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InvisibleAutonomous
MysteriousStranger

Registered: 05/10/02
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Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles
    #1960089 - 09/28/03 05:43 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)



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"In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination."
-- Mark Twain


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Anonymous

Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Autonomous]
    #1960177 - 09/28/03 06:13 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

:thumbup:  some very good points.


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Anonymous

Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Autonomous]
    #1961311 - 09/29/03 12:04 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

did anyone else take the time to read this?

it certainly raises some good points. the idea that killing any non-combatants in warfare is contrary to libertarian theory is something that seems obvious now, but which had eluded me before...

what do you think about this?

did we not initiate force against thousands of afghani and iraqi civilians?


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InvisibleAutonomous
MysteriousStranger

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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: ]
    #1961395 - 09/29/03 12:29 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

I am curious to get Pinksharkmark's opinion on this line of reasoning. Yes, the U.S. did initiate force against thousands of Afghani and Iraqi civilians.



--------------------
"In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination."
-- Mark Twain


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Autonomous]
    #1962797 - 09/29/03 03:16 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Autonomous writes:

Yes, the U.S. did initiate force against thousands of Afghani and Iraqi civilians.

Incorrect. The US directed force against Afghani and Iraqi combatants. Some civilians got caught in the crossfire. This has happened in pretty much every war since opposing forces stopped riding out to some vacant field far from habitation and charging each other in pre-arranged setpiece battles.

I am curious to get Pinksharkmark's opinion on this line of reasoning.

I've read this before... several times over the years in fact. Hell, it was probably three decades ago I read it for the first time, and the flaws in his reasoning were as apparent then as they are today. But I did re-read it carefully again before composing the following reply in order to refresh my memory.

Before I address Rothbard's arguments, let me repeat (for the umpteenth time in this forum) that even at this late date I personally remain unconvinced it was correct for the US, UK, Spain, Australia, Italy et al to depose by military force the Ba'athist regime of Iraq at the time they did. My reasons for holding this position are similar in many ways to many of Rothbard's points. I will go further and repeat my statements (also on record in previous posts in this forum) that I remain unconvinced it was correct for the US to participate in the invasion of Hitler's Europe, for the same reasons Rothbard would logically have to oppose it. Now on to Rothbard's essay:

Rothbard was one of the most thoughtful and intelligent of Libertarian writers. However, he does have his blind spots. He has been correctly accused of the cardinal sin of "ignoring context". Other Libertarians have also pointed out his refusal to consider situations which fall under the heading of "the ethics of emergencies". To Rothbard, "emergency" was an invalid concept. For the moment, let's set aside how ethics of emergencies may differ from everyday ethics, and instead concentrate on context.

For example, envision a hostage situation wherein the rescuers are convinced the hostage takers will certainly kill hostages when their "deadline" is reached . If no action is taken, people will die. Yet the act of freeing the hostages (innocent bystanders by Rothbard's own definition) results in the deaths of some of the hostages. Are the rescuers guilty of initiating force against innocents? No. Force was initiated by the hostage takers -- all the rescuers did was retaliate. The fact that said retaliation resulted in the deaths of some of the hostages does not make the actions taken by the rescuers immoral. Those deaths must rightfully be laid at the feet of the hostage takers.

As a real-life example of the above hypothetical, consider Auschwitz. Many Jews, including inmates of Auschwitz itself, pleaded for the Allies to bomb the camps, knowing full well it would result in the deaths of thousands of innocents. Their argument was that by the time the Allies would be in a position to liberate the camps in such a manner that not a single inmate would die from "friendly fire", millions more would have died through the normal day to day operations of the camps. If the Allies had in fact bombed the camps out of existence, who would be to blame for the deaths of the inmates -- the Allies? Guess again. Another real-life example would be the use of "human shields" around critical military sites, and on military troop trains and supply trains. I'm sure the readers can come up with many more.

Rothbard's fundamental error is to ignore the context of a given scenario and instead assign the moral blame to the one who last used force rather than to the one who created the situation in which the use of force is the only way to save innocent lives -- he blames the one who ends the emergency rather than the one who began it. He has a hard time differentiating justifiable retaliation from unjustifiable initiation. Even small children understand the concept of "He started it!" Who was it who put innocents "in harm's way" in the first place: the SWAT team or the hostage takers?

His points on "morally acceptable weaponry" need work as well. Following Rothbard's logic, not only must any use of nuclear bombs be forbidden, but also the use of artillery, machine guns, and for that matter any projectile weapon, even bows and arrows and spears. Does Rothbard seriously believe that in the history of warfare no non-combatant has ever died from a "friendly fire" arrow or crossbow bolt or spear? We would be reduced to defending ourselves from aggressors who possessed projectile weaponry by wielding knives, swords, and cudgels. Oh, and possibly through the use of a guaranteed-nonlethal knockout gas and phasers on "stun", if and when such weapons are ever developed.

But even the nuclear prohibition fails us in certain scenarios. Envision an aggressor's hardened missile launch facility located in a city, or beneath an extermination camp such as Auschwitz. The only available weapon capable of destroying this site is a "bunker buster" nuke. The aggressor is firing off missiles from this site which are wiping out city after city, yet those being attacked must not destroy the site because some non-combatants living near it may be killed? We are allowed to put it out of operation using only edged weapons and clubs? Murray, please!

Most of his other points cannot be disputed -- for example, his take on conscription. And seizing money from others by force (taxation) -- even to fund military -- is also wrong. But if there were a situation wherein a State funded an all-volunteer military through voluntary contributions, Rothbard's points addressing the violation of the rights of the populace of that State (through the mere use of said military) become invalid.

Now, before some of the forum's doves jump in here trying to dismiss my points by giving examples where goatherds far from military sites were strafed during recent conflicts, let us all remember that in this thread we are speaking of principles, not of the occasional deviation from principle which may have occurred during past conflicts. The fact that individual pilots or troops (or even politicians and generals) may occasionally have deviated from these principles does not automatically invalidate the principle that humans are morally allowed to defend themselves and others, even if in certain specific instances it puts non-combatants at risk. Please also note I am not even saying the war in Iraq was an example of self-defense.

All I am saying is that if Rothbard's tenets are adhered to scrupulously, any aggressor with enough smarts to use hostages intelligently becomes to all intents and purposes invincible.

pinky


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Anonymous

Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Phred]
    #1962814 - 09/29/03 03:21 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

yeah... that does sound about right...


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InvisibleAutonomous
MysteriousStranger

Registered: 05/10/02
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Phred]
    #1963264 - 09/29/03 05:51 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Quote:

pinksharkmark said:
Autonomous writes:

Yes, the U.S. did initiate force against thousands of Afghani and Iraqi civilians.

Incorrect. The US directed force against Afghani and Iraqi combatants. Some civilians got caught in the crossfire...



Sorry, you are wrong. Let's take Iraq. Did Iraq attack the U.S.? Answer: No. Did Iraq posses any ICBM's capable of targeting the U.S.? Answer: No. Did the U.S. initiate the actions against Iraq? Answer: Yes. It is irrelevant whether or not the U.S. was 'targeting' alledged Iraqi combatants (until the U.S. initiated hostilities, the Iraqi's were not yet combatants). The questions of Afghanistan can be answered the same. The slippery slope of your line of reasoning seems to lead one to the conclusion that it would be permissible to kill every last human on earth if it would serve to kill 'the bad guys.' One can rationalize until the cows come home to soothe his conscience, it is still initiation of force.


--------------------
"In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination."
-- Mark Twain


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Autonomous]
    #1963483 - 09/29/03 07:07 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Autonomous writes:

Sorry, you are wrong. Let's take Iraq. Did Iraq attack the U.S.? Answer: No. Did Iraq posses any ICBM's capable of targeting the U.S.? Answer: No. Did the U.S. initiate the actions against Iraq? Answer: Yes.

Is it your position that is immoral for people to come to the aid of others? That only the victim himself and no other may defend himself? That would invalidate the entire concept of police and courts, or even of ad hoc posses. It also invalidates a husband defending his wife or child.

Or is your objection that a State military funded by taxpayers may not come to the aid of other countries?

What part of this statement of mine do you find incorrect? -- The fact that individual pilots or troops (or even politicians and generals) may occasionally have deviated from these principles does not automatically invalidate the principle that humans are morally allowed to defend themselves and others, even if in certain specific instances it puts non-combatants at risk.

It is irrelevant whether or not the U.S. was 'targeting' alledged Iraqi combatants (until the U.S. initiated hostilities, the Iraqi's were not yet combatants).

Then call them hostage-takers if the terms seems more appropriate. The Ba'athist regime had no legitimacy. The Iraqi populace was held captive by Hussein and his thugs. They had tried on numerous occasions to overthrow him, and failed. It must be remembered that if Hussein had stepped down and arranged free elections, there would have been no invasion.

The questions of Afghanistan can be answered the same.

Again it must be remembered that if the Taliban had handed over bin Laden and his henchmen, there would have been no invasion. Or even if they had stood aside and let the coalition forces search for them unimpeded.

The slippery slope of your line of reasoning seems to lead one to the conclusion that it would be permissible to kill every last human on earth if it would serve to kill 'the bad guys.'

Only if every last human on earth had initiated the use of force. And even then it's not necessary to kill them all -- depending on the degree of force they had initiated, imprisonment or cutting off a hand or foot or even a simple flogging might do the trick. Depends what the people of the society feel most appropriate.

One can rationalize until the cows come home to soothe his conscience, it is still initiation of force.

You deliberately misrepresent my position. Either that or you are making the same error Rothbard does when he fails to distinguish between retaliation and initiation.

pinky


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InvisibleinfidelGOD
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Phred]
    #1964799 - 09/30/03 02:35 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Either that or you are making the same error Rothbard does when he fails to distinguish between retaliation and initiation

so are you saying that the US "retaliated" against Iraq because the "Iraqi populace was held captive by Hussein and his thugs"?

explain to me how that works.

and the way I perceived it, the essay by Rothbard was a statement of principle rather than actual policy. a typical idealogue, to be sure, but I see nothing wrong with his reasoning. he's saying that from a libertarian standpoint, modern warfare is fundamentally wrong.

it doesn't matter who initiates the violence. just pointing and saying "he started it" doesn't free you to initiate force against third parties, especially if the moral reason for initiating force is to protect that third party.

Then call them hostage-takers if the terms seems more appropriate. The Ba'athist regime had no legitimacy

not a good comparison. were they threatening to kill all their hostages? were the Iraqi people in imminent danger of death? I see what you're saying about the ethics of emergencies, but I don't see how it applies here.

It must be remembered that if Hussein had stepped down and arranged free elections, there would have been no invasion

speaking of hostages,
hostage takers will often say something similar like: "if you don't meet our demands, these deaths will be on your hands"


there were many reasons given for the war, but the one that has been settled on seems to be a war of liberation. we went over there, at great cost to ourselves, to liberate them from their oppressors, we decided that they were incapable of doing this, so we did it for them. how does this jibe with the libertarian concepts of self determination and free will? what about personal responsibility? does it not apply to Iraqis?



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OfflinePhred
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: infidelGOD]
    #1965335 - 09/30/03 10:00 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

infidelGOD writes:

so are you saying that the US "retaliated" against Iraq because the "Iraqi populace was held captive by Hussein and his thugs"?
explain to me how that works.


Sigh. Please re-read my comments to Autonomous: Is it your position that is immoral for people to come to the aid of others? That only the victim himself and no other may defend himself? That would invalidate the entire concept of police and courts, or even of ad hoc posses. It also invalidates a husband defending his wife or child.

As for the motives behind the decision, the stated motives were many. Which of them held the most weight? Who knows? We are not discussing the "why" of it, we are discussing the principle involved -- do people have the right to defend themselves and others from those who initiate force against them? Hussein seized power by force, initiated two invasions of neighboring countries by force, controlled the Iraqi populace by force, resisted being removed from power by force. If people have no such right (to defence), then clearly it was incorrect for Hussein to be deposed by anyone other than a single Iraqi who had once been tortured or imprisoned by Hussein acting all by himself. By the same token, if people have no such right, then it is incorrect for a neighbor (or even you) to protect your wife from assault by a rapist. She must handle the situation alone. In principle, there is no difference.

and the way I perceived it, the essay by Rothbard was a statement of principle rather than actual policy. a typical idealogue, to be sure, but I see nothing wrong with his reasoning. he's saying that from a libertarian standpoint, modern warfare is fundamentally wrong.

I pointed out what was wrong with his reasoning. By his reasoning, one may not only initiate wars, one may not fight in wars at all, because there is no way with modern weaponry to ensure the safety of non-combatants. As I said, he makes no differentiation between the initiation of force and the retaliation to it. By his reasoning, not only was the Allied invasion of Hitler's Europe wrong, but even the Russian's resistance to Hitler's invasion of Russia itself was wrong, since there were certainly Russian non-combatants killed by Russian friendly fire. To Rothbard, this is forbidden.

t doesn't matter who initiates the violence. just pointing and saying "he started it" doesn't free you to initiate force against third parties, especially if the moral reason for initiating force is to protect that third party.

Again, you confuse initiation with retaliation. Your above statement invalidates SWAT rescue teams, for example.

not a good comparison. were they threatening to kill all their hostages? were the Iraqi people in imminent danger of death?

At least 300,000 to 450,000 of them (according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International) were not only threatened with death, they were killed. Was every single Iraqi in danger of being executed simultaneously? Nope. Could any single Iraqi have been killed at any time on the whim of Hussein or his henchmen? Of course.

speaking of hostages,
hostage takers will often say something similar like: "if you don't meet our demands, these deaths will be on your hands"


And of course, this statement is false. The deaths are always at the hands of the hostage takers.

there were many reasons given for the war, but the one that has been settled on seems to be a war of liberation. we went over there, at great cost to ourselves, to liberate them from their oppressors, we decided that they were incapable of doing this, so we did it for them. how does this jibe with the libertarian concepts of self determination and free will?

Although one has the right to assist others, Libertarian principles do not say one has the obligation to do so. The US, UK, Spain, Australia, Italy et al could have done the same as the rest of the world and let the Iraqis continue to be murdered, just as a wealthy individual can choose to either buy a homeless man a meal or walk on by, or an armed pedestrian can choose to walk on by a crippled young girl being raped. The principle is identical.

what about personal responsibility? does it not apply to Iraqis?

Of course it does. The Iraqis had no claim on the assistance of other nations. They had the right to persuade others to come to their assistance, but no right to force others to do so. If no one had bothered to help them, they would have had to endure the situation.

pinky


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OfflineEchoVortex
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Phred]
    #1965513 - 09/30/03 11:33 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Is it your position that is immoral for people to come to the aid of others? That only the victim himself and no other may defend himself? That would invalidate the entire concept of police and courts, or even of ad hoc posses. It also invalidates a husband defending his wife or child.

While it is not immoral to come to the aid of others, in order for that "aid" to be legitimate it must be either be specifically requested or, at the very least, implicitly desired. For that aid to be moral, it must come in a form accepted by the party being aided, without any hidden strings attached.

While it is self-evident that the Iraqi people wanted to be freed from Saddam Hussein, it is by no means evident that they wanted that assistance in the form of a full-scale invasion and occupation by the United States. The United States had (and still has) no proof that the people of Iraq preferred an American invasion and occupation to other forms of assistance. And it is certainly self-evident that the Iraqi people do NOT want the contracts for rebuilding their infrastructure being given away as gifts to cronies of the Bush administration. The contract for building Iraq's wireless phone infrastructure, for example, was given to MCI, a company that was implicated in recent accounting scandals and, furthermore, has no experience in building wireless networks. What's more, if the United States remains in Iraq one second longer than the Iraqi people want them to, they have, in principle, initiated force. (I'm waiting with bated breath for pinky to come up with that crude, unscientific "poll" that was taken claiming to show that Iraqis support a continued US presence).

The United States had no proof that invasion and occupation was the specific form of assistance that the majority of the Iraqi people desired. In the absence of such a mandate, the use of force that kills innocent civilians is immoral.

BTW, it's very refreshing to see other Libertarians taking pinky to task for his selective application of "principles."


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1965557 - 09/30/03 11:58 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Lets not just blame Bush for these homicidal wars of aggression tho - remember the Federated Islands of Micronesia were in this up to their necks too  :laugh:



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InvisibleinfidelGOD
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Phred]
    #1965559 - 09/30/03 11:59 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

If people have no such right (to defence), then clearly it was incorrect for Hussein to be deposed by anyone other than a single Iraqi who had once been tortured or imprisoned by Hussein acting all by himself.

where did I say people have no right to defense? you can defend yourself (self-defense), defend a neighbor or family member from imminent harm, or band together and fight against a common threat, but where do you get the idea that "defense" also includes one sovereign nation invading another nation half way around the world in order to free a people who never asked for it, and won't even appreciate it?

By the same token, if people have no such right, then it is incorrect for a neighbor (or even you) to protect your wife from assault by a rapist. She must handle the situation alone. In principle, there is no difference.

no. in principle, they are not the same and I don't quite get why you're bringing up this example. it's an emotional appeal that has no relavence to the discussion. I think you missed the point of the essay by Rothbard. the point was not that you can't defend someone else, or initiate force on behalf of someone else, the point was that you cannot initiate force against innocent civilians. am I harming innocents when I defend a woman against a rapist? no. using that example, lets say that a rapist is on the loose and threatening to strike again. do I have the right to kill innocent civilians in order to catch the rapist and defend his next potential victim?

I pointed out what was wrong with his reasoning. By his reasoning, one may not only initiate wars, one may not fight in wars at all

yeah imagine that. he must be completely nuts.

so what's wrong with that reasoning? no one said it was practical, but where is the logical flaw? like I said, it is simply a statement of principle... not a practical policy. I don't agree with all of it. I think civilian casualties are acceptable when you're fighting a war in self defense which, in my opinion, is the only legitimate reason to fight a war.

Again, you confuse initiation with retaliation. Your above statement invalidates SWAT rescue teams, for example.

not at all. a SWAT team doesn't initiate force against third parties. they don't go around killing innocent civilians in order to catch criminals. now, in a hostage situation, a SWAT team is only sent in as a last resort when the hostages are in imminent danger, for example, when the hostage takers start executing hostages. they are NOT sent in when there is a chance at a peaceful solution. when they do go in, their job is to neutralize the hostage takers without harming any of the hostages, and they are able to do that because they are not using bombs. and in those cases where their actions can lead to civilian casualties, I think it falls under the "ethics of emergencies", where the sacrifice of one hostage in order to save ten is morally acceptable. however, this only applies when there is an actual emergency, like if the hostages are being systematically executed.

and btw, the United States isn't the world's SWAT team. no one asked us to be one and we can't afford it.

At least 300,000 to 450,000 of them (according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International) were not only threatened with death, they were killed. Was every single Iraqi in danger of being executed simultaneously? Nope. Could any single Iraqi have been killed at any time on the whim of Hussein or his henchmen? Of course

people who were deemed enemies of the state were silenced by Saddam Hussein. that's the way it works in every dictatorship, however, the Iraqi population at large wasn't in any imminent danger of death. there weren't random explosions going off across the coutry as is the case now. in fact, you can say that the average Iraqi is in more danger now, after the "liberation". being in the wrong place at the wrong time, making a wrong turn or missing a checkpoint can get them killed. the nature of the violence is more random and has less to do with their political views or ethnicity but the Iraqis aren't any safer now. the country is in chaos and it will be a long time before they can feel safe again.

and how many of the 300,000 - 450,000 Iraqis were killed in the months leading to the war? you suggested that this war falls under the ethics of emergencies. so what was the emergency that required our intervention at this time? didn't most of those deaths occur in the early 90's/late 80's? we sure took our sweet time to "retaliate" didn't we?

The US, UK, Spain, Australia, Italy et al could have done the same as the rest of the world and let the Iraqis continue to be murdered, just as a wealthy individual can choose to either buy a homeless man a meal or walk on by, or an armed pedestrian can choose to walk on by a crippled young girl being raped. The principle is identical.

a "crippled young girl being raped"? well, how can I argue with that! there's really no need for these emotional arguments, especially ones as flawed. the principle is not identical here. again you're ignoring the innocent civilian aspect, which was the whole point of the Rothbard essay. the question is "will I be harming innocent civilians in the course of defending that crippled little girl? or when I buy the homeless man a meal?" if I had a gun, I would certainly use it to defend that girl, but suppose that the only weapon I had was a 1000 pound bomb. using it would stop the crime but kill a few innocent civilians in the process. do I have a right to use it to satisfy my morality?

we have no right to put innocent lives in danger, except in self defense, or in true emergencies. we are not the world's policeman, and we can't go around fighting moral wars because that's a recipe for perpetual war. there will always be people being oppressed by their governments.

the fact is, we initiated force against Iraq, almost everyone here agrees on at least that much. for you to claim that we were merely "retaliating" against them is just absurd.



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InvisibleinfidelGOD
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1965587 - 09/30/03 12:13 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

I'm not a libertarian, but I'm increasingly interested in libertarian thought. they have a healthy distrust of the government and a grounded moral philosophy. and I've found out recently that most libertarians were strongly opposed to the war. here are some articles by libertarian authors opposing the war. very interesting.

it seems to me that libertarianism is what conservative ideology used to be - self-determination, personal responsibility, limited government. and conservatives are now left with an idealogy consisting of militarism and corporate enrichment.


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OfflineEchoVortex
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Princi [Re: infidelGOD]
    #1965638 - 09/30/03 12:35 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Libertarianism certainly has some attractive features. I'd have to say I probably agree with large swathes of it in principle. My only problem is with the quasi-sacred status it attaches to property rights, without recognizing that systems of extended or abstract property (currencies, bank accounts, corporate equity, securities, etc.--anything that exceeds what the individual can physically use and possess) are actually socially constructed.

So, in principle it has some very attractive features, but I also have serious misgivings about its real-world practicability. I've stated repeatedly that I would be more than willing to witness an experimental libertarian community/state in action and reserve final judgment until then, but alas, none of the libertarians I've encountered have been willing to put their money where their mouths are and actually give up the safety net of their Statist homelands.


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Invisibleluvdemshrooms
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Xlea321]
    #1966212 - 09/30/03 03:42 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

You forgot to add the Solomon Islands.  :wink:


--------------------
You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. ~ Adrian Rogers


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1967516 - 09/30/03 10:26 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

EchoVortex writes:

While it is self-evident that the Iraqi people wanted to be freed from Saddam Hussein, it is by no means evident that they wanted that assistance in the form of a full-scale invasion and occupation by the United States.

We are all aware that there were more involved in the enslavement of the Iraqi people than a single man. How were they to be freed from Hussein, his sons, his henchmen, and Ba'athist loyalists short of a full-scale invasion? It must be noted that even after the full-scale invasion, Hussein himself remains unaccounted for.

As for the continuing occupation of Iraq, that is a separate issue entirely, and not germane to Rothbard's points. I was responding to Autonomous's allegation that the US and its allies initiated force against the Iraqi people. They did not. They used retaliatory force against the Ba'athist regime. Civilians died -- some from US weaponry, some from Ba'athist weaponry.

And it is certainly self-evident that the Iraqi people do NOT want the contracts for rebuilding their infrastructure... blah blah blah...

Again, two separate issues. Note that no civilians are being killed by the signing of contracts.

The United States had no proof that invasion and occupation was the specific form of assistance that the majority of the Iraqi people desired.

Ah. Why stop at "the majority"? Why not demand unanimous consent, as Rothbard does? Leaving aside the obvious difficulty in obtaining an accurate poll in a totalitarian State (where it was routine for people even suspected of disloyalty to disappear) of those who wished assistance in overthrowing the ruling regime, what if only 49.5% of Iraqis wanted assistance? Out of luck?

Need I point out yet again that the number of adherents of a proposition does not determine its validity?

In the absence of such a mandate, the use of force that kills innocent civilians is immoral.

No one is arguing that the initiation of force by the Ba'athist regime which killed hundreds of thousands of innocents was moral. We are trying to determine whether the retaliatory use of force to stop routine murder is morally wrong if innocent bystanders are killed in the process -- in other words, is the moral blame for their deaths to be laid at the feet of the rescuers or at the feet of those who created a situation wherein there were people in need of rescue.

pinky


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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Princi [Re: infidelGOD]
    #1967896 - 10/01/03 12:12 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

infidelGOD writes:

where did I say people have no right to defense? you can defend yourself (self-defense), defend a neighbor or family member from imminent harm, or band together and fight against a common threat, but where do you get the idea that "defense" also includes one sovereign nation invading another nation half way around the world in order to free a people who never asked for it, and won't even appreciate it?

I was addressing Rothbard's points. To Rothbard, the very concept of a State is an invalid one. He sees no difference between an action on one piece of land and an action on another. If it is right for a Canadian to defend another Canadian, it is equally right for a Canadian to defend a Mexican.

And although it is not relevant to the principle under discussion, Iraqis did ask for assistance, and most do appreciate it. There was a post not that long ago here with interviews of Iraqis saying such things as "We prayed for the American bombs, even knowing we might die," and "What took you so long?" and "Where were you in 1991?" etc.

no. in principle, they are not the same and I don't quite get why you're bringing up this example.

They are pre-establishing conditions for the entire principle under discussion. I brought it up because there is a logical sequence of premises, each of which depends on a prior one. First we must determine whether or not an individual has the right to defend himself. Then we must decide whether or not an individual has the right to defend others. Finally, we must decide whether or not there are circumstances under which defense of others is not permitted.

it's an emotional appeal that has no relavence to the discussion.

Would it be less emotional if I were to say a wife has no right to defend her husband? And it does have relevance to the discussion. See above.

I think you missed the point of the essay by Rothbard. the point was not that you can't defend someone else, or initiate force on behalf of someone else, the point was that you cannot initiate force against innocent civilians.

Correct. You cannot. However, Rothbard has difficulty differentiating between retaliatory force and the initiation of force.

am I harming innocents when I defend a woman against a rapist? no. using that example, lets say that a rapist is on the loose and threatening to strike again. do I have the right to kill innocent civilians in order to catch the rapist and defend his next potential victim?

Deliberately kill them? No. But let's change the scenario to a school shooting. If a student observing a couple of loonies shooting up a cafeteria full of people rushes out to his car, grabs a gun, leans in the window and kills the two gunmen, is he to be morally censured when a stray round from his gun kills or cripples one of the people in the cafeteria? Did that student "initiate violence" against the other student? As an aside, note that none of the people in the cafeteria asked for his assistance.

yeah imagine that. he must be completely nuts.

so what's wrong with that reasoning? no one said it was practical, but where is the logical flaw?


The logical flaw is that he ignores context and, more importantly, conflates retaliatory force with the initiation of force. He shows logically that one may defend others, but then places a caveat on that defense -- a caveat that in fact makes it impossible to consistently defend others. In other words, a contradiction. In logic, there can be no contradictions. Any logical philosophical principle must adhere to reality, otherwise it is just random speculation. The reality is that by following Rothbard's tenets, defense of others becomes impossible when faced with an aggressor who chooses not to "play by the rules". Reality tells us there are many such aggressors, therefore Rothbard's principle does not stand the reality test.

I think civilian casualties are acceptable when you're fighting a war in self defense...

You think so. Rothbard does not.

...which, in my opinion, is the only legitimate reason to fight a war.

Depends how broad your definition of "self" is, doesn't it? We know you would defend yourself. We assume you would defend your family. We expect you would defend your friends. We hope you would defend your neighborhood, your city, even your country. Would you defend the neighboring country? If not, would you defend it if you were convinced that once the aggressor had conquered it, he'd come after yours next?

not at all. a SWAT team doesn't initiate force against third parties. they don't go around killing innocent civilians in order to catch criminals.

Actually, yes, sometimes they do. You aren't seriously suggesting no hostage has ever been killed by "friendly fire", are you? Wasn't it just a few months ago that a Russian SWAT team gassed a whole bunch of innocents to death in a theater?

now, in a hostage situation, a SWAT team is only sent in as a last resort when the hostages are in imminent danger, for example, when the hostage takers start executing hostages.

Was the Ba'athist regime in Iraq not executing hostages?

they are NOT sent in when there is a chance at a peaceful solution.

Which peaceful solution had a chance of getting the Ba'athist regime to stop executing people?

when they do go in, their job is to neutralize the hostage takers without harming any of the hostages, and they are able to do that because they are not using bombs.

Yes, that is their job. Unfortunately, there are instances where they fail. And so sorry to remind you, but hostages have been killed by friendly fire bullets (not bombs) in the past.

and in those cases where their actions can lead to civilian casualties, I think it falls under the "ethics of emergencies", where the sacrifice of one hostage in order to save ten is morally acceptable.

You and I agree on this. Rothbard does not.

however, this only applies when there is an actual emergency, like if the hostages are being systematically executed.

This sure sounds like Ba'athist Iraq to me.

and btw, the United States isn't the world's SWAT team. no one asked us to be one and we can't afford it.

As I said... having the right to do something is not equivalent to having the obligation to do it.

people who were deemed enemies of the state were silenced by Saddam Hussein.

The key word here being "deemed". The "girlfriends" of one of his sons who were murdered when he tired of them were presumably deemed enemies of the state, too. And they were a lot more than "silenced".

that's the way it works in every dictatorship, however, the Iraqi population at large wasn't in any imminent danger of death. there weren't random explosions going off across the coutry as is the case now.

I submit that the random selection of women to be used as sexual prey and later tortured and killed was in fact a danger to the Iraqi population at large.

in fact, you can say that the average Iraqi is in more danger now, after the "liberation". being in the wrong place at the wrong time, making a wrong turn or missing a checkpoint can get them killed.

There's a long, LONG way to go before the number of average Iraqis killed by coalition weaponry totals even a tiny fraction of the number of average Iraqis killed during Hussein's reign.

the nature of the violence is more random and has less to do with their political views or ethnicity but the Iraqis aren't any safer now.

Usually I say "incorrect", but in this case I will allow myself to say BULLSHIT.

the country is in chaos and it will be a long time before they can feel safe again.

Not according to the polls we've seen coming out of Iraq. However, none of this has anything to do with the principle under discussion. And, as I pointed out, the moral legitimacy of the act of deposing Hussein's regime and that of a continuing occupation are two separate issues.

and how many of the 300,000 - 450,000 Iraqis were killed in the months leading to the war?

I dunno.

you suggested that this war falls under the ethics of emergencies.

Actually, I suggested no such thing -- merely stated that Rothbard doesn't recognize the concept.

so what was the emergency that required our intervention at this time?

The entire country was pretty much an ongoing emergency for decades. In my opinion, it was a grievous error for the UN coalition in 1991 not to finish the job properly. And you will remember I started this whole thing of by saying I personally remain unconvinced it was correct for the US et all to invade at this time. Nonetheless, to believe Hussein had stopped killing Iraqis is in my opinion naive at best, disingenuous at worst.

didn't most of those deaths occur in the early 90's/late 80's?

I dunno. Certainly the deaths attributable to Hussein's son continued right into the 21st century. As a matter of fact, the reports I remember reading state that he was getting more and more unstable and vicious as time went by. I think Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are probably better equipped to answer that question than I am.

we sure took our sweet time to "retaliate" didn't we?

Sigh. I have said repeatedly that one has the right to assist others, not the obligation. We could have taken our sweet time even more -- just followed along with the rest of the world and left the Iraqis to their own devices.

Look, I think we've both spent more than enough time rehashing a specific war. If Autonomous hadn't claimed the US et al had initiated force against the Iraqi people, I would never have mentioned Iraq at all. Let's get back to Rothbard's principles.

a "crippled young girl being raped"? well, how can I argue with that! there's really no need for these emotional arguments, especially ones as flawed.

Jesus. There's nothing "emotional" about it. A crippled young girl is objectively pretty poor at defending herself, hence is dependent on others more powerful than herself to wield retaliatory force against an assailant. The same is true of a crippled young boy, or even an overweight businessman with a heart condition and a bad back.

the principle is not identical here. again you're ignoring the innocent civilian aspect, which was the whole point of the Rothbard essay. the question is "will I be harming innocent civilians in the course of defending that crippled little girl? or when I buy the homeless man a meal?"

You are confusing the principles under discussion. I was not here talking about initiatory vs retaliatory force, I was talking about the right to assist vs the obligation to assist. I was pointing out that just as a pedestrian walking by someone being assaulted has no obligation to intervene; just as someone with money in his pocket has no obligation to give ten bucks to every homeless guy he passes; so also did the 190 sovereign nations of the world have no obligation to stop Iraq's Ba'athist regime from murdering Iraqis.

if I had a gun, I would certainly use it to defend that girl, but suppose that the only weapon I had was a 1000 pound bomb. using it would stop the crime but kill a few innocent civilians in the process. do I have a right to use it to satisfy my morality?

In that context, no, of course not. Try not to make the same error Rothbard makes of ignoring context. But do you have the right to drop a nuke on a missile site (killing innocent civilians in the process) involved in launching missiles at cities where millions will die? Rothbard says no. To Rothbard, you are not retaliating against the missile site, you are initiating force against the civilians living within the blast radius.

we have no right to put innocent lives in danger, except in self defense, or in true emergencies.

As I said, you and I agree on this. Rothbard does not.

we are not the world's policeman, and we can't go around fighting moral wars because that's a recipe for perpetual war.

Accepting for the sake of argument that it is a recipe for perpetual war (which it isn't), to Rothbard, there are no moral actors in a war if even a single innocent is killed.

there will always be people being oppressed by their governments.

Perhaps there would be less if those who would try to oppress them first stopped and remembered what happened to the government of Iraq.

the fact is, we initiated force against Iraq...

Incorrect. The fact is, we used retaliatory force against the Ba'athist regime which habitually initiated force on anyone within their grasp.

.... almost everyone here agrees on at least that much.

Almost everyone here believes the rich deserve to have more force initiated against them than a welfare mother, too. The number of adherents of a premise does not determine its validity.

for you to claim that we were merely "retaliating" against them is just absurd.

Would Iraq have been invaded if Iraq had not invaded Kuwait (initiation of force), signed a ceasefire agreement which it then ignored (fraud), and killed a substantial portion of its peaceful inhabitants at whim (force)? No, Iraq would not have been invaded. The invasion was not an initiation of force, it was a retaliation. To claim otherwise is just absurd.

You seem to be more comfortable with specific examples than fundamental principles, so let me ask you if the Allied invasion of Hitler's Europe was an initiation of force.

pinky


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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Phred]
    #1967997 - 10/01/03 12:41 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

We are all aware that there were more involved in the enslavement of the Iraqi people than a single man. How were they to be freed from Hussein, his sons, his henchmen, and Ba'athist loyalists short of a full-scale invasion? It must be noted that even after the full-scale invasion, Hussein himself remains unaccounted for.

You're right, in all likelihood an invasion was the only sure-fire way to remove Hussein's regime. I suppose there were other possibilities with less likelihood of success, such as arming the Iraqi resistance to the teeth and then providing them with tactical air support, etc., but that too would have resulted in large numbers of civlian casualities. It still might have worked, however.

Nonetheless, my question was more along the lines of the following: although the Iraqis may have wanted to be freed from the regime, we do NOT know that they would have preferred an INVASION to the prior status quo. They may have felt that the status quo was the lesser of two evils. And although arming the resistance may have resulted in just as many or even more casualties with less chance of success, it may be the case that that was a risk the Iraqi people would have been willing to take in order to keep their liberation as much as possible in Iraqi hands.

As for the continuing occupation of Iraq, that is a separate issue entirely, and not germane to Rothbard's points. I was responding to Autonomous's allegation that the US and its allies initiated force against the Iraqi people. They did not. They used retaliatory force against the Ba'athist regime. Civilians died -- some from US weaponry, some from Ba'athist weaponry.

It was not "retaliatory" force exactly since the Ba'athist regime did not attack the United States. Perhaps we need a word somewhere between "initiatory" and "retaliatory".

Again, two separate issues. Note that no civilians are being killed by the signing of contracts.

Yes, you're right. Two separate issues. But just to clarify: are you saying it is okay for the United States to interfere in the economic activity of the Iraqis and dictate to them who will build their wireless networks, who will repair their oil wells, etc?

"Ah. Why stop at "the majority"? Why not demand unanimous consent, as Rothbard does? Leaving aside the obvious difficulty in obtaining an accurate poll in a totalitarian State (where it was routine for people even suspected of disloyalty to disappear) of those who wished assistance in overthrowing the ruling regime, what if only 49.5% of Iraqis wanted assistance? Out of luck?"

Ah. Where to stop then? Is an invasion justified then if ONE person in a foreign country sends a letter to the United States saying "Help! My government is oppressing me! Invade them and change the regime!" Where do we set the bar? 1%? 10%? 20%? In any case it's going to be a purely ARBITRARY decision, which is where the moral thickets tend to come in. Since the majority tends to be the standard benchmark in these matters, I just settled upon that. Suggest an alternate benchmark if you prefer. So yes, 49.5% and you ARE shit out of luck, just as we in the States were shit out of luck when a man who lost the popular vote and who "won" the electoral college in very, very dubious circumstances was designated president against popular will.

As far as gauging public opinion goes, there are ways to do that without necessarily taking public opinion polls. For example: if the Iraqi people were so miserable under Saddam's regime that they would be willing to risk their lives to remove it, they probably would have engaged in at least a few massive, popular uprisings. Most of the conscript army (excepting the Republican guard, of course) would have participated in trying to oust the regime, since it would be their brothers and fathers that they would be fighting alongside. Recall that the Shah of Iran, who had one of the most notorious secret police forces in the world and the full backing of the United States, was overthrown by the sheer force of public sentiment. Perhaps such an uprising in Iraq would have failed, but at least it would have given a pretty clear signal that the Iraqi people were willing to risk death for their freedom. As it was, they were unhappy under Saddam but not desperately, suicidally unhappy.

Need I point out yet again that the number of adherents of a proposition does not determine its validity?

So it's okay to kill thousands of civlians if only one of them believes that the regime should be changed? The decision to invade was not a logical "proposition" that was either "valid" or "invalid", it was a deadly use of force that could either be desired or not desired by the supposed "beneficiaries." Two very different things.

We are trying to determine whether the retaliatory use of force to stop routine murder is morally wrong if innocent bystanders are killed in the process -- in other words, is the moral blame for their deaths to be laid at the feet of the rescuers or at the feet of those who created a situation wherein there were people in need of rescue.

In the abstract, the moral blame for the deaths of the INNOCENT BYSTANDERS (not the original victims) does indeed rest at the feet of the rescuers UNLESS all possible means of restraining the wrongdoer are attempted BEFORE using force which is lethal to innocent bystanders. This precondition MAY be negated in cases where IMMEDIATE action is necessary, but if the force used is still excessive to the task (the nuclear bomb example given by infidelgod) then once again the rescuers are to blame. Simply CREATING a situation does not make the initiator responsible for ALL subsequent actions carried out by ALL parties pursuant to that initiated action. That's just silly.

In the case of Iraq, there was no recognized need for immediate action since the murderousness of the regime was hardly at its peak at the time. All possible targeted and/or non-lethal means of restraining Saddam's regime were not attempted beforehand. The specific desires of the "beneficiaries" were not known. There were numerous strings attached to the aid that the "beneficiaries" would clearly have rejected. In other words, there were so many pieces of the puzzle missing that to argue this as a "moral" war is a very rickety argument indeed.


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Re: Libertarians, War & Consistent Application of Principles [Re: Phred]
    #1968852 - 10/01/03 09:10 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

If a student observing a couple of loonies shooting up a cafeteria full of people rushes out to his car, grabs a gun, leans in the window and kills the two gunmen, is he to be morally censured when a stray round from his gun kills or cripples one of the people in the cafeteria?

no. because, as I stated above, these are emergency situations where immediate action is required. and furthermore, a guy who uses a gun can have a reasonable expectation of only harming the criminals. so if innocents are killed, he can be forgiven for being a bad shot. the same can be said of the SWAT hostage situation, but not in war. as Rothbard pointed out "For it is precisely the characteristic of modern weapons that they cannot be used selectively". don't ignore this crucial point. it fundamentally changes the moral equation. in war, it's not if innocents will be killed, they will be killed. knowing that you'll kill innocents and going to war to defend a group is not the same as a guy with a gun trying to defend others. it's not a good analogy.

He shows logically that one may defend others, but then places a caveat on that defense -- a caveat that in fact makes it impossible to consistently defend others. In other words, a contradiction

there's no contradiction. he says "Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a non-aggressor" with the caveat: "is it within the right of Jones to commit violence against innocent third parties as a corollary to his legitimate defense against Smith? To the libertarian, the answer must be clearly, no" this doesn't mean that it's impossible to consistently defend yourself or others. you are free to initiate force against an aggressor, even in defense of someone else, as long as you don't harm innocent civilians. his philosophy might be inconsistent with your worldview, or with "reality", but it's internally consistent. there is no logical flaw.

You aren't seriously suggesting no hostage has ever been killed by "friendly fire", are you?

no. see above, but a SWAT member doesn't go into a situation expecting to shoot innocent civilians. a figher pilot on a bombing missions knows he's about a kill innocent civilians.

There's a long, LONG way to go before the number of average Iraqis killed by coalition weaponry totals even a tiny fraction of the number of average Iraqis killed during Hussein's reign.
...
Usually I say "incorrect", but in this case I will allow myself to say BULLSHIT.


well duh, I'm not saying hundreds of thousands of civilians died in the war. but the 300,000 - 450,000 figure you quoted, what time interval does that cover? 20 years? 30? how many Iraqi civilians died in the last six months as a result of the war? I think the rate of deaths would be comparable. even if there are less Iraqis being killed now, the point is they are still being killed on a regular basis after they've been "liberated".

the country is in chaos and it will be a long time before they can feel safe again.

Not according to the polls we've seen coming out of Iraq


you mean these polls?

to believe Hussein had stopped killing Iraqis is in my opinion naive at best, disingenuous at worst

I never said that Hussein had stopped killing Iraqis.

if I had a gun, I would certainly use it to defend that girl, but suppose that the only weapon I had was a 1000 pound bomb. using it would stop the crime but kill a few innocent civilians in the process. do I have a right to use it to satisfy my morality?

In that context, no, of course not. Try not to make the same error Rothbard makes of ignoring context


huh? I'm ignoring context? I gave you a specific scenario where intervention is justified, and another where it isn't.

But do you have the right to drop a nuke on a missile site (killing innocent civilians in the process) involved in launching missiles at cities where millions will die?

ok, now you're ignoring context. what do you mean by a missile site "involved in launching missiles at cities"? do you mean they're actually launching missiles at our cities? then I'd say we can nuke it in self-defense. or if we know for certain that in 24 hours, a missile will launch and kill millions of people elsewhere, it would be morally acceptable to sacrifice the lives of a few hundred people living nearby in order to save millions. but that is an emergency situation requiring immediate action.

there will always be people being oppressed by their governments.

Perhaps there would be less if those who would try to oppress them first stopped and remembered what happened to the government of Iraq.


do you honestly believe that dictators around the world are thinking twice about oppressing their people because they fear an invasion by the US? we didn't go into Iraq for moral reasons. we went in to disarm Saddam of his WMD. remember them? the whole "saving the Iraqis" thing is just a fallback justification in the total absense of any WMD. and if we consistently applied your principle for justifiable moral wars, half the coutries in the world would be fair game for full scale invasions. almost every government in the world initiates force against its own citizens. a lot of governments are actively involved in oppressing political rivals and minority (ethnic or religious) groups.

The invasion was not an initiation of force, it was a retaliation. To claim otherwise is just absurd

the invasion was not a retaliation. not even GW Bush had the gall to call it that.

You seem to be more comfortable with specific examples than fundamental principles

huh? I'm not the one who brought up school shootings and SWAT teams and missile sites and little crippled girls getting raped. I'm trying to deal with the principles without bringing up flawed analogies.

so let me ask you if the Allied invasion of Hitler's Europe was an initiation of force.

no. Japan and Germany were treaty allies, attacking one is attacking both. but I do believe that the bombing of civilian centers in Japan and Germany consititute an initiation of force against innocent civilians. if it was crucial to self-defense (for example if civilians get killed while bombing a factory), then it is justified. but I believe that the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo, and the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were gratuitous acts of violence against innocent civilians.

you seem to believe that you can kill innocent civilians without any moral culpability as long as you did not create the initial situation. I think this is a completely morally bankrupt philosophy. it excuses you from examining your own actions and it's consequences. it is tantamount to killing innocent bystanders, pointing your finger and saying "he started it". and you write as if I'm having difficulty understanding your position. I assure you I understand perfectly well what you're saying. I just don't agree with it.

and I can't believe you're still calling the war against Iraq a retaliation. it's not as if we had no choice in going to war. we chose to fight a war and civilian lives were lost. if you want absolve those responsible for it by calling it a "retaliation", go right ahead. but it's a stretch, liguistically and morally.


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