Stephen Speicher

Rob Tracinski on "What Went Right?"

374 posts in this topic

We did not rebuild Japan until the war was over and our enemies were defeated and demoralized.

I don't think Iraq or even Afghanistan should have been the first target, I agree with Dr. Peikoff that we should have gone straight for Iran. However having made that committment, we should have left those countries devastated and in poverty and even civil war until the entire Islamic world was pacified and unwilling to continue their jihad. Then all we would really need to do is hand out constitutions separating church and state and renouncing the right to make war, just as we did with Japan.

On the contrary, we have committed American lives to establish governments in the middle of a warzone, even giving power over those governments to religious leaders who have not promised us their friendship. Bush believed this was ok because, "democracy is democracy". Such is pragmatism. The current strategy cannot, by design, make us safer.

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In World War I, we tried the destroy-them-and-leave them approach. It resulted in World War II.

Really? Can you tell me with whom "we tried the destroy-them-and-leave them approach" you mention. Certainly not Germany which, throughout the entire course of World War I, never saw a battle, an air raid or foreign troops on its soil, which never was compelled to admit defeat through unconditional surrender at the end of that conflict, and which survived into the 1930s almost entirely as a result of massive amounts of foreign aid mostly from the United States.

We need to take a long-term view here. It's possible that within my lifetime, for the first time in the history of man, that the vast majority of human beings will live in freedom. If this happens, it will largely have been through the direct efforts of the United States. Achieving this goal, would provide significant security to us (and everyone else!) far into the future.

Is the legitimate responsibility of the government of the United States to protect from agression the individual rights of its own citizens or to sacrifice the lives and wealth of its citizens -- with an almost perpetual emergency war-stance curtailment of those individual rights at home -- in a . . . . crusade . . . . of global scope to "bring" freedom to every dark corner of the planet?

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We did not rebuild Japan until the war was over and our enemies were defeated and demoralized.

I don't think Iraq or even Afghanistan should have been the first target, I agree with Dr. Peikoff that we should have gone straight for Iran. However having made that committment, we should have left those countries devastated and in poverty and even civil war until the entire Islamic world was pacified and unwilling to continue their jihad. Then all we would really need to do is hand out constitutions separating church and state and renouncing the right to make war, just as we did with Japan.

On the contrary, we have committed American lives to establish governments in the middle of a warzone, even giving power over those governments to religious leaders who have not promised us their friendship. Bush believed this was ok because, "democracy is democracy". Such is pragmatism. The current strategy cannot, by design, make us safer.

Consider, though, that we did not execute Emperor Hirohito. To the contrary, we let him continue in a ceremonial role, much like the modern-day British monarchy. MacArthur realized that a completely demoralized citizenry would be unstable and incapable of evolving into a peaceful and prosperous country. He also knew to distinguish the governed from the government. While the government (other than Hirohito, who was kept around for symbolic reasons), the enemy government was held accountable, but we didn't seek to oppress or impoverish the people, or drive them to civil war as it seems you want Bush to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. Actually, we have managed to impoverish the Iraqi people and drive them to civil war, but it doesn't seem to be making the rest of the Islamic world fall into line. To the contrary, it seems to be the best recruiting tool.

Meanwhile, we seem to have placed all our bets with Musharraf, the "Shah" of Pakistan, because he said he'd "fight terrorism." Instead, it looks increasingly like we'll have another failed state on our hands, and one that already has nuclear weapons.

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Actually, we have managed to impoverish the Iraqi people and drive them to civil war, but it doesn't seem to be making the rest of the Islamic world fall into line. To the contrary, it seems to be the best recruiting tool.

The Iraqi people were poor before we even got there and that is because of Saddam Hussein not the United States. Perhaps, you could show how we, the United States, drove that country into a civil war. Keep in Mind this thread is about Rob Tracinski's What Went Right series. If my memory is correct, Tracinski held the position that Iraq was/is not in a civil war.

What led to the insurgency were several things.

1. Bush senior's failure to support the Shiite rebellion after the first Gulf War. Saddam persecuted the Shiites which only intensified the hatred between the Shiites and the Sunnis.

2. The DeBaathification of the Iraqi military.

3. For more reasons I refer you to the following books.

Cobra II by Michael R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks

Both books describe, in depth, what led to the insurgency.

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Consider, though, that we did not execute Emperor Hirohito. To the contrary, we let him continue in a ceremonial role, much like the modern-day British monarchy. MacArthur realized that a completely demoralized citizenry would be unstable and incapable of evolving into a peaceful and prosperous country. He also knew to distinguish the governed from the government. While the government (other than Hirohito, who was kept around for symbolic reasons), the enemy government was held accountable, but we didn't seek to oppress or impoverish the people, or drive them to civil war as it seems you want Bush to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. Actually, we have managed to impoverish the Iraqi people and drive them to civil war, but it doesn't seem to be making the rest of the Islamic world fall into line. To the contrary, it seems to be the best recruiting tool.

Meanwhile, we seem to have placed all our bets with Musharraf, the "Shah" of Pakistan, because he said he'd "fight terrorism." Instead, it looks increasingly like we'll have another failed state on our hands, and one that already has nuclear weapons.

I did not mean that civil war should have encouraged others to surrender to us, only that sacrificing our soldier's lives to safeguard a savage way of life is immoral. Until they want to form a free society (one that respects individual rights, not merely "democratic"), then there is no point in restoring their electricity and water and defending one of their religious factions from another. Let them rot.

We did not have to execute Hirohito because we had defeated the theocratic beliefs held by the Japanese that supported their hostilities against us. They believed their Emperor had divine power, and that with their god behind them they could not lose. After not one but two cities instantly destroyed we finally proved that they were wrong and in fact that their survival hinged on their total and unconditional surrender. Assassination of Hirohito (or Hitler, for that matter) would have achieved nothing, because it was the culture - not merely its leaders - which stood against us. What followed, was a period of complete disillusionment in both countries. Contrast that with Russia, which was emboldened by our peace with them and led to the Cold War.

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Consider, though, that we did not execute Emperor Hirohito.

Consider, that Emperor Hirohito should have ended up with the same fate of his military leaders. From the time of Hirohito's birth he was being groomed for military leadership. And, if I remember correctly at the age of seven or eight he was mostly seperated from his family, educated in military tactics and morally guided by military leaders on a daily basis. He knew everything that was going on and did nothing to stop it. Which means he was either powerless, so why leave him, or he was in control, so why leave him.

And, the goal of going to war is not to build up cities or cultures. The goal of going to war is to restore peace. To restore peace a warrior has to thoroughly annihilate his enemy or annihilate his will to fight. To annihilate one's enemy, the "gates of hell" must be opened and all the fury that goes with that act must be released on one's enemy. It is not until the little white flag is raised that any concern for the enemy even comes into a warriors thoughts. It is only at this point that the war will end, and not before.

If a person wants to know why we have been in a constant battle with one country/culture or another since WWII, it is because we have not done what I described above.

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Consider, though, that we did not execute Emperor Hirohito. To the contrary, we let him continue in a ceremonial role, much like the modern-day British monarchy.

This was after the emperor was forced to repeatedly announce that he and his ancestors were not divine too all the people. He was literally taken from town to town to make these announcements. (Another aggressor with little or no honor. He should've killed himself before subjecting his Divinity to such treatment.)

About the only thing the US sparred Japan that held any symbolic significance was the city of Kyoto, and that was at the insistence of diplomats that were stationed in Japan prior to hostilities. As far as I remember, Kyoto was spared because of her architecture, not out of respect for Japanese mysticism.

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And, the goal of going to war is not to build up cities or cultures. The goal of going to war is to restore peace. To restore peace a warrior has to thoroughly annihilate his enemy or annihilate his will to fight. To annihilate one's enemy, the "gates of hell" must be opened and all the fury that goes with that act must be released on one's enemy. It is not until the little white flag is raised that any concern for the enemy even comes into a warriors thoughts. It is only at this point that the war will end, and not before.

If a person wants to know why we have been in a constant battle with one country/culture or another since WWII, it is because we have not done what I described above.

Indeed.

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And, the goal of going to war is not to build up cities or cultures. The goal of going to war is to restore peace. To restore peace a warrior has to thoroughly annihilate his enemy or annihilate his will to fight. To annihilate one's enemy, the "gates of hell" must be opened and all the fury that goes with that act must be released on one's enemy. It is not until the little white flag is raised that any concern for the enemy even comes into a warriors thoughts. It is only at this point that the war will end, and not before.

If a person wants to know why we have been in a constant battle with one country/culture or another since WWII, it is because we have not done what I described above.

Indeed.

I would also add, that what you described is precisely NOT what occurred in 1918 with respect to Germany and her allies, despite Pershing's recognition that this was what was needed. THIS virtually guaranteed renewed conflict, and World War II was the result. The same set of ideas motivating Germany in 1914 were alive and well in 1939 and on an exponentially larger scale.

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I haven't paid much attention to this thread of late. Anybody know what the status of the last and final article in this series is?

Rick,

I visited the Tracinskis during the New Year holiday and Rob told me that he is polishing and re-writing his "What went right" series.

I'll make sure that he does not step outside of the evidence about the trends in the number and destructiveness of the worlds on-going wars.

We discussed this in this thread (see below) and I took your comments in.

My conclusion at the time was:

Statistically speaking, the best way to sum up the data may be to say that -- with the exception of a brief peak of communist revolutionary activity in the mid 80s -- the world's loss rate from war fell by 50% with the conclusion of China's Cultural Revolution and the Vietnam War.

I agree that after the 1989, war did not "collapse." It dropped off in the mid-70s, not in 1989.

It may be overly dramatic to call a 50% drop off in the mid-70s, a "collapse," but it is, in fact, a sharp and quite substantial decline. If the scope of the carnage -- terms of the numbers of governments at war, the numbers of lives lost, the quantity of structures destoryed, and the number of people displaced -- were described in the same way we describe per capita income in economics, one would have to call the 50% drop in loss rates in the mid-70s the beginning of a 30-year Great Depression in war.

The cause for the big drop off can be pretty well pinpointed. With the fall of Siagon and the conclusion of the Cambodian genocide, the 20th Century's totalitarian mass-killing sprees petered out.

Does that imply that the number and scope of wars will not increase to pre-1975 levels again? No, of course not. It may well turn out that the carnage of wars in the world will not return to pre-1975 levels in my lifetime. Laking a nuclear weapon, the world's Muslim radicals have not and will probably never make much of a dent in the total body count for all of the world's wars.

But given the possibility that the Islamo-fascists may use a nuclear bomb and given the decay of the nation-state in Europe and in much of the rest of the world, it is difficult to make any predictions about how war will look in the future.

I'm going to be in touch with Rob to make sure that he uses the data we have within its limits. If you have more data or more revealing data or contradictory data, I would be interested in seeing it. I always appreciate the facts, the evidence, and the data. Any data there is, I will put to use.

-- Jack

I think the following website is of importance when considering whether or not 'war has collapsed.'

Source List and Detailed Death Tolls for the Man-made Megadeaths of the Twentieth Century.

[n.4]

"... the best thing about Rummel ..."

The unbest thing about Rummel's numbers is that they fit his theories just a little too neatly, so you might want to approach with caution. Here are a few dangers to be aware of:

When the "What Went Right?" series is completed, I will present my argument for why I believe 'war has not collapsed."

Rick,

Military History Quarterly's Rod Paschall cited Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Management as one of two sources for his editor's report that the numbers of deaths and other losses from armed conflict had fallen by 50% since the end of the Cold War -- since the end of the small peak in Cold War losses that was reached in the mid '80s.

Here are the most interesting parts of their website (the organization titles, project names, and the sponsorships of all the materials linked to Rob Paschall's sources are obviously altruist-collectivist and, thus, capable of distorting the data on war and genocide for "moral" reasons...however, I would have to review their data before I could raise a red flag about any potential inaccuracies...and I haven't reviewed it yet.):

http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/inscr/aci.htm

http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/inscr/genocide/

"Major Episodes of Armed Conflict, 1946-2002," by Monty G. Marshall is available at the Center for Systemic Peace website appears to be the report, sponsored by Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Management, that Rob Paschall cited in his 50% reduction comment.

QUOTE(Robert Tracinski @ Feb 13 2007, 07:34 PM)
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The rest of the series addresses this question in a contemporary, journalistic context, as a way of explaining some of the events of today and of the past few decades. (What has most disappointed me about the reception of this series is that so little attention has been paid to that aspect of the article, which is my starting point and main motivation.)

I don't know about everybody else, but I have paid attention to the first 4 parts. In particular, the claim that "war has collapsed." If this claim is correct than I should be able to come to the same conclusion on my own using the data and sources that have been provided. I have not come to that conclusion and highlighted a website in Post #12 of this thread. I might suggest that a closer examination of that site might be of benefit. I am particulary concerned about Jack Wakeland's use of Rod Paschall's article which referenced Prof. R.J. Rummel's book "Death by Government."

QUOTE Robert Tracinski @ Feb 13 2007, 07:34 PM

The rest of the series addresses this question in a contemporary, journalistic context, as a way of explaining some of the events of today and of the past few decades. (What has most disappointed me about the reception of this series is that so little attention has been paid to that aspect of the article, which is my starting point and main motivation.)

I don't know about everybody else, but I have paid attention to the first 4 parts. In particular, the claim that "war has collapsed." If this claim is correct than I should be able to come to the same conclusion on my own using the data and sources that have been provided. I have not come to that conclusion and highlighted a website in Post #12 of this thread. I might suggest that a closer examination of that site might be of benefit. I am particulary concerned about Jack Wakeland's use of Rod Paschall's article which referenced Prof. R.J. Rummel's book "Death by Government."

Rick,

I provided the source date for Rob's claim that "war has collapsed" (to about half the levels of carnage -- death, displacement, dispossession/destruction of property) since the end of the cold war. So I'm the one who should defend the claim.

...And I already did:

QUOTE(Jack Wakeland @ Nov 23 2006, 12:54 PM)

Rob's comment came from an essay I wrote for him last year in TIA Daily, "The Short Dark Age." For the big picture data I used in that essay on the reduced scope of war and genocide after 1945 and after 1989, I quoted two editor's essays in Military History Quarterly written by Rod Paschall.

Based on the conclusions of studies by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Mr. Paschall states that the number of major wars decreased from 33 in 1992 to 19 in 2003.

Based on studies by the Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Management, Mr. Paschell writes that the total material loss rates from wars today--in terms of people killed, populations displaced, and property destroyed--are ocurring about half the rate they were during the last Cold War peak in the mid 1980s....

Quote RickWilmes @ Nov 22 2006, 08:55 PM

1998-: Congo/Zaire's war - Rwanda and Uganda vs Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia (3.8 million)

1983-2002: Sudanese civil war (2 million)

...These figures [from Piero Scaruffi's website] don't say anything about whether or not the world's 6-1/2 billion people are suffering from more wars or more devistating wars today.

The dominant world trend over the past 30 years is globalization. This world changing trend ocurred against a backdrop of smaller and less frequent wars, continued order and security of the interational sea lanes, reduced import/export restrictions and--most importantly--the rise of representative government in many parts of the world.

...In Part 4 of his series, "What Went Right?" Rob Tracinski indentifies the results of a Freedom House survey that concludes that the number of "free" nations has doubled since 1971. At military History Quarterly Rod Paschall writes, "During the past 30 years, the proportion of free states has steadily risen from 29% to 46% of the whole."

Is Rod Paschall the world's greatest authority on liberty and war? No. But he has been a good, rational and reliable reviewer of the history of war in the years over which I subscribed to his magazine.

Are Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Management the most reliable possible sources that Rod Paschall could have picked for his accounting of the toll of modern wars? I don't know. I'm not an expert in the area. I rely on Mr. Paschall's judgement in this matter.

What I know is what I've read in the newspapers over the past 30 years and what the newspapers report is wars that are fewer in number and less destructive in their effect than WWII, the Chineese civil war and "Great Leap Forward" and "Cultural Revolution," the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Cambodian genocide, the mujahadeed conflict in Afghanistan, the dozens of guerrillia wars througout Central America, and the dozens of civil wars and genocides in Africa during the '70s and '80s.

Africa is the only continent upon which war and genocide are currently commonplace.

Admittedly, the number of nations at war and the body count of wars are potentially on the brink of a great increase right now. In an arc from Cairo to Islamabad, the Middle East and Central Asia are on the verge of a great, bloody regional war--and, unlike the genocidal civil wars of Africa, these wars would directly affect the security of the United States and would result in great loss of American life.

But, for better or worse, a general regional war envolving the U.S., Israel, and some NATO countries--a war of great scope and destructiveness--has not in fact begun in the center of the Islamic World.

Here are the passages from my article, "The Short Dark Age," from the November 3, 2005 issue of TIA Daily that I cited in my November 23 response to your comment -- passages that are the basis for Rob's claim that "war has collapsed":

...Rod Paschall at Military History Quarterly has commented on academic studies on the scope of the carnage of the Short Dark Age. In the Winter 2005 issue of MHQ, he reviewed Prof. R.J. Rummel’s book, 'Death by Government':

"After 1914, cross-border clashes greatly accelerated in frequency and intensity, with many armed conflicts--including two world wars. Civil wars continued at about the same pace as before, but democides [government-sponsored mass murder of unarmed civilians] skyrocketed beginning in April 1915, when the Turks drove Armenians into the desert in present-day northern Syria, resulting in between 600,000 and 1.5 million deaths by slaughter or starvation. That was followed by about 2 million peasant deaths during the brutal Soviet collectivization program. Other similar tragedies include Josef Stalin's 1930s-era Great Terror, Hitler's Holocaust, Mao Tse-Tung's Great Leap Forward, and Pol Pot's bloody elimination of almost one-third of Cambodia's people. Rummel estimates that since the beginning of the 20th Century until the end of the Cold War, there were almost 170 million democide killings as compared to 34.4 million battle deaths."...

...In the Spring 2005 issue of MHQ, Mr. Paschall notes that the University of Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Management computed that, "the effects of armed conflict (scored by deaths, numbers of combatants, size of battle areas, dislocated populations, and infrastructure damage) had diminished globally by 50% since the peak post-WW II period in the mid 1980s." He goes on to note that the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that the number of major armed conflicts in the world had dropped from 33 in 1991 to 19 in 2003. (They considered a "major" conflict to be one in which there were over 1000 war-related deaths in the current year.)

Rod Paschall concludes, "Clearly interstate wars are in precipitous decline and repeat performances of events such as the failed 1990 seizure of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein's Iraq are becoming rare. Of the 19 wars of 2003, only two could be described as being between two or more nations; the rest were intra-state conflicts…limited to a deadly dispute within one nation's borders."

Why these reductions? In the Winter 2005 issue of MHQ, Mr. Paschall states the cause for the reduction in the frequency and destructiveness of war throughout the world. "During the Cold War, there was a vast increase in insurgencies due to Moscow's support of 'wars of national liberation.' The post-Cold War era has seen the near disappearance of cross-border wars, chiefly because of Anglo-American policies, punishing those nations that invade their neighbors and depriving attackers of their gains."

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the elder George Bush's "New World Order" was to be an international sphere in which free trade and free markets reign--under the protective umbrella of an Anglo-American foreign policy that banishes the use of force between nations. And the end of Communism created nations that won't make war on each other--and created them by the dozens. Rod Paschall reports that "During the past 30 years, the proportion of free states has steadily risen from 29% to 46% of the whole."...

...In the Autumn issue of MHQ, Mr. Paschall observes that over the past 15 years, the creation of republics has accelerated to an average of "three additional states meeting minimal standards for free and fair elections each year." He wonders if this may eventually lead to an era of "perpetual peace."

At the time you made the comment, I didn't answer it in full because the data you provided was very limited. You cited the death tolls of only two wars in a world that usually has 20 or 30 wars going on at any given moment.

To compare the data you cited with the data I took from two lead editorials by Military History Quarterly's Rod Paschall requires a survey of Piero Scaraffi. You didn't do the work of putting that data together in an order that would permit a comparison. So, here's my attempt to do it:

...........................millions of deaths.....millions of deaths.......million deaths/yr

Period...................War + Genocide.......Genocide...................Average Rate

1860 - 1905...................1.4......................1.2

1906 - 1937....................43.....................21.5.............................

.1.4

1937 - 1945....................56......................17..............................

..7.0

1946 - 1953...................7.2.......................-.................................0.9

1954 - 1963....................39......................38..............................

..3.8

1964 - 1975....................16......................11..............................

..1.3

1975 - 1988...................8.5.....................4.6..............................

.0.65

1989 - 2004..................11.1......................7...............................

.0.69

for the '06 - '37 period assume 100% of the deaths from the Stalin's purges occured

for the '37 - '45 period assume 100% of the deaths from the Japanese invaision of China occured

for the '37 - '45 period assume 100% of the deaths from the Spanish Civil War occured

for the '75 - '88 period assume 80% of the deaths from the Angola Civil War occured

for the '75 - '88 period assume 80% of the deaths from the Mozambique Civil War occured

for the '75 - '88 period assume 20% of the deaths from the East Timor Civil War occured

for the '75 - '88 period assume 100% of the deaths from the Peru, El Salvador, & Nicaragua Civil Wars occured

for the '89 - '04 period assume 20% of the deaths from the Angola Civil War occured

for the '89 - '04 period assume 20% of the deaths from the Mozambique Civil War occured

for the '89 - '04 period assume 100% of the deaths from the Sudan Civil War occured

Based on this analysis, the death toll by war and genocide dropped by about 50% after 1975, rather than dropping off 50% from a late Cold War peak in the mid-1980s. If death by government sponsored mass-murder outside war zones is excluded from the figures, the average rate from the '75 - '88 period is 0.30 million/yr and the average rate from '89 - '04 is 0.26/yr. That is not much of an overall change, from one decade to the next. (The biggest shift in loss rates since '89 has been to move the majority of the world's killing to sub-saharan Africa.)

However, the data provided by Piero Scaraffi is incomplete. He identifies the loss of life for each conflict and the time span of each conflict, but makes not attempt at an annual accounting made by the University of Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Management that Rod Paschall cited.

Using annual loss data, Rod Paschall concluded "the effects of armed conflict (scored by deaths, numbers of combatants, size of battle areas, dislocated populations, and infrastructure damage) had diminished globally by 50% since the peak post-WW II period in the mid '80s." The data cited by Piero Scaraffi does not necessarily contradict the claim of a 50% reduction. However, if both data sets are valid, that would imply that annual losses dropped to a Cold War low in '76 - '83, prior to reaching a new post WW II high in the mid 80s, before falling by 50%.

When looking at rates, one might ask what is the proper measure: a simple arithemtic total in the world's annual loss rates, or the world's per capita annual loss rate from war. The per capita loss rate is the better of the two measures.

I do not know if the data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Managementcited Rod Paschall cited are per capita rates. I suspect they are. The world's population in the increased by about one quarter (from 4.1 - 5.1 billion in the '75 - '88 period to 5.2 - 6.4 billion in the '89 - '04 period).

Statistically speaking, the best way to sum up the data may be to say that -- with the exception of a brief peak of communist revolutionary activity in the mid 80s -- the world's loss rate from war fell by 50% with the conclusion of China's Cultural Revolution and the Vietnam War. However, without a better look at the data, I can't fully clear up the question.

I'll take a look at the two studies cited by Rod Paschall and see if I can't find other valid studies that estimate the year-by-year, continent-by-continent per capita figures on loss rates by war and genocide. I'll see if the rise in loss rates in the 1980s occured over as narrow a time interval as this comparison of Piero Scaraffi's data and Rod Paschall's statement suggest.

...Or if the data support a different conclusion.

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The difference between WWI and WWII, is that we set up Republican governments upon our defeated enemies, to eliminate the last vestiges of dictatorship and provide the people of those countries a path to grow into our friends.

We need to take a long-term view here. It's possible that within my lifetime, for the first time in the history of man, that the vast majority of human beings will live in freedom. If this happens, it will largely have been through the direct efforts of the United States. Achieving this goal, would provide significant security to us (and everyone else!) far into the future.

Is the legitimate responsibility of the government of the United States to protect from agression the individual rights of its own citizens or to sacrifice the lives and wealth of its citizens -- with an almost perpetual emergency war-stance curtailment of those individual rights at home -- in a . . . . crusade . . . . of global scope to "bring" freedom to every dark corner of the planet?

The latter will bring about the defense of the former. No one living under constant threat of violence can be truly called free. Every additional free man in the world is one more friend of America, one more ally in the fight against evil. Do not ever forget this - we are not alone, and we no longer have the luxury of acting as if we are an impregnable island anymore.

Martin Luther King said one thing that has really stuck with me. He said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere". It's a small world. We can't live behind walled borders, plug our ears and cover our eyes, and try to pretend that the rest of the world isn't there. It's a small world. It is in fact, a world in which an Islamic nutjob and 20 friends were able to murder 3,000 people half a world away.

Ignoring the threats in the world now from Islamic totalitarianism would be the same as ignoring the threat posed by Communist totalitarianism would be the same as ignoring the threat from Hitler's totalitarianism. It won't go away no matter how much you wish the US *didn't* have to continually get involved in other country's affairs.

Well the fact is, we grew up, but most of the rest of the planet has not. We will be under constant threat until the entire world is free from dictatorships and fascism. Every single war the United States has fought, has paid for in the blood of our young which you claim to want to protect, has been due to war with a fascist state. Whether the England of 1776 or 1812, the slave states of the South in the Civil War, Germany of WWI and WWI, the dozen wars we fought by proxy with the Soviet Union.. and now the wars against the Islamists... all of them fascist dictatorships that did not respect individual rights.

Had we ignored any of these fights, our civilization would be extinguished.

The facts of these wars lead one to a remarkable conclusion. We have never made war with another democratic nation. When the US was founded, we were the ONLY democratic nation and in the 250 years since then, partly through war and partly through trade and partly through just being a good example, and greatly through strength - we have brought freedom to half the world. As a result, we are now the freest, safest, most prosperous nation on earth. Security is a prerequisite of prosperity, and it is also a prerequisite of freedom.

Nuke Iran today all you want - unless the root causes of war are eliminated, we will be fighting someone in 20 years who is just as ruthless and just as committed to our destruction.

We well know as Objectivists that freedom is the optimal state for ALL human beings, not just Americans, even though the Left in this country would have you believe that some others "don't want freedom" or "aren't capable of being free". Our democratic institutions did not develop overnight, they did not come out of a history text ready-made. In fact, we had to figure it out as we went. And we succeeded, because we were free to succeed. We made mistakes, we stumbled, but ultimately we corrected those mistakes, because we have a system for doing so without resorting to violence.

That is precisely what people in totalitarian dictatorships do not have, and living in a state of violence themselves their minds are easily twisted to where they will strap bombs to retarded people and detonate them by remote control.

What the words of Dr King mean to me, in this context, is that America will never be truly safe until the entire world is free. The alternatives are, therefore:

1) ignore the world, and fight a vicious dictatorship every 20 years at fantastic ongoing cost in blood and treasure.

2) pacify the world, and enjoy Pax Americana. It's a small world, and this task is eminently achievable.

Now, I use the phrase in 2) only somewhat facetiously. In fact, if you ask someone in Romania or Lithuania or Poland or the Czech Republic, they will tell you exactly what Pax Americana is and how grateful they are for it. They are the throngs of people who cheered for George W Bush - as the representative of the nation that freed them. Remember also that only 20 years ago these people who are now our friends, were slaves of the Soviet Empire, coerced into storing missiles, joining armies, and waging war against us. We freed them at great cost to ourselves - but now we all benefit. Had we simply nuked them, as some in our community frequently say is the answer to any foreign policy problem, we would not have their friendship or their strength tomorrow for the shared challenges that lie ahead.

People call it the Bush Doctrine, this exporting of democracy. But Bush didn't invent it - it was followed by Reagan, by FDR, by the other Roosevelt, by Lincoln, by Jefferson. America has acted upon these principles throughout its entire history.

Now that the world is small, the principle must be applied to the whole world, for a single man half a world away can threaten us. But the corollary to this is, a nation on the other side of the world can be our friend, and we can help protect each other from evil. Some Objectivists fall into a trap of thinking that only America can be good, only America is worth saving. This is short-sighted, selfish (in a bad sense), and foolish. It may be, however, that only America is strong enough to bring freedom to others, and if this implies an obligation upon us, then perhaps we should carefully consider whether it is an obligation we are willing to accept.

p.s. There has not been a single demonstrable "curtailment of rights" to any law-abiding US citizen. If you're worried about your phone being tapped, believe me, the US government doesn't have the manpower or the interest to listen to you, because they are overworked and understaffed trying to listen to the people who want to murder you.

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p.s. There has not been a single demonstrable "curtailment of rights" to any law-abiding US citizen. If you're worried about your phone being tapped, believe me, the US government doesn't have the manpower or the interest to listen to you, because they are overworked and understaffed trying to listen to the people who want to murder you.

Please provide the evidence for this statement.

American military men are not a police force for the rest of the world to use. And, it is not our job to clean up every little pest hole in the world. There will always be some new "nut job" that will attempt what has been attempted in the past (just read history to see that) and that is why "we" as Americans should always be ready and willing to annihilate them. Have you ever heard of the term self-responsibility? Let those people that elect or place in office their chosen dictators earn the courage and the intelligence to stand up for themselves or ask for our help. If not, the same people will vote or place in office someone else philosophically the same or very similar to the last. Someone else's hardship does not give them the right to enslave me.

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Every single war the United States has fought, has paid for in the blood of our young which you claim to want to protect, has been due to war with a fascist state. Whether the England of 1776 or 1812, the slave states of the South in the Civil War, Germany of WWI and WWI, the dozen wars we fought by proxy with the Soviet Union.. and now the wars against the Islamists... all of them fascist dictatorships that did not respect individual rights.

Had we ignored any of these fights, our civilization would be extinguished.

That is false. To take one of the biggest examples, Germany in WW2, America suffered enormous losses (with a *draft*, which is involuntary servitude, which is a massive "curtailment of rights") fighting the Nazis in no small part because Roosevelt was pals with Stalin and wanted to help out in Russia's war with the Nazis. Ayn Rand offered a different idea: America should have stayed out until the communists and the Nazis pulverized each other, then stepped in and mopped up the remnants. Because America did not destroy the communists in 1945, there were the "wars by proxy" you mention, none of which had any benefit to America (Vietnam? Give me a break.)

p.s. There has not been a single demonstrable "curtailment of rights" to any law-abiding US citizen.

I'm not sure the above is intended to mean "by additional laws passed by the U.S. government after 9/11 to address terrorism" or "by the U.S. government generally".

In either case (and ESPECIALLY the second case), that absurdly false statement rests on the false premise that no existing laws violate rights by their very nature, or worse, that law (might) = morality (right). That is an argument used and loved by every statist government or dictator in history, secular or religious. It is false not because of various things done to terrorists, but because of additional laws that, for example, hinder immigration.

Having a formerly hostile country become relatively civilized and friendly isn't a bad thing, but there is no evidence that it's always possible. As time passes, there is also the fact that America itself is losing what it takes to be a civilized country, including the desire and ability to defend itself from its destroyers.

What is certainly possible (currently) is neutralizing physical threats with military force, and it is certainly *impossible* for a hostile country to become relatively civilized and friendly until its government is destroyed and its population utterly demoralized towards the idea of war with America. Not only that, such destruction needs to proceed until that condition occurs. Religious fanatics bent on destroying America are certainly not going to "play nice". And the pathetic results of "U.N. sanctions" and sending our enemies flowers and food are self-evident.

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Every single war the United States has fought, has paid for in the blood of our young which you claim to want to protect, has been due to war with a fascist state. Whether the England of 1776 or 1812, the slave states of the South in the Civil War, Germany of WWI and WWI, the dozen wars we fought by proxy with the Soviet Union.. and now the wars against the Islamists... all of them fascist dictatorships that did not respect individual rights.

Had we ignored any of these fights, our civilization would be extinguished.

That is false. To take one of the biggest examples, Germany in WW2, America suffered enormous losses (with a *draft*, which is involuntary servitude, which is a massive "curtailment of rights") fighting the Nazis in no small part because Roosevelt was pals with Stalin and wanted to help out in Russia's war with the Nazis. Ayn Rand offered a different idea: America should have stayed out until the communists and the Nazis pulverized each other, then stepped in and mopped up the remnants. Because America did not destroy the communists in 1945, there were the "wars by proxy" you mention, none of which had any benefit to America (Vietnam? Give me a break.)

p.s. There has not been a single demonstrable "curtailment of rights" to any law-abiding US citizen.

I'm not sure the above is intended to mean "by additional laws passed by the U.S. government after 9/11 to address terrorism" or "by the U.S. government generally".

In either case (and ESPECIALLY the second case), that absurdly false statement rests on the false premise that no existing laws violate rights by their very nature, or worse, that law (might) = morality (right). That is an argument used and loved by every statist government or dictator in history, secular or religious. It is false not because of various things done to terrorists, but because of additional laws that, for example, hinder immigration.

Having a formerly hostile country become relatively civilized and friendly isn't a bad thing, but there is no evidence that it's always possible. As time passes, there is also the fact that America itself is losing what it takes to be a civilized country, including the desire and ability to defend itself from its destroyers.

What is certainly possible (currently) is neutralizing physical threats with military force, and it is certainly *impossible* for a hostile country to become relatively civilized and friendly until its government is destroyed and its population utterly demoralized towards the idea of war with America. Not only that, such destruction needs to proceed until that condition occurs. Religious fanatics bent on destroying America are certainly not going to "play nice". And the pathetic results of "U.N. sanctions" and sending our enemies flowers and food are self-evident.

We can play "what if" with the results of WWII all day long. For example, I can postulate that the Nazis would have been defeated by the Soviets, who would then have gone on to take over the entire world outside the United States, absent any efforts by the US to confront and contain them. The assets of the entire world, even woefully under-utilized and mismanaged as they would be under a communist regime, would be enough to annihilate the US in time.

Yes, I meant "in laws passed since 9/11 to address the needs of government to track threats from radical Islamists." Of course, the state of law in the US is far from the ideals we as Objectivists hold, and there is much work to be done. Still, it's better here than anywhere else, and our process more or less works, which means in the long run the state of freedom here tends to constantly improve. I agree on at least that one topic of immigration - our current immigration policies are backwards, xenophobic, and in the long-term, harmful.

As to the UN, we certainly have the right to unilateral action and have exercised it - but wouldn't it be nice to have help? Bush has by no means abrogated US sovereignty or moral authority to the UN. In fact, the left hates Bush for among other things, going to the UN, being told "no", and doing it anyway.

You have to be careful about defining "enemy". It is clearly nonsensical to assert that just because a particular human being stands within an arbitrary geographical boundary wherein we are engaged in military action, that they are an "enemy". In fact, properly defined, an "enemy" is someone who is actively seeking to harm and/or use physical force against you. Aside from enemies, in any conflict there are also non-combatants, and allies.

The principle of national defense derives from the individual's right to self-defense. This right has limits at the individual level, and by the principle that no action of government is proper that is not also proper to an individual, so do the actions of armies have limits. What those limits are is a large topic and I'm not going to get into it here. Suffice it to say that the nature of terrorism is such that our enemy is not "the people of Iraq" or "the people of Afghanistan", this is not a war between nation-states, and to act as if it is, will not bring us victory.

The problem with your concept of "every war must be total war" is that in today's world, the vast majority of people want what America offers, but they are prohibited from it by their local dictator. We don't need to utterly destroy and demoralize these people - we need only to destroy and discredit tyrannical regimes. The people are already on our side. What we need to do is remove the people who stand between their fellows and freedom, not "kill them all and let God sort them out."

(Yes, there are exceptions, and yes, there are individuals in these countries who like the status quo and do not prefer freedom. They are no more relevant in the long-term, than those same types in the United States are.)

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American military men are not a police force for the rest of the world to use. And, it is not our job to clean up every little pest hole in the world. There will always be some new "nut job" that will attempt what has been attempted in the past (just read history to see that) and that is why "we" as Americans should always be ready and willing to annihilate them. Have you ever heard of the term self-responsibility? Let those people that elect or place in office their chosen dictators earn the courage and the intelligence to stand up for themselves or ask for our help. If not, the same people will vote or place in office someone else philosophically the same or very similar to the last. Someone else's hardship does not give them the right to enslave me.

That's just the thing. By and large, people do NOT "elect their chosen dictator". The slaves of the American south did not elect their masters, and did not deserve what happened to them. Neither did the millions living under Soviet Communism, or today living under Islamic fascists (I believe a solid majority of Saudi women would like to see some substantial changes there, and the power of the mullahs in Iran is also fragile!)

Look, surely you're not saying that it's in our interest to have half the world living under brutal dictatorships and to do nothing at all to stop those governments. Time and time again, governments like that have proven that they are a threat to freedom here in the US and to other free nations. We must stop thinking in such Americentric terms. As Objectivists, we must support freedom wherever it exists - in large part, throughout the English-speaking world, in Europe, and now starting in Asia.

Americans tend to see the world through rose-colored glasses, tend to judge others by the standards of our own system, and think that if people somewhere have a bad government, it's their fault. Well, there are still many governments where a small band of thugs took control by force and the majority go along with it under the principle of "keep your head down and you won't end up in a mass grave". Either they don't have the power, or don't think they have the power, to do anything about their situation. These are people we can help. "Annihilation" should be a last resort.

While election of dictators has happened occasionally, it is generally in countries where democracy is very new, the institutions are fragile, the power of precedent is weak.

I am certainly not making an argument that we actually have an unasked-for moral obligation to help these people. I am arguing that is it often in our self-interest to do so. I also claim that these people ARE asking for help, they ask us for help every day. Just because it doesn't show up on the 10 O'Clock news doesn't mean it's not happening.

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American military men are not a police force for the rest of the world to use. And, it is not our job to clean up every little pest hole in the world.

I agree. However, the leaders running our military think differently. Here is the latest example.

Marine Mission in Afghanistan

Afghan Police To Get Mentors

U.S. Marines will lead a police training program in hopes of bolstering Afghan law enforcement.

Keeping within the context of this thread which is "What Went Right?" Each day the United States continues to think our role is to be the policemen of the world, our national defense gets weaker and our enemies get stronger. The Marine Corps should be giving our enemies sucking chest wounds not mentoring police forces in countries whose source of revenue is poppy seeds. It doesn't get more absurd than the fact that a former Commandant of the Marine Corps thinks we should provide money to farmers in Afghanistan in an attempt to discourage them from growing poppies.

More evidence that things are not going right. I have read arguments for turning own amphibious assault ships into hospital ships for humanitarian purposes. Our SSBN's are being converted into submarines that can launch guided missiles and insert Navy Seals, costing billions of dollars. I'll provide sources if anyone is interested.

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You have to be careful about defining "enemy". It is clearly nonsensical to assert that just because a particular human being stands within an arbitrary geographical boundary wherein we are engaged in military action, that they are an "enemy". In fact, properly defined, an "enemy" is someone who is actively seeking to harm and/or use physical force against you. Aside from enemies, in any conflict there are also non-combatants, and allies.

The principle of national defense derives from the individual's right to self-defense. This right has limits at the individual level, and by the principle that no action of government is proper that is not also proper to an individual, so do the actions of armies have limits. What those limits are is a large topic and I'm not going to get into it here. Suffice it to say that the nature of terrorism is such that our enemy is not "the people of Iraq" or "the people of Afghanistan", this is not a war between nation-states, and to act as if it is, will not bring us victory.

The problem with your concept of "every war must be total war" is that in today's world, the vast majority of people want what America offers, but they are prohibited from it by their local dictator. We don't need to utterly destroy and demoralize these people - we need only to destroy and discredit tyrannical regimes. The people are already on our side. What we need to do is remove the people who stand between their fellows and freedom, not "kill them all and let God sort them out."

Enemy: one that attacks or tries to harm another. Who do you think supports the governments and their military if not our enemies? Where do you think all the resources come from that our enemies, or what ever you would call them, have to use against?

War: a state or period of open and declared armed fighting between states or nations, a struggle between opposing forces or for a particular end.

A department of defense is just what it states. The department created to defend the rights of it's citizens, that created it, from the initiation of force. Force from who? The enemy, of course. A moral war is fought to restore peace to the country that is defending itself against the initiation of force from the enemy. So, we should be willing to defend ourselves against anyone or any country that intiates force or states they are going to initiate force against us. And, last I checked America is still a nation.

If most of the people in the world wanted what America offers we would not be at war. If one wants to change a culture, changing representatives is not where one begins. Changing the underlying philosophy is the only way to change men or their country, replacing dictators will not work. To chage a philosophy requires a proper, moral diplomacy between peaceful nations. Once one nation attacks the other, diplomacy it over and war is enstated until the enemy is totally beaten.

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Jawaid's sincere and thoughtful post clearly explains the reasons for his conclusions, many of which I disagree with. My problem isn't with his reasoning, but with some of his assumptions that I do not think are factually true. Each one of those assumptions could be the subject of an entire post, but rather than write many posts, I will indicate which assumptions I question and invite Jawaid or those who disagree with them to make their case.

Every additional free man in the world is one more friend of America, one more ally in the fight against evil.

Is liberation enough? If we let every violent criminal out of jail would they become a law-abiding citizens?

Ignoring the threats in the world now from Islamic totalitarianism would be the same as ignoring the threat posed by Communist totalitarianism would be the same as ignoring the threat from Hitler's totalitarianism. It won't go away no matter how much you wish the US *didn't* have to continually get involved in other country's affairs.

When should we get involved in other countries' affairs and why? Doesn't the type of involvement matter since trade and military "involvement" are so different?

Well the fact is, we grew up, but most of the rest of the planet has not. We will be under constant threat until the entire world is free from dictatorships and fascism.

Some dictators and fascists are able to threaten us and some are not. What makes the difference?

We have never made war with another democratic nation.

This is generally true since we have not started most wars. Democratic England, however did start two wars with us.

When the US was founded, we were the ONLY democratic nation and in the 250 years since then, partly through war and partly through trade and partly through just being a good example, and greatly through strength - we have brought freedom to half the world.

Aren't war, trade, and being a good example different in kind, in what motivates us to do them, and in who does them (individuals vs. government)? Isn't the recognition of individual rights necessary for trade?

Nuke Iran today all you want - unless the root causes of war are eliminated, we will be fighting someone in 20 years who is just as ruthless and just as committed to our destruction.

How about Ayn Rand's thesis in her essay, "The Roots of War" in Capitalism the Unknown Ideal, that lack of respect for individual rights is the cause of all wars?

Our democratic institutions did not develop overnight, they did not come out of a history text ready-made. In fact, we had to figure it out as we went. And we succeeded, because we were free to succeed. We made mistakes, we stumbled, but ultimately we corrected those mistakes, because we have a system for doing so without resorting to violence.

This sounds like we did it by trial and error and happened to be lucky. Wasn't it true that the Founding Fathers drafted a well-thought out plan based on the inalienability of individual rights?

The alternatives are, therefore:

1) ignore the world, and fight a vicious dictatorship every 20 years at fantastic ongoing cost in blood and treasure.

2) pacify the world, and enjoy Pax Americana. It's a small world, and this task is eminently achievable.

What do you mean by "pacify the world?" Would making it clear, in action, that no regime could threaten U.S. citizens and survive, suffice?

People call it the Bush Doctrine, this exporting of democracy. But Bush didn't invent it - it was followed by Reagan, by FDR, by the other Roosevelt, by Lincoln, by Jefferson. America has acted upon these principles throughout its entire history.

Do we want to export democracy -- something the Founding Fathers rejected -- or do we want to export respect for individual rights ... especially the rights of U.S. citizens?

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That's just the thing. By and large, people do NOT "elect their chosen dictator". The slaves of the American south did not elect their masters, and did not deserve what happened to them. Neither did the millions living under Soviet Communism, or today living under Islamic fascists (I believe a solid majority of Saudi women would like to see some substantial changes there, and the power of the mullahs in Iran is also fragile!)

Look, surely you're not saying that it's in our interest to have half the world living under brutal dictatorships and to do nothing at all to stop those governments.

The issue isn't do something or do nothing. The issue is who does what.

I'm for our government acting to topple regimes that can pose a real threat of force against U.S. citizens and their property. They could do it by covertly supporting pro-freedom forces within the country, by taking a clear moral stand ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!") , or by military action.

As for the non-free countries that do not threaten us, any private citizen who wants to help with his own time and money, and at his own risk, would be welcome to do so.

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That's just the thing. By and large, people do NOT "elect their chosen dictator". The slaves of the American south did not elect their masters, and did not deserve what happened to them. Neither did the millions living under Soviet Communism, or today living under Islamic fascists (I believe a solid majority of Saudi women would like to see some substantial changes there, and the power of the mullahs in Iran is also fragile!)

Look, surely you're not saying that it's in our interest to have half the world living under brutal dictatorships and to do nothing at all to stop those governments.

The issue isn't do something or do nothing. The issue is who does what.

I'm for our government acting to topple regimes that can pose a real threat of force against U.S. citizens and their property. They could do it by covertly supporting pro-freedom forces within the country, by taking a clear moral stand ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!") , or by military action.

As for the non-free countries that do not threaten us, any private citizen who wants to help with his own time and money, and at his own risk, would be welcome to do so.

Betsy, granted that we have limited resources and must choose our battles. But in 1999 who would have thought that the pitifully poor nation of Afghanistan would be the source of the single deadliest attack on American soil in American history? How many Americans in 1999 could even locate Afghanistan on a map? (Ok, probably still not over 10%, but that's not the point!)

My argument is that it's a small world, that people like that in any country in the world can be, and probably are, right now, today a threat to the United States and the rest of Western Civilization.

And every one of these threats was either funded out of, or executed out of, a tyranny (with the exception of the London bombings, which were all home-grown, which is even more frightening.)

We have spent greatly in our time as a nation, fighting wars started by tyrannical governments. History shows that we go through these phases, almost every time:

1) turn a blind eye to the baddies, and either ignore or appease them

2) tyranny grows, spills over into other countries

3) eventually they get powerful enough that they become a threat to us or our allies

4) then we have to fight a huge war to dislodge a fascist government from a large area.

Isn't there a principle here, that the earlier you identify and destroy a cancer, the more likely the whole body is likely to survive?

And the other principle here, is that you have to stand up for your values, or you will lose them. Sometimes that means standing up and talking. But sometimes that means standing up and fighting, and I think, sometimes that means standing up and fighting in defense of other people.

And if all the free people of the world stood together to do this and did it consistently, I believe we could extinguish the last remnants of dictatorships in my lifetime. It shouldn't, and can't, be a burden the US bears alone.

Respectfully yours,

Jawaid

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Jawaid's sincere and thoughtful post clearly explains the reasons for his conclusions, many of which I disagree with. My problem isn't with his reasoning, but with some of his assumptions that I do not think are factually true. Each one of those assumptions could be the subject of an entire post, but rather than write many posts, I will indicate which assumptions I question and invite Jawaid or those who disagree with them to make their case.

This will take some time to respond to appropriately. I started working out a reply and then realized it was getting quite large, and a little jumbled, and needed some organization.

As usual, Betsy is making me think!

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And the other principle here, is that you have to stand up for your values, or you will lose them. Sometimes that means standing up and talking. But sometimes that means standing up and fighting, and I think, sometimes that means standing up and fighting in defense of other people.

And if all the free people of the world stood together to do this and did it consistently, I believe we could extinguish the last remnants of dictatorships in my lifetime. It shouldn't, and can't, be a burden the US bears alone.

The other people you mention have to be of value to you or the country. But, those people or that country should also be willing to defend themselves as we our not our brothers keeper. A government is a reflection of what a majority of the people agree with so there would be very few people I might consider a value in a country willing to attack us.

Your last paragraph is false and that is why we should always have a department of defense. There might be time periods when there are no wars but tyrants and dictators will always be, again, just look at history.

Your standard could also be applied to people that are starving or are going through hardships. So, why stop with people that are under a dictator, why not spend our lifes helping out everyone that puts a claim on you. I would offer that you read or re-read Capitalism The Unknown Ideal and The Virture of Selfishness.

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Betsy, granted that we have limited resources and must choose our battles. But in 1999 who would have thought that the pitifully poor nation of Afghanistan would be the source of the single deadliest attack on American soil in American history? How many Americans in 1999 could even locate Afghanistan on a map? (Ok, probably still not over 10%, but that's not the point!)

My argument is that it's a small world, that people like that in any country in the world can be, and probably are, right now, today a threat to the United States and the rest of Western Civilization.

The problem wasn't Afghanistan, it was Jihadism vs. Western Civilization, and we should have known that. We should have known that after the Iran hostage crisis, after the first World Trade Center bombings, after the Khobar Towers, etc. If we had recognized the threat and dealt with it earlier, 9/11 never would have happened.

We have spent greatly in our time as a nation, fighting wars started by tyrannical governments. History shows that we go through these phases, almost every time:

1) turn a blind eye to the baddies, and either ignore or appease them

2) tyranny grows, spills over into other countries

3) eventually they get powerful enough that they become a threat to us or our allies

4) then we have to fight a huge war to dislodge a fascist government from a large area.

Isn't there a principle here, that the earlier you identify and destroy a cancer, the more likely the whole body is likely to survive?

We have other options besides war or nation-building. We can bring down evil regimes that support terrorism by supporting the regime's internal freedom-seekers. This could work in Iran. We can demand that government turn over or hunt down terrorists and not give them support and refuge -- or else. We could take a clear moral stand as Reagan did with the Soviet Union.

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We have other options besides war or nation-building. We can bring down evil regimes that support terrorism by supporting the regime's internal freedom-seekers. This could work in Iran. We can demand that government turn over or hunt down terrorists and not give them support and refuge -- or else. We could take a clear moral stand as Reagan did with the Soviet Union.

In places like Iran, so volatile right now because of dissent and sedition, it indeed might be a better option to at first support these groups from the inside, promising money and support. If anyone complains, so what? Is the UN really going to say that we are bad because we gave money and aid to women's groups, gay groups, student groups, and the myriad of other groups fighting for freedom (I have a fear that I have answered my own question; nevertheless, the opinion of the UN is worthless)?

However, I have a question that might in and of itself be another topic (in which case I will start a topic on it). What is wrong with conquering? Is there any reason why conquering Iraq and turning it into the 51st state is a bad idea?

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What is wrong with conquering? Is there any reason why conquering Iraq and turning it into the 51st state is a bad idea?

How about that they have almost nothing culturally in common with the other fifty states?

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