Stephen Speicher

Rob Tracinski on "What Went Right?"

374 posts in this topic

Thank you so much for linking to these articles, Stephen. Rob certainly gives us something to think about. I must admit that I tend more towards the optimism he displays about the future than the doom and gloom side. It is easy to be pessimistic if your focus is on what is wrong--there's so much of it. But it doesn't take much that is good to make a difference, because of the power of the truth and the right.

Frankly, I need the optimism. It is hard enough to fight the hard battles in life without feeling overwhelmed.

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Frankly, I need the optimism. It is hard enough to fight the hard battles in life without feeling overwhelmed.

I want to re-read Ayn Rand's fiction in the not too distant future. Consider the dramatic battles in all of her fiction - from Anthem, one lone man in the entire world rediscovering the concept of self, to We The Living with a totally intransigent Kira fighting communist evil, to The Fountainhead, to Atlas Shrugged, closest to our world today, with all that implies, yet with the right men winning in the end (and forever thereafter.)

Ayn Rand herself lived to a fairly old age (though not nearly enough - damned cigarettes), escaping Soviet Russia and basically singlehandedly discovering philosophic truths and telling the entire planet that its cherished ethics of altruism was garbage - with the full solution. A single genius prevailed and virtually singlehandedly changed the course of human history. What greater source of optimism can there be?

Whatever throes of chaos we'll live through to see, what encourages me is the fact that those ideas exist and can never be extinguished as long as men live. They are powerful enough to have begun to reverse the next dark ages. While there are bound to be some terrible times, because of America's hopelessly inadequate response to Islamic insanity, I doubt that those stone age mentalities will ultimately be able to defeat Aristotle and Ayn Rand and what's left of real America - and most especially, Objectivists.

If the news is depressing, I suggest not reading the news most of the time. Enjoying one's own life and values is after all what's it's all about.

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Could anybody give an example of where Rob Tracinski "went right." Rob's foreign policy opinions have been wrong across the board. Using the fact that some blog/press releases/OP-eds agree with you is not evidence.

RT in Three Elections, 2005, p.19. "The Forward Strategy of Freedom has made the final transtion from being dismissed as an absurd and impossible notion to becoming an uncontested foreign policy consensus. And this consensus is essentially correct."

Now he based this being "correct" on the republicans winning in 2004, the democratic critics admitting Bush is popular and Bush's speech, including, "And any who doubt the appeal of freedom in the middle east can look to Lebanon."

RT in the Nov. 4th, 2004 TIA Daily. "When it comes to Iraq, expect action, not talk, in Bush's second term."

RT in TE p.6. "More important, this was virtually all that he said [just platitudes]on the subject of the war. When asked a question later in the press conference about the justification for the invasion of Iraq, he began a reply, then cut if off by saying, simply, "there's no need to rehash my case." Indeed, there was not. Just as the most eloquent words spoken about Bush's foreign policy were the words he did not feel he had to "rehash"- so the most eloquent statement on his domestic agenda was what he did not say: he laid out no religious agenda. Indeed, when asked about the allegedly religious "values voters," he responded that "no president should ever try to impose religion on our society."" ... "

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Could anybody give an example of where Rob Tracinski "went right."

Well, frankly, I have not followed Rob's writings at all until his recent "What Went Right?" series, so I cannot help you there. But I do want to note that, while the ability to predict the future is dependent on one's understanding of the past, prediction itself is an art and failure to correctly predict does not necessarily invalidate correct identifications of the past and the present. Heck, the doom and gloom crowd has been predicting collapse in form or another for decades now, and every time Christmas rolls around the world is a better and brighter place in my eyes than ever before. And, beyond predictions, it is the current identifications of this crowd that are so much in error. Perhaps in Colorado Springs there hides an evangelical under every rock ready to convert us and take over the world, but where I live I see productive people too busy enjoying life to worry that much about what I think of religion.

Just this morning Betsy made a remark that, though in a small way, once again brought the world into perspective. Our all-news radio station plays religious-inspired music for a short time on Sunday mornings, and Betsy remembered all eight of the hymns they played as those she had to sing in her school assembly period a couple of generations ago. When she said that to me I suddenly recalled what I hadn't thought of for oh so long; the prayers we recited and the religious songs we sung every day in the public grade school I attended. Today the ACLU is going after even the mention of Santa Claus in public schools! Perspective, in all things considered, is important.

Rob's foreign policy opinions have been wrong across the board.

I don't know about that. Perhaps someone who is more familiar with his writings can address that. I do know that I have disagreed most strongly with some of his views on the war, at least as transmitted here through Jack Wakeland, but for me that does not affect the truth or falsity of what Rob has identified in his current "What Went Right?" series.

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Could anybody give an example of where Rob Tracinski "went right." Rob's foreign policy opinions have been wrong across the board. Using the fact that some blog/press releases/OP-eds agree with you is not evidence.

In "What Went Right?", Rob Tracinski claims, "With the collapse of the Soviet Union, war has collapsed."

There is a fundamental error here. War is the effect not the cause. If war has collapsed than its cause(statism) would also have had to collapse. There is enough evidence to show that this is not the case. If anyone can show me otherwise, I would love to see the evidence.

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This post is just to draw your attention to the fact that this thread has been resurrected. See my first post in this thread for clarification.

I will delete this post when the next new post to this thread is made.

The new links in the amended first post aren't working. Is this temporary?

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The new links in the amended first post aren't working. Is this temporary?

Yes, it was just a temporary interruption while the website was being upgraded and moved to a new server. The links are working just fine now.

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War Has Not Collapsed

Rob Tracinski writes:

The Metaphysics of "Normal Life"

My views on the importance of scientific and technological education were inspired in part by research I did a few years ago for lectures on the history of the British Empire, particularly in India. One of the most important facts about that history, and one that explains a great deal about what is happening today, is the educational system that the British created in India.

Here is an account of India that can not be ignored.

Chapter 2: Wellsprings of Insurgency

Kashmir

Kashmir has long been a deeply troubled region, whose conflict has its most visible roots in the partition of British India into a Hindu-dominated India and a Muslim-dominated Pakistan in 1947. At the time, the so-called princely(semi-independent) states were free to choose which of the two successor countries they would join. Everyone expected that the maharaja of Kashmir, a Hindu ruling over a largely Muslim population, would join Pakistan. But he decided otherwise, and Kashmir thus became the only non-Hindu princely state to adhere to India. No election or referendum was held to ratify this decision. Warfare between India and Pakistan, as well as within Kashmir, directly followed. Kashmir had an area of eighty-six thousand square miles, the size of Romania or Utah. Following a U.N. cease-fire in 1949, fifty-four thousand square miles of Kashmir(equal to Bangladesh or Wisconsin), with a population of 7.5 million, remained under Indian occupation; the rest was occupied by Pakistan. After the partition, Prime Minister Nehru "connived at regimentation, repression, rigged elections, corruption and nepotism in Kashmir in the name of national interest." (17)

Outside observers have maintained that the latest eruption of insurgency in Kashmir is primarily the result of India's rigging of the 1987 state elections and the imposition of a puppet regime through fraud and intimidatio.(18) "The conduct and outcome of this election closed the last possible venue for the expression of legitimate dissent in Kashmir."(19) "The same boys who joined the insurgents in 1989 had been poll watchers during the 1987 elections-and then found the elections to be rigged."(20) Estimates of those killed in the fighting in Kashmir between 1990 and 2000 reach sixty thousand--more than U.S. fatalities in the entire Vietnam conflict.(21) (Bold is mine.)

(p. 27-28, Resisting Rebellion: The History and Politics of Counterinsurgency by Anthony James Joes)

War at the end of the 20th century has not collapsed and its cause(statism) is on the rise.

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War Has Not Collapsed

War at the end of the 20th century has not collapsed and its cause(statism) is on the rise.

It is my impression that Rob means the kind of war the world has seen since the beginning of recorded history; i.e., large armies meeting on a field of battle--as in WWI and II, Korea, and Vietnam. I didn't get the idea from what he has written that he means that people have ceased to slaughter each other.

As your citing stated, the the latest battles over Kashmir began with Indian independence. If you are familiar with the history of the area, the Muslims have fought other, older cultures in the area from the first incursions in the 13th century. If you look at the history of Islam, it is the same everywhere they went. It isn't said that Islam was spread by the sword for nothing, and they are still at it. What most people don't realize, or are just learning, is that the various sects in Islam have been slaughtering each other since the inception of the religion, especially after the death of Mohammad.

As for statism being on the rise, I would have to know how you are defining the term before I could comment. It is generally recognized that the trend is generally away from traditional statism (that is, it isn't just Rob who is making this statement). This doesn't mean that statism is dead, if you are talking about a certain level of government control and taxation. Compared to the old states, however, in many places people have more freedom than before.

It is important to keep the perspective of history in mind. Demurring to England, most countries in Europe, for instance, never enjoyed freedom if you are comparing them to America, but some country's citizens gained a measure of personal autonomy after WWII--under the protection and influence of America.

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I ought to add that I'm not trying to speak for Rob, but only stating how I interpreted what I read, and why.

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WAR REMAINS STATIC FOR 2006

2006 ANNUAL DEFENCE REPORT - MAJOR EVENTS AND TRENDS - ONE YEAR ON

The violence in southwest Asia (Iraq and Afghanistan) notwithstanding, the overall level of conflict in 2006 - on paper at least - remained static. The Ploughshares Monitor, for example, put the number of armed conflicts worldwide at 32 for 2006: the same figure as in 2005.Dropping off this ignominious list was Nepal, where the signing of a peace accord on 21 November between the government and the Maoist insurgents of the Communist Party of Nepal saw the end of a 10-year conflict that had claimed 13,000 lives

[Jane's Defence Weekly - first posted to http://jdw.janes.com - 08 December 2006]

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WAR REMAINS STATIC FOR 2006

2006 ANNUAL DEFENCE REPORT - MAJOR EVENTS AND TRENDS - ONE YEAR ON

The violence in southwest Asia (Iraq and Afghanistan) notwithstanding, the overall level of conflict in 2006 - on paper at least - remained static. The Ploughshares Monitor, for example, put the number of armed conflicts worldwide at 32 for 2006: the same figure as in 2005....

If this bolded headline, accompanied by the stated figures, is meant to support Rick's thesis of "War Has Not Collapsed," then I find those figures to be extremely misleading. When placed in historical context, the figures take on a different meaning. Here is a summary of The Ploughshares Monitor's figures of number of armed conflicts for the past decade.

1995 -- 44

1996 -- 40

1997 -- 37

1998 -- 36

1999 -- 40

2000 -- 40

2001 -- 37

2002 -- 37

2003 -- 36

2004 -- 32

2005 -- 32

Personally, I am not willing to take the sheer number of armed conflicts as a real indicator, but, since that was what has been offered, the trend shown for the past decade is clearly downward.

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[...] Personally, I am not willing to take the sheer number of armed conflicts as a real indicator [...]

Exactly. Does the entirety of World War I or II count as a single armed conflict? If so, there is obviously a huge problem with the method used for determining the level of conflicts. There are many orders of magnitudes difference between that, and say, some border skirmish that wounds 2 men.

Also, more fundamental than war is dictatorship; as Ayn Rand noted, it is the most controlled countries that start wars. North Korea may not have fought a war in decades, but as a terrible dictatorship, it represents a large scale suppression and destruction of human life. I am not sure why, statistically, that should count for less than war.

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WAR REMAINS STATIC FOR 2006

Rick,

I take it that you are trying to prove that, contrary to Rob Trackinski's claim, war is on the upswing in the world.

In answer, I repreat that Rob's conclusion was based on an essay I wrote for him in the November 5, 2005 issue of TIA Daily:

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."

We agree that statism is the cause of war. So how can it be that the number and scope of wars have collapsed over the past 15 - 20 years? How, when we live in a world in which, according to you, statism has not collapsed.

...War is the effect not the cause. If war has collapsed than its cause (statism) would also have had to collapse. There is enough evidence to show that this is not the case. If anyone can show me otherwise, I would love to see the evidence.

But statism DID collapse. It collapsed twice in the past 60 years.

The first time was the defeat of Nazi Germany and Empirial Japan in 1945 and that brought to an end a 40-year period in human history of ever increasing numbers of countries at war and ever more devistating wars--the general transformation of more and more of the planet into a battlefield that only took a pause in the 1920s and 30s while the world's worst political systems moved from aggressive mass-murdering dictatorship into genocidal totalitarian systems.

The end of the Axis threat stopped the progression of the world towards total war for all countries all the time. Wars thereafter took fewer than 10 million lives and none enveloped entire continents.

After a series of Communist revivals in the world during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, statism collapsed again in 1989 when the majority of the Polish people voted against the Communist party and the opposition took power...and the Czech's followed that by opening their border with West Germany, the East German government followed that by tearing down the Berlin Wall, and the Russians overcame two failed communist coups to followed that with the end of one party rule and the dissolution of the USSR.

The rapid collapse of Eastern European and Russian statism was followed (cause and effect) by the rapid collapse in the number and scope of wars throughout the world. Why? Because most of the wars were driven by Communist ideology and materially supported and organized by the USSR and its operatives in Eastern Europe.

And the dozen wars that stalled out? Most were Communist insurgencies that sought to prevent the development of representative government in a dozen countries in the world. When representative countries blossomed in these contested locations, they inspired the people of outher countries to establish more liberal government in their countries.

And more liberal government in the Third World led to increased trade with the First World and the West's industrial revolution swept into these nations as an immediate material proof of their life-giving choice...which encourage even more countries to go republican and open themselves to international trade.

That is what post-Cold-War explosion in international trade--Globilization--was all about. This is what made possible what I refer to as "The Empire of the Pursuit of Happiness."

Why these reductions [in the number and scope of war]? 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."

This is an empire policed by and inspired by, but not controlled by, the United States of America.

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."

In asserting that war has collapsed Rob Tracinski is writing about two big changes in world in the past 60 years: the period of reduced warfare following the defeat of the Axis powers in WW II and additional decrease in the scope of warfare following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Is an era of numerous, highly destructive wars going to return?

No, not if the rise of Islamic statism can be stopped.

Yes, if the rise of Islamo-fascism continues.

Which will happen? I don't have an answer to that question. What I can answer is that President Bush offered a modest but steady resistance to the rist of Islamo-fascism from September 2001 to February 2006...and since then he has offered little or no resistance.

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on Iran, the Bush Administration continously failed to come up with any policy to oppose Islamo-fascism. Nevertheless, during this period, Mr. Bush's policy had promise dispite its contradictions. However, failing to confront Iran's Mullahs during that period gave them the chance to maneuvre a radical leader into the head of their government in order to revive their Islamic Revolution and avoid a repeat of the slow, ideological death of communism in Russia in the 1970s and 80s.

Mr. Bush did not answer the revival of Islamism in Iran. He depended on the rise of republican government in Iraq for the answer. (Rob Tracinski and I did not agree with this policy, but in 2005 we directly criticized it only on occaision. Instead, Rob began to constantly harp that the conflict in Iraq was only one piece in a regional war with Iran.)

In the abscence of American action against Iran, Iran's proxies in Iraq--chiefly al Sadr's now splintered and multi-headed militia--took the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samara as their cue for the beginning of a chaotic militia-driven putsch against the American-sponsored republic in Baghdad. This putsch reached its somewhat anti-climatic climax last month with al Sadr's withdrawal from the Iraqi government.

If you think this inadequately opposed rise of statism in the Muslim World sets the stage for more wars and bigger wars, I agree.

.....

The Bush Administration decided to do little or nothing to oppose al Sadr's Shiite militia after agreeing to a truce at the end of the battle of Najaf and the Imam Ali Mosque in July 2004. This was not the policy recommended by Rob Tracinski at TIA.

The Bush Administration decided to do little or nothing to oppose the general secarian war launched by al Sadr's militia in February 2006. This was not the policy recommended by Rob Tracinski at TIA.

The Bush Administration dropped contingency plans to bomb Iran and decided to make itself available for nuclear disarmament talks with Iran. This was not the policy recommended by Rob Tracinski at TIA. (I recommended a naval and land blockade, and the bombing of Iran's oil refineries, pipelines, and oil terminals--to use Iran's oil weapon against it.)

The Bush Administration decided to provide only modest support for Israel in its war against Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon. This was not the policy recommended by Rob Tracinski at TIA.

The Bush Administration decided to do little to support the elected Seniora government of Lebanon in the face of Hezbollah threats to overthrow it. This was not the policy recommended by Rob Tracinski at TIA.

The Bush Administration decided to do nothing when North Korea tested a (partially-failed) atomic bomb. This was not the policy recommended by Rob Tracinski at TIA. (The proven existence of North Korean nuclear weapons requires the U.S. take military action against Iran before they purchase those weapons so as to deter North Korea from selling them.)

The Bush Administration decided to do nothing when Pakistan signed a separate peace with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their tribal Pashtun hosts in Wiziristan. This was not the policy recommended by Rob Tracinski at TIA.

From September 2001 to February 2006, the Bush Administration came up with modest and incremental policies to oppose Islamo-fascism by war and by political arrangement. Since then, the Bush Administration's foreign policy apparatus has totally stopped functioning and the Islamo-fascists of Iran have advanced with little or not opposition in Iraq, Lebanon. Gaza, and on the world stage. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have acquired a safe haven in the northwest territories of Pakistan and the Bush Administration has said not a word about it to General Musharraf.

When you critcize Rob Tracinski's views on foreign policy, it is not clear if you are criticizing the policies of Rob Tracinski or George Bush. Rob has not recommended that the Bush Administration stand motionless like a deer in the headlights for the past 10 months.

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Very interesting post, Jack.

When you critcize Rob Tracinski's views on foreign policy, it is not clear if you are criticizing the policies of Rob Tracinski or George Bush.

Perhaps it might be helpful if you could summarize Rob Tracinski's policies regarding the war post 9/11. Just broad strokes, to see to what degree Rick, myself, and others would agree or disagree.

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Very interesting post, Jack.

Perhaps it might be helpful if you could summarize Rob Tracinski's policies regarding the war post 9/11. Just broad strokes, to see to what degree Rick, myself, and others would agree or disagree.

I've argued extensively with you, Stephen, as well as others on war policy. Rob's views--suprise, suprise--are nearly identical to mine.

It would be good to lay them out when they were said and test them against the events in the world that followed. That, however, is not a small effort. I'll dig into it and put together an analysis.

The reason why I point out the differences between George Bush's policies and Rob's recommendations here is that things have changed in the White House over the past 10 months. They have changed quite a bit...and for the worse.

Since I agree so closely with Rob's views on the war, I owe it to myself to do an analysis of the wisdom of his policy recommendations (and mine) over the course of the war. Since things have turned south so badly in America's political support for the war and in the degree of presidential intiative (the lack thereof) the whole pattern of possible outcomes has shifted.

Did the policies Rob and I supported over the past 5 years cause this situation? Should they have been policies that could have survived this political situation? Or, are we blameless in our past views? These are questions I ask myself at night (and I've asked myself many times over the past 5 years). I won't have the answers this time until I set my thoughts down in print.

This is not to say, however, that I think that the proposal to drop nuclear weapons on hostile cities in the Muslim World added anything to the American political debate on the war.

My objection to the proposal is not that it is too far removed--to idealistic--for America's confused non-philosophical culture of mixed premises. The proposal would actually have been an grave historical evil in the world: the killing hundreds of thousands of people in a country with only an indirect and inspirational connection to those who had actually attacked America on 9/11. Given the nature of a nation's moral/political character, the fact of striking out unpredictably and with devistating effect against an enemy twice removed from an act of war perpetrated by another would have been...if it were actually possible in the constitution of this nation...nothing short of a moment of terrible collective insanity.

The use of force is moral when it is used in retaliation against those who have intiated the use of force. Claiming the right to retaliate for what happened in Tehran in 1979 and in Beirut in 1982 and in New York in 1993 and in Saudi Arabia in 1996--but only many, many years later when another enemy inspired by those evils attacked--that would be more than evil, it would be insane.

It could only be justified if the combination of semi-disconnected enemies had grown so great as a threat, we needed urgently to remove the greatest of the threats immediately. But this situation did not exist on 9/12. Iran was not busy plotting attacks against us at that moment. Its atomic program was not nearing completion.

In that context the only justification that could legitimately be called upon is the universal justification for toppling all dictators: that a free country can knock over a dictatorship at any time if it is going in in an attempt to replace tyrannical government with a free government...or at least a government that is significantly more liberal towards its own poeple and--consequently--more friendly towards our people.

That was, in fact, the justification for invading Iraq. An act that was sane and justified at the time--an an act that would draw the U.S. into direct conflict with Iran, a conflict that the non-philosohpical American people would have no intellectual disposition to consider pursuing unless the Mullahs of Tehran attacked our soldiers in Iraq (as they, in fact, have).

Baghdad was, and is, the cultural way into Tehran. It is the way in, in the American mind. When we finally win this particular conflict--and we will either in a sudden and bloody conflagration or after decades of delay and confusion in American and decades of internal unravelling and collapse in Iran--it will probably have been the way we got in.

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Perhaps it might be helpful if you could summarize Rob Tracinski's policies regarding the war post 9/11. Just broad strokes, to see to what degree Rick, myself, and others would agree or disagree.

I've argued extensively with you, Stephen, as well as others on war policy. Rob's views--suprise, suprise--are nearly identical to mine.

[...]

Did the policies Rob and I supported over the past 5 years cause this situation? Should they have been policies that could have survived this political situation? Or, are we blameless in our past views? These are questions I ask myself at night (and I've asked myself many times over the past 5 years). I won't have the answers this time until I set my thoughts down in print.

This is not to say, however, that I think that the proposal to drop nuclear weapons on hostile cities in the Muslim World added anything to the American political debate on the war.

The issue was never over whether to use nuclear or conventional weapons -- except to the extent the former might affect things that we may want, like oil -- but rather the issue was, and is, to obliterate our enemy.

My objection to the proposal is not that it is too far removed--to idealistic--for America's confused non-philosophical culture of mixed premises. The proposal would actually have been an grave historical evil in the world: the killing hundreds of thousands of people in a country with only an indirect and inspirational connection to those who had actually attacked America on 9/11.

Of all things that you might want to re-consider when you answer your own question ("Did the policies Rob and I supported over the past 5 years cause this situation?"), I would put your above objection at the top of the list.

Baghdad was, and is, the cultural way into Tehran.

What "culture" might that be? Based on all I've learned, that sure is not MY culture.

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When we describe "oughts" -- what *ought* to have been done, the answers can be quite different, depending on the context, and still be in agreement with each other.

For example, on 9/12, we *ought* to have swiftly and overwhelmingly destroyed all sources of state-sponsored Islamic terror... IF we had a principled leader who would correctly identify why we were choosing that course of action.

Instead, we have George Bush, and so what we *ought* to do -- GIVEN the philosphically cloudy nature of Bush's mental workings -- is something smaller and less ambitious, but nonetheless toward victory.

The one recommendation is correct from a big-picture standpoint, from the point of view of posterity, with the value of describing the best and most consistent course of action, considering ideal premises.

The other recommendation is correct from the standpoint of concrete policy advice, given a less-than-ideal starting point.

Both approaches have their proper place; it would be a waste of breath telling George Bush he should be John Galt, but perhaps he could be convinced to emulate Eddie Willers. On the other hand, it would be tragic if philosophers told today's and tomorrows thinkers that George Bush's policy is ideal.

I see less contrast than others have between the Tracinski/Wakeland recommendations on the one hand, and the John Lewis/Yaron Brook recommendations on the other. Tracinski speaks as a philosophically inclined journalist, with ideas that have a chance at being considered incrementally in the world-as-it-is. Lewis speaks as a philosopher/historian, laying out a blueprint for the long-term world-as-it-should-be.

Without specifying a context -- an intended *audience* -- of what "ought" to be done, such recommendations become meaningless.

We *should* have destroyed Iran in 1979.

No... 1951...

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"Claiming the right to retaliate for what happened in Tehran in 1979 and in Beirut in 1982 and in New York in 1993 and in Saudi Arabia in 1996--but only many, many years later when another enemy inspired by those evils attacked--that would be more than evil, it would be insane. " Jack Wakeland

I respectfully disagree, but I'd like to hear more about your reasons. How recent would an attack by Iran have to be to justify taking out the regime? Or, are you merely arguing that on 9/12/06 it would have been extremely difficult to justify to the American people taking military action against Iran on 9/13/06, particularly in the form of dropping atomic bombs on Tehran.

I don't know your age, but perhaps it's a matter of perspective. 1979 does not seem that long ago to me and 1993 was just yesterday in terms of the conflict in the Middle East.

Apart from the broad, philosophical justification you mention, what in your view would justify action against Iran? And, now, particularly since the nuclear program of Iran has been continued over the past year -- and appears ever closer to having a functional nuclear weapon -- do you now believe there is sufficient justification for military action?

Do you not think the bellicose statements of Ahmed-squiggle are to be taken seriously, ala those of Hitler in, say, 1936?

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Rick,

I take it that you are trying to prove that, contrary to Rob Trackinski's claim, war is on the upswing in the world.

For the moment, I am attempting to show the contradictions that are present when considering the claim: 'War collapsed when the Soviet Union collapsed'. That clearly is not the case. The TIA Daily this week even alluded to this point when commenting on the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy.

Because of time constraints, I do not have time to comment more. I am checking in periodically to stay on top of the debates. When I have more time, I will expand on my thoughts and reengage.

Thank you for addressing some of these issues. It gives me more information to think about.

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"Claiming the right to retaliate for what happened in Tehran in 1979 and in Beirut in 1982 and in New York in 1993 and in Saudi Arabia in 1996--but only many, many years later when another enemy inspired by those evils attacked--that would be more than evil, it would be insane. " Jack Wakeland

I respectfully disagree, but I'd like to hear more about your reasons. How recent would an attack by Iran have to be to justify taking out the regime? Or, are you merely arguing that on 9/12/06 it would have been extremely difficult to justify to the American people taking military action against Iran on 9/13/06, particularly in the form of dropping atomic bombs on Tehran.

I don't know your age, but perhaps it's a matter of perspective. 1979 does not seem that long ago to me and 1993 was just yesterday in terms of the conflict in the Middle East.

Apart from the broad, philosophical justification you mention, what in your view would justify action against Iran? And, now, particularly since the nuclear program of Iran has been continued over the past year -- and appears ever closer to having a functional nuclear weapon -- do you now believe there is sufficient justification for military action?

Do you not think the bellicose statements of Ahmed-squiggle are to be taken seriously, ala those of Hitler in, say, 1936?

I would re-iterate that as an essentiall free country, the United States has the right to remove any dictatorship from power in any country in the world at any time, if our purpose is to liberate the people of that country. That liberation must, if is not to be an act of American self-sacrifice, be required to secure the physical safety and security of the American people.

When I commented that it would have been insane to nuke Tehran on 9/12, that is because such a strike would have been a punative war. Its purpose would not be to remove a regime (the regime of the Mullahs would probably survive a single nuclear strike from the blue). Thus, the question is, the raid would be in punishmnet for what?

Iran has committed acts of war many times against the United States, but the proximity of those attacks on 2001 is distant. Why didn't the U.S. strike back in 1979? Why not in 1982? Why not in 1993 (If I remember it corectly, the blind shiek who engineered the bombing of the World Trace Center was a Sunni and his followers were a post Muslim Brotherhood, pre-al-Qaeda cell...but they got money from Iran)? Why not to in 1996 (after the Kohbar Towers bombing...also a pre-al Qaeda Sunni cell assisted by Iran)?

We had the means and more than adequate justification in 1979, 1982, and in the 1990s. A punishing raid would not have injured American interests in the region vis-a-vis our Cold War standoff with the USSR one iota. Raids would have enhanced our nation's position against the USSR and among Arab friends and enemies.

I was 19 years old when the hostages were taken and 20 when they were released. Those were the years, my sophomore and junior years in engineering school, that I read The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and We the Living and all of Ayn Rand's non-fiction books that were available at the time. I was ordered to register for the draft and I didn't want to go to Iran, rifle in hand, walking the rocky hills, shooting and being shot at. But I assumed that would be my fate--conscripted to go fight in Iran. I didn't like it. I was a free man and I, as interested as I was in the history of soldiering, I was not athletic and I didn't like fighting (few guys do). I wanted to be an engineer. I loved...and still love...working on power plants (which is where I am writing this note from right now).

Conscripted to join the invasion of Iran? It never happened.

It was a great relief to me, personnally. But I know that America should have gone to war, not merely with a punishing raid, but with a full invasion and occupation of a hostile country. It was so clear to me that we needed to, that I found it hard to explain it to other people.

When Ronald Reagan took office, he accepted the release of the hostages and let the whole thing die. He even returned the several billions in Iranian assets that had been frozen during the hostage standoff. That was a great dissappointment to me. I did not vote for Mr. Reagan in 1980, but I expected more of him. (I was not to be dissappointed with the overall effect of his foreign policy by the end of his terms in office.)

If Jimmy Carter--a true altruist, through and through--wouldn't retaliate at the beginning of the crime against the U.S. diplomatic mission in Iran, at least Ronald Reagan could do it at the end. But he didn't. And the moment was lost....It is too late to do it now.

As an adult I cannot go hunting the taverns looking for a bully who used to beat me up in grade school and when I find him, pay him back criminally with my fists and feet...or in a civilized, not criminal manner, pay him back with a court summons. Beyond the obvious and basic moral and legal issues under the rule of law, I can't do it because having failed to exercise my right of retaliation in a timely manner, I lose it. Under the law I must fight on the spot in self defense or hand the issue over to the courts and the police. And legally, I lose the right to complain to authorities if I haven't bothered to so in a timely manner. This is the idea behind the statute of limitations.

There is no statute of limitations on kidnapping and false imprisonment and there is no statute of limitations on murder--crimes of which the Iranian regime and the majority of the Iranian people, are guilty. And in the international areana there is no rule of law. There is only the rule of bruit foce and intimidation...a veneer of the rule of law exists only because of the extent to which free countries like the U.S., Great Britian, and other Western and Westernized countries police the high seas and the aggressive activities of their neighbors and militarily dominate the world.

But even without the rule of law, the idea of a statue of limitations exists. Old international quarrels do and should die of old age and the nations of the world should change and move on and into new relationships. America's current relationship with Vietnam is a case in point. Foreign policy should be about what kind of world this country should live in, in the future and that future is based on a rational assessment of the present character and purposes of the nations and men with whom our government deals.

Character is about what happened in the distant past only if character has not--as is the case with Iran--changed. Wars can be started based only the character, the nature, of a country--as in the case of a war of liberation or in the case of a pre-emptive war. But one cannot start a retaliatory war based on an act of aggression that is decades old, not in a world in which so much happens in a every single decade.

Making war on Iran must be justified on the basis of what we can rationally project they will do in the future--based on the character of the country, as revealed by its unbroken history of criminal acts against Americans (and against other non-Muslism) over its entire lifeaspan and based on the assessment that its evil, which had been just turned a corner and had materially begun to fade, has--under 16 months of Ahmadinejad's leadership--been renewed.

(Yes, by 2001, Iran's evil character was just beginning to markedly fade. After 9/11, there were a number of dramatic public memorials for the Americans lost in ruble of the World Trade Center--one of which was a moment of silence, scrupulously observed by a crowd of 100,000 people, in Tehran's soccer stadium. Dissent against the regime--which hid itself in plain sight among Iran's soccer fans in the late '90s--reached its climax in the week following 9/11.)

Making war on Iran must be justified:

1. on the need to reverse Iran's success over the past year in collapsing the American-sponsored government of Iraq in order to create a giant terrorist safe haven,

2. on the basis of a pre-emptive stirke to kill a murdering country that has just renewed its vows to murder all infidels and inspire and assist any terrorist group willing to murder non-Muslims,

3. on the basis of a pre-emptive act of the defense of innocents that would strike them while they draw themselves up to strike northern Lebanon and all of Israel,

4. on the basis of retaliation for that nation's complicity in the killing in unlawful warfare of hundreds of American troops in Iraq, and

5. on the basis of liberating the minority of the people of Iran who are dissenters and who may help us fight against Muslim terrorism.

If you want war with Iran today (and I know we all do), you should write a letter each week either to your congressman, your senator, or your local newspaper editor arguing for this five-fold justification for war. You should write and argue that the first two of these justifications compell us to make war as soon as it is practical to start it, in order to defend ourselves against a clear and present danger to the security of our nation and the lives of our contrymen.

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Jack,

You have left out the most important reason for militarily neutralizing Iran as an enemy: its development of the nuclear bomb. A nuclear bomb in the hands of Ahmadinejad and his fellow henchmen can only be used to terrorize and/or nuke a major Western city such as Jerusalem, London, Washington or New York (where I happen to live).

When a dictator says his goal is wipe out a race of people or a country, we have to take him at his word and eliminate the threat, promptly, before it can be realized. Hitler, for example, clearly laid out his plan for global domination and racial supremacy in Mein Kampf and numerous speeches. The world didn't listen and the result was World War II.

As for the idea of a statute of limitations applying to countries, it doesn't. It only applies to individuals. And if there were anything resembling a statute of limitations, it would only apply if a country changed its government itself and ceased being a threat to America and the free world. That is clearly not the case with Iran.

All of the reasons you cite for taking on Iran are true, but they are not as important as their development of the nuclear bomb. That is the only thing that makes Iran a serious military threat to the safety of Americans on our soil. Of course, Iran's support of terrorism, aid to those who attack our troops in Iraq, funding of madrassah schools, and "Sword of Damocles" threat to our oil supplies in the Mideast, are also all valid reasons for taking on Iran, now.

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Jack, you say: "...the United States has the right to remove any dictatorship from power in any country in the world at any time, if our purpose is to liberate the people of that country."

Are you saying that the liberation of a population is *integral* to securing our freedom, and thus we have this right? Or, to ask from another angle: do you believe the US has the right to remove a dictatorship from power if doing so *doesn't* "liberate" its people. E.g., annhililating a country's infrastructure and ability to make war, without regard to the fate of its citizens?

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Or, to ask from another angle: do you believe the US has the right to remove a dictatorship from power if doing so *doesn't* "liberate" its people. E.g., annhililating a country's infrastructure and ability to make war, without regard to the fate of its citizens?

I'm glad you brought this question up as it one that I have wondered about for some time. Here is a relevant passage from an article titled Check Your Premises: Collectivized "Rights", The Objectivist Newsletter, Vol. 2, No. 6, June, 1963.

Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave-pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent "rights" of gang-rulers. It is not a free nation's duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses.

This right, however, is conditional. Just as the suppression of crimes does not give a policeman the right to engage in criminal activities, so the invasion and destruction of a dictatorship does not give the invader the right to establish another variant of a slave-society in the conquered country. A slave-country has no national rights, but the individual rights of its citizens remain valid, even if unrecognized, and the conqueror has no right to violate them. Therefore, the invasion of an enslaved country is morally justified only when and if the conquerors establish a free social system, that is, a system based on the recognition of individual rights.

(Bold added.)

If the context of the above remarks includes war, then what do you do with a conquered country whose culture is so bad that it cannot sustain freedom? If we attack a country to remove a threat we do so in our self-interest, but does that retaliation obligate us to do whatever it takes to establish a free social system?

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I'd bet all my odd-numbered neurons that Rand is not advocating liberation as self-sacrifice.

My guess is that the above statements refers only to invasion and occupation per se, as contrasted with simply defensive (including preventative) military action, such as bombing. In other words: you are not obligated to rehabilitate an enemy country, but IF you invade it and set up your own system, your new system cannot enslave the citizens.

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