The Palestinians Misjudged the Biden Junta re Israel


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There's another thing I want to add into the mix of rejecting the statement, "There are no innocent people in war."

It's Hannah Arendt's observation in Eichmann in Jerusalem about the banality of evil. Not all evil is like a monster. Sometimes it is like a cancer that looks absolutely normal and you live with it for years without detecting it. Eichmann was a "just following orders" person.

Of course, Eichmann saw the dead bodies. And he went about processing that like a typical government bureaucrat, not a raving lunatic. But there is a universal level of good and evil that transcends cultures. Piles of dead bodies is a pretty good hint that something is wrong no matter where you are. So I don't call Eichmann an innocent.

But what about the the people who shined his shoes or cleaned his house? Hell, those people probably thought they were serving an important person and not much else about it. Or how about maybe even assistants who never got near to knowing about the concentration camp atrocities?

I don't see those people as morally evil. I see them serving evil without realizing it.

Michael

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22 hours ago, ThatGuy said:

The format of the quote makes it look like mine

Can anyone tell me how to avoid that problem when quoting a section of a message? I could just cut it and paste it to a "document" and cut that and paste it back. And I do that frequently, but is there a way to avoid the problem without reverting to MS?      

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On 5/22/2021 at 8:45 PM, Peter said:

I got to thinking about how Israel is a powerhouse but the Palestinian politicians and jihadists are very bad people. What about America or British (and now Chinese) hegemony throughout the world? What sets one circumstance apart from the other? Some old letters.

 

Peter, here is an important contributor to the pathological reactions seen now, (re: Israel for one) - the teaching of the "noble savage" to the last few generations. (Remember "Avatar" and many movie depictions of that type). Attributed to J-J Rousseau and Engels and the post-modernists, who brought you in the USA and now, elsewhere, 'Critical Race Theory'.

It's sensible to realize that there was, logically, a huge disparity between parts of the world and peoples. No regions of people developed equally, or at all, or as fast, or did not later regress. (e.g. The previously quite advanced Arab civilisation).  And that the meeting and clashes by adventurism/discovery/proselytizing/exploration/imperialism/mining/agriculture/colonizing/settling of the highly technologically advanced European people on other lands and primitive people was inevitable. The "noble savage" is an ignorant, uninformed falsehood taken up by modern sentimentalists, especially enviro's and Marxists. They everywhere evidently had ignoble, short, painful and rough lives, at the mercy of their tribal fellows and chiefs. But they could not, in all reality, have been left alone and insulated and isolated from the West and other progressing countries for long.

https://theconversation.com/explainer-the-myth-of-the-noble-savage-55316

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11 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

There's another thing I want to add into the mix of rejecting the statement, "There are no innocent people in war."

It's Hannah Arendt's observation in Eichmann in Jerusalem about the banality of evil. Not all evil is like a monster. Sometimes it is like a cancer that looks absolutely normal and you live with it for years without detecting it. Eichmann was a "just following orders" person.

Of course, Eichmann saw the dead bodies. And he went about processing that like a typical government bureaucrat, not a raving lunatic. But there is a universal level of good and evil that transcends cultures. Piles of dead bodies is a pretty good hint that something is wrong no matter where you are. So I don't call Eichmann an innocent.

But what about the the people who shined his shoes or cleaned his house? Hell, those people probably thought they were serving an important person and not much else about it. Or how about maybe even assistants who never got near to knowing about the concentration camp atrocities?

I don't see those people as morally evil. I see them serving evil without realizing it.

Michael

I think the lack of innocence AR meant was it's impossible for anyone to maintain innocence and ignorance of what's going on around one, in wartime - not condemning their *moral* culpability for what IS happening. Obviously they can't be held accountable, morally.

In fact, I didn't see any mention of morality - i.e. the immorality of innocents - in those passages. It's the "innocence" of blind stupidity, they can't claim.

"But I didn't know!"

It is harder to imagine that the servants of an Eichmann-type hadn't heard rumors about him, nor overheard conversations, nor let's say, cleaned his bloodied boots. And not heard or seen that some people were being rounded up and shipped out, and their boss was some way connected. 

For those who support the evil systems and/or tyrants without themselves perpetrating anything evil, there is the phrase today - "useful idiots".

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There is the "deserving" aspect to Hamas v. Israel, trumpeted by the Left media. Does Gaza deserve -proportionately - what it received back?

Strange, that the caring folk who launch rockets at civilian areas protected by a greatly superior force seem to think their own children "deserve" not to be harmed accidentally (or deliberately targeted, as they pretend to believe).

After all, there has never been in the past any correlation between shooting at others and being shot at in return. Hmm?

Nor that the "caring" media and politicians and Leftist public tell them to desist firing missiles, immediately, or risk that consequence. "Because we "care" for innocent Gazan lives".

By covert and explicit signals the media etc. told them for decades they are morally right to attack Israel: they encourage deaths and more deaths of Gazans. Not to mention, of Israelis.

That's not compassion, that's knowingly callous malevolence.

So. Who "cares"? Not the Hamas terrorists, not enough, seemingly, the parents of the children. Not the hypocrites in media. Not the Palestinian supporters, who are attacking Jews in the streets in several countries. Oddly to some, the great majority of Israel care, and pay for it.

"Deserve" is the just and predictable outcome of reality, cause and effect, not a social construct. If you would choose to lay down with dogs you get up with fleas and deserve it.

 

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

I think the lack of innocence AR meant was it's impossible for anyone to maintain innocence and ignorance of what's going on around one, in wartime - not condemning their *moral* culpability for what IS happening. Obviously they can't be held accountable, morally.

That's my takeaway, as well, except that I'd take it one step further, and add her view on causality and consequences: it doesn't matter if they're "innocent" or innocent; in the wake of the reality of war, it matters little. Whether victim of circumstance or willing/unwilling accomplice, the result is the same. (Or, "all's fair in love and war...") Is it fair? Doesn't matter, in the wake of the flood...

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A couple of quotes of interest re "innocence" and Rand's warning about "Red China" in the U.N:

Quote

 

Fifty years ago, there might have been some excuse (though not justification) for the widespread belief that socialism is a political theory motivated by benevolence and aimed at the achievement of men’s well-being. Today, that belief can no longer be regarded as an innocent error. Socialism has been tried on every continent of the globe. In the light of its results, it is time to question the motives of socialism’s advocates.

Ayn Rand; Nathaniel Branden. The virtue of selfishness: a new concept of egoism (Kindle Locations 1528-1529). Signet/New American Library.

 

Quote

 

When an institution reaches the degree of corruption, brazen cynicism and dishonor demonstrated by the U.N. in its shameful history, to discuss it at length is to imply that its members and supporters may possibly be making an innocent error about its nature-which is no longer possible. There is no margin for error about a monstrosity that was created for the alleged purpose of preventing wars by uniting the world against any aggressor, but proceeded to unite it against any victim of aggression. The expulsion of a charter member, the Republic of China —an action forbidden by the U.N.’s own Charter—was a “moment of truth,” a naked display of the United Nations’ soul.

Ayn Rand; Harry Binswanger. The Ayn Rand lexicon: objectivism from A to Z (Kindle Locations 10354-10357). Meridian.

 

 

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2 hours ago, ThatGuy said:

The expulsion of a charter member, the Republic of China —an action forbidden by the U.N.’s own Charter—was a “moment of truth,” a naked display of the United Nations’ soul.

From Wikipedia: The Republic of China (traditional Chinese中華民國simplified Chinese华民pinyinZhōnghuá Mínguó), also known as Taiwan, is an island country in East Asia. The People's Republic of China (PRC) is located to the northwest; Japan is to the northeast; the Philippines is to the south. The Chinese Nationalists lost the Chinese Civil War to the Communists in 1949 and moved the government of the Republic of China from Nanjing to Taipei. It still claims the ownership of all of China including Mainland China . . . . There are those people in Taiwan who want to never be a part of the People's Republic of China. They believe in complete Taiwan independence and want to rename the ROC (Taiwan) to "Republic of Taiwan" so Taiwan can no longer have any ancestral connection to China or Chinese culture. Some other people wish to unite with the People's Republic of China; they want Chinese reunification. Some still want to attack the PRC and reunify China under the Republic of China. Most others want the status quo, which means keeping everything the way it is now. end quote

I vaguely remember when the left demanded the Republic of China be called, “Taiwan,” at least until their communist buddies took it over. But if Wikipedia is correct, some want to rename their country “Republic of Taiwan,” which I did not know.  

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On 5/22/2021 at 4:55 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

This is one idea of Rand's that--I believe all the way down--needs to be rejected.

I think I showed this on OL before but here is another instance of Ayn Rand possibly being wrong.

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Was Ayn Rand ever wrong? To Ellen Moore Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 11:05:03 EDT. To Ellen Moore: To date, you never have said -- and have denied it when an instance was raised -- that Ayn Rand made a mistake. I want to ask you about the following: Ayn Rand smoked a great deal, and for many years. And she announced often, publicly as well as privately, that there was insufficient evidence to prove that smoking caused cancer or any other disease. Many Objectivist students across the country felt safe in continuing to smoke because of her convincing arguments against statistical "proof." Then, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she stopped smoking at once, finally convinced that the evidence was sufficient. Her doctor did not have to tell her to stop; she did it before he could raise the subject.

When she was well, and back at work, friends said to her that she really should tell people that she had changed her mind, that now she was convinced that smoking was indeed dangerous to life. She flatly refused to do so. The reasons is not relevant; I can think of no reason good enough to warrant her silence when the results could be the death of some of the people who had accepted her original arguments and therefore had continued smoking.

For those of you who wish to know her so-called reason, it was her horror of announcing that she had cancer, because she believed that any serious illness resulted at least in part from "wrong premises." She could not bring herself to inform her students that she had any wrong premises, since she had so often told them and countless others that she had none, and had believed it herself. No matter how long and how hard her friends tried to persuade her, she refused. And she spent months, probably years, trying to discover the wrong premises that had resulted in her cancer.

Ellen, my question is: Do you think Ayn Rand was wrong not to tell her students her new conclusion about smoking? Barbara

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20 hours ago, Peter said:

I like that term but a deterministic word I dislike is "fated."

Fated (e.g. Islamic Fundamentalist) or deterministic (anti-volitional, anti-individualist Leftist) are both appropriate, between them they are both mystics and both anticipate the State of Israel to fall. It is fated thus.

(Have you ever wondered why the Left loathe Christian fundies but are enraptured by Islamic fundies?)

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2 hours ago, anthony said:

(Have you ever wondered why the Left loathe Christian fundies but are enraptured by Islamic fundies?)

What other "stories" do they gush over? White mass murderers. Violent black criminals who resist arrest, over and over again. Conspiracy spouting, white politicians. Gun violence, but only when the perpetrator is white. And they don't like it when white people don't feel guilty.

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2 hours ago, Peter said:

What other "stories" do they gush over? White mass murderers. Violent black criminals who resist arrest, over and over again. Conspiracy spouting, white politicians. Gun violence, but only when the perpetrator is white. And they don't like it when white people don't feel guilty.

Victims/oppressors, a constant diet to feed on required. That's how they acquire a sense of self-worth, of sorts.

Victimhood = Determinism

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On 5/25/2021 at 2:02 PM, Peter said:

I like that term but a deterministic word I dislike is "fated."

I thought of another lame word that holds no water in a universe with free will and thinking people: destiny.

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20 hours ago, Peter said:

I thought of another lame word that holds no water in a universe with free will and thinking people: destiny.

Why not? I think destiny is a perfectly valid and good concept for free-willed rational people, particularly. Comparable with and equivalent to the goal(s) in "goal directed action". One needs to know and envisage in advance the potential and intended ¬outcomes¬ of those actions. I.e.  - what you destine them to be when manifested in reality.

Of course the word has always had faith-connotations. (No problem for me). Those removed, the concept holds water if and when one considers one's destiny as self-authored and self-directed. 

(Her commitment, sterling character and intelligence destine her to graduate this year and a worthy career in law; if he spends his time on the street hanging out with those people, he's destined for a load of trouble. Gaza's destiny is entirely in its own hands).

There are the rational, volitional means and deserving goals that may be quite accurately anticipated in an individual's future destiny, not tainted by mystical Destiny (or Fate), which conversely is predestined and deterministic.  

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Destiny [ˈdestinē] NOUN the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future. "she was unable to control her own destiny"

Necessary means no free will. I remember that sort of thinking from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. The U.S. and the Soviet Union will have a nuclear war. There will be Armageddon. Rebuilding could take hundreds of years. We will be contacted by aliens and the world won’t be a better place, ever again. “ET go home,” but now we are always looking over our shoulders, and next there is “The War of the Worlds.” Bio warfare will ravage the planet as in “The Andromeda Strain,” “The Omega Man,” and “Outbreak.” Covid is not done with humanity, yadda yadda yadda.

However, I agree with you when you write, “There are the rational, volitional means and deserving goals that may be quite accurately anticipated in an individual's future destiny, not tainted by mystical Destiny (or Fate), which conversely is predestined and deterministic.”

But that is not determinism, which I am arguing against.  

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So..hamas fires 1000 rockets that are mostly ineffective due to iron dome.  Just because they failed to inflict massive casualties does not negate the intent.  What if Israel’s defense system failed and those rockets inflicted 20k casualties?

FFS Israel even passes out pamphlets letting people know “you have 3 hours to evacuate because we are going to destroy this building”.  Noooobody does that!!!!(except Israel) and people still shit on them for actually being good at defending themselves.

I think Israel should take the stance of “for every one rocket you fire at us we will return fire with 100 equally random and carelessly aimed rockets back at you.”.  
   They will come to the peace table much quicker once they just plain get tired of dying.

PS: I don’t see other Arab nations extending a welcoming mat to any Palestinians that may be enticed to leave...

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6 hours ago, Jules Troy said:

So..hamas fires 1000 rockets that are mostly ineffective due to iron dome.  Just because they failed to inflict massive casualties does not negate the intent.  What if Israel’s defense system failed and those rockets inflicted 20k casualties?

 

The point should be driven home. To all those 'No innocent (Gazans) must be killed' lefties and other knee-jerk Palestinian supporters. They ought to be praising Iron Dome (and Israel) from the roof tops.

Without its capability or a malfunction as you say, the destruction and deaths in Israel would have been great. But as we know, Israeli lives are irrelevant (and that's not the point).

The point: the immediate consequence would have been a massive military invasion of Gaza to stop the rocket onslaught in defense of Israel. Civilians of Gaza, women and children killed in the crossfire, and deliberately exposed by Hamas, in a war going on for weeks until Hamas was crushed permanently.

But do the Lefties and many Muslims world wide actually worry about life? Can they think that far ahead to "necessary" consequences? The hypocrites don't give a damn, or else they would right now be praising Iron Dome and the IDF's restraint for saving "innoocent" Gazan lives, not condemning Israel.

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9 hours ago, Peter said:

Destiny [ˈdestinē] NOUN the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future. "she was unable to control her own destiny"

Necessary means no free will. I remember that sort of thinking from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. 

However, I agree with you when you write, “There are the rational, volitional means and deserving goals that may be quite accurately anticipated in an individual's future destiny, not tainted by mystical Destiny (or Fate), which conversely is predestined and deterministic.”

But that is not determinism, which I am arguing against.  

There was once also "Manifest Destiny". (Of nations).

I argue that the word can be taken out of its preordained, fated, meaning - precisely because there is no such thing as "Fate" - and secularized, and turned from a mystic and deterministic negative into a volitional positive. The power of one's free will could lead to a "necessary" outcome (Roark) and it happens outside of fiction.

 "Character is destiny", a truism very acceptable to Objectivism (self-determinism, by the volitional virtues along with volitional conceptual knowledge).

Why should the religious keep all the strong words? As with "soul" as it is known to Objectivists, the consciousness. Another mystical word repurposed to reality.

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8 hours ago, Jules Troy said:

.

I think Israel should take the stance of “for every one rocket you fire at us we will return fire with 100 equally random and carelessly aimed rockets back at you.”.  
   They will come to the peace table much quicker once they just plain get tired of dying.

 

That I doubt. The name of the Palestinian game is public relations, media attention given them because they seem to never get "tired of dying" (all the better for headlines when it is their civilians). The West is infatuated by self-sacrifice and martyrdom. Israel is the overwhelmingly rationally self-interested, life-valuing party, and you can see how that goes down in the media.  

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8 hours ago, Jules Troy said:

I think Israel should take the stance of “for every one rocket you fire at us we will return fire with 100 equally random and carelessly aimed rockets back at you.”.  

We should have done more after 911. 

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Jules Troy wrote: Imagine if Mexico launched 800-1000 rockets a day towards US. cities.  By the end of the week there would be no Mexico... end quote

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor that started an ‘all-out war,’ even though they mostly limited their attack to American military targets. Our governing philosophy of war, which is taught at all our military colleges sanctions the “limited” killing of civilians but civilians should not be the target. However, later as ever one knows, Japan refused to surrender and we fire bombed Tokyo and nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki and our aim was to kill civilians. I haven’t kept up with “just war theory,” but here are some thoughts from Ghs. Peter  

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: George Smith and Just War... Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2001 11:45:57 -0600. Ross Levatter addressed a lot of questions to me, and it is virtually impossible to give each the attention it deserves. Instead, I will outline my general views of a "just war" and then elaborate on a few other points.

Ross wrote: "If the military in your homeland is killing civilians, are you allowed to get their government's attention by killing their civilians in return, or are only military targets morally acceptable? Some Objectivist scholars, including Ms. Rand's intellectual heir, believe there are no innocents in war. So on that logic the whole of the American public could be attacked by those who have been victims of America's initiation of force...or is this wrong? I believe George is not a defender of  any morality that demands the turning of one's cheek, which claims that one's actions are limited to those that harm no innocents."

(1) It is possible to frame a libertarian theory of war in such a way that it is *never* legitimate to engage in (or support) *any* war, even if it is obviously motivated by legitimate self-defense. For any war will invariably result in civilian casualties, and if we do not morally distinguish between inadvertent casualties versus the *deliberate* targeting of civilians, then we will end up with one of two positions: Either (1) war is always and everywhere unjust and may *never* be fought, even if abstention results in one's own death; or (2) anything goes in war, including the mass killing of innocent civilians.

Position (1) is logically implied by the arguments of some libertarians (especially anarchists), though rarely will they admit this consequence. Position (2) is the sort of thing we find advocated by Peikoff & Co. I reject both extremes.

This problem of killing innocent civilians (i.e., non-combatants) would remain even in an ideal anarchist society. For self-defense agencies, even those voluntarily commissioned, would face the same moral problems responding to 9-11 as we face today.

A state of war, including one declared for just reasons, is a public acknowledgment of a serious conflict of interests. (This relates to my earlier insistence that the U.S. should formally declare war against the individuals responsible for 9-11.) If -- or more precisely, *when* -- those who pursue a just war (i.e., one waged the legitimate purpose of self-defense) are responsible for the unintentional killing of innocents, then they have indeed violated the rights of those victims. As I argued at some length previously an exchange with Bill Dwyer, the rights of innocent people do not vanish because it may be in our rational self-interest to violate them -- so we are under a moral imperative to *minimize* civilian casualties as much as is humanly possible. (A moral theory that demands the impossible is useless.)

Nevertheless, despite the inevitable violation of rights, a just war renders such violations morally justifiable in the name of legitimate self-defense.. This is what a *just* of war is all about. A state of war differs fundamentally from a state of peace, primarily because in a legitimate state of war the immediate issue of *survival* is paramount over all other concerns. This clearly distinguishes U.S. intervention in Vietnam from current actions against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

(2) I think the traditional libertarian policy of non-intervention (as found in some of the founding fathers) is sometimes misunderstood. After all, American revolutionaries gladly accepted foreign aid and even direct military assistance (especially from France) in their fight against the British. More important than French naval assistance (e.g., at Yorktown) was the fact that that Americans, by persuading France and Spain to declare war against England, caused the British to fear losing their West India colonies, which were economically more important than the mainland colonies. As a result the British decided it was more important to protect their earlier acquisitions from the Seven Years' War, so they withdrew many of their troops from America and eventually abandoned the fight,  unwilling to spend more blood and treasure for a relatively small prize. If Americans had insisted on pure non-interventionism in regard to their own struggle for independence, it is quite possible that they would have lost that war.

Ironically, the massive debt incurred by France was a principal cause of the later French Revolution. This was why the libertarian Turgot, though very sympathetic to the American cause, opposed the intervention of his own country on the American side. He feared French intervention would lead to massive problems at home -- and so it did.

As I argued many years ago in "Justice Entrepreneurship in a Free Market," a well-intentioned Third Party is quite justified in forcibly intervening to stop an aggressor from violating the rights of a victim. I therefore oppose foreign interventionism, not because I think this would somehow violate the rights of a foreign tyrannical government, but because such intervention (normally) is *not* directly related to the survival of those in the United States. Yet such "intervention" (as in the case of the American Revolution, which saw many volunteers from other countries) might be perfectly legitimate if undertaken by *private* citizens in behalf of a just cause. A government, in contrast, does not have this freedom; rather, it should be concerned only with immediate threats to the survival of its citizens. And the current campaign clearly has this as its *purpose* -- which is not to say that I agree with every aspect of it..

Ross wrote: "Question: If suicide bombers destroyed several buildings in Italy, killing thousands, and the Italian government claimed it was done by the American Mafia, demanding the American government hand over the head of the Gambezzi family, with the American government responding they want to help but a) first they need some juridical proof of his guilt, and b) they don't keep tabs on everyone in the country and may need some time to find him...in such a situation is it appropriate for the Italian government to bomb Washington, as long as the bombs are aimed only at strategic targets and every reasonable effort is made to minimize civilian casualties?"

Yes, if such bombings were *necessary* for the apprehension of the guilty parties (e.g., if the U.S. government were to forcibly oppose any attempt by the Italians to come into America and apprehend the criminals themselves) -- and especially if those criminals constituted a clear and present danger of committing similar atrocities in the *future.* In this case, the U.S. government, like the Taliban government, would be aiding and abetting mass murderers, and a formal declaration of war would be morally justifiable (if rather stupid, given the military power of the U.S).

Ross wrote: "Question: George has made much of bin Laden's statements, goals, etc., and those of the Taliban, arguing that these people are motivated by religious fervor such that they would still hate America (and have eager followers willing to commit suicide?) even if US foreign policy were changed to non-intervention in the middle east. George is a commanding scholar, so perhaps he has in this case, as in so much of his other scholarship, gone to primary sources, but if this is not the case--if he does not read Farci or whatever language bin Laden's writings appear in--is he not concerned that what he hears about bin Laden's desires, demands, goals, etc., has been filtered by the US government and the American press?"

This is a disingenuous objection, in my judgment, since we must all rely on more or less the same sources of information -- and I don't see a similar concern among those who presume to *know* that U.S. foreign policy is the only reason why so many Muslims hate Americans. I have watched quite a view interviews with bin Laden and read many other statements by him, such as his declaration of a Holy War against ALL Americans, made just weeks before 9-11, not to mention his claiming credit for previous acts of terrorism. (In his public "cave" statement released shortly after U.S. military actions, bin Laden did everything all but expressly admit his involvement in 9-11.)

Moreover, a lot of information is available about the links of the 9-11 thugs to the al-Qaida network, as a quick internet search will reveal. I have simply reached the best judgment I can. Does Ross believe that Timothy McVeigh was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing? If so, why? Because he was found legally guilty? Well, even so, I doubt if Ross personally knows enough details to justify this verdict for himself. Because McVeigh openly and publicly confessed his crime? Well, how does Ross know this wasn't elicited under torture or the threat thereof? This kind of epistemological skepticism, if employed consistently, would destroy most every claim to knowledge that we make, since we can justify very little of our knowledge personally and directly, without relying on the "testimony" of others. This is even true in the hard sciences.

Ross wrote: "He is aware, I'm sure, of the role that government propaganda has played in past wars...from the butchering of Belgian babies in W.W.I to the Tonkin Gulf in Vietnam. And we already know the Bush administration has told the TV networks not to replay bin Laden speeches unedited. While I certainly agree religion can be a source of war (just look at the Crusades), I'm not sure what aspect of Islam and/or international trade has changed so dramatically in the last 30 years so as to instill such hatred of America in a part of the world we have traveled and traded in for centuries."

Yes, I am aware of the role of government propaganda, especially during wartime. That's why we shouldn't accept anything at face value, but should read as widely as we can and think for ourselves. (See, for example, the article at http://www.drudgereport.com/flash33.htm, which points out that the Delta Force was badly mangled during its supposedly surgical raid (Nov. 12) on Mullah Omar's complex. The official government version of this raid -- or at least the one reported in the media -- made no mention of the 12 -- and 3 badly -- wounded American soldiers and about the widespread discontent within the Special Forces about the incompetence of U.S. military planners.)

Ross wrote: "Question: George comments that President Bush's latest war, on terror, comes as close as reasonably possible to meeting the demands of just war theory. I don't have the half-dozen or so requirements for a just war in front of me, but I seem to recall a principle of proportionality somewhere. Is this correct? One day, 4 airplanes, 3 buildings...an act of horror committed by a dozen or so private citizens from several countries. In return, billions of dollars of weaponry aimed at devastating the infrastructure of a poor country (think about what that means for future deaths...roads gone, transportation of food and medicine impossible, electricity and power out, telephone system destroyed, airports destroyed, hospitals destroyed...if all that happened in your city, what would life be like, even if no civilians were killed in the initial destruction"

You neglect to mention a relevant  fact, namely, that this is *not* just a war of retaliation. Various Mullahs, as well as leaders of the al-Qaida network, have publicly announced that there should be *no* limit whatever to the weapons that may be used against Americans, including nuclear weapons and germ warfare. Do you not take these threats seriously? Do you not believe that we are in imminent danger of additional terrorist strikes that could make 9-11 look like a picnic?

I personally didn't take these threats very seriously before 9-11, but I do *now.* And it would be irrational to suppose that this was a one-time "lesson" inflicted by disgruntled Muslims. (Remember, the WTC typically had around 50,000 people in it, and the terrorists would have been more than pleased with this higher body count.) I am as certain as one can be about future events that more mass killings lie in our immediate future.

Thus,  given the inevitable conflict of interests between myself (and millions of other *innocent* Americans) versus some innocent Afghan causalities, I am not about to call for massive and idiotic self-sacrifice by the former. Although I would like to see the current war conducted along somewhat different lines, I am not about to lose track of the fact that the basic issue here is *self-defense,* pure and simple.

Since so much has been said about the virtues of "non-intervention," I would like to ask Ross a question. Bin Laden is a Saudi, is he not? Then, even supposing he is motivated by a love of justice, what is a Saudi doing "intervening" in Palestinian and Afghan affairs? Indeed, many of the Taliban are Arabs and not Afghans at all, and this is why they are viewed by many native Afghans as foreign conquerors. Or does being a Muslim render the members of al-Qaida exempt from our libertarian policy of non-interventionism? Indeed, if U.S. interventionism had some role to play in the current mess, it may be also said that similar interventionism on the other side (e.g., the Iranian financing of Palestinian resistance) of is also responsible. No double standards, please. Ghs

From: "George H. Smith" Subject: ATL: Re: Intent, Warmongering, and Battle  Hard-Ons Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2002 02:26:25 -0500 Tim Starr wrote: "However, all who love justice must love just wars, so there's no necessary conflict between a libertarian theory of justice and a love for war."

Jeff Olson replied: "This is news to me.  I didn't realize that by loving justice I was logically obliged to love war."

Tim replied: "Just war, yes.  Perhaps you have difficulty imagining a just war, or perhaps you don't really love justice. Perhaps your approval of justice takes a different form.  I could see an argument similar to yours being made about the death penalty, with people claiming to love justice but not the death penalty.  However, most who would take this position would do so because they'd consider the death penalty unjust."

Like Jeff, I have serious problems with Tim's statement about "loving" a just war, even taking into account Tim's flair for dramatic aphorisms.

(1) It is not clear what Tim means by "love" in this context. I think of "love" as involving something more than "respect," "esteem," "approval," etc., because "love" implies an affective response or emotional attachment that, if it exists at all in the former evaluations, typically exists to a far lesser degree and may even constitute an emotional difference in kind.

Since I do feel a strong emotional attachment to justice, I may be said to love justice. By this I primarily mean that I feel strongly about the value of voluntary social relationships that are based on a reciprocal respect for individual rights, i.e., relationships that do not involve the use or threat of physical force.

Tim, however, is speaking of a situation where rights have already been seriously violated, or where there exists a clear and present danger of such violation, and which would therefore justify a "just war" as a legitimate form of self-defense. (I would argue that only a clearly defined and delimited notion of self-defense, in contrast to retribution and even restitution, can ever justify a war, but this is a different subject.)

From the fact that I "love" justice (i.e., voluntary social relationships), it does not necessarily follow that I similarly "love" the legitimate use of violence, including a just war, that may be necessary for the purpose of self-defense and the *enforcement* of justice. There is a significant difference here, in terms of my emotional response, between a situation in which force never enters the picture at all versus a situation in which the initiation of force, by violating justice, legitimates the retaliatory use of force in self-defense.

My response to the latter is tinged with a heavy dose of regret that such measures are even necessary in the first place. Hence, although I would intellectually approve of self-defensive violence, I would never use the concept of "love" to describe my feelings about it. At most I might feel a cathartic sense of vindication and even  revenge if (say) an intended rape and murder victim manages to kill her assailant while being attacked, but in my lexicon this response would not qualify as "love" in any recognizable sense.

(2) We should keep in the mind that the concept of war, as commonly understood, refers to a major, sustained conflict between states – or at the very least between politically defined groups -- rather than a conflict between individuals. For this (and other) reasons, war has a collectivistic aspect to it that should make any individualist extremely uncomfortable, even if he concludes that war is necessary as a last resort.

War should always be viewed as a measure of last resort, an activity that should be employed only when all other reasonable options have been exhausted. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that wars always have undesirable, and often disastrous, unintended consequences, such as the loss of innocent lives and the growth of state power. Even so-called victors typically pay an immensely high price for war in blood, money, and the loss of individual freedoms.

"Unintended" does not mean "unforeseeable." Even with the best "smart" weapons that money and technology can provide, we know, with as much certainly as we can know any future event, that innocent people will die during war and suffer for years after a war has officially ended. I simply cannot bring myself to "love" a situation that will invariable result in the loss of innocent lives, regardless of who may be deemed morally responsible for this consequence. I may feel that I have no realistic choice but to sanction a just war, and I may feel that the unintended (though foreseeable) loss of innocent life is justifiable in some circumstances, but my regrets will be profound nonetheless. My dominant feeling here would be one of immense sadness, not love.

(3) To declare a state of war is, in effect, to declare a state of emergency in which a respect for innocent life will not be the paramount concern (i.e., a concern that trumps all other considerations) until and unless a given goal is achieved, a goal that is often characterized as "defeating the enemy." Again, I can feel no enthusiasm, much less "love," in supporting what amounts to a suspension of individual rights, even if I should regard this war as necessary and justifiable.

In my book, to love justice is to hate war, since to declare even a "just war" is to commit oneself to the inevitable loss of innocent lives. I agree with Tim that some wars can qualify as "just." But love has nothing to do with it. Ghs

From: "George H. Smith" Subject: ATL: Re: Reasons Why Tim Starr's "Arguments" Are Irrelevant Bullshit Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2002 13:17:07 -0500. Jeff Riggenbach wrote: "A "war" is a campaign of mass murder conducted by a State in an effort to protect or expand its power."

Although this might serve as an normative analysis of some wars from a libertarian perspective, it is not a good generic definition. The American Revolutionary War, for example, was not a "campaign of mass murder," nor (from the American side) was it conducted to protect or expand state power. The dominant (though not exclusive) purpose of many Americans was to *resist* the encroachment of state power. Does this mean the American Revolution was not a true "war"? There are other examples as well, such as the Dutch revolt against a very oppressive Spanish regime during the late 16th Century. Moreover, there were wars aplenty during the Middle Ages, even though the sovereign political entities known as "states" generally did not exist at that time.

Jeff wrote: "Self defense" is all the actions one might resort to *while under attack* in an effort to kill, disable, or repel one's attacker."

Legitimate self-defense also includes anticipatory actions taken with the reasonable expectation of an impending attack. You needn't wait until an attacker pulls a trigger or explodes a bomb before you can exercise your right of self-defense.

Jeff wrote: "First of all, the "laws of war" are a set of rules drawn up by States to govern their campaigns of mass murder.  Their principal use is to provide a pretext for post-war show-trials of "war criminals" so as to better persuade the gullible that the wonderful State has vanquished and punished their common enemy."

Modern rules of war have their roots in theories of International Law, especially as these latter were developed by the late Scholastics and seventeenth-century philosophers such as Grotius and Pufendorf. These developments came on the heels of the 16th Century Wars of Religion,  which were among the most brutal and horrific events in the history of Europe.

Theories of International Law were a systematic (and relatively successful) effort to minimize the horrors of war -- e.g., by condemning wars of conquest, wholesale looting and enslavement, and the massacre of innocent civilians  -- and to define and delimit the conditions that must be present for a just war. Their basic method was to apply the same moral principles of natural law that should govern individuals who live in the same country (e.g., freedom of conscience and respect for property rights) to the interactions of people who live in different countries, even though these people live under different governments and legal systems. More problematic was the legal fiction of treating governments as if they are individuals who exist in a state of nature relative to other governments. (Both Hobbes and Locke made this point, though it goes back centuries earlier.) Moral principles and their relationship to collective entities (or "corporations," as they were commonly known during the Middle Ages) is a very difficult problem that, imho, even Objectivists and modern libertarians have not addressed in a satisfactory manner. (To what extent is a low-level bureaucrat morally responsible for atrocities committed by the government that employs him? Are those who vote for politicians who enact rights-violating legislation morally responsible for these invasive acts? Or, more generally, to what extent if any are citizens and subjects responsible for the actions of their governments? Etc., etc.)

Even granting these theoretical problems, theories of International Law (and their application to war) were a heroic attempt to *limit* the predations of governments, not to justify them. They most certainly were not a pretext for war-crime trials, which were a much later development. Rather, they grew from the recognition that the power of rulers is not absolute, and that all individuals, including those in government, should be judged by the same moral standards -- principles discernable by reason alone without recourse to divine revelation or the arbitrary decrees of rulers. It is scarcely accidental that America's founding fathers held thinkers like Grotius and Vattel in very high esteem (the latter was one of the most widely read authors of the colonial era), owing to their strong emphasis on natural law and natural rights..

Let us assume that the United States has become an anarchistic paradise in which voluntarily-financed defense agencies have taken over the quasi-legitimate functions of government, such as the protection of life and property. And let us assume that these private agencies must deal with hostile private agencies (or governments) in other countries that operate with different values and legal systems. Even in this unlikely hypothetical we would still confront the same moral dilemmas of the sort that Tim has discussed. This is not to say that I agree with the details of Tim's analysis; I merely wish to point out that his *method* of analysis is a legitimate one, since even a private defense agency would have to deal with the proper limits of retaliatory violence, the problem of innocent shields in times of war, etc. (The only alternative would be to posit a world in which everyone is extremely nice and no one ever aggressed against anyone else, but this utopian fantasy does nothing more than evade the problems that will always plague humankind, so long as human nature remains human.)

Jeff wrote: "(Also, to some extent, as Tim has pointed out, these rules have been generated by private, charitable organizations like the Red Cross, which seek to find some way to limit the damage States do during their periodic murderous rampages.)  What these rules say about "acceptable" conduct by warring parties is *completely irrelevant* to a *moral* appraisal of such conduct, which is precisely the sort of appraisal Jeff

Olson, Ross Levatter, and others on the list have been attempting to reach.  In response to the question: "Is it morally acceptable to murder fifty or a hundred bystanders in order to kill one enemy combatant?" it is *completely irrelevant* to reply, "Oh, yes, because, you see, the criminal gangs engaging in this mass murder and mass destruction in order to extend or protect their illegitimate power have said it is!"

This is not how I understand Tim's arguments. I do not believe he is defending the moral primacy of International Law or the rules of war. On the contrary, I suspect he would largely agree with my analysis thus far, according to which the rules of war are an attempt to apply the same moral standards to governments that we apply to individuals. In fact, given some of Tim's examples, I think he has made this quite clear. I would be *very* surprised to learn that Tim thinks governments are something more than associations of individuals with rights and legitimate powers that exceed those of individuals. But he is quite capable of speaking for himself in this matter.

Jeff wrote: ""Intent" is the one thing it is both theoretically and practically impossible to ascertain about another human being.  We can know what that human does, but we have no way of telling what he intended when he did it.  We can know what that human says or writes about his intent, but we also know that humans can and do lie, exaggerate for effect, and even change their minds."

This is correct only if we assume that reasonable conclusions about the intentions of other people require mind reading skills. But they don't, and no one (that I know of) has ever made this silly claim. Jeff is implicitly setting up an impossible standard of verification and then, after stating the obvious fact that this standard can never be met, he proclaims, in effect, that *all* reasonable conclusions about intent are impossible. This does not follow at all. Indeed, given Jeff's objections, I could never know even my *own* intentions, since people *sometimes* rationalize and deceive themselves. We *infer* the intentions of others from their statements and actions. Is this an infallible procedure? No, of course not. But "reasonable" does not mean "infallible." There are reasonable and unreasonable inferences. This is as true when reaching conclusions about the intentions of other people as it is in every other sphere of fallible human knowledge.

Regarding Tim's grammatical error, Jeff wrote: "If people are too stupid or too lazy to learn how to use the language in such a way as to make their ideas clear, if they are too stupid or too lazy to figure out that the meanings of words are relevant to their attempts to express themselves, just why do they think anyone else should pay any attention to their inarticulate grunting?"

Now let us look at the sentence by Tim that Jeff finds so offensive:

"Ross is reading nationalism into arguments where they simply don't exist."

I don't see how anyone could take this as anything more than an incidental slip of the sort that often occurs in posts. Tim knows that "nationalism" requires a singular pronoun and verb, and it would be absurd to suggest otherwise, especially given the high quality of his writing generally. Like many other Atlanteans, I usually write posts quickly, and I don't bother to proof them very carefully. But this doesn't mean that I am "too lazy to learn how to use language." It simply means that I make mistakes from time to time. This is scarcely a hanging offense.

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On 5/27/2021 at 2:06 PM, Peter said:

I thought of another lame word that holds no water in a universe with free will and thinking people: destiny.

And what about ESP and Spidey Sense? joke

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