Blog Response (Fair Warning: This is a long one)

I’ve been involved in a bit of a tit for tat exchange with New Liberty Creation over the past week or so.

The original post that begin the exchange was regarding the recent Republican debate and Dr. Ron Paul’s candidacy wherein he derided a couple of Guliani’s justifications for supporting the war in Iraq. My response in comments prompted this post.

There were simply too many points to ponder to do justice in a comment reply so I decided to respond in a post of my own. NLC is (of course) more than welcome to comment here or, if he wishes to continue the debate on his own blog, he can send me a trackback or link to his response in the comments. I will reiterate the sentiment expressed on NLC’s blog: this is not a private discussion, other viewpoints are encouraged and welcomed.

The blockquotes are excerpts from his post. Italicized text within the blockquotes are snippets from my original comment to which he was responding. It seems weird to quote myself but I included some of those for the sake of clarity and context.

In regard to why we are so worried about Iran getting nuclear capabilities when Pakistan already has them:

Pakistan’s government is not calling for the extermination of the Israeli people or the pushing of the Israeli state “into the sea”.

Making threats and actually carrying them out or even having the ability to carry them out are completely different things. I could say the same things and no one would take me seriously.

That goes without saying. As soon as you become the leader of a historically aggressive nation, with a large military force at your beck and call, demonstrate the will and actively pursue the acquiring of nuclear weapons, I can guarantee you that your threats will be taken seriously and rightfully so.

If a 90 year old crippled guy in a wheelchair threatened to kill me for looking at him funny, I would probably not take him very seriously. If this occurred at a gun shop while said elderly gentleman was in the process of purchasing a .357 magnum and telling the gun shop owner and everyone else around that would listen that he was going to kill me…I’d be a little more prone to take heed.

Plus, Israel has 200+ nukes of their own and an extremely powerful military. I think they can take care of themselves.

You seem to have a knack for gross oversimplification. All of the military capacity in the world won’t bring back the 100,000+ countrymen that could be killed in a successful nuclear terrorist attack.

Punishing someone who is weaker than you are just because of something they say is the act of a bully, pure and simple.

I refer back to the example of the 90 year old, wheelchair bound .357 magnum seeking cripple. Failing to defend oneself against a credible threat for no reason other than the perception that the person who poses the threat is “weaker” is ludicrous.

And let’s not forget that Israel isn’t exactly an innocent babe. Some of the animosity toward them is certainly deserved. (I’m not saying attacks are deserved, just that it should be understandable why they are hated.)

As a fellow Christian, I find that sentiment a little…um…unsettling.

Please point out the nation or government that is without fault and has acted honorably and charitably in every instance and circumstance. Israel is worse than other countries, and is so deserving of hate for what reason exactly?

I freely admit that I’m no subject matter expert on the history of Israel and the middle east, but to the best of my understanding, Israel has primarily acted in its own defense and for the safety and security of its own people. Perhaps it hasn’t done so perfectly in every instance. Perhaps the Israeli people are not beyond reproach and its government has acted precipitously or inappropriately at times…but that’s makes hating them “understandable?” That seems to me to be a particularly peculiar position for a self-proclaimed Christian to take.

Especially when the aforementioned lunatic has made no bones about the fact that he hates us and our allies and supports those who have attacked us in the past and have expressed a dedication to doing so again in the future.

Well of course he does. We’ve been threatening them for over 50 years.

  1. We’ve disposed of their democratically elected government.
  2. We supported Saddam in the Iraq-Iran war.
  3. We now have a large force stationed nearby and have made known that we are not afraid to use it.

I never said that our nation’s activities were beyond reproach either. I’m sure our leaders felt that they had perfectly legitimate reasons for those things at the time…and they may have been right. The point is moot. Let’s assume that your list of items are all valid reasons for Iran to hate us. So what? We can’t go back and change history. Maybe a sincere apology would do it? Somehow I doubt it. If the leader of Iran was a rational human being perhaps we could make some inroads into a diplomatic solution. He has demonstrated, by word and deed, that he is far from rational. Appeasing him will do nothing but enable him to further his irrational goal of destroying us.

Let’s add some perspective to the situation.

What if China invaded Mexico, replaced their government, and decided to set up a few military bases?

Would we be upset? Would we begin making moves to bolster our national defense? Would we be outraged?

Unfortunately, that scenario does little to place things in “perspective”.

Did Mexico recently lose a war of aggression that they started? Was the primary driving force behind their defeat the Chinese government? Did Mexico fail repeatedly and consistently to live up to the terms of the cease fire? Did the rest of the world, fail miserably in the responsibility of forcing Mexico to live up to the terms of that agreement? Had Mexico been fomenting, financing and encouraging terrorist acts against China? Had Mexico had a history of the use of chemical and biological weapons against its enemies (and it’s own people)? Was there credible evidence (even if it later proved to be inaccurate) that Mexico was actively engaged in WMD production including the seeking of nuclear materials?

It was not simply a case of our having a bad day and deciding to pick on poor, innocent little Iraq. Heck, if that’s all it was WE could have invaded Mexico, added some territory to CONUS and kept the battle closer to home. That would have fit nicely into the “war for oil” canard as well because we have historically gotten much more of our oil from Mexico than from Iraq.

In answer to your question, yes, we probably wouldn’t take it very well if China were to invade and overthrow the government of Mexico. The bottom line, however is that if they were justified in doing so, whether we were annoyed about it or not is moot. China has as much responsibility to act in their own self defense as we do to act in ours.

In other words, your scenario’s “perspective” depends upon the pre-supposition that China’s attack on Mexico…and likewise our attack on Iraq…was unjustified. That is the entire point about which we disagree so your scenario does nothing to further this discussion.

Your characterization of an attack on the government of Iran is sophistry.

I could turn that accusation right back around by saying that the arguments both for going into Iraq and Iran are pure sophistry based on appealing to prejudices and emotion. So far, all the arguments try to appeal to either fear or patriotism.

Um…isn’t fear driven by a threat? When advocating military action of any type, what else would one appeal to? As far as basing it on prejudices or patriotism: I haven’t heard any calls to attack Iran because “we’re Americans and they’re not” or because “they’re Arabs and we’re not” or anything to that effect. You’ll have to provide some references to demonstrate the appeal to prejudices or patriotism as a justification because I’m unaware of any.

And my accusation of sophistry was specifically referring to your characterization of an attack as “punishment”. Responding to a threat is not “punishment” and characterizing it as such is sophistic because doing so is designed to impugn the action by assigning an unfounded immoral motive to it. That is sophistry and is intellectually dishonest.

Iran can avoid an attack by ceasing the threatening activity. Should they continue the threatening activity, any attack would be designed to eliminate that threat, not to punish, and our efforts against Iran would be directed against the government, not against the people.

What threatening activity? Please point me to where they can actually pose an imminent attack on the United States? Are they going to fly a missile over on a balsa wood plane?

Do terrorists require artillery, bombers and laser guided weaponry to blow up markets and ice cream parlors?

Do you really believe that the only way to deliver a nuclear payload is by ICBM or aircraft? How about a cargo container on a ship? I’d be willing to bet that Iran could scrounge a couple of them up. What about a train car? How about a big truck? Heck, a couple of guys pulling a wooden wagon with a donkey for Allah’s sake.

The government of Iran supports TERRORISTS. The government if Iran gives them weapons, funds them, hosts training camps for them, offers them safe haven. What makes you believe that, were Iran to acquire or develop a nuclear weapon, that they wouldn’t give it to those terrorists and let them do the dirty work? That doesn’t require missile technology and gives them plausible deniability as an added bonus.

Let me put it this way: If I have a bullet, that bullet is not useless to me without a fancy H&K super-whammy-dyne, tactical bad guy zapper to shoot it out of. If I can scrounge up a couple pieces of steel pipe, and end cap and a pointy object like a screw or nail, I can make adequately effective use of that bullet to introduce a superfluous orifice to someone’s anatomy. I may have to get up close and personal to do it, and I very well may injure or kill myself in the process…but if I’m willing to make those sacrifices and take those risks…that bullet is perfectly useful for my purposes.

Iran doesn’t need missiles or bombers to introduce a superfluous parking lot into the landscape of a major American or Israeli city. They only need some zealots with a big truck who are willing to die for the cause. Trucks are pretty easy to come by and they seem to have no shortage in their supply of zealots.

Would there be collateral damage? Of course. But any attack will be designed to minimize that collateral damage and the US military has become quite adept (relatively speaking) at doing so.

One million Iraqis dead is qualified as adept?

Now your arguments are just getting weird.

Without putting any effort into researching it at all, a couple of things about your cite were glaringly obvious:

1. The cite referenced a POLL. Hardly a credible source of statistical data to begin with.

2. The poll question as stated was:

“How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003 (ie as a result of violence rather than a natural death such as old age)? Please note that I mean those who were actually living under your roof.”

Leaving aside the potential for inflation simply as a result of people being double reported or the numbers being inflated by the inevitable attention seekers in an effort to inflate their own importance, or those who would over-report for propaganda or political reasons…that number would necessarily include victims of insurgent, terrorist and Al-Qaeda violence. It would also include victims of common crime, religious altercations and possibly even violent accidental deaths like traffic accidents.

Most notably, it does not differentiate between innocent civilian casualties and household members who were killed because they were…the enemy.

So…even if that number is accurate (which is HIGHLY dubious) it is not reflective in any way, shape or form of the efficacy of American military forces in minimizing civilian casualties. It may even be very reflective of the effectiveness of said military forces in eliminating enemy threats as those casualties are included in the count.

In other words, your cite doesn’t have anything to do with the point I made.

But we must face the realities of the world as it exists today, not pine for how great things would be had we never gotten ourselves into this mess.

And one of the realities of today is the sheer cost of our foreign policy of warfare and nation building. It’s bankrupting us.

That’s just BS. One of the few actual Constitutional expenditures that our runaway government is involved in is national defense.

It is the extra-constitutional (otherwise known as “Un-Constitutional”…otherwise known as “Illegal”) spending that is bankrupting us. If we held our government to its legal, constitutional limits, we’d have plenty of money to provide for the “common defence”…including securing our porous borders and providing for better security at our international shipping ports.

That’s one thing that I’m absolutely with Dr. Paul on. And it is the exact reason that he is unelectable in a national contest. Too many people are dependent upon nanny government to take care of them. Too many people are sheep dependent upon the benevolent shepherd for their own well being, security and solvency. The first time that Dr. Paul advocates eliminating the Department of Education or privatizing Social Security or flattening the progressive taxes that penalize the “evil rich”, put a fork in him. The MSM attacks would become incessant and hysterical, the 40% of the population that pays no or little taxes (or actually receives unearned tax “credits” would instantly be against him, the 10% that are extreme liberals are already against him and a good portion of the fence sitters would vote against him based solely upon the inevitable hysterical MSM predictions of the end of the world should he be elected. If Paul is the Republican nominee, I predict he would carry 4 or 5 states max.

If Paul runs as an independent after he inevitably loses the Republican Primary, I predict President Hillary by a landslide. Paul will take just enough votes away from the Republican in each state to guarantee a Hillary victory.

But I digress.

And the other reality is that these actions are not making us any safer. We are just reacting to their reactions from our original meddling actions (again, the concept of “blow back”). What we are doing now will just give birth to even more of the same, or entirely new, problems to deal with in the future.

So, if we just leave them alone, they’ll let bygones be bygones and we’ll all be friends?

What planet are you living on? These people are still pissed about things that happened in the 13th century for Allah’s sake.

I’m just not buying what you’re selling.

As the world exists today, the US is hip-deep in matters international and there are significant numbers of people who hate us for it…who hate us enough to go to any lengths to punish us for perceived wrongs. We cannot simply play turtle, pull our head into our shell and hope they leave us alone. I do not believe that they will. And I believe that, even if I thought they might, the risk is too great to take that for granted.

No one is saying that we should play turtle. It’s a straw man. All I’m saying is that we need to stop playing Rome and pretending that Caesar can save us, that we can form a new Pax Romana apart from Christ. Rome certainly created “peace”, but burning down insurgent cities and calling the resultant barren wasteland “peace” is a lie that has been repeated and exercised by governments throughout all of history.

Well, the whole turtle thing sure seems like what you are advocating to me. Pull back, pretend like there is no threat and hope they don’t turn Chicago into a parking lot for Gary.

Your continued attempts to paint the US as an aspiring empire are inaccurate and sophistic as well. Rome conquered other nations and turned them into Romans, placed them under Roman rule and Roman law and expected them to support the Roman empire through taxation, military service and all the other responsibilities of Roman Citizenship. The last time I checked, we haven’t added any new US territories since the late 19th century and actually granted independence to a US territory (the Philipinnes) in 1946. The United States is not an “Empire” in the sense of the Roman Empire and the attempt to draw equivalence is misleading and meretricious.

Violence begets violence begets violence.

Unjustified or retributional violence begets violence. Self-defense is not unjustifiable violence. Submitting to a robber or rapist does not guarantee survival. Fighting back against a violent aggressor is the most effective means of preventing harm to oneself. You make the mistake that pacifists make: you assume all violence is equivalent and immoral. Predatory violence and protective violence are two different things and are not equivalent morally or pragmatically.

In fact, this was one of the core messages of Jesus in his warnings to his contemporary Jews. Repay violence with violence, and it will catch up to you. And it certainly did with the destruction of Jerusalem.

I don’t really want to get into a theological debate regarding the legitimacy of pacifism, but I believe that this is a result of misinterpretation of those core messages of Jesus. Jesus was not referring to defending oneself against criminal violence, he was referring to the promulgation of internecine feuds that were, and still seem to be, prevalent in the societies of that area. “Turn the other cheek” is not a reference to allowing yourself to be slaughtered. Slapping of a cheek is not a particularly violent act. It is an insult. Jesus was entreating us not to reciprocate bigotry and persecution, he was not telling us to surrender ourselves to the slaughter as a means to spread the world. Dead disciples can’t preach.

Due to our actions overseas, our national security is worse off now that it ever has been.

Yes, that is obvious from the number of terrorist attacks successfully carried out on our soil since 9/11.

Why not pull the troops home and actually use them for the national defense they were created to maintain (especially the national guard)? After all, we were protecting South Korea better than Washington, D.C. on September 11th.

Because perimeter security is inherently flawed. It must succeed 100% of the time to be effective. For the bad guys to succeed, they only have to breach that security once in a potentially infinite number of attempts.

It’s like trying to fight a cockroach infestation. You can sit in your kitchen with a can of bug spray killing them one by one…but you can never sleep and despite your best efforts, you will notice that you are having to kill more and more every day; some of them are going to make it through. The only way to successfully fight them is to go to the source and wipe out the nest.

If we pull back to within our borders and give them free reign in Iran, Iraq etc. to train, plan, organize etc. The scenario will be exactly the same as sitting in the kitchen with that can of bug spray. Only in this instance, the cockroaches may be packing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons with which they fully intend to wipe out as many of your family members as possible.

And I don’t want them to leave us alone. I want to talk with them, to trade with them, to lift all embargoes and sanctions that kill innocent people. As Jefferson said, I want friendships with all, alliances with none. Free trade forms bonds of mutual prosperity and respect that make war less and less likely the longer it continues.

I agree with that 100%, but you have to have a viable starting point. As long as the official position of the Iranian government is to kill US citizens and push Israel into the sea, I cannot accept that as a viable starting point.

Similarly, when the official position of a person who is threatening my home is to steal my stuff, rape my wife and kill my family, I’m not inclined to begin negotiations from that starting point. I’m inclined to defend myself and my family…and I don’t give a rat’s petutie whether the “victim of my violence” is smaller, weaker or less well armed than I am. Call me a bully if you will but the survival of my family is more important to me than your opinion.

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