Ayn Rand's Views On Vietnam and What They Would Have Been On Iraq

Bill Visconti's picture
Submitted by Bill Visconti on Thu, 2007-06-07 04:49

From listening to a number of Ayn Rand's comments about the Vietnam War in the ARI lectures recently released at their website I noticed a number of things:

* She opposed the war as an exercise in self-sacrifice.
* She argued for withdrawl from Vietnam as it was a sacrificial war.
* She blamed the Democrats for entering the War calling it a Democrat / Liberal war.
* She called the Democrats hypocrites for smearing the "Isolationist" Republicans during WWII and yet crying for Isolationism during Nixon's Presidency (ie how dare the liberals scream at Nixon for Vietnam when they never screamed at Johnson or Kennedy).
* She loathed and I mean loathed anyone who would support the Vietcong. She said they had the blood of every dead American soldier on their hands. She emphasized that you do not support an enemy of the US ever, especially during a time of war.
* She loathed the hippies.
* Once we entered Vietnam and gave assurances to the South Vietnamese we had the responsibility to withdraw in such a way that did not surrender the South to slaughter (although this should not be done in a sacrificial way to US soldiers); ie we had to withdraw responsibly, no cut and run [Note: She even said that America should never put itself in this position again. Wow. If only she could have seen Iraq. Its the same damn thing. Its uncanny.]

To extapolate from that on what she would have thought of Iraq today, I'm guessing:

* She would have opposed the war as a useless exercise of self-sacrifice for exactly the same reasons she did with Vietnam.
* She would have argued for withdrawl for exactly the same reasons she did for Vietnam. Basically, there were better ways to fight Communism, there are better ways to fight Islam.
* She would excoriate the liberals for taking the side of or sympathizing with our Islamo-fascist enemies.
* She would loathe the anti-war (moveon.org) crowd the way she loathed the hippies (they're basically the same thing).
* She would argue that we should withdraw responsibly and in such a way that didn't just surrender the country into civil war.

In essence she would take pretty much the same positions that ARI has taken today.


( categories: )

Jameson- Burma=Pakistan in

Aaron's picture

Jameson-
Burma=Pakistan in the example. I disagree with Iraq as the priority and invasion as the tactic, but deceased equine bludgeoning.

James-
The Reagan discussion falls there too, but thanks for the link back to that daunting war/defense thread. I hope to read the section between GHS and you (and Fred and Chris to a degree) concerning rights, 'duress defense', etc. that I didn't have time for more than skimming at the time.

Check It Out

James S. Valliant's picture

I have to give a link to this great -- and very long -- discussion of self-defense between myself, George H. Smith and some others here.

Pross as Punishment

Lindsay Perigo's picture

"Tony got it from me and I got it from Ayn." So you admit that you gave it to that second-hander Blair. That is aiding and abetting plagiarism. The sentence is increased to reciting all of Victor Pross's blog posts, including those on other forums, as well.

Since Phyllis's sermons never end, adding Pross's posts to the punishment is impossible. That punishment is reserved for those mad enough to read his posts in the first place. Especially on other forums.

Linz promotes plagiarism!

Kenny's picture

"Tony got it from me and I got it from Ayn." So you admit that you gave it to that second-hander Blair. That is aiding and abetting plagiarism. The sentence is increased to reciting all of Victor Pross's blog posts, including those on other forums, as well. Smiling

Ah, but ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Tony got it from me and I got it from Ayn.

Attention Linz - Tony Blair is NOT Ayn Rand

Kenny's picture

The quote that Linz claimed came from Rand was from Tony Blair's column in last week's Economist.

He should be ashamed of himself and is sentenced to reciting the complete set of Mistress Phyllis's sermons.

FINALLY- I think Aaron said

KingRandor82's picture

FINALLY- I think Aaron said it best, and it's what I've always said, and firmly believe. Remember folks- if we'd been as MENTALLY as strong as everyone claims we were, back at that time:

1. The United Nations would've never been formed.

2. The Geneva Conventions went thru RIGHT AFTER WWII...the ultimate form of appeasement.

Ya'd think right after WWII the world would've learned SOMETHING.

Aaron...

Jameson's picture

Let me see if I've got it: Laos = Saudi Arabia; Burma = Syria; Cambodia = Iran? Smiling

Surely we must take into account that - unlike those other nations - the NV (Iraq) tested their chemical weapons on 5,000 innocent men, women and children, invaded a peaceful nation allied to the West, then perpetually broke the no-fly zones and defied UN inspectors while they rattled their nuclear sabre.

At the time I don't think there was a more relevant target.

Strategically speaking, Iraq was the ideal country for invasion: smack in the heart of the Middle East, dividing the enemies of Iran and Syria.

Aaron

James S. Valliant's picture

Gosh, it sure felt like the "Republican" Nixon's "detente" had finally ended at the time Reagan took office. The talk from the Left in those days was for a ~ unilateral ~ nuclear "freeze" -- remember? From the Same-Old-Same-Old Right, we were given the dazzling wisdom of Mutual Assured Destruction as the road to stability. The Peaceniks thought "Ray-gun" was an antediluvian war-monger and predicted the sky would fall (quite literally in a "nuclear winter") shortly after his election. When the Russians stormed out of all negotiations when Reagan actually followed through on deploying those missiles in Europe, Democrats and an endless parade of "moderates" -- along with all the TV news anchors -- were firmly convinced that the end was nigh. Reagan didn't blink. We can replay the same reaction when Reagan insisted on keeping SDI despite threats that THAT would put the kibosh on negotiations once more. Reagan was just being so damned "unrealistic" -- it would "destroy" all arms talks -- it would "bring us closer to the brink," yada, yada, yada. A VERY "clear-cut line" was plain to all of the learned commentators, including some very mistaken libertarians, at least at the time...

[P.S.: I've just been reminded that today is the 20th anniversary of Reagan's famous (and unprecedented) demand for the Soviet leader to "tear down this wall!"]

Jameson- To complete your

Aaron's picture

Jameson-
To complete your hypothetical, NV has had its military beaten into oblivion by 12 years of bombing and is ineffectual compared to almost all other nations in the region. The CT were actually from Laos, a nation also funding terrorism far more than is NV. Those CT are last known to be hiding and sheltered by the Burmese. And Cambodia is sitting right next door sponsoring terrorism on a similar scale, openly proclaiming the evil of western nations and that they should be destroyed, while working on developing nuclear weapons. Do you really think Ayn would recommend screwing with North Vietnam instead of any of the much more relevant targets nearby?

James-
I don't think there was a clear-cut line with Reagan except in how he talked about communism (which was refreshing). His actual actions of funding mujahadin and Contras were actually less aggressive than Truman or Eisenhower Doctrine policies followed before that involved deployment of US troops. I agree though that the ultimate appeasement began with even allying with Stalin in WWII.

Bill-
'Patton's Charge' would have been politically impossible and militarily doomed, but he did grasp the threat of the communists, having the attitude 'we'll have to fight them sooner or later so why not now while we're over here?' I didn't know before about Patton being held back from reaching Prague before the Soviets, that is really interesting to think of in a 'what if?'.

Only...

James S. Valliant's picture

Nice, but Barone's premise that "[t]he Republicans want to protect us against Islamist terrorists" is obviously not as obvious to me as it is to the usually well-informed Barone.

Ayn ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... was certainly no cut-and-runner.

Now, here's a good article for those Hsiekovians still thinking of complying with the fatwa and voting Dem-scum across the board. Hat-tip: "Enemy of Objectivism" Tracinski.

Linz

If we’re going to have this hypothetical debate...

Jameson's picture

we have to try and compare apples with apples.

Let’s first imagine Ayn’s horror as the World Trade Centers collapse in her beloved city after an attack by Communist Terrorists (CT). In the proceeding investigation she learns the terrorists were not partisan to any particular state, however, it is widely suspected that they were supported by communist states in and around Indochina.

Furthermore, reports suggest North Vietnam are producing weapons of mass destruction and that Ho Chi Minh has ties to terrorist organisations - including the mastermind behind the CT attack - creating an imminent threat both to the U.S. and to her western allies.

Now let’s ask Ayn what she would do...

“... at the first sign of an attack by [someone who threatens the US], we should fight them...”

And how hard should we fight them?

“... by every means we have, because it is criminal to kill Americans while not using the better weapons we possess.”

But what if it’s an asymmetrical war and nuking them is ineffective?

“... anyone who wants to invade a dictatorship or semi-dictatorship is morally justified in doing so...”

What should we do now that we've invaded, hanged Ho Chi Minh for war crimes, and discovered there wasn’t any firm link between him and the CT? And what do you have to say to those who are pulling punches, trying to fight a limited war?

“... for us to withdraw would be appeasement. But here is what’s worse: The idea that this country cannot defeat Vietnam is ridiculous, and the whole world knows it. But we are not allowed to use our strength. We’re not allowed to take proper measures - that is, pursue the Vietcong across borders and into its own territory... We are fighting with our hands tied. The idea that America must withdraw from Vietnam is worse than appeasement. It is a shameful pretense. Further, since the world knows we are not physically weak, it would be an admission of moral corruption: that we do not possess a primitive dignity that any nation should have - to it’s own dead, if nothing else - that if it is involved in a war, it should finish it. It must win or be defeated.”

Thank you, Ayn. Now let's get on with it.

Well Said Thomas

Bill Visconti's picture

What Thomas said. He's spot on.

Actually, I think that Ayn Rand would have been more along the lines of the Hseikovians. Just look at her opinion of Reagan! There is no way that she would have supported Iraq. She would have opposed cut-and-run or any policy which emasculated America now that Iraq is a given. This is exactly the position she took with Vietnam. But IMO, she would have denounced Iraq with the same vemom (if not more) that she denounced Vietnam. As I said, given what we know of her, there is no way she would have held opinions that are like those of the Tracinski Objectivists. And this gets back to the question of the *essential* nature of Iraqi Freedom. Tracinski, pro-Iraq Objectivists think that Iraq is essentially self-interested. Peikoff, Brook, the Hseikovians, etc think that Iraq is essentially self-sacrificial. My point with this post is that from what we have of Ayn Rand's views of all the wars she commented on, its a fair bet that she would have viewed Iraq as a fundamentally altruistic war as well.

Proud Member Of The "Bomb-Them-Into-Oblivion" School Of Foreign Policy

You mean ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... you don't believe Ayn Rand spoke those words, Thomas?

Then who did?

First incorrect answer gets a complete set of Mistress Phyllis' sermons.

“It is said that by

Thomas Lee's picture

“It is said that by removing Saddam or the Taliban—regimes that were authoritarian but also kept a form of order—the plight of Iraqis and Afghans has worsened and terrorism has been allowed to grow. This is a seductive but dangerous argument.

Said by whom? By anti-American liberals? By amoral "realists"? Certainly that is not the view of Objectivists, who argue that by rejecting the goal of American self-defense, Bush has started two self-sacrficial wars that have made us less safe by making our enemies more powerful, and by draining Americans' will for war.

It means that because these reactionary and evil forces will fight hard, through terrorism, to prevent those countries and their people getting on their feet after the dictatorships are removed, we should leave the people under the dictatorship.

That's not what's happening. That's Bush's fairytale about what's happening. It's based on the notion that the Iraqis and Afghanis desire freedom, and if it weren't for a few evil terrorists, those countries would be stable, friendly, free nations today. Yet that view flies in the face of the obvious reality that the Iraqis and Afghanis do not want freedom. They want tribal, religious, sectarian rule--and that desire has to lead to bloody sectarian violence.

The proper view is not that we should leave people under dictatorship because our enemies will fight hard. The refusal to sacrifice American lives freeing the people of the world from dictatorship is not the same as leaving them under dictatorship. The proper view is that our government's only concern when deciding military action should be: is a nation non-threatening? If it isn't, its job is to render that nation non-threatening as quickly and as painlessly (to us) as possible. Now, one could argue that Iraq was a threat that had to be dealt with. If so, then we should have dealt with it--by crushing the Iraqi regime, destroying their capability and willingness to fight us, and then telling them, "Establish whatever kind of country you would like--but if it threatens us, you will pay once again." It is not our responsibility, nor in our interest, to try to turn mystical, tribalist, collectivists into lovers of liberty.

There is no alternative to fighting this menace wherever it rears its head. There are no demands that are remotely negotiable. It has to be beaten. Period

Amen, which is why we must condemn and reject Bush's anti-American, altruistic foreign policy--and demand a real war against America's enemies.

Stop Press!!—Ayn Speaks!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I've just been communing with AR. Here's what she said on the matter at hand:

“It is said that by removing Saddam or the Taliban—regimes that were authoritarian but also kept a form of order—the plight of Iraqis and Afghans has worsened and terrorism has been allowed to grow. This is a seductive but dangerous argument. Work out what it really means. It means that because these reactionary and evil forces will fight hard, through terrorism, to prevent those countries and their people getting on their feet after the dictatorships are removed, we should leave the people under the dictatorship. It means our will to fight for what we believe in is measured by our enemy's will to fight us, but in inverse proportion. That is not a basis on which you ever win anything... The truth is that the conflict in Iraq has mutated into something directly fuelled by the same elements that confront us everywhere. Yet a large, probably the larger, part of Western opinion would prefer us to withdraw. That is the extraordinary dulling of our senses that the terrorism has achieved... There is no alternative to fighting this menace wherever it rears its head. There are no demands that are remotely negotiable. It has to be beaten. Period.”

She also told me to give the defenders of the fatwa a good kick up the bum. I told her to pay attention.

Patton

Bill Visconti's picture

General Patton wanted to take German soldiers and use them in an invasion of Russia. Whether that would have worked or not is not the important point. The amazing thing about Patton is that he saw immediately that the Commies were not allies of America. Patton also wanted to march his Third Army to Prague but of course Eisenhower and Truman wouldn't let him. If he had, Russia would never have gained control of Eastern Europe and the Eastern Bloc would have been spared 50 years of Soviet tyranny. So much for restraining all those heartless war-mongers.

Yaron Brook made the point in a Q&A at one of his lectures that after the end of WWII America was the only nuclear armed super power in the world. Imagine if we had nuked Moscow and Beijing (or at least threatened to). We could have ended Communism right there and spared over 200 million people from Communist slaughter.

But we didn't and in fact couldn't because America's intellectuals (as were all the intellectuals of the West) idolized Communism which they did because they glorified altruism. Sometimes I think that it was amazing that America was able to fight the war it did fight in WWII given just how bad the philosophical climate was even in the 1940s. Remember it was then that the "Progressives" where fully taking over the country. And America's self-immolation in foreign policy starts immediately afte WWII with its capitulation to Russia and its self-sacrificial approach to war as seen in Korea and Vietnam. Given WWI and everything we have seen in the last 50 years, Patton and MacArthur and WWII seem to be the exception, and thank goodness for it.

Proud Member Of The "Bomb-Them-Into-Oblivion" School Of Foreign Policy

Aaron

James S. Valliant's picture

Obviously, there are multiple factors that played into the Soviets' relative aggressiveness at different times, Aaron, but the Vietnam war only showed our continuing UNwillingness to take on the Soviets directly. So, I wouldn't count that the way you are at all. The analogy I am drawing here between Iraq and Vietnam is that both are really ~ forms ~ of appeasement.

Our long-term policy of appeasement of the Soviets was obvious from the start of our war-time alliance. It merely became obviously obscene at Yalta. Patton was a nut-case -- remember? -- and the U.N. was being set-up with high hopes, and, whatever America's relative strength, there was no great willingness to fight the Bolshies. Indeed, the very "lines" America FINALLY first drew in the sand -- "well, they CAN'T have WEST Berlin, damn it!" -- shows an extraordinary appeasement by western leaders, not "resolve" at all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful we formed NATO and all, but -- especially in light of our relative strength -- the 1940s was the time we basically let Uncle Joe have what Uncle Joe wanted. It wasn't the power of America versus the power of the Soviets -- it never was -- but only our willingness to do anything about the Soviets.

From FDR's normalization of relations with the Soviets until the election of Ronald Reagan, with maybe one or two momentary exceptions, our relationship with the USSR differed only in the slight degree of its level of appeasement.

Soviet Union

Aaron's picture

The popular fear of nuclear war since the fall of Vietnam was likely the greatest in the early-mid Reagan years - MX missiles, SDI, War Games, The Day After, etc. Fear at the time isn't necessarily a good gauge of true risk though. Looking back it appears the true risk of a nuclear exchange with the USSR really decreased starting in the early 70s. Total deployed warheads reduced drastically - SALT (Nixon), SALT II (Carter), START and INF (Reagan) - yet the deterrence effectiveness of the deployed warheads remained at least as high with increased use of MIRV and SLBMs.

Nicaragua in the early 80s doesn't stand out vs. pre-Vietnam incidents such as Guatemala, Dominican Republic, or of course Cuba. While Khmer Rouge was a nightmare, after the US left Indochina the region involved Soviet vs. Red Chinese intra-communist power struggles and proxy wars, pitting USSR-backed Vietnam vs. PRC-backed Cambodia.

The USSR did invade Afghanistan in 1979, 6 years after the US effectively ended involvement in Vietnam. However, the Soviets also invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, while the US was deeply embroiled in the war. They invaded various other nations dating back to WWII and before.

1948 - The US was undoubtedly the strongest nation militarily and economically in the world. Only it had nuclear weapons, Russia still lacked them, and less than 3 years prior the US demonstrated willingness to use such weapons. The appearance of strength and resolve of the US was higher at this time than any time since. Yet the USSR held an iron curtain over East Germany and other Eastern European nations - and began its blockade of West Berlin.

Lining up USSR invasions and aggressions vs. US' appearance of strength or weakness doesn't make for a good correlation, let alone an argument for causality. The Soviets were dangerous, belligerent and ballsy regardless whether the US was fighting a proxy war, licking its wounds after withdrawing from one, or had just proven itself the most powerful nation on earth in a world war.

I couldn't agree more!

Thomas Lee's picture

I couldn't agree more! Though I doubt that would have made al Qaeda and the Shiites any less intent on mayhem and carnage.

What will make them less intent on mayhem and carnage is the conviction that their cause is hopeless. And for them to reach that conviction, we must show them their cause is hopeless by inflicting massive damage on any person or nation that threatens us in the name of Islamic totalitarianism.

I've never argued that Bush's strategy has been ideal (Mr. Visconti, please acknowledge this, rather than portraying me as enamoured of the current "representative" regime. I've simply argued that it's America-friendly and beholden to a constitution guaranteeing basic freedoms, which is an improvement).

It depends on what you mean by America-friendly. If you mean that Bush et. al. are not consciously out to aid the enemy, then okay. That may be true. But make no mistake: they advocate American self-sacrifice. That they rationalize their call for American self-immolation by occassionally appealing to American self-defense doesn't make them objectively America-friendly--anymore than an altruist is friendly to human life because he says that by sacrificing for others, you'll actually be happier and more successful in the long run...or that by sacrificing for the volk, you'll benefit from the rise of the Third Reich. (See Yaron Brook and Elan Journo's recent essay in The Objective Standard for details on this point.)

I want to stress this because it's important: the problem is not that Bush isn't tough enough or aggressive enough in the war on Islamic totalitarianism. It's that he has rejected the goal of American self-defense in favor of an altruistic foreign policy aimed at spreading democracy. That he continues to advocate this suicidal course in the face of unmistakable evidence that it is empowering our enemies and pointlessly destroying American lives is why I say that he is evil.

True, but no decision,

atlascott's picture

True, but no decision, including in foreign policy, is without consquence, and consequences are not always foreseable.

I do not hold real people to the standard of perfection, especially when jusding their actions and their conequences 20 years later.

Reagan was inspiring.

Scott DeSalvo

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur!

An interim dictator, absolutely!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Rather than sacrifice the lives of our soldiers in order to bring the vote the freedom-hating Iraqis, we should have--if we were going to attack Iraq--smashed that regime and installed an American-friendly dictator.

I couldn't agree more! Though I doubt that would have made al Qaeda and the Shiites any less intent on mayhem and carnage.

I've never argued that Bush's strategy has been ideal (Mr. Visconti, please acknowledge this, rather than portraying me as enamoured of the current "representative" regime. I've simply argued that it's America-friendly and beholden to a constitution guaranteeing basic freedoms, which is an improvement). He gets it in the neck from the Dem-scum and anarcho-Saddamites, of course, for being a warmonger, while most of us here would say he's not enough of a warmonger. But I wouldn't turn my exasperation with him into something that would succour the enemy, such as cut-and-run advocacy, voting Dem-scum and calling him the most evil president ever.

Linz

Aaron

James S. Valliant's picture

No, any form of appeasement will likely "motivate" our enemies -- and we should never do it -- but I see little difference between the appeasement of slow defeat or immediate withdrawl -- except additional American lives lost. That's why I would be for the latter. If there was any realistic chance that this would ever become something other than a form of rank appeasement, I would be with Linz.

James- The Cold War era and

Aaron's picture

James-
The Cold War era and Soviet responses to US appearance of strength/weakness I'll have to hit in another post later.

"Well, I agree Ron Paul was mistaken -- and that we should be concerned about how our actions will inspire, encourage, in your words, "motivate" the bad guys."

I think from context we are agreeing, but that you just forgot a 'not' in 'we should not be'?

"I would crush them -- body and spirit."

Though we might disagree in particulars, damn straight on principles.

"However, the argument that we are "recruiting" terrorists by remaining in Iraq is the one argument I would NEVER make to encourage our withdrawl. First, OUR actions could never do such a thing absent something profoundly and violently threatening to the U.S. ALREADY at work in this world of ours."

I agree that such an argument for withdrawal would also be akin to Paul's argument about intervention inspiring terrorism, but I certainly don't think you or others here are making such an argument. What I'm referring to concerning Iraq is the flipside - claims that regardless whether the US should have gone in in the first place, now we cannot leave because it would encourage terrorists. From what I gather you do advocate leaving Iraq so don't make that argument either, but I know Bill and others have. It's that line of reasoning that I'm referring to, which like Ron Paul's views bows down to what madmen may do.

Awesome Post Thomas

Bill Visconti's picture

"What a proper foreign policy demands is that other nations be non-threatening: this means, either America-friendly, or America-fearing. Rather than sacrifice the lives of our soldiers in order to bring the vote the freedom-hating Iraqis, we should have--if we were going to attack Iraq--smashed that regime and installed an American-friendly dictator."

Truly great comments. Keep it up. The Linziskis keep saying that an American-friendly regime in Iraq is a great thing. I agree in principle, but in practice it ignores the reality of the Islamic nature of the Iraqi people. Tracinski's beloved "reprsentative government" will not take there now, not in any realistic way.

We should not have been trying to enlighten Iraq or as Hugh Fitzgerald says "create a light unto Muslim nations". That is a reflection of Bush's Christian altruism and his intrinsicsm that he believes "all people desire freedom." We should have bombed the fuck out of Iraq, strip-searched it, placed our bases where-the-fuck-ever we wanted to, auction off the oil fields to Anglo-sphere oil companies and placed an American loving puppet government in place - the proverbial "our son of a bitch". But Bush's Operation Iraqi Freedom is a fucking altruistic joke. The Linziski's are out of their minds to defend it.

Proud Member Of The "Bomb-Them-Into-Oblivion" School Of Foreign Policy

Scott

James S. Valliant's picture

I must hasten to point out, of course, that we are living with other, more negative consequences of Reagan's presidency today, as well.

James is ABSOLUTELY correct

atlascott's picture

" And the fear of nuclear war increased until Reagan started dealing with the Soviets"

American was heading down the most perilous stretch of road it ever did in the 1970's and early 80's.  Americans were losing faith in the government, our culture, everything.  Reagan, we need another.

Scott DeSalvo

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur!

Aaron

James S. Valliant's picture

Ignore the nightmare that happened in southeast Asia, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 79, as I recall, and were on the move in Latin America and southern Africa much more aggressively. And the fear of nuclear war increased until Reagan started dealing with the Soviets. Yeah.

Well, I agree Ron Paul was mistaken -- and that we should be concerned about how our actions will inspire, encourage, in your words, "motivate" the bad guys. I would crush them -- body and spirit.

However, the argument that we are "recruiting" terrorists by remaining in Iraq is the one argument I would NEVER make to encourage our withdrawl. First, OUR actions could never do such a thing absent something profoundly and violently threatening to the U.S. ALREADY at work in this world of ours.

James-

Aaron's picture

James-
"Rand's prediction about Vietnam was right on the money, as events proved in many places around the globe -- and in short order."

The Soviet thugs were encouraged and the communist domino effect and threat of nuclear war increased?

"If OUR behavior was an UNjustified "cause" for 9/11, then what is Paul saying? We have to avoid acting in a way that would piss off total mad men?"

Exactly! And that is why I disagree with Paul's focus on the terrorists' motivation behind 9/11. I do not think he's anti-America or believes at all that their motives constitute justification. However, it does promote the idea that we should worry not only about whether our actions are just in themselves, but their effects on motivating terrorists. My point is that this is exactly what those Objectivists opposed to entering Iraq but who encourage staying there now are also doing. I likewise don't believe any of them anti-American or that if any terrorist activity occurred which was motivated by withdrawal from Iraq that they'd claim it justified. But like Ron Paul, they are advocating the idea that US policy should be guided by the fear of the possible reactions of 'total mad men'.

Having an America-friendly

Thomas Lee's picture

Having an America-friendly regime there is in America's self-interest.

You can't have ends without means. Obviously, it is in America's self-interest that all nations be America-friendly, all else being equal, but that doesn't mean it is in our self-interest to go around establishing America-friendly nations everywhere.

What a proper foreign policy demands is that other nations be non-threatening: this means, either America-friendly, or America-fearing. Rather than sacrifice the lives of our soldiers in order to bring the vote the freedom-hating Iraqis, we should have--if we were going to attack Iraq--smashed that regime and installed an American-friendly dictator.

Today we are seeing the blood-drenched proof that freedom depends on reason.

Fear of...?

James S. Valliant's picture

Rand's prediction about Vietnam was right on the money, as events proved in many places around the globe -- and in short order.

If OUR behavior was an UNjustified "cause" for 9/11, then what is Paul saying? We have to avoid acting in a way that would piss off total mad men? Or, that we're not now JUSTIFIED in responding? Whiskey tango foxtrot?!?!? (WTF?!)

In those days, we were told that we were prevented from appropriate action in places like Vietnam by the fact that the Soviets had the Bomb.

What's the pathetic excuse NOW? We have to WAIT for them to get a Bomb? Just to be fair?

Thomas-

Aaron's picture

Thomas-
"But they weren't mistaken."

"The "could" did not come to pass, but the "would" certainly did, and we're now paying the price for it."

Ayn's quote was clearly referring to the Soviet Union, expressing extreme fear concerning a communist domino effect or nuclear war. Trying to change what she meant to mean Islam instead of her explicitly stated 'Soviet thugs' is a misguided attempt to defend her statements. Rand was right on about many, many things including integrating a whole philosophy - but on this particular prediction of world events was simply wrong. I expect those fear-mongering about leaving Iraq are also wrong. Withdrawing may mean civil war there, but we are not Iraqis' keepers.

Peter-
Is there truly any evidence to believe that middle-eastern terrorists willing to die for whatever Palestinian/Islamic/etc cause cared about whether the US stayed in Vietnam?

All who fret about an image problem concerning withdrawing from Iraq-
Even if Islamic hijackers, suicide bombers, etc. are motivated by US leaving this or that war - a point I do not consider a given and where I consider the burden of proof on its supporters - how does this belief differ in kind from saying such terrorists are motivated by other factors?

When Ron Paul in a debate observed Bin Laden's claim that 9/11 terrorists were motivated by US involvement in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, many including Objectivists attacked him as if he meant this justified those acts of terror. If motivation is to be conflated with justification, then that same attack can be levied against those who say terrorists are motivated by US non-intervention. In that case, how are those wanting us to stay in Iraq solely because of worry about US' image in the eyes of terrorists not 'blaming America'?

I personally like the idea of evaluating foreign policy acts without a primary concern about what might motivate an insane murderous Islamic thug. If bombing Iraq in the 90s was right, it was right regardless Islamists that might attack. If leaving Iraq now is right, it is right regardless Islamists that might attack. But if you do want to worry about terrorists' motivations you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Riiiiight...

Jameson's picture

Now I see a Hsiekovian saying Bush is the most evil American president ever.

... and Dem-scum Bill (thanks for the campaign cash, China, here's your missile chips) Clinton was such a fucking angel!!

These people are blind and dumb!!!

Bill ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

But she opposed pulling out if it meant signaling defeat or America's weakness. This is why she hated the hippies and the liberals, because they sympathized with America's military enemies. This is why I said that she would support withdrawl from Iraq if it could be done responsibly.

It can't. Withdrawal = exactly the things she said in the quote I provided. "It would be a confirmation and a surrender, a declaration of our debilitated impotence." And no Objectivist should be signing up to that.

I don't believe for a second that she would have ever supported Bush's Iraq war which she would have seen immediately was drenched in altruism. I don't know if she would have been a Hseikovian or not, but she would never have been a Tracinski-type pro-Bush, pro-Iraq Objectivist. Not a snowball's chance in hell of that.

Toppling Saddam was in America's self-interest. Having an America-friendly regime there is in America's self-interest. Just ask Israel. You don't know if Ayn would have been a Hsiekovian? You seriously think for a second she would vote for Hillary, and Dem-scum across the board?! Come on!!

Now I see a Hsiekovian saying Bush is the most evil American president ever. Um ...

Linz

Excellent Point

Bill Visconti's picture

"This is why it is crucial for Objectivists to keep calling attention to the fact that neither the right nor the left has offered a program for the defense of the United States--and then to offer one. If Americans do once again start to look for answers, once the right and the left have been discredited, we need to be able to make the case clearly and convincingly."

This is an excellent point. One which the pro-Iraq Objectivists refuse to accept because to them if you do not support Bush's war efforts in Iraq then you are Demscum sympathizers.

Proud Member Of The "Bomb-Them-Into-Oblivion" School Of Foreign Policy

I think John Lewis's book

Mike_M's picture

I think John Lewis's book will have a real impact. According to him, it is under contract with Princeton University Press! Princeton is a respected university, from what I've heard. Eye

There'll be blame

Thomas Lee's picture

There'll be blame apportioned for all sorts of reasons, but I haven't seen an iota of evidence that people will argue that the response has been insufficiently belligerent.

Neither have I, which was precisely my point, i.e., that the negative consequences of Bush's altruistic foreign policy will be ascribed to the fact that we went to war rather than engage in endless rounds of diplomacy--and that the only real chance the American people will challenge that premise anytime soon is if they see the negative consequences of Democratic do-nothing-ism.

This is why it is crucial for Objectivists to keep calling attention to the fact that neither the right nor the left has offered a program for the defense of the United States--and then to offer one. If Americans do once again start to look for answers, once the right and the left have been discredited, we need to be able to make the case clearly and convincingly. (I think Objectivists are doing that, thankfully--particularly with ARI's op-eds and The Objective Standard's articles.)

Insufficiently belligerent?

Peter Cresswell's picture

Because there's exactly zero evidence for it. There'll be blame apportioned for all sorts of reasons, but I haven't seen an iota of evidence that people will argue that the response has been insufficiently belligerent.

Have you?

PC

Linz

Bill Visconti's picture

"Bill—where did Ayn argue for withdrawal from Vietnam?"

She was adamantly opposed to the Vietnam war becaue it was altruistic. In one of the Q&A's of her Ford Hall Forum speeches which I believe was the "Apollo and Dionysus" one, she says that if it were possible "we should pull out tomorrow because we should have never pulled in." But she opposed pulling out if it meant signaling defeat or America's weakness. This is why she hated the hippies and the liberals, because they sympathized with America's military enemies. This is why I said that she would support withdrawl from Iraq if it could be done responsibly.

I don't believe for a second that she would have ever supported Bush's Iraq war which she would have seen immediately was drenched in altruism. I don't know if she would have been a Hseikovian or not, but she would never have been a Tracinski-type pro-Bush, pro-Iraq Objectivist. Not a snowball's chance in hell of that.

Proud Member Of The "Bomb-Them-Into-Oblivion" School Of Foreign Policy

Dems and Religion

Liz's picture

How we should fight that

Mike_M's picture

How we should fight that enemy, including what voting strategy to follow, is a secondary issue. (I do think one can say, however, that it is crucial to oppose any candidate who activley attempts to introduce religion into politics, such as Bush.)

I agree. Right now, that means Republicans. There might be a few Dems trying to do this, but it isn't as widespread as with the Republican.

Thomas, there is exactly

Thomas Lee's picture

Thomas, there is exactly zero chance of that ever happening. To call it wishful thinking would elevate it to an epistemological status it didn't deserve

Why do you say that?.

Linz

James S. Valliant's picture

My Goldwater allusion meant: DOING WHAT'S NECESSARY.

Rand wanted PROPER action if we were to stay in Vietnam, not more senseless casualities.

That is madness.

Is there really any chance of us doing what's needed right now? Really?

Unless he was willing to do ALL that was necessary, Bush should never have started this thing -- right? What's happening is the discrediting of military action in the eyes of the public.

Exactly zero chance

Peter Cresswell's picture

"But at least then there is the possibility that Americans will blame the consequences on our failure to crush our enemies--and will call for action..."

Thomas, there is exactly zero chance of that ever happening. To call it wishful thinking would elevate it to an epistemological status it didn't deserve.

PC

If the Dems are becoming

Thomas Lee's picture

If the Dems are becoming more religious, wouldn't that confirm Peikoff's larger point, that the country itself is becoming more religious?

And this remains the essential issue: not "how should one vote?' but, who is the primary enemy to be fought? Dr. Peikoff's answer is: the one offering a moral ideal, religion.

How we should fight that enemy, including what voting strategy to follow, is a secondary issue. (I do think one can say, however, that it is crucial to oppose any candidate who activley attempts to introduce religion into politics, such as Bush.)  

Withdrawal did help encourage the thugs

Peter Cresswell's picture

Aaron, withdrawal from Vietnam may not have sufficiently encouraged the Soviet thugs "to believe that America would not fight" (although that may have had more to do with the Soviets being even weaker than anyone ever thought, weaker even than Ayn had thought), but it seems clear enough in hindsight that it did sure as hell help encourage the Islamo-fascist thugs to think that America would always be a pushover, given a sufficiently noisy protest movement to act as their stooges.

PC

Dems and Religion #2

Mike_M's picture

If the Dems are becoming more religious, wouldn't that confirm Peikoff's larger point, that the country itself is becoming more religious?

Dems and Religion

Mike_M's picture

The problem I have with Republicans is not that they are personally relgious. If some day the Dems begin forming legislation on religious grounds (for example, if they claim that we should socialize medicine because it is the biblical thing to do), of course voting Dem would be bad. I doubt Peikoff would disagree. As it stands now, the Repubs are too in bed with Christianity for me to not vote against them. (Seriously. Ideas that were proposed in Christian Reconstructionist journals have crept into the party platform over the last few years.)

AR and voting

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Mike says:

Would she vote Dem? No idea, but I don't think it is that much of a stretch to think she would. Here is what she said about voting Reagan in 1980: "Ladies and gentlemen, should that monster [Reagan] succeed in 1980 - and I hope to be dead by then, because I don't want to see such a day - I damn any of you who vote for him. (I'm speaking of moral damnation.) What Reagan did should not be forgiven, because you will be the victims."
So there you have it. Voting Reagan = damnation. I think everyone here agrees that Reagan is about a thousand times better than Bush or any Republican running for 2008 on all counts, so I imagine the hypothetical Rand fatwa would be much harsher than the Peikoff fatwa. That's on page 71 of Ayn Rand Answers, btw. On page 66 she says she will vote for Dem-scum Daniel Patrick Moynihan over James Bucklwy, even though Moynihan supports national health insurance and national economic planning. Page 62-71 has excellent material on voting and religion in politics.

Note, however, that much as she hated Reagan (irrationally so in my view, and partly because he challenged Ford, who was a plonker but whom she liked) she didn't vote for Carter. She abstained. Abstaining was not an option in the Peikoff fatwa. (Peikoff himself voted for Reagan in 1980.)

She says she'll vote for Moynihan because he's not a "leftist" liberal, whereas Buckley is a religious conservative and an ecologist. But if it were between Buckley and Bella Abzug she would have abstained.

Now, given that all three Dem-scum presidential frontrunners are busy telling everyone how religious they are, and are ecologists and are leftists and are contemptible cut-and-runners, it's inconceivable to me that she would vote for any of them, let alone vote Dem-scum across the board as enjoined by the fatwa.

Linz

I'm confident Ayn would not

Thomas Lee's picture

I'm confident Ayn would not be advocating withdrawal right now. Withdrawal = defeat. Yes, Iran and Syria have to be dealt to too. The Dem-scum for whom two Hsiekovians blanketly voted make that more difficult. But the fact that Syria and Iran are not (yet) being dealt to is no reason to give up in Iraq. Doing the latter would render the former well nigh impossible.

I don't think the appropriate action is withdrawal, either. It is to crush the insurgency and Iran and Saudi Arabia. However, I am convinced that the right--and Bush in particular--will make that end more difficult to achieve, rather than easier.

Why? Because, so long as we are fighting an altruistic war that is emboldening and and empowering our enemies, then all the negative consequences of such a war will be blamed on the fact that we are being too aggressive. Americans will not accept another war at this point (and if it is another altruistic, nation-building half-war like the one in Iraq, they shouldn't).

Yes, there will be negative consequences if the Democrats take over and we pull out of Iraq. But at least then there is the possibility that Americans will blame the consequences on our failure to crush our enemies--and will call for action.

Admittedly, that's a bleak scenerio, as it basically says that we have to wait until more Americans are slaughtered until we have a chance of doing something about it. But, sadly, I believe that's true--and the blame belongs squarly with George W. Bush. He had the opportunity after 9/11 to destroy our enemies. Instead, he chose to sacrifice American lives to bring the gift of democracy to them. He chose to sacrifice American treasure and American blood in the name of the very Islamic totalitarians who hate freedom and hate America. In my view, he is the most evil man ever to reach the presidency.

Would she vote Dem? No idea,

Mike_M's picture

Would she vote Dem? No idea, but I don't think it is that much of a stretch to think she would. Here is what she said about voting Reagan in 1980:

"Ladies and gentlemen, should that monster [Reagan] succeed in 1980 - and I hope to be dead by then, because I don't want to see such a day - I damn any of you who vote for him. (I'm speaking of moral damnation.) What Reagan did should not be forgiven, because you will be the victims."

So there you have it. Voting Reagan = damnation. I think everyone here agrees that Reagan is about a thousand times better than Bush or any Republican running for 2008 on all counts, so I imagine the hypothetical Rand fatwa would be much harsher than the Peikoff fatwa. That's on page 71 of Ayn Rand Answers, btw.

On page 66 she says she will vote for Dem-scum Daniel Patrick Moynihan over James Bucklwy, even though Moynihan supports national health insurance and national economic planning. Page 62-71 has excellent material on voting and religion in politics.

Small mercies ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

At least no one is claiming Rand would have advocated blanketly voting for Dem-scum.

James, along *what* lines, in your Goldwater allusion? Do you mean nuking?

I'm confident Ayn would not be advocating withdrawal right now. Withdrawal = defeat. Yes, Iran and Syria have to be dealt to too. The Dem-scum for whom two Hsiekovians blanketly voted make that more difficult. But the fact that Syria and Iran are not (yet) being dealt to is no reason to give up in Iraq. Doing the latter would render the former well nigh impossible. Good piece making this point in the NY Times.

Linz

Yes, the Soviets were

Thomas Lee's picture

Yes, the Soviets were emboldened by the Vietnam debacle, as the Jihadists would be emboldened by our leaving Iraq.

Are they not emboldened by the fact they are killing Americans everyday without consequence? Are they not emboldened by Iran's ability to spit in our face and spill American blood with impunity? Whether we continue to sacrifice the lives of our soldiers in Iraq, or "cut and run," we are declaring ourselves impotent in the face of Islamic totalitarian Islam and are emboldening our enemies. But Bush is worse, because his policies are not only emboldening our enemies--they are making them more powerful.

Linz

James S. Valliant's picture

The "stay to win" option for Rand seems to have been like Barry Goldwater's proposals to "deal" with the situation in Vietnam. Even with the negative consequences, she would have said "leave" -- if we weren't going to "win" along those lines. Yes, the Soviets were emboldened by the Vietnam debacle, as the Jihadists would be emboldened by our leaving Iraq. But UNLESS we are willing to do what it takes -- and, here, that means Iran and Syria and messy collateral damage -- why should Americans keep DYING?

Why rush to draw parallels

Thomas Lee's picture

Why rush to draw parallels to Ayn's fears about Vietnam when they were clearly mistaken?

But they weren't mistaken.

Read the quote again: "If the United States were to withdraw now from Vietnam, it would be a confirmation and a surrender, a declaration of our debilitated impotence. It could unleash an unobstructed flood of communism on the world, and a nuclear war—since it would encourage the Soviet thugs, doped by their own stooges and their own propaganda, to believe that America would not fight."

The "could" did not come to pass, but the "would" certainly did, and we're now paying the price for it. While there are decades of evidence since Vietnam to confirm the U.S. is a paper tiger, the Islamists have learned from the Vietnam war that they can lose all the battles but still win the war: just keep slaughtering Americans until the war becomes so unpopular we go home.

But the alternative is not, as the conservatives (and Tracinski) say, to allow the enemy to keep slaughtering our soldiers as a demonstration of our "will." Treating our soldiers as fiat currency intended to stave off the inevitable collapse of a corrupt foreign policy is even more immoral than "cutting and running" in my judgment. The only alternative is victory, which means: quickly crush the insurgency and then turn our sights to Iran.

Yet George W. Bush will not do it because his goal is not American self-defense: it is a self-sacrificial "calling" to "end...tyranny in our world."

Thanks for the quote

Aaron's picture

Thanks for the quote Linz.

The US withdrew from Vietnam.
There wasn't an unobstructed flood of communism on the world.
Within 15 more years communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union fell.
This happened without nuclear war.

Why rush to draw parallels to Ayn's fears about Vietnam when they were clearly mistaken?

Ayn was no Hsiekovian!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Bill—where did Ayn argue for withdrawal from Vietnam? I can't find any such thing. Certainly she believed America should never have gone in in the first place, but here's what she says in the AR Letter, Sept 23, 1974, quoting a piece cut from "The Wreckage of the Consensus":

"If the United States were to withdraw now from Vietnam, it would be a confirmation and a surrender, a declaration of our debilitated impotence. It could unleash an unobstructed flood of communism on the world, and a nuclear war—since it would encourage the Soviet thugs, doped by their own stooges and their own propaganda, to believe that America would not fight."

Now, there was reason to go into Iraq, and there is reason to finish the job. Ayn would be arguing for much more KASS, to be sure, but I doubt she'd be advocating withdrawal (to extrapolate, substitute "Islamo-Fascism" for "communism" in the above quote). And she sure as hell wouldn't be advocating a blanket vote for the cut-and-run Dem-scum maggots! (Ayn, voting for Hillary or Gore?! Gimme a break!)

Linz

Jameson

James S. Valliant's picture

I not sure that's the important difference.

The Communists were a threat in the same way that the Islamo-fascists are. The questions are whether Vietnam/Iraq were/are the right places to make our stand against it -- and whether those wars were/are being fought the right way.

Saddam was a bad guy -- so were the commies of southeast Asia. That's not the point.

If the original motives behind our presence in Iraq really involved our "attackers," then why are we not now taking down Iran or Syria? These are the nations to change in order to reshape that region. These are even the cause of many of our problems in Iraq itself! What CAN'T these regimes get away with these days?! Why are madrassahs in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia allowed to preach their murderous hatred of life with hardly a yawn from the West?

I supported Bush on Iraq -- believing the intervention from Iran would come, as it did -- and that we act appropriately, as we did not. I realize now that I should have taken Bush at his word -- this is a war being fought for altruistic motives.

There is one big difference...

Jameson's picture

... the Vietcong didn't attack America.

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