Nuclear-armed Iran risks 'World War III,' Bush says


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Energy to mass ratio or energy density. The number of joules of usable energy (net) per kilo of the substance.

Sugar and alcohol is what is made from sugar cane ( in Brazil ) and corn (in the U.S.). The ultimate product is ethanol which has a shitty energy to mass ratio. Using corn is a bad idea because we will have to choose between feeding our cars ethanol from corn or feeding corn to our cattle. Switch grass is much better. No one eats it and it is more productive of ethanol kilogram for kilogram. Farmers like ethanol from corn because it is a farm subsidy ( surprise, surprise )

Differentiate between short term expense and long term expense and reckon the cost/benefit ratios. Any alternative we choose will have a price tag attached to it. We have to write off the current infrastructure and invest in new infrastructure. Then there is the cost of waste management and environmental side effects to consider as well. Nothing is free. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density. Wiki is your friend. Learn how to use it.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Umm...perhaps you should learn how to read. I said bio-diesel not ethanol.

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Umm...perhaps you should learn how to read. I said bio-diesel not ethanol.

Biodiesel is a possibility. If the desert land in the southwest could be planted with rapeseed a considerable quantity of fuel could be produced. A fair amount of ethanol is needed to produce the oil substitute and that will have some impact on food prices. The biggest hit would be initial as gasoline engines would have to be replaced by diesel engines. But it sounds doable. It is not as clean as nuclear power, but it sounds a lot better than ethanol.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Biodiesel is a possibility. If the desert land in the southwest could be planted with rapeseed a considerable quantity of fuel could be produced. A fair amount of ethanol is needed to produce the oil substitute and that will have some impact on food prices. The biggest hit would be initial as gasoline engines would have to be replaced by diesel engines. But it sounds doable. It is not as clean as nuclear power, but it sounds a lot better than ethanol.

Ba'al Chatzaf

No, the idea is to use algae. See http://oakhavenpc.org/cultivating_algae.htm

Michael Briggs, a physicist in the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Biodiesel group, calculated the annual equivalent amount of biodiesel needed to meet all US ground transportation needs. (6) He assumes that all gasoline-powered vehicles could be replaced over time—the average life of a car in the US is 20 years—by biodiesel vehicles. He assumes no change in the current average fleet mileage, but does factor in that diesel engines are more efficient. With these assumptions—and a correction for the 2% lower mileage for biodiesel—he arrives at 140.8 billion gallons of biodiesel a year to meet US ground transportation needs. He does note that if people began to buy diesel hybrids (Mercedes showed its diesel hybrid concept car in June and it gets 70 mpg), the total fuel required might be reduced by a factor of three or more. (7)

Briggs used the numbers from NREL's Aquatic Species Program—that one quad (7.5 billion gallons) of biodiesel could be produced on 200,000 ha (roughly 500,000 acres) or about 780 square miles—to compute that 140.8 billion gallons of biodiesel would requre 19 quads (140.8 ÷ 7.5).This would require about 15,000 square miles (19 x 780), or about 9.5 million acres—which he notes is only about 12.5% of the area of the Sonoran desert of the Southwest. So using algae as a source of oil for biodiesel with the NREL productivity assumption, the acreage required is less than 3% of the 450 million acres now used to grow crops.

Based on a UNH research project, (8) Briggs then estimates the total cost of producing 140.8 billion gallons of oil (unrefined) for biodiesel at $46.2 billion—substantially less than the $100­150 billion that the US currently spends to purchase foreign crude oil. Thus the large-scale algae farms envisioned by NREL would generate many jobs and substantially reduce the US trade deficit.

Other researchers have proposed a mammoth-scale algae production scheme to meet US requirements at fully amortized costs ranging from about $19 to $57 per equivalent barrel of petroleum. (9) This project assumes that an aqueduct could be built from the Pacific ocean to the Salton Sea and another from there to Death Valley and more aqueducts to other desert locations in Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Such a scheme might have been possible in another era, but it hardly seems likely today.

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Other researchers have proposed a mammoth-scale algae production scheme to meet US requirements at fully amortized costs ranging from about $19 to $57 per equivalent barrel of petroleum. (9) This project assumes that an aqueduct could be built from the Pacific ocean to the Salton Sea and another from there to Death Valley and more aqueducts to other desert locations in Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Such a scheme might have been possible in another era, but it hardly seems likely today.

My understanding is that bio diesel technology will be a sped up version of what produced petroleum in the first place. Oil comes from decomposed plant matter (mostly). In any case, bio diesel sounds a lot better than this ethanol nonsense, which is nothing but a disguised farm subsidy. It is sure one of several alternatives to what we have. It sounds like a much more efficient way of storing and using sunlight than either ethanol production or photo-voltaic cells which are a really big Looser when you cost them out.

I also like the idea of using kitchen grease which is a dead loss otherwise.

The main advantage of bio diesel is that it has a lesser impact on our current energy infrastructure than the use of free hydrogen gas or methane gas. U.S. industry is already tooled up to produce diesel engines anyway.

Bio diesel may be an effective mode for energy used in transportation (and to an extent heating), but it won't run industry. For that one needs gobs of electrical power. That is where nuclear generation comes in. If we can quadruple our electricity production without poisoning the atmosphere, we are well on our way to both energy independence and a cleaner way of doing things.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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My understanding is that bio diesel technology will be a sped up version of what produced petroleum in the first place. Oil comes from decomposed plant matter (mostly). In any case, bio diesel sounds a lot better than this ethanol nonsense, which is nothing but a disguised farm subsidy. It is sure one of several alternatives to what we have. It sounds like a much more efficient way of storing and using sunlight than either ethanol production or photo-voltaic cells which are a really big Looser when you cost them out.

I also like the idea of using kitchen grease which is a dead loss otherwise.

The main advantage of bio diesel is that it has a lesser impact on our current energy infrastructure than the use of free hydrogen gas or methane gas. U.S. industry is already tooled up to produce diesel engines anyway.

Bio diesel may be an effective mode for energy used in transportation (and to an extent heating), but it won't run industry. For that one needs gobs of electrical power. That is where nuclear generation comes in. If we can quadruple our electricity production without poisoning the atmosphere, we are well on our way to both energy independence and a cleaner way of doing things.

Yes, and it doesn't introduce any new carbon into the carbon cycle - Kyoto accord on steroids! Also the majority of electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels which could be replaced with biodiesel as well. I don't know much about uranium reserves in the world but nuclear energy is quite expensive due to the necessity of keeping reactor water from leaking and also safely disposing of waste products

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Unless it was spent on developing nuclear reactors, than it would have been a monumental waste to spend it on 'bio-diesel' and other nonsense environmentalist pipe dreams.

You think so do you? I can't wait to see you drive around in your nuclear powered vehicle. Bio-diesel could be produced right now for almost the same price as fossil-fuel diesel and with more research into algae production and economies of scale it could easily be done. Hardly a pipe dream.

I'm guessing you've never researched this quesiton, I've been assisting my brother (who is a chemist) in building his own bio-diesel production reactor, I cut and weld the steel containers and pipes he needs. He will be able to make about 100 gallons per week, enough for him and our immediate family to use to heat our homes. It's taken almost two years of his spare time refining the cleaning, filtering, and chemical process behind turning waste vegatable oil into quality diesel fuel. While it comes out a good amount less than conventional diesel fuel, the *only* reason this is cheap is because waste vegetable oil is essentially trash, but if any significant number of people start collecting it, it won't be cheap any more. So NO bio-diesel is not a cure all. But if you think its so easy, then why dont you, "Mr. Member of a forum dedicated to a philosophy which advocates as a primary the idea that every great human innovation has come from the overwhelming dedication and hard work from single individual minds to great ideas" get of your butt and make one of these supereffecient algae bio diesel plants.

With cheap electricity from Nuclear power, you can manufacture sysnthetic gasoline from Hyrdogen and CO2 in the air, simaultenously negating green house gas emission increases (not that I think thats a real problem anyway) and moving away from our "Oil from murderous dictatorships breeding terrorists" economy (the primary reason I am an advocate of this)

Nuclear technology has advanced tremendously since the environmentalist scare mongers launched their campaigns, and can yet still advanced tremendously further. The combustion products from coal are estimated by the UN to cause 1 million or so premature deaths per year. Never mind the thousands that die ever year from mining the nasty stuff. Natural gas is a much worse greenhouse gas than CO2 and typical gas distrubutions systems leak 3-4% of their gas, completely negating the lower incidence of CO2 emissions. Never mind the 400 or so people who die every year from natural gas explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning in the US alone. Even James Lovelock, a father of the modern environmentalist movement, is now a powerful adovcate of Nuclear Power (see my blog post on that - http://matus1976.blogsome.com/2007/08/16/j...nuclear-power/) along with many other leading members of modern environmetalism. No doubt it is not itching at the back of their minds that their irrational fear mongering of Nuclear Power has in fact killed many people and is responsible for the very Global Warming that they are so freaked out about.

New nuclear technology, like ceramic coated pellets, make melt downs literally a phsyical impossiblity (never mind that the US Navy has been running over 150 nuclear reactors on vessels with a stellar track record) and Fast Breeder technology can produce 100 times as much energy as typical fission reactors do, and can also destroy their own 'nuclear waste' A mere dozen of these reactors could provide all the power the United States uses today.

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Unless it was spent on developing nuclear reactors, than it would have been a monumental waste to spend it on 'bio-diesel' and other nonsense environmentalist pipe dreams.

You think so do you? I can't wait to see you drive around in your nuclear powered vehicle. Bio-diesel could be produced right now for almost the same price as fossil-fuel diesel and with more research into algae production and economies of scale it could easily be done. Hardly a pipe dream.

I wonder if we should move post 47 and on to an 'energy' thread

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I've been assisting my brother (who is a chemist) in building his own bio-diesel production reactor, I cut and weld the steel containers and pipes he needs. He will be able to make about 100 gallons per week, enough for him and our immediate family to use to heat our homes. It's taken almost two years of his spare time refining the cleaning, filtering, and chemical process behind turning waste vegatable oil into quality diesel fuel. While it comes out a good amount less than conventional diesel fuel, the *only* reason this is cheap is because waste vegetable oil is essentially trash, but if any significant number of people start collecting it, it won't be cheap any more. So NO bio-diesel is not a cure all. But if you think its so easy, then why dont you, "Mr. Member of a forum dedicated to a philosophy which advocates as a primary the idea that every great human innovation has come from the overwhelming dedication and hard work from single individual minds to great ideas" get of your butt and make one of these supereffecient algae bio diesel plants.

With cheap electricity from Nuclear power, you can manufacture sysnthetic gasoline from Hyrdogen and CO2 in the air, simaultenously negating green house gas emission increases (not that I think thats a real problem anyway) and moving away from our "Oil from murderous dictatorships breeding terrorists" economy (the primary reason I am an advocate of this)

Nuclear technology has advanced tremendously since the environmentalist scare mongers launched their campaigns, and can yet still advanced tremendously further. The combustion products from coal are estimated by the UN to cause 1 million or so premature deaths per year. Never mind the thousands that die ever year from mining the nasty stuff. Natural gas is a much worse greenhouse gas than CO2 and typical gas distrubutions systems leak 3-4% of their gas, completely negating the lower incidence of CO2 emissions. Never mind the 400 or so people who die every year from natural gas explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning in the US alone. Even James Lovelock, a father of the modern environmentalist movement, is now a powerful adovcate of Nuclear Power (see my blog post on that - http://matus1976.blogsome.com/2007/08/16/j...nuclear-power/) along with many other leading members of modern environmetalism. No doubt it is not itching at the back of their minds that their irrational fear mongering of Nuclear Power has in fact killed many people and is responsible for the very Global Warming that they are so freaked out about.

New nuclear technology, like ceramic coated pellets, make melt downs literally a phsyical impossiblity (never mind that the US Navy has been running over 150 nuclear reactors on vessels with a stellar track record) and Fast Breeder technology can produce 100 times as much energy as typical fission reactors do, and can also destroy their own 'nuclear waste' A mere dozen of these reactors could provide all the power the United States uses today.

That's fantastic, I'm truly impressed. I would love to start producing my own biodiesel. I built my own wood-fired firetube boiler and can heat several buildings with it so I share your interest in doing things yourself. But I don't agree with your characterization of nuclear power as "cheap". We have a nuclear power plant here in NB and it is costing a fortune to keep running and it would cost around 600 million just to shut down! So instead they are pumping another 1.5 billion (if it doesn't overrun the budget) in it. But I am open to new ideas, I admit i am not up on new nuclear technology but as I said it doesn't seem cheap around here.

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That's fantastic, I'm truly impressed. I would love to start producing my own biodiesel. I built my own wood-fired firetube boiler and can heat several buildings with it so I share your interest in doing things yourself. But I don't agree with your characterization of nuclear power as "cheap". We have a nuclear power plant here in NB and it is costing a fortune to keep running and it would cost around 600 million just to shut down! So instead they are pumping another 1.5 billion (if it doesn't overrun the budget) in it. But I am open to new ideas, I admit i am not up on new nuclear technology but as I said it doesn't seem cheap around here.

I live next to the Milstone plant and it's always undergoing repairs due to problems, but you have to compare the proper costs of these. For instance, a signifant portion of the cost of nuclear reactors is fighting lawsuits from NIMBY locals, also, Nuclear Reactors must 'properly' dispose of nuclear waste, while coal, oil, etc power plants just get to dump their waste into the air. Often they are not allowed to repair their reactors and must leave them shut down. For this reason, the radiation levels around coal plants are HIGHER than that around nuclear plants. IN FACT, there is more radiaoctive uranium in the coal ash of a typical reactor than is fissioned in a nuclear plant in a year. If you put a uranium fission reactor on the smoke stack of a coal plant you would generate more power than the coal plant did just from the uranium in the ash. Uranium is commonly found in coal.

As for the waste, as I mentioned, breeder reactors use some of their waste as more fuel, and the rest can be used as nuetron absorbers, accelerating the radioactive decay until the atoms used for shielding decay into iron and are no longer radioactive. Said James Lovelock in his interview "the best thing about nuclear power is the waste, because there is so little of it!" Lovelock offered to put a storage site under his house and pool, because modern storage systems work great, and he can use the waste heat to heat his house and pool. Uranium sits in the crust undergoing fission anyway, so you might as well collect it and use it to generate power.

Thankfully, restrictions for plants have been receeding and a new plants has gotten approval for construction in texas. I'd prefer to live near a nuclear plant than a coal plant, and I'd prefer to avoid pumping highly explosive natural gas into my house.

Nuclear plants are easy and cheap enough to build that you can build one in your spare time, consider the story of the so called "Radioactive Boy Scout" who tried to build a breeder reactor in his backyard shed - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hahn, more recently, two college students completed a similiar project openly and sefely without giving themselves high doses of radiation. If these plants can be built by hobbyists, even with questionable safety in that scale, they could CERTAINLY be built by governments and large private companies and can operate safely with much less harm to the environment for much more reasonable costs. The overburdening of unreasonable regulations launched by anti-nuclear groups are the primary reason why these plants are so expensive.

I am a big fan of diesel, I drive an 06 Diesel Jetta which gets 40+ mpg and goes 600 -700 miles on a tank (ha, I fill up about once every other week) it also passes the strict new side impact standards with the best score yet. It gets great mileage AND is a safe car.

The big issue, as Bal pointed out, is energy storage capacity. Although I would say that the storage capacity of etanol is reasonable enough, any liquid hydrocarbon is, but it takes so much energy to *make* ethanal that it doesnt make sense.

Gasoline has some 15,000 watt hours per kilogram, the best batteries get only 300 wh / kilogram, which is really quite patehetic. The newer on the drawing boards air breathing batteries might double that, but it's still *nothing* compared to liquid hydrocarbons. Hydrogen is a really bad idea for cars too, although it has the highest energy density per weight, it has the lowest energy density per volume Since you must store it as a gas, which is on average 700 times less dense than a liquid, its hard to put alot of it into a small container. If you put it in a high pressure container, well, now that either weighs a hell of alot or it costs a hell of alot, not to mention its explosive danger. It's best to bind it with something and make it a liquid. In fact, there is more hydrogen in a gallon of gasoline than there is hydrogen in a gallon of liquid hydrogen (never mind the fact that you lose some 1/2 the energy you get in just keeping the hydrogen cold.

The only reason bio deisel is cheap is because the resteraunts that dispose of it as trash have all ready extracted their value of it, but should the process to make diesel out of it be perfected, restaurants would probably use it to augment their own power requirements, instead of giving it for free to every local guy who runs a biodiesel plant. If the demand goes up, they'll start selling it, now it's not so cheap anymore. The volume of vegatable oil that goes through restaurants is probably not even enough to heat and cool those restaurants, let alone power the industrialized world.

My suggestions, study either photovoltaics or technologies like thermaldeploymerization, these will probably have the biggest impacts in the future.

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Very interesting but I was thinking of biodiesel from algae, not restaurants. Did you know that the yield from algae is some 250 times that of rapeseed or canola? I don't think there is any comparison with ethanol there, cost of production wise. Anyway, I'm sure there will be many new innovations in the future but we need to start investing in them now instead of wasting time, money, and lives in foreign countries trying to secure fossil fuels.

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I can certainly see why you are not concerned about the US using nuclear weapons; you will not be the target of them.

Yes, for some strange reason I am more concerned about people who wish to kill me posessing nukes than people who do not wish to kill me. I would be the target of those created in Iran. Never mind the nature and types of governments you are comparing here (or not comparing, as is the case)

Stating that you are not concerned about the US using nuclear weapons against another country is no different than a resident of another country stating that he is not concerned about his government using nuclear weapons against the US. All it demonstrates it that, like the hypothetical resident of another country, you don't give a damn about the lives of those foreigners who will die or be horribly maimed as a result of such an attack. If you feel that way, fine, but don't try couching your arguments in ethical terms.

Your statement that the Iranian government wishes to kill you, and that you would be a target of Iranian weapons, is nothing more than a paranoid fantasy. The government of Iran is not crazy. The US possesses enough weapons to totally destroy Iran a hundred times over. Iran has repeatedly made peace offers toward the US, which the US has spurned. Among other things, Iran offered to help the US destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iran, as a shi'ite muslim country, is a bitter enemy of Al Qaeda. Yet the US provides military aid to Saudi Arabia, home of the Wahhabist muslim movement which gave birth to Al Qaeda, while pretending that Iran is our mortal enemy. In Iran, vigils were held in support of the US after the 9/11 attacks. No such vigils were held in Saudi Arabia. Yet you think it's perfectly fine to attack Iran with nuclear weapons.

Your statement that "even if they did, it would be in a controlled, limited, tactical use" is truly repulsive. Controlled, limited, tactical nuking? How would you like to live in the vicinity of an area that was going to experience controlled, limited, tactical nuking?

Even in WWII, the US was extremely reluctant to use nuclear weapons, that reluctance has been perpetually pervasive and if anything growing since then. Nukes can be small, or they can be big, big ones have no use except to destroy entire cities, counties, etc. Micro tactical 'nukes' for instance, while nuclear, are nothing like the 60MT bombs Russia made. You can see the relative difference of nuclear blasts clearly here http://www.leihai.com/bomb.jpg note that the nagasaki and hiroshima blasts are barely visible here. Bunker buster nukes would yeild less than 1kt and micro tactical nukes would be 10 tons - 100 tons, properly suited for a controlled urban conflict where one desires only to strike the government targets. As you can see from this chart http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/...10-7/tab2-1.gif the effects of small yeild blasts are minimized significantly.

Since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there has been a tacit agreement among all the nuclear powers not to use nuclear weapons, with the understanding that nuclear weapons are only for the purpose of deterrence. Once this agreement is breached by the actual use of nuclear weapons in battle, all hell might break loose, even if the nuclear weapons are low yield, micro, precision weapons.

During the initial segments of the Iraq war of tactical strikes, they population felt relatively safe as the high precision weapons would strike only explicitly government buildings. The subsequent terrorist attacks by rival groups seeking to setup their own murderous dictatorships, funded by neighboring murderous dictatorships, are the ones responsible for the problems now. You ought to assign the blame to where it deserves to go; the shitty murderous scumbags who are trying to setup their own totalitarian state.

"High precision" weapons are never as high precision as they are reputed to be. Mistakes occur all the time, especially under battlefield conditions. And even if the weapon hits the target precisely, selection of proper targets is rather problematic, to say the least. If a wrong target is selected, or if the weapon goes astray, the resulting deaths are rationalized as "collateral damage".

The US tried to set up its own dictatorship in Iraq after the fall of the Baathist government. Its only interest was in setting up a puppet government that would be friendly to the US, just as the US supported the puppet dictatorship of the Shah in Iran years earlier. If the US government is so dedicated to bringing freedom to the enslaved people of the middle east, why did it support the brutal dictatorship of the Shah for so many years, not to mention the alliances with other middle eastern dictatorships maintained by the US? During the years of the US occupation, the US has imposed at various times the equivalent of martial law over major sections of the country. Thousands of prisoners are still being held in US prison camps, such as the infamous Abu Ghraib, where the American liberators were busy torturing Iraqis and taking videos to document all the fun. American contractors such as Blackwater have been granted immunity from Iraqi law, so that they can kill whomever they want without suffering any punishment. The rules of engagement are such that American soldiers were recently found baiting Iraqis, leaving items in the streets for them to pick up and then shooting them.

Yet, according to you, all of this is somehow the fault of the Iraqi insurgency. The US government bears no responsibility at all for any of the crimes it has committed or the carnage that has followed.

The US had absolutely no right to attack Iraq in the first place, since this attack was motivated by nothing but a desire to overthrow the Iraqi government and replace it with a more compliant government, rather than any plausible issue of self defense. According to international law, the occupying power has full responsibility for providing security in the occupied nation. At such, it bears all responsibility for everything that happens until the occupation has ended and a sovereign government has been restored.

The same US government that gives such assurances of a controlled, limited, tactical attack also promised that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would be a cake walk and that the Iraqis would view our invading soldiers as liberators.

You are comparing what one entity would choose to do with what they thought a different entity might do, irrelevant. I can tell you exactly what I will do, but I can only guess at what you will do.

So, according to you, the US government always does exactly what it says it will do, right? The government never lies, right? So if I point out that the government making promises about what it will do should not be taken very seriously, insofar as it lies all the time, this is somehow irrelevant?

Again, I never said anyone was throwing rave parties in the streets celebrating freedom. The 'idea' you are arguing against is never one I expressed, perhaps you should try responding to what I actually said, and not what you think I meant, which is obviously wrong.

The idea that you expressed is ludicrous, namely, that the US has somehow brought freedom to Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq is under US occupation, and a civil war has broken out, with rival groups of shiite and sunni ethnically cleansing each other. There are millions of refugees, the infrastructure has been destroyed, Iraq has been reduced to third world conditions. A war is likely to break out between the Kurds and Turkey, leading to massive chaos in Iraqi Kurdistan, which has been the only part of Iraq that has achieved any stability.

You said, "The mullahs of Iran and the president hold the people of Iran hostage, as is the same case with every majority Arab or Islamic nation, with the notable exceptions *now* of Iraq and Afghnastan thanks *only* to the western coalation". The clear implication here is that Iraqis and Afghanis are not held hostage by their governments and, presumably, enjoy a high degree of political freedom.

You inferred what was not implied, I said exactly what I said. No murderous dictatorship holds the people of Iraq hostage, they have the potential now to enjoy a high degree of political freedom. No one in Iran, Syria, or Suadi Arabia has even the remote possibility of enjoying a high degree of political freedom. Under Saddam, they could not have even left. Now there is the possiblity of a better nation for them in the future, which there was no reasonable expectation of under Saddam's children.

Whether Iraq ends up under the control of a murderous dictatorship remains to be seen. For now, the central government is weak and does not control large sections of the country, which are under the defacto control of shiite, sunni, and kurdish militias. Even in the unlikely event that Iraq does eventually manage to become a relatively free country, this will not compensate the hundreds of thousands of casualties, the millions of refugees, and the people still living in Iraq whose lives have been recked by the war. There is no moral justification for sacrificing the lives of a generation of people, for the hypothetical benefits of future generations.

This might be your idea of freedom, but it is certainly not mine.

Please elaborate on what your idea of freedom is, and whether all people ought to enjoy it, and how you would go about promulgating it.

As a self-identified libertarian, it should be pretty obvious as to what my idea of freedom is. Should all people enjoy it? Certainly. If I could push a magic button and turn the entire world into a libertarian paradise, where everyone enjoyed the blessings of liberty, I would do so in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, no such magic button exists. How would I go about promulgating it? That's the million dollar question. The first priority should be trying to restore liberty to the US, which is itself becoming an increasingly impossible task. The idea that the US government, which is doing everything it possibly can to destroy liberty here in the US, is going to bring the blessings of liberty to the middle east, is beyond absurd. The war to make the world safe for democracy didn't. The war to end all wars didn't.

It's pretty damned obvious that Iranians, Jordanians, and Syrians all have a much better quality of life than Iraqis. Two million Iraqis have voted with their feet by fleeing Iraq, mostly to Jordan and Syria. How many people have fled Iran? People can actually freely travel to and from Iran. Who in their right mind would travel to Iraq now?

For starters, they are not generally allowed to leave, except perhaps to a neighboring murderous dictatorship. The route of emmigration from Iran is through illegal transportation and then asylum requests in westernized nations, primarily Germany, which recieves 10's of thousands of asylum applications each year. The idea that people can come and go freely in Iran is laughable, you are like a useful idiot of Stalin's talking about how great the Soviet Union was.

Except that I never talked about how great things are in Iran. I just said that life in Iran now is much better than in Iraq. For the two million refugees who fled Iraq for Syria and Jordan, they obviously thought that life was better in those countries than in Iraq. I likewise didn't argue that life in Syria and Jordan was wonderful. It is you who are rationalizing all of the crimes committed by the US government, denying that it has any responsibility for any of the people it has killed or whose lives it has destroyed. As such, it is you who are the useful idiot in defense of the American empire, which empire is not interested in liberating anyone, only in extending its dominion over the world.

Iran has a young, highly educated population that is actually very pro American. The US government has followed a policy against Iran designed to make the Iranian government as repressive as possible. Ahmadinejad is generally held in contempt by most Iranians. There is no better way to make the Iranian people supportive of their government than to have the US government threaten bombing attacks against Iran.

Incorrect, the people of Iran hate their government, and their government hates the US, so they reasonably like us. Conversely, the people of Saudi Arabia hate thier government, and their government is friendly with ours, and so they hate us.

I didn't say that the people of Iran love their government. In fact, they hate it so much that, given enough time, they will probably get rid of it on their own and replace it with a more liberal government. My point was that the best way to get the Iranian people to rally behind their government is to launch military attacks against Iran. Look at how the American people rallied behind Bush after the 9/11 attacks. When a country is attacked, people tend to rally behind the leaders.

The people of Iran know their government is a shitty one, and would not hate the US if it acted with the same targeted military strikes used in the early phases of the Iraq war. If you hate your government, why would you hate someone trying to take out your government?

Perhaps because, in the process of taking out your shitty government, the Americans end of killing a whole bunch of innocent civilians, destroying your country's infrastructure, and turning your life into a living hell, just like the Americans did in Iraq, another country where the people were supposed to be thrilled to be liberated from Saddam and to greet their liberators with candy and flowers. Needless to say, it didn't work out that way. Perhaps because many Iranians still remember how the US government overthrew their democratically elected president many years earlier and imposed the brutal dictatorship of the Shah on their country, complete with KGB style secret police and torture chambers. Perhaps because it occurs to them that the US government, having overthrown their shitty government, might just repeat this history.

Martin

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Perhaps because many Iranians still remember how the US government overthrew their democratically elected president many years earlier and imposed the brutal dictatorship of the Shah on their country, complete with KGB style secret police and torture chambers.

Martin,

This is one of the excesses of rhetoric that characterizes this kind of debate and, unfortunately, it clouds the message to those who would be sympathetic. I agree in full with you about the monkeyshines and pure incompetence of the USA government in its Middle Ease policies (remember in the Afghanistan war that hardly anybody on our side even spoke Farsi, although that was the language of Iran?), but it did not overthrow anybody in Iran. It backed Iranians who did the overthrowing (and they had to speak in English to get that backing). There was the element of local politics that would have existed with or without the USA.

I know this scenario well from having seen it up close in Brazil. (The USA government supported the military dictatorship of the 60's and 70's there.) The USA keeps a distance in a dictator's local politics despite some covert operations and funding, but USA businesses come in full force in providing infrastructure works to his government. The aura of the American presence—the public image fostered—in such a country is geared toward competitive business, but in reality this is merely the old boy club. The only direct military part is in providing training to the secret police of the dictators, selling ordnance to the government, and maybe getting permission to set up a military base for strictly USA interests.

The amount of hard feelings this creates in a foreign society is hard to communicate to people here. A mother whose son has been killed by the secret police is told by the American representatives in her country, "We had nothing to do with that." Yet she looks and sees that the soldiers of the dictator's secret police were trained by the agents of the Americans talking. She sees the dictator filling his coffers with money coming from those Americans while she sees none of it. Her taxes constantly go up to help pay for the new infrastructure projects and many are abandoned within a year or two after the PR splash.

I can't think of a better recipe for instilling hatred for Americans.

USA business has no business doing business with foreign dictators. And the USA government has no business doing business in the first place.

Michael

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MIchael Stuart Kelly said:

USA business has no business doing business with foreign dictators. And the USA government has no business doing business in the first place.

Michael

If I take you very literally ("business" = business, not just any relationship) I understand and agree. There is a related question, (out of scope in your answer above) however.

Would you argue that the USA GOVERNMENT should not have a temporary alliance with a foreign country which was fundamentally unfree, either economically or politically? For instance, in a wartime action do you advocate that we should refuse an offer of assistance or landing rights from, say, a country which is substantially less free economically or politically than the USA?

Alfonso

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Alfonso,

I am in favor of the USA government doing what is best for USA citizens within two standards (1) its actions protect the rights of USA citizens, and (2) its actions do not trample over the citizens of other countries in a brutal predatory manner (it is not always possible to avoid violating rights a USA citizen would enjoy).

Thus I can see where a strong alliance with a dictator in peacetime, not just wartime, would be useful (but not always). There is something to be said for keeping a potential enemy close.

I do not agree with any alliances, however, that are based on direct involvement in peacetime business by the government.

Michael

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Alfonso,

I am in favor of the USA government doing what is best for USA citizens within two standards (1) its actions protect the rights of USA citizens, and (2) its actions do not trample over the citizens of other countries in a brutal predatory manner (it is not always possible to avoid violating rights a USA citizen would enjoy).

Thus I can see where a strong alliance with a dictator in peacetime, not just wartime, would be useful (but not always). There is something to be said for keeping a potential enemy close.

I do not agree with any alliances, however, that are based on direct involvement in peacetime business by the government.

Michael

Michael -

Agreed.

Alfonso

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I can certainly see why you are not concerned about the US using nuclear weapons; you will not be the target of them.

Yes, for some strange reason I am more concerned about people who wish to kill me posessing nukes than people who do not wish to kill me. I would be the target of those created in Iran. Never mind the nature and types of governments you are comparing here (or not comparing, as is the case)

Stating that you are not concerned about the US using nuclear weapons against another country is no different than a resident of another country stating that he is not concerned about his government using nuclear weapons against the US. All it demonstrates it that, like the hypothetical resident of another country,

Let me repeat for you

"never mind the nature and types of governments you are comparing here (or not comparing, as is the case)"

I do not care if Canada, France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, Poland, South Korea, etc get Nuclear weapons, because there is little to no chance that they will ever use them on another free constitutional democracy. I DO care if Iran, Iraq, Afghansatan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, North Korea, Burma, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Berundi, etc, (i.e. the horrific shitty murderous dictatorships or soon to be) get them, because they are FAR MORE likely to use them.

You take a statement, that I don't care if the US gets nuclear weapons because it wont use them on me, and isolate it from it's context. Just like a typical liberatarian, they nature and type of the government in quesiton is irrelevant, because *all governments* are equally invalid, whether it is a constitutional liberal democracy with a mostly market based economy, or a horrific socialist dictatorial totalitarian nightmare state. As if a theif and a defender of his property have equal claims to shoot each other. As if a cop having a gun is the same thing as a serial murderer. You completely ignore the nature of the use of the weapon and the nature of the country using it. If you did not know full well what I was saying before, any rational person ought to now, so cease these absurd comparisons (as if just because something is called a 'nation' it is in every way morally valid with any other 'nation), argue that they are invalid, or drop this topic, because it's a waste of time now. If you think North Korea having nuclear weapons is the same thing as The United States having them, your are an ignorant fool.

you don't give a damn about the lives of those foreigners who will die or be horribly maimed as a result of such an attack. If you feel that way, fine, but don't try couching your arguments in ethical terms.

I can make the same argument, with more validity, against you, because you don't give a shit about the 10's of millions of people who yearn for freedom yet continue to live in a murderous dictatorial hell hole because you don't think it's ever morally right for a free militarily more powerful nation to make a reasonable effort to end the rule of a tyranical despotic government, condemining millions to a life of slavery now, and hundreds of millions of future generations. You, SIR, are the one who does not care about the health and well being of your human neighbors of the world because you morally equate a nation which objectively provides for a much better standard of living for it's people with a nation that murders and enslaves them, you equate the self defense of said hostage takers with the self defense of those seeking to free the hostages, and if you really cared about the health and well being of Iraqis, and not your own short sighted moral abdication, you would seek a method which in the long term will bring about a better world for them, and for you. Shoveing your head in the sand and pretending the problem will go away magically on it's own, while millions are killed, is depraved indifference.

Your statement that the Iranian government wishes to kill you, and that you would be a target of Iranian weapons, is nothing more than a paranoid fantasy. The government of Iran is not crazy. The US possesses enough weapons to totally destroy Iran a hundred times over. Iran has repeatedly made peace offers toward the US, which the US has spurned.

And much like the 'peace overtures' of Hitler, Stalin, Mousilini, etc, they are a bunch of crap. It never ceases to amaze me how you anti-american liberatirans take everything every shitty murderous dictatorships, which imprison peaceful dissenters, control all media with violent force, refuse entry to international NGO's which monitor civil liberties and corruption, 'dissappear' people all the time) says at face value, yet believe everything the US, a free nation with a constitution, freedom of speech, and rule of law, says, is a lie. It's frankly disgusting.

Iran, as a shi'ite muslim country, is a bitter enemy of Al Qaeda. Yet the US provides military aid to Saudi Arabia, home of the Wahhabist muslim movement which gave birth to Al Qaeda, while pretending that Iran is our mortal enemy. In Iran, vigils were held in support of the US after the 9/11 attacks. No such vigils were held in Saudi Arabia. Yet you think it's perfectly fine to attack Iran with nuclear weapons.

I all ready said I disagree with the way the US handles Saudi Arabia, so you'll have to up the notch on your mind numbing anti-us libertarian rants. Both Saudia Arabia AND Iran are mortal enemies to us. I do NOT think it's 'PERFECTLY FINE' to attack Iran with Nuclear Weapons, a controlled standard chemical weapon attack ON THEIR NUCLEAR REACTORS are perfectly sufficient. Stop this disengenous hyperbole and respond to WHAT I SAY not what YOU THINK I SAY.

Since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there has been a tacit agreement among all the nuclear powers not to use nuclear weapons, with the understanding that nuclear weapons are only for the purpose of deterrence. Once this agreement is breached by the actual use of nuclear weapons in battle, all hell might break loose, even if the nuclear weapons are low yield, micro, precision weapons.

You fail to realize that 'deterrence' is irrelevant unless backed up by a CREDIBLE USE OF REAL FORCE. I still do not yet understand how libertarian isolationists and liberal moral relativists maintain this massive 'blank out'. A threat of 'serious consequences' to Iraq for not allowing weapons inspectors in is useless if violating it is responded with yet another meaningless threat. It's the pathetic attempt of going through the motions of trying to promulgate a peaceful world (with context, of justice and freedom) without actually doing anything to move toward that end.

"High precision" weapons are never as high precision as they are reputed to be. Mistakes occur all the time, especially under battlefield conditions. And even if the weapon hits the target precisely, selection of proper targets is rather problematic, to say the least. If a wrong target is selected, or if the weapon goes astray, the resulting deaths are rationalized as "collateral damage".

Yes, all of this is true.

The US tried to set up its own dictatorship in Iraq after the fall of the Baathist government. Its only interest was in setting up a puppet government that would be friendly to the US, just as the US supported the puppet dictatorship of the Shah in Iran years earlier.

The situation in Iran was in the context of a global war against communism, the situation in Iraq now is in the context in a global war against statism, regression, totalitarianism, terrorism, and brutal oppression. When you are being held hostage by a murderous government and being tortured, you don't particular care whether or not you can park in a handicap parking spot.

If the US government is so dedicated to bringing freedom to the enslaved people of the middle east, why did it support the brutal dictatorship of the Shah for so many years, not to mention the alliances with other middle eastern dictatorships maintained by the US?

Hello? as I all ready said, THE SOVIET UNION WAS TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE ENTIRE WORLD, and was, obviously, a much greater threat to global peace and human well being than the lack of representative governments were. Do not equate ANYTHING during the cold war with anything AFTER the cold war. You, like most libertarians, think the whole threat of communism was just a big misguided joke. The 170 million people murdered while you huffed and haughed at your hippy rallies prove otherwise. There is no greater anti-thetical idea to libertarianism than communism was. You would have been the first to be killed by them.

bla bla bla recants of the isolated incidents of moral travesty bla bla bla

Yet, according to you, all of this is somehow the fault of the Iraqi insurgency. The US government bears no responsibility at all for any of the crimes it has committed or the carnage that has followed.

No, not according to me, as I said all ready:

Additionally, these body count reports make absolutely no effort to distinguish between terrorists being killed by coalition forces, terrorists dressed as civilians being killed by coalition forces, civilians killed in cross fire between coalition forces and terrorists (often using civilians as human shields), terrorists deliberately killing civilians (the overwhelming majority of violent deaths in Iraq), and coalition forces deliberately or accidently killing civilians (the overwhelming minority). To blame any of these except the last on anyone but terrorists who are striving to setup their own murderous tyranny is a travesty of justice.

A small extrapolation on your part should give you a decent understanding of where I place moral culpability. Do I need to explicitly state it?

The US had absolutely no right to attack Iraq in the first place,

Just as a man needs no right to act to protect his neighbor, a nation needs no right to act to protect the rights of the people of another nation. Any assault on property rights and civil liberties anywhere in the world is an assault to all property and rights every where in the world.

since this attack was motivated by nothing but a desire to overthrow the Iraqi government and replace it with a more compliant government, rather than any plausible issue of self defense.

I have outlined the multiple justifications in a bullet list format, yours is a niave and grossle over simplistic interpretation which does not abide to the reality of the situation. If that was the goal, it would have been much easier to just buy off Saddam and get a steady supply of oil, but this of course would have perpetuated our current 'supporting murderous dictatorships and the breeding of terrorists' economy, which is not in our, nor anyone in the world (except for those murderous dictators) best interest.

I still await your definitions of self defense and threat.

According to international law, the occupying power has full responsibility for providing security in the occupied nation. At such, it bears all responsibility for everything that happens until the occupation has ended and a sovereign government has been restored.

There is no such thing as 'international law' especially if they come from organizations which give equal say to murderous dictatorships.

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The same US government that gives such assurances of a controlled, limited, tactical attack also promised that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would be a cake walk and that the Iraqis would view our invading soldiers as liberators.

You are comparing what one entity would choose to do with what they thought a different entity might do, irrelevant. I can tell you exactly what I will do, but I can only guess at what you will do.

So, according to you, the US government always does exactly what it says it will do, right? The government never lies, right?

No, you are comparing what the US says IT will do, with what they thought OTHER people would do. Do you concede than that these are not the same things and your analogy was incorrect? I never said 'the government never lies' if you are uncapable or uninsterested in rational debate without grossly mischaractherizing my position than I see no reason to continue this discussion. Although I should point out again how you assume everything the US says is a lie, yet believe everything murderous dictatorships say. Heres a new classic -

"There's no homosexuals here, we dont have that particular phenomena, I don't know who told you that" - Iran's president.

Again, I never said anyone was throwing rave parties in the streets celebrating freedom. The 'idea' you are arguing against is never one I expressed, perhaps you should try responding to what I actually said, and not what you think I meant, which is obviously wrong.

The idea that you expressed is ludicrous, namely, that the US has somehow brought freedom to Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq is under US occupation, and a civil war has broken out, with rival groups of shiite and sunni ethnically cleansing each other. There are millions of refugees, the infrastructure has been destroyed, Iraq has been reduced to third world conditions. A war is likely to break out between the Kurds and Turkey, leading to massive chaos in Iraqi Kurdistan, which has been the only part of Iraq that has achieved any stability.

I never said the US has 'brought freedom' to Iraq and Afghanastan, I have stated over and over again that this is the long term goal. In fact our first interaction on this went as follows:

ME: The mullahs of Iran and the president hold the people of Iran hostage, as is the same case with every majority Arab or Islamic nation, with the notable exceptions *now* of Iraq and Afghnastan thanks *only* to the western coalation, and the biggest problems these efforts are having are from insurgencies funded and supplied by these niehgboring murderous dictatorships

YOU: Since it was "liberated" by the US government, life in Iraq is so wonderful that an estimated 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes

ME: I never said life was "wonderful" in Iraq, or Afghanstan, or any majority Arab / Islamic nation. Yet I cant help to make a causal connection between the fact that the majority Arab / Islam nations are the only 'wealthy' nations which are horrific shit holes. Since I never said Iraq is 'wonderful' the rest of your rant is irrelevant.

Nothing like 'brought freedom' in fact you still mischarachterize my position. Either concede this point or I see no reason why we should continue discussion, since you are essentially ignoring everything I actually say and just talking to yourself. I never said Iraq was Free and that life was Good. I said it has the best chance now of in the future being free and having a good life for it's people. Yet you somewhat weekly acknowledge my position in the next comment, even though in this you pretend It is not my position.

YOU: The clear implication here is that Iraqis and Afghanis are not held hostage by their governments and, presumably, enjoy a high degree of political freedom.

ME: You inferred what was not implied, I said exactly what I said. No murderous dictatorship holds the people of Iraq hostage, they have the potential now to enjoy a high degree of political freedom. No one in Iran, Syria, or Suadi Arabia has even the remote possibility of enjoying a high degree of political freedom (emphasis added) Under Saddam, they could not have even left. Now there is the possiblity of a better nation for them in the future, which there was no reasonable expectation of under Saddam's children.

Of course you acknowledge my position here:

Whether Iraq ends up under the control of a murderous dictatorship remains to be seen...Even in the unlikely event that Iraq does eventually manage to become a relatively free country, this will not compensate the hundreds of thousands of casualties, the millions of refugees, and the people still living in Iraq whose lives have been recked by the war. There is no moral justification for sacrificing the lives of a generation of people, for the hypothetical benefits of future generations.

So please make up your mind as to whether or not you think I think Iraq is a free paradise *now* or if I think it now has a chance of being one in the future. I particularly like your "unlikely event" comment, please share this crystal ball you have access to with us, or show us your established track record of predicting accurate outcomes of complex historical geopolitical events.

Implicit also in your statement here, and others, is that we are morally culpable for deaths that result from our direct action, AND indirect action (blaming, as you do, the deaths from insurgents and terrorists on US because we got rid of the totalitarian dictatorship that kept them at bay) but, you assert, YOU are NOT morally culpable for deaths that result from your INACTION (i.e. allowing a murderous dictator to continue his reign) Either you are morally culpable for the deaths that come from INACTION or the ACTIONS Of others or YOU ARE NOT. Which IS IT? You are like a child burying your head in the sand when faced with a difficult moral dilemma chanting "As long as I dont decide it doesnt matter I'm not responsible for anything" but your LACK of making a DECISION is ALSO a decision and does not abdicate you of the moral responsility you suggest we have for INACTION. While this is a difficult area to come to a clear decision in, I certainly don't grant myself a blank moral check because I refuse to make difficult decisions. What we should do about murderous dictatorships is the singular most important question today, just as what we should do about Soviet Communism was the single most important question for the last 50 years.

As for moral justification, I have re-iterated my moral principles many times, you only state the results of your principles, and never the principles themselves.

1) Any assault of human rights and property rights is an assault to all freedom and property rights against everyone in the world, because it is an assault on the principle of human rights.

2) Nations which do not respect the rights of their citizens to self defense and life, have no rights as a nation to self defense and existence.

3) just as a man can act to defend his neighbor when they are underassault with reasonable force, a nation can act to defend the people of a neighboring nation when it is under assault with reasonable force.

4) A man just as a nation must always deal the best blow against it's worst enemy it can with the limited resources available.

5) Self defense includes responding to a reasonable threat of force as well as an existing force, one need not wait for a bullet to be flying at their head before responding to a maniac shooting everyone in a line that you are at the end of.

6) A legitimate nation just as a man can act in self defense

7) The greatest threats to human rights, liberty, and civilization currently come from the large swath of the world which is a majority arab / islamic nation which promulgate only murderous brutality and breed terrorism through indoctrination and extreme poverty.

Etc.

And here I am guessing are your isolationist libertarian corolaries

-1) No assault on human rights or property any where in the world matter unless they are direct assaults on MY rights and property, libertarian ideas only apply to nations where the majority have adopted them or a small vocal minority seek to adopt them and are irrelevant to all other nations and people of the world, they certainly are not 'principles' to be applied to ever human being.

-2) once a area controlled by a hostage taken thrug recieves the general title of 'nation' by the 'international community' it is sufficient to justify it's existence as a nation, and is equally valid as any other nation, regardless of how it treats it's own people.

-3) Just as a nation can not act to defend the people of it's neighboring nation against assaults, so a man is also not allowed to act to defend his neighbor assault.

-4) A man just as a nation must always act in the expediecny of the moment without considering long term trends nor context.

-5) Self defense includes only responding directly to a direct in progress assault.

-6) Any nation can act legitimately in self defense, even if it is a murderous slave camp, because we call it a 'nation'

-7) The greatest threats to human rights, liberty, and civilization currently come from ... the evil imperialistic United States.

-8) as long as I don't actually do something, it doesnt matter how many people die, I am not culpable, my inaction morally absolves me of any deaths that result from refusing to judge and refusing to act.

This might be your idea of freedom, but it is certainly not mine.

Please elaborate on what your idea of freedom is, and whether all people ought to enjoy it, and how you would go about promulgating it.

As a self-identified libertarian, it should be pretty obvious as to what my idea of freedom is. Should all people enjoy it? Certainly. If I could push a magic button and turn the entire world into a libertarian paradise, where everyone enjoyed the blessings of liberty, I would do so in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, no such magic button exists. How would I go about promulgating it? That's the million dollar question. The first priority should be trying to restore liberty to the US, which is itself becoming an increasingly impossible task. The idea that the US government, which is doing everything it possibly can to destroy liberty here in the US, is going to bring the blessings of liberty to the middle east, is beyond absurd. The war to make the world safe for democracy didn't. The war to end all wars didn't.

Well I thought we might be getting somewhere but you trailed off almost instantly, failing to make, as most libertarians do, any conceptual connections between likeing the principles of freedom and actually working to make the people of the world enjoy it. Yeah, sure sucks there is no 'magic button' you can press to magically turn every nation into a free libertarian paradise. Since there isnt, oh well, guess you tried! If there was a button, you'd surely press it! How morally courageous of you! So, since there is no button, you essentially have absolutely *NO* opinion on how to help the rest of the world being free. Typical. Well, you could give the typical libertarian isolationist answer of being a 'beacon of freedom for the rest of the world' which is all nice and gives you a fuzzy feeling, but is ignorantly suicidal in an age of globalization (where our mere products incur the wrath and murderous hatred of zealots), murderous terrorism, and rapid technological growth, where in a few dozen years a very small number very motivated people could wipe out the entire human race. Ah, but at least you didnt actually 'act' and thus are not responsible for any deaths, even if it does cause the end of human civilization. Your idea that the curtailments of civil liberties here in the US is the greatest threat humanity faces is beyond absurd. Rehashing old slogans and their innacuracies does not make for any kind of clever persuasive argument. No one chanted 'to make the world safe for democratic capitalism' while fighting in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanastan, etc, yet neverthe less, here we are, in a world free(er) for democratic capitalism.

It is you who are rationalizing all of the crimes committed by the US government, denying that it has any responsibility for any of the people it has killed or whose lives it has destroyed.

I fully acknolwledge that the US has committed some heinous crimes, like not supporting the Cubans at the Bay of Pigs, like abandoning the people of Indochina to murderous communism, or not supporting Chang Kai Sheck against the communists in China, not turning around and attacking Stalin right after WWII, the latter two of which would have probably precipitated the rapid collapse of communism in general, prevented the Korean, Vietnam, and Afghanstan wars not to mention a thousand murderous communist insurgencies all over the world, and saved 10's of millions of lives.

But it is you that, in typical libertarian fashion, ignores the context of the threat of a global communist empire when yapping about "American Empire" during the cold war. If there was no communist threat, America would not have really given a shit. The fact that the Soviet Union was actively trying to convert every nation on Earth into a Soviet communist client state forced the US to act in many cases to contain that threat, in many cases they were wrong and committed terrible crimes, but in many cases they were correct in their actions and their cause was just.

Also, it is you that thinks by not acting, not judging, and not thinking, you become completely morally disconnected from all the murderous barbarism of the world. Amazing how you'r position happens to coincide magically with doing nothing and feeling good about it (although, if there were a magic button, hey, you'd press it, well that's right honorable of you!...)

As such, it is you who are the useful idiot in defense of the American empire, which empire is not interested in liberating anyone, only in extending its dominion over the world.

This is just naively laughable, which Noam Chomsky did you get this out of? The US, as a liberal Constitutional Democracy with a market based economy, is an 'empire' which I DAMN WELL HOPE spreads across the world, although a Hong Kong like economy with a Denmark like respect of Civil Liberties would be even better. Too bad that's NOT it's goal. An active effort such as that from a coalition of liberal democracies would quickly rid the world of murderous dictatorships and terrorism, but would require the rest of the free nations to get off their asses and give a shit about the world they live on.

Incorrect, the people of Iran hate their government, and their government hates the US, so they reasonably like us. Conversely, the people of Saudi Arabia hate thier government, and their government is friendly with ours, and so they hate us.

I didn't say that the people of Iran love their government. In fact, they hate it so much that, given enough time, they will probably get rid of it on their own and replace it with a more liberal government. My point was that the best way to get the Iranian people to rally behind their government is to launch military attacks against Iran. Look at how the American people rallied behind Bush after the 9/11 attacks. When a country is attacked, people tend to rally behind the leaders.

You are comparing the domestic response to a terrorist civilian attack in a liberal constitutional democracy to a military strike against a theocratic dictatorship by a population which absolutely despises that government. Again, you make absolutely no distinction between the nature and types of governments, and worse, no distinction between the kind of attack. As if all nations and all attacks are equal. Disgusting isolationist libertarian moral relativism.

When a *good* country is attacked (as judged by the people who live in it, who are not brutalized, arbitrarily imprisoned, forcibly impovershied, spend every waking moment avoiding a dictator's noose, etc) the people put aside their relatively small differences and rally behind it based on the common values it does share. When a shitty murderous country is attacked, one which has executed your sister because she was raped, or your cousing because he was gay, only those advocates of murderous oppression rally behind it.

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Perhaps because many Iranians still remember how the US government overthrew their democratically elected president many years earlier and imposed the brutal dictatorship of the Shah on their country, complete with KGB style secret police and torture chambers.

Martin,

This is one of the excesses of rhetoric that characterizes this kind of debate and, unfortunately, it clouds the message to those who would be sympathetic. I agree in full with you about the monkeyshines and pure incompetence of the USA government in its Middle Ease policies (remember in the Afghanistan war that hardly anybody on our side even spoke Farsi, although that was the language of Iran?), but it did not overthrow anybody in Iran. It backed Iranians who did the overthrowing (and they had to speak in English to get that backing). There was the element of local politics that would have existed with or without the USA.

Michael,

The US government, working in conjunction with the British government through the CIA, was intimately involved in the planning and execution of the coup. Without the participation of the CIA, the coup would almost certainly never have happened. The fact that Iranians were also involved in the coup and that, after the coup, Iranians such as the Shah were in charge of the government, does not in any way detract from the fact that it was the American CIA that executed the coup that overthrew the Iranian government of Mosaddeq. The Shah was basically an American puppet. The US supported the Shah through all the many brutal years of his regime, including helping to set up and train SAVAK, the Iranian secret police. Given all of these facts, I don't see that my description constitutes much of an excess of rhetoric.

You refer to "the monkeyshines and pure incompetence of the USA government in its Middle East policies", but in this description you are leaving out the most important aspect of the US government behavior; namely, its profound immorality. This is a moral issue, not just an issue of competent execution. If an immoral policy is carried out with supreme competence, this does not detract from the immorality of the policy. This description has been used repeatedly with regard to the US invasion of Iraq. It has been pointed out endlessly that the invasion was incompetently planned and incompetently executed. While this is certainly true, it does not address the much more fundamental issue that the invasion itself was a profoundly immoral act of aggression against a country that did not attack the US and represented no signficant threat to the US. The US policy toward Iran was sickeningly immoral. Supporting a brutal dictator and setting up and training a KGB style secret police force that tortured thousands of Iranians is a shamefully evil policy.

Why do I keep discussing the ethical aspects of US foreign policy? Because noone else seems to want to talk about it, certainly not most objectivists. Has ARI ever written a single article even suggesting that US foreign policy which involves the killing of innocent people in foreign countries is immoral? Has TAS? If so, I haven't seen any such analysis from either of the major objectivist organizations. Objectivists invariably end up arguing either that all US actions abroad constitute legitimate self-defense, or that the dictators of countries attacked by the US have sole responsibility for all of the resulting deaths, or some combination of these positions. Ayn Rand herself argued along those lines. When discussing the Vietnam war, the only thing she considered to be immoral about the war was that it constituted altruism, the senseless sacrifice of American lives for no good reason. She never discussed the immorality of bombing Vietnam itself and the senseless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. This attitude, that it is okay for the US government to kill as many foreigners as it wishes in pursuit of its foreign policy objectives, is still the predominant attitude among objectivists to this day. If we were being bombed and killed by a foreign government, I wonder how many of us would conclude that the foreign government bombing and killing us was guilty only of the sin of altruism?

I know this scenario well from having seen it up close in Brazil. (The USA government supported the military dictatorship of the 60's and 70's there.) The USA keeps a distance in a dictator's local politics despite some covert operations and funding, but USA businesses come in full force in providing infrastructure works to his government. The aura of the American presence—the public image fostered—in such a country is geared toward competitive business, but in reality this is merely the old boy club. The only direct military part is in providing training to the secret police of the dictators, selling ordnance to the government, and maybe getting permission to set up a military base for strictly USA interests.

The amount of hard feelings this creates in a foreign society is hard to communicate to people here. A mother whose son has been killed by the secret police is told by the American representatives in her country, "We had nothing to do with that." Yet she looks and sees that the soldiers of the dictator's secret police were trained by the agents of the Americans talking. She sees the dictator filling his coffers with money coming from those Americans while she sees none of it. Her taxes constantly go up to help pay for the new infrastructure projects and many are abandoned within a year or two after the PR splash.

I can't think of a better recipe for instilling hatred for Americans.

USA business has no business doing business with foreign dictators. And the USA government has no business doing business in the first place.

Michael

It sounds to me as though we're pretty much in agreement about the profoundly destructive nature of US foreign policy, how it gets foreigners who have been victimized by it to hate the US and how to leads to unpredictable blowback. Most Americans have no comprehension of this issue. They either think that the US is hated for its freedom, that the hatred directed against the US is completely inexplicable, or that everyone except a few crazy Muslim terrorists loves the US.

Martin

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Why do I keep discussing the ethical aspects of US foreign policy?

What ethics? It is pure expediency and not very intelligently conceived. That last ethical advice with regard to U.S. foreign policy was given by George Washington. Remember that stuff about avoiding entangling alliances? Or Charles Pinkney - Millions for Defense, not one cent for tribute. It was not only ethical, it was practical. What we ended up with was Woodrow Wilson's foreign policy, not George Washington's.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Martin,

I will let the Iran thing go. It has been a few years since I did research on it and I do not feel like taking that up again because of time constraints. I remember Teddy Roosevelt's grandson, Kermit, overseeing it (and a guy named Donald Wilber). Here is the CIA report (and a link where all the documents, 35,000 files, can be obtained on a DVD for a small fee). It is some extremely interesting reading for those who think the USA has not ever been neck-deep in monkey-shines with a foreign government.

But once again, the focus was covert, not overt, (the bribery of Iranian officials part particularly jumps out with over US$ 100 thousand a week budgeted for such expenses). It was so involved with oil and infrastructure projects that installing the Shah almost seemed like a minor detail. Also, one thing you should keep in mind. The USA has never, to my knowledge, operated the secret service of dictators. It has trained members, but not operated it. So this should be one indication of the real size of power and guilt when you judge or make statements like "puppet." The puppet part was only about the oil and infrastructure, but very little else. Even the preoccupation with those in power being against communism was window-dressing for all practical purposes. I also remember the CIA making some weird deals with the Ayatollahs after the Shah fell (for example, to recover one hundred dollar bill printing plates of all things).

Where we part ways is in blaming EVERYTHING on the USA and mentioning nothing of the USA's benefits that are bestowed on the countries. A set of policies that cover a full country is simply not all the fault or responsibility of a single element. There are several dynamics at work. Also, when the rhetoric goes on and on that the USA killed this or destroyed that, I am part of the USA and I did not kill or destroy anything. And there are many good people in government who do not condone abuse of power.

For a simple example of different dynamics, I used to argue to Brazilians who complained bitterly to me that the multinationals were buying Brazil that if somebody was buying, then somebody was selling. That somebody (or better, somebodies) was Brazilian.

Professor Bernard Lewis's observation should be taken into account with the Middle East: that where the local government is friendly to the USA, there is enormous popular support against it. Where the local government is against the USA, there is enormous popular support for it. This is true of Iran. There is a HUGE pro-USA contingency over there. This contingency exists because the USA did a lot of good over there—not just monkey-shines.

(For the record, it should be obvious that I find the standard Objectivist arguments you complained about vastly oversimplified and incomplete. Way too many fundamental factors are ignored for this line of argument ever to be taken seriously outside the subcommunity.)

Michael

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I can certainly see why you are not concerned about the US using nuclear weapons; you will not be the target of them.

Yes, for some strange reason I am more concerned about people who wish to kill me posessing nukes than people who do not wish to kill me. I would be the target of those created in Iran. Never mind the nature and types of governments you are comparing here (or not comparing, as is the case)

Stating that you are not concerned about the US using nuclear weapons against another country is no different than a resident of another country stating that he is not concerned about his government using nuclear weapons against the US. All it demonstrates it that, like the hypothetical resident of another country,

Let me repeat for you

"never mind the nature and types of governments you are comparing here (or not comparing, as is the case)"

I do not care if Canada, France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, Poland, South Korea, etc get Nuclear weapons, because there is little to no chance that they will ever use them on another free constitutional democracy. I DO care if Iran, Iraq, Afghansatan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, North Korea, Burma, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Berundi, etc, (i.e. the horrific shitty murderous dictatorships or soon to be) get them, because they are FAR MORE likely to use them.

You take a statement, that I don't care if the US gets nuclear weapons because it wont use them on me, and isolate it from it's context. Just like a typical liberatarian, they nature and type of the government in quesiton is irrelevant, because *all governments* are equally invalid, whether it is a constitutional liberal democracy with a mostly market based economy, or a horrific socialist dictatorial totalitarian nightmare state. As if a theif and a defender of his property have equal claims to shoot each other. As if a cop having a gun is the same thing as a serial murderer. You completely ignore the nature of the use of the weapon and the nature of the country using it. If you did not know full well what I was saying before, any rational person ought to now, so cease these absurd comparisons (as if just because something is called a 'nation' it is in every way morally valid with any other 'nation), argue that they are invalid, or drop this topic, because it's a waste of time now. If you think North Korea having nuclear weapons is the same thing as The United States having them, your are an ignorant fool.

I never said that you "don't care if the US gets nuclear weapons because it wont use them on me". What I said was that you don't care if the US uses nuclear weapons on Iran, because you won't be the target of them. This is pretty self-evidently true. If you lived in Iran, would you still advocate US use of nuclear weapons, knowing that there was a very good chance that you would be killed, maimed, or sickened by the resulting radiation fallout? There are no shortage of armchair American warriors who thoughtlessly advocate bombing the shit out of foreigners who live thousands of miles away, knowing that they will be a safe distance from the carnage. To them, the carnage is nothing more than a two minute spot on the eleven o'clock news. They can go about their normal lives, watching "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars" while American bombs and bullets are destroying another country. Just as most Americans don't know, don't want to know, and don't care what has happened in Iraq since the US invasion.

As to your straw man characterizations of my supposed beliefs, I've never argued, nor do I believe, that all governments are equally invalid, or that there is no difference between the government of a constitutional republic and the government of a totalitarian dictatorship. What I have argued is that, just because the government of the US is better than the government of Iran, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia, doesn't mean that the US government thereby has the right to launch aggressive wars against other nations, bombing, invading, and occupying them and killing their citizens. The fact that the US government is better than the governments of totalitarian states does not exempt it from morality or the standards of civilized behavior. Your position, by contrast, appears to be that, because of the superiority of the US government, it can do whatever the hell it wants to do. It can go to war with any country it doesn't like, kill as many foreigners as it wishes, and then blame the resulting death on the attacked country's government. You have given the US government a moral blank check to do whatever the hell it wants and accept no blame for any of it.

Your use of the analogy of a thief and a defender of property, as well as your analogy of a cop and a serial murderer, is itself rather revealing. You appear to see the world entirely in black and white, with the Islamic countries wearing black hats and the US wearing a white hat. Well, things aren't quite that simple. The US government's white hat is a rather dark shade of gray. The US government is certainly no defender of property. Not the property of Iraqis, which has been massively destroyed by the US invasion. Not the property of the Iranians, who were killed by the hundreds of thousands in the Iran - Iraq war, a war in which the US government supported Iraq. Nor the property of the US military, who have been killed, maimed, psychologically scarred, and financially ruined by the thousands to fight a war based on a series of carefully orchestrated lies. Nor the property of Americans, who will have to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in involuntarily extracted taxes, future debt payments, and inflated money to pay for this clusterfuck of a war. Your analogy to cops as the good guys is revealing in another way, considering how police are becoming increasingly violent and abusive as the US slowly lurches toward a police state. Radley Balko has spent years meticulously documenting the kinds of horrors often perpetrated by the police these days.

you don't give a damn about the lives of those foreigners who will die or be horribly maimed as a result of such an attack. If you feel that way, fine, but don't try couching your arguments in ethical terms.

I can make the same argument, with more validity, against you, because you don't give a shit about the 10's of millions of people who yearn for freedom yet continue to live in a murderous dictatorial hell hole because you don't think it's ever morally right for a free militarily more powerful nation to make a reasonable effort to end the rule of a tyranical despotic government, condemining millions to a life of slavery now, and hundreds of millions of future generations.

You can make the argument, but the argument has no validity. Unlike you, I have no illusions about the nature of governments in general, even governments such as ours which are much better than the governments of totalitarian states. Governments, including our own, don't give a shit about defending anyone's freedom, especially not the freedom of the innocent citizens of countries whose governments are hostile to our government. Why should one expect that the US government is concerned about the freedom of foreigners, while it is busy here at home trashing the freedom of Americans, passing such abominations as the Military Commissions Act, which established torture as official US policy and essentially abolished the right of habeas corpus, while it claims the right for the executive branch to label anyone, including American citizens as "enemy combatants", have them arrested and potentially locked up forever without evidence or trial? While the US government claims the right to spy on all Americans. to intercept their communications without even the formality of a court order. The US government has long since trashed most of what is left of the US Constitution. Yet you expect this government to free the enslaved people of the world? The US government is concerned only with maintaining and expanding the US empire and military sphere of influence. It is busily building multiple permanent military bases in Iraq, to be used as forward staging areas for future military attacks on Iran or other potential "enemies". Freedom for Iraqis, Iranians, or anyone else is not on its agenda.

You, SIR, are the one who does not care about the health and well being of your human neighbors of the world because you morally equate a nation which objectively provides for a much better standard of living for it's people with a nation that murders and enslaves them, you equate the self defense of said hostage takers with the self defense of those seeking to free the hostages, and if you really cared about the health and well being of Iraqis, and not your own short sighted moral abdication, you would seek a method which in the long term will bring about a better world for them, and for you. Shoveing your head in the sand and pretending the problem will go away magically on it's own, while millions are killed, is depraved indifference.

Nice strawmen you're creating and then knocking down. I have never morally equated the US as a country with totalitarian dictatorships, not have I morally equated the US government with the governments of totalitarian dictatorships. What I've consistently argued is that, whatever the moral status of the US government relative to other governments, when the US government launches wars of aggression and kills innocent people, it is acting as a criminal government that should be held morally responsible for its crimes. The fact that it is morally superior to the government of Saudi Arabia doesn't absolve it of its crimes. I've heard more than enough of this "moral equivalence" argument, and the argument is so much bullshit. It's exactly analogous to arguing that, if an upstanding member of the community goes out and commits a grisly murder, he should not be held responsible for the murder he committed, because there is no moral equivalence between him and a brutal serial killer who commits the same crime. How would such an argument stand up in a court of law?

Once again, you are claiming that the US government is seeking to free the "hostages" held by the Iraqi government, and that its presumed intention in attacking Iran would be to free the Iranian "hostages" as well. This, as I have conclusively argued here and in my previous posts, is complete nonsense. The US government has launched multiple military attacks on many countries throughout the world since the end of WW2, and only a tiny number of these have led to any increase in freedom for any of the nations attacked. Not only does the government lack the incentive to actually liberate foreigners, it completely lacks either the knowledge or the competence to achieve such an objective, even if it wanted to. Yet you accuse me of "depraved indifference" for acknowledging the reality that our government cannot and will not turn the world into a libertarian paradise. You pretend to have concern for the enslaved Iraqis and Iranians, while advocating a policy of bombing them, destroying their infrastructure, and massively killing them. You pretend that the US government is seeking to liberate Iraqis, while it is in fact brutalizing them, torturing them, killing them, imprisoning them, imposing the equivalent of martial law on them, and setting up the conditions for the complete balkanization of Iraq via massive ethnic cleansing between sunnis and shia. After having supported the shia central government, the US government is now supporting sunni militias which are attacking the shia. After having supported the kurds, the US government is now prepared to attack the kurds in order to placate Turkey. This is the nature of the compassion the US government has showed to Iraqis, as opposed to my "depraved indifference". Having destroyed Iraq in the name of liberating it, you are now advocating that the US government destroy Iran, also in the name of liberating it.

Your statement that the Iranian government wishes to kill you, and that you would be a target of Iranian weapons, is nothing more than a paranoid fantasy. The government of Iran is not crazy. The US possesses enough weapons to totally destroy Iran a hundred times over. Iran has repeatedly made peace offers toward the US, which the US has spurned.

And much like the 'peace overtures' of Hitler, Stalin, Mousilini, etc, they are a bunch of crap. It never ceases to amaze me how you anti-american liberatirans take everything every shitty murderous dictatorships, which imprison peaceful dissenters, control all media with violent force, refuse entry to international NGO's which monitor civil liberties and corruption, 'dissappear' people all the time) says at face value, yet believe everything the US, a free nation with a constitution, freedom of speech, and rule of law, says, is a lie. It's frankly disgusting.

More strawmen on your part. I don't have to believe that the Iranian government is particularly honest or ethical to believe that it has a strong incentive to not attack the United States, being as the United States has the military capability to easily destroy Iran, and the Iranian government is not crazy enough to wish to be destroyed. Nor do I believe that everything the US government says is a lie. But it has such a long history of telling lies that pretending otherwise or taking anything that it says at face value would constitute a willful refusal to face reality.

Iran, as a shi'ite muslim country, is a bitter enemy of Al Qaeda. Yet the US provides military aid to Saudi Arabia, home of the Wahhabist muslim movement which gave birth to Al Qaeda, while pretending that Iran is our mortal enemy. In Iran, vigils were held in support of the US after the 9/11 attacks. No such vigils were held in Saudi Arabia. Yet you think it's perfectly fine to attack Iran with nuclear weapons.

I all ready said I disagree with the way the US handles Saudi Arabia, so you'll have to up the notch on your mind numbing anti-us libertarian rants. Both Saudia Arabia AND Iran are mortal enemies to us. I do NOT think it's 'PERFECTLY FINE' to attack Iran with Nuclear Weapons, a controlled standard chemical weapon attack ON THEIR NUCLEAR REACTORS are perfectly sufficient. Stop this disengenous hyperbole and respond to WHAT I SAY not what YOU THINK I SAY.

You've repeatedly responded to your strawman characterizations of my arguments, rather than what I've actually said. Anyway, you already stated in a previous post that you had no problem with the US attacking Iran with nuclear weapons. It seems you are now changing your position on this. An attack with non-nuclear weapons has no justification either. You undoubtedly don't care one bit about this, but Iran has a perfect right to its nuclear reactors. Iran has the right to operate nuclear reactors and to enrich uranium, under the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, a treaty to which it is a signatory. Even if Iran were to develop a nuclear weapon, it would be of no use as an offensive weapon, since using it would lead to Iran's destruction, and the Iranian government is not so crazy as to seek its own destruction. The only purpose of a nuclear weapon, were it to be developed, would be as a weapon of deterrence, to keep the US from attacking it. Iran cannot have failed to notice that Iraq, lacking nuclear weapons, was brutally attacked by the US, while North Korea, having nuclear weapons, was not attacked. The US government has thereby given a huge incentive to nations to obtain nukes in order to deter an attack by the US. But, according to you, none of this matters. Iran is defying the will of the great god US government, so this great god has the right to bomb Iran into submission. All in the name of liberating it, of course.

Since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there has been a tacit agreement among all the nuclear powers not to use nuclear weapons, with the understanding that nuclear weapons are only for the purpose of deterrence. Once this agreement is breached by the actual use of nuclear weapons in battle, all hell might break loose, even if the nuclear weapons are low yield, micro, precision weapons.

You fail to realize that 'deterrence' is irrelevant unless backed up by a CREDIBLE USE OF REAL FORCE. I still do not yet understand how libertarian isolationists and liberal moral relativists maintain this massive 'blank out'. A threat of 'serious consequences' to Iraq for not allowing weapons inspectors in is useless if violating it is responded with yet another meaningless threat. It's the pathetic attempt of going through the motions of trying to promulgate a peaceful world (with context, of justice and freedom) without actually doing anything to move toward that end.

The fact that nuclear weapons were maintained by both the US and Soviet Union only for deterrence prevented a catastrophic nuclear war between the two great powers. They even prevented direct non-nuclear conflict between the US and Soviet Union. As such, they served a very valuable purpose, even though they were never used. Should the US be insane enough to use nuclear weapons against Iran, violating this tacit agreement, we will all live to regret this decision.

This bleating about Iraqi WMDs is a rather sick example of hypocrisy, given that the US was one of the countries that provided Iraq with the WMDs in the first place. The US is one of the leading sellers of military hardware throughout the world, including to such disreputable dictatorships as Saudi Arabia. So, having provided Iraq with some of the WMDs in the first place, the US government then claims the right to invade Iraq in order to destroy the WMDs that it gave them. Long before the US invasion of Iraq, it was well known that the Iraqi WMDs had already been destroyed, but this evidence was suppressed in order to justify an invasion that had already been decided, for reasons having nothing to do with WMDs or liberating the Iraqi people.

And here's a hint for you. The US policy of preventive war, claiming the right to attack any country it even suspects may eventually pose a threat to it, is not a policy that is going to promulgate a peaceful world. Nor is that the purpose of this policy. The purpose is to establish US hegemony over areas of the world that it views as being of strategic importance to the US and therefore wishes to control. A peaceful world in not promulgated by a policy of endless war.

"High precision" weapons are never as high precision as they are reputed to be. Mistakes occur all the time, especially under battlefield conditions. And even if the weapon hits the target precisely, selection of proper targets is rather problematic, to say the least. If a wrong target is selected, or if the weapon goes astray, the resulting deaths are rationalized as "collateral damage".

Yes, all of this is true.

Yet you act as though these "high precision" weapons are a panacea.

The US tried to set up its own dictatorship in Iraq after the fall of the Baathist government. Its only interest was in setting up a puppet government that would be friendly to the US, just as the US supported the puppet dictatorship of the Shah in Iran years earlier.

The situation in Iran was in the context of a global war against communism, the situation in Iraq now is in the context in a global war against statism, regression, totalitarianism, terrorism, and brutal oppression. When you are being held hostage by a murderous government and being tortured, you don't particular care whether or not you can park in a handicap parking spot.

You have an excuse for everything. No matter what our government does, no matter how many victims of its policies, you find a way to justify it. You have granted to our government a moral blank check. The US has never been held hostage by any of these countries against whom who have justified going to war. One cannot fight terrorism and brutal oppression by engaging in terrorism and brutal oppression.

If the US government is so dedicated to bringing freedom to the enslaved people of the middle east, why did it support the brutal dictatorship of the Shah for so many years, not to mention the alliances with other middle eastern dictatorships maintained by the US?

Hello? as I all ready said, THE SOVIET UNION WAS TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE ENTIRE WORLD, and was, obviously, a much greater threat to global peace and human well being than the lack of representative governments were. Do not equate ANYTHING during the cold war with anything AFTER the cold war. You, like most libertarians, think the whole threat of communism was just a big misguided joke. The 170 million people murdered while you huffed and haughed at your hippy rallies prove otherwise. There is no greater anti-thetical idea to libertarianism than communism was. You would have been the first to be killed by them.

The power of the Soviet Union was greatly exaggerated. The CIA grossly overestimated the actual technological capability of the Soviet Union, which under communism was basically a third world country with nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union could not even feed its own people. The US was more than capable of defending itself against the Soviet threat without engaging in multiple proxy wars and supporting brutal dictators like the Shah of Iran.

Now that the Soviet Union is gone, where is the "peace dividend" that we were supposed to receive? Where are the reductions in the "defense" budget? More money is now spent on the military than ever before, even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the mortal threat against which our previously huge military industrial complex was justified. Amazing, isn't it? Our military industrial complex has found a whole new series of threats that justify greater and greater expenditures of money and lives. That's the way any bureaucracy works, including the defense bureaucracy. No problem is ever solved, or, if one problem is solved, two new problems are suddenly found, so that the bureaucracy is supposedly needed more than ever. By such means, all government bureaucracies expand without end, until they slowly strangle the life out of the society over which they rule.

bla bla bla recants of the isolated incidents of moral travesty bla bla bla

Yet, according to you, all of this is somehow the fault of the Iraqi insurgency. The US government bears no responsibility at all for any of the crimes it has committed or the carnage that has followed.

No, not according to me, as I said all ready:

Additionally, these body count reports make absolutely no effort to distinguish between terrorists being killed by coalition forces, terrorists dressed as civilians being killed by coalition forces, civilians killed in cross fire between coalition forces and terrorists (often using civilians as human shields), terrorists deliberately killing civilians (the overwhelming majority of violent deaths in Iraq), and coalition forces deliberately or accidently killing civilians (the overwhelming minority). To blame any of these except the last on anyone but terrorists who are striving to setup their own murderous tyranny is a travesty of justice.

A small extrapolation on your part should give you a decent understanding of where I place moral culpability. Do I need to explicitly state it?

I understand precisely where you place moral culpability. Your beliefs in this regard are complete bullshit. They are nothing more than a rationalization for the US government to do whatever the hell it wants, no matter how many innocent people die as a result, and to place the blame for these crimes either on the victims or on the governments under which the victims live.

The US had absolutely no right to attack Iraq in the first place,

Just as a man needs no right to act to protect his neighbor, a nation needs no right to act to protect the rights of the people of another nation. Any assault on property rights and civil liberties anywhere in the world is an assault to all property and rights every where in the world.

So, following this ethical principle of yours, since the US government has massively violated the rights of Americans in a million different ways that I don't need to list here, I assume that you would have no problem with foreign governments attacking the US in order the protect the rights of Americans, even if millions of Americans were to die in these attacks. After all, "Any assault on property rights and civil liberties anywhere in the world is an assault to all property and rights every where in the world". So the US government violations of the rights of Americans represents an assault on the property rights and civil liberties of Russians, who therefore should have the right to take whatever actions are necessary to "liberate" the Americans. Right?

since this attack was motivated by nothing but a desire to overthrow the Iraqi government and replace it with a more compliant government, rather than any plausible issue of self defense.

I have outlined the multiple justifications in a bullet list format, yours is a niave and grossle over simplistic interpretation which does not abide to the reality of the situation. If that was the goal, it would have been much easier to just buy off Saddam and get a steady supply of oil, but this of course would have perpetuated our current 'supporting murderous dictatorships and the breeding of terrorists' economy, which is not in our, nor anyone in the world (except for those murderous dictators) best interest.

I still await your definitions of self defense and threat.

None of your justifications has any validity. There is only one valid justification for going to war with another nation -- self defense. The meanings of self defense and threat are pretty self evident. You have attempted to stretch the definitions of these terms to the point of utter meaninglessness, such that the US government can attack anyone it wants for pretty much any reason it wants and then justify this as self defense.

According to international law, the occupying power has full responsibility for providing security in the occupied nation. At such, it bears all responsibility for everything that happens until the occupation has ended and a sovereign government has been restored.

There is no such thing as 'international law' especially if they come from organizations which give equal say to murderous dictatorships.

So there's no such thing as 'international law'? I guess the only law remaining is the will of the US government, which can do whatever it pleases and which rightfully enforces its wishes upon the world with bombs, bullets, and invading soldiers.

Martin

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Leave him be, Martin. He's a thug. No reasoning with thugs.

W.

Wolf,

Michael has given no reason to believe that he is a thug, as in a violent criminal. I'd be willing to bet that Michael is a very decent guy who has never engaged in an act of initiatory violence in his entire life. It is his views regarding the morality of US government violence against innocent people outside the US that I (and presumably you) regard as thuggish.

The reason I've spent so much time responding to Michael is not that I believe that I have the slightest chance of influencing his views even one iota. Rather, it is that Michael's views regarding the proper role of the US government in the conduct of foreign policy pretty much reflect the mainstream views of the organized objectivist movement, both ARI and TAS, although TAS expresses these basic views in a "kinder and gentler" fashion.

I think it's sad that the objectivist movement, which had the potential to be a beacon of light for the dissemination of the ideas of liberty, has been largely taken over by people such as Yaron Brook, who advocates a policy of mass murder against the innocent residents of nations deemed enemies of the United States.

Martin

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It's not so much that Iran would be a nuclear threat to the U.S. if it got nuclear weapons, but that it would be a threat to Israel. The greater, long-term danger is from Pakistan. Israel is too vulnerable so it will likely take out Iran's nuclear capability before Iran lets it have it, which would provoke Israel to Iran's utter destruction--from what's left of Israel.

The nuclear bomb genie is crawling out of the bottle. Whether it'll make it is an open question. I think it will. Millions might die. Then there will be a new balance of power and relationships, but Israel and Iran will both be utterly gone unless Iran is neutralized either by bombing, invasion, bullying or diplomacy prior to disaster. If Iran doesn't wake up to its danger prior to Israel acting it will be acted upon--or, if Israel doesn't do something first, one way or another, then it will be acted upon leading to the great-fuck-up.

The real problem is the involvement of the U.S. in the Middle East which obscures to all parties the necessary power relationships and deal-makings that would prevent a nuclear exchange. The U.S. is Israel's crutch, but the U.S. may pull that crutch away leaving Israel falling on its face when it should be standing strong.

--Brant

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It's not so much that Iran would be a nuclear threat to the U.S. if it got nuclear weapons, but that it would be a threat to Israel. The greater, long-term danger is from Pakistan. Israel is too vulnerable so it will likely take out Iran's nuclear capability before Iran lets it have it, which would provoke Israel to Iran's utter destruction--from what's left of Israel.

The nuclear bomb genie is crawling out of the bottle. Whether it'll make it is an open question. I think it will. Millions might die. Then there will be a new balance of power and relationships, but Israel and Iran will both be utterly gone unless Iran is neutralized either by bombing, invasion, bullying or diplomacy prior to disaster. If Iran doesn't wake up to its danger prior to Israel acting it will be acted upon--or, if Israel doesn't do something first, one way or another, then it will be acted upon leading to the great-fuck-up.

The real problem is the involvement of the U.S. in the Middle East which obscures to all parties the necessary power relationships and deal-makings that would prevent a nuclear exchange. The U.S. is Israel's crutch, but the U.S. may pull that crutch away leaving Israel falling on its face when it should be standing strong.

--Brant

We agree completely. That's why I'm waiting and watching, ready to execute the Cuckoo Clock trade -- Roche, Sandoz, and Nestle. Bought January Boeing puts and JPM shares for laughs in the meantime. I think I'm cracking up honestly. It's a very undignified response to impending calamity, but we don't get to choose who we are, not any of us. No infant ever volunteered to be a Persian or Palestinian or Pashtun.

Viewing it from a safe distance, I remember how emotionally exercised everyone else was on 9/11, 12. 13. etc. They closed the market for a week. WWIII will close it a much longer time, perhaps forever if the world votes unanimously for fascist 'emergency' government continuity for life, like Musharraf and Chavez.

Let's be cheery. Pay no attention to the 'top tier' U.S. presidential candidates or U.S. news media.

W.

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