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Reply to "A Middle East Party"

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Submitted by Mark Humphrey (United States), Oct 26, 2004 at 00:58

Dr. Pipes:

While I sympathize with your revulsion toward Islamic fascism with its totalitiarian aspects, and with your disdain for the left, I think your vision of appropriate US policy is wrong. The basis for my disagreement is that individuals really do possess rights that are theirs by nature.

As such, US foreign (and domestic) policy ought to uphold and defend these negative rights to liberty, which means that the power of our (or any) government ought to be severely restricted, since unchained governments are the greatest threat to the rights of individuals. I can't prove to you in a brief message that such rights--or their foundation in objective moral principles--actually exist, like principles of science, or facts of history, or concepts of auto mechanics, but such proof has been established elsewhere.

If individuals have the right to peacefully sustain life, with corollary rights to liberty and property, then governments ought to exist only to defend such negative rights, and in fact, could never possess legitimate powers that its citizenry do not have the right themselves to act upon. A government should embark on war only to defend the rights of its citizens from foreign invasion, or the threat of invasion. For to pursue other agenda, such as upholding throughout the world the values of civilization, or reason, or democracy, or progress, or liberty, requires the violation of the rights of its own citizens (through taxation and the draft), and of foreign peoples (through murder, maiming, and property destruction).

From this perspective, then, all the wars of the twentieth century--including WWII--were illegitimate, ill-fated adventures that crushed individual rights, and incidentally caused more suffering by far than they prevented. Hitler's Germany and Japan didn't threaten the United States, and in fact could not. The "sneak attack" on Pearl, was, as I suspect you're aware, not a surprise to FDR and his minions, only to (most of) the hapless American soldiers stationed there (Robert Stinnett proves this in "Day of Deceit"). In fact, I have serious doubts that Germany posed a realistic threat to Great Britain, which was encouraged in several ways by FDR to engage Hitler, but that's another subject. Soviet Russia rushed in to fill the vaccum created by Hitler's fall. Absent US (and probably English) involvement, it's likely that these two totalitarian devils would have bled themselves white as they fought to a standstill.

I'm sure you see where I'm headed concerning the tragic Gulf Wars, including the Bush II invaion of Iraq. This is a non-defensive war by the United States:

no imminent threat, no weapons or means to threaten the United States militarily, and minimal involvement with terrorists aiming at the US. Perhaps if Bush I had not invaded the Middle East (to save Kuwait's "democracy"), the worst case scenario would eventually make Hussein's Iraq a regional power--a prospect that was far from certain. This would mean, of course, that the United States would no longer "run things" in the oil-producing Middle East. If we again imagine the worst case, the thugs of the Middle East would embargo oil shipments to the US. However, the US consumes 45% of the world's production of oil. I seriously doubt that a northern African dictatorship could long survive by cutting its revenues by 40%, because people who live in dictatorships are deprived of the freedom to produce. Moreover, oil traders around the world would be seeking arbitrage opportunities to sell to the US. Finally, such a catastrophic but temporary tragedy might force the US federal government to move rapidly in the direction of freeing US energy producers to profit by producing various forms of power: from nuclear to coal to oil and natural gas.

Finally, I think our self-assigned role as world's cop--which has involved killing and maiming millions of innocent people over the last 100 years--does eventually influence the attitudes of foreign peoples--including thuggish totalitarians--and make us a hated target. If our policy upheld unilateral free trade and neutrality with regard to foreign conflicts that don't directly and realistically threaten the USA, I don't think terrorists would target us, because they'd have difficulty inspiring such self-destructive behavior by most Muslims. If our government gave up its agenda of running things in the Middle East and elsewhere, and if American businessmen were free to engage in cross border trade--at their own risk--a great deal of the hatred of the USA by most--not all--muslims would vanish eventually. There are a few nuts in the US who hate Microsoft, but most people like and admire it because they benefit from its products.

I intend to read a lot of what you have written on this subject to make sure that I'm right. Perhaps I'll conclude that I've been mistaken about the nature of the motives and threat posed by Islamic radicals. But I doubt that.

Yours truly,

Mark Humphrey
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