terrorists and thugs of Afghanistan who enabled the attack, and without whose aid, comfort and support the attack could not have happened.

At the time, it was the lesser evil. And the setbacks the Red Army suffered in Afghanistan went a long way toeards demoralizing the Soviet leadership.

Reagan's biggest failure in foreign policy, was never dealing adequately with the terror-sponsoring states, especially Iran. No doubt the anti-soviet aid to the Afghans went a long way to setting up today's jihadis. But the arms-for-hostages mess did much more. The latter showed America would give in to blackmail.

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You are aware the links you posted are mutually contradictory?
Quite so: that's what I meant with my "now we know nothing" point. I don't expect the hard truth to be publically known in my lifetime -- we're talking about seriously classified information.
The implication all over the place is that Bin Laden is like Noriega, trained purposefully by American agencies. I fail to see any evidence of that.
Oh, well, I didn't know about that implication. I've certainly never understood the situation that way, and what I think is the case is simply that we had a bad foreign policy (we still do) where the only principle is "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". I leave open the possibility that he actually did get direct money from the CIA, but that's just a possibility, not a definite conclusion.
At the time, it was the lesser evil.
That's the other name. The lesser of two weevils is still evil, and I don't understand why the government can't just say "Here is a basic level of decency that you have to satisfy, in order to be called our friend and thus entitled to our largesse. Neither of you are decent, so we're not going to support either of you".
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Daedalus, as Lathanar pointed out the article actually says:

Let's just assume that Rand in fact did say "Pay 80% if you need it for defense." When quoting her you added the word 'taxation' altering the context to suite your argument, i.e., attributing a justification for coercion to Rand.

Not only is this dishonest, but correlating increased spending with higher tax rates begs the question.

I did not add anything. I was simply quoting John Hospers.

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Ever hear of that thing called the cold war? The arms race? What good did building up our military forces do other than make Russia build up theirs and forcing us to respond in kind?

We won the "Cold" War. The USSR lost -- in fact it's defunct. That's the good of building up our military forces.

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Do we have any military power in the world right now that is building up and attacking other countries or threatening ours? I said China would be the only one worth ramping up for. I am not going to say lets ramp up for a truckload of illegal immigrants that might be terrorists.

Would you be in favor of ramping up for an attack on the Empire State Building or the Sears Tower in Chicago? Who's minding the store? Who's making sure people entering our country now (as the 9/11 terrorists did in the previous decade) are not bent on mass destruction?

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Oh, well, I didn't know about that implication. I've certainly never understood the situation that way, and what I think is the case is simply that we had a bad foreign policy (we still do) where the only principle is "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

That is a huge part of the problem.

It is permissible to use one evil to defeat another, so long as you intend to deal with the lesser one afterwards. We owe evil nothing at all, even if we make use of it.

When not fully rational, a black and white view of the world can become a great hindrance. americans in particular seem to require benig friends with those who they support to any degree. Therefore the Afghan mujahadin(sp?) were portrayed as stalwart freedom fighters, rather than as backwards, dirty scoundrels whom we would merely use to deal the Soviets a defeat.

Of course, the phrase "The enemy of my enemy may be my enemy as well, but for now he's a useful tool I can wield to my advantage; he's not as big a threat, and I can put him in his place later, when the bigger threat is done with," does not make for a good soundbite (it's not even a phrase).

All of which comes down to one principle, self interest, and the inability of all too many presidents to assert it and defend it.

The lesser of two weevils is still evil, and I don't understand why the government can't just say "Here is a basic level of decency that you have to satisfy, in order to be called our friend and thus entitled to our largesse. Neither of you are decent, so we're not going to support either of you".

I made my case above.

As a practical matter, you must use what you have, not what you wish you had. Even then, you can try to shape what you ahve into something more palatable. For instance, we should have insisted in writing Iraq's constitution, the way we did with Japan and other defeated enemies. We coudl have done something similar in Afghanistan in the 80s and 90s. Even during the fighting, we could have favored more those who showed a willingness to adopt a secular, liberal (in its classic sense) outlook.

But, again, that requires principles to guide foreign policy.

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I'm just going to jump in:

I'm not a military expert, but from what I see I think the US could drastically cut down on their defence spending. The US has troops sitting in countries all over the world, including Europe and other nations where they aren't really needed for American defence. In my estimate, the US currently relies too much on ground troops. If one were to look at Iraq you would see there are thousands upon thousands of troops there--just think of how much each costs. But what would be required to win a self-interested war where one ruthlessly destroys their enemies? With our current technology, I believe the answer is planes carrying large payloads of bombs as well as missiles launched from ships at sea. Bombs may be expensive, but I believe they are much less expensive than training a ground soldier, are much more likely to cause enormous destruction against the enemy, and are a means of preventing casualties on our side.

Realistically, the regime in Iran could be ended without even putting Americans on Iranian soil--by simply flying into their airspace with planes and having the navy parked close enough to direct missiles at them. I think that an occupation might make sense there though, depending on how the war was waged. Still, with a proper war, this should cost fractions of what American occupations cost now.

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I have a question, then, relating to this idea. Let's take a situation like our current one. What happens when there are not enough troops to sustain a war? Certainly now, we are not getting enough new recruits and the older folks are retiring ASAP (Heck, I'll probably be doing the same!). Wars cannot be fought purely by bombs, and you cannot occupy without a large enough force (as we're currently learning). Near as I can tell, Objectivists are AGAINST the draft, but what do you do if you're forces are not nearly enough?

I worry sometimes, down the road, what's going to happen, if we keep dropping our recruiting numbers.

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Well, I would say that if your country is really in grave danger then almost everyone who could defend it would be willing to do so. Well, perhaps that is a little overexaggerated, but I do not think that in a real war you'd have lack of recruits in a free country. This of course only works if the people in their country truly value living there, something which may be missing these days because most have forgotten the values the US stands for..

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Wars cannot be fought purely by bombs, and you cannot occupy without a large enough force (as we're currently learning).
I have two related questions: regarding the first claim, why not; and on the second point, why should there be an occupation? The central question to be asking is, why should be be involved in a war in the first place? If you accept that the proper purpose of government is defending rights and specifically the military defends the US from attack from outside the US, it follows that nation-building is not the function of the government.
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I have a question, then, relating to this idea. Let's take a situation like our current one. What happens when there are not enough troops to sustain a war? Certainly now, we are not getting enough new recruits and the older folks are retiring ASAP (Heck, I'll probably be doing the same!). Wars cannot be fought purely by bombs, and you cannot occupy without a large enough force (as we're currently learning). Near as I can tell, Objectivists are AGAINST the draft, but what do you do if you're forces are not nearly enough?

In this example you ask to take a war like the one in Iraq and Afghanistan. You ask "what happens when there are not enough troops to sustain a war?" but this assumes there are not enough troops to defeat our enemies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and other places. I think your question and the situation are entirely unrelated. Our vastly inferior enemies in the Middle East could be annihilated with a few planes alone, if we were to fight a war egoistically--that is, morally.

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In this example you ask to take a war like the one in Iraq and Afghanistan. You ask "what happens when there are not enough troops to sustain a war?" but this assumes there are not enough troops to defeat our enemies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and other places. I think your question and the situation are entirely unrelated. Our vastly inferior enemies in the Middle East could be annihilated with a few planes alone, if we were to fight a war egoistically--that is, morally.

Reconstruction and occupation forces are immoral?

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Reconstruction is simply welfare paid for by Americans to the enemy population. Our only goal of the government is to eliminate the military threat as quickly as possible. Occupation is sometimes in our self-interest though. If the war on militant Islamic countries had been fought properly, I do not think an occupation in Iraq would be needed, at least not on the current scale. This is based on what I know about Japan's occupation--which is admittedly little.

In case you haven't read it, Just War Theory Vs American Self Defence by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein is available for free. It is also available in audio somewhere on that site. The two talks that have grounded my understanding of war sufficiently enough to meet my needs are "The Morality Of War" by Yaron Brook, and what I just linked to. ARI has a tonne of articles on this subject at America At War.

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