Skip to comments.Defense of Liberty: Two Articles On Anti-Terrorist Policy by Peikoff
Posted on 10/13/2001 8:34:37 AM PDT by annalex
Released: September 15, 1998
Fanning the Flames of Terrorism
Clintons Anti-Terrorist Policy Should Target Governments Not Individuals
By Leonard Peikoff and Andrew Lewis
The recent attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were a bloody reminder of the threat posed by terrorists. Almost all commentators and politicians hailed Americas swift response as a positive step. In fact, however, Clintons assault on Osama bin Laden will only encourage the terrorists.
In recent years, Americas reaction to terrorist acts has been a mixture of cowardly compromise and empty legalistic threats. In the two months prior to the embassy attacks alone, the Clinton Administration made three outstanding concessions. It capitulated to Libya, promising to drop all UN sanctions if it releases the prime suspects in the Lockerbie bombing for trial in the Netherlands under Scottish law. It closed the investigation into TWA 800, leaving forever unresolved the cause of the disaster. It emasculated the investigation of the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, because evidence emerged linking the bombing to Iran, whose regime Clinton is now courting.
By promising only trials and international courts, Clinton has made a mockery of the atrocities. Terrorists have no respect for the rule of law; that is why they are called terrorists. Administration officials repeatedly assert that we are engaged in a war against terrorism. True and wars are not fought or won in a courtroom.
The attacks on Osama bin Ladens facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan were lauded by many as a welcome change from years of this legalistic claptrap. However, the attacks were deliberately toothless. Clinton aimed at a few peripheral installations, while proudly proclaiming his commitment that no innocent working a night shift in the Sudan would die. There are no innocents in a war and certainly none in a chemical weapons facility. The clear implication is that saving terrorist agents is more important to the President than protecting Americans who will be killed by their weapons. In essence, Clinton has declared open season on Americans.
Most important, Clintons attacks diverted attention from the real agents of terrorism. In blaming and targeting a single individual in insisting that an isolated maniac was responsible and lying to deny that mans proven connections with Middle East governments Clinton exonerated all terrorist-sponsoring regimes, including Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and others. It is not merely that Clinton wanted to avoid offending the Afghani Taliban and the Sudanese government. He wanted to avoid offending any governments involved in terrorism, despite their proven function as protector and sanctioner of the killers. The result: he showed each and every one of these governments that they are safe to sponsor as many bin Ladens as they want.
Terrorism is a form of war. Evil men such as bin Laden cannot wage it alone. Although bin Laden certainly deserves to die, his capacity to kill and maim is made possible only by the governments that shelter his kind. Only governments have the power to protect terrorists, sponsor or wink at their training camps, and provide or applaud their weapons, transport and all the other support necessary to enter and exit their target countries. Targeting the individual killer leaves the real mass murderer the terrorist-loving government unpunished, secure in the knowledge that their victim is too cowardly to retaliate in kind.
The inevitable result of this policy is exactly what bin Laden has promised: a continuing war against Americans. The bombing of an American restaurant in South Africa a few days later was only the beginning. From Teheran to Tripoli, the governmental sponsors of terrorism will continue to protect the bin Ladens of this world until and unless they are shown that they themselves will suffer massively for doing so.
The only way to end terrorism is through a policy of real military strikes against the aggressors. If, as the Clinton Administration tells us repeatedly, we are engaged in a war, then let us see a war, fought not with words, but with the full, untrammeled power of our military, including, as and when necessary, the use of our most potent and destructive weapons against the seat of the governments involved.
The only alternative is the continued slaughter of Americans by terrorist bombs ignited by the cowardice of American policy-makers.
Leonard Peikoff, who founded the Ayn Rand Institute, is the foremost authority on Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. http://www.aynrand.org
Released: September 12, 2001
Fifty Years of Appeasement Led to Black Tuesday
By Leonard Peikoff Download an image of this author for print publication.)-->
Fifty years of increasing American appeasement in the Mideast have led to fifty years of increasing contempt in the Muslim world for the United States. The inevitable climax was the tens of thousands of deaths on September 11, 2001the blackest day in our history, so far. The Palestinians, among others, responded by dancing in the streets and handing out candy.
Fifty years ago, Truman and Eisenhower ceded to the Arabs the West's property rights in oilalthough that oil properly belonged to those in the West whose science and technology made its discovery and use possible.
This capitulation was not practical, but philosophical. The Arab dictators were denouncing the wealthy egoistic West. They were crying that the masses of their poor needed our sacrifice; that oil, like all property, is owned collectively, by virtue of birth; and that they knew all this by means of ineffable or otherworldly emotion. Our Presidents had no answer. Implicitly, they were ashamed of the Declaration of Independence. They did not dare to answer aloud that Americans, rightfully, were motivated by the selfish desire to pursue personal happiness in a rich, secular, individualist society.
The Arabs embodied in extreme form every ideaselfless duty, anti-materialism, faith or feeling above science, the supremacy of the groupwhich our universities and churches, and our own political Establishment, had long been preaching as the essence of virtue. When two groups, our leadership and theirs, accept the same basic ideas, the most consistent wins.
After property came liberty. The Iranian dictator Khomeini threatened with death a British authorand with destruction his American publisherif they exercised their right to free speech. He explained that the book in question offended the religion of his people. The Bush Administration looked the other way.
After liberty came American life itselfas in Iran's support of the massacre of our soldiers in Saudi Arabia, and the Afghanistan-based assault on our embassies in East Africa. Again, the American response was unbridled appeasement: a Realpolitikisch desire not to "jeopardize relations" with the aggressor country, covered up by a purely rhetorical vow to punish the guilty, along with an occasional pretend bombing. By now, the world knows that we are indeed a paper tiger.
We have not only appeased terrorists, we have actively created them. The Reagan Administrationholding that Islamic fundamentalists were our ideological allies in the fight against the atheistic Sovietspoured money and expertise into Afghanistan to create an ever-growing band of terrorists recruited from all over the Mideast. Most of these terrorists knew what to do with their American training; their goal was not to save Afghanistan.
The final guarantee of American impotence is the bipartisan proclamation that a terrorist is an individual alone responsible for his actions, and that "we must try each before a court of law." This is tantamount, while under a Nazi aerial bombardment, to seeking out and trying the pilots involved while ignoring Hitler and Germany.
Terrorists exist only through the sanction and support of the governments behind them. Their lethal behavior is that of the regimes that make them possible. Their killings are not crimes, but acts of war. The only proper response to such acts is war in self-defense.
We do not need more evidence to "pinpoint" the perpetrators of any one of these atrocities, including the latest and most egregiouswe already have total certainty with regard to the governments primarily responsible for the repeated slaughter of Americans in recent years. We must now use our unsurpassed military to destroy all branches of the Iranian and Afghani governments, regardless of the suffering and death this will bring to the many innocents caught in the line of fire. We must wipe out the terrorist training camps or sanctuaries, and eliminate any retaliatory military capabilityand thereby terrorize and paralyze all the tyrannies watching, who will now know what is in store for them if they choose in any form to attack the United States. That will be the end of the terrorists.
Our missiles and occupation troops, however, will be effective only if they are preceded by our President's morally righteous statement that we intend hereafter to defend by every means possible each American's right to his property, his liberty, and his secure enjoyment of life here on earth.
To those who oppose war, I ask: If not now, when? How many more corpses are necessary before this country should take action?
The choice today is mass death in the United States or mass death in the terrorist nations. President Bush must decide whether it is his duty to save Americans or the governments who seek to kill them.
Leonard Peikoff is the founder of the Ayn Rand Institute in Marina del Rey, California. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Send Feedback
And yet can bomb foreign countries with impunity just like the last "opposition President" who had both a majority Senate and House "against" him. Fancy that, he's a dictator.
I agree on the narrow point that no modern politician seems to care one bit for the Constitution as written. Still, that's no dictatorship. Britain, for example, doesn't have a written constitution.
More absurdities. Their rights to self defense were violated by their own government firstly. And more importantly than their right to carry firearms (which if protected might have resulted in a much different scenario than what occurred on 9./11) their national government failed them miserably. The one job it was supposed to do well (National Defense) if failed at.
Furthermore this was not 90% of the population who were affected. It was all of us. Every single one of us has been shown the folly of foreign interventionist policy at the expense of the homeland.
Of course not. The terrorists chose to attack civilians and their attack suceeded. There is no telling what line of attack they would have chosen if the environment of air travel were different. They were the party that initiated violence. Now, it is the right of every American -- because every American is objectively threatened -- to demand retaliation from our government. Some of us do, and some don't. But our government either retaliates or it doesn't -- it can't do 90%-10% split on retaliation. Thus foreign policy cannot go by percentages of consent, which is my original point. Hope that clarifies.
This whole scenario has nothing to do with self-defense. First off, the 90% did not have their rights to self-defense violated by some foreigners. They were violated by the government, which forbids people from defending themselves and arrogates responsibility for defense to itself.
Can you imagine a private company taking this approach? No security firm would ever forbid you from stopping a burglar at your door. No supermarket would forbid you from growing your own food. No car company would forbid you from walking. Nor would anyone buy products from companies that adopted such tyrannical policies.
Yet the government forbids you from acting in self-defense. That alone shows that it works by force, not by the wishes of its citizens (as you claim). As a consequence of this government violation of people's rights, some foreign criminals attacked and the people could not defend themselves. The government, incompetent as always, failed to defend them either.
Since the violation of rights comes from the government, any consequent actions it may take are also illegitimate. Unsurprisingly, they are further violations of rights, in this case the rights of the foreigners it attacks in order to justify its usurpation of your rights.
Bombing a foreign country is not about not self-defense. It's not even about bringing the perpetrators to justice. No, bombing is, as you say, about retaliation. About revenge. How exactly does killing more innocents, in this case Afghani peasants, serve the cause of justice?
Of course, none of this addresses the original point I made anymore than your response does. The government violated my right to self-defense. Why am I forced to support the wars it undertakes to justify that usurpation of my rights?
The original point of this pair of articles was that attacking governments that (supposedly) support terrorism is a just war. Since demidog and Carry_Okie have quite ably put paid to this notion, you now argue that it is just if 90% of the people think it is. Obviously false. Perhaps Ive got you wrong and you are instead simply arguing that the government should do whatever the majority wants it to do? Maybe it should. But then your argument is neither libertarian nor objectivist. For that matter, its not even constitutional.
what I meant by "self-defense" is national defense. On the individual rights level, retaliatory violence is not initiated violence, hence is justified against anybody. So, on the national level, retaliatory war against any entity that attacked American citizens is justified.
Since Demidog brought up the issue of consent to foreign policy, I pointed out to him that we as a nation can have only one foreign policy. So no matter what our foreign policy is, there will be some who are unhappy with it. My position in that is that in matters of foreign policy the government should do whatever it thinks our national interest is, and the voters can provide a correction every election cycle. That is not the same as saying that it should do whatever the majority wants.
False. Airlines are not allowed to have guns on flight. The government has forcibly prevented airlines, their employees and their passengers from defending themselves through the use of guns or whatever other means they might find appropriate. It therefore has usurped the right to self-defense in the specific case of 9-11 and therefore whatever actions it may take in consequence are illegitimate.
what I meant by "self-defense" is national defense.
I disagree. You used the term self-defense because it is the proper one. National defense is a derivation of self-defense, a form of collective self-defense. The concept cannot be justified at least not from libertarian premises in any other fashion. A government which has usurped the right to self-defense and replaced it with a concept of national defense is not based on the principles of natural rights. Its actions cannot be based on natural law.
On the individual rights level, retaliatory violence is not initiated violence, hence is justified against anybody. So, on the national level, retaliatory war against any entity that attacked American citizens is justified.
What is this concept of retaliatory war? How does it relate to defense of any kind, especially in the context of 9-11 where it is not the least clear who was responsible for the action? Who are you retaliating against? Afghani peasants?
in matters of foreign policy the government should do whatever it thinks our national interest is, and the voters can provide a correction every election cycle. That is not the same as saying that it should do whatever the majority wants.
This is gobbledygook. Im not sure whether you are arguing in favor of a form electoral dictatorship or majority rule. To this I repeat what I said in #146. But then your argument is neither libertarian nor objectivist. For that matter, its not even constitutional.
Well, lessee. If were not retaliating for the attacks of 9/11, then just what are we retaliating for? Anthrax attacks? But it hasnt even been established that the perpetrators are Moslem (although I agree that they likely are), let alone that they are a group of Afghani peasants. Maybe were retaliating because of some hypothetical crime that Afghani peasants may commit at some point in the future? If so, why cant I retaliate against you because you may conceivably attack me for this post?
Our government may be wrong in retaliating the way it does, but, tough, we have one government which formulates one retalatory policy, which will stand at least till the elections.
Personally, I dont believe that retaliatory violence is libertarian at all. The belief that it is justified is the root cause of all modern wars. But wrong retaliation isnt retaliation at all. It is simply lashing out in anger at the nearest convenient target. My ex-wife used to put me through the grinder because she had a bad day at work. She would then say that she needed to unwind. Attacking Afghani peasant is exactly the same thing. Random violence for self-satisfaction. I doubt that even Rand would support that.
Our government has, as it says, some concrete knowledge that links the perpetrators to the Al Qaeda network. Since the government of Afghanistan won't end Al Qaeda, our government is at war with Afghanistan. It is conducting the war in a way that avoids civilian casualties, but the paramount goal is to win the war. Now, our government may be wrong on all accounts, but it has the prerogative of using its judgement as it generally has the prerogative of going about its legitimate function.
It is a valid question whether preemptive violence on foreign soil is legitimate. My view is that it is legitimate under the circumstances because given the nature of terrorism there is no other sure way to prevent future attacks. One is entitled to his defense being effective no matter the time or place of the defensive act.
If you object to national defense being a legitimate government function, then it is not libertarian, but anarchist position.
Of course we have to take this a little further retaliatory war against non-government non-perpetrators as preventive violence by a state that may be completely wrong in its actions. And all this is justified because the government is the government until its not.
This is getting absurd. Admit it. You just want to strike out at anyone. Right? Or perhaps, as you explained to tex-oma, you think that imperialism is the proper solution. Defend this position if you will. Just dont try to call it libertarian.
If I may fire that gun myself, I can delegate that right to the government. Thus government may engage in preventive violence.
All that is news to you?
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