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Bidinotto "responds": TNI article on Ron Paul

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After Israel is gone the bastards will come for us (in fact they already have); Americans are the Jews of the world. The Muslim philosophy of subservience and death is in basic conflict with the Western philosophy of life. The Arab/Muslim fascists have to keep killing. If not the West, each other. It's a storm of force and envy. If you don't think the Arab/Muslims don't envy the Jews--apparently Hitler's problem--all I have to say is that envy is much easier than living a productive, creative, intellectual life or creating a society that honors such. When the back of envy is broken, the Jews and Americans and the formerly envious will win. The Jews are fighting against envy. The Arab/Muslims are fighting for envy. Whose side are you on? The moral side or the "utilitarian" side? Well, "The moral is the practical."

Brant, you are really oversimplifying this matter.

Neither side consistently embodies any philosophy at all. The West, particularly America, is in the throes of the Third Great "Awakening". This is right after the Red Decades. Philosophically, the West is torn between postmodern pseudo-Marxist skepticism and premodern caveman religionism, with its enlightenment heritage being swiftly rotted away. The vast majority of enlightenment beliefs are held inconsistently with other beliefs from the other schools of thought.

The west is a mixture.

As MSK showed in the "What Muslims Think" thread, so is the Islamic world. The Islamic world has at least some good, pro-reason traditions as well. You can argue that the Islamic world is significantly worse than the West in terms of its "balance" and I would agree with you, yet you simply cannot treat this as a simplistic rationalistic clash-of-civilizations situations.

Also, lets not forget that Jewish civilization is significantly mysticist. Although there are many secular persons of Jewish heritage, there are many persons of Jewish heritage that do not have an enlightenment-compatible philosophy. I mean, Kabbalah is pretty damn mystical whatever way you look at it.

Lets please try and be realistic about this. It is not a situation of Roarks vs Tooheys.

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To be perfectly honest I do not know what the solution could be. I once offered the following plan, please tell me what you think:

1. Officially declare non-interventionism in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Yes, Israel may be better than most mid-east states (which isn't saying much), and it may be more free than PA-controlled Palestine. But when so many Palestinians are saying that there hatred of America is due to its support of Israel, I think that we should at least acknowlege that is a probable cause. After all, the Jews are not pathetic and weak, they can take care of their own issues. Also, this will mean any attacks on the US after the declaration of non-interventionism cannot be rationalized as "you are supporting Israel."

Non-interventionism should be declared for the whole middle east. We should declare that we are leaving. That we made a mistake in our foreign policy. We should bring home all military, close most bases in all nations (protecting trade routes across the ocean should still happen). At the same time we should declare that we will respond to attacks against us with 100X the swiftness and force as we have in the past. If an enemy flees into someone's territory we expect them to either catch them for us or let us in.

2. Cripple the Al-Sauds economically by removing their investments from the US. This may cause a recession or at least damage some sectors of the economy. But they are the main bankroller's of Wahhabbi Islam (which is a part of Salafi Islam, but its the worst part!) and if we want to make them suffer, we have to stop letting them make money off the west. After all, the Al-Sauds got their money from nationalized oil revenues, not free market.

It's oversimplifying to say that they got their money from nationalized oil revenues, the same logic could apply to a lot more people on different scales, including some American citizens. If you let them keep their assets, they'll probably lose them over time anyway, in the free market.

3. Make it well known that the Al-Sauds do not lead an Islamic lifestyle. Send their credit card bills to many Muslim clerics.

I don't see why this is an important tactic.

4. The Al-Sauds will retaliate with petrol prices. Maybe the government should advise (not force) the public to buy hybrid vehicles.

Actually all the US government has to do is start respecting the property rights of their own citizens, and allow oil drilling in places like Alaska and offshore. We'd have plenty of oil.

5. Get out of Iraq. It is a waste of time, money and a distraction from the true target (Al Qaeda). Also gets rid of another grievance against the US and so prevents a rationalization of attacks on one other ground.

Yes.

6. Continue tactical strikes at Bin Laden and his ilk.

Yes.

7. The Irshad Manji Strategy: set up a microcredit scheme that allows women in Muslim countries to start small businesses. In Islam, there is agreement amongst all sects that if women earn money they get to keep 100% of it to do what they please. Therefore, they could teach themselves to read the Koran, and since they do not like the "beat your wives" interpretation they would be more than open to other interpretations. Ideally I would like this scheme to be funded voluntarily.

Affirmative action isn't needed, what's needed is the free market. If microcredit is good for Muslim females, it's good for everyone.

8. Intellectual Warfare: promote Mutazilite Islam, Averroes, etc (i.e. the pro-reason tradition that flourished during the Islamic Golden Age) as an alternative to Wahhabism, use intellectual means to encourage individual interpretation of the Koran. In other words, try to make Islam fight over theology, hence destabilizing doctrinal power-blocs. This will promote multiple different strains, including many that are liberal-minded (liberal in the "modernity" sense). Groups like Project Ijtihad (Manji's group) are good in this regard.

Intellectual warefare should not be done by the US government. Except perhaps leaflets in place we will bomb.

Shayne

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After Israel is gone the bastards will come for us (in fact they already have); Americans are the Jews of the world.

That is pure speculation. But if they did then we'd be in our rights to bomb them to hell. As it stands, the whole situation is muddled, and we therefore can't and don't do anything useful. Military action should be swift, certain, with a clear aim and purpose. That kind of response is not possible with the present foreign policy.

Shayne

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Saddam Hussien directly paid for terrorist attacks against Israel and paid rewards out to the families of suicide bombers. *I* doubt this is out of the ordinary for arab / muslim tyrants.

Again, you are treating Israel like the 51st State. It isn't.

You act as though Israel isnt even on the same planet. It is, and the people trying to kill israels will, have, and do kill Americans. Your principle of not doing anything about any assaults anywhere on the world unless they are launched directly against you is suicidal. If enacted during the cold war, the Soviet Union would have conquered every single nation on the planet, while explicitly leaving the American homeland alone until it posed absolutely no serious threat. If the Soviet Union invaded Canada in 1980, instead of Afghanastan, would you act to assist Canada in defending itself or not?

To the extent which a nation embraces similiar principles as us, or fights the same enemies, we should do everything within reason to support them. We may disagree about what is 'within reason' but that is far different from insisting that no one ever do anything, which is in practice indistinguishable from absolute pacifism, with the exception of that minute last scuff of self defense against a completely overwhelming enemy.

I am interested in hearing you clarify your conceptions of self defense. If a man aims a gun at you in a threatening manner, are you acting in self defense to shoot him? Or need you wait until bullets are actually flying at your head? If you are standing in a line, and someone starts shooting people in that line, one at a time, working his way toward you, when, exactly, are you justified in acting in self defense? The Soviet Union was a mass murdered walking down the line of nations, one after another. Today, Islamic Fundamentalism is that mad man, tomorrow, it will probably be secular nihilism of the Ted Kaczysnki types.

Israel is an ally, it is a free nation and helping to defend it against assaults on individual freedom and liberty is helping to defend the very concepts of those.

Those are all half-truths. Yes, Israel is better than every other dump in the middle east, but thats simply not good enough. Even though I do not agree with everything he says, www.ariwatch.com has a good section dealing with Israel. The Israel/Palestine conflict is not a one-sided "good guy and bad guy" situation, indeed the best assessment of it is given by Christopher Hitchens in God Is Not Great. Its a situation where two groups of religious fascists have staked a claim to the same piece of land, and the fighting will basically endure as long as religious fundamentalism on either side endures.

No, these are truths. Israel is a free nation, according to Freedhouse.org, it is nearly as free in matters of political and civil liberties as the United States is. According to the Heritage Foundation's index of Economic Freedom, it is "Moderately Free" and scores in the top 3rd nations on the planet. If you have a different ranking and identification of freedom, please feel free to elaborate "Studio Kadent's Index of Freedom" and let us know your methodology and survey methods for each nation as well.

Israel is not just "better" than everyone else in the middle east, like a honda civic is 'better' than a honda prelude on gas, you should not use such vague qualatiative comparison statements, thats like saying that the Milky way galaxy is 'bigger' than the Solar System, of course it is, but that phrase does not do it justice. Israel is a golden tower in a majority arab / islam sea of molten slag and garbage. Not one single majority arab / islamic nation ranks as Free in the middle east, only Israel is free. The only nations which are partly free border Israel now, due to significant influence by Israel and international pressure from free nations. Lebanon is only 'partly free' as of this year, where the UN, international pressure from the US, France, and Israel, pushed for Syria's withdrawel of military occupation and fair elections.

No the Arab / Israeli conflict is not a 'one sided' all good scenario, it is just about 95% good in Israelis favor, the various terrorist rulers of the Palestinian leaders seek only to install their own murderous islamic hell hole, those who seek freedom wish to be ruled by Israel, and are hunted down and killed by Hamas, the PA, etc. Palestinians seek martydom, payoffs to their families, and 72 virgins and so love to be killed by Israeli soldiers.

I read Hitchens book recently and have listened to many of his lectures, that is not at all the essence of his stance on Israel, it was something important that he felt was being over looked when discussing that issue. While there is a minority of religious fundamentalism in Israel which is unwilling to comprimise, If Arabs stopped launching terrorist attacks against Israel this minority would have no sway over military reactions of Israel. Most Israelis are moderate and simply want to stop being attacked.

We don't *have* to do anything, we don't have to call the police when we see our neighbor being raped, we don't have to consider any act immoral unless its directly effects us. Would you suggest ignoring murders and rapists unless they actually try to kill *you*? Why then would you suggest ignoring murderous terrorists unless they actually attack *you*?

Context-dropping. States are not individuals and should not be treated as such. Additionally, when we have a mixture of States and non-state-organizations involved in a conflict, you cannot simply treat each as an individual and make deductions accordingly.

*I* am dropping context? You don't consider an assault on freedom or civil liberties any where in the world anything to be concerned about. As if fundamental rights are arbitary creations of political boundaries. A rape is wrong no matter where it takes place and no matter what asinine laws are on that nations books. Murder is wrong no matter where it takes place and what tyrant is committing it. This is the essential flaw in libertarianism, you think civil liberties and human rights are mere arbitrary social conventions and only nations lucky enough to adopt those particular principles deserve them. Self defense is not helping your neighbor defend themselves, it is only you defending yourself. A right is something that ends with a line on a map.

Additionally, I said "why then do you suggest ignoring murderous TERRORISTS unless they actually attack YOU" No where in this statement did I equate states with individuals and not surprisingly you did not answer the question. Apparently terrorists are only of concern if they actually launch bullets at *your* head, not your neighbors, not your fellow citizens, and not your fellow human inhabitants of the world. You got yours eh, so who gives a shit about anyone else.

The ruling body of a which is the product of non-representative rule deserves only the same rights it respects of it's individual citizens. If a nation attacks one nation after another in an aggresive assault with the obvious goal of creating a less free nation as a result,

I am only referring to nations here as conceptual over views in analogies to human individuals merely to convey a concept, I certainly have not ever advocated that nations should be considered individuals, only that the moral qualitiy of a nations actions can be judged, and responded to, in the same manner and invidiauls are. A nation is a simple conceptual labeling of a large group of individuals within a shared political framework, unfree nations are merely enormous slave labor hostage prison camps, and the ruling body of which should be treated as such.

Even so, in this case, they have attacked American people and American property over and over again, but I think your assessment of retailatory force and defence are rather narrow minded and hardly distinguishable from pacifism, as you would watch the whole world crumble and burn as long as no one actually explicitly attacked *you*.

I do support going after the organizations that have attacked American people and their property. I simply do not support treating the entire Islamic world as one giant memetic complex, a giant abstract entity with one mind. MSK has done a lot of work showing that even the modern Islamic world is by no means a monolith of "Jihad against America"ism.

Nor did I suggest the entire Islamic world be treated as 'one giant memetic complex' please state where I have stated as much. If you are trying to lump me into the "Nuke em all" crowd don't bother, I have explicitly stated my adament disgust with that position repeatedly in this forum.

Individuals which pose a threat to American citizens, allies, or interests of freedom in the world are justifiable targets. Groups which pose a threat to the same are justifiable targets, where efforts to undermine the formulation and promulgation of known murderous terrorism groups are a reasonable strategy to employ, from siezing financial asseets, assasinating individuals who are aide or fund terrorist attacks, to levying internation political pressure against groups. The ruling entities of nations which are unfree, whose oppresive policies actively fund, incite, breed, and promulgate terrorism are also legitimate targets, and an overall effort to promulgate the growth of individual civil liberties, market based ecomies, and representive rule are fundamental aspects to undermining the growth of murderous terrorism, and is also morraly just, humanitarian, and in the long term rational self interest of all free people in the world.

Well we are trying to have a reasonable length discussion, not work out a PhD dissertation. Some majority Arab / Islam nations leaders will be good allys against murderous fundamentalism, when and where they would be that should be exploited. Some of them are acting like they are, yet promulgating and funding more terrorism. Some are outright and open supporters of terrorism. They should each be delt with in the best possible manner that coincides with the long term over arching goal of ending tyrannical rule in the middle east and promulgating the growth of liberal constitutional democracy.

Why not free Venezuela? They are a dictatorship with a lot of oil as well. Why not free the citizens of North Korea? NK is the most oppressive regime in the world at the moment. Venezuela funds Marxist militias, and who knows what NK is doing but its bound to be evil. If the US government has a mandate to reshape the world in its own image then why give the Middle East special treatment?

We should free Venezuela, or, at least, act in a manner conducive in the long term to the formation and foundation of a free nation in Venezuala, and in fact, all non-free nations. North Korea as well. The existing of these regimes poses a long term threat to human civilization, they are the harbingers of all wars, diseases, and famines. They are the hot bed of terrorism and murderous intolerance. They are merely enormous prison camps ruled by hostage takers. Your objection is a typical libertarian one, "well, if we are going after evil nations, why not this one, or that one, or that one, bla bla bla" The answer is, of course, to anyone who rationally considers the idea, to always deal the best blow you can against your worst enemy with clear long term objectives in mind. We are not a nation of infinite resources, Islamic fundamentalism poses the greatest threat *right now* to freedom and prosperity in the world, and to your life and the lives of everyone you love. To get rid of Islamic fundamentalism, we need to attack individual terrorists, groups that sponsor terrorism, and the rulers of despotic nations which create, breed, and promulgate them. In the future, Venezuela might pose a greater threat, right now we have bigger problems to focus on.

This is a far cry from your narrow minded and short sighted "do nothing until we are attacked, screw our allies" position.

I recently met, as a representative of the Lifeboat Foundation, with the Navy War Colleges Strategic Studies Group, which was meeting with many technology organizations in San Francisco to assess what global threats we might face that they are not paying attention to and I spoke at length on this topic. I advocated the formation of an alliance of liberal constitutional democracies and the instigation of a '12 step' program which ultimately pushes every non free nation toward freedom. Such a program might start with sanctions, cutting off aide, demanding aide be distrubuted by the donors, un restricted access to international monitoring groups, etc. Informational and pyschological warfare campaigns might be a logical next step, from dropping sattliete internet access computers, video recording equipement or flyers, etc. Violations of these terms would incite retributive action, from strategic military strikes directed against the ruling party members. Such a program might follow a 10 or 15 year plan, of the most practical, pragmatic, and just course to move from non free nations to free ones.

The liberal constitutional democracies are the freest, richest, and most militarily powerfull nations on Earth. If Spain, Germany, France, Australia, South Africa, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, Canada, Chile, Tawain, Japan, South Korea, etc etc etc all engaged in peace keaping efforts in Iraq, working diligently to install a rule of law and later a constitution, would would have experienced no where near the number or problems we have been, with most of these nations appealing to moral relativism and pretending there is no moral credibility in deposing a tyrant and freeing 20 million people. I emphasized this is not only a humanitarian course of action, but it is in OUR long term rational self interest, free nations do not start wars with each other, they do not kill their own people, they breed far fewer terrorists, they promulgate massive technological growth, they have decent health infrastructures which cure diseases and stop the spread of pandemics, etc etc etc.

I do not think such an effort would actually need to start a war very often, perhaps only once, and against the very worst enemy (in this case North Korea) If tyrants are given a path 'out' while transitioning their nation toward freedom it might make things eeven easier. If not they have every incentive to fight to the death. While this unfortunately would lead to mass murderers escaping justice, it might make the transitioning to free nations around the world much quicker and much less painfull.

All murderous tyrants are a threat to free people, any assault on individual freedom and civil liberties is an assault on the very concept of those.

"Any assault on individual freedom and civil liberties is an assault on the very concept of those" is epistemological moderate realism (Aristotelian intrinsicism). Further, assaults on individual freedom and civil liberties are happenning in the US as well! There are American citizens demanding their own country is subjected to their own version of religious rule! There are enough problems inside US borders to be concerned with waging a global war.

Not so, when a theif steels, he commits an assault on the very concept of property, and poses a threat to all owners of property. If I had said "freedom is an instrinsic value" you could accuse me of Aristotlean Intrinsicism. When a rapist attacks, he assaults the victim and the concept of individual rights, and poses a threat to all individuals. When a tyrant executes a dissedent, he assualts the very concept of free speech, and poses a threat to every lover of free speech. When anyone, anwhere in the world, assaults an individuals freedom or civil liberties, he is in essence assaulting the very concepts and indirectly every single individual who enjoys those and directly now poses a threat to those freedoms.

Further, I KNOW assaults on inividual freedom and civil liberties are happening in the US, they SHOULD ALWAYS BE FOUGHT, EVERYWHERE, to the best of our capabilities. Libertarians have a tendancy to paint this as a zero sum false dichotomy, EITHER we are fighting oppression at home OR we are fighting it abroad, and any battle waged in one area necessarily takes it away from the other. On the Contrary, fighting it anywhere further justifies it's validity and our seriousness in combatting these transgressions. I suspect Libertarians embrace this false dichotomy for the same reason moral relativists embrace thiers, it justifies inaction, it justifies only ever fighting your battle in the freest nation on earth, where you don't have to worry about being executed, where you can 'change the world' while sipping on your latte.

When you say "There are enough problems in the US to fix without waging a global war" you catch yourself in a regressive loop. Which problems? To what extent do they need to be fixed? Maybe they need to be fixed in most places, in order to be fixed everywhere. Maybe when your done, and you think the problems are fixed, other even more isolationist minded people will still insist there are yet MORE problems and we should fix THOSE before doing anything else.

As an advocate of space travel, I frquently here this objection as well, "Why go out into space when we could use those resources to fix problems on earth" the answer is, 1) you frequently will need to work to fix problems everywhere in order to actually fix the problem completely, 2) space exploration, a global movement toward freedom, etc, creates secondary technological, political, and economic benefits which help make further progress towards those goals, 3) you will NEVER, EVER have ALL PROBLEMS fixed to EVERYONES satisfaction, and so a large subset of people will always insist on not doing anything anywhere else until all problems directly affecting them are addressed.

If the policies you, Ron Paul, SJW, etc, support were followed, you would have comdemned Israel to near certain doom and yet anohter holocaust, because, as you ask "since we do we have to help defend other nations, like Israel"

Playing the Holocaust card is generally regarded as extremely impolite. I am not an anti-Semite. Yes, I am against Zionism, but no, I am no racist. Anti-Zionism is only racism if you assume national self-determination is valid on the basis of bloodline, which is simply biological collectivism.

So is abandoning an ally to mass murder. Do you think Nixon's emergency resupply of Israel during the Yom Kippur war was just or not? Yes or no? simple quesiton. Bear in mind every reasonable assessment suggests that the alliance of Arab nations would have in fact annihlated Israel. Do we help other free people defend themselves or not? Do we do so when their enemies are also our enemies?

I'll have to answer the rest later.

Edited by Matus1976

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To the extent which a nation embraces similiar principles as us, or fights the same enemies, we should do everything within reason to support them. We may disagree about what is 'within reason' but that is far different from insisting that no one ever do anything, which is in practice indistinguishable from absolute pacifism, with the exception of that minute last scuff of self defense against a completely overwhelming enemy.

I am interested in hearing you clarify your conceptions of self defense. If a man aims a gun at you in a threatening manner, are you acting in self defense to shoot him? Or need you wait until bullets are actually flying at your head? If you are standing in a line, and someone starts shooting people in that line, one at a time, working his way toward you, when, exactly, are you justified in acting in self defense?

It seems our primary disagreement is in the field of what constitutes reasonable assistance to allies. However I will look at the question of self-defense first. I agree that in these situations, retaliation is more than justified. All I am arguing is that your above scenarios are a bad analogy when applied to the war in Iraq.

Palestinians seek martydom, payoffs to their families, and 72 virgins and so love to be killed by Israeli soldiers.

Surely not all of them. As you say later in your post,

Most Israelis are moderate and simply want to stop being attacked
.I agree. Most Palestinians are moderate as well (generalizing from MSK's "What Muslim's Think" thread). As I see it the flames are fanned by religious extremists on both sides (Jewish and Christian Zionists on one side, Islamic-Fascists on the other).
*I* am dropping context? You don't consider an assault on freedom or civil liberties any where in the world anything to be concerned about.

I do consider an assault on freedom and liberty to be a concern. I simply differ with you as to the means with which to deal with these issues.

fundamental rights are arbitary creations of political boundaries. A rape is wrong no matter where it takes place and no matter what asinine laws are on that nations books. Murder is wrong no matter where it takes place and what tyrant is committing it. This is the essential flaw in libertarianism, you think civil liberties and human rights are mere arbitrary social conventions and only nations lucky enough to adopt those particular principles deserve them. Self defense is not helping your neighbor defend themselves, it is only you defending yourself. A right is something that ends with a line on a map.

First, I am an Objectivist, so I am not a subjectivist type of Libertarian. Second, I have never ran into a libertarian that would argue that rights are arbitrary (at least not explicitly. Some libertarians do argue things that by implication render rights arbitrary, but I have never ran into a libertarian that, knowing this implication, would argue anything that renders rights arbitrary). So I think you are stereotyping.

I am only referring to nations here as conceptual over views in analogies to human individuals merely to convey a concept, I certainly have not ever advocated that nations should be considered individuals, only that the moral qualitiy of a nations actions can be judged, and responded to, in the same manner and invidiauls are. A nation is a simple conceptual labeling of a large group of individuals within a shared political framework, unfree nations are merely enormous slave labor hostage prison camps, and the ruling body of which should be treated as such.

Good. I am simply suggesting that in light of the above your earlier analogies may have been oversimplifications. I am not accusing you of evasion or anything.

If you are trying to lump me into the "Nuke em all" crowd don't bother, I have explicitly stated my adament disgust with that position repeatedly in this forum.

Excellent.

Individuals which pose a threat to American citizens, allies, or interests of freedom in the world are justifiable targets.

Over the long term, many University professors fit that description. Are they to be targeted? I think that obviously, you meant that individuals who pose a physical threat are justifiable targets, and I agree. Again, I am not saying that bin Laden or Kim Jong Il don't deserve to die. They do. Im simply saying that using the US Armed Forces proper role is retaliation against those parties that have attacked the US, not propagating liberty globally using the public purse (and thus there is authorization for killing bin Laden but not killing KJI (at least yet)).

We should free Venezuela, or, at least, act in a manner conducive in the long term to the formation and foundation of a free nation in Venezuala, and in fact, all non-free nations. North Korea as well. The existing of these regimes poses a long term threat to human civilization, they are the harbingers of all wars, diseases, and famines. They are the hot bed of terrorism and murderous intolerance. They are merely enormous prison camps ruled by hostage takers.

I do not disagree with you about long term aims. I simply disagree with, at least in the case of the middle east, your proposed means.

Not so, when a theif steels, he commits an assault on the very concept of property, and poses a threat to all owners of property. If I had said "freedom is an instrinsic value" you could accuse me of Aristotlean Intrinsicism.

Intrinsic value can refer to Platonic Intrinsicism as well. I said Aristotelian Intrinsicism because you implied that the universal ("the concept of property") is a mind-independent substance that exists within all its instansiations (i.e. within every piece of property). Whist I agree that the action of theft implies the theif does not believe in property rights, that does not literally mean he attacks the concept by stealing. Many people attack the concept of property without actually stealing (i.e. Marxists). Regardless, I think you meant your statement a little less literally than I seem to be taking it.

Further, I KNOW assaults on inividual freedom and civil liberties are happening in the US, they SHOULD ALWAYS BE FOUGHT, EVERYWHERE, to the best of our capabilities. Libertarians have a tendancy to paint this as a zero sum false dichotomy, EITHER we are fighting oppression at home OR we are fighting it abroad, and any battle waged in one area necessarily takes it away from the other.

By stating "to the best of our capabilities" you concede the fact that the "aggregate amount of freedom we can produce in the world" is limited (i.e. we can only overthrow so many dictatorships, repeal so many laws, etc) over time. As such we need to be wary of this distribution. All I am saying is that the distribution is too much in favor of "freedom abroad" rather than "freedom domestically".

So is abandoning an ally to mass murder. Do you think Nixon's emergency resupply of Israel during the Yom Kippur war was just or not? Yes or no? simple quesiton. Bear in mind every reasonable assessment suggests that the alliance of Arab nations would have in fact annihlated Israel. Do we help other free people defend themselves or not? Do we do so when their enemies are also our enemies?

I am not sufficiently familiar with the situation to answer that question.

I have stated before I agree Israel is the most free country in the region. And I agree that the Palestinian Islamofascists, if they got their way, would be much worse. I just think that while "least fascist" is a good start, we should not give Carte Blanche. As I have stated, the only solution I can see is a secular state for both Palestinians and Israelis, but as we both know the religious fascists on both sides would not like that (CH: "Religion Poisons Everything!").

So look, as I am an Economist and not a foreign policy analyst, I will concede that these areas are beyond my expertise when dealing with specifics, although I think in general terms I agree with your long-range goals, I think that the means you advise regarding the Middle East are somewhat too military-focussed than I would prefer. I will be pulling out of this thread, since I am honestly somewhat out of my depth in the field.

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3. Make it well known that the Al-Sauds do not lead an Islamic lifestyle. Send their credit card bills to many Muslim clerics.

I don't see why this is an important tactic.

Because it will discredit them. Its also easy to do, and lets be honest, its fun!

4. The Al-Sauds will retaliate with petrol prices. Maybe the government should advise (not force) the public to buy hybrid vehicles.

Actually all the US government has to do is start respecting the property rights of their own citizens, and allow oil drilling in places like Alaska and offshore. We'd have plenty of oil.

I agree, but Hybrids are still a useful strategy. "Buy a Hybrid and starve a Terrorist today!" (cool slogan huh?).

7. The Irshad Manji Strategy: set up a microcredit scheme that allows women in Muslim countries to start small businesses. In Islam, there is agreement amongst all sects that if women earn money they get to keep 100% of it to do what they please. Therefore, they could teach themselves to read the Koran, and since they do not like the "beat your wives" interpretation they would be more than open to other interpretations. Ideally I would like this scheme to be funded voluntarily.

Affirmative action isn't needed, what's needed is the free market. If microcredit is good for Muslim females, it's good for everyone.

I agree that over the long term we want to shift the Middle East to a free market system. These suggestions are simply ways to encourage that shift. Its a destabilization strategy rather than a long-term end.

Please don't misinterpret. I do not want to encourage international affirmative action. I simply think this kind of scheme will influence development of more modernity-compatible interpretations of Islam (weakening the ideological source of terrorism). As I said, ideally I'd like it to be voluntary. Hell, I'd invest some money in it. Islamic Banking, from an economic perspective, is interesting since (because it doesn't charge interest, instead it makes its money back via dividends) it operates like a managed investment fund.

Either way this strategy may be more effective intellectually than a war-based one. And if the exercise of soft power is cheaper and less violent and more effective than hard power, I see no reason to not endorse the soft one.

Regardless, as stated above I will be politely withdrawing from this thread.

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I am not sufficiently familiar with the situation to answer that question.

Thanks for the discussion.

I understand the reluctance without knowing the details of the situation, but's lets say that you did know all the details and have the reasonable expectation that Israel would have been utterly annihlated. In that case, would you or would you not act to assist them in self defense?

Similiarly, I don't think a PhD in foreign policy is required to have an opinion on what we should have done if the Soviet Union invaded Canada instead of Afghanastan. They did not attack 'us' after all. Do you think we should act to assist Canada in it's self defense in that scenario?

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I see dictatorial regimes like Venezuela were mentioned on this thread. Robert Tracinski has some powerful insights in the following article. I closed the spaces up a bit Peter  

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword Why Can't We Say "Death to Tyrants" in Venezuela? February 26, 2019 by Robert Tracinski. In Venezuela over the weekend, a socialist regime seeking to block humanitarian aid shot protesters and burned trucks carrying food across the border. Dictator Nicolas Maduro would rather see his people starve and see infants dying in hospitals for lack of medical care than risk relinquishing power. So it is clear, in the minds of many, who should be the object of their moral outrage: Marco Rubio.

Why Rubio? The Florida Senator has taken up opposition to the Maduro regime as a personal crusade. In response to the horror in Venezuela, Rubio sent out a series of tweets that were simply before and after photos of a tyrant in his prime and the same tyrant after his fall from power. The first showed Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu--next to a photo of him and his wife being led out to be shot by their own henchmen. The second showed Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega behind a podium brandishing a machete--then his mugshot before he was put on trial. The third showed Libyan tyrant Moammar Gaddafi looking smug and complacent in his resplendent white uniform--then dazed and bloodied right before he was shot to death by an angry mob.

These tweets were clearly intended as a warning that dictators frequently meet a sticky end. It is a visual paraphrase of the message sent by a famous Virginian, Patrick Henry: "Caesar had his Brutus, Charles I his Cromwell, and George III--may profit by their example." Or maybe he was echoing another Founding Father who believed that the Tree of Liberty needs to be watered with the blood of tyrants. Or maybe it was those other Founders who designed the seal on the Virginia state flag. The point is that the sentiment of "death to tyrants"--or at least jail, in Noriega's case--is as American as apple pie. It is the idea on which this country was founded.

Yet the Gaddafi tweet in particular set off a storm of condemnation that seems oddly vehement, as if there is something else going on, some deeper motive. It ranged from concern trolling about how Rubio is "handing Maduro a propaganda victory"--or at least so Slate seems to hope--to outrage that Rubio had endorsed "extrajudicial killings." This was even taken up by dogmatically isolationist libertarians and conservatives, who used it to complain that US intervention in Venezuela would turn it into another lawless and chaotic country like Libya, a country about which they suddenly care after having ignored it for the last seven years. It's interesting to see how little difference there is between Russian propaganda (by way of Wikileaks), leftist anti-Americanism, and libertarian isolationism. They are all united behind the old defense that the only alternatives are tyranny or chaos, so we'd all better line up behind the tyrant.

Then there were outright expressions of sympathy with Gaddafi's plight. One journalist conceded that Gaddafi "was a horrible man." But "He was also anally raped with a bayonet and beaten to death [sic] in the street by a mob and a US senator is celebrating that." I don't really see what the problem is. A couple of people, thinking they were being clever, retorted to Rubio, who is known for tweeting a daily Bible verse, by asking which part of the Bible this is consistent with. Well, I'm not even religious and I can suggest a few. Maybe "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," or better yet, "all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."

This is the most basic moral logic. There are certain crimes so vicious that they constitute a forfeit of the perpetrator's rights. Think of a notorious serial killer: Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, whatever example works to get your trigger finger itchy. Given the horror, suffering, and death they inflicted on others, they deserve whatever happens to them, so that when you hear that Jeffrey Dahmer is beaten to death in prison, you merely shrug your shoulders. Having declared war on the rest of humanity, having placed his existence in opposition to their own, this kind of criminal has no strictly moral claims to assert in his defense. If we insist on the due process of law in punishing him, it is to prevent the arbitrary persecution of the innocent. In other words, we do it for everyone else's sake, not for theirs.

All of this applies with even greater force to a dictator, who is just a serial killer on a larger scale, whose crimes of rape, torture, and murder are spread across an entire society. The dictator's crimes are done out in the open, as a matter of common public knowledge. After all, that's part of their purpose: to terrorize the population. And the dictator's own identity is easy to verify. Everyone can recognize him on sight because his image has been on posters and on the television for years. On strictly moral terms, a dictator's crimes are so manifest that his life is forfeit to any passerby.

If it is preferable for a dictator to be captured and put on trial, again, it is not for his sake. It is because this bodes well for the establishment of the rule of law following his overthrow. But given the scale of his crimes and the number of people who have been personally affected--who have been starved or tortured or lost loved ones--it seems glib and self-righteous to condemn them for taking revenge in the heat of the moment.

Moreover, in the case of Venezuela, we cannot speak as if the dictator is already disarmed and helpless. He is still in power, so killing him would not be an act of revenge but an act of self-defense. That's what is upside-down about the use of the phrase "extrajudicial killing." An extrajudicial killing is a murder carried out by the authorities without legal basis or authorization. The term was coined to refer to the dictator's slaughter of his victims, and in this sense it has become common under Maduro's regime. According to a UN report from last year, "Venezuelan security forces suspected of killing hundreds of demonstrators and alleged criminals enjoy immunity from prosecution, indicating that the rule of law is 'virtually absent' in the country." But the term does not apply to the killing of a dictator by his own people, precisely because they are allowed no legal recourse to seek justice against him. So much for the substantive arguments. It's time to invoke the Toohey Rule: don't bother to examine a folly, ask only what it accomplishes.

The strategy of the opposition and the US in Venezuela has been to send massive food and medical aid to the country to be distributed by the legitimate government under Juan Guaidò, knowing that Maduro will attempt to block it. That is an act so monstrous--denying food to a starving country, just to keep your grip on power--that it constitutes an unambiguous loss of moral authority in the eyes of every decent person in the world. This puts American leftists into an uncomfortable position. It requires them to recognize and acknowledge the irredeemable evil of a socialist leader, as well as their own foolishness and complicity in running interference for the Venezuelan regime in the past. They want to resist that kind of introspection with every fiber of their being--yet they still feel the need to maintain a sense of smug moral superiority, which was the whole reason they signed up as advocates of socialism in the first place.

Marco Rubio's tweet and the sophistical arguments trying to turn it into a moral outrage were the best rationalization they could come up with to try to make that combination work. It was their excuse to avoid contemplating the moral bankruptcy of their own ideology and turn to the more familiar and comforting activity of pantomiming outrage at a Republican. But the diversion will only be temporary. Marco Rubio has already moved on to tweeting something else. Nicolas Maduro has not moved on from starving and killing his people. If the left still stubbornly refuses to learn any lessons from this, many other people will. 

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