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Pre-emptive War: e.g. Should we nuke Tehran?

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Are you asking for an exhaustive list, or a general characterization? I assume you know what "threat" means; then threatening the US is making a threat against the US (in part or in whole). For exampl

I'm aware of most of those imaginary claims you consider "knowledge of the situation". I just happen to know they're not real, so I don't consider them when passing judgement on Iran.

If this was true it would be an easy matter to overthrow oppressive states. This won't work because you have reversed cause and effect. Philosophy is what drives history. It is the funda

I wouldn't worry about dirty nukes, EMP devices should scare the beejesus out of you though.

This.

When people think of us being nuked, they often think that the offending country is going to start lobbing 20 megaton bombs at our cities. While that might happen eventually, initially the offending country could (and would most likely) detonate a thermonuclear device high in the atmosphere. This knocks out pretty much our entire infrastructure. That scares me more than being turned into ashes before I even feel the heat.

Think about it. You're typing a response this thread and everything just dies. No warning. No way of knowing the cause.

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Kolker, you're missing the point. In emergency situations we have to throw conventional ethics out the window. This means we may have to manipulate other countries into being on our side. If this means choosing the more accepted amongst two otherwise equal (in essential terms) choices to have the appearance of being less ruthless, so be it. For deploying that much damage in a single unit of time, modern conventional weapons are fully capable of having the same kind of impact as WMDs.

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This.

When people think of us being nuked, they often think that the offending country is going to start lobbing 20 megaton bombs at our cities. While that might happen eventually, initially the offending country could (and would most likely) detonate a thermonuclear device high in the atmosphere. This knocks out pretty much our entire infrastructure. That scares me more than being turned into ashes before I even feel the heat.

The U.S. has a virtual exclusive on 20 megaton thermonuclear bombs. Our enemies will be smuggling in pieces of small tac-nukes and assembling them here. Then they will bring them into the target cities on 18 wheelers.

And who needs full bore nukes? One can easily assemble dirty radioactive material bombs made from the waste of nuclear generating states and hospital fissile material. It is easy to steal. Put a glob of that stuff in an explosive container and it could render parts of Manhattan or Washington D.C. uninhabitable for years.

Or who needs radioactive material at all. Load up 18 wheelers with high explosives. Have Abdul, Faisal, Ibrihim and Yussef drive the truck into the Lincoln Tunnel or over the George Washington Bridge at rush hour. Allah'hu'akbar - Boom and New York city is paralyzed for weeks. Or dump botulin toxin in the New York City reservoirs. This stuff is easily obtainable over the internet. Or how about dynamiting high voltage electric lines. They cannot be guarded.

The low tech attacks can be as effective as high tech attacks.

This country is so damned vulnerable. I am surprised no one has tried it yet.

Bob Kolker

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Why is no one willing to call out Kolker on this? Nevermind his ridiculous statement--that he makes with utterly unwarranted certainty--that DC and NYC will both be nuked or dirty bombed. He is an absolutely despicable person who has, in other threads, explicitly advocated genocide, even going so far as to use the G word itself. As you can see in this post, he doesn't support bombing population centers out of defensive necessity, while expressing sadness that it is necessary to do so. Instead, he supports bombing them, because he just doesn't give a fuck about the innocents who are killed. He even justifies it with the "well, they'd just turn into terrorist someday anyway" logic. While we're at it, lets kill all black children, simply because they are more likely than white children to eventually become criminals. Unfair comparison? Nope. It's the same logic he uses.

Even though the outcome of both approaches is the same, I am a firm believer that it is your intentions which make your actions good or evil. Kolker's intention could be to protect American lives and to place the blame for innocent deaths on the hands of terrorists. But he doesn't care about blaming them for innocent death, because he views Arabs/Muslims as a monolithic group of guilty, evil terrorists. It is a tribal, racist, and evil mentality. Kolker should be condemned for his statements and banned from these forums.

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No. Genocide is the sanest reaction to Islam currently available. Fifty years ago we might have been able to do considerably less to the Muslims to lessen the danger they pose to us.

Bob Kolker

Since I know someone will eventually ask me for proof that he said this.

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Since I know someone will eventually ask me for proof that he said this.

I wrote it. I have reluctantly concluded that our government is incapable of doing it right, so we should not try it. If we went the way of the Big G then we have to go all the way. No holding back and god damn the collateral damage to our friends (that means destroying Israel, if we do Genocide on the Middle East). I don't think we have the government for it. I don't think the psychology of the American people is right for it. As a people, Americans are fat dumb happy and un-wise. Only rarely do we collectively get our heads screwed on right and do the job. That last time that happened was in WW2.

It is unfortunate, but true. We are incapable of taking the only logical step.

Bob Kolker

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I rest my case.

I got a 20% warning for suggesting that some environmentalists, even if misguided in their views, are doing what they think is best for human civilization, by keeping the earth such that it can sustain human life.

Kolker just explicitly stated his desire to see us exterminate the entire human population of the Middle East. I'll leave it up to a moderator to decide what action to take. If none is taken, then shame on the moderators, and shame on this forum.

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I rest my case.

I got a 20% warning for suggesting that some environmentalists, even if misguided in their views, are doing what they think is best for human civilization, by keeping the earth such that it can sustain human life.

Kolker just explicitly stated his desire to see us exterminate the entire human population of the Middle East. I'll leave it up to a moderator to decide what action to take. If none is taken, then shame on the moderators, and shame on this forum.

What I said was I no longer think so, because our government is incompetent to do the job right. We should not undertake something so serious without having the chops and the wits to do so. You will note that the date of that quote was 2007. It is going on three years later now. I have rethought the matter some.

I will be perfectly honest. I have no principled objection to wiping our enemies out, man, woman and child. For example, I consider Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945 Good Days for the U.S. But there are practical considerations and consequences, so regardless of how I (or anyone else) feels about the matter, we should not do something that will produce ill results for us.

If I had a button to push that would have eliminated the entire Middle East on 9/12/2001, I would have pushed it without hesitation. I would not have lost a wink of sleep. But time has past and one must reconsider things in the light of facts. I have re-thought the matter some. I still feel as angry as ever, but I have some fears of the consequences. I am afraid America does not have the heart, liver and spleen for thorough mass killing. Too many of our people worry about collateral damage. Too many of our people want to be loved. That is unfortunate for us.

Now if you wish to flog me for being honest, by all means do.

Bob Kolker

Edited by Robert J. Kolker
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No one wants to flog you for being honest. Though the government is prohibited from restricting freedom of speech, CNN is perfectly within its rights to disallow incitement to genocide on its own airwaves. As are the keepers of this forum. When I accuse you of supporting genocide, it's not much of a defense to say "well, no I don't, but only because we won't do it right."

Everyone in this thread who responded with anything but outright condemnation of you should be ashamed of themselves. It's not hard to imagine someone--totally unfamiliar with Ayn Rand or the individual rights philosophy that we generally espouse here--stumbling upon this webpage. If they were to read your posts and see that, not only are you allowed to spew your tribalistic venom, but no one even calls you out on it, then every poster here looks guilty by association.

I don't care how old you are and how much you've been through. I recall you bragging, at one point, of how you have purged yourself of all human compassion. You are laboring under the delusion that ardent capitalists should share your mindset. I can be a capitalist without feeling pitiless indifference to mass murder. There are few people I have ever felt like saying this to, but I think you deserve it: the world is a worse place with you in it.

Edited by The Wrath
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I had not seen this thread.

I am nauseated by Robert Kolker's calls to genocide.

I condemn it as an anti-man, anti-Objectivist view.

Force should be use only in retaliation and only against those that initiated force. Not against anyone else. Not against the wife of the agressor, or the child of the agressor. Just against the agressor.

In terms of rights, the United States does not exist. Iran does not exist.

There are not "USA rights" or "Iran's crimes"

Collectives have no rights. Collectives cannot commit crimes.

Some people here speak as if the United States, the collective, were a person being attacked by other person, called Iran, which therefore should be eliminated.

This all smells strongly like colectivism and mysticism.

Nuking Iran (as opposed to making his government and army surrender by the use of conventional arms) has the deliberate intention to kill people who have not initiated violence and who do not represent an objective threat. Children, to start with.

Can anything be more anti-Objectivist?

Edited by Hotu Matua
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In terms of rights, the United States does not exist. Iran does not exist.

[...]

Some people here speak as if the United States, the collective, were a person being attacked by other person, called Iran, which therefore should be eliminated.

Obviously, nations do exist. A nation is the only thing that can put a country to war. Otherwise, what point would there even be in having a military? Civillians who are killed in a war are the moral responsibility of the government that initiated the conflict. Secondly, the people of a country are responsible for and deserve the government they have, even in dictatorships.

The only policy a free country should have towards a country who is violently attacking its citizens is to eliminate it. Part of that means civillians will die, but that is the responsibility of the government who initiated the aggression, and their leaders should be held morally accountable for that.

Also, a couple of days ago I was in a discussion where I found myself defending AR to a group of idiotic libertarians. (Waste of time, I know.) One of them actually said "If Ayn Rand had her way, there would be no Middle East, because she would have bombed every man, woman, and child in it." Now I read this guy on the Objectivist forums? Unbelievable.

Edited by 2046
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Secondly, the people of a country are responsible for and deserve the government they have, even in dictatorships.

I never really understood that line, because in a dictatorship, I'm sure most people would be able to do nothing about it and could not have prevented it. Clearly some governments attain power through force, so I don't see how, in those cases, anyone would be responsible for that except those of the oppressive government and those who explicitly or implicitly support the government in question.

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Obviously, nations do exist. A nation is the only thing that can put a country to war. Otherwise, what point would there even be in having a military? Civillians who are killed in a war are the moral responsibility of the government that initiated the conflict. Secondly, the people of a country are responsible for and deserve the government they have, even in dictatorships.

Context dropping!

I started my statement by saying, "in terms of rights".

Although we commonly use as shortcuts sentences like "Country A has the right to retaliate the agression caused by country B", what we really mean is that "some citizens from country A have the right to retaliate the agression caused by some citizens from country B."

How do citizens from country A will perform this retaliation? Unless they are irrational brutes, they will make an effort to retaliate

1) in proportion to the damage received

2) targeting the agressors, not innocents

3) achieving ends or consequences that are aligned to their selfish long-term rational goals

Certainly, it is technically difficult, and at times impossible, to spare innocent lives. But the objective, ostensible intention of the method chosen should bear these characteristics.

Nuking Iran obviously is deliberately intended to provoke damage much higher in the proportion of the damage received, it would deliberately target innocent people. In addition, I would strongly question how the consequences of this attack would be in favour of American citizens long term interest, considering the reaction from our allies, the creation of martyrs that will feed fundamentalism, the radioactive harm to Azerbaijan or other countries around the oil-rich Caspian sea, among others.

The only policy a free country should have towards a country who is violently attacking its citizens is to eliminate it.

Your sentence, again, reveals collectivism, ambiguity and absurdity... not to mention a mystical appeal to nationalism.

When you end your sentence with "elminate it", what is the "it" you are referring to?

To eliminate the ojective capacity to launch an attack ? To eliminate the guys responsible for having designed, executed or supported the attack?

What does "eliminate a country" mean? Eliminating its museums and art? Eliminating its children?

When you say "This a cancer. We have to eliminate it" you mean you will target the tumour. You may kill some healthy cells and cause some side effects in the process, but your method will be clearly, objectively targeting the tumor. When you say "let's eliminate this cancer" you never mean "let's eliminate this patient".

Part of that means civillians will die, but that is the responsibility of the government who initiated the aggression, and their leaders should be held morally accountable for that.

Well, it all depends on the context. If the innocent victims are truly collateral damage, you are right. If they are not, you are wrong. And there are objective ways to know it. So, again, beware of your context dropping.

Also, a couple of days ago I was in a discussion where I found myself defending AR to a group of idiotic libertarians. (Waste of time, I know.) One of them actually said "If Ayn Rand had her way, there would be no Middle East, because she would have bombed every man, woman, and child in it." Now I read this guy on the Objectivist forums? Unbelievable.

Ayn Rand had, as we say here in Mexico, no hairs on her tongue. Meaning, she was candid and bold. If she had thought it was in the interest of American people to bomb every man, woman and child in the Middle East, she would have said it. She had plenty of opportunities to do it. But she didn't.

Retaliation, as any other human act, must be guided by reason. Ayn Rand was not primarily preaching for Americanism, or capitalism, or selfishness. All of this were derivatives of her primary theme: RATIONALITY. She said it. It is about time for you to understand it.

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I had not seen this thread.

I am nauseated by Robert Kolker's calls to genocide.

I condemn it as an anti-man, anti-Objectivist view.

I want to second this. Most emphatically Not Okay¬ô.

I am in favor of legitimate self-defense. But wiping the population from a swath of several countries goes far beyond that and could never be justified on the basis of self-defense or any other means. It is wrong, it is evil, and I won't condone it.

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So four years later, and 800+ replies, the topical question is finally being met with a resounding "NO".

About time.

No Objectivist should consider nuking a city, except in the very, very last resort of self-defence.

Even the 'surgical' bombing strikes are immoral, unless two nations are in a proclaimed state of warfare.

Terrorism is a case I believe for having men on the ground (your CIA), infiltrating, assessing, and assassinating the culprits themselves.

You can't get more surgical than that.

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How do citizens from country A will perform this retaliation? Unless they are irrational brutes, they will make an effort to retaliate

1) in proportion to the damage received

2) targeting the agressors, not innocents

3) achieving ends or consequences that are aligned to their selfish long-term rational goals

Certainly, it is technically difficult, and at times impossible, to spare innocent lives. But the objective, ostensible intention of the method chosen should bear these characteristics.

Nuking Iran obviously is deliberately intended to provoke damage much higher in the proportion of the damage received, it would deliberately target innocent people.

Could you please elaborate on proportionality? I ask because, as I understand your "point 1", it is wrong. Proportionality to me means a kind of tit-for-tat back-and-forth use of force, where the violence of one side resembles the violence of another. Wars aren't won this way, and when they are fought this way they last forever. Nations that want to win wars will aspire to using much more force than their opponents. In other words, they will use force disproportionately. Superior numbers at the point of attack, bigger bombs, etc. Using force disproportionately is not only effective, it is the right thing to do when warred upon.

Edited by FeatherFall
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So four years later, and 800+ replies, the topical question is finally being met with a resounding "NO".

About time.

No Objectivist should consider nuking a city, except in the very, very last resort of self-defence.

Even the 'surgical' bombing strikes are immoral, unless two nations are in a proclaimed state of warfare.

Terrorism is a case I believe for having men on the ground (your CIA), infiltrating, assessing, and assassinating the culprits themselves.

You can't get more surgical than that.

Isn't pre-emtive war initiation of force? I can see no justification for attacking another nation, regardless of it's inhabitants, without said nation taking violent action first. The US nuking Tehran is about as moral as me shooting someone I've had disagreements with because we might get in a fight later. The notion is absolutely absurd.

What I do think is that the minute they initiate force we wipe them off of the face of the earth along with any other nation that has the gall to attack us. NO ONE has the right to initiate force; why should this not apply to nations?

I have not read this thread because it is 43 pages long. I'm a little confused as to how there have been so many replies... Reason suggests that pre-emptive force is nothing less than terrorism. How has "NO" not jumped out as the answer? How can someone who has studied the work of Rand even be asking this question?

Also, how can someone who calls themselves an Objectivist advocate Genocide? That is utterly disgusting.

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Isn't pre-emtive war initiation of force? I can see no justification for attacking another nation, regardless of it's inhabitants, without said nation taking violent action first.

Perhaps you are incorrectly equating force to violence? See Amit Ghate's excellent treatment of the subject here:

Force and Violence: How the Left Blurs Terms

In it Ghate addresses the Tea Party movement, but you should be able to see how the misidentification of force and violence could also cloud up issues of foreign policy.

Edit: My point is that threats are a form of force. Thus attacking someone that threatens you is not an initiation of force even if it is the initiation of violence.

Edited by FeatherFall
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Perhaps you are incorrectly equating force to violence? See Amit Ghate's excellent treatment of the subject here:

Force and Violence: How the Left Blurs Terms

In it Ghate addresses the Tea Party movement, but you should be able to see how the misidentification of force and violence could also cloud up issues of foreign policy.

Edit: My point is that threats are a form of force. Thus attacking someone that threatens you is not an initiation of force even if it is the initiation of violence.

I probably am. Do you have any other information on the differences of force and violence?

I have never seen Rand write "initiation of violence". It is always force. If threats are force, then would it not be reasonable for me to shoot a man who says he's going to kill me without taking any action? Of course modern law would not look too kindly on my actions, but would this be acceptable in a reasonable society?

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Context dropping!

I started my statement by saying, "in terms of rights".

Yes, and I meant that. You can't seperate morality out of politics and pretend there are no such things as nations, just individuals privately going to war with each other. If that were so, there would be no need for government at all, or as AR said, all the "governments" would be over here on one side doing things amongst themselves, and all the "people with rights" would be doing things amongs themselves over here, undisturbed. Talk about context dropping!

1) in proportion to the damage received

2) targeting the agressors, not innocents

3) achieving ends or consequences that are aligned to their selfish long-term rational goals

When you go to war, you don't pull your punches so that your defense is "in proportion to the damage received." You go all out, or not at all. Anything less is not a war.

Nuking Iran obviously is deliberately intended to provoke damage much higher in the proportion of the damage received,

Yes. Nuking Iran would be deliberately intended to destroy it. Permanently.

it would deliberately target innocent people. In addition, I would strongly question how the consequences of this attack would be in favour of American citizens long term interest, considering the reaction from our allies,

Our rights to exist does not depend on "our allies'" consensus.

the creation of martyrs that will feed fundamentalism,

You don't create martyrs by defending yourself. You kill them.

When you end your sentence with "elminate it", what is the "it" you are referring to?

The Iranian State obviously. I assumed you were a smart enough guy to know that we are talking about the Iranian regime and not go thinking I meant destroying museums was the goal of going to war. My bad I guess.

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I probably am. Do you have any other information on the differences of force and violence?

I have never seen Rand write "initiation of violence". It is always force. If threats are force, then would it not be reasonable for me to shoot a man who says he's going to kill me without taking any action? Of course modern law would not look too kindly on my actions, but would this be acceptable in a reasonable society?

I don't know that Rand ever wrote or said the phrase "the initiation of violence". She was concerned with the initiation of force, which subsumes violence, threats, theft, etc. If you respond to a threat and initiate violence, you haven't initiated force. Force was initiated when the threat was issued. Modern law *may be more forgiving on you if the threat is both credible and imminent... Like if your assailant is holding a replica gun and shouting "Die Scum!". But a person can't make long-term decisions while under pain of a barrage of continuing, semi-plausible threats. The proper reaction in that case would be for the threatened person to have the government step in and force the cessation of threats. Now, again, the government hasn't initiated force; the person who first issued the threats did.

The situation prior to Israel's Six-Day War comes to mind. The surrounding nations increased their militaristic rhetoric while at the same time amassing troops along Israel's borders. Israel pre-empted what they saw as an impending attack by taking out Arab airfields before they could launch any planes. Whether or not the Arab nations involved actually planned on attacking Israel is irrelevant. The Isreali government would have been guilty of gross negligence had they waited indefinitely, as force was already in play.

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