War Philosophy and Current Events

Jason Quintana's picture
Submitted by Jason Quintana on Sun, 2006-07-16 04:43

These last couple of weeks have been quite turbulent. The world is a volatile place at the moment. North Korea is purposely starting trouble with Japan, America and South Korea. Israel has been attacked by state sponsored terrorists on various fronts and of course the Europeans have their heads in the sand as usual.

In positive news today Japan and America were able to get China and Russia to sign on to a weak UN resolution against North Korea. While the resolution was weak, it shows at least that the Chinese government is less likely to stick its neck out for its extreme Maoist neighbor if a war were to take place. I am also pleased with the resolve the Japanese have shown during the last couple of weeks.

The bigger problem is the Middle East. Israel's response has been outstanding and I hope that they are successful in their assault against the state sponsored terrorists which surround them. Unfortunately a victory over Hezbollah will not solve the overall problem because they are state sponsored. There is a risk that this regional war could spread and eventually could involve U.S. and British troops currently stationed in Iraq. A skirmish between the Israelis and the Iranians would almost certainly result in U.S. involvement. Iran is the world's biggest troublemaker and if it doesn't collapse internally it will eventually need to be defeated by external forces. A nuclear Iran would be a threat to the citizens in every country in the free world.

These current events provide us with a set of concrete circumstances with which to apply our own war philosophy. People on SOLO have wildly differing philosophical positions about how war should be carried out. At one extreme are those who support the hawkish position taken by different ARI aligned intellectuals. This position supports direct attacks on the civilian populations of enemy nations. On the other extreme we have a few Lew Rockwellesque anti-war people. I would like to see a paragraph or two from several of you stating what you would do today if you were President of the United States and how you would react if the situation in the Middle East or Korea were to escalate. We've been arguing over abstractions for a few weeks and here is an opportunity to apply these general principles to some very serious real life circumstances.

What would you do?

- Jason


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Win the war of ideas

Kenny's picture

I take a similar non-interventionist (that is a more accurate term than isolationist) approach like Aaron's.

Military intervention did not defeat communism. Libertarian ideas did. Multimedia communications enables free preople to spread libertarian ideas quicker and easier than during the Cold War idea.

We should be sending millions of emails and texts to Iranian freedom lovers (they do exist) who can pass them onto their friends. Organisations like the Minaret of Freedom Institute should be generously supported.

North Korea is different. Books, pamphlets and leaflets need to be smuggled in or dropped in by air. We to broadcast radio and television programmes that can be picked up by North Korean people. If necessary we could send in cheap radios to pick up the broadcasts.

Ideas are powerful and effective weapons. It is time to redeploy them.

I don't know what exactly

Aaron's picture

I don't know what exactly you want to consider as escalation here, so these are the relevant aspects of foreign policy I would do starting now.

I'd mentioned in another thread my general policy toward North Korea: Trade with the people, liquidate the leader. I advocate the same for Iran (and Cuba, possibly a couple other dictatorships). I realize the US currently lacks both 1) the proper special forces/intelligence crossover or cooperation ability to effectively achieve this and 2) the moral sanity to realize that assassinating foreign dictators is not somehow less honorable than full war. Both these need put on a fast track to being fixed, starting immediately.

Leave Iraq. Saddam has been toppled (unfortunately not killed), but the rest of the altruistic US campaign of spreading 'democracy' and propping up a united Iraq can stop. Iraq's borders were drawn arbitrarily 80 years ago encompassing 3 diverse groups of people; it is extremely likely without a ruler with an iron fist that it will break down in civil war and possibly partition into multiple nations. There is no point in the US throwing away its soldiers and $ being stuck in the middle. Change Iran's situation from casually sending funds or people across a border to fight Americans - to having to manage its border against an unstable regime that may break apart or again become its enemy.

Stop all foreign aid, military or otherwise, no matter how well intentioned, to all nations. No $, no food, no F-16s, no reactor parts, to these countries or any others. (Yes, I know the president doesn't directly have power to control this other than vetoing spending bills.) This implicitly means most that the negotiation items involved in the current pointless talks with DPRK or Iran also become irrelevant.

Included with that is ceasing the US funded defense of Japan. They're one of the wealthiest nations of the world and an ally, but still bound by WWII era agreement limiting their military and having the US provide defense. They can start paying their own way, and be the allies with even more self-interest in the DPRK (and PRC) region than Americans have.

Obviously this is isolationist other than the foreign-dictator early-retirement program. Beyond strictly Iran and N Korea, my priorities are also often not the same as those promoted by the media - e.g. I still consider 1,000s of nuclear warheads in Russia or 100s in PRC more a concern than maybe a few or 0 in DPRK or Iran. There's a wise statement concerning government policies to focus on capabilities rather than just immediate intentions; this is not being followed today. If you're focused on N Korea and Iran and have a particular escalation scenario in mind though, let me know to consider it.

It's not that serious

Scott Wilson's picture

North Korea is attention seeking - it will be surprised the UN Security Council has passed a resolution against it. The US should continue to refuse to negotiate on a bilateral basis, and engage in a sustained leaflet/radio drop campaign to supply North Koreans with outside information to destabilise the regime. North Korea should be offered a choice - stop warmongering, empty its gulags and allow family reunifications and it will not be threatened by attack, and will be allowed to trade. If not, it faces trade and financial sanctions.

Israel-Hizbullah should continue until either Israel defeats Hizbullah or the cost of fighting makes it not worthwhile to continue. The US should continue with the status quo on Israel.

Oh, and number 7

Richard Wiig's picture

7: Get a T-shirt of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban and wear it to the next press conference.

Jason wrote:

Lindsay Perigo's picture

and of course the Europeans have their heads in the sand as usual.

One of the funniest moments I had in America was watching Jay Leno after the infamous World Cup headbutting incident congratulate the French captain on the headbutt & say this was the closest the French have come to actual combat in 60 years.

President Perigo's foreign/defence policy would be: kick their asses to the other side of the moon. And fuck the United Nations.

As I've said, I agree 1000 per cent with the Brook/Epstein article. And it's mischaracterising their position to make it sound as though they favour the gratuitous targeting of civilians. They're saying if it makes sense militarily to do it, then it's legitimate—indeed mandatory—to do it. Nothing to do with "collective" innocence or guilt, just a simple recognition of the fact that this is war, for fuck's sake, started by the other side, and *our* side is entitled to do whatever it takes to achieve victory in the shortest possible time with the fewest possible casualties ... on *our* side.

For what it's worth

Richard Wiig's picture

Although I'll fall far short of the standard, I'll give it a shot. Here's a basic framework:

1: I'd clearly identify and name the enemy and rename the misnamed "war on terror" to the "war against Islamic Jihad".

2: I'd rearrange my advisers to include experts on Islam and Islamic Jihad, and who are not apologists for Islam. Along with that I'd start a public education program on Islamic Jihad. This may be no more than the odd comment or two from the president himself, recommending a book or two, or it may involve more, but whatever, there would be moves to educate the public.

3: I would stop all aid to Islamic countries.

4: I'd look closely at immigration policies in regards to muslims and, working with experts on Islam, look at what can be done to weed out the benevolent from the malevolent, then I'd set about restricting muslim immigration as necessary. If this came to be zero muslim immigration, then so be it.

5: I would place severe restrictions on Islam, within the United States. I would put Islam on notice, and start monitoring the mosques. Any hint of radicalism and the mosque would be closed down, and even destroyed if necessary. Anyone who wasn't a naturalised US citizen, who shows support for the Jihad, would be deported. I would put a ban on building any new mosques anywhere within the United States. I would impose whatever restrictions are needed, conditional restrictions, and tie them in with the immigration policy, and with the policies of Islamic nations themselves. For instance: Immigration from a particular Islamic country could be made more liberal if that country liberalised it's own policies, such as lifting restrictions they place on the practicing of Christianity etc.

5: In regards to Iraq, I would leave it. I would leave them to stand or fall on their own feet, and I'd leave them with the simple message that if they become a threat again, then we will hit them hard again.

6: Military action in the middle east, for our own sakes, and for the sake of Israel, would be confined to air strikes as much as possible.

Still forming an opinion

Pete L's picture

This is an excellent and timely topic, I'm surprised that more people haven't stepped forward. The complexity of the Middle East makes me hesitant to offer a foolproof prescription. In particular, my background on the nation of Lebanon and the nature of its friction with Israel is not very deep. I need to do some more reading here.

In general, the events that pan out over the next few years will shape my thinking on philosophy of war. My views have really see sawed a lot since 9-11. On the one hand, I can see the potential threat of a nuclear Islamic theocracy. On the other, I question whether continued American involvement in the region is capable of eliminating more terrorists than are produced. Sorry for the non-answer, just wanted to get the discussion rolling.

On a side note, how would President Qunitana handle the current situation?

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