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The US war in Iraq

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We simply don't have enough soldiers at the moment. Not only do we have massive commitments all over the world (and in Afghanistan) already, but we are already having to use non-regular troops. If we want to really up our military strength in Iraq we will have to do some major reshuffling of troop strengths both in the US and all over the world. I don't think the political capital exists for that unfortunately.

You may be right but I believe not all of Iraq is in upheaval. We would only need to massively occupy a few provinces. Imagine how the Germans felt in WW2, exhausted and starving, to see big well feed Americans in brand new uniforms coming off the boat by the thousands handing out cigarettes and gum. It would be psychologically devastating to the Iraqi insurgents if the same thing happened to them. All their fighting and all their effort and what do we do? Double our force. Their morale would go through the floor.

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Interestingly one of the German nicknames for the Americans was "chewing gum soldiers" which refers to how the Germans saw the Americans as fat, sloppy soldiers always with gum in their mouths.

That's interesting. They were being disparaging no doubt, but the message we were sending with the gum was "We have so much money, there's let over to buy gum, you can never beat us."

I don't think gum would work these days, but some modern equivalent. It would have to be something that would be a conspicious luxury. An iPod maybe? I don't know. That's a crap idea because you don't want their hearing blocked, but something...

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Are the environmentalists' laws not the moral equivalent of bandits having stolen our domestic oil supplies? The survival of capitalists, i.e. those actually living, is the moral imperative. We need oil from somewhere. If we can't get our oil domestically because it was stolen by bandits in our midst, then our only possible action is to get it from foreign lands - and that justifies military intervention to secure the supplies, does it not?

Which is easier, taking it by force and shipping halfway around the world, or just scooping it up from where it is so rich that it sometimes literally bubbles from the surface?

Listen, I don't have a problem with taking back our oil from them. I do have a problem with the idea that importing oil is even necessary. Face it, both of the ideas are equally unacceptable to today's mainstream.

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Listen, I don't have a problem with taking back our oil from them. I do have a problem with the idea that importing oil is even necessary. Face it, both of the ideas are equally unacceptable to today's mainstream.

You're right, environmentalists have put us in a bit of a bind when it comes to acquiring energy, but another thing to note is that environmentalists are postmodernists. Postmodernism also includes multiculturalism. Multiculturalism refers of course to the idea of "diversity", and that you can't criticize another culture, especially if it's non-European.

It is my contention that postmodernists are responsible for this war with Islamacists, because they make us the villain and them the victims. Postmodernists are the ones who loudly criticize the war, and tell us we're creating terrorists. Postmodernists are the ones making it possible for muslims in Europe to rise up. By weakening our ability to fight the real bad guys, and this goes back to the 1980s, we have let the bad guys get stronger and stronger, and now we have a real war on our hands which we're still not fighting for fear of offending.

We have the postermodernist meme combined with the muslim meme, which are deadly in combination.

So, in effect, postmodernists have really screwed us up big time and this is their goal.

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The answer to what to do about Iraq may just be take out Iran.

9-11 was the act of rogue fanatics, and not – as Leonard Peikoff and others claim – an act of war by some country like Iraq or Iran. Certainly not Iraq, whose government had nothing to do with al Quada, and as for Iran, unlike the U.S. apparently the Iranian government helped bin Laden only after the attack.

Are there any reputable references showing that Iran helped bin Laden execute 9-11?

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Are there any reputable references showing that Iran helped bin Laden execute 9-11?
Are you referring to the previously undenied fact that Iran has been a major supporter of terrorism, and that it has created a terrorist millieu which enables specific terrorist attacks and terrorist-supporting countries? The state-level supporters of terrorism are the worst of the enablers: so however much I may castigate Pakistan for failing to deal effectively with the terrorists using its territory, that is nothing compared to the condemnation that is owed to former Talibanistan, Iran, Syria, and now Lebanon. I'd like to know what facts you are disputing.
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9-11 was the act of rogue fanatics, and not – as Leonard Peikoff and others claim – an act of war by some country like Iraq or Iran. Certainly not Iraq, whose government had nothing to do with al Quada, and as for Iran, unlike the U.S. apparently the Iranian government helped bin Laden only after the attack.

Just to add to what David said above...

You are dead wrong regarding "rouge fanatics". Rouge fanatics would be nothing more than weak gangs if not for state support. They'd be a mere police problem.

Al Qaeda, for instance, was fully supported by Afghanistan (the Taliban). They were given safe haven and sanction. Al Qaeda was financed by donors in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, in fact, pushed, and still pushes, this fanaticism. Most of the attackers were from Saudi Arabia. Yaron Brook targets both Iran and Saudi Arabia as the major state sponsors of terrorism.

So, state support was/is there big time for Al Qaeda.

A further point, this is not just a war against Al Qaeda. There are numerous islamic terrorist groups out there who have attacked Westerners, including Americans. For instance, the Hezbollah, which murdered a few hundred American marines in the 1980s (to our discredit, we did nothing about it).

These terrorist groups exist with the strength they have, because the have the massive power of terrorist states behind them supporting them 100%. In fact, the terrorist states nurture and train them. For instance, the Hezbollah is basically a wing of the Iranian army. They finance them to the tune of 200 million dollars a year. They took American hostages in 1979. As you admit, Iran has been helping Al Qaeda, and has been proactively causing havoc in Iraq by sending in insurgents, and now they are building a nuclear bomb. They are also designated by the State Department as the biggest state sponsors of terrorism.

At the end of the day, the solution to the terrorist problem is to absolutely and completely obliterate the terrorist states, most especially Iran. Once this is done, the terrorists will have their financing and support ripped from them, and a great deal of their motivation. They will be supremely weak. After hunting a few down, this could then be reduced to police problem localized to different countries.

Just to emphasize my point, it’s the jidhad meme combined with the postmodernist meme that has brought this war on us.

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Would you elaborate on that?

I like y_feldblum's response.

Let me see if I can add a bit. Imagine that the U.S. government let you be a terrorist. It supported you fully. You could live at your home free of any knock on the door from the cops. Neighbors wouldn't be a problem. You could go to Radio Shack, Lowe's, etc. to buy anything you want to build bombs and other nasty devices in order to engage in terrorism. Then, if you were funded by the government, you could afford large facilities and churn out more complex terrorist devices, and collaborate with other terrorists who'd also be free to do these things. You could have schools of terrorism set up to recruit more people and get them on board for the cause and all with the support of the state.

None of those things would be at all easy if you were engaged in criminal activities and the state were pursuing you.

That sanctuary means a great deal to terrorism.

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I'm amazed that no one has mentioned oil. Unless and until someone invents the equivalent of the fabled electrostatic motor, we need oil for survival. Surely that must be considered in choosing whether to use force against the threat of closure, seizure by hostile forces, destruction, or even mismanagement of the oil supply in that region. Assuming that the establishment of order by means of setting up a stable government is necessary to the oil supply, it can't be considered altruism, can it?

Oil supply from Iraq is hardly worth worrying about. Out of the 85 million barrels produced today Iraq only supplies 1.6 million. Well below pre-invasion numbers. Iraq's oil supply is currently inconsequential.

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David wrote:

“... Iran ... has created a terrorist milieu which enables specific terrorist attacks and terrorist-supporting countries ...”

Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, ... all have been involved in terrorist attacks against other countries in that region of the world. But not against the U.S. on U.S. soil, except for Pakistan on 9-11. I’m not sure what you mean by creating a terrorist milieu if it doesn’t include Pakistan as the major participant.

9-11 was the worst terrorist attack in recent (post WWII) history against any country. Clearly Pakistan is very important. I don’t follow how Yaron Brook and Leonard Peikoff harp on Iran and never mention Pakistan.

Thales wrote:

“Rogue fanatics would be nothing more than weak gangs if not for state support.”

Focus on the particular rogue bin Laden. The prosperity of the Middle Eastern region, such as it is, enabled him to become rich. And that prosperity was due in large part to the United States. We pump money into Middle Eastern dictatorships by buying their oil. Government restrictions on American industry (nuclear power, oil drilling locations, etc.) prevent us from becoming substantially, even totally, independent of that oil – as Inspector pointed out.

And before it’s over the Iraq War will have cost us over a trillion dollars, a thousand billion dollars, money sucked out of private sources, including industrialists and including innovators in energy production.

The U.S. CIA makes Pakistan much more dangerous by supporting its intelligence agency. This is where bin Laden himself came from. With U.S government help Al Qaeda was set up to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Later that same Al Qaeda expanded and turned against the U.S.

Our own state helped bin Laden in the two ways above. This is worth repeating because it’s easily within our power to end such help to future bin Ladens. End this help first, then worry about the danger of Iran or whatever.

“Al Qaeda was financed by donors in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, in fact, pushed, and still pushes, this fanaticism.”

Not Saudi Arabia as a state, just the opposite. The Saudi monarchy loves the material aspect of the U.S. – it makes billions off the U.S. and that enables it to rule. That the U.S. props up the Saudi monarchy is one reason Saudis who oppose the monarchy, fanatics though some may be, hate the U.S.

It’s true that U.S. installations in the Middle East have been victims of terrorist attacks. But what were we doing there in the first place? What on earth were American Marines spending our money and risking their lives in Lebanon in 1983 for? Not for any benevolently selfish reason. It was pure and senseless sacrifice.

“... Hezbollah is basically a wing of the Iranian army. They finance them to the tune of 200 million dollars a year. They took American hostages in 1979.”

Regarding the last – the American hostages taken in Tehran in 1979 – then some background is in order. American history vis-a-vis Iran didn’t begin in 1979. In 1953 the U.S. CIA instigated a coup d’etat in Iran that overthrew the socialist parliamentary government, ultimately installing a dictator, a man calling himself “the Shah of Iran.” This thug was supposed to be friendlier to U.S. interests, and the U.S. government supported him with foreign aid. But to the people of Iran the Shah was far worse than the government the U.S. helped overthrow: the Savak secret police, torture and murder of dissenters, etc. – tens of thousands of Iranians, perhaps millions, were killed during his regime. Eventually there was a popular uprising groping to end the oppression. This uprising got subverted by a Shah faction led by Ruhollah Khomeini, who ended up replacing the Shah as dictator in 1979. Unlike the Shah, Khomeini was a radical Islam type and called himself the Ayatollah.

The Americans you mention – U.S. diplomats to the Shah and their support personnel – were kidnapped a few months after the revolution by Iranian students angered at the U.S. And can you blame them for their anger? The Iranian government then took the hostages from the students, released most of them and kept 52 until, when Reagan was elected, it released them as well. Look up “October Surprise” and “Reagan” for more information.

Ayatollah Khomeini was the direct result of the CIA’s meddling. We “assist” Iran and get Khomeini. We arm Saddam against Iran (1980s) and get an armed Saddam. We help Pakistan train bin Laden and get al Qaeda.

And certain elements within our government love it. Rudolph Bourne, even if a socialist, said it best: “War is the health of the state.”

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Thales referred to: “... the jihad meme combined with the postmodernist meme that has brought this war on us.” Not sure what a meme is, but anyway, there are three aspects to 9-11: the desire to harm America, the means to do it, and the success of the attempt.

First the desire:

Some Arabs and Persians may appreciate that they are better off because of the U.S. But some of them focus on the harm the U.S. has done: Propping up dictators like the Shah of Iran, Saddam in Iraq, the Emir of Kuwait, the Saudi monarchy; and participating in Middle East wars like Iraq vs. Iran, Iraq vs. Kuwait, Israel vs. its neighbors. In this way the U.S. helps fanatics acquire and maintain a following.

If you participate in a war don’t be surprised when someone on the other side wants to retaliate. He’s ripe for recruiting by a bin Laden type.

Any Pakistani-Arabic-Persian fanatic will be more, not less, inclined to attack the U.S. because the U.S. nukes Iraq, or Bush forgets the “democracy crap” (quoting a U.S. official) and sets up a military dictatorship there.

As for the means of a would-be enemy like bin Laden to inflict harm: The previous post mentions the fact that the U.S. helped make bin Laden a menace by supporting Pakistani intelligence, and how we pump money into Middle Eastern dictatorships by buying their oil.

In so far as states are dangerous, not just rogue fanatics, note that for years the West has been training Middle Eastern scientists and engineers, and for years selling their governments military arms and equipment – frequently bought with foreign aid we gave them.

Removing the desire is within our power, and so is substantially lessening the means.

Again, 9-11 was the act of rogue fanatics – to be precise, the attempt of 9-11. The success of that attempt, to get to my third point, was due to unbelievable corruption within our government. See the books by Rodney Stich: http://www.DefraudingAmerica.com . They are amazing.

Like the desire, removing that corruption is also within our power. Islamic states or their fanatics are a danger to us primarily because we have made them a danger. We have met the enemy and primarily he is – not us – but our own corrupt government.

Correct these problems first and then worry about Iran, if it’s necessary.

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Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, ... all have been involved in terrorist attacks against other countries in that region of the world. But not against the U.S. on U.S. soil, except for Pakistan on 9-11. I’m not sure what you mean by creating a terrorist milieu if it doesn’t include Pakistan as the major participant.

9-11 was the worst terrorist attack in recent (post WWII) history against any country. Clearly Pakistan is very important. I don’t follow how Yaron Brook and Leonard Peikoff harp on Iran and never mention Pakistan.

I did mention Pakistan. I am not an expert on the public statements of Brook or Peikoff, so I am in no position to dispute your claim that they have never criticised Pakistan for its terror policies. It is undeniable that the actual policies of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are the worst, thus deserving of the greatest condemnation, by a couple of orders of magnitude. Perhaps somebody with a good knowledge of the foreign policy statements of Brook and Peikoff could address your implication that they are Pakistan-apologists. Pakistan is a significant terrorism-enabler, as I said. But you denied the responsibility of Iran, which is worse than not confusing an ineffective government with an actually evil government. The Pakistani government is ineffective and not evil with respect to terrorism (it is evil on other accounts such as having a basic grip on man's rights).
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Just to clarify, what's the problem with Iraq again?

1. It's costing too much money?

2 Coalition soldiers are dying. All soldiers know this is a risk, but due to altruistic decisions, more are dying than need be?

Any other problems?

On the good side, Iraq has become flypaper for terrorists. We are indeed killing many off. It provides a good diversion for Arabs who would otherwise go to Pakistan to launch attacks into Afghan.

We have brought more (limited) freedoms to the people of Iraq.

We have a base in the middle east. I'm sure we are picking up intelligence on Syria and Iran.

I know we are all military experts here, but perhaps this is indeed the way you fight this kind of war?

War really is hell. A lot of reasonable people, who just want to live their lives, end up getting killed. History has shown the consequences of the aftermath of war so many times. New threats emerge from places you would never expect. New attrocities. Perhaps having these "police actions" is actually the cheap way to fight a war?

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Just to clarify, what's the problem with Iraq again?
Well, we are spending huge amounts of tax-extorted money, thousands of American soldiers are dying, and this just pointless destruction of lives and money because no greater value will be gained. It's not even a good loss-leader -- we're not even getting one tenth back in return.
perhaps this is indeed the way you fight this kind of war?
By "this kind of war", do you mean "a war where you pointlessly destroy wealth and lives with no reasonable hope of getting something good in return, and just fight the war so that you can demonstrate your willingness to fight an unreasoned war?". I guess so. But the question out to be, should we fight such wars? My position, and I think a traditional policy of the military (perhaps just the old-fashioned military) is that the goal of war is to stop the enemy by killing them, and not to prolong the combat as long as possible.
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Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, ... all have been involved in terrorist attacks against other countries in that region of the world. But not against the U.S. on U.S. soil, except for Pakistan on 9-11. I’m not sure what you mean by creating a terrorist milieu if it doesn’t include Pakistan as the major participant.

Most of the 9/11 suicide bombers were from Saudi Arabia. Iran has been involved in terror attacks against Americans, as I mentioned else where.

9-11 was the worst terrorist attack in recent (post WWII) history against any country. Clearly Pakistan is very important. I don’t follow how Yaron Brook and Leonard Peikoff harp on Iran and never mention Pakistan.

They see Iran as the major Islamic strong hold, the big spreader of the ideas. Iran, afterall, is an Islamic totalitarian state. Pakistan wouldn't be unimportant, but it's not the most important on the list.

Thales wrote:

“Rogue fanatics would be nothing more than weak gangs if not for state support.”

Focus on the particular rogue bin Laden. The prosperity of the Middle Eastern region, such as it is, enabled him to become rich. And that prosperity was due in large part to the United States. We pump money into Middle Eastern dictatorships by buying their oil. Government restrictions on American industry (nuclear power, oil drilling locations, etc.) prevent us from becoming substantially, even totally, independent of that oil – as Inspector pointed out.

Probably true, but bin Laden had the protection and financial support of terrorist states, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, which was my point.

And before it’s over the Iraq War will have cost us over a trillion dollars, a thousand billion dollars, money sucked out of private sources, including industrialists and including innovators in energy production.

I'm not sure what this has to do with the point I made, which is that Iran is the main problem.

The U.S. CIA makes Pakistan much more dangerous by supporting its intelligence agency. This is where bin Laden himself came from.
I don't know what you mean by "came from", but bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia.

With U.S government help Al Qaeda was set up to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Later that same Al Qaeda expanded and turned against the U.S.

Right, we fought the Soviets via the Mujajadeen (sp?). However, we're not responsible for him being a wild-eyed fanatic.

Our own state helped bin Laden in the two ways above. This is worth repeating because it’s easily within our power to end such help to future bin Ladens. End this help first, then worry about the danger of Iran or whatever.

I don't agree. If we run into a bin Laden we can squash him like a bug, if we'd only use our power properly. You need a ruthlessly rights upholding and righteous foreign policy. That's what will keep you safe. Nobody is messing with Rome, because if you mess with it, bad things happen to you.

“Al Qaeda was financed by donors in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, in fact, pushed, and still pushes, this fanaticism.”

Not Saudi Arabia as a state, just the opposite. The Saudi monarchy loves the material aspect of the U.S. – it makes billions off the U.S. and that enables it to rule. That the U.S. props up the Saudi monarchy is one reason Saudis who oppose the monarchy, fanatics though some may be, hate the U.S.

Saudi Arabia is filled with fanatacism. It has universities that teach and spread that stuff. They have very little in the way of science and engineering schools.

It’s true that U.S. installations in the Middle East have been victims of terrorist attacks. But what were we doing there in the first place? What on earth were American Marines spending our money and risking their lives in Lebanon in 1983 for? Not for any benevolently selfish reason. It was pure and senseless sacrifice.
It was probably to support the oil trade, which is a benevolently selfish reason.

“... Hezbollah is basically a wing of the Iranian army. They finance them to the tune of 200 million dollars a year. They took American hostages in 1979.”

Regarding the last – the American hostages taken in Tehran in 1979 – then some background is in order. American history vis-a-vis Iran didn’t begin in 1979. In 1953 the U.S. CIA instigated a coup d’etat in Iran that overthrew the socialist parliamentary government, ultimately installing a dictator, a man calling himself “the Shah of Iran.” This thug was supposed to be friendlier to U.S. interests, and the U.S. government supported him with foreign aid. But to the people of Iran the Shah was far worse than the government the U.S. helped overthrow: the Savak secret police, torture and murder of dissenters, etc. – tens of thousands of Iranians, perhaps millions, were killed during his regime. Eventually there was a popular uprising groping to end the oppression. This uprising got subverted by a Shah faction led by Ruhollah Khomeini, who ended up replacing the Shah as dictator in 1979. Unlike the Shah, Khomeini was a radical Islam type and called himself the Ayatollah.

I have real doubts that the Shah was worse than a socialist. Socialists are very brutal, and what replaced the Shah was far worse again. The fact is that the real problem in that region is that it's mired in an extremely irrational philosophy and that's why it is brutal. The U.S. was just dealing with a bad region. It's like getting a kettle full of toxins and trying to make it a little less toxic.

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Probably true, but bin Laden had the protection and financial support of terrorist states, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, which was my point.

Do you have a source for this? Bin Laden hates Saudi Arabia, and the feeling is mutual. Saudi Arabia, while still a terror-sponsor, has poured vast amounts of money into fighting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. I don't doubt that there are some Saudi mosques that give financial support to bin Laden, but you can't blame the government for that.

To do so would be like blaming the United States government for supporting Palestinian Islamic Jihad, just because of the Holy Land Foundation.

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Do you have a source for this? Bin Laden hates Saudi Arabia, and the feeling is mutual. Saudi Arabia, while still a terror-sponsor, has poured vast amounts of money into fighting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. I don't doubt that there are some Saudi mosques that give financial support to bin Laden, but you can't blame the government for that.

You can blame the government, if they don't stop it.

Here is a quote from TIA Daily, Aug 06, 2002:

Link

The Saudi rulers are vigorous promoters of Wahhabism, a fanatical Islamic sect that preaches—among other barbaric doctrines—that Muslims have a duty to hate non-Muslims. They have exported this hatred to the rest of the region, inspiring and sponsoring the Taliban, paying blood money to Palestinian terrorists, broadcasting anti-Jewish incitement and anti-American propaganda in their state-controlled press, and tolerating the free flow of money to organizations like al-Qaeda.
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Thales,

Those of us with no first hand knowledge of Saudi Arabia must rely on reputable reporters to find out what’s going on there. Robert Tracinski’s TIAdaily comment, quoted by you, relies on a July 10, 2002 Pentagon briefing (described in the Washington Post) entitled “Taking Saudi Out of Arabia” given by Laurent Murawiec, at that time a Rand Corporation analyst and still a member of the Hudson Institute.

Murawiec is a neoconservative, not a reputable reporter. The Hudson Institute is a neoconservative think-tank. The final slide he projected at his Pentagon presentation is an example of neocon nuttiness:

... “Grand strategy for the Middle East

...... Iraq is the tactical pivot

...... Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot

...... Egypt the prize.”

To be perfectly frank, I don’t want Egypt.

Neoconservatives have an agenda superceding truth – the justifications for the Iraq War being a prime example of their deceit. They can’t be trusted to describe Wahhabism accurately because they will always paint Arabs in the worst colors irrespective of the facts. Since Murawiec is associated with these people I don’t trust him. (And I wouldn’t trust Tracinski either.) The truth about muslims is bad enough without exaggerating.

You can find disgusting war-mongering things in the Bible. It would be unjust to focus on these parts and say “Look what disgusting warmongering creeps all these christians be.” Yet some people do just that regarding the Talmud and Judaism. Their method should not be imitated when considering the Koran and Islam.

I suspect Wahhabism is no different from fundamentalist Christianity: the vast majority of its adherents are harmless (except to themselves), and then there are the fanatics who are not.

The notion that Wahhabism is little different from fundamentalist Christianity is upheld by some people whose reputation or credentials indicate that they, unlike Tracinski, may know what they’re talking about. The BBC article linked to at the end of this post is probably closer to the truth than Tracinski’s paragraph.

Gary Leupp, a professor at Tufts History Department, is mentioned many places on the Internet, praised and vilified. He may be wrong or exaggerate in the opposite direction, but I’d trust him before I’d trust neocons like Murawiec above, or those at the National Review, or at FrontPageMag.

Who then is a reputable reporter about Wahhabism? The problem is finding an “expert” we can trust. I’m still looking. But I wouldn’t trust the neoconservatives if they said the sky was blue, and in this case they may be saying it’s orange.

The Saudi monarchy is probably promoting Wahhabism for the same reason Napoleon promoted Christianity in France: to keep the masses docile and obedient. It’s an old story: The Count said to the Priest, I’ll keep them poor and you keep them stupid.

Thales wrote:

I have real doubts that the Shah was worse than a socialist.

No need to have one doubt about it. I gave a thumbnail sketch in my previous post and there are plenty of reputable articles on the Internet fleshing it out. The Iranian people did not rise up against their parliamentary socialist system, instead the coup against it was instigated by the CIA, which intentionally installed the Shah as dictator. And the Iranian people did rise up, eventually, against the brutality of the Shah. The uprising got hijacked by a Shah faction led by Ruhollah Khomeini. The CIA ultimately – if stupidly – helped install an islamic theocracy in Iran.

You (Thales) continue:

Socialists are very brutal, and what replaced the Shah was far worse again.

Of course the first part, before the comma, is not always true. A country can possess a substantial amount of socialism without barbarism: France, Sweden, the Pilgrims, etc. And in the Middle East, socialism is a step forward, not – as in the U.S. and Europe – a step backward.

Your second part – “what replaced the Shah was far worse” – that is, worse than the Shah – sluffs over the fact that the Shah was far worse than what the CIA overthrew to install him. (And you might flesh out why Ruhollah Khomeini was far worse for the Iranians than the Shah. When you get that low it’s hard to make distinctions.)

Here’s the BBC article about Wahhabism:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1571144.stm

“In daily life, the Saudi religious establishment – the ulema – have imposed strict segregation of the sexes, an absolute prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol, a ban on women driving and many other social restrictions.

“The rules are enforced by the ‘mutawa’, or religious police, who patrol the streets and shopping centres on the look-out for anyone breaking the rules.”

This is too bad, but it’s not “I hate Americans because they’re free. I think I’ll go over there and blow myself up.”

David,

I had asked: Are there any reputable references showing that the Iranian government helped bin Laden execute 9-11?

You answered by talking about Iran creating “a terrorist milieu.” This is rhetoric when I want explicit facts. It’s doubtful such facts exist, because if they did then, given the Bush Administration’s obvious desire to do a “mission accomplished” in Iran, the Administration would be proclaiming the Iranian government’s 9-11 participation to the skies night and day at rock concert volume.

Instead all we hear is “Nuclear bomb some years from now.” The Administration is silent about the fact that Iran right now, unlike Iraq in 2003, really does have an arsenal of viable chemical weapons. It has had them for many years. But that fact doesn’t fit what the neoconservatives call their “created reality.”

There are obvious things the U.S. should do before Iraqing Iran is even considered. Fast, easy, inexpensive things – indeed we’d keep a lot more of our money if we did them – described in my earlier posts #39 and parts of #38 about desire, means, and success. Stop involving ourselves in other countries’ wars, become energy independent from the Middle East—and in general stop aiding and trading with dictatorships, and above all clean up the massive criminal corruption in our government as described by Rodney Stich in Defrauding America and other books.

I’ve quoted Randolph Bourne before but his pithy observation is worth repeating: “War is the health of the State.” Usually war is unhealthy for you and me. War is the absolute last option.

Edited by MarkH
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You answered by talking about Iran creating “a terrorist milieu.” This is rhetoric when I want explicit facts. It’s doubtful such facts exist, because if they did then, given the Bush Administration’s obvious desire to do a “mission accomplished” in Iran, the Administration would be proclaiming the Iranian government’s 9-11 participation to the skies night and day at rock concert volume.
That's the most bizarre proof I've ever seen. What you're demanding, then, is not proof that Iran helped al Qaida terrorists to bring about 9/11, but proof that agents of the Iranian government gave materials aid directly to al Qaida.

Iran caused 9-11, via the so-called Revolution, which terminates the movement toward freedom in the Middle East, established terrorism as a viable political tool, and was the political model of a modern Islamist theocracy as was created in Afghanistan. What parts of this do you dispute.

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First I would like to correct what I said to Alon in my last post, and clarify it further: My criticism was only of that post, and not of the individual writing it, in general.

I realize also that what seemed to me as "memorization" could simply be the result of bad phrasing, lack of time to write the ideas in enough detail or other factors. In fact I also realized it (the other possible factors) when I wrote my post, which is why I said "it seems memorized" and not "it is memorized, and this is what the writer DOES (all the time)".

On 6th reading I do think that the overall tone was a bit too much, and I'm sorry for that. I hope you'd come back to the discussion sometime, Alon.

If there were a reason to think that another two thousand American deaths and a couple trillion dollars more might somehow bring freedom to Iraq, I might at least consider the arguments, but until you can give even a smattering of a reason to think that freedom and rational behavior is possible there, I don't see that the "stay the course" argument has a jot of persuasiveness.

Perhaps it is not the money or amount of soldiers that can make the difference in Iraq: perhaps the problem is with enforcement: Punishments not severe enough, American soldiers avoiding use of force against Iraqis (to not create antagonism), etc'. Perhaps the policy is the problem and not the money... I don't really know.

However, if self defense for America (in the long term) can be achieved more efficiently by leaving now, then I think that they should leave. Careful examination of future costs and predictions of how Iraq is likely to develop is necessary.

As for what you said about democracy and election in Iran: Were the elections really free and reflect the citizen's actual opinions?

Now, with that said, I want to base my argument that providing (some sort of) education for freedom and individual rights can be a form of self-defense:

Armed rebellion would only be justified if rights were significantly violated, for example, there would be a loss of freedom of speech. As long as ideas can be freely exchanged the process that lead to rights violation can be reversed via non-violent means, through intellectual revolution.
(bold emphasis mine). What do you mean by "justified" here? moral? Is armed rebellion a question of morality or of efficiency? Suppose you thought that some armed rebellion could lead to the abolishment of taxes (in a way that would not ruin the economy, meaning gradually), would it be immoral to do it? I don't think so. I think that armed rebellion is a question of efficiency and cost in achieving freedom. Efficiency, and not morality (though it is moral to do what is most efficient, but I rather leave that aspect aside in this discussion) is the factor in the decision of the form of self-defense.

Investing money and resources in educating citizens of another country is altruism. Education is not a proper role of a government even when it comes to it's own citizens. In contrast, ARI is an intellectual institution so it serves a different role in society.

Good point. I realize I should have made my initial argument more clear. I said: "Why does the ARI only encourage choosing the educating strategy in internal policy, but not in external policy?" and it sounds as if I think that education grows on trees. There is a difference if a private organization decides to give value to someone for free, or if the government does that (using other people's money). So it does seem like there's a huge hole in my argument (or question). But there isn't (or at least, the government/private company is not that). Here is the explanation:

In a free society any individual or private company are free to do whatever they want with their resources (as long as all the owners agree). So in fact if some company with a self-sacrificial philosophy decides to buy and donate books to kids, they are free to choose whatever irrational course of action they want (but the government should not be).

The thing is: that I am examining the ARI's actions under the premise that they represent what is rational, and what IS self-defense. Self defense here is a principle that can be applied not just to a private organization, a group of people, but also to an individual or a country. I am looking at their actions and making them a principle of self defense: to explain further: if I apply this principle to an individual that is being harassed by bullies at his school, this individual would act in self defense by offering free lectures that guide students how to avoid the use of violence. When this principle of rational self-defense is applied to a government, one form of rational self defense of a country would be to invest resources in spreading good philosophy.

The primary difference is that one is a form of altruism and the other is not.
I hope I explained better now why I think

this is not self-sacrifice, but a form of self-defense.

Ayn Rand books, with the permission of ARI, have been translated to many languages.

Just translation is not enough. Do you know that in Israel we only have TF, AS and anthem translated? and those books are not very known. I was very surprised to discover that in the local library in some city in California, I can find VoS, or video tapes of Rand (!!). People in Israel are hardly familiar with Objectivism.

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(Ifat @ Nov 17 2006, 10:18 AM)

Freedom can be gained by force. It's the cost and the method's-efficiency that are in question here, when considering the best course of action.

(~Sophia~ @ Nov 18 2006, 11:19 PM)

Armed rebellion would only be justified if rights were significantly violated, for example, there would be a loss of freedom of speech. As long as ideas can be freely exchanged the process that lead to rights violation can be reversed via non-violent means, through intellectual revolution.

What do you mean by "justified" here? moral? Is armed rebellion a question of morality or of efficiency?

Both. Armed rebellion results in massive loss of lives, property damage and losses, overall disruption of economic activity, looting - just to name a few.

But most importantly, what you do not want to promote in society is legitimizing the use of force over rational dialogue. To attempt to achieve the good by physical force, when intelectual persuasion is possible, is to reject reason as means with which men should deal with one another. Overthrowing of government by physical force, so called armed uprising, must be thus considered as the last resort, when no other means are available.

(~Sophia~ @ Nov 18 2006, 11:19 PM)

Investing money and resources in educating citizens of another country is altruism. Education is not a proper role of a government even when it comes to it's own citizens. In contrast, ARI is an intellectual institution so it serves a different role in society.

Self defense here is a principle that can be applied not just to a private organization, a group of people, but also to an individual or a country.

I am looking at their actions and making them a principle of self defense: to explain further: if I apply this principle to an individual that is being harassed by bullies at his school, this individual would act in self defense by offering free lectures that guide students how to avoid the use of violence. When this principle of rational self-defense is applied to a government, one form of rational self defense of a country would be to invest resources in spreading good philosophy.

I hope I explained better now why I think this is not self-sacrifice, but a form of self-defense.

Your definition of self defense must be different from mine. The right of self-defense is a legal and moral, right to use force to defend yourself, your family, and your property against physical attack. The only proper purpose of government is to protect its citzens from physical violence. Government may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. Education is not a form of self defence as you suggest. One does not and cannot 'negotiate' with brutality. When faced with it what one needs is firm opposition.

Citizens of one country should not be forced to pay for education of citizens of other countries (sacrificing their own enconomic prosperity) as means of preventing potential physical attacks.

(Ifat @ Nov 17 2006, 10:18 AM)

Why does the ARI only encourage choosing the educating strategy in internal policy, but not in external policy?

(~Sophia~ @ Nov 18 2006, 11:19 PM)

Ayn Rand books, with the permission of ARI, have been translated to many languages

Just translation is not enough. Do you know that in Israel we only have TF, AS and anthem translated? and those books are not very known. I was very surprised to discover that in the local library in some city in California, I can find VoS, or video tapes of Rand (!!). People in Israel are hardly familiar with Objectivism.

Not enough for what and for whom? This is the issue of priorities. People who financially support ARI, who are mostly Americans, are more concerned with spreading Objectivism in their own backyard, as they should be. That is the primary role of ARI. Educating the rest of the world is of secondary concern, as it should be.

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I would like to put this thread back to what Moose said, in post number 1: "What do you think needs to be done [in Iraq]?"

The following needs to be done, and follows by its justification:

Need 1:

We need to identify who the enemy is in Iraq, and how much of a threat they are to the United States interests to its people.

Justification 1:

Before we continue throwing money and our army men's lives in Iraq, we should have intelligence of who exactly is attacking us. Once we identify who is attacking us, then we can react accordingly. No person, company, or government can act without first knowing why they are acting. If we don't know who to attack, then we

Need 2:

Attack the enemy without putting American troops at risk.

Justification 2:

Once we know who the enemy is, we can of course take them out. The method we should use should be "by any means necessary". This includes: Air Assault, Fire Bombing, Napalm, Agent Orange, Mustard Gas, and, if needed, Nuclear. This is very easy to be done by planes, and all of our enemies will not put up much of an air challenge for us.

Need 3:

Kill civilians.

Justification 3:

There is absolutely no such thing as innocents in war. If an individual is part of an economic system of a dictatorship, then they are supporting the dictatorship. People who support the enemy are the enemy, and should be treated as such (i.e. killed). To win a war, we have to kill as much enemies as needed to make them loose the will to fight. Only after that, will we be able to say "we won".

If the Jihadists realize we mean business, and we deal with them swiftly and cheaply, only then would our self interest be protected, which is the whole point of war. And that is the only way for us to win the War on Terror.

To everyone else:

In a dictatorship, the wealth (and lives) ultimately belongs to one person: The dictator. The wealth that a dictator receives is by handouts by the wonderful United Nations, which is wealth looted from the rich, productive nations. Those nations have already lost that wealth, and what the army is doing is removing that wealth once and for all, so the dictator is unable to continue using it. Do not fool yourself into thinking that it is wealth they have created, it is not. It is material goods that is given to them, and that they have absolutely no right to own those goods.

Also, don't let yourself get distracted into thinking we have to set up a "democracy" (ugh!). Why should we sacrifice our money, our time, and our men to give a country that brings us no value a democracy? I see no reason for it, and I do not see sacrifice as ever being good.

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