A Defence of War

Much debate has gone on among people who self-identify as libertarians about the correct response to the horror in Syria. I made my position clear, and have done so for a while, that military intervention – if properly deployed and policed – would be a far better alternative than gutless international censure or inaction. Despite the defeat of the Government’s plans for intervention (as well as the Opposition’s amendment), I persist in this view.

When I criticise “Randian selfishness” in my piece for Trending Central (syndicated from my earlier column in The Libertarian), I mean the cult of personal obsession which is apparent in many on the nominal ‘Right’. This is where people appear value the contents of their wallets more than the lives of Syrian civilians. Sadly, this is often allied with petty nationalism or even casual racism – whereby Arabs killing other Arabs is seen as not warranting the cost of a single British Pound.

People like this do exist, and my use of the term does not necessarily denote the most fervent of the lady’s disciples. Instead I intend to describe the attitude of callousness over the fate of the Middle East, simply for narrow financial reasons. This apparent national attitude of not caring for the freedom of people across the world is deeply worrying to me; as I believe that we should do what we can to oppose the enemies of freedom around the world. It is clear that Bashar al-Assad is a great enemy of liberty, and so must be opposed.

I also despise the liberal use of platitudinous rhetoric by isolationists, such as the absurd suggestion that everyone who thinks it might be a good idea to remove evil, murdering despots has to fight on the front line to be given any credibility. The utterances: “armchair general” and “why don’t you go and fight it yourself?” (sometimes accompanied by an “eh?” for emphasis) are both marks of the IT literate moron.

Often, the excuse for not acting is a desire to see “proof” of Syrian government involvement in chemical weapon strikes. This is pure procrastination. Not only is there pretty conclusive proof of the matter, courtesy of the JIC’s report, this is nicely corroborated by the intercepted phone calls which US agents say ‘prove’ that Assad’s cronies perpetrated this monstrous deed.

However, even if this is not enough, we have a hell of a lot of evidence to suggest that the Assad has played a not insignificant role in killing many thousands during the actual war. To me, the chemical weapons are a side show: they only demonstrate the baseness of Assad and his cabal, and the levels to which their underlings stoop in their defence of this barbaric enemy of freedom and democracy.

The debate itself was curious. Despite Cameron’s watered-down motion, and the skill and care which went into his own case, he still lost. A fragile coalition behaved like a single party with a huge majority. His overconfidence in pulling the House back from the recess, and the weakness of the Prime Minister’s message – with endless caveats and considerations – did not win it for him.

For, as I had predicted, Cameron lost the vote. By a tiny number of MPs, but lose the vote he did. His more vulnerable Members, perhaps cowed by the spectacle of Ukip encroaching on the popular isolationist positions, did not vote for his motion. We just cannot expect the British people to care about the outside world anymore: that is the UKIP effect.

According to Trending Central, within minutes of the defeat, senior Tories began briefing with words to the effect of: “Ed Miliband will forever be remembered as the politician that effectively allowed Assad to continue slaughtering the Syrian people”. I happen to agree.

Politicians in general did not come out of this debate looking anything other than selfish, duplicitous and petty. Nigel Farage’s pathetic milking of the terrible result did not show him to be a statesman. It only confirmed the true decrepitude of his morality, and the childish nature of his politics.

Cameron did not come out looking good either. It is a rum state of affairs where a sitting Prime Minister can claim to care about the children of Syria, and then just back down when threatened by a forth-party joker. If this motion had passed, or Cameron had used Royal Prerogative, I’d have written here about his brave pursuit of principle and freedom over temporary popularity. Now, however, he just looks weak.

Ed Miliband had his amendment rejected too, and was by no means the victor of the debate. But a reductionist and confrontational media needed to portray his feeble actions as a success to shape their narrative the next morning. He will get much undeserved praise from those who think themselves “anti-war” over the next few weeks.

In summary, then: British Parliamentary democracy has shown itself to be self-absorbed and un-internationalist. I sincerely hope that France and the US are not affected by the terrible failings of Britain. Go it alone, I say, and bring vile monster Assad to Justice: The International Criminal Court or a bullet to the brain. I’m really not that fussed.

James Snell

James is a self-described iconoclast who enjoys books, music and vindication. He is contributing editor for The Libertarian and has written for Trending Central, The Backbencher, Politiker and the Huffington Post. 

Tags:

  46 comments for “A Defence of War

  1. Aug 31, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Good comment, makes a change to see someone here who isn’t a Randian nutjob!

  2. Aug 31, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    James. Thank you for assenting to my request for an article laying out your point of view in more detail. I suppose, having invited you over, I should be gentle when expressing my disagreement. It will therefore have to suffice to mention two points:

    – As an objectivist, I assume that when you say “Randian selfisness” you do not mean the persuit of broad, varied values for the long-term betterment of ones own life and happiness. I think you really mean something more like “self-absorbed”.

    – On the same premise, when you say “we just cannot expect the British people to care about the outside world” there is a burried premise that deserves to be expressed in pixels. Your expectation that people “care” amounts to a blank cheque secured against the lives and property of others. It does not take a particulaly strong committment to self-interested morality to realise that such a claim upon others is invalid.

  3. Aug 31, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    “Often, the excuse for not acting is a desire to see “proof” of Syrian government involvement in chemical weapon strikes. This is pure procrastination.”

    It’s absolutely reasonable, and in keeping with the principles of law. You may believe John Kerry etc. Fine. Not everyone has such unquestioning faith in politicians, and past experience shows one should not. In any case, when it comes to war, it is important to try all diplomatic means prior to resorting to military action. It was the feeling that the government was rushing into war which caused Parliament to baulk.

    “I also despise the liberal use of platitudinous rhetoric by isolationists, such as the absurd suggestion that everyone who thinks it might be a good idea to remove evil, murdering despots has to fight on the front line to be given any credibility. ”

    You don’t like it because it’s quite effective as an ad hominem. The reason it is used is due amongst other things to the curious fact that many of the most hawkish political leaders in recent times were found to have dodged military service (Dick Cheney being the classic example).

    “In summary, then: British Parliamentary democracy has shown itself to be self-absorbed and un-internationalist.”

    You should accept that the British electorate are of the same view. If Parliament doesn’t represent the people, then the system will break down. You are annoyed because the default position seems to have shifted from intervention to non-intervention.

    “I believe that we should do what we can to oppose the enemies of freedom around the world. It is clear that Bashar al-Assad is a great enemy of liberty, and so must be opposed.”

    You may choose to see this conflict in simple terms of black and white. In which case, firing a few missiles at Assad’s bunker may seem a great idea,We all know the Ba’athist regime is tyrannical. However, some of the most active rebel groups are also enemies of freedom, and they are not seeking liberty, but theocratic rule of the kind seen under the Taliban. This complicates matters, to say the least.

  4. Nico Metten
    Aug 31, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    This article clearly shows the simplistic world view of people promoting interventionism. For them the world seems to be totally black and white. Either you are a good guy or you are a bad guy and if two people are fighting, there needs to be a good side and a bad side. Not siding with the good side then becomes an act of cruelty and throwing bombs an act of mercy. In my view they are not living in reality. They are romantics that cannot deal with the complexity of the world. The truth in my view is that Assad is an evil bastard, who has destroyed so many innocent lives. The truth is the rebels are evil bastards who are planning to massacre or banish the many minorities that live in Syria today and who are committing horrible crimes in their fight against Assad. The truth is that our western governments do not care about human rights. These are the same people who just watched Egypt’s army massacring over 1000 unarmed protesters in the streets and could not even get themselves to call it a coup and cancelling the aid. Einstein defined stupidity as repeating something over and over again and expecting different outcomes. The history of interventionism is, almost without exception a history of total failure. The results have always been that more lives and capital are being destroyed, and at the end you have less freedom. But a romantic would not be romantic without being able to eclipse these facts and continue to praise the glories of warfare. The state has problems delivering the mail, but it turns into a humanitarian genius when it comes to do nation building. This is utter nonsense. Luckily more and more people seem to wake up to this fact.

  5. Aug 31, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    ” Not only is there pretty conclusive proof of the matter, courtesy of the JIC’s report, this is nicely corroborated by the intercepted phone calls which US agents say ‘prove’ that Assad’s cronies perpetrated this monstrous deed.”

    This is not what Cameron said in Parliament. He made it clear that there wasn’t conclusive proof. His main point seemed to be that the Syrian regime had chemical weapons, but that the rebels did not. This latter is not an established fact. Also, let us consider the intercepted phone calls. From your link:

    ” Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services, The Cable has learned. And that is the major reason why American officials now say they’re certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar al-Assad regime — and why the U.S. military is likely to attack that regime in a matter of days.

    But the intercept raises questions about culpability for the chemical massacre, even as it answers others: Was the attack on Aug. 21 the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds? Or was the strike explicitly directed by senior members of the Assad regime? “It’s unclear where control lies,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Cable. “Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?”

    The telephone call intercept seems to indicate that the political leadership were not aware of the attack. That means either the Syrian military made the decision to use the chemical weapon, which does not in itself exonerate the political leaders, if, to quote the above, there was a pre-existing “general blessing” to use such weapons OR a rebel group was responsible.

    Plus, here is a report claiming that rebel groups were indeed responsible, with Saudi-supplied chemical weapons. According to the report, it may well have been an accident. Is the report credible? I don’t know. I would neither believe it without question nor reject it out of hand:

    http://www.mintpressnews.com/witnesses-of-gas-attack-say-saudis-supplied-rebels-with-chemical-weapons/168135/

  6. Paul Marks
    Aug 31, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Well I am not a Randian atheist (although Randian Objectivists tend to be LESS noninterventionists than other libertarians – try comparing Ayn Rand to Murray Rothbard), I am more of a Frank Meyer (“Fusion”) type – and I still do not think this post answers the basic question.

    Who is to rule Syria?

    Do not give me a platitude such as “it is for the Syrian people to decide” – I want a NAME, someone I can research (to see if they would be any good).

    Is it to be a British or American Governor (and I am not an knee jerk anti Imperialist) – if so who?

    Or is it to be a Syrian – again who?

    This “bomb now – think up alternative government later” will not do.

    That led to the useless (and hopelessly corrupt) President in Afghanistan (who the Taliban will eat – the moment Western troops are withdrawn) and the sectarian government in Iraq (where a Sunni versus Shia struggle is going on – with endless bloodshed).

    Yes Assad is murdering socialist scumbag – quite so.

    But WHO is to be the alternative regime?

    Again not platitudes about “democracy” and “let the Syrian people decide” – WHO is to be the new ruler of Syria?

    If you do not have a name, and a clear military plan for how the regime of such a person would be maintained (how they would control the various factions – impose peace) then you are wasting everyone’s time.

    I know I am using harsh language – but I am very tired of platitudes at this point.

    P.C. notions about how Islamic populations are just the same as everyone else are just wrong. flat wrong.

    The term “neocon” may mean “neo conservative” – but the main thinkers of this movement come from the socialist tradition, a tradition that downplays the importance of cultural differences.

    Neocons tend to know nothing about the Middle East – but they do not think they need to, after all, humans are humans the-same-everywhere.

    Well that just is not true. Culture matters – religion matters.

  7. Aug 31, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    I look forward to the inevitable follow-ups “A Defence of Theft” and “A Defence of Rape”. Bound to be every bit as amusing. Apparently the Randroids are old softies on war in the Holy Lands, who knew?

    • Sep 2, 2013 at 8:37 am

      Worth noting that Peikoff etc (and it isn’t just Peikoff) define the issue with Iran as one of self-defence. To me, destroying Tehran just doesn’t seem proportionate, at the moment.

      • Nico Metten
        Sep 2, 2013 at 9:30 am

        Everyone in modern times is always using self defence as a justification for violence. Assad is defending himself against the rebels and the rebels against Assad. Even Hitler just defended himself against the Jews in his own rhetoric. You need to clearly define what you mean by self defence. And it is clear that Peikoff has a very collectivist definition of self defence. He says that we must not be concerned with innocent lives in the enemy territory. From an individualist standpoint you of course always need to be concerned about innocent lives. You can maybe make a case for killing innocents if it is absolutely necessary to save your own live and stop an ongoing attack. But Iran has not attacked anyone in 200 years and certainly has no means to attack the US anytime soon. Under Peikoff’s definition, what happened on 9/11 was self defence. The US is throwing bomb on arab countries for decades. So in that sense, the US can be seen as enemy territory and therefore everyone there can be killed in self defence. That indeed, was the logic of the terrorists. But I think it is BS.

        • Tim Carpenter
          Sep 2, 2013 at 9:56 am

          Attacking the population of Iran for the actions of the state is surely collectivist. Not only that, it either presumes universal voluntary collectivism, which is absurd, or condones, justifies and imposes forced collectivism.

        • Sep 2, 2013 at 9:58 am

          Worth noting that Obama has not claimed self-defence in the case of Syria. He /did not/ use that word. He is relying on some longer term notion like “this is bad for the world, including us”, rather than “shit, they’re coming, get me bombs”.

          Peikoff would argue the Iranians have already attacked (on 9/11, via Hezbollah etc).

          Agree Peikoff is highly collectivist when it comes to foreign policy. Rand was as well, I think. I do not automatically agree with either.

          • Nico Metten
            Sep 2, 2013 at 11:17 am

            Well, he hasn’t used the word, that is true. But he is arguing like that. Civilians need to be protected from Assad’s chemical weapons. That is a self defense argument. The opposite of self defense is aggression. And being an aggressor does not seem to be right these days. Not too long ago, people had less problem with the idea of actively suppressing other people.

            That Iran has attacked anyone is a figment of his imagination. It has no bases in reality. The US btw has committed acts of terrorism inside Iran.

  8. Sep 1, 2013 at 7:36 am

    There is no fight for freedom going on in Syria today. You remove Assad, what comes next, milk and honey?

  9. Tim Carpenter
    Sep 1, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Basically, what Paul and Rob said.

    Intervene now, kid ourselves we can steer events later does not cut it.

  10. Paul Marks
    Sep 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    “Civilians need to be defended against Assad”s chemical weapons”.

    Where is the argument that a new government of Syria would be any less likely to murder civilians than Assad?

    As for the idea that Iranian nuclear bases are a “myth” – then sabotage of them (by computer virus attack and so on – so called “terrorism”) must also be a “myth”. After all if the places do not exist, there can have been no attacks upon them.

    “Iran has not attacked anyone”.

    Actually the Iranian regime has been running an international terrorism campaign since 1979 (directed against both “infidels”, Jews and Christians, and Sunnis). A campaign that goes as far away as mass murder in Argentina. This partly just power politics – but it also (in recent years) a “Hastener” effort to bring forth (to “hasten”) the coming of the “Hidden Iman” who (so the regime believes) will arrive if they can manage to spread fire-and-blood over the word (so, no, they are not nice – not nice at all).

    By the way – if Western intervention in Syria is wrong (and I agree that it may well be wrong) why is IRANIAN intervention in Syria (and so many other countries) O.K.?

    The Iranian regime “has never attacked anyone” – I am going to treasure that one. If Mohammed was still alive he would no trouble in tricking Western “liberals” with his promises of peace (to promise and then launch a surprise attack was the favourite tactic of Mohammed – and to this day to deceive infidels, to their destruction, is a mark of high moral VIRTUE in both Sunni and Shia Islam).

    • Nico Metten
      Sep 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      “Where is the argument that a new government of Syria would be any less likely to murder civilians than Assad?”

      I am not making the argument. I am just quoting it.

      “As for the idea that Iranian nuclear bases are a “myth” – then sabotage of them (by computer virus attack and so on – so called “terrorism”) must also be a “myth”. After all if the places do not exist, there can have been no attacks upon them.”

      Iran has a nuclear program, but not a nuclear weapons program. It has signed the non-proliferation treaty. This prohibits Iran from producing nuclear weapons, but it guarantees the right to peacefully use nuclear energy. Indeed, under this treaty the international community is obliged to help Iran in doing this. There is no evidence that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon. IAEA inspectors are in the country and year after year are verifying the non-diversion of nuclear material for military purposes. Iran does not even have a delivery system for nuclear weapons. But even if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would only use these in order to keep aggressors at distance. Let us not forget that Iran is constantly threatened year after year by two nuclear powers, one with a proven track record of using them with war.The Ayatollah has issued a fatwa against weapons of mass destruction. This has kept Iran from using it chemical weapons against Irak, even when it was attacked with such weapons by Irak. I have no idea, why everyone is so freaked out about Iran. Although certainly a brutal dictatorship, it seems to be the most moderate State in the region. Unlike most other state there Iran has an active Christian community and an active jewish community. They even have christians and a jew in Parliament. And yes there are elections in Iran. Everything but fair election, but at least they have some kind of political process. Ahmadinejad was just voted out of office.

      “Actually the Iranian regime has been running an international terrorism campaign since 1979 (directed against both “infidels”, Jews and Christians, and Sunnis). A campaign that goes as far away as mass murder in Argentina. This partly just power politics – but it also (in recent years) a “Hastener” effort to bring forth (to “hasten”) the coming of the “Hidden Iman” who (so the regime believes) will arrive if they can manage to spread fire-and-blood over the word (so, no, they are not nice – not nice at all).”

      Yes, like most other countries, Iran is doing some nasty politics. But it has not invaded any country or threatened anyone with war in a long time. I am not in favour of Iran. But I do not understand the hysteria about it and I am totally fed up with western hypocrisy. That is what is destroying us.

      “By the way – if Western intervention in Syria is wrong (and I agree that it may well be wrong) why is IRANIAN intervention in Syria (and so many other countries) O.K.?”

      It is not ok to support Assad, who has said anything like that.

  11. Sep 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Go back to libertarian principles and you find the answers are pretty obvious (though I’m not saying those principles can never be perverted by applying them in judgement on the actions of nation states).

    However it seems obvious to me that individual Syrians have a right to protect themselves from aggressors either internal or external and that the Syrian state will be a force for oppression no matter who controls it. It also seem clear that Western aggression to intervene in the Syrian war runs counter to the libertarian non-aggression axiom (we are not defending ourselves).

    Simples.

  12. Paul Marks
    Sep 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    We also have a right to defend our allies Ken.

    If I see a man being beaten up in the street – it is not “aggression” to try and save him.

    However, who are allies in Syria?

    I know of none.

    Perhaps those clever people who confuse Randian Objectivists with Rothbardian noninterventionists (well they do both start with the letter “R” – so their confusion is natural…..) can point me to the big pro Western army in Syria.

    Crosses on their banners as they struggle to drive back the forces of Islam……..

    Odd I can not see this army.

    • Nico Metten
      Sep 3, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      “If I see a man being beaten up in the street – it is not “aggression” to try and save him.”

      That depends on how you save him. It is aggression to kill innocent people while saving someone else. That would make you the judge over who can live and who has to die. I cannot see where anyone gets that authority.

  13. Sep 3, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Paul

    We also have a right to defend our allies Ken.

    If I see a man being beaten up in the street – it is not “aggression” to try and save him.

    No.

    We do not defend the man being attacked in the street because he is our ally, but because he is the victim of aggression. Nation states, on the other hand, have no right to use force against others, in what they deem to be their national interest, any more than does an individual.

    Who has Switzerland ever invaded?

    • Tim Carpenter
      Sep 3, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      To go in would mean fighting all sides, arming none, to defend civilians, no?

  14. Paul Marks
    Sep 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I repeat that I see no allies in Syria – so I am AGAINST intervention.

    However, I will not let the Rothbardian view of war (the idea that war is only justified if one never kills civilians) pass unopposed.

    It reminds me of the film “The Candidate” (I think that was the title) where a young candidate wants to avoid using dirty tactics in the an election campaign – sure says the Campaign Manager, here is my guarantee …… and he hands the candidate a piece of paper with two words written upon it ……

    “You Lose”.

    One does not have to support the deliberate targeting of civilians in World War II (and I do NOT support it) to understand that a demand that no civilians be killed at all is demented. One might as well just give up (to world slavery) – no such policy (of no civilian deaths) is possible.

    As for Switzerland.

    The Swiss would have been crushed (along with the rest of Europe) by the Marxists after 1945 – had it not been for the “Imperialist” United States of Harry Truman.

    The United States was able to ignore the world in the 19th century – because the Royal Navy did the job of (de facto) protecting Western interests (including those of the United States). And let us not forget that hundred year war the Royal Navy fought against the slave trade – a libertarian who opposes that “statist war” is not worth the name libertarian.

    I oppose the Syrian intervention because it does not make sense – I do not see the plan. I did not see with Iraq and so on ether – I am against intervention in the Islamic world (period).

    But too oppose, as an absolute rule, the use of military force is nonsense.

    It would mean (for example) letting the world fall to the Axis powers in World War II.

    Or handing over the world to the Marxists after World War II – for example no defence of Europe or Korea.

    “No, no, no – we should wait till we are directly attacked”.

    Fine – as long as you like that piece of paper with the two words written upon it.

    “You Lose”.

    • Nico Metten
      Sep 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      “However, I will not let the Rothbardian view of war (the idea that war is only justified if one never kills civilians) pass unopposed.”

      I don’t believe that either. I believe you can kill civilians if you have to in order to save your own life. That is because I believe in egoism. No one needs to sacrifice himself for others. It is very theoretical anyway. History shows that once war has started and bombs are dropping people turn to their collectivist instincts. It is impossible to uphold individualism and pretty much any moral code in a war situation. That is why it is so important to make it a priority to stop war from happening. Once it is happening, individualism looses automatically. And I see no justification to kill innocents as someone who comes to the party voluntarily as an outsider. That is pure collectivism right there.

      “The Swiss would have been crushed (along with the rest of Europe) by the Marxists after 1945 – had it not been for the “Imperialist” United States of Harry Truman.”

      Those are the same Marxists that got a bloody nose in Afghanistan, which has a similar territory as Switzerland. The Swiss have a very well trained guerrilla army. In case of an invasion all they have to do is hiding in their secret bunkers in the alps and shoot down on the enemy. I doubt that the Marxists would have won that, especially considering that they were supported by a totally unproductive centrally planned economy.

      “The United States was able to ignore the world in the 19th century – because the Royal Navy did the job of (de facto) protecting Western interests (including those of the United States).”

      What is that suppose to be “western interests”? Only individuals have interests. The problem with the US is that with the constitution, the counter revolution won shortly after their independence. These were highly statist people who did not believe in freedom, but rather wanted an empire. They could have been a free country, protected by a free guerrilla army and trading with the whole world. No one would have tried to conquer them. But statism won and that is why they are going around the world bullying people. Because that is the way, statist believe you get rich.

      “And let us not forget that hundred year war the Royal Navy fought against the slave trade – a libertarian who opposes that “statist war” is not worth the name libertarian.”

      That was not a war in the sense what we are talking about. It was a policing action. And the Royal Navy first was heavily involved in building the slave trade. I am not against the rule of law.

      • Sep 5, 2013 at 12:04 am

        “I believe you can kill civilians if you have to in order to save your own life. That is because I believe in egoism. No one needs to sacrifice himself for others.”

        *Ahem* Egoism won’t protect you from justice, especially if the justice is meted out by other egoists.

        • Nico Metten
          Sep 5, 2013 at 10:09 am

          You have people with all kinds of moral ideas, but this is what I think is moral and therefore what justice should be. You can only be as responsible for your actions as you are free to choose. If your choice comes down to either kill innocents or die yourself, I think you have a right to make a decision in favour of your own life. The other case would be that you have a moral obligation to sacrifice your life for others. But obviously someone who is intervening in a conflict from outside has more choices than that.

          • Sep 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

            You are expecting the civilians you kill to sacrifice their lives for you. This is not egoism, it is inconsistency. Your victims and their allies will not think you are being just, even (nay especially) if they subscribe to the same moral theory as you.

          • Nico Metten
            Sep 6, 2013 at 1:02 am

            Yes, I make a decision that I live and they die instead. This is the only decision that is left for me to make.

            “This is not egoism, it is inconsistency.”

            No, it is perfectly consistent with egoism.

            “Your victims and their allies will not think you are being just, even (nay especially) if they subscribe to the same moral theory as you.”

            Well, I would not think that way. If one of my loved once got killed like this, I would not blame the guy who was defending himself, but the one who started the fight.

          • Sep 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm

            I’d love for you to explain how non self-sacrifice so easily transmutes into sacrificing others (real-world scenario please!). When you’ve done that perhaps we can start to talk about how, having made this jump you’ve then decided that war, not just personal self defense is an appropriate context in which to apply this wonderful insight. Bearing in mind that an egoist (IE: me) will tell you that there is no such thing as war, just a lot of people killing each other all at once.

          • Nico Metten
            Sep 7, 2013 at 12:21 am

            Ok, a real world example that happens all the time. You are armed with a gun and someone starts shooting at you. You have to act quickly, since at every moment you are under thread to be hit by a bullet. No time to seek cover so you pull your gun and fire back, in the hope that your bullets kill the attacker before his bullets kill you. You succeed and hit the attacker deadly, but as so often the bullet does not hit a bone and goes right trough the person. Unfortunately, it kills another innocent person that happened to have been behind the attacker. That in my view is not murder, but self defense. It is not in your responsibility. You had no choice other than dying.

            I have a lot of sympathy for the idea that there is no such thing as war. I wish the whole world was individualist. Unfortunately, there are situations in which you are not attacked as an individual, but as a collective. This can already be observed in chimpanzees. In that situation you will have little choice but to defend yourself collectively. The attacker makes you a collective, whether you want or not. That is the big disaster of war. It kills individualism right there. I don’t see any solution for that other than to do everything possible to prevent war from happening. Once war is happening, freedom dies and that is even true for wars that are allegedly fought to defend freedom. That is why you only find freedom in societies that are relatively naturally protected from war, like Britain and Switzerland in Europe.

          • Sep 7, 2013 at 8:08 am

            “Unfortunately, it kills another innocent person that happened to have been behind the attacker. That in my view is not murder, but self defense.”

            Well no, that is manslaughter, the self-defense was not directed against the innocent person, so killing them is still not legitimate. If you pretend that third parties are objects getting in your way then you have crossed the line out of egoism and are on your way towards solipsism. There’s no point arguing with me over whether you ought to be allowed to kill random bystanders, the bystanders and their allies (friends, family, etc.) become part of the dispute, you will have to argue with them. The allies of the innocent person might or might not react against you, it would depend on specific circumstances.

            I don’t accept that we need to become collectivists to defeat collectivists; it’s possible to co-operate against a common foe without handing your balls over to a mass-murdering neo-minstrel.

          • Nico Metten
            Sep 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm

            “Well no, that is manslaughter”

            I never said anything about deliberately targeting innocent people. But it is legitimate to kill them, if this is the only way to defend yourself. And it is egoism, as they are just as innocent as you are.

            “If you pretend that third parties are objects getting in your way then you have crossed the line out of egoism and are on your way towards solipsism.”

            There is no difference between the two situations. In both cases you will have to kill an innocent person in order to defend yourself. I am more or less a solipsist btw.

            “I don’t accept that we need to become collectivists to defeat collectivists; it’s possible to co-operate against a common foe without handing your balls over to amass-murdering neo-minstrel.”

            Theoretically it is, but I think practically, war always destroys individualism as it creates monopolies of power that will not be controlled by individualists. That is not to say that you will end up in total tyranny. I think a good guerrilla army can fight for freedom. But at the end of a war, you will have lost some freedom. It is the biggest problem of a free society. And it is probably the reason, why we live in a statist world, despite the fact that states perform poorly on pretty much everything.

          • Sep 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm

            NM: “I am more or less a solipsist btw.”

            No further questions M’lud!

            If you do find you’ve “legitimately” killed an innocent (possibly non-existent) person, you may find this handy to defend yourself against the (possibly non-existent) authorities: “involuntary manslaughter”.

  15. Paul Marks
    Sep 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Nico “Iran has no nuclear weapons program”.

    If you really believe that – then I have a nice bridge to sell you.

    You also seem to be able to totally ignore the ruthless war the Iranian regime has been waging (around the world) since 1979.

    The piles of dead bodies (from Lebanon to Argentina) clearly do not bother you.

    Perhaps the follower will force its way into your mind.

    For a Muslim (Sunni or Shia) world conquest means just that – world (they, quite correctly, do not consider Britain and the United States to be on some other planet).

    True mainstream Sunni and mainstream Shia do not want to cover the world in “fire and blood” in the way that a “Hastener” does (someone who wants to “hasten” the return of the “hidden one” on his white horse – for example the Supreme Leader of Iran, or did you not know he was a Hastener?), but the mainstreamers still want world conquest.

    I do not believe in intervention in the Islamic lands – but I do not believe in letting them attack outside their own lands.

    And surprise attack, and betrayal (promise peace – then attack), have always been their favoured tactics – because they were the favoured tactics of Mohammed himself.

    If a Christian commits terrible crimes (and they do – very much so) one can cry out “is this what Jesus would have done?”

    But if one cries out to a member of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, or a Iranian backed Shia group such “The Party of God” in Lebanon and Syria -“is this what Mohammed would have done” they have an answer……

    “Yes – it is exactly what he would have done, because he did these things himself”.

    That is what Mr Blair and Mr Bush never understood – and it is why their policy was utterly mistaken,

    If I took the rosy eyed view of things that you take, I would have SUPPORTED the Afghan and Iraq wars – after all if most locals are lovely and it is just a few nasty dictators then remove the nasty dictators. But the Blair and Bush view is WRONG – most of the locals are not lovely (they are not lovely at all).

    Murray Rothbard seems to have held that peace is natural – the default state of humans (if it were not for a few wicked statists),

    Historically that is just not true. For example Europe was under Islamic attack for more than a thousand years.

    For more than a thousand years no one could go to sleep in a costal village in Southern Europe without the fear their village might be raided that night.

    For more than a thousand years – think about that.

    The P.C. education system and modern media give people an utterly false view of the past – and of the present and future.

    • Sep 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      It’s not possible to say to what extent the Iranian government is influenced in its actions by a desire to hasten the end of the world. Even if they make statements along these lines, it doesn’t mean they should be taken on face value. They are politicians, after all. To the extent that they are serious, they are certainly a serious threat, I don’t doubt that.

      As for the Iranian government’s “ruthless war”, I don’t see they’re any different or worse than any one of a number of governments. It is not Iran which is arming Al Qaeda in Syria, for instance, but most probably Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

    • Nico Metten
      Sep 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      “If you really believe that – then I have a nice bridge to sell you.”

      Well, what is the evidence? There is none. Even the CIA says that. But even if they did, so what? Hardly a reason to go to war with them.

      “You also seem to be able to totally ignore the ruthless war the Iranian regime has been waging (around the world) since 1979.”

      I am not a friend of this regime. The biggest victims of it have been Iranians themselves. But they have not declared war on anyone in a long time. And that is what is relevant when we try to judge how dangerous a nuclear weapon in their hands would be.

      “If I took the rosy eyed view of things that you take, I would have SUPPORTED the Afghan and Iraq wars – after all if most locals are lovely and it is just a few nasty dictators then remove the nasty dictators. But the Blair and Bush view is WRONG – most of the locals are not lovely (they are not lovely at all).”

      Oh spare me with this BS. They are all human beings and most humans are good. They have no interest in killing other people. They just want to live their lives. Islam is not a new phenomenon. It has been around for a while. And the results have not all been horrible. Enlightenment is the tool to deal with fanaticism not violence. If you use violence you get what we see right now, a radicalization. And politics is a nasty business everywhere. The west is no exception and that although, most people I meet on the street are good.

      “Historically that is just not true. For example Europe was under Islamic attack for more than a thousand years.”

      Not just Europe, most of the world. It is a cruel world. But Libertarians have quite a good solution for this: free trade. It is simply not profitable to attack your business partners, for then you cannot do business with them anymore. And trade and the division of labour are the closest we can get to solve the problem of scarcity, which is the reason behind almost every conflict.

  16. Paul Marks
    Sep 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    They do not see it as the end of the world Richard – they see it as a better world.

    One of the more amusing differences between the former President of Iran and the Supreme Leader was their relative positions when the Hidden One arrived – both men viewed themselves as his primary agent (leading the white horse and so on). The former President (when Mayor of the capital) even laid out the streets to make it more logical for the white horse of the Hidden One to come his way….

    Many of the Sunni have their own legends of the coming of (in their version) the Expected One (the Mahdi) some seemingly rational politicians firmly believe in this stuff.

    In Syria the Sunni back the Black Flag types.

    And Iran backs “The Party of God” – which is no better.

    By the way we owe the victory of the Wahabbi in Arabia to Kim Philby’s father.

    He betrayed the Royal House he was sent (by the F.O.) to help – taking their secrets to their enemies (the House of Saud – which has been in alliance with the Wahabbi since the 1700s).

    The declared “first socialist in the F.O.” (which he was) justified his betrayal on the grounds that the Islamic faith of the House of Saud was more sincere – which it was (that is what is wrong with it).

    However, I suspect the slave girls with which Mr Philby was rewarded helped motivate him.

    Eventually even the House of Saud became disgusted by him (anyway they wanted to get on better with the West – at least pretend to) and Philby was kicked out – he retried to Lebanon (hatching various anti Western plots).

    His son, “Kim”, used to visit him – they got on very well.

    Can someone please explain to me why MI6 trusted Kim Philby?

  17. Paul Marks
    Sep 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    By the way – the Royal House that Mr Philby (senior) was sent to help (and betrayed) is still in power in Trans Jordan (it was in power in Iraq till 1958 – now that was a terrible defeat, leading to the collapse of the Baghdad Pact).

    The Turkish Republic Cyprus is O.K. (although with the growth of Islamism in Turkey itself – for how long?) and the King of Jordan is an enemy of the Islamists.

    But they will, I suspect, destroy him – it is a matter of time.

    The Islamists claim to have most people on their side.

    And of the “active” population they may well be right.

    In all nations (including Islamic ones) most people are baffled by national affairs – only a minority have a clear idea of what they want.

    And in the Middle East a “majority of that minority” tend to be Islamists – people who (for example) actually read the Koran and he Hadiths (rather than nominal Muslims – who believe in God but are not interested in the details of theology).

    It is the “active citizens” who are the problem.

    Just as with the French Revolution.

    Contrary to what is taught, most French people were not longing for Revolution in 1789.

    Hardly anyone in France was a Serf (and the courts did not enforce this nonsense) – and most farmers already owned their farms (unlike in England).

    Nor was anti clericalism common in most of France (although it was in certain areas – and among the intellectuals).

    Yet the antics in Paris (and a few other places) led to a regime (or series of regimes) which plunged France (and all of Europe) into a nightmare.

    Peasants who had no desire to do anyone any harm found themselves conscripted into armies to kill their fellow peasants in France (if they refused – their own families were killed). And then in wars of conquest all over Europe.

    The “armed doctrine” (as Burke put it) of Jacabinism just seemed to appear like a wild fire – only a few years before the intellectuals had seemed a harmless joke.

    It was like General Gordon’s two visits to the Sudan (the first was to defeat the slave traders).

    On his first visit – Islam was nominal (it was asleep) and the handful of “true believers” seemed too few to be a serious danger.

    Yet by the time General Gordon returned to the Sudan (after helping defeat a mad collectivist regime in China – in the worst war of the 19th century) Islam had become a raging fire in the Sudan – determined to wipe out all non Muslims (Southern Sudan had always been Christian) and launch wars of conquest against other lands.

    Gordon relied on his past experience of the Sudan – experience that was totally out of date.

  18. Paul Marks
    Sep 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I can not think of any books on the mid 19th century war in China – where “Chinese” Gordon earned his nickname, so you will have to take my word for it being the “worst war of the 19th century”.

    The rebel regime was a sort of “Christian” Communism – rather like “Liberation Theology” today.

    In practice it was very similar to Mao’s regime in the 20th century – a regime that would never have come to pass had Chang’s Manchurian offensive not been sabotaged (by AMERICAN traitors) back in 1946.

    Communism – apart from for the (degenerate) leaders.

    Many millions of people died in many years of fighting. Had the rebel regime won hundreds of millions would have died – all of Asia might have reduced to ashes and dried blood (this egalitarian madness is very close to the surface in humans – the Persian Empire was defeated by a desperate struggle with it. and thus left open to Islamic conquest back in the 7th century).

    Yet this terrible war in China is almost totally forgotten.

    Overshadowed by the Boxers – a much less serious event some decades later.

  19. Paul Marks
    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    As for the Iranian regime, they are determined to have nukes (and to use them) – they will do anything (anything) to achieve that goal.

    I have no problem whatever in using computer viruses and other such to attack a nuclear weapons program that you say does not exist.

    As for more evidence for Nico (or whoever) – it is less difficult (for example) to kill an enemy nuclear scientist that it is to take them alive.

    And even if they were taken alive (and spelled the beans) you would simply say “you made them say that – you tortured them…..”.

    The problem is that such methods are not enough.

    Computer sabotage and putting bullets in the heads (or bombs in their cars) of a few scientists has SLOWED DOWN the enemy nuclear weapons program – but it has not STOPPED it.

    And they will use these weapons if they get them – they believe themselves to have a religious duty to do so.

    If you have a plan to overthrow the Iranian regime (as might have been done in 2009 – had Obama not been an idiot) then I will listen to it.

    Or if you have a plan to destroy the enemy nuclear bases (mostly underground – one does not build nuclear power plants in the way they build their nuclear bases) without destroying the civilians they use as a human shields, then I will listen to your plan.

    But if you persist in telling me that the Iranian regime is not after nukes (or would not use them if they got them) then you are wasting my time.

    By the way – it was not the CIA (or the Americans generally) who terminated Saddam’s nuclear base (oh yes he had one in Iraq), or who destroyed the Syrian nuclear base (yes they were building one also). And, I suspect, that it will not be the Americans who terminate the Iranian nuclear bases.

    My fear is that the only practical way to do this will be by nuclear missile attack – as the bases are so secure (deep underground – and it is long way for aircraft there and back).

    This is why I (and more importantly other people – as I am not relevant) are open to alternative battle plans.

    But, I repeat, stop the time wasting with drivel such as “there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program”.

    There is not much time left to waste.

    Another “little” problem is the Pakistani nuclear weapons program – another one you most likely believe does not exist.

    Actually the weapons are real – and they are the reason the West pays the Pakistani government billions of Dollars a year.

    For fear the government will fall and the “non-existent” weapons will fall into the hands of the Pakistani Taliban.

    This may also be the reason why the Pakistani government does not seem that active in actually defeating the Pakistani Taliban.

    Yes – it is BLACKMAIL.

    Welcome to the world.

    • Nico Metten
      Sep 6, 2013 at 12:50 am

      “As for more evidence for Nico (or whoever) – it is less difficult (for example) to kill an enemy nuclear scientist that it is to take them alive.”

      Oh that is just great. We cannot have any evidence, but we apparently still know that they are working on it and will definitely use it. It is indeed a waste of time to argue with someone who has no interest in facts. You seem to spin your own reality.

      “And they will use these weapons if they get them – they believe themselves to have a religious duty to do so.”

      You just make this stuff up in your irrational hatred. The fact is there is a fatwa of the Ayatollah against the use of atomic weapons. As I said, they have not used chemical weapons against Iraq for that reason, even when Saddam was attacking them with such weapons. And the moment they would use atomic weapons, Iran would be wiped out. How can they use them anyway, when they do not have a delivery system?

      “Another “little” problem is the Pakistani nuclear weapons program – another one you most likely believe does not exist.”

      Yes, they have atomic weapons and yes they are a problem. That is why we should really stop destabilizing that country and get out of there.

  20. Paul Marks
    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    By the way – I got Gordon’s life events in the wrong order, the first visit to the Sudan was after (not before) the work in China. Old memory – not working right…..

    But his information on the Sudan was still years out of date.

    Never go to a place without a clear plan and enough force to achieve it.

    Do not rely on local allies (or more forces from home).

    By the way – Gladstone was innocent of Gordon’s death.

    Gladstone was ill at the time the key choices (the choice to neither back him up – or drag him out by force) were made.

    • Sep 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      Hmnn. No it didn’t!

Comments are closed.