Wednesday, June 30, 2004

What Would Ayn Rand Say?

If there are any Ayn Rand type libertarians out there who believe that the U.S. had no business launching Operation Iraqi Freedom it might be interesting to get their response to the words of the master herself on the subject. In 1963 she wrote:

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 nonexistent "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. From "Collectivized" Rights (Emphasis hers)

Her argument, I think, was that rights do not inhere in nations, rather they inhere in individuals. The nation has a "right" to exist only insofar as it embodies the collective rights of the individuals which comprise it and freely choose its leadership. The chief right of the individual is the right to one's life which entails the right to be free. Any government which denies these rights to its people has no legitimacy and no right to exist. In short, the destruction of such a government violates no right possessed by the tyrant government.

Rand, I think, would say today that the Bush administration was not duty-bound to liberate Iraq, but they had the "right" to do it. I wonder how many of her libertarian devotees would agree.

Standard Muslim Pedagogy

Little Green Footballs has a piece that shows that the beheadings we've seen of American "infidels" at the hands of terrorists is not an aberration, but is a tactic taught to Muslim schoolchildren throughout the Arab world.

What Do They Know?

Undecided voters who might be considering a vote for John Kerry in November should ask themselves what it is about the Massachusetts senator that has won him the support of pornographers like Howard Stern and Larry Flynt, Hollywood ditzes like Barbra Streisand and Michael Moore, raving wild men like Al Gore and Howard Dean, the Communist Chinese, North Korea, Vietnam (Hanoi), and the French. What do they all know that maybe the rest of us should?

Progress in the War on Terror has a report about part of the 9/11 Commission's Staff Statement #15 that has been pretty much ignored by the media. The report notes that:

"Since the September 11 attacks and the defeat of the Taliban, al Qaeda's funding has decreased significantly. The arrests or deaths of several important financial facilitators have decreased the amount of money al Qaeda has raised and increased the costs and difficulty of raising and moving that money.

"Some entirely corrupt charities are now out of business, with many of their principals killed or captured, although some charities may still be providing support to al Qaeda.

"Moreover, it appears that the al Qaeda attacks within Saudi Arabia in May and November 2003 have reduced - perhaps drastically - at Qaeda's ability to raise funds from Saudi sources. Both an increase in Saudi enforcement and a more negative perception of al Qaeda by potential donors have cut its income."

This is not to suggest that the war on terror is anywhere close to being won, but it does suggest that things are certainly moving in the right direction.

Avoiding Armageddon

My brother calls my attention to this essay by Pat Buchanan concerning the United States' unfortunate capitulation to the United Nations in the matter of whether the International Criminal Court would have legal jurisdiction over American troops. Buchanan is surely correct to be alarmed at the prospect of the same people who incessantly condemn Israel while giving the Palestinians a pass, the same people who put Libya and Iraq in positions of oversight of human rights violations, the same people who stood by impotently while Hutus butchered 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda and did nothing to stop the slaughters in Bosnia and Kosovo, he is surely correct to be alarmed at the prospect of these same people, most of whom come from countries which are themselves failed, corrupt oligarchies, hauling Americans before a court and imposing legal penalties against them.

The thought of Americans being tried in a court of law by representatives from states like Syria, Iran, Somalia and other precincts in the semi-civilized world is ludicrous. It is just as ludicrous to think that our soldiers could expect a fair hearing from states like France, which would like nothing more than to slap us in the face, and the Peoples' Republic of China which would do whatever it could to weaken the ability of America to project power around the world.

The United States, with all its flaws, is still the glue that is keeping the world from collapsing into chaos. The attempt to gain more and more control over the application of American power will, in the long term, diminish the ability and resolve of the U.S. to maintain that power. If, as is fervently hoped by many, the United States were eventually to be reduced to the military and/or political level of, say, France, it is almost inevitable that the Mideast and subsequently the entire world would go up in flames.

If one doubts this consider what would happen in Asia if the U.S. ceased to be able to project power into this region. North and South Korea would quickly be at each other's throats, as would the Peoples' Republic of China and Taiwan. Japan and other states in the region would be unable to stay neutral and would get sucked into a hellish vortex of war that would consume the entire Pacific rim.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, Israel's Arab neighbors would seize an opportunity they had been denied by American might for fifty years and invade Israel spawning a conflict that would almost certainly result in the detonation of nuclear weapons.

A similar scenario would doubtless play out on the Indian subcontinent between India and Pakistan, and would also almost certainly culminate in a nuclear exchange. Africa, too, would break out in renewed tribal and racial violence.

Europe would be thrown into turmoil by its Arab populations and by renewed fighting in the Balkans. These stresses would exacerbate old hatreds and open old wounds between the countries of Europe which have warred repeatedly against each other for two thousand years, and would doubtless bring at least some of them into conflict with each other again. It's hard to imagine the carnage that would result from all of this. The world teeters on a tightrope over a hellish chasm and it is only the balance pole of American force that has kept us from plunging into that abyss.

None of this is to say that submitting our troops to the jurisdiction of the ICC will cause the world to collapse immediately into a cauldron of unprecedented killing and destruction. It is to say, however, that submission to the ICC is a step in a process of weakening the hope and threat that American force will be employed to preserve peace and justice in the world. It's a step toward making the application of military might less credible since the United States will inevitably grow more reluctant to exert its power for fear that her sons and daughters will be held legally accountable by those who despise us for our values, success, and power. To the extent that we find ourselves unable or unwilling to act when circumstances warrant, to that extent we hasten a world-wide Armageddon.

Keeping America militarily strong is a necessary condition for maintaining peace and justice in a world filled with people who would like nothing more than to precipitate a global orgy of death and destruction. Military power, however, is not a sufficient condition. We must also have the will to use that power, and, most importantly, we must have moral goodness to match our military might. We need to be willing to use our power, unencumbered by constraints imposed upon us by those whose motives are less than exemplary, but only when the cause is right and just.

There are many at the U.N., and in the ranks of the American left, who think that the best hope for world peace is to make America weak. They are tragically mistaken, in my view. The way to keep the world from destroying itself, the way to keep the world from realizing the death wish it seems to be consumed by, is to keep America strong and to ensure that she is good. If we fail in either of those the future of the world is a nightmare.